Chapter 1. I was abandoned by my family
‘That’s why you were so anxious.’
Leticia grasped Irene’s test paper tightly.
There was no mistake, the test and the cheat sheet had the same answers. Even the handwriting matched and could not be denied.
She had been admitted to the Academy of Magic based on her own merit, and had achieved excellent results.
She couldn’t understand why she suddenly started acting in such a spineless manner.
Leticia jumped up and walked out of the staff room. She wanted to talk to Irene face to face right away.
Fortunately, she was able to find Irene loitering near the corridor. Leticia sighed to herself as Irene looked around with a nervous expression on her face.
As she slowly approached, Irene was startled by someone approaching and turned away as if to flee.
Before she could escape, Leticia caught Irene.
“Irene, look at me.”
Irene’s eyes shook violently even though they’d only just begun to talk.
“I have nothing to say.”
Irene turned her head away as if she didn’t want to look at her, and Leticia let go of her wrist.
There was no way she was going to back down from this.
“You’ll regret this.”
At that, Irene turned around to look at her. As soon as their eyes met, Leticia showed Irene the cheat sheet and test paper, as if she’d been waiting for that moment.
Irene’s face began to turn blue after she saw the two papers together.
She immediately tried to snatch the papers away from Leticia, but she lightly dodged her hand and laughed.
“I would love for you and I to have a nice chat in a quiet place. Shall we?”
Irene swallowed the lump in her throat at the hard look on her gentle sister’s face.
What happened yesterday came to her mind while she was weakly following Leticia, who never looked back.
“Ronan Hillary got a perfect score on his magic history test.”
“Didn’t he do poorly on the last test?”
“That’s a little weird.”
“That’s unexpected. I thought the other kid had a perfect score.”
When they asked as if they really didn’t know, the student glanced at Irene. Only then did they know who they were talking about, then they nodded with a short sigh.
The conversation was too close to ignore, but Irene looked at her reference book as if she hadn’t noticed.
Turning the pages helped to give her strength.
‘It’s okay, I’ll do better on this test.’
The exams are not over yet.
As soon as the test began, Irene had an unexpected setback.
‘I don’t remember a thing.’
It was clearly written in the reference book, but strangely, she couldn’t remember anything because her mind went blank. On the contrary, the more she looked at the test paper, the more she couldn’t concentrate.
‘What do I do?’
Half of the time had already passed. Even if she tried to calm herself down, the anxiety had already eroded her confidence.
Then something crossed her mind.
‘Just this once…’
Wouldn’t it be okay if it was only once?
She didn’t bring it with the intention of using it, but she still needed it right now.
Irene peeked at the note she had written, and filled in the answers.
As soon as the test was over, Irene looked around. She wondered if someone had seen her. Fortunately, no one seemed to have noticed her strange behaviour.
Shortly afterwards, the professor entered the classroom and told everyone there was going to be an inspection. They needed to take out their belongings and make sure to empty their desks.
Irene felt as if her head had gone blank again.
Then a way out came to mind.
[Ronan Hillary got a perfect score on the magic history test.]
[Didn’t he do poorly on the last test?]
[That’s a little weird.]
‘There’s no problem if he gets caught.’
Irene put the note in Ronan’s desk drawer during the confusion over the unexpected inspection.
When the professor began searching through everyone’s belongings, the note was found in Ronan’s drawer.
‘No one will suspect her.’
That’s why she put it in there.
In an empty lounge.
Leticia sat opposite Irene and waited to hear her explanation, but Irene just looked at Leticia in silence.
No matter how long Leticia waited, Irene couldn’t seem to speak. So Leticia started first.
“I’ll give you an opportunity.”
Her nervous face began to relax, little by little at the word ‘opportunity’. Her eyes started to twinkle in expectation.
Irene’s face quickly hardened though at Leticia’s subsequent remark.
“Tell the professor you cheated.”
Irene asked back with a look of disbelief, as if she thought she heard wrong.
Leticia repeated herself sternly, as if to reaffirm.
“You have to own up to your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions.”
“Responsibility? …? What do you mean…?”
Irene stuttered as if she wanted to pretend not to know even though she’d heard it properly.
Leticia felt her heart grow cold.
“You’ve cheated, so you must be given a zero.”
“Also apologize to Ronan, because that’s who you’ve damaged the most.”
Ronan had been falsely accused for something he didn’t even do. So it was natural for Irene to apologize to him and score a zero on the test.
Irene stayed silent.
Leticia waited quietly for Irene, already expecting no immediate answer.
Irene soon made up her mind and let out a long breath before speaking.
Her clenched fists rested on the table while she bit her trembling lip.
Somehow Leticia had a hunch that something bad was about to come out of Irene’s mouth.
“I can’t do that. I don’t even have my qualifications for the Imperial Wizard exam…”
Even as she shrank back, the words that came out were a stubborn refusal.
In the end, Irene chose not to correct her mistakes but to cowardly avoid and run away from her problems.
Leticia sighed and rubbed her hand down her face.
‘I thought there would be no more to be disappointed about.’
She didn’t even know what to say, because even this time together felt empty and meaningless.
Leticia turned her head away. Irene, who noticed this as a bad sign, urgently said.
