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Chapter 56 – Graduation Ceremony

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Author: Eltria Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mui English Source: Re:Library
Editor(s): Robinxen

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In a flower vase placed at the edge of the platform, the small buds of the Dragon Tree were swelling as if about to bloom at any moment.

I stood on the same platform where Alfe stood six years ago, on the day of the entrance ceremony, and alongside Alfe and Teacher Anais, I unfolded the speech we had written together.

The gaze of the people was focused on me on the platform. In celebration of our graduation from St. Salaius Elementary School, I looked out at the parents, guests, and current students and silently bowed.

(‘Leafa, do your best’… huh?)

Slowly raising my head, I met Alfe’s gaze. Alfe’s eyes were moist as if on the brink of tears, and her lips moved as if she was saying those words.

Having completed our six years of study as scholarship students, Alfe and I had achieved excellent grades, and we were both set to enter St. Salaius Middle School as scholarship students as well. I heard that just recently, the first batch of graduates had left the newly completed middle school during our time there.

“Spring… In this season where young buds sleep, we have reached the time to leave our nest.”

I read the words Alfe had thought about earnestly, trying to infuse them with as much emotion as possible. It wasn’t as vibrant as Alfe’s way of speaking, where colorful scenery could be seen, but I could tell that people responded well to the words we had thought about.

“Today, we thank you for holding this graduation ceremony for us. To all the guests, fathers, mothers, and the teachers who have always warmly watched over us, sometimes guiding us sternly, thank you very much.”

Although I had already memorized the speech, speaking in front of a large crowd had always been a challenge for me since my previous life. Just to be sure, I traced the words on the paper with my eyes to avoid any mistakes, and I spoke carefully, conscious of my childishness. When I bowed at the second “thank you very much,” a small round of applause broke out.

“…With the knowledge we have gained at St. Salaius Elementary School in our hearts, we pledge to continue growing and move forward to St. Salaius Middle School.”

Waiting for the applause to die down, I continued reading. At this point, a faint sobbing-like voice began to echo. Alfe, pressing a handkerchief to her tear-filled eyes, looked up at me. I smiled at her and voiced the concluding words.

“We humbly ask for your continued guidance and encouragement. Once again, we express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone and pray for the blessings of the Black Dragon God in the future.”

Activating a simple spell I had prepared beforehand, I folded the speech paper and took a half-step back.

“Speaking was the representative of the graduating class, Leafa Naga Rjuna.”

As I spoke my name and bowed deeply, Alfe’s voice echoed. Overwhelmed with emotion, Alfe cried while sending out a loud round of applause. Following Alfe’s lead, not only students and teachers but also parents and guests applauded generously.

I thought it was a bit exaggerated for a child’s speech, but I didn’t mind. Bowing my head once more, I descended from the platform as I had practiced with Teacher Anais beforehand. Even as I returned to the graduates’ seats, the thunderous applause continued unabated.

Walking out of the auditorium with Alfe towards the main gate, I saw our parents waving towards us.

“See you later, Leafa!”

Alfe spotted her parents too and rushed over, probably eager to show them her award certificate for being the top student. Smiling fondly as I watched her go, I hugged the tube containing my two certificates close to my chest.

“Leafa, well done.”

My mother’s words of praise were echoed by my father’s nod. Unsure how to respond, I decided to put on a childlike smile for now.

“…Thank you.”

I had tried my best with Alfe’s help and Teacher Anais’ guidance, but I wasn’t confident if I had truly satisfied the people gathered in the auditorium.

“I hope my gratitude has reached you, Father, Mother…”
“Of course. That was an impressive speech, Leafa.”

My father nodded deeply, cutting off my anxious words.

“It truly was wonderful. You’re our pride and joy, Leafa.”

Without trying to hide the tears welling up in her eyes, my mother embraced me.

“Thank you, Mother… Father.”

As I looked up at my parents while wrapping my arm around my mother’s back, my father gently placed his hand on my head. His hand caressed my favorite hat, which had been a gift from my mother. When she gave it to me, it was quite large, but now it fits perfectly on my head, almost like a part of my body.

