It was an event that took place while Petra was deep in her own train of thought.
“Hello, cute little lady, do you have a moment?”
“Who? Me?” A voice called out from behind her in the middle of town, and Petra turned around without hesitation. She didn’t recognize the voice, but she recognized the words. If there was anyone in the village who would be considered cute, it would be her. That wasn’t Petra’s vanity speaking, but rather her pride.
Petra Leyte, a ten-year-old girl, still believed that she could use cuteness to accomplish anything.
And that cute Petra was a little surprised by the owner of the voice.
Before her stood a maid from the mansion near Earlham Village, dressed in a black pinafore. The dress was practical yet elegant and for Petra, who aspired to work with clothing, it drew her interest. Then there was the tall golden-haired woman wearing said dress who also drew her eye. Her long, slender arms and legs enhanced her femininity and her womanly figure increased her appeal. To young Petra, she possessed the ideal body. She was everything that she lacked. However…
She kept her jealous thoughts to herself and welcomed the lady with a smile. “Are you from the mansion? Do you need something?”
Being a beauty was not the same as being a cute girl. Cuteness was still capable of fighting against beauty. And so, Petra, wielding such potential, was prepared to stand her ground.
Honestly, whenever Petra remembered her past vain-filled self, her face would burn with embarrassment.
But the Petra of a few years ago knew nothing of the thoughts of Petra in the future. Even here and now, she believed that “cuteness trumped all,” and used it without hesitation.
“That’s right,” the lady replied. “There is something I wish to ask.” To Petra’s winning smile, the woman calmly showed one of her own.
Most people would swoon at one look at that smile, but here it didn’t work. Even the times it stunned them for a few seconds was proof of Petra’s cuteness.
Since she wasn’t getting the reaction she wanted, Petra doubled down against her tough opponent. “Something you wish to ask? I hope I can give you the answer you’re looking for.”
“Thank you. I wish to ask where the mayor’s house is. The truth is, I haven’t traveled here from the master’s mansion much…”
“Does that mean you are new to the lord’s mansion?” Petra clapped her hands together at the realization. “Ah, that’s why. You’re such a pretty person, I thought it was strange I’ve never seen you before.”
“...Oh. You’re very good at compliments.”
Petra’s eyes sparkled while the lady gently placed her hand to her lips and giggled. Elegant mannerisms, a mature composure. These were things she wanted to learn for her future.
“Will you be staying at the mansion from now on?” asked Petra.
“No, I happened to be summoned here today. But even when I come here to help out, the mansion and the master’s needs are mostly handled by someone else.”
“I see. That’s a shame.”
The lady’s eyes widened slightly at Petra’s words. “How so?” she asked.
Without any ulterior motive, Petra just stuck out her tongue bashfully and smiled. “It’s just, you seemed so wonderful—I wanted to become friends with you.”
Seeing the lady pause quietly for a moment, Petra tilted her head at the perfect cute angle. It was a carefully practiced move, and when the lady saw it she gently cleared her throat. “N-No. It’s nothing. I’m very happy to hear you say that. If a chance arises, I would like to become friends with you too.”
“Yes, I understand. Ah, right, the mayor’s house. It’s this way.” Feeling slightly disappointed at the lady’s polite lip service, Petra pretended to remember her original request and began directing her to the house.
While leading her, Petra snuck glances at the lady’s uniform. Someday, when I have a job as a seamstress in the capital, it might make for a good reference, she thought, all the while thinking that she would love to wear such an adorable uniform at least once.
“I was really rude to you back then…” muttered Petra.
“I-It’s fine, Petra,” Frederica replied. “After all, you were still a young girl, and you didn’t know you were going to be working here.”
“E-Even a ten-year-old should be able to tell what’s okay and what’s not okay to do. I was such an idiot back then…” Even as her cheeks flushed with embarrassment, Petra bowed deeply and apologized profusely. Bewildered by the situation, Frederica gave a wry smile as she recalled that memory.
Frederica had been preparing breakfast when a docile-looking Petra had come up to her saying, “There’s something I need to tell you.”
Since Petra looked so sullen, Frederica was worried that the younger maid had made a mistake in her work and so stopped preparing breakfast to hear her out.
And as the senior maid, Frederica prepared herself for anything. But what Petra wanted to talk about was over something that had taken place two years ago, when the two had first met.
“I understand that you feel responsible and want to apologize…”
Honestly, it was something that Frederica had almost completely forgotten.
Two years ago, Frederica was working for the Miload family, a branch family of House Mathers, and had been called to Roswaal Manor for some work. There she had been asked to deliver a message to the mayor of the local village, and had asked Petra for directions.
