It was simply a coincidence.
Chris only saw her as a rival because of a plain old coincidence, a gift of good fortune to a child like Surfania. Surfania herself knew this more than anyone else.
It has all started with her older sister.
“Today, I met quite an interesting child!”
Her eldest sister had said.
It had been Chris’ first entrance into high society, the royal ball. Surfania had excused herself from participating, since even then she was already introverted and had no interest in the party. As such it was the eldest Calibrachoa daughter who had met Chris. It seemed she was the current student of Eder Sister’s former tutor, and from there they had talked more.
“With that flower petal on her head, she was so cute looking – like a fairy.”
It seemed that pointing this out had started their conversation. I wasn’t interested whatsoever in hearing what my sister was talking about with that ‘fufu’ laughter and flowey smile. Not wanting to hear any more of her the story, in a lonesome fashion she retreated to her room and ignore her sister’s voice.
The second time she heard about Chris, was from the middle sister.
“That child, she’s such a good kid!”
As her sister reported with eyes sparkling, it became increasingly unpleasant.
Without Surfania even knowing, it seemed that her eldest sister had invited Chris over to their house at some point. Now that her middle sister had met Chris she could only keep highly praising that child. Chris was polite and courteous, yet her stories were funny. She was sweet, but had an abundance of knowledge, after they had thoroughly praised every word she had said did the report finally end.
“Rather than reading books all day, you should follow that girl’s example!”
It felt like something was stuck in her throat.
Even as Surfania faced away, unresponsive, her sister continued to squawk on about this and that. Once more she retreated into her own room.
The young daughter of the Noir family was highly praised by her two elder sisters. But Surfania didn’t have any desire to meet that child. From what had been said the Noir child sounded like an obedient social butterfly, and Surfania believed that a surly introvert like her could never get along with such a person.
Regardless, when Chris was invited over a second time, Surfania reluctantly couldn’t avoid meeting her face to face.
“Good day, Ms Surfania. I am honoured to finally meet you.”
Smiling with eyes that seemed to dazzle, she perfectly performed a curtsey. Surfania refused to leave her room no matter what her sister’s said, and so the young lady that had come all the way to Surfania’s door to greet her, seemed absolutely flawless.
“I am Christina Noir. I have had the privilege of spending time pleasantly with Miss Surfania’s older sister.”
As Surfania tried to digest the perfect manners displayed in front of her, remembering the middle sister’s words, words of rebellion came out of her mouth.
“What’s with that fake smile?”
There was no getting around it, she was flat out insulting her.
In fact, Chris’ smile at that time was flawless. From her gestures to her facial expression, there was nothing that seemed unnatural. That was why the middle and eldest sisters had held so much praise for this girl.
That’s why Surfania’s appraisal hadn’t come up with a single fault in Chris. She only felt this strongly because she would never have to meet this girl again after insulting her.
So she had thought, but her words had a rather unexpected effect.
Chris’ eyes narrowed in surprise before her expression broke into a broad smile without a trace of her perfect lady’s mask from a moment before.
“Amazing. This is the first time anyone has ever seen through my second form.”
Surfania was taken aback by the sudden transformation.
In the blink of an eye, in that very Chris way, she had closed the distance between them.
“I was so sure I had perfected it since it had never been seen through by older kids or even adults. As for Charles…well he completely thought I was a different person.”
Surfania could hardly understand the words she was hearing. Unlike her lady mask, her face showed all her honest expressions as she spoke and her eyes seemed to pull a person in.
“What…? What are you?”
“Fufu. I am what I am. My name is Christina Noir. And I am a genius!
The girl who threw out her chest as she said her name didn’t appear to even have a trace of the etiquette of a noble daughter, but she was so much more fascinating than she had been a moment ago.
“Well than, Surfania. From today onwards you are my rival! My genius rival. You should feel honoured!”
“…Self centred. I know this because I’m the youngest in my family, but you don’t have any younger siblings. They would surely dislike you.”
