“Hey, have you heard about that new student coming to our school?”
“Right, my mom’s part of the school board, she was there for the whole process.”
“Wait, is it true then? What they say about her?”
“About that whole situation!”
“Wait, what are you two talking about?”
“So, we’re getting a new classmate?”
“Classmate?! She’s joining our class?”
“So, I’ve heard. Anyway, what I also heard from my mom, is that she must be royalty.”
“Exactly, they say that the king himself ordered her to be allowed to enroll in our school!”
“THE-! Are you kidding me?”
“Why on earth would the king have her enroll? Unless she’s royalty...”
“Why would she go to a commoner school though? Unless she got kicked out, or her family has been disgraced and had to move.”
“The king wouldn’t back them up in that case though.”
“Her father didn’t look much like a royal too.”
“You saw him?”
“Yes, I was waiting to pick my mother up the other day-”
“Oh my god, I think that’s her...”
Okay Via, just like you practiced. Straight back, looking straight ahead, hands in front carrying your bag.
Whenever Via got nervous about a situation, she’d repeat the code of conduct she had learned all her life. It was all about appearing dignified.
Despite looking straight ahead and above the heads of most students – apart from being among the oldest students, she was also rather tall for her age – she couldn’t help but notice the gazes of her fellow students.
She repeated the mantra in her head, as she walked towards the door of the main school building.
Straight back. My back is straight enough, right? Straight ahead, hands in front- god I hope my hair isn’t messed up. I didn’t put the uniform on wrong, did I?
She so desperately wanted to steal a proper glance at the other students to check for their looks and behavior, but she was stuck in her state of dignity. She couldn’t just drop her façade. What would become of her, if she decided to throw away what she learned all her life?
Somehow, she made it into the building without tripping over the small step in front of the door.
“Wah, that must be her, without a doubt!”
“She really doesn’t look like she belongs here.”
“She’s so tall! Are you sure she isn’t older than us?”
“Really gives you some perspective on what people from the other city are like.”
“Her magic must be through the roof, there’s no way. Her hair is such a nice silver, I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
“Maybe it’s just a really well-done dye-job?”
“No way in hell, idiot.”
“Speaking of idiots, I can already see the guys popping some boners from afar.”
“Thanks, I did not want to hear that.”
“Wanna bet she gets approached by at least one of them by the end of today?”
“Nah, there’s going to be at least two or three.”
“If she rejects one of them, it’s gonna spread like wildfire though.”
“Yeah, but some idiot won‘t let himself be discouraged by that, because he’s not like the other guys.”
“Well, she sure isn’t like the other girls.”
“Maybe she’s lesbian.”
“Would be good for you, eh?”
“Nah, she’s not my type. And seeing her all high and mighty like that... I don’t think she’d even say hello to me, when we meet in the corridor or something...”
Via took deep breaths, as she straightened her back while sitting on the toilet lid.
She couldn’t remember the way she took to get to the toilets at all. She asked a teacher, she thought. Or possibly a student? Oh, for the love of the gods, please don’t let that be true.
She blacked out completely after entering the school building and was now trying to calm her anxiety.
There wasn’t much that could go wrong anymore. After leaving the toilet, she’d go straight to her classroom, and sit in class for the day. She wouldn’t have to talk to anyone, and people would be too busy studying to pay her any attention anyway.
She’d manage, she always has.
Standing up, she took another few deep breaths, taking comfort in the feeling of her chest expanding. She was alive.
Taking her bag with her, she exited the cabin to wash her hands and face.
Her perfect mirror face looked back at her. Not a strand of hair out of place.
She let a little cackle slip, smiling at her image.
She got it.
That wasn’t Via’s voice.
She turned to her right and there stood a girl. She was a bit shorter than Via, and had a cute pixie cut that was maybe a bit overgrown. Her hair color was difficult for Via to define. It reminded her of her own, but a bit duller. Maybe it was closer to gray? She couldn’t possibly possess that much magic. Maybe she dyed it or had some rare disorder. Maybe her ancestry had something to do with the magic folk?
“Hi, are you okay? You’ve been staring at me.”
“Oh, I apologize so very much.” Via almost jumped into a slight apologetic bow.
“Geez, you really are a royal, aren’t you?” the girl commented, her voice deep and relaxed.
In an instant Via grew incredibly self-conscious again. The difference in their mannerisms was too obvious.
“Take it easy, it’s your first day here, right? There’s been lots of talk surrounding you, but just don’t try to pay too much attention to that. The gossip will go down eventually.”
Via took another look at the mirror. She really was standing out a lot.
“Do you already know, which class you’re in?” the girl asked casually, while washing her hands.
“I think, class 3-3?”
“Oh cool, we’re in the same class then.”
“My name’s Alberta, most people just call me Alba, though.”
“I’m Latvia. Via for short.”
“Nice. See you around then.”
Alba raised her hand as she walked past Via and left through the door.
Via was too flabbergasted to say anything in response.
Making sure Alba was a considerable distance away from her, Via followed her. She didn’t know where the classroom was yet, but she didn’t want to make things to awkward.