( Professor Layton is property of Level-5. Albert Bridge belongs to JackSpicerChase. Merry Christmas!)
Estelle stared at that door for a very long time now. She has the papers in her arms, and deliver them. Simple right? The problem is Estelle needs to hand them to Professor Albert Bridge. This isn't Estelle's job. His assistant should do it. However, he doesn't have one. In fact, no one dared to go near Professor Bridge's door. Not one of his students came to see him for advising, and the last person who stepped in was Professor Layton's friend, Luke Triton. That turned ugly very quick. The historian remembers her first day in Gressenheller and meeting Professor Bridge. He told her up front not to go into his office, or so much as talk to him.
Professor Bridge spends most of his time in his office. Estelle isn't any different, she much rather be in her office, working on her research. The difference is that she allows others to come in at any time. Estelle doesn't mind having company during the day. Luke got in the habit of visiting while Professor Layton was busy with his class, or with his paperwork. Emmy occasionally stopped by when she had to see Estelle on material for Layton's projects. A few students visit Estelle to ask for help on their research. Albert is very secretive and kept to himself. She only seen him a few times in the halls, but they were mere, silent glances. The others at the departmental meeting earlier that day see that Professor Bridge isn't as harsh with her as he was with others. Albert didn't show up for the meeting, and these papers must be delivered to all members of the faculty. Emmy took Professor Layton's forms, she would have no trouble in getting them to Layton. No one was sure how to get to Professor Bridge with the papers. Estelle stepped forward and volunteered. It's a golden opportunity. This may be her chance.
Estelle can tell Professor Bridge is hurting deep down. He is lonely, but won't reach out to anyone. No one seems to like him except Layton, who always tolerates others. Sadly, even he seem to give up on Bridge. Someone has to keep trying, and take the initiative in helping Albert open up. Estelle didn't deliver the papers right away, she had a wild idea that will likely fail, as it has before. Perhaps this try might be the charm. She spent a long time writing another letter to Albert, inviting him to have coffee. She thinks it will be a great start in finding a friend in Bridge. The only downfall is Albert rejecting it. The woman is nervous about it, but the worst thing Albert could do is say no, or never show up. It's a lot better than what Estelle been through before she left France for good.
She hesitates in knocking on Professor Bridge's door. Estelle closed her eyes and takes a deep breath. Then, she took the dare and knocks. An eerie silence fills the empty hall. Estelle felt awkward, standing there with no answer. A wiser person would leave the papers by the door, and leave him be. Not Estelle, she remains where she is and knocks again. She listens hard, hearing faint grumbling behind the door. The historian takes a few steps back,tucking the envelope in the stack of papers. She tenses herself as the door knob turns to reveal an annoyed man behind it.
He didn't slam it shut at her face, but he didn't seem happy to see anyone remaining before the door. "Ugh, it's you...What do you want, girl?" He asks sharply. Estelle fiddles with the papers, but she smiles and holds them out. " Bonjour, Professor Bridge! I am afraid you 'ave missed zis morning's meeting."
"And?" Bridge asks with a raised eyebrow. Hewished she would just leave him be.
"Vell, I brought you zee forms for zis year's board of representatives for Gressenheller. Ve vould love for you to sign up and I vould like to invi-" Albert reaches out and snatches the pack of papers, slamming the door shut. Estelle blinks, dumbstruck. He took it out of her hands and went back in without another word. The historian found it disrespectful. Anyone would just accept defeat and walk out. She can't do that.
"Mister Bridge!" Estelle calls through the door, knocking on it again. "You can't just snatch zings from someone's 'ands and slam the door on zhem! I vasn't finished talking to you! Zhat's irrespectueux! Disrespectful!" She cries and there is no answer. Estelle lowers her hand, still clenched from anger with being tossed aside. Her face softens when Albert didn't open the door. He didn't curse at her, or spat at the girl's face like people claimed from previous encounters. Pure lies to Estelle.
"You know you are better zhan zis...You're not as mean and 'ateful as you zink you are. At least 'ear vhat I 'ave to say."Estelle says, though she isn't sure if Albert heard her. It felt like forever and there is no sound. Estelle looks down at her feet. She feels at a loss and with a deep breath, she turns around and takes a few steps away while wringing her hands. The historian did her job, but she feels she failed horribly in reaching out to him. She looks back when she stands further down the hall. Estelle shakes her head and walks down the empty hall to return to her office.
"That kid! Who does she think she is?" Albert grumbles, paying no mind to the letter that fell from the papers and flutters onto the floor. He storms to his desk, glancing over the forms. "Board of Representatives...I never participated before, and I don't plan to!" He drops the papers into the waste bin by his feet and returns to his seat. Albert Bridge always kept to himself. Many of his students enjoy making fun of him to see his temper flare, and most of the staff members like Professor Jennings like to make his time at the university miserable. Albert refused to trust others. It never benefit him, and he never thought he deserved it. Not now, not ever.
