Chapter 26 – They call me a special girl
Maria Campbell is my name. But, very few people actually call me that. Everyone calls me “the special girl with light magic.”
I grew up in a small border town far away from the capital, and my light magic first activated when I was five.
A friend that I was playing with tripped and fell, and injured her foot. It was bleeding, and was very painful. While thinking that I’d try and do something to help her, I touched her wound. Suddenly, a dazzling light burst out from my hands, and when it came in contact with her wounds, they disappeared instantly.
My light magic had healed her, curing all the injuries and pain.
However, at that time, I didn’t know what I had just done. If I had been born to a noble family, I would have had knowledge of magic to some extent, but…… I was born in a commoner’s family. At that time, I hadn’t even been to school yet, and I didn’t even know what magic was……
Also, my friend that I healed with magic knew nothing, just like me. A light just suddenly burst out from my hand. What’s more, all the injuries disappeared just like that after being enveloped in the light.
My friend was astonished at what happened, and was terrified. She screamed, pushed me, and ran away.
While I just froze there in confusion, my mother who was worried about me, came to find me, and found me there frozen to the spot.
After that, I was finally able to tell my mother about what happened, and she immediately brought me to city hall.
And so, after I was inspected by the government, I was recognized as a “light magician.”
Until I activated my latent magic abilities, I was just another ordinary kid. Even though my family’s not very rich, I’m very fortunate to be able to live with my energetic and reliable father, and my kind mother that loves to make sweets. If you really try to say that there’s something special, it’s that my mother is called the most beautiful woman in town, and since I looked so much like her, of course my father and everyone else in town loved me.
But…… After I became a user of “light magic,” everything changed.
In this country, those with magic powers are mostly nobles, and there’s almost no commoners with magic power. Nevertheless, I was born as someone with an extremely rare magic. However, almost all people born with such a magic would have a noble for a parent.
Because of that, when I was found out to have magic…… People started suspecting my mother of having an affair. It was probably also partly because I looked a lot like my mother, but not very much like father.
Especially since mother was the most beautiful woman in town…… People were saying that she must have hooked up with a noble at some point in time.
Of course, nothing of the sort happened, but……
Rumors spread very quick in a small town, and our family relationship became rocky……
Before long, my father who had always come back home immediately after work to listen to mother and I happily, would hardly ever come home at all. And so, mother who used to smile all the time would always have a blank expression and have her head down. Even though she also used to like making sweets so much, she wouldn’t make any at all anymore.
………All because I have magic……
Also, my family wasn’t all that changed. Even though all the townsfolk used to treat me so kindly, before I realized it they had all become distant from me, and my friends that had gotten along with me before would no longer play with me.
It was said that I must be the illegitimate child of some noble, since almost no commoner children ever have magic.
I probably wasn’t an easy presence to accept for the townsfolk that were used to living a peaceful life……
And so, since I had light magic – I was shunned by everyone, people were scared of me, and I became a presence to be avoided.
But even so, I…… couldn’t help but keep hoping. I want father to return home, I want mother to smile again, and once more, I want to be able to play with my friends.
That’s why I worked hard. I actively participated in household chores, never complained or said anything selfish, and desperately studied.
As long as I hung in there, worked hard, and was a good child, I desperately believed that I could return to my original life filled with happiness……
And, before I realized it, I’ve become “Maria Campbell, the special girl.”
Finally, I was chosen to be the school representative at our neighborhood school, and the teacher praised me for being a wonderful student.
But even so…… As usual, father wouldn’t come home…… And mother wouldn’t even look me in the eye anymore.
And, as for the other children, nobody would play with me anymore. They all ignored me, and while I wasn’t bullied, nobody would play with me.
And no matter how hard I worked, I was still called a “special girl,” and nothing changed.
In fact, contrary to my wishes, people would say behind my back “since she’s a noble’s illegitimate daughter, someone must have pulled some strings for her” or “she must have cheated by using magic.”
