Chapter 25 – The Outlines Of Each Other (2)
A few minutes after Claire’s departure, Dean Crissis knocked on her door. His clothes hung even looser on him due to all the manual labor preparing the event hall. Louise, surprised by his sudden visit, looked at his eyes and he opened his mouth with a sigh.
“You’re not going?”
Louise felt uncomfortably in the spotlight with his question, but she shook her head.
Then he gave the story in a bored tone of voice. Everyone in the student council was upset about how Louise was treated, especially Claire, who almost cried. As he said Claire’s name, Dean looked like he was about to tear up to too. Come to think of it, she said they were both old childhood friends.
“That’s why someone has to take you.”
Dean ruffled her hair as he that. She fervently wanted to die in this awkward situation. He looked downwards for a moment then mumbled,
“Go with me.”
“It’s not because I like you!”
That’s right. He once dismissed Louise’s request for a partner with, “Are you crazy?”
“That was a quick response.”
Louise changed the subject, but because there was something else that was bothering her.
“Why do all the people that ask me to be their date ruffle my hair?”
Dean withdrew his hand.
“When I look at you I think your head is itchy.”
“So will you come with me?”
“Are you crazy?”
“I’m just returning what you said to me.”
“Are you still thinking about that?”
His lips moved softly. Perhaps he was trying mumble his apology, but he didn’t make a sound. However, that was enough for Louise so she gave him a smile.
“I hope the party ends successfully today. I don’t want all that work to be for nothing.”
“But that horrible incident with the professor happened anyways.”
“We don’t have to add more to it.”
“I’m glad that you figured it out now at least. And don’t worry about me. I have the perfect plan. “
Louise lifted the book she was holding.
“It’s nice weekend, and there’s a book I need to finish.”
Dean frowned. It was clear he wasn’t satisfied with her weekend plans.
The moon hid its face behind the clouds, as if the bright lights of Lassen Hall had driven it away. The high-ceilinged hall was filled with light as well as stories, laughter and music. She could occasionally catch some noises all the way from her dormitory room, but the only thing she could hear clearly were the rhythm of percussion instruments. Louise tried to imagine the atmosphere.
From the ever-changing, enchanting beat, Louise drew a splendid indoor scene in her mind. She hoped everyone was enjoying themselves. Would anyone smile at the flowers? She hoped so. Louise immersed herself in sound.
‘I think I know how Cinderella feels. ’
Did that make the evil stepmother Professor Lassen? It felt strange for the professor to be like a fairy godmother to Stella but wicked stepmother to Louise. However, her prejudice was rooted in aristocracy. Stella Lapis, although poor, still came from a well-known noble family, and she was also the main character. It was natural that the professor wanted to look good and help her out.
‘Well…I can’t change that.’
She couldn’t be liked by everyone, and she still had her parents and friends. She could live happily ever after with that alone.
‘If I get upset by these things I might end up on the path of the villainess!’
Louise stamped down on her feeling of regret then got up from her seat. She could go somewhere to heal her body and soul.
She left the dormitory with her book and slowly walked along the dark path. Her gloomy mood began to lift the closer she approached her destination.
Soon, a small greenhouse came into view and she broke into a run, her breath coming in short gasps and all she could hear was her heart beating. Soon the sounds of the party revelers completely faded away far behind her.
Finally, she stood at the entrance of the greenhouse. Louise pushed open the door and the smell of moist soil flowed through her nose to her heart. It was dark inside. Louise carefully found her way to the bench and sat on it, trying to catch her breath.
Only was only then that Louise realized that darkness was not suitable for reading her book. There was a lamp in the greenhouse, but she didn’t want to disturb the sleeping plants, so she decided to simply sit there.
The silence grew longer. Louise used the peace she was given to nurse her wounded heart. It took longer than she thought it would.
‘Mother will be disappointed.’
Louise remembered her mother’s eyes, which were full of expectations.
‘When I return home for break, I’m sure she’ll ask if I had a chance to wear the dress.’
She had to think of a way to answer her mother properly. Her mother would surely be upset if Louise couldn’t join in the party because of the barriers against her identity.
‘It would be even worse if Father heard about it.’
He would probably want her to quit the Academy. Her father was a little extreme, and he valued his only daughter very much. She chuckled to herself when she thought of her father’s angry face.
‘Anyway, I’m fine now.’
After that thought Louise felt a breeze pass by her shoulder. There was no such thing as wind blowing in a closed greenhouse, unless someone had opened the door. Louise turned towards the entrance and saw a figure silhouetted in darkness. Was it a professor? This greenhouse was Professor Wayne Hill’s lab after all.
She heard a soft voice break through the darkness, and she immediately knew that her assumption was wrong.
Instead of answering, Ian strode towards her, and as a little more light shone on him she saw he was well-dressed in a suit.
She felt a little awkward. Was it because she ran into him in the dark? Or maybe because of his formal clothing. Or maybe because of her heart thumping in her body.
He stared silently down at Louise. His breathing was more ragged than than usual, as if he had ran here just like her.
“…Louise Sweeney. “
He was still heaving breaths as he said her name. His fingertips swept Louise’s cheeks, as if to check if she was crying. Only then did the moonlight shine out, and the outlines of each other became clear.