The professor tries to calm himself and returns to grading his papers. Then, something caught his eye. He looks up to see an envelope on the floor. "What the-?" He mutters and Albert leaves his desk again to the letter before the door. Albert kneels to pick up the envelope and sees it's addressed to him. An eyebrow rise, his interest piqued. The professor moves back on his feet and he tears the envelope open to read its contents. He couldn't believe what he is reading, he might as well be laughing.
"Dear Mr. Bridge,
It would be an honor and pleasure if you would join me for some coffee at four o'clock this afternoon, at my office, room number CC 182. I hope to see you there.
Albert shakes his head and sets the letter on this desk. This isn't the first time she written an awkward invitation. "Honestly, can't she take no the first time?" He mutters to himself. The Professor never gave his answer, he didn't think he has any reason to. Albert fails to understand why this girl keeps asking. Is Estelle really this dense? He place the letter on his desk. What if this is a joke? His students made that a dirty habit to watch his patience run thin. In return, Albert often gives the them pop-quizzes and tests. However, Professor Jennings often makes things worse for him, as he always does with every male co-workers. This could be another prank to see his blood boil, though it seems highly unlikely that she is a prankster. Albert taps his fingers on his desk, thinking about what to do. Sick prank or not, he wants answers. Why would Estelle keep this up?
The day continues it's cycle into the afternoon hours. Most the lessons ended for the day. The students took their leave over an hour ago, leaving Central Hall desolate. It's about five minutes after four. The aroma of coffee brewed at the cabinet by the window. Estelle sits at her desk, resting her chin on her hands while reading her notes and the archives on the Verulamium ruins. She had a project, which she spent the past two weeks researching. She lost track of time and before she knew it, it's four in the afternoon. She sighs, it's another failure. Albert must have not seen the letter, but if he did, it's not shocking that he remains in his office.
"Looks like he vill not show up. Zhat is a shame..." Those words hurt when Estelle said them. It's been well over a month, and she has not succeeded in making him come out of his shell. Professor Layton advised that it's best to leave Bridge be. Professor Jennings often reminds the historian that he is hopeless and she is wasting time. He gave Estelle more reason to prove him wrong. Albert is not a hopeless case. That's proven to be easier said than done.
"Oh vell...I vill 'ave to try something else." Estelle says to give herself some hope. She can't give up now. For now, she will work more on her Verulamium project. Then, the door knocks. Estelle looks up from her work. The visitor could be her friends, or Jennings wanting to pester her.
"Yes, come in." She calls, the door opens as soon as she gave the invite.
"Professor Bridge! Vhat a surprise! I 'onestly did not zhink zhat you vould come." She gawks as Abert steps into her office and close the door behind him.
"I don't get you." He starts as he holds out the letter. "Why do you keep this up? I don't find this cute! Is this some kind of joke?" He says. Estelle looks at him in the eye while she remains at her seat.
"I'm not laughing. Zhis isn't a joke." Estelle says matter-of-factually. "Vhy vould I vant to do zhat?" Albert raise and eyebrow and sets the letter on her desk.
"It wouldn't surprise me. Everyone has been nothing but jerks."
"I fail to understand 'ow zhis relates to vhat I 'ave in mind." Estelle sets her pen down to stop writing notes on her project. She lace her fingers together to rest her chin on them, watching the professor.
"I see no joy in 'urting others. It's not amusing at all. You should know zhat. All I vanted vas to get to know you as a colleague, and maybe as a friend." Albert doesn't answer and Estelle continues. "I zhink you should give me a chance. Come on, I 'ave coffee ready. You should 'ave a cup. I insist." She smiles and Albert paused, thinking this over. He sees that they're alone, and nothing has happened yet.
"Oh, fine! Might as well since I came all this way." He grumbles and cross his arms.
"Vonderful! Do make yourself at 'ome. I vill get the coffee." Estelle exclaims and she gathers her papers in a neat stack. She gets up to get to the counter to prepare the coffee. Albert looks about the room, still scowling from his defeat. The office has a large windows along the wall, giving the room a warm glow. It seems more homey than other rooms and offices in the university. There's a couple of cases with ancient pieces of pottery and jewelry, towering bookcases, vases stuffed with rolled, up maps, and note books and journals stacked on the coffee table between a sofa and arm chair. Albert looks behind him to see more journals and books stacked on top with some articles. A familiar name catch his eye. He picks up the paper to read through it to confirm his suspicions.
