Chapter 24 – The Outlines Of Each Other (1)
For a moment Louise thought back on her mother’s face.
“When I was young, I didn’t understand why my parents waited so long for my debut in society.”
It was during the time when Louise was preparing a dress to take to the Academy.
“I think I understand now.”
Her mother stroked the pleats of the dress delicately, as if she were putting every bit of her affection into it.
“You’ll be so beautiful in front of everyone in this. I would be so happy if I could see it in person.”
There was a hint of a dream on her face as she said that. Maybe she had been imagining Louise in the center of Lassen Hall, but Louise had been embarrassed and didn’t comment.
The wish seemed unlikely to come true anyway. Louise’s mother was disowned by her baron family and was not considered nobility. Her father was a commoner who, although wealthy, could not make it into the upper class in the end. Neither parent had the social clout to bring Louise into the capital’s social circle.
Louise nodded slowly. She had decided to accept her social limitations, but she wouldn’t give up. Although her father was not among the nobles, he still was successful in business and Louise could follow in his footsteps.
Louise calmly opened her mouth to speak, but her words were soon interrupted.
“Professor, social status and rules don’t matter inside the Academy.”
It was Ian. He was standing right next to Louise.
Professor Lassen gave a curt nod in agreement.
“I’m simply talking about the unspoken rules that exist everywhere else.”
It was an imperative lesson that had to be taught to everyone. She smile maliciously at Louise.
“Unspoken rules, you say?”
Ian replied with a stiff face. It had been a long time since Louise had seen him so angry.
“Then this unspoken rule should also apply. It’s never been officially announced, but Louise Sweeney–”
Louise quickly cut in. She knew what he was about to say. The engagement would give Louise a great deal of privilege, but gossip was quick to spread.
“It’s fine. I think what the professor says is right.”
Louise looked at Ian’s face desperately and shook her head. Please don’t say anything. With a reluctant sigh, Ian yielded to her wishes.
“Since I’ve already finished the flower arrangements, I will leave now.”
Louise bowed her head and walked away. It wasn’t ideal, but it was better to leave in this situation. The professor did not stop Louise from leaving Lassen Hall.
“This is ridiculous!”
an agitated Claire shouted as she entered Louise’s room. Claire’s normally sweet face was now red with anger, causing Louise to burst out laughing. Louise was a lucky person to have a friend who got angry on her behalf.
“Are you laughing?”
Claire stamped her feet in frustration.
After Louise had left Lassen Hall, Claire ditched her job and had followed Louise to the dormitories.
Louise was sitting on the bed and closed the book she was reading.
“I accept it.”
Claire flopped on her bed.
“I knew that Professor Juliana Lassen was an extreme aristocrat. But still!”
Extreme aristocrats judged people by a simple dichotomy: The nobles, then everyone else. They loathed anyone who dared crossed into their world.
“Nobility, it’s a relic of the old times!”
Claire shouted angrily, and Louise’s shoulders shook as she laughed.
“So we’re trying to preserve it.”
“It’s not a relic, it’s a waste.”
In a moment, a single value had become waste to Louise.
Louise felt her painful heart soften a little.
“Don’t mention it.”
“But still...I’m thankful for your words.”
“You are really...!”
Claire’s mouth opened and closed several times as if she were trying to argue, but she soon gave up and sighed.
“Anyway, everyone in the student council thinks you have the right to come to the party. You helped put it together.”
“You and the president worked the hardest.”
“That may be, but you were the one in charge of decorating. And he was so angry...”
The president? Louise nodded when she recalled the expression on Ian’s face. Professor Lassen’s attitude may have reminded him of a bad memory. The nobility were the cause of the discrimination and suffering that the queen had endured throughout her life, and they had never considered her royalty.
“I’ve never seen him so agitated, even after you’ve already left for a while.”
Ian’s anger was probably not for Louise. Maybe he thought of his mother’s situation because of her. Maybe.
“... And now?”
“Well, he had to calm down because he has work to do. Though he might be angry again when he realizes that I’m gone.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to go back?”
Louise said worriedly. Everyone would be in trouble if there were any delays in Claire’s work.
“What’s so important about parties and stuff? What happened a little while ago is serious enough to lodge a formal complaint.”
She carried on, unable to contain her passion.
“This is an academy where people value reason and truth only. Not an extension of society that calculates the profit and loss of all relationships!”
Claire’s words about calculating the profit and loss on relationships made her hesitate. Come to think of it, Louise was no different from the professor. She was hoping that all the guests at the party were children of important families. She had considered them not as friends, but as prospective clients.
Louise gripped her dress tightly. Somehow she felt ashamed. She had ignored the Academy’s principles and did not value reason and truth at all.
“It’s–it’s really okay.”
“Please. Without you there, I won’t be happy at all.”
Claire leaned over and stared at Louise face-to-face with her palms on the mattress.
“But I said I wouldn’t go.”
Claire didn’t give an answer to that response.
“You’d better get back soon. You still have work to do, don’t you? “
Louise pushed Claire out of her room to make her leave. Her friend looked back several times and tried to persuade Louise to come to the party any time she changed her mind.
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