༺ Quick-witted Reversal Club (1) ༻
The atmosphere in the club had changed ever since the madness-filled event known as the ‘Rejection Tea Party.’
Perhaps trying to maintain their last shred of dignity, the idiots who were collectively rejected by Louise showed no hard feelings or ugliness towards her.
I honestly expected them to cling on with some lingering affection, but they just behaved like normal friends, as if there had never been any romantic feelings between them.
‘It’s the same as before.’
Upon reflection, there wasn’t much of a difference before and after they got rejected. These idiots. How could they be so similar before and after being rejected? Calling it a rejection seemed almost excessive.
However, there was one notable change.
“I should have said this earlier, but it honestly didn’t taste good.”
“The macarons were passable, but the cookies were really terrible.”
Without the need to save face or tiptoe around Louise, the club members began to vent things they had kept silent about. They didn’t hold back in admitting that the food wasn’t up to par.
Up until now, they had kept silent out of consideration for the person they liked, but the dynamic shifted now that the object of their unrequited love had become just a friend. As friends, it was more common to be straightforward and not sugarcoat things.
A semester’s worth of unspoken words exploded, and the intensity was significant. If I had to describe it, it felt almost like a departmental hearing with relentless questioning akin to, “How did you become the leader with those skills?”
‘Are they holding a grudge for being rejected?’
You brats don’t hold grudges, right?
I thought they didn’t, but seeing them now made me doubtful.
“Well, they’ll taste good if I make them properly!”
“I see. If I do it right, then I’ll also become a wizard surpassing the Mage Duchess.”
Louise’s pleas were quickly dismissed by Lather.
It was hard for people to believe in something without seeing results. After all, anyone could talk big.
“You said the macarons were good, right? That’s when I made them properly!”
“Maybe she only practiced making macarons?”
You guys have been holding back a lot. How do you immediately have a comeback for everything?
In the first place, I was the one who ate everything Louise had made so far.
‘The empty wagon makes the most noise.’
Maybe their stomachs were empty because they were making so much noise. Back at the beginning of the semester, they had eaten only a bit and ignored the rest. How dare they act this way? If Louise got hurt by their words and gave up her dream of baking, I’d lose my source of human food.
“Fine. I’ll make them properly, so just wait.”
Fortunately, Louise had more pride in her baking than I thought. She didn’t get discouraged but instead started pulling out flour in a fit of pride. It seemed like her ego had been bruised.
Her furious demeanor was there, but it was objectively no more threatening than a cat hissing – it was non-threatening at all. So a capybara is just like a cat even though it’s angry…
“This actually worked.”
“Now we’ll get to eat something good.”
I deliberately ignored the whispers of the other club members. Weren’t you idiots moving on from your crushes too quickly? You did like her, right?
The rapid change in attitude was surprising, but it wasn’t unsettling. It was better for Louise, who would likely recoil if someone clung to her after she had poured out all her trauma.
I’m guessing those guys knew that and intentionally behaved this way. They probably wished for Louise to stay cheerful.
‘If it weren’t for romance, they’d be perfectly fine.’
Once the category shifted from romance to friendship, their perceptiveness quickly returned. If their romantic intuition had been half as good, then someone might have ended up with Louise.
Of course, that was all in the past now. It can’t be reversed, and it seemed like none of the parties involved were interested in going back.
“Our club leader’s true colors will be revealed today.”
“Well, our pastry club leader isn’t good at baking, so who will be the next leader?”
“Since there are five of us, we can take turns each semester.”
Such comments can only be made by those who have truly moved on. These guys were pretty good at tea bagging.
Even Erich was caught in the middle of all this.
‘I didn’t do all that to see him like this.’
I felt like I was going to cry. I did my best. I took pride in the fact that I didn’t hold back on giving him advice that was well within my capabilities. However, I didn’t put in all that work just to see my younger sibling laugh and smile after being friend-zoned by the girl he liked.
I stifled the sigh that threatened to burst out and turned my gaze to Louise. She was wearing an angry expression, but the corners of her mouth were upturned.
Then, I looked back at those idiots. They seemed quite happy, too.
‘Well, who cares?’
Well, this was the path they chose, after all. Louise decided to reject everyone, and the others accepted that decision. Since then, they have maintained a friendship rather than romantic entanglements. It was all these kids’ choice.
As a third party, there was no need for me to feel pathetic or interfere with them. They had made their choices with courage, so who was I to meddle in their affairs?
‘They look better now.’
Was it just my mood, or did the group look more intimate now that they’ve all been rejected compared to when they were all vying for Louise?
Louise had nothing left to hide, and the other members no longer held back or were being restrained by each other.
With everyone baring their hearts, it felt like a gathering of carefree, typical kids.
‘This is what our club should be like.’
This form, built on friendship, was the best. At least they wouldn’t do weird things just to impress Louise.
Yes, let’s endure this for just another two and a half years.
No way. The best thing, after all, would be for these guys to go home early. I seem to have compromised with myself at that moment.
I even made such a dirty compromise. When did I become such a cowardly adult?
Contrary to my expectations, the movement to impeach the club leader intensified.
“…You made this ‘properly?’”
