The city moved slowly behind the bus' window, allowing Weiss to lose herself looking at what was going to be the place where she lived for the next year. It was one of the largest cities of Vale but that wasn't saying much, her home city dwarfed it by millions.
Her eyes moved lazily following the line of trees that lined what was the city's main street, her face not betraying how her stomach somersaulted and her chest hurt every time she took a breath.
The bus stopped and Weiss looked at her watch again. She was never late and this wouldn't be the first time, but it was going to be close. Sighing she closed her eyes, the cool air coming through the bus' opened door making her think of home one more time.
"Weiss," Her father had begun after summoning her to his office. His voice, that in the past had been caring and warm, made her tremble now even though she kept looking straight ahead, controlling her breath. "Weiss," he repeated, this time looking at her, "when your grand-grandfather founded the Schnee Power Company he said that he would only allow someone who had gone through what he had to lead the company and the family.
"He cast out his sons and told them to only return after they had made a name of their own. Only one did and he was chosen as the heir."
Her father had stood up and turned away from Weiss, his hands on his back. "It has been a tradition since then for our children to leave the country and live on their own for a year among… commoners. They either survive and flourish or they reveal themselves as weak and unworthy of the Schnee name."
Weiss had swallowed, nodding uselessly when her father stopped. She remembered the stories, the broken branches in the tapestry of her family tree. The one that had been her sister's, Winter, struck out with a black line.
"Nowadays the world is less dangerous, but that only makes our tradition even more important. If a Schnee can't succeed when the world is in its safest time, if they don't know where their priorities should lie, how can they lead the company and our family?"
Her father had then turned to look at Weiss, making her feel he was looking through her, examining and judging every weakness, every crack in her armor. She remembered to breath only when her father blinked and turned to the papers in his desk again, talking without even looking at her. "You will leave to Vale after your holiday is over and you will stay there for a year. You will not be a Schnee until you return."
The silence after his statement had seemed to stretch for minutes but it was only seconds later that Weiss replied with the only words that she was expected to say, "yes, father."
He had dismissed her after, stopping her while she was closing the door. "Remember Weiss, you will be no one, nothing, until you return," he had said coldly. Weiss had only curtsied and left.
Blinking in surprise, Weiss broke out of her memories after someone's horn went off outside her seat's window. She shook her head while pinching her nose, she gained nothing by remembering her father's words. He may have told her she would be nothing if she didn't return, but she knew that she was already nothing in his eyes, a mere substitute for her sister. Her life was planned from beginning to end but those plans had had Winter's name until she had refused to return.
But Weiss would endure this, she would return and she would assume her role as heiress. It was her father's will and thus it was inescapable. And, she thought while straightening up, she couldn't do it while lost in the past.
She looked at her phone's map confirming she was close to her stop and stood up. Weiss could count the amount of times she had used public transport in her life with the fingers of one hand and she would have fingers left but the internet had provided her a large amount of research material before leaving Atlas.
Taking a deep breath she pressed the button that signaled that someone wanted to get off the bus. Nothing happened. She pressed it again to no avail. The bus continued on her way without slowing and her stop came closer and closer.
Her chest began to tighten and she could feel her breath quickening.
"Hey! Open the door, asshole!" Someone yelled, startling Weiss out of her paralysis, and the bus slowed down coming to a stop, the doors opening.
She turned to thank the man that had shouted but he was already leaving. He hadn't meant to help her, Weiss realized, it was just a coincidence. Mentally thanking him anyway she jumped off the bus before the driver decided to leave.
Weiss wasn't very good with directions but it was impossible to miss her new school's building. Beacon Academy, one of the largest public high schools in Vale, stood high in stark contrast to the small houses around it and the park in front of it. It was a relic of a time when Vale was a bigger, richer country. Before the war.
She didn't waste time looking around, once she confirmed it was indeed her high school she walked as quickly as she could while keeping her composure. She wasn't late, but she wasn't early enough. She would never be late, her father had made sure of that.
It was only after locating her objective that she felt able to breath again.
"Come in," a woman's voice said through the door after Weiss knocked. Obeying, she entered the office. It was much smaller than what she imagined would be appropriate for a principal, but it was filled with books and, curiously enough, clocks. A blonde woman in office attire was sitting behind a big desk, looking at her with strained eyes. "Yes? How can I help you?" She asked while turning a couple of pieces of paper.
"I'm Weiss Sch… Snow." Weiss said grinding her teeth at her new name. She wasn't a Schnee. She was a nobody. "I'm a transfer student, I was told I needed to come here."
"Oh, I expected you'd come later. I'm the vice-principal, Glynda Goodwitch. The principal is out dealing with… school matters but I can help you."
It was easy going from there on. Her name was fake but almost every other aspect of her life was based on her real identity. Her transcript was real, she was indeed transferring from Atlas and she didn't need to lie about what classes she was going to take. The closer to the truth the easier it was to lie around the small details she couldn't mention.
