Summary: They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice. Apparently, nobody told Katarina that they were being metaphorical, or that it wasn't intended to be taken as fact.
In the Ascart estate, a young girl with stark white hair and piercing red eyes tore through the manor to find the tome she had promised to her new friend. She remembered exactly where it was, having spent many an afternoon at her favorite spot indulging her interests. Here it is, she thought as she clutched it close to her chest, Lady Katarina will surely love this!
With the novel in hand, she gingerly walked down the staircase. "Lady Katarina! I'm sorry for making you wait," she said.
"Sophia!" exclaimed the brunette, head held up high and beaming a smile at the girl. Sophia Ascart felt her cheeks flush, having never received that sort of attention from someone outside of the family before, and her mind started to wander.
She wondered why that grin felt just so right to see. Déjà vu? No, that was impossible. Why would that ever be the case? Her feet wandered as well, for she slipped on the next step, just a few above the ground floor.
Her brother, Nicol, could only watch helplessly as she fell forward, his mask of stoicism slipping to unveil shock.
Katarina's adopted brother, Keith Claes, was far more receptive. Concern, worry, and fear pounded in his chest as he turned to Nicol to apologize for the harm about to befall Sophia.
Both brothers, stuck in that moment, were unable to notice Katarina rush to the foot of the staircase, arms spread wide. "I'll catch you!" she declared.
The two girls met head-on, and quite literally at that. After they crashed onto the ground, Katarina rubbed her forehead, seemingly no worse for wear. The poor white-haired child, though, seemed to be out cold.
"Sister!" Nicol cried out.
Keith jerked back to the two and blurted, "E-e-eh? You tried to catch her?!" Katarina nodded as she tried to shake the girl awake.
"S-Sophia? You alright?" she asked. "It didn't hurt that badly."
"Huh, I guess your head really is that thick," her younger sibling whispered.
Just as a nearby maid was about to yank her away, Sophia woke up, though still dazed. Nicol prompted the servant to leave, allowing the four children some time to sort things out themselves.
"Sophia! You're awake! My forehead didn't crush yours!"
The young girl looked up at the girl who held her closely and blinked several times, only to murmur out, "Chichan?"
Out of all the things from her past life that she never expected to hear from another person again, such as 'TV' or 'otome game', her name, or rather, the nickname her best friend gave her, was the last thing Katarina Claes expected to hear by far. It was said softly, as if she was dreaming, and by instinct, she responded, "Yes, Acchan?"
Sophia fell back, letting go of the book to wipe both of her eyes before taking another glance at her. She asked, "Chieko Kanda? Ah, no. I must be mistaken," though Nicol noted how quick she was to deny it. Her eyes darted between her friend and her brother, as if reminding the girl who else was present. Katarina seemed to understand, if that smile of hers meant anything.
"You got it right, Acchan. That's exactly what my name was."
. . . It appeared that despite being able to recognize her best friend in another body, Katarina, or rather, Chieko, failed to read the room. Sophia, normally a very quiet and gentle girl, stared at her in disappointment.
The two brothers looked to each other, wondering what the hell happened that their sisters started greeting each other very informally, almost as if they knew each other their entire live-
Suddenly, Nicol understood as he stepped forward. "Reincarnation," he proclaimed, much to the shock of the two girls and the bafflement of the other boy. "Supposedly, just as magic is said to flow into our world from others, so too can souls, though rarely. Even more rarely, they can latch onto someone and potentially merge with them. My magic tutor said the odds of this sequence of events occurring were one in a billion, however.
"You two have come from a past life together and clung to our sisters, right? I wonder if there's any way of undoing that." The stoic child's glance now felt cold, as if intending to freeze them with a stare.
Sophia held her arms up in surrender, "Wh-what are you talking about, brother? It's still me! I was confused with a protagonist from my stories, that's all. Katarina must have read it as well and saw herself in her. Isn't that right, Katarina?" Nicol's glare focused on her, and then on her friend.
