We entered the classroom and sat in our seats. People noticed us in that short time and distance. No, only I was being observed. My seat was in the back where only new students gathered. The heroine Ms. Miu Yuuki sat next to me.
Ms. Miu Yuuki opened her eyes wide in surprise at my greeting. Exactly what kind of story did Lady Yuria Sakurada tell her? However, she returned my greeting with a cute smile. Ah, Ms. Miu Yuuki was a person with the charm that would have made her a popular female student in middle school. With a short bob haircut and a cute dimple, she would be the energetic, sprightly girl. The other new students watched our exchange, took out their smartphones, and did something on them. Ms. Miu Yuuki also looked at her smartphone. It appeared that the new students were messaging each other at the same time. Ms. Miu Yuuki had a troubled look and headed to the seat where the new students gathered.
On the other hand, I was preparing for my first-period class. Classes were the same across students, but when scholarship students had a long summer recess, special training for entrance exams would be prepared. In any case, I would no longer be a scholarship student if I didn’t show results. Therefore, I took my classes seriously. By the way, even if scholarship students took the same classes, they would be given different assignments from other students.
Free tuition, a supplies grant, stipends, and such—scholarship students in this school received extremely favorable treatment. Anyway, it was to produce results in the university entrance exams. There was no other school with such favorable conditions than this. My original plan was to work part-time somewhere or maybe attend a high school for communications. I was surprised when my middle school guidance counselor introduced me to this school last autumn. I asked why in my head, but I didn’t think too much when I enrolled since there would be no cost in doing so.
“I have no problem with my classes” was what I thought, but contrary to that, we were divided into groups for English class. I was singled out by the new students. They didn’t accept me. The conversation would never turn to me throughout the class, so I remained silent. Only the heroine Ms. Miu Yuuki kept glancing at me in concern.
I was like an invisible person. My existence was erased. This also happened in middle school. This was an invaluable technique to have as a spy. It was important to remain inconspicuous. My current setting was a female high school spy. Yeah, I think I was heading in a good direction. At the very end, Ms. Miu Yuuki called out to me.
“Ms. Kujouin, do you have any opinions?”
“Not particularly. I will agree with everyone.”
I only wanted to finish this group work without causing any disturbances. However, there was an error in my judgment. Only I was deemed to have not participated in the group work.
“Ms. Kujouin, you must take this group work seriously.”
Ms. Miu Yuuki advised me. Other new students nodded in agreement.
“I apologize. I couldn’t determine the best time to enter the conversation. I must have been a burden to everyone. Please tell me what I should do.”
“I don’t think you should act that way. We’re all in the same position, right? That’s why I don’t really like your condescending attitude.”
I see. So, there was a problem with my manner of speaking.
“I’ll be more discrete.”
I responded with a smile to show that I held no animosity, but that appeared to have poured more oil onto the fire of her anger.
“Like I said. It’s the way you say things! Doesn’t it sound ve~ry snobbish? That’s why you can’t get along with everyone.”
The heroine Ms. Miu Yuuki was kind-hearted. As expected, I responded with a smile.
“Thank you very much for your concern. I shall strive to become closer with everyone as much as I can.”
“If you put on airs despite being a new student, you can’t make friends, you know? You seem close to the Hongou siblings, but they’re from a different world. I think they’ll throw you away once they get bored of you. But, we’re not like that. I wouldn’t have such a surface-level friendship.”
I didn’t care what she said about me, but I couldn’t keep quiet when Lord Sara and Lord Souju were mentioned. Lady Sara and Lord Souju weren’t such cold-hearted people!
“Lady Sara and Lord Souju would throw me away like garbage? Is that what you’re saying? …That is an insult to the two. I refuse to allow any claims that decry Lady Sara and Lord Souju.”
When I flashed a glare, Ms. Miu Yuuki’s face stiffened. I had been alone for the longest time. I had no one else. I will not tolerate anyone who insults my first friends.
Class ended just then. I ended up creating a new chasm between me and the new students. And, the internal students also distanced themselves from me. However, since I wasn’t ignored or tormented by the internal students, that alone satisfied me.
I wasn’t accepted by either the internal or new students. I was isolated just like in middle school. But, I was fine! Because I had Lady Sara and Lord Souju now.
“Rei, let’s go eat. And we’ll have it in the salon today. I want to avoid what happened last time.”
“I’m sorry. I will be using the cafeteria from now on.”
