Surfania Calibrachoa was confused.
Her friend had come. That was fine. That was normal. Unscheduled visits and visits without warning were the norms for her.
But her friend seemed very strange.
Usually, she would enter the room and confiscate Surfania’s book before challenging her to a board game. But today, Christina had entered her bedroom and covered her face in Surfania’s bed and groaned with ‘Ahh!’ and ‘Ugh!’ and did little else.
It was nice not having her reading disturbed for once, but she could not help but be curious as to what had happened.
However, she ultimately did nothing and finished reading her book. Chris did not seem like she would be challenging her to a game today. She was just flailing her limbs around on the bed.
As she had little choice, Surfania finally took a closer look at Christina.
“Chris. Why did you even come here today? Isn’t this the day that Prince Charles is supposed to visit the Noir mansion? Should you really be here?”
“It’s fine. I’m too embarrassed to meet Charles, I can’t…”
What was this girl talking about?
Even a shut-in like Surfania knew that it was clearly not just an issue of being too embarrassed to meet someone in the royal family.
She looked hard at Christina who was now occupying her bed, with her face buried in the sheets. As she could only see her back, there was no information for her to read. Her back didn’t really tell her anything, the only thing she could tell was that Christina’s neck had become quite red.
“Oh, why did I do such a thing yesterday… How embarrassing… I won’t be able to look at him again…I want to die…”
Christina groaned and mumbled something incomprehensible. Surfania sighed, tired of it all. She would just ignore her for now and read another book, she decided as she turned on her heels.
But right then, she thought of something.
The book she had just read. It was a romance novel about a knight and princess who fall in love in spite of their stations. She felt as though there was a situation in the book that resembled Chris’ bizarre behavior right now.
She tried to recall what scene it was. It was a conversation between the princess and her maid confidante.
“Princess. If I may be so bold, why have you decided to relegate imperial guard Allen to the frontiers? It was only just recently that you caused such a stir after realizing that you loved him.”
“Because…because, I am so embarrassed!”
“He, he is protecting me as a close guard, you know? Then I must face him every day… I am so bashful that I cannot bear it!”
“But how can you send him away just for that!? You may never see him again!?”
“Ah. So you didn’t think things through and just acted based on your emotions, princess! I understand! I shall prepare for the order to be revoked immediately!”
It was a little different in scale, but the situation was much the same.
Surfania had drawn a comparison with this princess and Chris, and she now muttered the name of this illness that Chris suffered from.
Chris pulled her face away from the sheets and jumped to her feet.
Surfania was not able to understand her, but it was evident that she wanted to say something.
She had jumped back with a reddened face and was now looking towards Surfania. Surfania looked back with her mahogany eyes.
“You want to know, how I know.”
Apparently, she could still not speak properly. Chris remained silent, but she could still move her neck, and so she nodded vigorously.
And so Surfania thrust a single volume right up to her nose.
“It’s really nothing. Chris. But what you are suffering from, and the remedy for it, are all written in this book.”
“Are you serious!?”
Chris’ obsidian eyes widened in surprise.
“What, what is that book!? You say that it holds a remedy for what I suffer from… Which renowned scholar wrote this medical tome!?”
“This is one of those books that you stubbornly insulted, declared were boring and even suggested I would become stupid for reading them.”
Surfania told her coldly, Christina’s face pulled back.
“Don’t act surprised, Chris. This is one of those books that you claimed were useless and even harmful, an entertainment novel!”
“What kind of use would fiction be to me!”
Chris howled on the top of her lungs, Surfania gave her an icy glare.
She remembered well that time when a similar book had been torn from her poor hands and she had ultimately fallen to the ground. Surfania still resented that moment greatly.
“Fiction or not, this is a depiction of the human heart. It might be imagined, but this person’s heart moved the hearts of many, and all shared her feelings. This could only mean that it has a reality to it, that fiction has the possibility of mirroring reality. In fact, the protagonist, who is in love in this novel, is taking the same actions as you, who is in love at this moment.”
Chris was taken aback by these truths that Surfania had thrust in her face. It could not be, she thought, but it was also true that Surfania had just defined her current state. Chris was assaulted by the confusion of those two things destroying her way of thinking, and also an un-hidable interest towards the novel.
Surfania saw this change, and a thin, cool smile appeared on her face.
“Chris. Do you perhaps want to read this?”
“Gah. Um, well… I would like to…yes.”
Surfania nodded calmly. On the surface, she was cold and icy, but deep within, her heart was elated with joy.
What should she do?
It was so incredibly pleasant to stand there and look down on Chris from an advantageous position. Seeing her friends troubled face, seeing her weakness, it made her want to push her further and further down the dark hole. Her back prickled just thinking about it.
“You really are hopeless, Chris. You were the one who mocked me for it. You were ignorant, yet you belittled it purely based on assumptions. But once you find personal gain in it, you crave for it. It’s vulgar. Too vulgar for one of high birth and who is the daughter of a duke. Well, Chris. Do you not agree?”
She was likely regretting her past words and actions. She did not reply to Surfania’s unrestrained insults, she just seemed a little saddened.
Seeing Chris like this, Surfania was becoming drunk on the feeling of euphoria brought by her moral superiority. She continued.
“Should I allow such a person to borrow my precious book…indeed. If you can at least say, ‘Please allow me to borrow it, my Lady Surfania.’”
“Who do you think you are!?”
Chris had finally been pushed to her limit.
She jumped off the bed and stood in front of Surfania to protest.
“I, Christina Noir have not discarded so much of my pride as to do such a thing! I don’t care anymore! As if I would even rely on such a book!!”
“Yes. So I suppose you would not buy it for yourself either. Yes, indeed. You could not do something so shameless as to ask your father to buy a book that you have mocked so much. Not the proud Chris.”
“Of course I wouldn’t! Listen here, Surfania. Novels are nothing more than two-dimensional byproducts of the real world. In other words, they are based on reality, but are diluted and willfully combined with delusions and interpretations. Nothing more. I won’t rely on fiction, I shall learn from someone’s actual experiences. Yes! I shall ask Mariwa, you wicked child!”
“…Isn’t Miss Toinette unmarried?”
“That’s right, you!!”
A pained scream echoed in the room. She was nearing forty, but Mariwa remained a single noblewoman and was unlikely to have any experience with romance. Chris thought, and was overwhelmed by a feeling of ruefulness.
The scream echoed pleasurably in Surfania’s ears, and she smiled like the Cheshire Cat.
“…So, what will you do, Chris? Indeed, novels may be a two-dimensional byproduct of reality, but they are based on it, so they should have many elements that align with reality. Don’t you think?”
It was not possible for her to learn from Mariwa’s experiences. They did not exist. Sadly, her only friend was Surfania, who now showed her true colors. An evil intimidator. It was out of the question to rely on her father to get the book. Chris’ pride would not allow her to show any weakness to him.
There were only two people in this room. Chris, who groaned as if in pain, and Surfania, who held the book under Chris’ nose and bore a smile like the devil’s.
“Chris. You know, it will make you feel better if you just say it?”
It would not be long until the proud daughter of a duke, Christina Noir, would sell just a little bit of her pride in the name of love.