Much to Sophia's chagrin, Katarina had gone into a full-on dogenza, her head and knees flat on the floor as she jabbered, "PleasepleasepleasesparemeIdon'twannadieagaaiiinnnn," thus confirming his theory.
Keith spoke up, though rather hesitantly. "Um, if I may say something. I've heard that my sister changed a lot for the better after hitting her head a few months ago." Nicol glanced back at him, and he shivered.
"Is that so?" the raven-haired boy inquired.
"Y-yeah. Apparently, the staff used to call her a spoiled brat behind her back, but then she suddenly started treating everyone very nicely. When I locked myself in my room after accidentally hurting her with my magic, she broke down the door with an axe just to get me to open up." He couldn't help but smile at the fond memory, the moment where she emerged to save him from the hate he had for something he never asked to have.
Katarina looked up, tearing up slightly. "C'mon, Keith! You said you'd never tell anyone about that!" Seeing the admittedly hilarious look on her friend's face, Sophia burst out laughing.
"Y-you actually went and chopped his door down?! Bwahaha, that is so you! I'm glad I managed to answer all of your calls back then. Did you do it like in that one film with the woman hiding in the bathroom from the psychopath?"
"N-no! I don't even know the name of that movie!"
As Sophia continued to tease Katarina, Nicol allowed himself to smile internally, as he often did. He thought, I've never seen Sophia this open before. Normally, she'd try to make herself as much of a nonpresence as possible, lest others gossip about her behind her back. Not only has she started addressing Lady Katarina by only her first name, but she's also making fun of her without a hint of fear. Perhaps this is for the best.
"Very well," the boy declared, startling the two girls that had just gotten up. "It seems you might end up being a good influence on my sister… Eychan, was it? No matter. Just know that if you ever try to lead my sister down a dark path, you'll find little trouble getting back home. I'll make sure of it." For a moment, he shot a soul-piercing stare at the one inhabiting his sister. Any longer, and she might've frozen up.
Sophia bowed and stammered, "Y-yes! I'll be sure not to cause any trouble! So long as we can keep the reincarnation thing a secret, you have my word!"
Of course, that's not entirely what Acchan intended. Now that she knew that she was in the world of her favorite otome game, Fortune Lover, and that her best friend was here as well, she had every desire to live their lives out together to the fullest, in spite of whatever the original story might have intended. Nicol didn't need to know this, nor did he need to know right away, since she wanted to use her knowledge of the story and the magic academy to have her fun, the latter of which she wouldn't enroll in for seven more years.
Alas, though friends overcame both time and space to reunite, the sun did not wait to set, and if the Claes siblings left any later, Katarina swore her mother would have her head. As the carriage started its journey back to the Claes manor, Sophia waved goodbye to her new friends with both arms.
She cupped her hands together and cried out, "Can we meet up tomorrow at your place, Katarina?"
The brunette stuck her upper body out the carriage, much to the worry of her younger brother, and declared, "I'll do whatever it takes to convince my mom! See you tomorrow!"
As they watched it slowly fade from their sight, Nicol turned to his sister and sighed. "It seems our lives are about to get much more lively." Sophia beamed him the same infectious grin Katarina always wore, defrosting his heart ever so slightly.
"You can say that again! I can't wait to catch up with her."
"By the way, I've been meaning to ask one of you a question; what's this 'movie' you were referring to?" Though his face showed no hints of emotion, she knew she'd inadvertently piqued his curiosity.
Sophia stepped back as her face paled to match her hair. "I- um, well, you see…" She had no idea how to explain a scene from a violent movie she never watched to a nine-year-old, much less the concept of one! All of a sudden, she realized, Ooo, I can't wait to see how Maria deals with these changed targets!
A/N: Hello, fellows! Guess what I've been watching. To tell you the truth, I've been keeping up with the manga for quite some time before the anime was announced, but I only came up with this idea after reading a few fics for this series. Now that there's not much for me to do this summer, I suppose I'll finally use it to write again. Stay tuned for more!