I said and took out a card from my pocket.
“Today, when I went to the secretary’s office to discuss the cancellation of my commuter pass, they informed me that they also distributed cards for free meals at the cafeteria, so I also applied for that. Therefore, I don’t have a bento today and will be having lunch in the cafeteria. I’ll go to the salon after I finish eating.”
By the way, the cancellation of my commuter pass was done as an exception. As a principal, it was forbidden to commute to school by car. Refunds were arranged after my contract was canceled.
“Eh? Then, I’ll also eat in the cafeteria.”
“No, I’ll be fine by myself, so please feel free to go to the salon.”
After Lady Sara and Lord Souju exchanged looks and nodded, they linked my arms on either side and took me to the cafeteria. It was as if they were dragging me there.
Since this was my first time ordering in the cafeteria, Lord Souju taught me how to do it. I would say my choice from the menu and hand over my card. Then, my card would be returned, and after a little while, a tray with my meal will come out. The card appeared to be the chargeable type. By the way, the card lent to me did not need to be charged.
My choice from the menu was katsudon. I also added miso soup and pickled vegetables. The fried pork cutlet with slightly sweet and spicy curry and an egg made for a piping hot katsudon. The parsley on top was fresh.
For some reason, Lady Sara and Lord Souju chose the same dish.
“Fufu, we’re matching.”
“It’s just that I saw Rei chose something from the menu so seriously that I also wanted to try eating it.”
“As for me, I haven’t eaten this in such a long time. I quite liked this kind of rice dish.”
After I thanked my meal, I grabbed my chopsticks.
I first tasted the miso soup. It was malted rice miso, and its stock was made with dried bonito and kombu. I wonder if this was Shinshu miso. The ingredients included tofu and fried tofu. Diced Kujo scallions were sprinkled on top. It felt a bit luxurious. Mhm, it was delicious. The pickled vegetable was daikon radish. It served as a palate cleanser when you eat a katsudon.
“Rei, your inner voice is leaking out.”
“You sound like a reporter. It just reaches our ears.”
I blushed and looked down. How embarrassing! I thought I kept my inner monologue inside my head, but I guess that it occasionally escapes from my mouth.
“I apologize for showing you such an unsightly side of myself.”
“No, it was very interesting!”
“Yes, I also want to try eating.”
In the end, the katsudon was delicious. The slight sweetness in the flavoring must be because it was oriented to younger people. Crunchy pork cutlet. Gooey egg yolk. Parsley garnish. White rice. Yeah. How delicious.
When I was satisfied with my filled stomach, Lady Sara said apologetically.
“I guess I really do want to eat peacefully in the salon.”
Lady Sara forced herself to come to the cafeteria so she could eat together with me. Unlike the café, many eyes were directed towards them here and it felt uncomfortable. Lady Sara was a delicate person. She probably wanted to enjoy her meal in a calm environment. I had done something inexcusable.
“Lady Sara, shall we eat together at the salon’s café again tomorrow? Though, I will be having my bento.”
When I said that, Lady Sara’s face lit up. Lord Souju also preferred the salon’s café.
“Then, we’ll be in the café tomorrow!”
“Okay, then I want Rei’s rice balls. I can, right?”
“I feel guilty towards the café’s chef, but let’s see… How about I prepare a rice ball meal once a week?”
“Yay! Rei’s bento!”
Lord Souju was delighted like a child. Lady Sara bashfully whispered from the side that she also wanted me to make her a share. Lady Sara really was too cute.
Today’s lunch ended without any issue. Lady Yuria Sakurada and the other new students were in the same cafeteria, but they were quiet today even after seeing us. Lady Yuria Sakurada most likely saw me in the correct light now. However, only the heroine Ms. Miu Yuuki furrowed her brows when she saw me.
I felt that being hated by the heroine was often a bad path for the villainess in web novels. There were also stories where the villainess was falsely accused.
Fufufu, but this wasn’t the world of an otome game. This was the real world. Presently, I wasn’t the villainess but penniless.
Ah, right. Today was the day I needed to pay my rent to the landlord. I wonder if I can meet up with comrade Yoshio in the back mountains again after such a long time. Then, the plan was this: meet up with comrade Yoshio, pick some edible wild grass, and pay the landlord. I believe the landlord liked cosiabra. Maybe I can make it into tempura and bring it to him. It was going to be my dinner anyway.