Chapter 59 – Never To Be Shaken (2)
‘At least it’s cool in here.’
Louise resented herself for automatically finding the best in any situation.
“You can always find the good in things.”
This was because she accepted her parents gentle education without resistance. The original Louise seemed pretty rebellious.
‘Even in the bad.’
Louise sighed. What was the bad thing about this?
She would fail her exams and her reputation would be destroyed. She could keep going. The more she thought about it, the worse her outcome seemed. Why couldn’t she have any hope? Louise didn’t do anything wrong.
Maybe it was because of the way other people looked at Louise. When Professor Lassen bore down on her she caught glimpses of the other students eyes. Some of them she thought were her friends. They had helped each other out. Other times, they had a good enough relationship that they smiled at each other. Louise believed in the strength of the friendship that was blooming.
But at that moment.
Louise was alone.
‘She did that?’
‘The entrance exam must have been the same.’
The murmur of conversation. She knew what they thought. And…and their painful gaze.
“That’s not true…”
Louise shook her head in the secluded, dark room, but there was no one to hear her. Perhaps rumors about Louise had already traveled widely around the Academy. As rumors grow, they become monsters that devour truth. In the face of such a giant, Louise’s frantic whispers would have no power.
Professor Lassen had ordered Louise to stay in the room until further action was decided.
How long would it take? Louise glanced at the door with a worried expression. It had been quite a while since she had been confined to this room alone, but it was difficult to judge the time with no clocks or windows.
Maybe it was already evening. It must have been quite a meeting. Well, the professor suspected cheating in the entrance examination, and if their meeting was about since then…
At the sound of the doorknob clicking open, Louise leapt from her seat. She tried to imagine what punishment they would impose on her. The door swung open.
“What the…are you a student?”
An old man with a bent and slender back entered the room. In one hand he held a candle.
“Oh, what is a student doing here at this hour!”
“Well, the professor said…”
“Professor? Which professor? I didn’t hear anything…”
“Professor Juliana Lassen.”
“Why are you lying? Go back to your dorm!”
The old man suddenly yelled at her, and Louise flinched backwards.
“I’m telling you. The professor asked me to stay here. She said she would come back after they made a decision–”
“The professor has been on a business trip since evening. What do you mean?”
“Business trip? Not a meeting?”
Louise repeated in shocked disbelief.
“Yes. I saw her go with the dean!”
Going on a business trip with the dean? Louise clenched her teeth.
‘That meant she went to the palace for the party.’
She had told Louise to wait here while she went to a meeting.
“Stop lying and get back to your dorm!”
The old man grabbed Louise by the shoulder and shoved her out of the counseling room. Louise stumbled into the corridor, then looked back at the old man, who was gripping her shoulder with her hand.
‘I’m not lying!’
She wanted to yell. She was this close to doing so. But her mouth didn’t move…
Maybe it didn’t, because no one trusted Louise today. The professor and the students all assumed that Louise was a liar. She was sick and tired of arguing with people that wouldn’t listen.
Louise hung her head, not even knowing what she was apologizing for.
Her feet began to move forward feebly. Outside the building, everything was quiet. It was probably very late at night. People would have forgotten all about the afternoon commotion and fallen asleep.
There was no moon in the sky, smothered by the blanket of clouds. Louise was afraid of the dark, but now she embraced it. She didn’t want anyone awake to recognize her. If she had to endure anyone else’s judgment any further, she felt that something important inside of her would shatter.
She continued her walk of despair. When she trudged up the steps towards her room another thought came to her mind. She didn’t…she didn’t know what to say. By now Ian may have noticed Louise’s absence at the banquet and heard the reason for it. He wasn’t like everyone else, so he probably won’t doubt Louise.
In that case, what if–
What if he came back a little earlier…to ask Louise the truth?
“As a friend…I don’t know what crazy idea I’m thinking.”
However, tonight was his birthday celebration. She had heard what a politically beneficial event the crown prince’s birthday was, and this year would be even bigger because of his transition into adulthood. There would be lavish entertainment until dawn, maybe even into late morning.
She was already standing in front of Ian’s room when she realized that he wouldn’t be there. After a moment’s hesitation, Louise knocked on his door two times. There was no return answer. There was no sign of life.
“You’re being stupid, Louise Sweeney.”
Her face turned red even though no one was watching her. She didn’t want anyone to notice that she was in front of his room, so she ran across the hall and down the stairs.
‘You’re a fool. ‘
This was Louise’s problem. This was something she needed to solve herself. From the moment someone tried to help her, people would pay more attention to the relationship rather than the facts or the truth. She hated her situation.
‘I have to think of way.’
A way to pull herself out of this mess.
‘Even if nobody believes me now.’
She had to make everyone trust her again, so she could inherit the business, succeed, become wealthy…
Would that make her happy? To win back the favor from the people who turned their backs Louise so easily? Was that what she really wanted from this world?
She stopped running, sucking in harsh breaths of air as she tried to regain her stamina. Louise pressed one hand to her heart, then with the other reached out to her door knob with trembling fingers. At that moment the door opened. At that moment, the door opened. From the inside.
Frightened, Louise took a step back, before realizing at person the other side was Ian. His face was in shadow, but she knew it was him. The body type, they way he stepped towards her, was his usual self.
All kinds of thoughts passed through her mind. What should she say? Why was he here first? Or should she explain that she didn’t do anything?
In the end, it was Ian who broke the silence first. Louise finally raised her head.
The moment her gaze connected with his blue eyes she had a sudden revelation. There was perfect trust there. As firm as a rock, never to be shaken. That was the sole thing Louise needed today. Her legs, which she thought too exhausted to move, stepped forward without permission. No, she was rushing towards him. Despite their promise of boundaries, Louise broke the distance between them and held tightly onto Ian.
The moment his familiar scent reach her nose, she seemed to be able to finally breathe again.