What can I do to get along with everyone like we used to…… is what I was always thinking about. Then, one day, a classmate of mine brought some of her handmade sweets to school to share with everyone, and I saw how happy they all were at eating them.
If I could successfully make handmade sweets just like how she can, I wonder if I’ll be able to get along better with everyone…… Before my magic activated, I used to often make sweets with my mother. The sweets I made with my mother were very delicious.
That day, after coming home, I started making sweets by myself for the first time while remembering what my mother taught me. The sweets I made weren’t as good as the ones I made together with my mom, but they had a very nostalgic taste, and gave me a warm and fluffy feeling inside my chest.
And so, I tried my best at making sweets, and when they were finally good enough, I took them with me to school.
Then, just like my classmate did last time, during lunch break, I put some sweets on everyone’s table.
However…… Nobody touched those sweets at all. When lunch break finished, and everyone returned to their seats, I collected all the sweets and put them back in my bag.
After class, when everyone left and I was alone in the classroom, I took all the sweets out of my bag again. Even though they’re supposed to be sweets that everyone can enjoy energetically…… I couldn’t stop the tears from coming out.
And so, I ate all the sweets on my own, then returned home and immediately laid down on my bed.
I told mother from across the bedroom door that “I won’t need dinner tonight” in a business-like voice saying that “I’m full today” and all she said was “oh okay” before she left me alone.
My teachers, everyone in my school, all the townspeople, and my family, everyone calls me a “special girl.”
That “special” also meant “different.”
No matter how hard I worked, no matter how hard I worked, I’m still being shunned by everyone, an existence to be afraid of……
I don’t want to be called a “special girl with light magic!”
I’m not some illegitimate child of a noble…… I didn’t cheat with my magic…… I only worked so hard…… I just want to be recognized by everyone that I’m a hard worker……
Nobody would even look at me. Not even my mother would look me in the eye.
Anyone is fine…… Anyone is fine, so, someone…… Look at me…… Only look at Maria Campbell……
When a person reaches fifteen, it’s mandated by law that people with magic power have to attend magic school.
Magic school…… If I go there, everyone will have magic – there, maybe I can be a normal girl again……
If I go there…… just maybe, someone will appear who will be my friend……
Curled up alone on the bed in my dark room, that was the hope that sprung from my chest……
I’m sure that if I go to magic school –
And so, when I entered magic school, my long years of hopes for magic school were immediately shattered.
All the students at magic school were nobles, and I was the only commoner, there couldn’t be any greater difference between us.
Also, since commoners didn’t really have that much awareness about magic to begin with due to not having magic powers, we only thought that “light magic” was something rare, but it turns out that it’s the rarest of rare even amongst magic users.
As a result, I’ve become even more “different” from the others, and had no way of making any friends. What’s more, I was also bullied for the audacity of having magic powers despite only being a commoner.
So, it didn’t change at all from the time in the town, in fact my days became even harder.
Even so…… If I keep working hard…… If I’m a good girl…… I’ll keep working as hard as I can.
And so, a few weeks after I entered magic school, there was a test to determine the students’ aptitude in academics and magic. Since I studied as hard as I could, I managed to get good grades on both tests.
And so, as a result, I became a member of the student council.
The other members selected with me were all people of such high social status, that ordinarily I would never have even gotten the chance to ever speak to them had I still been living in town with a normal life. The second-year senpais in student council were the same as well.
Amongst all of them, my first self-introduction was quite weak as I shrunk in their presence, but the student council members were unconcerned with social status, and were friendly and wonderful people.
In particular, because the other student council members wanted it to happen, a person who was not a student council member was allowed to come and go as she pleased here, the duke’s daughter, Katarina Claes-sama – she would even treat me exactly the same as she treated all the other nobles, in a warm and friendly manner.
In the school, only the student council room became a place where I could rest and relax.
“Campbell-san, can you make sweets by any chance?”
Katarina-sama suddenly asked a question like that, after classes in the student council room. At the unexpected question, by reflex, I froze up.
