"Could you do my hair?" Eina asked me before we headed to our weapon practice. She said, "I can do it myself but your buns are so masterful..."
"Say no more," I replied, pulling out Portable Barber and seating her on a stool.
Looking on from the side, Lili said, "I was hesitant at first but you are pretty nice Eina."
"I am trying to be, at least for you two," Eina said in a small voice.
"You are doing great, now stop wiggling," I said to her, frowning and moving to the side. A few seconds later her hair was in a nice, not too tight bun. "There we go."
"Thanks, what about you?" Eina asked me, making sure that the bun was holding her hair well.
"Me? A ponytail is enough, my hair is much shorter than yours," I replied, doing just that.
"If your hair wasn't so good it would be unaesthetic," Chopsticks said from the side, seriously regarding our looks.
Chuckling, Lili asked him, "Are you staying there, Chopsticks?"
"No, I have a mission to protect her," He replied, pointing at me with his beak.
Raising my eyebrow, I asked him, "Can you even fight?"
"Of course! I could easily beat anyone in this academy, including some of the teachers," Chopsticks proclaimed, puffing out his metallic chest.
"Considering who made you, I can believe that," Eina muttered and asked me, "Are we going?"
"Yep, see you later, Lili!" I said, waving to her.
She smiled and waving to us said, "Good luck you two!"
On our way to the sandpit, Eina said to me, "This is weird, all of it."
"What is?" I asked her, keeping an eye out for Tomas and Aren.
She looked at me before averting her gaze and asking me, "Are you really not disgusted?"
Making sure that no one was in earshot, I said, "With 'them'? No."
Eina nodded her head and said no more, fixing her eyes on the ground, I couldn't tell what she was thinking. The boys were already waiting for us at the sandpit, so was Orion. Seeing us, he excitedly rushed up, we stopped and saluted.
"Penn! Argent!" Orion bellowed, his voice cracking, "You are finally back! To the ring!~"
"Yes, Sir!" We replied, jumping into the sandpit and picking out our usual weapons.
Chopsticks flew off my arm and perched himself on Orion's shoulder, puffing out his chest and imperiously looking at us. Orion didn't even wince, he probably already knew about him and didn't have a problem with his behavior.
Fastening my shield, I noticed something weird and asked about it, "Sir, what are these planks for?"
"For footwork! Get on them and spar! Penn with Vuolo! Brack with Argent!" Orion bellowed.
"Yes, sir!" All four of us replied, jumping onto the planks.
It was really hard to keep balance on these long pieces of wood, and there was no way to dodge to the side, I would just fall into the sand below. Aren grimaced seeing my shield, he only had his long sabre, it would be much harder for him to defend himself.
This time around Aren didn't try to pretend that I was doing great, I've warned him multiple times in the past already and he finally took the hint. The practice turned out to be really interesting and very tiring, constantly having to keep balance while trying to dodge and block attacks was hard even for me. Most of us fell more than ten times, it was only a meter or so but it was still embarrassing having to spit out sand and crawl back up.
Finally, "You are dismissed!" Orion bellowed after the final assembly and giving us some more pointers.
"Yes, sir!" We replied.
I crossed eyes with Eina, she squinted her eyes and said, "I am taking bath first." Then, she dashed off.
"W-wait!" I called out to her but she didn't stop, annoyed, I waved to boys, "I need to go, see you later!"
With my speed advantage it wouldn't be too hard catching up to Eina, Chopsticks flew alongside me, chirping in amusement. After catching up, I matched Einas speed for a moment, shooting her a victorious grin and then dashing off. This race was mine, no one could stop me from achieving cleanliness as soon as possible.
Crashing into the room, I startled Lili, she gave me a weird look and tried to say something but I was already past her, closing up in the bathroom.
A few seconds later, I heard another person crash into the room and Eina's voice asking, "Is Marie already there?"
Smirking, I opened the door a little and craning from behind, I said to Eina, "Yes, I am!"
"You are already naked?" Eina asked me in disbelief, dropping onto her bed and gasping for air.
Chopsticks who was sitting on my bed said, "I already felt it from your shoulders but you are more toned than I expected. I demand a closer inspection for aesthetic reasons."
Frowning, I slammed the door and said, "Absolutely not!"
Lili's laughter pierced through the doors, smiling to myself, I jumped into the bath and thoroughly cleaned myself. Eina was next, the first thing she did was tell me to get the clothes into a washer, pouting I did just that and left the bathroom.
"She really will keep our room tidy," Lili commented, stretching on her bed and wiggling her toes.
Collapsing onto my bed, I asked her, "You don't have any homework?"
"Already done, I have a lot of free time now that I don't have to work," Lili said, looking at the ceiling.
Sighing, I said, "I won't have that luxury, my punishment starts tomorrow."
"Punishment?" Lili asked me, propping herself up on her elbows.
"Yep, together with Eina. I have two hours daily, she has it much worse," I replied, scratching Chopsticks little head.
"What are you even being punished for? I thought it wasn't your fault," Lili said to me.
"I took a hit for Eina, she would get expelled otherwise," I said, burying my face in the pillow. "I am going to sleep. Chopsticks, don't make noise."
The next day restored my previous routine, mostly, I didn't really share any lessons with Eina because she had five stars while I had none, we would only meet during meals and for our punishment, and in our room of course.
The biggest change was Nec, being a doting father, he decided to pick me up from my final lesson of the day, every day. The first time was a shocker, I walked out of Energy Deduction, chatting with Lili about today's topic, then, I noticed him.