"I'm curious about why a student your age is transferring to another school so late during the first month…" Goodwitch said, leaving the unasked question hanging.
"Oh, it was a… family issue." Weiss said, letting her anxiety show through her voice for an instant. And that was it. Every time she had to talk about it, the second she mentioned family the conversation was instantly catalogued as over. No one cared enough to insist and waddle in to what could be a uncomfortable topic.
The woman wasn't one for small talk and worked in silence while registering the student in the system. Weiss wasn't sure how many strings her father had pulled besides creating her fake identity but if the vice-principal thought it strange she had to do that job she said nothing about it.
"Okay, that's all." Goodwitch said, getting up from her desk and walking to where a printer was working. Picking up a couple of printed pages she turned to Weiss "This is your schedule," she said pointing to a table in one of the pages, "and these are the clubs that are still receiving students. It's not obligatory to enter a club but it's encouraged for students to do so.
"I can't promise this year will be easy for you, it's your last year and you're on a unfamiliar land surrounded with faces you don't know. If you have problem adjusting please come and talk to me or one of your teachers and we'll do our best to help you."
"Thank you Mrs. Goodwitch," Weiss replied, knowing she would never accept be able to accept that kind of offer. Any request for help would end up reaching her father's ears sooner or later.
The vice-principal seemed to be about to say something else but a bell's sound interrupted her. "I'm glad you came early, we were able to finish before the school day was over," she said once and walked to the door. Weiss stood up to follow her. "Your first class is tomorrow, don't be late. Remember that if you need anything we're here to help you. Good luck."
Weiss thanked her and left. She was free for the day.
She had been so focused in finding the vice-principal office that now Weiss couldn't remember how she had arrived. Thankfully, the sounds of teenagers running and talking were enough to guide her.
Atlas was known for its cold weather and its winter resorts, and Weiss remembered vaguely how her country had rivers where people used kayaks to go through violent rapids as a sport. That was the image that came up to her mind after seeing the main hallway. Hundreds of people were running through what was, in her mind, a rapidly shrinking corridor.
Deciding to wait until the human stampede was over she took a step back but someone pushed her into the crowd.
It was worse than she had expected. She'd later realize it hadn't been that many students but at that moment she thought she was going to die. Students walked past her, pushing around since she was standing. Having no other choice she began walking to the exit, following everyone else, but she was walking too slow. Someone pushed her again and this time she fell to her knees.
Her heart was trying to get out of her chest and every time she took a breath her chest hurt.
She looked around but no one was looking at her. No one cared. She was going to die.
The multitude parted around her. Raising a trembling hand she felt cold sweat in her face. She began to breath faster and faster.
Far away she heard a voice "Shit, she's hav… an anxiety att… help… her". A hand helped her stand and very slowly she felt herself being guided into a seat. Weiss opened her eyes, that she hadn't even noticed she had closed, and looked at the person who was helping her: an angel surrounded by light, who seemed to be trying to talk to her but she couldn't listen. She couldn't breath fast enough, she was going to die.
It was only when she felt herself being grabbed by her shoulders that she was able to focus again in the person in front of her.
"I know this is hard but I need you to slow down your breath," the girl said, not an angel a remote part of Weiss' brain noticed, "you're having a panic attack."
Weiss knew that. She was old enough when she had her first one to know she could never ask her family about it, but she had read enough to guess at what it was. Knowing didn't help.
"I'm going to count to four, when I get to four you're going to take a big breath. Then I'm going to count to four again and you're going to release it, okay?"
But the girl's voice did help. Weiss focused again in her breathing, she could do it she told herself. In the background she could hear the girl counting and she tried to follow her. Very slowly she felt herself calming down, reality readjusting itself around her.
The first thing she noticed was her helper's hair. Saying it was bright blond wasn't enough to describe it, it was almost like it had its own inner light. Her worried lilac eyes softening were the second.
"Hey, are you feeling better?" The girl asked and Weiss nodded, not feeling able to talk just yet. The girl stood up from her kneeling position in front of Weiss, allowing her a full view of her savior. She definitely wasn't an angel, she was too attractive to be one. The tight top the girl was wearing was enough to make Weiss question her new school's dress code.
"I'm Yang, this is Blake." She said, pointing to a girl behind her who Weiss hadn't even noticed, who looked mildly curious.
"I'm Weiss Sn–" She stopped, the full scale of what happened finally hitting her. She had had a full blown panic attack in front of the entire school and it hadn't even been her first day of class yet. Her father would destroy her. She would lose everything.
She stood up suddenly, making both Yang and Blake move back a step, "I need to go. I'm sorry," she said curtly while walking backwards toward the exit, leaving both girls looking confused. "...Thank you."
And then she turned and ran.
AN: I haven't written in years but this idea wouldn't leave my brain. I'm going to try to update at least every week. Let me know what you think.