It was the second month of the new year, signs of early spring are already showing. Heavy snowing stopped a while ago but the chill hasn’t disappeared.
Looking through the window in the kitchen, I see a familiar yellow bird fluttering its wings around the vegetable patch behind my house. Oh it’s the same species of that snoozing bird I saw back in my village. Maybe they’re okay with the cold weather without needing to migrate.
A knock sounds from the front door. I leave to receive the guest, thinking it was a customer, but it was Janet instead. I invite her in and tell her to make herself at home.
After taking time to seat herself, she speaks her reason for visit. “I came here to invite you to a ball.”
Oh jeez I almost dropped the tea cups.
Say what again? Me, a lower-class commoner, attending a noble’s ball? It’s a place where all main characters gather. Every (and all) romance stories set in medieval Europe have scenes of ‘dancing together at a ball’ as an event. Going there would be akin to going on a suicide mission.
Just when I was thinking of rejecting, Janet sees my crumpled expression. She interrupts before I could speak.
“It’s to formally introduce me as Roderic’s fiancee. I’m a commoner… and I haven’t really settled into the noble social circle just yet. With how popular Roderic used to be, it’s not been easy for me to deal with the jealous noble girls either.” She pause, probably recalling the times she faced some third-rate villainess attempting to steal the Duke. Just the usual heroine things.
“I plan to invite Cecile and Ruby too. Right now I just need to embrace the people who I know will always be with me.” She reasons, her eyes glittering with hope bore right into mine.
How can I reject this when my best friend went this far to talk about her struggles? Was it not Janet who supported me and showed me the ropes when I first migrated to this town? I shouldn’t be selfish.
I sigh and nod, finally giving in.
“Great!” Janet’s face immediately brightens at my confirmation. “ While we’re at it, we should match our outfits.”
After excitedly planning the concept for our attires, Janet soon left to invite Cecile and Ruby.
Because the four of us have our own specialties, we decided to coordinate something special. Cecile is a florist, so we’ll leave our hair decorations to her flowers. Janet will handle the accessories and jewelleries we need. We’ll rely on Ruby’s adept makeup skills, and the dresses will be my responsibility.
Weeks flew by as I busy myself with making dresses. I look at the completed attires for the squad, and smile with satisfaction.
A day before the ball, we gather at Janet’s shop to do a dress rehearsal, ensuring all the outfits and accessories match and to make some adjustments if needed.
Janet’s dress is a white mermaid dress, made with silk and satin (sponsored by the Duke). I know I’m not supposed to start bringing new innovative designs to catch attention, but this is my best friend on a special occasion… Since Janet has a nice figure and as the descriptions would go: “curvy in all the right places”, this dress will hopefully highlight her beauty and shut some of her competition down. This is the only way I can support her.
I warn Janet to keep my name a secret when curious people inquire. She notices the heaviness in my voice when I requests so and nods rigidly. I hope I can trust her with this.
Even if we want to match, I obviously can’t have the same dress design with different colours for all of us. What are we, Power Puff girls? All our dresses look different glancing from afar, but they all have the same floral pattern lace I hand-stitched for the neckline of the dress. Otherwise, the dresses are made to accommodate the different body types.
Each of us took turns dressing each other up. When Ruby finished my makeup, I call Janet to make minor adjustments to the dress.
When everything’s done and over for Janet, I must say, she was indeed a heroine. The makeup accentuated her big eyes, the pinkish blush gave her an innocent look. Instantly, I can see she was no longer "a girl with average looks". It’s like how drawing styles in manhwas change as the story progress, the heroine gets gradually prettier as the love story unfolds.
While busy admiring Janet’s female-lead-beauty, I notice from my peripheral vision, a beautiful girl stepping out of the dressing room.
“Tina, the dress is a little loose here.” She calls, and I pause to look at her.
Excuse me who?
Seeing me staring at her blankly, she gets awkward. “Ah my makeup doesn’t look good, huh?”
You’re kidding. No… I noticed her wearing the dress I made for Cecile, I noticed her voice sounding extremely similar to Cecile. That can only lead to one conclusion: it’s Cecile isn’t it?
Transformation from average to pretty is a common theme in shoujo genre, but still isn’t this a totally different person?!!
THERE’S NOTHING RESEMBLING CECILE THERE? HEY ARE YOU PLANNING TO GO ON A CATFISH REALITY SHOW?
Ruby comes out behind Cecile, and proudly slaps her chest. “My best masterpiece yet!” She claims, pushing Cecile forwards.
“Woah! Cecile you’re prettier than 90% of the noble girls.” Janet commented, nodding with approval. “Ruby really outdid herself.”
“Yeah, you’re beautiful Cecile.” I grinned with thumbs up.
Cecile smiles shyly at our compliments.
I silently wail in my heart. Life’s just going to get harder with one heroine and one potential female lead around me.