How I met her was not something extraordinary. I, Mia, simply started attending one of the schools attended by royalty. My parents saw it necessary to send me there, because they thought that going to a school for common people would only cause me problems. And giving private lessons inside the palace was not an option either, since I had been studying that way all my life.
I can't say I remember that day like it was yesterday, because it wouldn't be true. But what I do remember is the first moment I actually talked to her. In the first few days of class, I simply saw her as just another classmate. She wasn't even the classmate I was most fond of at the time. That was Joanna. But it didn't take me long to discover how special Pauline was.
That first day at the school I attended, I sat in the seat assigned by the teacher, according to the order of our last names. Our class was mixed, so there were princes, princesses and other royalty. Everyone there was very well dressed, in a very elegant way. I was no less so, as my frilly green dress seemed to attract quite a bit of attention.
The classroom was decorated with all kinds of ornaments that, if I tell the truth, seemed to me like an overly ornate room. The walls were white, but you could hardly see them because of the amount of furniture in the room. At the windows, there were dark red curtains. It was not the decor I would have chosen, but there was nothing I could do about it either. All the tables were made of hardwood, as were the chairs.
The teacher mentioned the name of the classmate who would be sitting next to me. Joanna was her name. She approached me, as I had been called to sit down before. Her long black dress looked quite simple, but she was so pretty that she could wear it as if it were the best dress in the world. Her hair was also black, and she wore it in a half updo.
As she sat next to me, the contrast between us was obvious. Her, black hair and black dress, all quite simple. And then there was me, blonde hair and a bright green dress. But, contrary to what I had partly imagined, the focus didn't seem to be on her, or on me. In fact, it didn't seem to be focused on anyone, and everyone seemed to be focused on themselves.
"Hi. My name is Mia, princess of Velvet Ville, " I said to Joanna, flashing a small smile. "Nice to meet you."
"The pleasure is all mine, " she replied. "I think you already know that, if you paid attention when the teacher named me. But my name is Joanna, just in case you found yourself a little absent-minded. I don't know anyone, so I hope we can get along."
Joanna's words were always kind, but both the first time she spoke to me and many times after that, her tone was very serious. Her way of speaking was very monotonous, and she didn't smile often. She was the complete opposite of me, not only in her clothes, but also in the way she was.
Although I don't remember when Pauline was introduced, probably because it was at the time I was talking to Joanna, I could see her sitting in one of the seats behind us. Her hair was brown and long, and she wore it down. Her clothes weren't the most striking in the whole class, but she was wearing a pretty dress. And about her face, she was pretty.
I didn't speak to her at that time, since they kept naming the rest of the class and it seemed disrespectful to turn my back, since there was no other way to speak to her. It wasn't until that day after class that I spoke to her.
For all of us students who would be staying in the rooms at the school, we were given a key to get in, and we were assigned a room number. I had the room number sixteen, and Joanna had the same room as me. I knew this as soon as the keys were handed out to us, due to the fact that we both went together to pick them up after our last class of the day was over.
What they had not told us about was the number of students per room. On the way to the room we chatted about what it would be like our first time sharing a room with another person.
"I'm glad you're the one I'm sharing a room with, " I said, smiling rather relieved.
"I share your opinion. I have to say I was dreading the uncertainty of not knowing who my roommate would be, " Joanna replied.
To our surprise, there were more than two beds in the room. I hadn't even considered that they might have divided up the rooms by roll call order. But, after finding out who my other two roommates would be, I knew it had been that way.
About a quarter of an hour after we arrived, we heard a noise coming from the door. Our classmate who sat behind us in class, the one named Pauline, was there. Also standing next to her was the girl who sat behind her, as Pauline's tablemate was a boy. So it was reasonable my theory that the rooms were handed out in order of lists, to everyone who had wished to be assigned one.
"Hello!" said the girl next to Pauline. "I think we're roommates, nice to meet you! My name is Michiko, and I'm the princess of Strong Wings."
I had never heard of that place, but it was always good to learn new things. Michiko had black hair, just like Joanna, but she wore it above her shoulders. Her clothes didn't look too expensive and, although she wasn't the prettiest girl in the world, she had a pleasant face to look at.
"I'm Pauline, and I come from Siren. I suppose you've heard quite a bit about there. It's quite well known, " she said, looking carefully at Joanna and me.
Joanna, who was the princess of Blue Lake, and I introduced ourselves. Joanna did so with her serious countenance as she had previously spoken, but with wonderful courtesy. Neither Joanna nor Pauline had smiled during their introductions, but the way they both expressed themselves felt very different. Joanna was serious but polite. Pauline seemed more like she didn't feel like being there, as if she had been forced. Her manners were not the best.
After her introduction, Pauline proceeded to sit on one of the beds. The room was quite large, and was decorated in shades of reddish and brown, with many decorations just like the classroom we were in that morning. Inside, there were two closets spacious enough for all our clothes to fit perfectly. There were also four single beds, which were not too big, which I was not used to since the bed in my room at Velvet Ville was huge and very green. These were wine red which, while not bad, would not be what I would have chosen.
During the first few days of my stay at the school, everything felt strange. I had been used to being alone all my life. I hadn't had relationships with many people on the outside, and I pretty much only interacted with my parents and some of our servants. I never forgot to write letters to my parents.
It's been two weeks since I've been here. It's fun. The classes are not much fun, but I have made a very good friend. I mentioned her to you in another letter. The one who told me she really liked coffee, her name was Joanna. She's still very serious, but I've been able to see her smile three times. She must really like me. I also get along pretty well with another girl, her name is Michiko and she's another one of my roommates. The one I don't get along with too well is Pauline, another one of my roommates. But don't worry, Mom. I'll do my best to get along with her. I want to have a pleasant stay. How are you doing over there? Has anything new happened in Velvet Ville? It's hard to know about things when I'm here, so it would be great if you could keep me informed.
Your dearest daughter, Mia.»
I had already received letters from my mother responding to me. Luckily, the letters didn't take long to arrive, since Velvet Ville wasn't too far from the school. But my father still didn't reply to any of them, which made me a little sad, but I understood that he must be too busy to reply.
The days went by quite normally. I was going to class, studying and chatting about all kinds of subjects with Joanna. She was smiling more and more, which made me feel happy, since she was only doing it with me. She was still the same princess who was being polite and serious to other people.
Just as my relationship with Joanna was getting better and better, my relationship with Pauline did not seem to be moving forward. After school, she would come to our room, sit or lie on her bed and hardly talk to the three of us. Sometimes, she would seem to overhear us talking, but would only intervene to ask questions like who was going to take a bath first.
It wasn't until one day when I was alone in the room with her that I began to get to know her a little better.
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