I don’t really know myself lately.
I called off my plans with Charles the other day, mainly because I was simply feeling unwell, but aside from that, I have also been upset from trivial matters.
The servants, for instance. They have been performing their duties as usual for the most part, but perhaps due to having lost any opportunity to see Oxe, the maid in question has been a little cold lately. When I try to converse with her, she speaks in a rather stern manner. If I continue the conversation, I get frustrated and think, hurry up and get married! I get tempted to vent and I dislike that, so I end up telling her to leave me alone.
And Father, for instance. I become extremely annoyed with him for no reason whatsoever. I don’t even want to see his face. That’s right. Even during meals, I tend to avoid dining with him.
I can’t have my own way with anything, and bad things just keep getting in my way. The only things that are certain in my life are Michelie’s cuteness and Mariwa’s strictness. I can only look at everything else with uncertainty.
Perhaps the reason for all this is connected to the workings of the mind of my past adolescent self.
“In fact, I have been thinking about this for a long while now.”
I voice my complaints to my best friend, who looks very annoyed.
“Have you been degenerating with every year?”
“I am not.”
I flatly deny her baseless criticism as she looks at me with cold, reddish-brown eyes complementing her smooth, chestnut brown hair. As a genius, I am constantly evolving and will never degenerate, for I am always filled with curiosity and a desire for improvement.
“Is that so. Then it was probably my imagination that you were slightly more intelligent than I during our first encounter. I hope this helps you understand my position when I voiced my own poetic complaints, but are you really sure you haven’t been degenerating? Or perhaps you have been nourishing seeds planted in your brain, and have come to see them grow into a garden?”
“Shut up. I don’t want to hear it coming from a shut-in like you.”
I retort, offended by my best friend’s tendency of hurling abuse without restraint. I could take her abuse lightly in the past, but being aware of my reaction now shocks me.
“Ugh, damn…… What’s this? Is a certain someone somewhere being jealous of my excellence and putting a curse on me……?!”
Surfania looks down on me with cold eyes as I droop my head.
My best friend hasn’t really changed in the past two years. She looks more mature and cool, but she still displays the same lack of interest in society as a shut-in. Of late, she has been saying such things as “I want to stay single and write novels for a living.” That’s a terminal way of thinking. According to my knowledge of my past existence, it’s not exactly impossible for a princess to live an unmarried life writing novels, but I honestly don’t recommend it. I want to tell Surfania to learn from her elder sisters and become a proper lady.
“Leaving aside what kind of flowers are blooming in your head right now…… You’re saying that you want to do something about not being honest with yourself.”
That’s a very simplified explanation, but it’s correct overall.
I nod in confirmation, and Surfania smiles in amusement.
“Well, I understand your feelings on the matter. After all, you ran away from your meeting with His Highness Charles.”
“I- I didn’t run away!”
I stand up with enough force to topple the chair I’m sitting on, and press Surfania.
“I didn’t run away or anything. In fact, I’m perfectly calm about seeing Charles, so there is no need for me to run away. I simply had a slight fever yesterday, that’s all!”
I’m saying I didn’t run away at all. I’m just trying to avoi- ……no. I’ve simply been unable to see Charles due to unavoidable circumstances. Not a single time have I run away willingly.
“You can’t convince me with that red face and lack of honesty with yourself…… hehehe. Well, you’ve entertained me somewhat. I will not press on any further.”
I can see a glimpse of satisfaction in Surfania’s eyes. That’s the only thing that has newly surfaced in her at times in these past two years. She puts her chin on her fingers in thought without taking much notice of me.
“But, curses, huh…… yes, that’s right. I have a manual for you, Chris.”
I return to my seat thinking she has a plan, but I get a feeling of deja vu when I see her pull out a book from the shelf. I remember clearly that she has done this before. There is no flaw in my memory as a genius.
“You are sorely mistaken if you think I will be fooled again, Surfania.”
It’s a humiliating and unforgettable memory of a similar situation two years ago. I, Christina Noir, daughter of the Duke, gave in to temptation once and ended up kneeling before a noble of a lower ranking. It’s a part of my past I want to erase.