“I-It can’t be…”
Unfortunately, the cookies Louise confidently presented ended up being inversely proportional to her confidence.
However, unlike before, everyone ate the cookies without any issues. It was a positive development.
“They taste bad.”
“They’re just mediocre.”
However, the actual taste was lacking. This was a negative outcome.
No, what’s worse was that it was called ‘just mediocre.’ How bad were they actually before?
Louise, unable to hide her embarrassment, hastily put one of the cookies in her mouth and froze. I guess even she didn’t like the taste.
I cautiously tried one myself.
Naturally, they were fine for me. They seemed slightly different from before, but it was no big deal.
No matter how much of a fool and coward I might be, I still had a certain level of awareness as a noble. Even though they seemed to be scolding me on the surface, I knew that my fellow club members were full of warm consideration on the inside.
In that case, I should ride on that consideration. It was embarrassing to rely on the sympathy of those I rejected not long ago, but I needed to accept it.
So, I worked hard to make them. It wasn’t the experimental spirit of cookies from before or the healthy cookies that I used to make for Oppa; these were proper cookies.
Now, everyone would be amazed once they tasted these cookies. And with it, this play of overflowing consideration would end.
Yes, that was how it should have been.
Their reactions were strange. They were eating it, but their expressions didn’t look good.
This was different from the earlier prank. Their faces genuinely showed confusion and dismay.
“…You made this ‘properly?’”
“I-It can’t be…”
This can’t be happening. I’m confident in my baking skills. The macarons I made for Irina were enjoyed by everyone, and the cookies I made as a gift for Oppa to give to Senior were properly made.
I just used unconventional ingredients, but I could definitely make them well when I tried. This wasn’t baseless confidence. I’ve always done it right until now.
Trying to steady my trembling hands, I cautiously put one in my mouth.
‘It tastes bad.’
If there was no one else around, I would have closed my eyes immediately. I thought I had made them well so I didn’t taste them, but I never expected this.
Could it be that my skills rusted over the vacations? Was that why I failed at even this simple baking?
Or had my body refused to make them properly because I’ve never given them proper cookies before?
‘Then it’s my fault.’
I messed up. Instead of expressing gratitude to my fellow members who had enveloped me in their consideration, I betrayed them.
At this time, I should have given them properly made cookies. That was how the play was supposed to end.
“Who wants to be the new club leader?”
Prince Rutis spoke up in the stifling silence, but even he seemed confused. His smile was awkward, and his pupils were shaking.
However, no one responded to his words. Nobody could have predicted this situation.
“It’s better if the same person continues.”
The silence that returned was broken by Oppa.
“We’ll have to resubmit the member list if the club leader changes. That would be a hassle for me.”
“Oh, we didn’t think of the advisor’s position.”
Rutis quickly responded to Oppa’s words, as if he had found an escape route.
“Well, someone with experience would do better.”
“It’s better than last semester, right? The improvement makes you a perfect fit for the club leader. No harm done.”
Their follow-up comments made my face heat up.
It was embarrassing. I didn’t like this kind of consideration, no matter what…
“Since everyone agrees, there’s no one else but Louise for the club leader.”
As I was about to lower my head, Oppa patted my shoulder.
It might have been a light-hearted gesture for Oppa but that small action made my heart flutter wildly.
I barely managed to suppress my smile. It wasn’t time yet. I was still far from showing my feelings to Oppa. I promised to endure until his engagement ceremony with Senior, didn’t I?
‘But smiling should be okay.’
Wouldn’t it be weirder if I suddenly showed a serious expression only in front of Oppa?
Yeah, it’d definitely be fine. I used to smile in front of Oppa often.
That’s right. This isn’t a confession.
I’m just smiling.
“Thank you, Oppa.”
This meant I wasn’t trying to get ahead of Senior.
My perspective widened once I let go of my emotions and took a step back.
‘I just realized this now.’
The way Louise looked at our advisor was different from how she looked at us. How could I have only noticed such a clear difference now?
Protecting a lady was a knight’s duty, but I failed to fully understand the heart of the lady closest to me.
“Louise begged me so much that this makes me worried that we will also have to compete with you.”
“An Armein Knight seeks a fair and clean duel and then accepts the results.”
“That’s why, if I lose, I’ll have to admit it. It’s best if that doesn’t happen, though.”
I remembered the conversation I had with the Advisor during the fair. Could it be that my instincts sensed defeat from that moment?
Of course, what I said then was sincere. I would accept the result and respect anyone, even if it was the Advisor.
‘Well, I guess it can’t be helped.’
It probably meant that the Advisor seemed more reliable than me.
While looking at Louise’s bright smile, I subtly averted my gaze.
Erich’s complicated expression caught my eye. If I noticed it, then I’m sure Erich did, too.
Erich had gracefully accepted being rejected by Louise. He didn’t harbor any lingering feelings and he was even ready to congratulate Louise, no matter whom she loved.
Still, it had to be strange and uncomfortable to congratulate the person he liked when she fell for his brother. He probably felt a mix of wanting to congratulate her but also feeling strange and uncomfortable about it.
Well, it was a problem Erich would have to overcome.
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