"Verulamium?" Professor Bridge asks as he reads over the article.
"Yes, I'm researching for zee new exhibit for the Foxvorth Museum. It's a remarkable city. I vish I 'ad a chance to see it." Estelle sets the full mugs along with some sugar packets and a dish of small cups of various creams on the table.
"I've been there." Albert confesses as he further reads into it. Estelle gasps with a wide smile on her face.
"You 'ave?! Vhen? How?" She asks and Albert lowers the paper to look at her.
"Well...It was a few years ago. Just part of my studies for my teaching degree. I minored in Archeology, which gave me the opportunity to see the ruins during the summer."
"Von't you tell me about all about your trip? I zhink it vill 'elp understand vith my project." Estelle sits down in the armchair. Albert ponders on this, only to shrug and makes himself comfortable at the sofa.
"It was my first time exploring one of the many dig sites scattered across the country. Far before the Romans took over and created the city, it was the capital of the Catuvellauni tribe. I could go on forever from what I found along with my colleagues at the time." Professor Albert begins his story of his adventure, leaning forward to take his cup of coffee.
"Go on. Ve 'ave plenty of time." Estelle says as she listens on, even took a few notes of some of the details of the Veralamium ruins. From there, Albert and Estelle spent the remainder of the afternoon in their discussion. The subject drift to their interests in history from the ancient times of the Celts and the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages.
They lost track of time and it soon became dark. Most of the faculty left for the evening, except Bridge and Estelle who remained in her office. Over time, Albert became more relaxed as he spoke of his knowledge of history, and surprised that Estelle could understand it, unlike most of his students and the very few members of the staff he communicated with in the past.
"Goodness! Look at zee time!" Estelle pulls her sleeve to look at her wrist watch to see it's close to eight o'clock in the evening.
"Oh. Yes, it is getting late. I should have been home a while ago." Albert shifted in his seat. "I'm sorry for keeping you late, sir." Estelle says, getting up with Albert and she goes to the door.
"...No...No, it's not your fault. I...Erm..." He coughs into his fist, looking away. "I had an okay time." A white lie, which Estelle knows very well. Albert seem to enjoy himself in the conversation, even smiled.
"I 'ad a good time too, Professor Bridge. I'm glad you shared your experience for my project..But-" Albert watched Estelle who seems unsure, and is holding back.
"Well? What's wrong?"
"Nozhing, I just 'ad an idea. The 'istorian from Veralamium Museum vill be 'ere at ten tomorrow morning. It's to discuss further about zee research. I zhink you vould be an excellent asset if ye could come in and give us your insight. I believe ve vill find you most 'elpful." Estelle says, Albert couldn't believe what he was hearing. He's never been asked to engage in one of the biggest projects of the University. He would expect Professor Layton to lead the whole operation. However, Bridge knows he's too busy in helping with gathering the artifacts for Foxworth. Being recognized as someone important and integral to the ruins' history is too good to pass up. Besides, this is Estelle who is asking, and she's proven to be an honest woman who had no ill intentions towards him. Though Albert still remains a bit wary.
"Count on it." He says, and the historian smiles, her eyes light up upon his acceptance. "Zhen it is a deal. Merci for your 'elp so far, and for giving me a chance." She opens the door to let Albert leave. "It's not problem." He says and he makes his way past the door. Then, he stops in the hallway.
"Estelle?" He asks quietly. Now it's her turn to doubt her ears. This time, Albert did not call her a kid, or girl. This time, it was her name. "Yes?"
"Will you be all right getting home?"
"Don't vorry about me, sir. I don't live far. I vill be fine valking 'ome. I 'ave some vork left to do. It vill be a vhile until I can call it a night."
"I see." He replies, starting to wonder if the rumors are true about Estelle. Not many people recall her ever leaving campus. She stays close to her work, and never seen walking home. The streets are not the safest at night.
"I vill be just fine, Professor. I know 'ow to take care of myself." She reassures him, still smiling to ease his worries. "Right then." Albert says and he turns around to the direction of his office to gather his things for the night.
"Bonsoir, Albert." Estelle calls, stepping into her office. Albert doesn't look back. He hears her and he paused, but only for a second. "Goodnight Estelle." He says under his breath.
Estelle closed the door behind her, leaning against it with a deep sigh. "Today is certainly full of surprises.
This is only the beginning. Estelle knows what it's like to live alone with a heavy heart. It will take courage, strength, and love from friends to heal. Albert Bridge is a lonely man, but he took his first step to accepting others and not deem them as enemies, though it will be a very long time before he can let his guard down. It's a rough start, but Estelle Petit sees this as the beginning of a new friendship, and friendship is what Albert needs.