Chapter 64 – A One-Time Thing (1)
Louise was not summoned until the afternoon. She trudged to the counseling office where Professor Lassen, tired from the celebration, and an Academy faculty member were waiting.
“Have a seat.”
Louise sat down at the professor’s request, her back rigidly straight.
“Have you reflected on your actions?”
Yesterday Louise had her first kiss.
Of course she couldn’t say this, so she bit her lip. However, the professor seemed to have mistaken it for a rebellious attitude.
“You should thank me.”
The professor tapped Louise’s bag on the desk with her fingertips. There was a small badge pinned on her tattered bag, Louise’s treasure and pride. It was proof that she was the top scoring student at the beginning of the year.
“I will not extend the investigation of misconduct to the entrance exams.”
There was a sound of a quill pen scratching as the faculty member began to transcribe her words.
“Even so, I do not believe in your innocence.”
“The dean does not want to be disgraced for what may have happened then. You should be grateful. Instead.”
The professor ripped the pin from Louise’ bag. There was a tearing sound as the leather was rent.
She dropped the pin on to the desk, the pin’s delicate needle bent.
“You cannot have that honor. Considering that it didn’t belong to you in the first place, it’s only natural.”
Louise stared at her pinless bag. Before she knew it, the sunlight formed a circular trail on the indent where it once was displayed. When she first received the pin, she thought all day where to put it. She was so ecstatic she didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t believe she was being rewarded for her good work. But after all her efforts though…
“I have done nothing to be ashamed of.”
Louise remained resolutely calm.
“You don’t know the true meaning of honor. You don’t even have status.”
Louise rushed over the professor’s words before she could say anything else.
“I know what is honor, and what isn’t. For example, how dishonorable it is for a professor to break his or her promise with a student.”
She stared at her bag, then looked up.
“It is also not honorable to sin against someone for personal gain. And.”
Louise paused. There was a brief disturbance in the hallway. When it became quiet again, she continued.
“It’s up to your conscience to decide your honor.”
“You’re using that shallow head of yours, aren’t you? You’re taking advantage of the fact that this is being recorded.”
The professor turned her eyes to look at the minutes transcribed by the staff member.
“But there’s something you don’t know either.”
She stood up with a smile. She held a slender pointing stick in her hand. Louise had watched her rap the blackboard with it in class.
The sharp end jabbed Louise in the shoulder, and the professor gave a chilling smile. The staff member put their pen down.
Louise finally understand what that meant. Nothing right now was on record.
“Under my authority as professor you are guilty.”
The painful end began to push into her stomach.
Louise bit her lip to try hold back a groan. The professor withdrew the pointing stick, apparently satisfied with Louise’s pained expression.
“Don’t expect much from your ranking. Even if you get decent scores in other classes.”
That would mean Professor Lassen would place Louise at the bottom.
Louise opened her mouth weakly.
“Give me a fair grade.”
“This is the right grade for me.”
“I don’t want to be rewarded for the problems I didn’t solve. But the ones I have solved…”
“Reward? Did you say reward now?”
Louise looked at her steadily.
Professor Lassen lifted her pointing stick, as if to aim for her face this time. Louise saw anger flash through her mad eyes.
A memory passed through her like lightning.
She never told anyone. She didn’t want to talk about it. Her cruel world.
She thought those memories had healed after coming to this world, but her body, which remembered the distant past, cowered in fear. Even though she didn’t want to.
The stick stopped its flight towards Louise’s head, and the door opened. There was the muffled sound of footsteps.
The graceful stride stopped right in front of Louise. She could feel someone’s eyes on her downturned head. Maybe they were looking at her with great pity.
“What are you doing?”
She loosened her arms wrapped defensively around her head and slowly looked up.
Louise was surprised to hear her voice shaking. She really was terrified. Like a shadow of the past that stained this beautiful and perfect world.
“What’s the matter, Professor Hewitt? I didn’t request for your presence, did I?”
Professor Lassen placed the pointing stick on the table, and Professor Hewitt finally turned his eyes towards her.
“It is Louise Sweeney here who requested me. According to the Academy policy, any underage student can designate a professor as their guardian.”
“…Interesting. So Professor Hewitt will be her guardian?”
“This is a question of honor, so there is no reason I can’t be.”
Professor Hewitt handed over a document to Professor Lassen. It was a copy, not an original, but there was no question to its contents.
“Professor Juliana Lassen. Your allegations on Louise Sweeney’s entrance exam is incorrect.”
“It was reasonable suspicion based on the cheating that happened in my classroom. There is no reason for you to doubt otherwise.”
Professor Hewitt indicated his signature at the end of the document.
“That is until I lose my reputation as a fair proctor during Louise Sweeney’s entrance exam. This is a problem for me.”
“That is why I decided not to investigate the entrance exams! Only the end-of-semester exam will be in question…!”
“But you have already brought suspicion about the entrance examination in front of a classroom full of students. It has also brought suspicion to me as the proctor.”
Professor Hewitt crossed his arms and his face wrinkled darkly.
“Now you say you won’t bother with the entrance examinations? Do I have to deal with that dishonor on my own?”
Professor Lassen turned her head away from his steely gaze.
“If you intend to turn everything upside down and investigate everything to find the truth, then I will cooperate. What do you think, Louise Sweeney?”
Louise stood up from her seat and looked between the professors at either side. Professor Hewitt barked his question at her.
“I asked you a question. Do you want a full investigation or do you want to follow Professor Lassen’s suggestion and have only this exam be looked at?”
Louise paused and inhaled deeply. It was okay. She was back as usual. The memories of her past, which ate up her body and mind for a moment, had faded away.
“I want the truth. So there is only one right answer that everyone’s conscience knows.”
“Then I will request for a full investigation as the guardian of Louise Sweeney. First, I’ll call the dean and tell him–”
“Wait, wait. Professor!”
Professor Lassen hand shot out to grab Professor Hewitt’s arm.
“You don’t have to do that. Besides, I’m only exercising my authority as a professor!”
“Just as a professor has the authority to doubt Louise Sweeney, so does one with clearing her suspicion. Where is the problem with this principle?”