Day 10 Month 7 Year 976.
As promised, I went to Harmonia Academy with my mom. Oh, and I made sure to make both of my eyes blue as I wanted to conceal my identity as the Hartmann family’s daughter to avoid any kind of bias… if there’s any… bad bias, especially.
Though those who recognized my mom and saw me with her would find out my identity. But at least, I won’t get questioned about how my eyes have different colors! I’ve got that questions a lot by the other children, so I don’t really want to spend my time here by explaining it.
After being separated from my mom, I followed the teacher in front of me with the other 30 children my group (examinee number 1-30 for this day) to enter our examination room. Apparently, my schedule today starts with interview exams, followed by psych-test.
After that, those who apply for the special class should remain to do the other tests. The schedule starts with basic knowledge exams followed by the batches of physical combat exams and magic exams, so I will probably be in the early batch for physical combat exam and the late batch for the magic exam.
Yup, I am planning to take all exams, obviously! More points will be better! For reassurance!
We were gathered in a room and were told to sit down according to the number. They would call us one by one to conduct a short interview.
Once the teacher finished giving the instructions, he called #1 to enter. After that, an uproar began. The children quickly gathered to talk with one another, trying to play, and other things.
I nervously took a glance at my surroundings. Not good, they all seem to have friends…? Or is it that they quickly “click” with one another? I missed my chance to gather with them, too. After all… I became a good kid and obeyed the teacher, so I remained in my seat calmly as the other began to get noisy…
Did I miss my first opportunity to make a friend?
Just as I gazed right behind me, I noticed that there was a lovely girl sitting there! She didn’t seem to be talking to other children. She just gazed down at her hands and—oh, she’s trembling!
…Her short hair’s color is shadow grey and with how she bent down, it covered her face… wait, you aren’t the notorious ghost, right?
“U-uhm…,” I decided to call her out.
“Hiiiii! Eh, ah? Y-yes?”
Her first reaction: she reflexively distanced her body (slight movement) from me in surprise, but then she tried to lean towards me… and her trembling got worse…
“Are you all right?” I can’t help but ask that.
“Y-y-yes, I… I’m fine!”
No, you are not.
How will you handle the interview if you behave like this?
“I’m Lyra, what’s your name?”
Okay, first, let’s exchange names!
“I… I… I’m Iris…”
Well, my neck will hurt if I were to talk with her posing like this. I saw that the seat beside her was empty, so might as well move there to talk with her, right?
“Iris, may I sit next to you?”
“E-eh? I, it’s okay…”
So, I moved right away next to her~!
…is this my first time to take the initiative to befriend someone off my own accord in my two lifetimes?
Ah, it seems that our height is almost the same, while her body seems to be smaller… thinner(?) than me. She is a timid child that can’t stop trembling… I bet her hands are cold by now.
Upon moving closer, I can take a better view of her face! Ooh, she’s quite cute, huh? Her eyes are also grey, but of a different shade than her hair. It’s a charcoal grey.
She kept trembling and sometimes took a quick glance towards me before turning her head down again.
Am I scary?
I’m positive my face is friendlier than my past self’s face…
I even think that my current face is a face that’s easy to bully!
…not a thing that I can be proud of, but that’s the degree of how unscary I should be.
When I noticed it, she seemed to be putting her hands together—is she praying?
Praying can be one of many ways for someone to calm down, but I think this little one needs more than just praying… What caused her to be so afraid in the first place?
I softly called out to her, but she didn’t seem to hear me, so…
I gently placed my hand on top of hers—ah see? I was right! Her hands were cold! She was soooo nervous!
“Your hands are so cold, so I’m warming them up!”
She finally raised her head to look at me and after observing my face (is there something on my face?), she started to calm down a bit and received my hands as her hand-warmer!
“A-ah, thank you…”
“Can I ask why you’re so nervous?”
I bluntly asked her. I mean, her anxiety was way beyond normal… right?
“…I have to… enroll here… at all cost,” she said as her grip to my hands were tightened. Her face turned from an anxious face to a determined one.
“But…,” she added, “I’m afraid I will mess it up… especially… the interview part… The adults will surely look at me… right? It’s scary…”
I nodded as I could somehow understand her thoughts. Yes, the interview and practical exams were the most exhilarating parts.
“Let see… Iris, do you like to play with dolls?”
…Yes, I know, this seems to be so out-of-topic, but nah! Just wait and see!
Because I didn’t respond, Iris finally answered me with a puzzled look.
“Good! Then, imagine you’re talking to your dolls during the interview!”
She stayed silent, but I could see how she looked surprised at her expression alone! I’m sure she didn’t think of that at all!