“This hat will need to be replaced once you start middle school,” Bending down to my eye level, my mother smiled as she compared me to the hat, but I shook my head.

“I really like it, so I’d prefer to keep it as it is. It still looks good, doesn’t it?”
“…It does.”

My mother looked a bit puzzled as she examined the hat, but she nodded in agreement after confirming its good condition.

“Leafa, you really take good care of this hat.”
“It’s something Mother made for me, so of course I do. It’s like a treasure to me.”

Expressing this somewhat shyly like a child, I noticed my mother smiling and nodding repeatedly. She probably hadn’t realized yet how much effort I put into preserving the hat.

“Now that the graduation ceremony is over, Leafa, do you feel the reality of becoming a middle school student sinking in?”
“Well, it’s still on the same campus, so it feels like an extension of now…”

Answering my father’s question, I glanced up at the new school building on the other side of the spacious courtyard. It would be two weeks until I entered St. Salaius Middle School.

“Perhaps I’ll feel something different once I hear Alfe’s speech at the entrance ceremony.”

Come to think of it, it was the same with the elementary school entrance ceremony. It’s easy to remember that Alfe is involved in these milestones in life.

While I was lost in thought, Alfe came running towards us, waving her hands vigorously.

“…Leafa! I want to take a picture with you.”
“Sure thing. Where should we take it?”

I quickly agreed and asked Alfe.

“By the signboard for the graduation ceremony!”

Alfe pointed towards the gate where a signboard adorned with the words “graduation ceremony” stood. She stood in front of the signboard, which was decorated with paper resembling flowers, and motioned for me to stand next to her.

“But you won’t be able to see the words on the signboard like this. Is that okay?”
“It’s better than separating from you.”

Alfe wrapped her arm around mine and snuggled her cheek against mine. Her cheek, now significantly taller, brushed against my hat and hair.

After a modest celebration meal for the graduation, my mother started organizing the graduation ceremony photos. On the dining table, numerous photos were laid out. I hadn’t noticed when they were taken, but as I went through them, they all seemed to be from today.

“Mother, what are you going to do with these?”
“Of course, I’ll put them in the album and keep them.”
“There aren’t many photos of you, so I tried hard today.”

My father, who was cleaning the camera nearby, handed me my album. As I flipped through it, besides the photos from the entrance ceremony, there were only a few from my childhood.

“How quickly children grow up. I wish we had taken more pictures.”

The scarcity of photos from when I was older might have been due to my lack of enthusiasm for photography. Thinking about it now, I felt guilty for not doing more.

“…You’re right. If that’s what Mother wants, I’ll strive to do so.”
“Thank you, that would make me happy… But Leafa, you’ve grown so…”

My mother, who had finished organizing the photos, took the album and started flipping through the pages. Although she had been smiling nostalgically, her hand stopped halfway through.

Silence filled the air as the smile disappeared from my mother’s face. Peering into the album and catching a glimpse of my own image, I understood the reason.

“…What’s wrong, Natal?”

Breaking the silence, it was my father who spoke up. My mother lifted her face from the album, her expression pale, and lined up the photo from the entrance ceremony next to the one from the graduation ceremony.

“Leafa… Leafa seems… to have barely grown at all.”

Compared to Alfe, who had grown at least thirty centimeters since enrollment, my growth seemed to be less than half of that. Realizing the stark difference in growth, my parents shifted their gaze towards me.

“…I’m sorry, Leafa. I didn’t notice.”

I had braced myself for stares akin to observing a foreign object, but what I received was a gaze mixed with affection and pity. Taken aback by the unexpected apology, I shook my head.

“Why are you apologizing? You haven’t done anything wrong.”
“But compared to Alfe, it seems you’ve grown quite slowly. You’re a light eater too, So thought perhaps it’s your trait…”
“…Yes, perhaps. Before entering middle school, let’s have a detailed examination at the Black Dragon Lantern Clinic.”

Father deeply nodded in agreement with Mother’s resolution. I had no choice but to comply with their decision.


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