“……Uh, why is it that you happen to know that I make sweets?”
Well, for sure, I had always continued making sweets since that time. Eating a sweet made with my mother’s recipe would remind me of fun times with my mother, and would make me feel slightly better.
Since coming to this school, there’s been bullying and hardships, so I’ve been borrowing a corner of the kitchen to make sweets for myself. However, that was supposed to be a secret. Of course, I’ve never said anything about this topic in the student council room. Despite this, why is it that Katarina-sama knows about this? In confusion, I was staring at Katarina-sama.
“Uhhh~, it, it’s, I heard something from the lady in the cafeteria……”
That was the answer I got.
Indeed, since I haven’t asked the cooks to keep it a secret for me or anything, maybe such a topic has become a rumor already.
“……Just as Claes-sama has heard already, certainly, I’ve been borrowing the cafeteria kitchen to make some sweets for myself from time to time, but…… It’s, still very far from the extent where I can show everyone……”
I stared at the luxurious sweets placed on the table.
They’re high-class sweets that I’ve never even seen the likes of before…… To people that are eating such wonderful things, I can’t possibly bring out my cheap handmade sweets…… Then, to the downcast me, she said –
“As for me, even though I like the luxury sweets made by cooks, I also love handmade sweets.”
Is what Katarina-sama said.
“Eh, Claes-sama also happens to eat handmade sweets?”
I was very surprised. I’ve heard that most nobles don’t cook for themselves. Because of that, they would only eat sweets made by professional cooks, and not something handmade by an amateur, is what I thought.
“Yeah. The head maid in our house, also has a similar hobby, and I always asked her for sweets. After coming to school, I’ve missed the taste of that handmade candy. If it’s not too much trouble for Campbell-san, I’ll be really happy if you could share just a little bit of what you make with me, and I’ll even help supply you with funds for the supplies, and properly pay you for what you make.”
As she said so, Katarina-sama directed a lovely smile at me.
“I couldn’t possibly accept any money! After all, I’m just using the leftovers from the school kitchen! ………Since it’s really just an amateurish hobby of mine, I’m not sure if they’ll taste good to Claes-sama, but…… I’ll make some soon and bring them to share.”
Being pressured by that lovely smile, even though I know I’m not worthy, I agreed and made her a promise. Then, to me –
Once again, Katarina-sama smiled at me gently.
Maybe, Katarina-sama might just happen to be taking pity on me. She heard rumors that the commoner girl was making sweets by herself in the kitchen, and eating them by herself…… She might have said that out of sympathy for me. Katarina-sama is a very nice and wonderful person, after all……
She might only be taking pity on me, it might only be lip service……
But…… It’s the first time…… That someone’s said they want to eat my sweets……
I was on cloud nine, and after returning to the dormitory, I immediately went to the kitchen at night to make some sweets. The day has finally come where I’m making sweets for someone else, I won’t have to cry while eating sweets by myself anymore.
The next day after classes ended, I was on my way to the student council room, after fetching and heating up the sweets that I had left in the kitchen. I wanted Katarina-sama to enjoy it even a little bit. And so, I placed the warmed sweets into a basket, and headed for the student council room.
While on my way – that’s when it happened.
On the path from the dorms to the school, several female students called out to me. From their expensive-looking, sparkly dresses, I knew that they were fairly high-ranked nobles.
“There’s something we need to say to you.”
Is what they said, and I was forcibly brought over to the forest. When we got to the forest, the girls started showering me with verbal abuse, calling me “commoner peasant” and the like.
This has happened to me several times since I’ve entered school, I just remained silent and waited for the girls’ anger to subside a bit. Then……
One of the girls showed interest in the basket I was carrying.
“……Th, that’s…… Sweets that I made for everyone in the student council……”
At the unexpected question, I answered it honestly by reflex…… And then, I regretted my carelessness immediately.
At my answer, the expressions on the girls visibly changed. I felt an anger from the girls whose faces were turning in red in anger that could not be compared with earlier. I’ve done it now…… My careless remarks have made them really angry.
