Section 11: Ribbon
My second morning after enrolling in Eleonora Academy.
I put on the school uniform custom tailored by the castle’s fifty seamstresses and traveled to the school’s gate with Rose-san and the others seeing me through the gate.
[Classmate A]: “Good morning”
[Classmates B]: “Good morning♪“
Unlike yesterday where I came to school later on in the day, this morning the school’s front courtyard was fill with young ladies.
Just like Noelia-san had said, the benches and pavilions scattered across the school’s garden were filled with bright smiling girls all waiting for their classes to begin.
Then as I walked along, giving a sideways glance as these young ladies broke into friendly conversation like flowers in bloom,
that was when out of nowhere, a voice suddenly called my name from a bed of sweet peas on my left.
The classmate gave me the same polite greeting I’d been hearing all over the place since I got here.
Like a lady, like a lady……..
After returning to my room last night, I asked everyone what I should do to act more ladylike.
[Saluena]: “You’re already lovely enough as you are.”
I expected that response from Saluena.
[Toslin]: “Hm~. I’m not exactly a good person to be asking………”
That one was from Toslin.
[Carol]: “Ladylike? Iris? Pufufufufu”
The slightly rude response came from Carol.
[Lapris]: “It’s impossible for you, so just give up.”
The extremely rude response came from Lapris.
[Rose]: “Let me see. Straighten your back, lift your chin up, and lean your face forward a little when looking at another person. Do not bow your head at that point. Stay firm and look directly at the other person while smiling without showing your teeth. Yes, just like that. Very cute.”
And that was Rose-san’s advice. But, I’m aiming to be ladylike, not cute right? There was one point there that had me worried, but since Rose-san was the only one to give me any useful advice on being a lady, I had nothing to compare it with.
Afterwards though, I had Rose-san and Noelia-san spend a whole hour with me last night drilling ladylike behavior into my head.
That’s why I should be able to do it now. Ladylike behavior is within my grasp!!
[Iris]: “G-Good morning”
Somewhere behind me, I heard somebody–probably Carol–burst into laughter.
[Lapris]: “So unnatural”
Followed by Lapris muttering that in my ear.
“Ara, what a beautiful uniform. The quality of the fabric appears to be much higher than our own. Where did you have it made?”
“Oh my, indeed. Your uniform suits you so well Calvafon-san.”
But, where’s the but? Surprisingly, the other girls kept talking without saying anything about it. It seems that Carol and Lapris’s laughter is just them being them.
One, two, three, four.
One after another after another…….it might not be appropriate to describe a gathering of ladies like that, but they really were all gathering around me like that.
“Well, who are these people with you Calvafon-san?”
“Are the fellows behind you the comrades mentioned in the songs?”
And then their attention naturally fell on Rose-san and the others.
Like a swarm of ravenous locusts descending on a field of crops……..no, this metaphor isn’t quite appropriate for a group of ladies either.
Hmm, yet after watching them brazenly pour one question after another onto Rose-san, Toslin, and Saluena while surrounding Carol to admire her bushy tail, I can’t say that my metaphor isn’t correct either.
[Grides]: “I-It is an honor to meet you, Rosalith Auroll-sama. I am the youngest child of the Montifi earls, Grides.”
“Wow, it’s an honor for me too. My name is Moria, the third daughter of the Antino viscounts. I hope we can get along well from now on!!”
Over a dozen students gathered around Rose-san specifically in the blink of an eye, and suddenly a battle of self-introductions began before me.
“Golden hair, eyes like emeralds…….and an elf……p-pardon, but m-might you be Tosrillon Iriburgh?”
[Toslin]: “Huh? Yes, that’s right……..”
Soon students began gathering around Toslin as well, and after she answered that first girl’s question, a row of self-introductions began around her as well.
“I-I…….I’m Azillia of the Miacis earl house!! I invited a bard to my home and have listened to their song about you over and over again! Did you really confront the dragon with a sword bathed in flames!? I w-would love to hear how you tell the story……….”
“S-So sly! I want to hear it too!”
“Please tell me about it too Tosrillon-sama!”
“Oh my god, Carotayle’s tail is so fluffy!”
“I-I want to feel it too!”
“Ahhn, amazing! It’s as fluffy as the puppy I keep at home!”
[Carol]: “H-Hold on…….I said you could touch it, but this is a little much. It’s already pretty…….”
Unable to hold themselves back, the students continued cuddling up and petting Carol’s tail.
It’s the kind of frenzy that makes me wonder where the school’s motto ‘Thou shalt act as a lady’ went.
[Saluena]: “Hoh, is that so? Then next time, let’s talk more just the two of us.”
“Ah, Saluena-sama…….I’m so happy I feel faint………”
Saluena……has brought a lone student over to an arbor with her somehow without me noticing.
Her finger is under the girl’s chin, lifting up her face before whispering something into the girl’s ear.
The whispered student has a bright red face, and I don’t need to watch her for too long to see that she’s been fooled by Saluena’s sweet mask.
And while her Oneesama is doing that…….I glanced at Rose-san.
However Rose-san is conversing with the students gathered around her while wearing a gentle smile as if whatever Saluena is doing has nothing to do with her.
Watching her, my heart started feeling murky.
I figured out the reason quick enough. It makes me feel uncomfortable seeing girls other than me right beside Rose-san.
(It looks like, Rose-san is having a lot of fun.)
Once I’ve figured out why I’m feeling like this, it didn’t take much work for me to realize what that feeling was. I’m jealous.
I couldn’t stop my chest from twisting itself into knots.
So I tried moving next to Rose-san.
To gently insist that the spot next to her belonged to me.
But at that moment, I heard a voice call out behind me. In the whole world, there’s only one person who calls me by that name.
