Chapter 8: Freedom from the Curse
Regina snatched Anastasia’s arm and dragged her into Regina’s dorm room. Anastasia could only meekly follow because the force was so strong.
“Please take a seat first.”
Regina’s room shared the same structure as Anastasia’s, but it looked completely different.
The room was pinkly decorated, with flowers on the windowsill. She must have put in a lot of effort herself. It’s a far cry from Anastasia’s depressing, empty room.
Anastasia did as she was told and found the chair to be comfortable, with a cushion that was neither too hard nor too soft.
“Anastasia is unquestionably the best of the first-year students. And I can’t stand by and let someone like that vile buffoon take advantage of her. Why does she remain silent while wearing the same status?
“…Because it’s true that I’m ugly.”
Regina inquires, and Anastasia responds with a wry smile.
It is not a good feeling to be called names.
If it’s about magic spells, she can say whatever she wants. However, when it comes to negative comments about her appearance, she is convinced that they are true and is powerless to respond.
“What gives you the impression that you’re ugly?”
“… Because I’ve always been told that no matter what I do, “at the end of the day, you’re still ugly.” “You’re an eyesore who belongs in the corner.”
As a child, Anastasia was compared to and mocked by her sister, Jaymie.
Jaymie is her half-sister, and her mother died when she was very young. Anastasia’s stepmother despised her as an ugly daughter and abused her at every opportunity.
Anastasia’s father disliked her mother, whose marriage had been arranged, and he disliked her as well. He was especially fond of Jaymie, as if he wanted to flaunt her.
“…I guess you were surrounded by people who didn’t like you—but have you tried enough things to say you’ve tried everything?”
Anastasia was unable to respond immediately to Regina’s point.
—When I think about it, I was taught from a young age that there was nothing I could do. I didn’t do anything at all.
I’ve only attempted to dress myself once. When I was in love with Shin the Hero in my previous life, I tried on a hair ornament and a beautiful dress.
But he rejected me in a roundabout way, saying that he liked me just the way I was, even if I didn’t do anything. So I stopped caring about my appearance after that.
“Isn’t that so? Even shiny things lose their luster if they are not polished. What would you think of someone who never bothered to learn magic spells because they believed it was pointless because they lacked talent?”
Anastasia realizes she gave up without even attempting because she was bound by her past.
—I had the opportunity to start over, to start a new life, and to do what I wanted this time, but I was still being dragged along by the past.
“Start with something easy… Even a minor change in hairstyle can have a significant impact. Anyway, why do you have such long bangs that cover your eyes?”
“…I was told to cover my eyes because they looked like they were glaring at them…”
Regina’s face darkened as she replied exactly what she had been told as a child.
“…I understand—let me handle it.”
Regina pursed her lips as she combed Anastasia’s hair.
Regina carefully combed out her unkempt hair, which was difficult to get through and got caught several times.
After combing the hair, the long bangs are braided and swept to the side, where they are secured with a hair clip.
“See how much of a difference this makes? —It’s not like you’re glaring at them; it’s more like a slitted, intelligent eye. It would be a shame to keep them hidden.”
When Regina showed her the mirror, she saw herself as if she were someone else.
She felt uneasy without her bangs, as if the armor that had surrounded her had been removed, but the eyes in the mirror were cool and even calm.
Anastasia is stunned by the realization that this is all it takes for her to change.
“And your hunchback has always bothered me—you should pay more attention to keeping your back straight.”
“…I’ve been told to contract my body more because I resemble a long, skinny stick. When I straighten my back, I…”
This is something she was also told at a young age.
Behind her back, she was told that she was anything but a pretty woman.
Shin the Hero would get grumpy when Anastasia stood next to him because she was taller. As a result, she always bent down and took a step back.
“…Ignore their nonsense; Anastasia is tall and has a good figure; you should make the most of it.”
Regina sighs in frustration and lets Anastasia stand.
“Your meekness will be your downfall. A woman who is upright and proud of herself is stunning in her own right. When you have so much good material, it is a sin to let it rot.”
Regina corrects Anastasia’s posture with these words.
Anastasia lacks confidence in herself as a result of her past experiences, and the only thing she believes in are magic spells.
She can talk openly about magic spells, but anything else intimidates her.
—It doesn’t have to be that way.
Anastasia looks ahead with all the strength in her stomach, not wanting to waste the opportunity that has been presented to her.
Anastasia then heard the sound of something shattering.
“Yes, that’s what it looks like—Take a look.”
Regina gives a satisfied nod and hands Anastasia the mirror.
“There was no awkward, ugly woman there, but rather a fascinating and graceful figure.”
“…I can’t believe it.”
Anastasia murmurs softly to herself.
—I just changed my hairstyle and sat up straighter. Is that all I have left to do?
That alone makes her look like a different person. Not only her eyes, but her entire face appears to have lost its mask, as if she had used some kind of magic.
“Did Regina-san use a special magical spell? Amazing… This is so… Thank you… Thank you so much…”
Anastasia is overcome with emotion, and tears well up in her eyes.
It was as if all the burdens that had been placed on her suddenly became lighter.
The word “ugly” seemed to weigh heavier on her than she realized.
She can’t thank Regina enough for removing it.
“W-Well… Not at all. I was just trying to teach the poor country girl a lesson—You’ll have to work harder from now on, as befits the top of the first class.”
Regina says casually while turning away, as if embarrassed.
“But why have you been so good to me?”
“W-Well… I just wanted you to be deserving of being the best in our class. I… I’ve been meaning to talk to you, but Anastasia always disappears after class, and I was hoping for a chance… Well, I mean…I mean…”
Anastasia wonders, and when she asks, Regina looks away and slurs.
Regina pauses for a moment before opening her mouth, as if she has made up her mind.
“I-I mean… I would be happy to be your friend.”