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I look around but cannot distinguish my surroundings.

There’s a force weighting down on my neck and I struggle to fight it off, but find myself trapped. The air refuses to enter my lungs.

I look up to find a girl on top of me, her hands wrapped around my neck.

My hands immediately go to meet hers as I try to push her off.

Who are you?

Where am I?

Who am I?

… Who am I?

“If it wasn’t for you, it would have all went accordingly! Why must you stand in my way? Why!?”

The girl’s black hair rests on my cheeks making my surroundings appear darker. Her jewel-like blue eyes are fixated on me. I focus on her.

“I could hurt you enough you wouldn’t ever want to meet him again. Who could ever believe you anyway, someone like you… haha, ha.”

Aah, I know who I am. I know all too well.

“Or I could just kill you right here.” Her grip on my neck tightens.

And I know you too…

… Villainess.

 

 

 

My eyes shut open and I gasp for hair.

The sound of the rain outside the window fills my ears. I slowly sit up and touch my neck. Nothing.

I’m trembling. My heart beats painfully against my chest.

What a dream, that’s a first.

Well, well now…

Back to sleep, I guess.

 

 

 

After our outing in the forest things are slowly but surely changing.

To say nothing about how Tiane greeted me this morning.

I see the changes for my table neighbor as well. More people have been coming up to him, even though we used to be a little isolated. I’m happy for Matthew but it’s a bit lonely.

A teacher comes in, out of breath, interrupting my thoughts, “Kids! Ah, still a good number here… uff. Ahem, the lab exploded so you won’t have your next class. Now, I, uff, will be out to tell the rest!” The teacher makes an exaggerated wave and sprints out. What an eccentric girl.

I have the rest of the day free then.

 

 

 

I walk calmly through the hallways in direction to the library. Outside of the window you can see puddles of water from the rain last night. The sky has already cleared up and the sun reflects on the wet surfaces, leaving a sense of tranquility.

I open the door to the library.

Since I have time I decided it’s a good time to look for that adult material I so like.

Even though erotic material isn’t prohibited or heavily regulated, it’s not something this society is comfortable with. You can find erotic poetry very easily, but that’s more pretty than… you know.

I even made up a plan this time. If I find what I came for (I don’t have my hopes up, but I’m already used to do this) I will rent that book and a normal book. If the staff so happens to know the contents of the adult book, I will pass, not as a pervert, but as a person with broad interests!

Aren’t I so thoughtful?

I go to the section I find the most appropriate and start rummaging the shelves, starting with the synopsis to reading bits of the book to see if it interests me.

When I started gaining an interest in this sort of thing, I think the memories of my past life influenced me greatly. I started going through libraries and different merchants trying to find anything to read. Past me would have probably cried.

When I take my eyes off the shelf I see someone I know.

Noah?

At that moment our eyes lock on. He starts walking to me, but from the way he moved it gave the impression he initially intended to pretend he didn’t see me.

“Sophia. Good morning.”

“Good morning.”

“You’re on the library again. You’re so diligent.”

Diligent…

After an awkward pause he continues, “The lab exploded, did you know?”

“Yes. Now I’m having one less class.”

“Oh, you were going next. Sorry about that, it was my group.” He says in a relaxed tone that betrays the subject matter.

“What happened even?”

“Don’t know, didn’t see. Something about a red potion and a blue potion. But don’t worry, it happens from time to time. Really that guy… He is so good at alchemy, but then it always… Isn’t safety a big part in a lab? Makes you mad a guy like that is so good... Sorry, I’m rambling.” He turns his head to the side looking uncomfortable, “By the way, about that thing with Tiane, what did you do? I never thought that ploy would turn out this way.”

“That… It’s weird. I didn’t expect it, but I can’t say I’m surprised. This may be her way to mess with me. The fact she kept a pet was more of a shock honestly. She really seemed to like it too.”

“You seem to understand her quite well. I never got the impression you talked much.”

“It’s not like that.” I sigh

It would me more correct to say that I understand her temper, to a certain degree.