One of the girls knocked the basket out of my hand, and it fell onto the ground with a loud “thump!” From the basket, the sweets started rolling out onto the ground.
“Just because you have the power of light magic, you’re being fawned over by everyone, doesn’t that feel just great! A commoner bringing something as poor as this for the student council to eat, have some shame and know your place!”
The girl that was shouting at me right now raised her foot and was about to stomp on the sweets.
I’ve never enraged anyone like this before, and so in front of their fierce anger, I could only blankly watch what was going on before me…… At that time –
Suddenly, a dignified voice echoed. With beautiful flowing tawny hair, clear light blue eyes, that voice and dignified pose –
Why would she be in a place like this, after classes are over she should always be in the student council room……
And so, almost as if to protect me, that person was standing in front of me.
“……K, Katarina Claes-sama……”
The girl that was about to stomp on the sweets mumbled with a blank look on her face.
I was very surprised, but the girls surrounding me seemed to be even more surprised. They were all staring while frozen stiff.
“What exactly do you all think you’re doing!?”
And so, when Katarina-sama raised a stern voice at them, they immediately turned pale.
Well, that’s to be expected. Katarina-sama, the daughter of Duke Claes, is not only the fiancee of the third prince of this country, Prince Jared, she’s also a person that’s very, very treasured by the members of the student council, and she also has many secret admirers due to her cheerful personality.
Due to that, if you displease Katarina-sama, it’s not just the school, it’s not unthinkable that there might not even be a place left for you in the entire country.
And so, almost as if it was a lie, the girls who had such a menacing atmosphere just earlier became obedient and –
“We’re very sorry!!”
They all lowered their heads to Katarina-sama and…… Almost as if it was a competition to get first place, they ran away with some amazing momentum.
Since the events happened too suddenly for me, I stood there blankly while stunned for a while, but…… Come to think of it, I just remembered that I was on my way to the student council room.
I had promised to bring my sweets to the student council…… Then, I just realized that I no longer had any more sweets to bring.
All the sweets that I had made were lying on the ground. Ahh, there’s no way I can bring these to the student council now……
I remembered that day again. Nobody ate the sweets I made, all my handmade sweets were left on their desks in such a lonely fashion…… It was useless no matter how hard I worked or how well I made them…… Nobody will eat them……
While I was standing still, Katarina-sama was picking up the fallen sweets and putting them into the basket for me.
And then, I panicked when I realized what was happening. Katarina-sama wasn’t doing anything like picking them up to put them back in the basket for me…… And, when I tried to speak up……
Katarina-sama was snapping up the sweets she picked up off the ground into her mouth. Then –
As she said so, she was smiling.
Sweets that had been on the ground……
I was thinking that, just like that day, I would have to take care of them by myself, but –
Katarina-sama was smiling while saying it tasted delicious.
……It was too much of a shock for me, so I opened my eyes wide and just stared at Katarina-sama.
And so, after finishing all the sweets, Katarina-sama raised her face. Her clear light blue eyes met mine. Then –
“Uh, uhh, I got really carried away and ate all of them…… I’m really sorry!”
She suddenly lowered her head towards me. For some reason, she was apologizing about “eating” all of them.
“Ah, it’s okay. I don’t mind that, but…… Uh, but it’s something that’s fallen on the ground……”
To the confused me, Katarina-sama responded with a strangely proud face.
“Since they fell on the grass, it’s no problem at all since they barely got any dirt on them.”
She said so with such conviction, that I couldn’t find anything to say back and just returned a troubled smile to her.
“……Is, is that so.”
And so, even though I’ve never dreamed it could happen, Katarina-sama praised my sweets. It’s the first time that I’ve ever been praised like this, I was really happy and embarrassed, and my face became hot.
And then, from the direction of the school campus, Prince Jared, a member of the student council, arrived. Since I still hadn’t come to the student council meeting, he came looking for me.