In fact, there was another occurrence after that incident that was more damaging to my reputation. Surfania deceived me into thinking that entertainment novels could actually become a romance guidebook. I read one in earnest, and mimicked the protagonist’s actions in that book. I practiced being the character in front of Surfania, and as I got better at it, I did it right in front of Charles.
I actually did it.
I will avoid going into the details because I simply do not wish to remember it, but it was probably known as my “dark history” in my past life. I probably thought that things would go well. Just remembering it makes me want to pass out in agony. If anything, seeing Michelie’s cheerful face was my saving grace. Since then, it has become increasingly embarrassing to see Charles that I have been avoiding………… I mean, I haven’t had the good fortune to see him.
Surfania was the cause of these Two Shameful Incidents, so naturally I put my guard up against her.
“My, how rude. I have done no such thing as deceiving you. Look at the title.”
“The title? What is it this time…… hey.”
I take the book from Surfania while staying alert. I notice right away that it’s something I would read in a heartbeat. In fact, it’s something that not only I, but almost every literate person in this country, have already read at least once.
“A fairy tale?”
It’s a picture book written to help children remember words. To guide them to literacy.
I wonder why she would offer this to me. Most likely she’s trying to play a prank on me, but I can’t discern her true intentions.
“What do you want me to do with this picture book?”
“Stop being so uptight. You probably know that the story is about a cursed princess who receives a kiss from the prince, and lives with him happily ever after.”
I read this when I was a toddler, but I remember the details because I am a genius.
“It’s not just our country that has this. There are other fairy tales with similar stories all around the world. Breaking curses with kisses is one of the common ideologies worldwide.”
“……So what are you trying to say?”
I read Surfania’s thoughts at that instant. This is the difference between a commoner and a genius.
Staring at her, I sense her true intentions despite her attempt at providing cheap and shallow guidance. Surfania thinks she has the upper hand and nods.
“I’m saying that you’re like a cursed princess, and everything will be solved as long as you kiss His Highness Charles…… Wait, Chris. What’s gotten into you, putting your palms against my temples? Don’t tell me you’re going to make me yield through violent ow ow ow ow ow!”
Hearing her say something so optimistic makes me use Mariwa’s Temple Rubbing Technique without hesitation. Unlike me, whom Mariwa tramples on a daily basis, Surfania is a sheltered lady after all. She lacks the tolerance for pain, and begins screaming in no time.
“Hey, Surfania. Do you really think that I’m so stupidly naive to be instigated by your words? Do you really think so, hm?”
“But you really entertained me when you took what I said at face value and played the character from that novel two years ago- ow?! Chr- Chris… it’s true that I was playing a prank so please sto- OW OW OW OW OW!”
Surfania sincerely apologizes in tears at last, but it’s not enough to call it even, after these two years.
I finally release the pressure from my palms on Surfania’s head, and put on a broad smile.
“I saw through the same trap I was caught in two years ago. This means that I’m evolving as a genius by harnessing my experience. Knowing that makes me feel good today.”
“Y-you’re right. You’re a genius, Chris. So take that as your reward and go-”
“Yes. I’m a genius. Now, Surfania. Now that we’re on the same page…… Prepare yourself for my Temple Rubbing Technique.”
Knowing what pain feels like now, Surfania cowers in fear.
I don’t plan on letting her escape. I close the distance for every step she takes.
“I- I’m sorry. That’s enough. It was wrong of me…… so stop hurting me!”
“Surfania, I know your pain very well. Yeah, I don’t like it when it hurts either. Yup, I understand it so well that I will never use a whip on a horse. But I want to give you a piece of advice as a close friend.”
As Surfania is shaking her head in desperation, I gently smile and place my hands on the sides of her head.
I form a couple of fists this time, and place the hardest parts of my joints slightly above her temples, preventing her head from moving.
Then, I turn my wrists while speaking.
“Know the pain of people around you.”
In the bedroom of the third daughter of the Calibrachoa family.
In a place restricted only to certain nobles and servants of the house, a sharp cry of pain resounded.