Back then, Petra was just a simple village girl only ten years of age. It would have been difficult to act more maturely even when asked, and Frederica wasn’t so harsh as to ask that in the first place. However, even though it wasn’t an event that she had paid heed to, hearing Petra mention it herself made her realize that there was more to the memory than she realized. She realized that she had been taken in by Petra’s cuteness.
Having an unexpected attack from a blossoming flower in an unexpected place was immeasurable, especially to Frederica, who liked cute things. Especially at the mansion, where she had been treated coldly by a charmless junior servant. After that, there’d be no way one wouldn’t be moved by being treated with such kindness.
“A-Anyway, there’s nothing to be worried about. And for you to apologize when there’s nothing to apologize for… I had forgotten myself.”
“I don’t think it’s good to try and cover up one’s rude actions even when others have forgotten about it.”
“T-That’s right. You always seem to teach me something…” Receiving such a proper, straightforward answer, Frederica began to think less of herself. She rested her hand on her cheek and sighed, while Petra slowly raised her head. Seeing her act like a guilty criminal, Frederica smiled gently. “It’s not a big deal. And Petra, was everything you remembered so bad?”
“What do you mean by bad…?”
“I remember it, too. That time, you said that you wanted to become friends with me.”
“Ah.” Petra’s eyes went wide as she recalled her words.
“And then I replied, ‘If I get a chance, I would like to become friends with you as well.’ Seeing as how that promise has been fulfilled, don’t you think it’s fate?”
“Then, we were always destined to be sisters, right?”
Seeing Petra light up like that, Frederica resisted the urge to give her a big hug.
She’s just so adorable. Every day, Frederica found her resistance being gradually worn down by Petra’s endearing demeanor; but this would have to be restored by her dignity as the senior maid.
“R-Right… I...I was destined to be your sister.”
“I’m so happy to hear that. If you think like that, that means that I got everything I wanted back then.” Petra didn’t notice the fluttering in Frederica’s voice as she counted off her fingers. “I got to see your uniform up close, and I even got to wear it. I became friends with you, I got to learn to do this job…and I became cuter than before! Right?”
“Yes, you’re very cute,” Frederica immediately replied. It was normally something she wouldn't be able to say, given her position, so now she said it with force.
“T-Thank you very much.”
Seeing Petra bashful—her cheeks colored with embarrassment—Frederica felt satisfied. But then, she had a sudden thought. “This was quite sudden. Was there something that made you remember that time?”
“Hmm, nothing specifically.” Petra fidgeted as she considered Frederica’s question. She looked awkward as she considered whether or not to answer, before making up her mind. “The truth is ever since I’ve been with you, there was something that was bothering me. And it finally hit me.”
“It hit you?” replied Frederica, subconsciously mimicking Petra’s cute tone.
In any case, Frederica wondered what the spark was. If it caused her to remember something, then it would have to be related to it.
“M-Maybe what!? Did I make some major mistake?!”
“S-Sister? Why are you panicking?”
Frederica had just relaxed from the previous topic, so the new one made her panic in response. She hid her panic with a smile and shook her head slightly. “No, I’m not panicking. ‘A servant must always be calm and composed’; that was beaten into me…by that man!”
“R-Right. No matter who taught me, the lesson wasn’t wrong. I am calm and composed.” Shaking off the remnants of that man from her mind, Frederica took a deep breath. “So, what did you realize, Petra? Could you tell me?”
“Umm, it’s not anything big…” replied Petra, playing with her hair sheepishly at Frederica’s question. “Do you remember last night before we slept?”
“I remember that you were lonely and you crawled into my bed.”
“R-Right, but not that. Remember? What you said before we slept.”
Frederica racked her memory, but she couldn’t remember. She couldn’t recall saying anything special. She could only remember calling Petra cute.
“Hello, cute little lady, do you have a moment?” recalled Petra.
“That’s what you said to me before we slept. And it was the same thing you said to me two years ago when we first met.”
“I’m sure that’s what made me remember. It’s embarrassing, though.”
Petra most likely added on those words to help play it off. However, to be using the same words, Frederica felt like she hadn’t grown at all. Or possibly, that her feelings of wanting to hug Petra hadn’t changed since they first met.
“...Well, you certainly are cute.”
Frederica gave up all resistance and gently patted Petra on the head, who accepted it with an adorable smile. Then her eyes suddenly went wide. “Ah. Sorry. I interrupted your breakfast preparations.”
“It’s fine. We shared a nice little memory together.” Frederica smiled at Petra. “Also, could you help me with some final preparations? If you do, then I’ll forgive your actions from two years ago.”
Petra looked a bit shocked before breaking into a big smile. “Yes, Sister Frederica.”
“There’s that cutie I know so well.” Seeing Petra’s smile made her blurt that out, and Frederica admired the person she was two years ago.
The Frederica back then had managed to maintain their composure enough to protect Petra’s memory.