Katarina-sama was holding my basket while squatting on the ground, and I was standing still with red cheeks, and to Prince Jared who was looking at us dubiously I told him “by coincidence, I met Katarina-sama here, and we had a little chat” as an explanation.
I don’t want unnecessary worrying about me if he found out that I was being bullied. And, paying attention to my feelings, Katarina-sama also agreed with my story.
Even while returning with Prince Jared to the student council room, the heat from my face still wouldn’t subside –
“That’s, you better be careful since there’s a dreadful harem.”
Prince Jared smiled profoundly as he said so…… I don’t really understand what he’s talking about.
From then on, I would bring handmade sweets to the student council on almost a daily basis, and Katarina-sama was always overjoyed every time.
Since Katarina-sama had protected me, the bullying had let down quite a bit as well, then it happened when I had completely let my guard down.
It happened during lunch break on a certain day.
Since a lot of nobles use it every day, the school cafeteria is a very large and grand structure. And so, many of the school’s students, all nobles, would eat their lunch here.
The school dorms were separated by social status, so the class separation carried over to the school cafeteria. While I’m a commoner, I’m still allowed to use the cafeteria normally, but…… Since there’s only one school cafeteria, many high-ranking nobles with great power used it as well.
Because of that, I would be embarrassed to use it as a commoner, so I couldn’t use it at all, and I would always make my own lunchbox in the dorm, and eat by myself somewhere in the garden.
And so, on the day, just like usual, on a small bench on the outskirts of the school garden, I was about to open up my lunchbox.
At that moment. Before I realized it, I got surrounded by some girls I’d never met before.
“Even though you’re just a no-good commoner, just because you have some light magic, and you got chosen to be on the student council, aren’t you getting too carried away!?”
“Just because you have light magic you get all this special treatment, and it’s really sad that the student council has no way but to put up with you!”
“That’s right! It’s probably that you got favorable treatment during the test anyways just because your magic is special!
As they surrounded me, they rained an unending torrent of verbal abuse on me. I kept silent like usual, and just waited for their anger to subside.
Their words…… Since coming here…… No, it’s what I’ve heard all my life……
“Because you have light magic.”
Ever since that day I activated my magic powers, those words had always, always been with me.
No matter how hard I myself worked…… People would always say that everything is because “I have light magic……”
If it’s possible to wish for, if it’s possible for me to have a romance with someone, even I want to be held happily by someone too……
Even though I don’t need such a thing…… I just……
While I was being shouted at by everyone and thinking of those things, that’s when it happened.
Slowly, one of the girls was raising her hands. There was a red flame flickering on her hands.
Up to now, I’ve been slapped on the face countlessly, and even been bullied by people stepping on me…… This is the first time that someone’s used magic like this on me……
As if the bright red flame wasn’t real, I just stared at it blankly like I was in another world altogether.
And so, when that girl with the flame began approaching me, that’s when it happened.
I think I heard that dignified voice once again, and the girl who was approaching me with the flame tripped and fell on her butt right before me.
And so, before I realized it, that dignified back was once again standing before me.
“Exactly what are you all doing!! In the first place, saying that there was favoritism during the test just because she has light magic, don’t accuse people without evidence! This school is a meritocracy with no place for favoritism! And what’s more, I know just how hard Maria-chan is working! Her test scores are the result of hard work!”
Katarina-sama said so as she stood in front of me just like before as if to protect me.
That’s right, just as Katarina-sama is saying now, I’ve always, always been working hard. I’ve never done something like cheat on a test…… I just desperately worked as hard as I could……
But, nobody’s ever noticed this before…… I thought nobody ever would…… Even so…… This person, Katarina-sama noticed it……
I stared at Katarina-sama’s dignified back with my eyes opened wide. And so, while I was still in a daze, Katarina-sama continued.
“What’s more, everyone in the student council, as well as me, we’re not together with Maria-chan just because she has light magic! Because she’s a hard worker, because she tries her best at everything, because we like her, that’s why we’re together!”