Well, back then as Reinst, I tried the same method so I could stop being anxious talking to others. Then, after I got used to talking to others, I learned to treat them just like how Mother taught me as I would be the future queen.
“W-what if I…”
This pattern! Back then, I also pondered a lot about “what ifs”, but I only uttered it in my mind and tried to act cool, as I was expected to behave like that.
“No, don’t think about that what ifs and focus on imagining that you’re talking to your dolls! Everything will be fine… Just know that I’ll be rooting for you!” I also tightened my grip on her hands.
“Ah… you will…?” Iris showed her astonishment.
“Of course! You’re the first person I talked to among the other children. I want us to be at the same school, then we can be friends!”
I’m not lying. She doesn’t seem to be like the other calculating or scary noble girls. I think I can get along well with her.
“Friends?” She looked at me with her sparkling eyes.
“Yup, friends!” I smiled.
“Promise?” She then shoved her right pinky to me.
“Alright,” I linked my pinky finger with hers and talked reflexively, “cross my heart and hope to die!”
“…what?” She blinked after hearing my words.
“You don’t know?”
She shook her head.
“It means that it’s a sincere promise, and I will fulfill it!”
“Is it the same as ‘pinky promise, if you lie, you will drink a thousand needles’?”
She asked and melodiously uttered that phrase.
…wow, that scary line! I wonder when was the last time I heard that? Or read that? We have culture difference here!
“Yes, yes, I think they mean the same thing!”
“Then, promise, ‘kay?” She smiled and shook my pinky which was entwined to her own pinky. I giggled at this girly or childish gesture that I wanted to experience before. …Wait, Nicole did force me to pinky promise her something, but since I was older than my age right now and I was expected to not act childish at that age, I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I am right now.
But, isn’t this normal for girls my age, anyway? For my family, I know this practice is normal as they always say that line, ‘cross my heart and hope to die’ that it becomes my reflex!
“Hehe, thank you, Lyra! I’m so happy about that promise!”
The girl who kept trembling just now, who seemed like a ghost—is now smiling happily and has stopped trembling.
Okay, +1 to my good deeds bank!
How many more do I need to break free of my curse—wait what no, I am not a cursed villain who needed to do how many acts of kindness to break free from my curse.
Hmm yeah, I want to reread that book, but I forgot what the title was…
“Me too! By the way, what’s your number?”
“I’m number 22! What about you?”
“I’m 21! What a coincidence!”
“O-oh… I shouldn’t be more nervous than you based on our order, right? Aren’t you nervous, Lyra?”
She somewhat showed her apologetic expression.
No, there is no need for me to be nervous for just this. I have been through some more nerve-wrecking things, on top of getting so used to perform well as Reinst.
Nah, there is no way I can reply her that way!
I smiled and answered, “Nope!”
“Hee, Lyra is so cool! I wish I can be so brave as you…”
I often had doubts in my mind.
I was afraid of many things in this life.
But this girl thinks that I’m brave.
Does that mean I’m underestimating myself too much, or it’s just she’s overestimating me?
But it feels nice to hear her words, and what’s even more, I know that she’s very sincere when she said those words.
“I’m not that brave… but maybe… it’s because I have people who are there for me?”
Wait, I spoke without putting too many thoughts to my words that I even got surprised myself. Is this my real feelings?
I don’t seem to be so nervous or acting stiffly because… I believe that there are people who are willing to stay by my side, supporting me?
And those people are…
My family members’ faces (including Niina, Vince, Chloe, and Clavis!) and my friends’ faces are popping out one by one in a rapid succession in my mind.
Because I feel somewhat touched, I feel a stinging sensation in my eyes and instinctively shift my glances to the ceilings.
I don’t know since when it is, but I think I am free from the doubts clouding my mind, about how they will all just stay away from me if I show them any of my flaws or anything that they don’t like.
Instead of wishing for things to stay this way for just a bit longer, I’m thinking of tomorrow. Have I begun to take things for granted? Or it’s just my adaptive skills?
“…That’s nice…,” Iris muttered.
“Hmm? Obviously, Iris also has some people who will be there for you, right?”
“Eh? You think so?”
“Yeah, I mean, at the very least, I know that you have me here!”
Iris’ eyes widened as she remembered how I would be rooting for her. She then smiled widely—ah, how lovely.
“Thank you! I really hope we can be best friends!” Iris hugged me.
This feels nice…
She’s small, but thankfully she is not too skinny. Or else, she would be malnourished!
Best friends… That idea sounds nice.
…Nicole’s face flashed before me.
Somehow, I started to wonder if her affection for me back then was genuine… I felt slightly guilty when I thought that she might genuinely want to be my friend.
There are things that you consider the truth in the past, but as time passes and as you learn and experience more in this world, you will start to doubt that “truth”. Perhaps, something isn’t exactly what you thought it was.
