CASeries #1: KNIGHT
Chapter Thirty-One: Recognition and Confession
Valeriana stirred from where she lie, feeling the lethargy nag at her muscles. Her brows furrowed from the agonizing headache that formed and she let out a small groan from her parted lips. She heard some shuffling as she urged her eyes to open.
She remembered falling asleep after being attended to by the healer. The adrenalin had washed out and the exhaustion caught up she unknowingly fell asleep.
She tried to move, but froze when pain attacked from all over, stopping her from shifting her limbs. She looked down at herself and saw that, more or less, her entire body was covered in bandages.
Valeriana grunted. “Argh. What the hell?”
“You’re awake?” a soft voice rang.
She blinked numerous times to clear her vision and heard footsteps coming her way. Looking up, she saw a green-eyed brunette staring at her with a kind smile. She recognized her as the healer, named Olivia, who helped her many times before, including her duel with Courtney.
“How long was I out?”
“Roughly a day.”
“Did I . . . ?” she trailed off.
“Win?” Olivia continued for her. “Of course. You did.”
“R-really?” She visibly relaxed. “Thank god. I thought it was a dream.”
“But you’re in no condition to move around just yet,” she hastily added. “You received more injuries than you did in your previous fight. I had to wrap you all over. Your hands are in the worst condition. You broke a few bones, did you know?”
“I—what?” The moment she tried to move a finger, a jolt of pain shot up her arm. “Ouch.”
“I told you.” She sighed. “You’re a fool for not letting go of that sword. Now look what has happened to you.”
“It was the only way for me to win.”
“I know.” She then flashed a grin. “And I admire you for that, despite the foolishness.”
Valeriana blushed. “When will I get better?”
“I recommend you coming for healing sessions thrice a day for the next few weeks until you’re better. Your wounds should be healed if you come to me tomorrow, but your hands will take longer to recover.”
“I see. So it’s that bad, huh?”
“It’s actually worse than you think.”
“Oh.” Valeriana cringed.
“Classes should’ve already ended by now. I think you should expect some visitors sometime soon.”
“I missed school?”
She groaned. “I’m doomed.”
“Just do your best,” Olivia told her. “Fifth-ranker,” she added with a bigger smile.
Valeriana felt a bubble of happiness rise in her chest as a grin stretched her lips. She suddenly felt elated—jubilant really.
Valeriana entered the classroom with a sigh. As soon as she stepped in, everyone shot her with wide, curious gazes. She stared back at them, quirking a brow at their behavior. Immediately, they looked away and started chatting amongst themselves.
She went towards her seat when one hard body nearly knocked her down. Valeriana felt a shot of pain from her back including her hands which hit the floor.
“Valeriana! Good morning!” Genevieve exclaimed.
“Ow! Ow! Ow! Get off me!” She tried to push the girl off of her but to no avail. The pain in her hands was getting worse by the second. She needed to get the weight off of her.
“Genevieve!” Zevlin pulled his sister away.
“Sorry! I was just so excited.”
“Gen sort of ate a lot of sweets. She’s radiating with energy as of the moment,” Zevlin told her.
“It’s alright, I guess. Happens to my brother all the time. He goes wild.”
They held out a hand for her to take and began to pull her to her feet. As she stood, the twins’ eyes gravitated over her shoulder, and, like fleeing birds at the face of danger, started to retreat.
“Let’s go back,” Genevieve told his brother.
The twins dashed to their seats.
She turned and saw Zion.
No wonder, she thought as she froze on the spot.
She quieted and tried to put her hair in place, but then realized her hands were still useless at the moment. They were wrapped in bandages, restricting any movements that might strain her injury further. She hissed in pain and allowed them to fall at her sides instead, unhappily leaving her hair in complete disarray.
Zion stalked towards the girl and stopped short in front of her, the usual grin toying with his lips. He was a head taller than her, so she needed to bend her neck back to look at him. Nothing had changed.
“Hold still,” he told her, making her freeze.
He took out a hand from his pocket and reached out. Valeriana flinched and braced herself, but after a few seconds, nothing came. She felt his strong hands smoothing down her hair later on. She stared inquiringly at Zion.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked, sounding amused. “It’s apparent you can’t do things properly with those hands, so I’m helping you.”
“Why?” she curiously queried.
“I’m taking responsibility. Did you not say it was imperative I do so? I caused those, did I not?” He placed a finger on her chin before leaning down to bring his face close to hers. The close proximity allowed the girl to feel his hot breath fanning her face, and that sensation itself got her flustered.
“Uh . . . er . . . excuse me.” She tried to back away but he held her in place, hands snaking around her waist. She glared at him and gently pushed at his chest.
He chuckled at her reaction. “You’re a wild, dangerous cat in the battlefield, yet in normal circumstances, you are undeniably adorable.”
She didn’t know what suddenly came to him that he began acting like this. One thing she knew was that he was acting too familiar with her. It was uncomfortable and embarrassing—not to mention they were in public.
“What are you doing? Let go of me,” she said, looking around with cheeks that could rival the color of a tomato.
“Why? You entertain me so much I don’t want to let go,” he said in a teasingly low voice.
Going even redder, she growled. Eyes were intently watching the both of them. “I said let go!”
She shoved her elbow down his ribs. Her hands weren’t working properly at the moment and she could think of no other move. She sent him wheezing and crashing on the floor.
“Don’t mess with me, you bipolar bastard!” she yelled at him as he landed knelt down and eventually fell on his stomach. “I’m not a subject for your mood swings!”
Seeing him groaning, guilt eventually overcame her. “Uh . . . I’m sorry. I hope you don’t have any broken bones or anything.”
As she reached out, he flipped to his back and grabbed hold of her wrists. Zion looked straight into her blue eyes before cracking up. She looked genuinely concerned, but the moment the guy started to guffaw, she lost all the sympathy.
“See what I mean by interesting? Even your reactions are unpredictable.”
She stood up, trying to wrench back her arm. “Well, if you’re not hurt, I guess you’re fine.”
He stopped laughing and frowned at her before pulling her back down. “I might have something broken, you know.”
“Where?” she asked.
“Here,” he placed a hand on his chest. “My heart.”
“What are you—that’s stupid.” She rolled her eyes. “Now let me go and get up. You’re embarrassing yourself.”
“Listen,” he said. “You know, after you defeated me I grew surer about one thing. I want to know more about you.”
If what he was saying was true, Valeriana had one comment for him. “What are you a masochist? Do you like being beaten up?”
He raised a brow at her question.
“We’re just the same age!” he exclaimed, horrified. “Unless you’re seventeen?”
“I am seventeen!” But thirty-four in Valemnian years.
The look of horror wasn’t erased. “Nevertheless, age doesn’t matter,” he said, recovering.
“Stop kidding around!” She ripped herself away from his grip and stomped towards her seat. “Didn’t you insult me so many times? What’s this all of the sudden?”
“I just told you—”
“Shut up, you goddamn freak! Don’t talk to me!” she screamed at him.
She huffed and plopped down on her chair, brows knitted together in frustration. She crossed her arms and legs and glared at Chavi, who was giggling like some lovesick teenager the whole time. She felt disgusted seeing her reaction, but tried to dismiss it—as much as how she tried to dismiss the nagging questions of the twins behind her.
Fortunately, Lady Seraphina came to class and everyone fell quiet to focus on the lecture being given by the lady knight. Still, she couldn’t shake off the feeling of Zion’s eyes on her. It wasn’t until Lady Seraphina scolded him that she confirmed her thoughts.
She grunted. After all those insults, what the hell happened to him?