At those words, the corners of my eyes became hot, and tears started dripping down my cheeks……
Ever since that day when I used light magic, everyone started calling me special, and I was treated differently from everyone else.
No matter how hard I worked, the result was always the same, it’s an obvious result because of your special power, or you must have cheated, is what people always said……
Everyone saw me as “the special girl with light magic……” Nobody saw me as a person called Maria Campbell……
Yet…… Katarina-sama – she noticed how hard I was working…… Not because I’m a girl with light magic, she’s saying that she likes Maria Campbell…… She’s saying that she wants to be with me……
It was almost as if a dam had broken inside me, and all the tears that had been pooling up flowed out from me.
Katarina-sama approached me as I kept crying uncontrollably, and rubbed my back gently. The warmth of her gentle hand completely swept away any remaining doubts I had.
“……Uh, Claes-sama…… My name……”
Katarina-sama had always called me “Campbell-san.” But, just earlier, she had kept calling me by my first name, “Maria-chan.”
“Uh, uhh, I’m sorry. I called you something that you’re not used to so suddenly……”
At the way Katarina-sama seemed to be panicking, I shook my head vigorously.
“No, I don’t mind at all. In fact, you don’t need to add ‘-chan’ either. Please just call me Maria.”
As I requested, the gentle Katarina-sama called me so with a smile.
“Thank you, Maria.”
At hearing my name being called in such a dignified voice, I summoned my courage.
“Uh, well…… If, if it’s alright with you…… Uh, would it be alright if I called you ‘Katarina-sama’ just like everyone else in the student council does?”
When I gave it everything I had and confessed my wish to her, Katarina-sama had a blank look for a moment, and then –
“Of course, it’s fine to call me whatever you want. After all, we’re already friends, aren’t we?”
and was smiling gently as she said so.
She’s saying that she’ll be friends with me, a commoner, even though our social statuses are so far apart…… My tears that had just begun settling down started to flood out again.
Anyone is fine…… Anyone is fine, so, someone…… Look at me…… Only look at Maria Campbell…… That’s always been my wish……
I worked even harder…… I entered magic school…… My long-held dream was shattered into pieces…… I thought that my wish might not come true anymore……
While Katarina-sama’s warm hand patted my back, my tears kept flowing. I was so happy at having my long-awaited dream come true –
After a while, when my tears calmed down again, Keith-sama came to pick up Katarina-sama, and the three of us headed to the cafeteria together.
I held out my hand to Katarina-sama, and seeing how my face turned red involuntarily, Keith-sama said “unbelievable, it happened again, exactly how many people are going to enter this harem……” and was talking to himself under his breath in stupefaction. I wonder what on earth he’s talking about.
From then on, even outside of the student council, I got a lot closer to Katarina-sama and her friends. Today as well, we received our homework together, and were heading for the student council room.
And so, Katarina-sama was very pleased at the sweets I had made for the student council. I was so happy as well that involuntarily, I diverted my eyes a little in embarrassment.
However, when I looked around me, all the other members of the student council were also looking at Katarina-sama with loving eyes, and were laughing happily as well.
Of course this included Prince Jared, and even Nico who usually didn’t change his expression at all.
And so, I checked out all the members of the student council…… Huh? ……
Somehow, I had an ominous feeling, and looked at that person again.
Then, that person smiled softly just like usual.
……Was it just my imagination……
For a moment, I felt like that person had a very cold look when I looked at them……
But, when I looked at that person again, they had a very gentle expression like usual once again.
So, I decided that I must have made a mistake.
I mean, that person is always so kind, for that person to have such a cold expression…… To be glaring at Katarina-sama…… It’s impossible……
“Maria, these sweets are so delicious!”
While I was wondering why I had been thinking such strange things, Katarina-sama began talking to me with a big smile on her face.
Once again, I became so happy that all those thoughts disappeared from my mind.
In order to see this smile again tomorrow, I’m going to improve my skills and make even better sweets!
Ten years after I got the power of light magic, after working hard – I was finally able to realize my dream of spending my days happily.