As Iris let go of her embrace, I was slightly dazed off.
I quickly stood up and walked to the teacher who called my number. But before I walked even further, I stopped to look back at Iris and said.
“I’m off first, Iris! Look at my face after I’m back from the inside, and you will feel relaxed, I assure you! I will tell them to treat the person coming after me nicely~!”
…and I slightly winked at her. Obviously, the last line was my white lie to assure her even further.
“Th-thank you and good luck, Lyra!”
As I waved my hand at Iris, I continued to walk and enter the interview room.
Phew, the interview was done very quickly!
The interviewers were friendly—I bet they are teachers for Basic Level 1.
They didn’t ask for any weird things; only the small matters, just like how Dad asked me to introduce myself to him. Guess Dad’s blessing and training(?) really worked!
I think they just wanted to know us, how we could behave ourselves and answer them nicely.
When I stepped out of the interview room and when the assigned teacher called for Iris, we met in the middle of our ways. I smiled widely and it somehow managed to decrease Iris’ nervousness (it’s showing on her face!)
I whispered [good luck] to her. I’m sure she heard it, because I saw the corner of her mouth slightly curled up.
After that, the children my batch who’s done with the interview are taken to another room to wait for the next test, the psych-test, which will be very easy for me, as my mental age, HAHAHAHA! What is this? Having my memories becomes somewhat a cheat in this kind of situation?
When Iris stepped out of the room, she sighed in relief and smiled back at me. We sat next to each other and talked again, of course our topic was about the interview test just now!
“It’s all thanks to you, Lyra! I imagined that the adults were my bunny doll, my bear doll, and my little puppy doll!”
“No problem at all, I’d be happy if we can meet every day at school~!”
I’m glad I can help her, who might be my first female friend!
We are already friends even before we get enrolled?
That might be true. I don’t want to deny any friendship now. Not like how I closed off myself and denied it back then, and how it made me wonder about my past relationships now.
“Next up is psych-test, aren’t you psyched up for it?” I jested.
“I’m confident enough with this one!” Iris didn’t show any sign of anxiety anymore, which made me believe in her confidence.
Shortly after that, the psych-test started~!
As I finished it earlier and there was plenty of time left before I could go to the next part of the Special Class selection, I moved my test paper up and slept on my table.
As I closed my eyes, my mind started to wander off again, like how would children who can’t read take this test?
Well, normally their parents or guardians will teach them to read and write at around 4 years old, but for those who only have illiterate parents…? I think I must ask Luca about it? Or should I ask my parents?
Hmmm… oh, a cat is hunting a fish and eating it deliciously, yum yum…
I think the cat is me, then…
Chasing after butterflies, napping here and there, eating delicious fish and milk… Fuwaaa!!
“Lyra, Lyra, wake up!!”
I was woken up by Iris and I quickly straightened my body. God, did I just fall deep asleep?!
Uhh, my hand, the blood wasn’t running well there as I used it as my pillow, and I think my face has a slight red mark on it, the mark that proved how deeply asleep I was!
“Ah? Has the test ended? Oh, my paper…”
I looked ahead and saw a teacher was trying to wake me up to inform me that she would be taking my test answer sheet away. I consented and quickly glanced at the stand-by staff who was calling out for those who wanted to go straight ahead to the special class selection exams.
“Oh, Iris, Are you going to take the magic exam or physical combat exam?”
“Ah? No, I’m not taking either…”
…my bad, I forgot that not all people are going to take the special class selection exams. It’s too bad that I can’t become classmates with Iris, but so long as we’re in the same academy, then it’s good!
Ah, the staff is going to leave at this rate with the other children, I’d better go after them!
“Ah then, see you at school, Iris! I gotta go because I am going to take the special class exams!”
I wanted to reply more but I had to chase after the leaving small group, so I quickly dashed forward as Iris was still packing her things.
“It’s fine, I’m sure we will be accepted into Harmonia Academy! Talk to you later-!” I quickly waved my hand and continued to give a chase forward, leaving Iris who seemed bewildered.
Time for a set of the more challenging exams, but not that challenging for me, though!
…Maybe the only challenging thing is magic!
Special class, Lyra is coming!
I swear on my previous life as Reinst that I will enter the special class!!!
As I caught up with the other group of children, I slowed my pace and walked together with them. Hmm yeah, the number’s reduced significantly, as expected.
The other children who are not taking the next exams will be sent back to their guardians or parents so they can go straight home.
I walked with my mind started to trail off here and there, imagining how the exams will be like, when I felt someone tugging on my arms.
I reflexively turned over and saw… Iris?!
[Hidden chapter title—full title unlocked! Chapter 45: Entrance Exams and… Iris! ☆ ]