“Wh- what?! Th-that’s not true! I am super close with my younger sister!”
Ah, I discovered her weak spot.
Thinking she could now easily win since she knew the easy to read, fluttered Chris’ weak point, Surfania felt relieved.
Actually, Surfania already knew that Chris was an amazing person.
Although Chris could have chosen to be around anyone, to Surfania, it was comforting that she had chosen to stay by her instead.
To not only be recognised Surfania, but to be genuinely seen as an equal, it was unbelievable.
There was no need to mention sociability, the number and types of books she had read, her skill at boardgames, and her quick retorts that flashed past like greetings. Within these, there wasn’t a single thing that Surfania could beat Chris in.
The only thing Surfania was above Chris in was her knowledge as a ‘younger sister’ and that she knew Chris’ weak point. She didn’t have a single other point that could beat Cris.
She had actually been rather insecure.
Surfania, who was well aware of her own faults was worried. Even though Chris had said that to her, Chris would see that she was unworthy of being a rival in time. Surely one day Chris would grow exasperated and abandon her….
Surfania hid her fears behind harsh words, keeping Chris away with her coldness. Even though Surfania’s uneasiness made her behave like a pouty child, Chris had accepted all of her. Like that Surfania and Chris had been able to tell each other everything.
Well, until now that is…
“Surfania, are you alright?”
After being driven out of the room, in the empty hallway of the church, Surfania had buried her face in her knees. Then hearing a voice made her shoulders trembled.
“Ahh…the things Michelie said, don’t take them to heart.”
I’m not taking…them- to heart…”
In response to her mixture of sobbing and attempts at acting tough, Leon sat down beside Surfania.
Without saying or doing anything, he just stayed there with her. She couldn’t express just how thankful she was for that. Thinking that, at the same time she was disgusted by how spoilt she was acting.
Now that Chris had left her behind, was she going to hold Leon back instead like a greedy child.
Seeing just how inexcusably weak she was, Surfania stubbornly forced her tears to stop before slowly wiping them off her face with her hands.
“Mm. Are you okay now?”
“I’m fine. Because I won’t lose…”
To be left behind – it was frustrating.
Without saying anything, not even a single word, and to be abandoned without even a glance back was pathic.
She couldn’t forgive herself. She, who had selfishly held Chris back without ever trying to improve herself.
So, Surfania made herself stand up.
“Exactly. Am I going to let myself be defeated just like this? I’m so sorry I let myself be called an idiot, let myself be looked down upon by that evil little sister. I am Surfania Calibrachoa. I’m not just a tacked on extra to Chris. I am, I’m…!”
“Yeah. that’s it. Just like that.”
“Exactly! That’s why, Leon”
Surfania didn’t quite have the self confidence to call herself a genius. That’s why, if she alone wasn’t going to be enough, she needed depend on others help. She would use the power and influence of her older sisters, even if she disliked them, if she did that – she could surely be able to reach Chris.
Tear tracks still visible on her face, Surfania stood tall with a fiery rage burning inside her.
“I will, over that idiot, triumph. I will leave that blackhearted little sister in the dust, and will stand in front of Chris such that she can’t ignore me…!”
Looking up at Surfania, Leon smiled broadly.
Leon also stood up so he could stand beside his friend, who knew her own weakness’ but still kept going.
“Alright. I’ll lend you a hand with that.”
“Of course. I would have dragged you into it even if I had to by force.”
Standing next to Leon, eye to eye, Surfania abruptly turned on her heel.
Even though she had vowed to become strong and independent, Surfania knew that she couldn’t do anything alone. She was stronger with someone by her side.
Surfania knew this weakness would surely become her strength one day, unlike Chris who walked alone.
To catch up and grab the shoulder of their friend who had selfishly left them behind, these two walked forward together. The girl who didn’t show up at all in the fate Chris knew, what disturbances shall her steps make?
“Let’s go, Leon.”
“Roger that, Surfania.”
In this world there wasn’t a single soul who knew the answer to that.