“Although the dorm application deadline has passed, it seems that there may have been some misunderstanding or extraordinary circumstances for you, Miss. After all, our staff is here to help students,” she added gently.
“If you submit your application before today’s 6 p.m. deadline, we’ll assign you a new room.”
Why the sudden favor to me?
Even a child could sense something suspicious about it.
But with the growing crowd behind me and the increasing commotion, I couldn’t just stand there.
I grabbed the pen on the counter.
“All right, I’ll write the documents right now.”
Even though I was ready to sign, she firmly refused.
She took the pen from my hand, the soft fur brushing against my fingers as it slipped away.
“This is something I do at my discretion, so you can’t rewrite documents that require the headmaster’s seal or other official procedures.”
“Then what are you saying…?”
“You mentioned that you sent the application, so it’s likely that some careless servant dropped it on the way, or maybe you left it somewhere in the mansion.”
Giggles spread among the onlookers, anticipating what was about to happen.
Hélène’s melodious laughter was faintly heard amidst it all.
“Go find it. Then I’ll give you the room.”
Lady Hayden spoke cheerfully.
This is absurd. Go find the documents? How should I know where they are?
Besides, this happened two weeks ago. Even if they were dropped somewhere, the chances of finding them in the same place are slim.
Although she pretended to be doing me a special favor by accommodating me, it was clearly meant to ridicule me.
Disgusted by the smirking faces in front of me, I turned around.
At that moment, my breath caught in my throat and I froze.
In the middle of the hall, amidst the scattered belongings, far more students than before were standing and muttering, watching the situation unfold.
The sound of their chattering and murmuring stung my ears.
Everything felt so familiar… It was as if I had returned to when I was fourteen, and my surroundings blurred for a moment.
Suddenly I was at a loss.
Like a sheep or a goat among wolves, I felt lost and insecure, as if my flesh would be torn by fangs at any moment.
The figures around me seemed to grow grotesquely, like monsters in a hallucination.
A piercing pain from behind my head echoed like a heartbeat.
My throat tightened and my vision became blurred and distorted.
Amidst the spreading darkness, a face appeared vividly in front of me.
A face smirking at me from outside the entrance to the women’s dormitory where men were forbidden.
It was as if a splash of cold water had brought me back to my senses.
The weakness that had overwhelmed me vanished, replaced by anger.
My teeth clenched, grinding against each other. I thought of a rough plan based on past memories.
“But… there’s no guarantee it’ll work.”
If I use this to threaten her, I may be able to get a new set of documents and avoid immediate trouble.
But, she said, there might be problems later in the formal process, or the offended woman might retaliate even more.
“If there’s no proper reason or turning point, the threat won’t be effective.”
Ah, but no matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t come up with a solution to the current situation.
The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t use the dormitory.
If I can’t use it, I’ll just commute from DeSmear Mansion, inconvenient as it may be.
It’s not a catastrophic event or a trial that will break me and leave me in despair.
But even so, the question is how to escape from this commotion right now.
Just imagining myself sitting among those jester-like figures, trying to gather my belongings one by one or slip away through that small crack, made my vision turn red.
What was I going to do? I bit my lip.
“Heck… Ahem… Wait a minute!”
That was the moment. Someone took a deep breath and shouted in a loud voice.
Everyone, including me, turned their heads in that direction.
“Miss! Miss Khalia!”
Gasping for breath, she pushed through the crowd and rushed inside.
Her frantic call caused the people to part and make way for her.
She made it to me and put her hands on her knees, taking a deep breath.
“Aila? What’s going on?”
“Th-this, here… Huk… I think someone left it… Huhuh… and I found it…”
She proudly held out what she was holding in her hands – a dorm application form, crumpled and showing signs of her efforts to straighten it.
“How did you…?”
Panting, I heard gasps of surprise from those around me. But I was the most astonished.
Where did she find the dorm application form, and even more surprisingly, why did she bring it at this very moment?
At first, I accepted the document. After careful examination, it was indeed the one I had written.
“A young maid came to me and said that today was the day for the servants’ quarters to be thoroughly cleaned. She found this with your name on it in the trash and brought it to me immediately.”
Aila straightened her back, looking pleased with herself.
“I see.” I looked up and glanced at Redmoore.
He was still outside, mingling with my subordinates, but when our eyes met, he sneered, stuck out his tongue, and finally disappeared.
“I’ll show that little rascal soon enough.”
I approached Lady Hayden first.
With each step, her face lit up, which was quite satisfying to watch.
I slammed the crumpled documents down on the counter.
I used enough force to hurt my overturned hand, but I didn’t show it. I spoke calmly, without any ups and downs.
“Madam, I have the documents you were talking about.”
“Congratulations, Miss Estelle.”
“Now that there are no more problems, will you kindly assign me a room as you suggested?”
“Yes, of course.”
She chewed her lips and flipped through the papers a few times before writing my name on the last page.
She tapped the room next to where she was filling in.
“Give me the room at the end of the corridor. I don’t want to be disturbed. Oh, and I don’t like rooms that are too high. If it’s on the second or third floor, that would be great.”
“I’ll assign you room 310.”
She handed me the dormitory admission policy and other related documents, which I snatched away.
Seemingly displeased with her pride, she quickly tried to end the conversation.
“Now, please arrange your belongings and get settled…”
“Of course. No need to say it, I was going to do that anyway. Now, Lady Hayden, I’d like to ask a favor of you.”
“What is that?”
I dramatically extended my arm and pointed to the center of the hall.
“Would you please arrange my things? As you can see, everything is a mess, and I don’t want to touch it. Since you’ve already shown consideration, how about showing a little more compassion?”
“What are you saying?”
“Valentine’s staff is here to help the students, right? You should do your duty.”
“Unfortunately, Miss Estelle, that is not my responsibility.”
She stiffened her expression and firmly refused. She sat at the bar, resting her hands on it and lowering her head slightly toward me.
She trembled slightly, taken aback by the sudden intrusion.
The creases around her ears began to tingle gently as I brought my lips close to hers.
I whispered each word, making sure they went straight into her ear canal.
“At the Glittering Square, take the third street southwest. Go past the Blue Sparrow Inn, then turn right and look for the green gate on the fifth house.”
The people around us muttered, unaware of what we were saying.
Only her eyelids began to tremble, and her voice filled with astonishment.
“What, what are you saying…”
“You have two sons downstairs and a beautiful little daughter who just started walking. I saw her chasing butterflies in the yard once. Her wheat-colored hair was so adorable… It would be a shame if something happened to her.”
Interesting fact: If your father is a crazy arsonist, you can make a good reputation by selling his name.
People actually think I might be crazy, too. They’re not entirely wrong.
“Ah, ah, what, what… I can’t do this. I can’t let this happen to my child…”
I calmly released my grip on her. Savoring the sweet taste of victory that lingered on my tongue, I asked:
“Shall we, my lady?”
There was no need to finish my sentence. The lady stood up, her body shaking, and stepped out from behind her small territory, the counter.
She looked like a defeated lord coming out of the castle gate with the white flag, or an old crab losing its shell.
Why do parents love their children so much?
She hesitated and finally reached out, slowly extending her hand toward the center of the hall where my luggage was scattered like a tomb.
Her wrinkled fingers touched the ivory shawl that had slipped out of the traveling bag.
After a moment’s hesitation, she picked it up… and folded it neatly before placing it back in the bag.