Smiling, he waved to me and called out, "Marie!"
My jaw dropping to the floor, I muttered to Lili, "That's, uh, my dad."
"What?!" Lili jumped up, nervously stealing a glance at him, she whispered, "Your dad is so handsome!"
Getting shudders, I said to her, "Please, never say that to me again."
I dragged the scarlet-faced Lili towards Nec, doing my best to ignore the curious stares from other students. This was embarrassing, supremely embarrassing, I have never experienced something like this before... And I loved every single second of it.
Pouting, I said to Nec, "Hey, dad." It felt weird, but also good.
Corner's of his eyes shook in excitement, he ruffled my hair and said, "Hey, who is that little lady?"
"I-I am Lili Abel. Marie's roommate Sir," She introduced herself in a small voice, doing a cute little bow.
Laughing, Nec asked her, "Is she a problematic roommate?"
"N-not at all, Sir! She is very nice to me," Lili replied, blushing and dodging Nec's eyes.
Pouting, I asked him, "I still have my punishment to do today, you want to take me away?"
"Can't I just visit you now that I am at the academy?" Nec asked me, "I know you have one free day in the week, we will use that one."
"Okay," I replied, and in a small voice added, "And thanks."
Laughing, he gave me a hug and said, "I am happier than you can imagine." Releasing me, he said, "Make sure to do your homework, I will prepare something cool for you."
My face burning, I only managed to nod my head.
Laughing, Nec gave me a thumbs up and disappeared into thin air.
Lili gasped for air and squeezed my arm, she whispered to me, "Your dad is so cool!"
Puffing my cheeks I said, "I guess." I was happy that she thought that, as weird as it sounded coming from her mouth.
Another student approached us and asked me, "Your father will be a new teacher?"
Shrugging, I replied, "I don't know if he has the time, he does different things at the academy."
"Ah, I see! Sorry for bothering you," He replied and walked away to chat with his friends.
Chopsticks squeezed his claws around my shoulder and pecking me on the ear said, "Your humble attitude is not aesthetic at all!"
"Too bad," I replied, rolling my eyes.
Letting go of my arm, Lili asked, "Are you going straight to Eina?"
"Yes, I will do the homework later, don't wait for me," I replied.
"Okay!" Lili said and then skipped away.
Our punishment that day wasn't that as bad as cleaning up some failed concoction, together with Eina and a few other students we had to scrub Luna's deck clean. I only had to do two hours so after being done the teacher supervising our group let me go.
"Good luck, see you later Eina," I said to her apologetically, disembarking from Luna.
"Yep," She muttered, stealing me a glance and returning to her work.
I felt a bit guilty about leaving her like that but not guilty enough to stay over time, it wouldn't add up to my work in any way. Not to mention, she was punished for a reason, I thought it was only fair.
The time flowed really quickly, it was already the end of the week, my free day to be exact. I was with Eina, doing my daily two hours of detention with her. This time around we had to carry crates full of finished potions upstairs, another group of students would take them from there. I couldn't really focus on the task so I kept stumbling on the stairs, only Nec, and his promised cool thing was on my mind right now.
When we were done, I plopped down next to Eina and leaned against her shoulder, I said with a sigh, "I can't believe you have to do it for a few hours every day. It has been only a few days and I've already had enough."
Stiffening, Eina replied, "I got used to it."
"We have a few minutes of rest, why are you so tense?" I asked her, jokingly poking her side.
Shuffling in her seat, she dodged my eyes and replied, "I am not."
A mischievous idea birthed in my head, pretending to slip off her shoulder, I landed in her lap and looked up with a grin. Her thighs were nice and soft, I should have expected that after feeling up her butt that one time. Sighing ostentatiously, I stretched myself on the bench and squinted my eyes.
Eina froze completely, her face changing color she looked around and shakily whispered, "What are you doing?"
I innocently asked her, "Am I doing something bad to you?" Closing my eyes, I said, "Just a friend resting on your lap. No one will see us, we are alone. We can swap if you want too."
She didn't reply but I could feel her muscles stiffen again, her soft breath just barely tickled my nose, if not for the footsteps of someone walking down, I would have fallen asleep. Annoyed at the disruption, I got up and pretended that nothing happened, stealing a glance at Eina.
Our eyes crossed for a moment but she quickly averted her gaze, her face was expressionless, I hated that she could hide her emotions so well if she wanted to.
A different student walked in and told us that I was free and that Eina should hurry up to the west wing, a different teacher would receive her there. After making sure that we understood him, he walked upstairs, leaving us alone.
Pouting I patted my thighs and asked Eina, "Do you want to lie down for a while then?"
"No," She said, quickly standing up, "I need to go. See you later."
Rolling my eyes, I said, "See you later then."
Eina nodded her head and trotted away, I could hear her sigh when she dashed up the stairs. This really made me reconsider if I should continue teasing her, she clearly wasn't too comfortable with me. Shrugging to myself, I sprang to my feet and whistled to call Chopsticks back to my shoulder.
He flew downstairs and perched on my left shoulder, asking me, "What did you do to that girl? She looked troubled."
"Nothing much, go tell dad that I am ready. I will be waiting for him in the unused square, the one that looks like a small garden," I said to him.
"Alright," Chopsticks replied and flew away.
Feeling jittery, I headed towards the square, excited about the incoming time with Nec. Would he take me for an adventure? Or would it just be a personal lesson? Either way, I was thrilled to spend some more time with him.
I knew it would be fun, no matter what he prepared.