“I wish I knew what she wants from me though.”

I was so careful not to raise flags and I think I did well. I shouldn’t have done anything that would make me her enemy. Strictly speaking, I did nothing. What is she so fixated on?

“Did she find you out?”

“She shouldn’t have… no, I’m sure I wasn’t seen.”

“Maybe she didn’t, but her servants are another story. Her close aides are personally chosen by her father, the Duke. He is very strict with these matters.”

“No, they weren’t there.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“In a place like that I would have known.”

“You seem… very sure. Well, whatever. I never really understood her, that girl.” He shows a slight smile, “Isn’t it interesting.”

“How so?” I say annoyed.

“Anyways, good on you. Now you have the rest of the day free. I want someone to blow up the lab for me too. I have some stuff to do so I will get going now. Later~.”

How does he know I have the day free?

I don’t think I mentioned that. Does he know my schedule?

He knew my class from before so I know he searched me up but…

After I put myself together I go back to what I was doing. After a while I find an author I’m familiar with and take that with me.

 

 

 

Later that day, I go back to the dorm. To my surprise, Tiane is the first person I see.

“There you are.”

Something soft moves against my leg and I look down.

Christine? What is she doing on school?

“Don’t mind her. She is pretty, right? I wanted to keep her near me. It was rather tiresome to convince the principal, but it paid off.”

“I see… Is it really alright…? For her to stay here...”

The ones who tried to get rid of her were students.

“Yeah, she is here for everyone to see. Since it’s already like this they should properly take it in.”

I tilt my head, uncertain of the meaning of her words.

“Furthermore, if she goes missing, I know exactly who to blame. Ah I shouldn’t say that, my trusted aides here will properly take care of her. For now at least, I prefer it this way.”

Her chuckle, that sounded very innocent, made me shiver because of the context of the conversation.

This girl is dangerous, after all.

“I was thinking how we never talked much. So let’s talk, yes? But not here... Somewhere quiet would be good. Somewhere like…”

She looks down in thought and then glances at me. I doubt she hadn’t decided what to do before coming to me so her act looks theatrical to me. Still, I find it difficult to understand her meaning.

Seeing me keep quiet she turns her head disappointed.

“How about your room? Yes, your room will do.”

She speaks with an intensity and authority that doesn’t allow me to refuse

I really want to have a say in this though!

Still at a lost I guide Tiane to my room. It would be good if I can use this as an opportunity to understand what she is planning.

“Go in.”

“Thank y…?” She trails off and doesn’t finish her words, “Is this how the rooms used to be?”

Nobles normally remodel their room, she must mean that.

“Did you not see how it was originally?”

“I did not.” She says while looking around.

“You can sit down” I say indicating my bed.

Tiane does so. The teddy bear on my bed seems to catch her eye and she and looks at it curiously.

Christine, who also came, sits down under my writing desk. Is it really alright to bring a pet into other people’s rooms like that…

I discreetly give a look around the room to reassure myself there’s nothing bad on display and that everything is tidy.

“Do you like red?”

“Huh?” When I look at her again she has my bear on her lap and is inspecting the red bow on the bear’s neck carefully.

“The bow of the teddy bear is not stitched to the neck, it was probably put there afterwards. You also always wear that red ribbon, so I thought you liked it.”

“Ah, that. It’s my mom’s doing actually. She was the one who gave me the bear. She was also the one who taught me how to do my hair. She always goes on about how for a girl to be pretty she needs a well done hair and a good pair shoes. I much prefer pretty clothes myself. I do like red though. Of course, I have ribbons in other colours! For the hair, I mean, not the teddy bear...”

She puts the bear aside and merely says, “I see.”

“So, what did you want to talk about?” I try to go straight to the point.

She looks around my room again, “… It was nothing, after all.”

“?”

“Forget it, I don’t feel like it. I won’t bother you anymore. Let’s go Christine.”

I understand as much as when she came in.

Oh god…

Please give some closure.

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Rurin

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