“My last test paper suddenly disappeared, so I have to do really well this time!”
It was a risky performance, that’s why she was acting more distressed, desperate and reckless.
However, Leticia could see her impure intention.
Leticia paused for a moment and looked at Irene with cool eyes. Irene could feel the energy of rebuke that filled those blue eyes, even though it was just eye contact.
“Why didn’t you do something that you wouldn’t be ashamed of?”
Irene thought Leticia would listen to her after this. Her sweet older sister had never refused her request.
The problem was she couldn’t see the old Leticia in front of her.
“We’re family, aren’t we?”
Irene could feel herself losing, she jumped up from her seat and grabbed Leticia’s arm.
“You’ve been excommunicated, but we’re still family.”
“So please act like you don’t know. Just this once, please?”
“Please just ignore it for me this once!”
When Leticia didn’t respond, she grabbed a hold of her hands and shook them.
‘Until you do me this favor.’
“It’s not difficult.”
“If you don’t say anything, no one will know!”
Irene’s voice unconsciously grew louder as her anxiety grew.
Leticia opened her mouth slowly, to reply to her.
However, it was not the words Irene expected to hear.
“What would you do about Ronan, who will be harmed if I let you off the hook.”
“Do you really think it’s right for him to take responsibility for what you’ve done?”
“Don’t you feel bad for setting him up?”
She was the cute and innocent younger sister she’d always protected.
Leticia already knew this was a long shot, but she didn’t think it was too late.
Even now, she hoped Irene would realize her mistake and choose to correct it.
“It’s okay because he’s a commoner. He’s different from me.”
“I’m family, why do you care more about someone unrelated to you?”
Sitting in front of her now was a stranger who didn’t feel guilty about who their actions hurt, rather she happily allowed someone else to take the blame for what she did.
‘What am I doing right now?’
Leticia felt a sense of cynicism, and she smiled bitterly.
‘There was no point in giving her a chance.’
She could feel her emotions darken with all of these complex emotions.
“Just stop, I don’t want to hear your excuses anymore.”
Irene’s heart sank at her dull tone and looked away.
“Sister, I might be expelled.”
“I might be expelled from school.”
Leticia was looking so different to Irene, so she clung to her with a tearful face. The more she did it, the colder Leticia pushed Irene away.
“I don’t want to be responsible for something bad happening to an innocent person, and you act like I’m threatening you with the consequences of your actions.
“Sister, that’s not it.”
“Since when did you become like this?”
The Irene she knew was a child who would never do something like this.
She tended to avoid making mistakes, but she never put others in the line of fire when she did.
“I can’t help it if you’re expelled.”
“It’s all up to you.”
As Leticia turned her head as if she had said her piece, Irene felt something seething inside of her.
“Can’t you ignore this for the sake of your family?”
That should be enough for Leticia to listen.
Irene asked her to do this for her.
She begged Leticia.
How much more did she need to beg?
Irene stared at Leticia in spite of herself.
Nevertheless, Leticia’s attitude remained as still and cold as a lake in winter after the sun had set.
“Oh, I can’t.”
“This is for your own good.”
Leticia coldly pushed Irene away as she stood up from her seat and left the lounge with the cheat sheet and test.
Irene stared blankly at her back, then came back to her senses and followed Leticia.
“Where are you going?”
“The teacher’s office.”
“Why the teacher’s office? Don’t tell me…”
The pale-faced Irene quickly stepped in front of Leticia.
“Move out of my way.”
“I told you no!”
Holding onto Leticia’s arms tightly, Irene began screaming.
Everyone looked at the noise, wondering what was going on, but Irene was too busy trying to stop Leticia to notice.
Leticia unintentionally pushed so hard that Irene collapsed. At that, Leticia flinched for a moment.
As soon as she noticed the crowd, Irene struggled to hold back her tears and looked up at Leticia.
She looked so sad and pitiful that she wanted to go to her and help her up.
Then Leticia stopped in place and recalled the conversation she’d just been having with Irene.
[Can’t you ignore this for the sake of your family?]
The harsh words stuck in her ears and wouldn’t leave.
Leticia had done everything for her family.
Even at the age of seven, she’d run errands to earn money for just a little bit more food for her siblings.
No matter how hard she thought about it, this wasn’t for Irene.
Even if she was excommunicated and no longer tied together by a family name.
A desperate cry was heard from behind her, but Leticia entered the teacher’s office while biting her lip.
“You see this, right?”
Leticia put the cheat sheet and Irene’s test down on the professor’s desk with a stony expression.
The professor looked at Leticia in wonder when he saw the problems that Leticia pointed out with her finger, then his face immediately hardened.
“No, student Leroy would never do something like that… You’re not going to defend Irene Leroy after seeing her name, are you?”
“Oh no, no! I didn’t do that!”
Irene, who entered the teacher’s office late, ran to the professor and shook her head vigorously.
“I just happened to write the same answers.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Irene. Your handwriting is the same here.”
Irene shook her head violently, while her whole body trembled.
Students who’d heard the noise in the hallway snooped around the teachers room, and began to eavesdrop. The professors around them looked like they wouldn’t let this go easily either.
They were forced to call Irene’s parents, the Marquis and Marquess of Leroy.
Leticia was also called to attend.
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