Chapter 69 – The Same, But Different (2)
‘We’re like comrades.’
Maybe students who had a similar idea to Louise were betting on their grades. In any case, Louise didn’t intend to lose, so she clenched her fist and moved in among the crowd. There was a large sheet of paper with printed letters as tiny as sesame seeds.
Louise slowly lifted her head along the paper. The class years went by in increasing order, and the senior year was at the top.
…Just like the original. Louise frowned when she saw the results for the senior students. She really couldn’t get the sense of how much of Ian was like the original and what was different. In any case, he took first place just like the original.
Then what about Simon? In the original story he always displayed a moderate level of skill, sometimes even writing wrong answers to questions he knew. She dropped her eyes, and spotted Simon’s name in the middle.
Just like the original.
Hmm, that was ominous. If the original story had the same power on the freshman class, then the top student would be none other than Stella.
‘Damn you, original story!’
Louise turned to the first-year’s list, praying for the first time the destruction of the original plot. She slowly raised her head to look at the tiny print. Her heart pounded in her chest as some familiar names passed by, the rankings the same as the original story. Perhaps Louise’s bad experiences were the result of “the law of conservation of the original work,” enforcing that Stella would be the top student.
Come to think of it, Stella was the main character, so there was nothing Louise could do. Wasn’t that true of fiction? The main character was exceptionally kind and fortunate.
Her eyes met the top of the paper. Louise breathed in deeply.
She squeezed her eyes shut unwittingly, then blinked her eyes open again and her vision cleared.
She saw her name written on top.
It was all she managed to choke out. She was sure she would be leaping for joy when she saw her name.
‘Oh my God, I really beat the original!’
She topped the entrance examination previously of course, but this was different. There was a massive obstacle that threatened to destroy her and she managed to triumph over it.
What about Stella?
It wasn’t hard to find her name. Hers was right under Louise. Suddenly, someone passed in front of Louise.
It was Stella.
As soon as they brushed against each other, Stella’s shining eyes turned to fix on Louise. Something complicated seemed to be in Stella’s gaze, as if she were tangled in a chain of emotions.
Louise glimpsed that Stella’s pale cheek was swollen red, as if someone had struck her. Louise knew exactly what kind of professor would do this.
What a horrible thing to do. The fairy godmother who helped her get to the Academy probably raged, “Why didn’t you take first place? I supported you!” then beat the poor Cinderella. That woman was not a fairy godmother. She was a terrible villain who wanted to use Stella. Why didn’t Louise notice it when she read the original novel?
Come to think of it, at the end of Stella’s and Ian’s sweet story, it was the Countess Lassen who benefited most. Perhaps the professor’s goodwill toward Stella wasn’t goodwill at all. Of course, “The Academy’s Secret Lovers” was not a story where such political relationships were shown in detail. It was a novel that depicted two people’s passionate love for each other in all the spaces of the Academy.
Louise called out to her, but Stella fled from the area. Maybe she didn’t want anyone to see her swollen cheek.
“You don’t seem very happy. You were so nervous.”
Before she knew it, Ian appeared by her side.
“Heh heh, I’m really happy, of course.”
“You almost failed one test, so how on earth did you do well enough on your other tests to get first place?”
Ian spoke rather grumpily. Speaking like that, Ian was also the best student in his year.
“I was lucky. The problems were exactly what I studied beforehand.”
“Did my notes help?”
He didn’t forget to mention his offer.
“Yes, the president’s notes saved my life.”
“That’s good. Then you have no problem if I use your time for a little while, right?”
“You want to use my time?”
Louise replied, feeling as if she were about to faint. How could the devil act so coolly at her expense?
She didn’t want to admit it, but she had been driving herself hard lately. It had been a marathon of working on reports, delivering them, and receiving tasteless gummy candies in return. Louise had hardly slept, and now he wanted her time. Probably her whole life. She didn’t know what purpose he had in mind.
“Yes. You don’t have much to do from today anyway.”
“That’s not true. There’s a book I want to read and I’m also going to help weed the caretaker’s field. Then I’ll also help Professor Hill prevent greenhouse pests.”
Ian frowned as Louise counted all the tasks with her fingers.
“When did you start becoming everyone’s servant? I think you should put a notice on your broad forehead that you’re mine.”
“I’m mine. I can’t do anything for you!”
“Your labor belongs to me now. You can’t give anyone else even a single minor muscle movement.”
What a wicked tyrant! Louise glared sourly at Ian.
“It’s been a long time since I last saw you with that kind of face.”
He covered his mouth as he chuckled. Somehow he seemed pleased with Louise’s profane expression.
“Sometimes I think you’re becoming more and more like Simon.”
“Acting all kind and sweet?”
“No, I mean sometimes I can’t figure you out.”
Louise put on a broad smile, and Ian tapped her forehead with his finger.
“Come with me anyway. I’m the one who will take over your time and muscles now.”