[Iris]: “Ah, Lou-chan. Hel………Good morning.”
When I turned around, there was the green haired girl I had been expecting. Her front bangs hung low, hiding her forehead but stopping short of covering her eyes.
[Lou]: Mm, good morning. T-There are so many people here though………..”
[Lou]: “These people……..are you perhaps your comrades?”
I nodded, introducing each of my friends by pointing them out from within the gathered crowds.
[Lou]: “R-Rosalith-san…….would she perhaps be the daughter of the Auroll earls?”
[Iris]: “Yeah, that’s right.”
For me, this is the only Rose-san I’ve ever known, so her title has nothing to do with me.
That’s why I didn’t think much about it when I answered, but Lou-chan had a very different reaction.
[Lou]: “A-Airi-chan is truly an amazing person…….. I’m from a lowly baron’s house, so we’re not very balanced……..”
[Iris]: “Eh…….what are you talking about Lou-chan? We’re friends, so stuff like balance and titles don’t matter right?”
Even if the king and everyone else is treating me like a marquis, that doesn’t make me any less of a commoner. Ms. Odette told me when I first came to school that a student’s status didn’t matter here, but I still probably wouldn’t have any right to complain if some aristocrat punished me for being too familiar with them. At least, that’s how the book I read a long time ago made it sound.
[Lou]: “M-Mmn……. Y-You’re…….right. Sorry, for saying something strange……..”
[Iris]: “It’s fine it’s fine. We have magic practice today don’t we?”
I wanted Lou-chan to smile, so I changed my tone and tried getting her to raise her head.
But when Lou-chan looked at me………no, when she looked behind me, she froze.
[Iris]: “Huh? What’s wrong Lou-chan?”
Following her gaze, I turned around and found Rose-san standing right behind me.
[Rose]: “You are speaking to her so intimately Iris-san. Who is this?”
[Iris]: “Oh, Rose-san. Let me introduce you. This girl is Lou-chan, but her full name is……..”
[Lou]: “L-Lu Voux Konfiks! I’m, the eldest daughter of the Konfiks barony……. A-Airi-chan has been incredibly kind to me, and………”
[Iris]: “My nickname. It’s the first time I’ve ever gotten one. It feels so fresh, and I’m already glad I came to this school.”
[Rose]: “……..is that so?”
Rose-san watched me gush about my new friend before turning back to Lou-chan.
[Rose]: “Thank you for becoming Iris-san’s friend.”
[Lou]: “T-There’s no need to thank me! I’m the one who should be giving my thanks……..”
[Rose]: “My name is Rosalith Cuulbacall. I look forward to getting to know you better in the future.
[Lou]: “Ye-, YeYeYeYeyE….Yesh……….”
Rose-san was giving her trademark sweet smile, but for some reason Lou-chan went as pale as if she had seen the end of the world.
Is the difference between an earl and a baron really that great?
I’m not too familiar with noble structure, so I pondered on it for a bit while watching two reactions on complete opposite sides of the spectrum.
[Iris]: “……..um, Rose-san?”
With that being said, Lou-chan looks awful, and I’m starting to feel bad for her.
[Rose]: “Yes? What is it?”
As she turned her eyes towards me, I noticed the dozens of students standing behind her.
In a school of three hundred, a couple dozen students is a huge number.
[Iris]: “Um, are you okay? Coming this far in…….”
The flames of jealousy were smoldering in my heart, so it made me incredibly happy to have Rose-san leave that gaggle of girls and come over to me. I wanted to jump up and hug her here and now.
Doing that though would probably buy the ire of each of the dozen students who gathered here. In fact, I can already pick out a couple girls giving me dirty looks just from my hogging her like I have.
[Rose]: “I was wondering if Iris-san would notice before reaching your classroom…….”
Did I forget something? My textbook……..is in my bag, right where I left it. Writing utensils? I thought I grabbed those too. Yep, they’re in there.
I untied my bag and took a quick peek inside to confirm I had everything. It was when my attention was drawn away that…….
[Rose]: “Your ribbon has come undone.”
my hand froze as it rifled through my bag.
Rose-san reached out, grasping the white ribbon hanging around my chest.
A smooth, graceful sound reached my ears as my silk ribbon completely unraveled itself after Rose-san pulled on one end.
Rose-san immediately got to work retying it for me. Her nimble hands moved and wound together like magic……..soon pulling away to reveal a beautifully completed bow.
[Rose]: “Yes, that should do.”
As a finishing touch, Rose-san waved her finger like it were a magic wand and lightly poked the ribbon.
Ah, just now…….it felt so natural.
It was like an invisible wall that was always standing between us had disappeared, and it made me feel so incredibly………close to Rose-san.
[Rose]: “And I almost forgot to tell you how good you look in your new uniform. It is incredibly cute.”
[Iris]: “T……Thank you……..”
I immediately turned my head up and found Rose-san’s face close to my own.
But my voice as I thanked her shook a tiny bit.
Because my heart was thumping the entire time she was fixing my ribbon.
Rose-san straightened out her back, looking down on me with her head tilted and a finger resting on her chin.
I see, this is……..so that’s why then?
With Rose-san standing right in front of me, her genuine sweet smile on full display, I think I can understand why Lou-chan might have felt overwhelmed.
DING DONG BING BONG
The clock tower on the school grounds rang out through the air, signaling the start of the morning assembly.
[Iris]: “Oh no, I have to go!! Rose-san, um, I’ll see you later…….”
[Rose]: “Yes, have a good day at school. And be careful not to trip.”
I felt closer to Rose-san than usual as she waved me off.
[Iris]: “Lou-chan, hurry!! We’re going to be late!!”
I’m happy, but I really have to go.
With my hair flowing in the wind, I bolted towards the school building with Rose-san seeing me off.