Weiss sat in the locker room, staring at the piece of paper in her hand.
Her first report card from Beacon.
It was absolutely dismal.
Just look at those grades! She couldn’t tell Father about this! Or Winter…
“I’m sorry. I’ll do better.”
“You’ll have to if you ever want to leave.”
But this, this wasn’t better. Some of these marks… for goodness’ sake, her History mark was the same as the class average! Average. How she hated that word, and everything it implied.
Ordinary. Drab. Meaningless. Stupid.
Weiss felt her eyes begin to burn, her chest tighten. But she refused to cry. She stared up at the ceiling, waiting for the tears to dry and for the lump in her throat to release.
Weiss whirled around. She had come here specifically to be alone, to avoid stupid concern and prying eyes.
The cutting mark she had prepared died on her tongue as she found herself staring up at Pyrrha Nikos. Perfect. Just perfect. Weiss shoved her report card behind her back and forced her face into a pleased smile. “Oh, hello Pyrrha. How are you?”
Pyrrha’s brow remained furrowed in concern. “Weiss, are you alright? You… you looked upset.”
Weiss almost told her, but what was the point? Pyrrha was perfect. In school and combat and looks and everything. How could she understand how awful it felt to never, ever be good enough? “No. I- I’m fine.”
“Okay.” To Weiss’ dismay, Pyrrha didn’t leave, and instead sat herself down on the bench beside Weiss. Weiss felt her skin grow hot where Pyrrha brushed against her. Infatuation and shame sloshed in a nauseating combination inside her stomach. “Where’s the rest of your team?”
“I could ask the same of you,” Weiss replied, defensiveness making her voice sharper than she’d meant to be. She sighed. “They’re in the dorm. I- I just needed space.”
She needed to not be told how well she had done, when it was clear that she had failed.
“I know the feeling,” Pyrrha said with a chuckle. “I love them, but my teammates can be a bit much.”
Weiss nodded absently, chewing at her bottom lip.
“Oh!” Pyrrha exclaimed. “I actually was looking for you- I wanted to thank you for your help with Dust Chemistry. You’re most of the reason I passed the class.”
Dozens of people had asked Weiss for help with that class. Pyrrha was the only one Weiss had said yes to. “You would have been fine. You're… you’re Pyrrha Nikos.” Pyrrha’s face fell, and Weiss knew she’d said the wrong thing. “I mean, you’re brilliant. You could have aced that class all on your own.” It was one of the few classes Weiss had aced, but that was only to be expected.
Pyrrha’s smile returned, and she set her hand on Weiss’ shoulder, sending a thrill down Weiss’ spine. “Thank you all the same.”
Damn it, why did Pyrrha have to be so nice?! Why couldn’t she be mean or petty or shallow, or anything that would make the ache in Weiss’ heart go away? Why did she have to be really, truly perfect? It was like having a magnifying glass held up to every flaw. Pyrrha was perfect and Weiss…was not.
“Weiss?” Pyrrha’s worried frown had returned.
“You’re crying.” Weiss realized with a sickening jolt that it was true. She reached up to wipe the tears but Pyrrha beat her to it, brushing them gently away with her thumb. “Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
Weiss burst into tears- real tears, she was snotty, sobby, ugly crying into the sleeve of her dress. Because somehow, she always managed to screw things up. She could never get it right. She just kept on failing…
“Weiss, I-I can leave if you like, but I want to help,” Pyrrha stammered. Weiss hated the pity in her voice. Here she was, a Schnee, crying like a baby in front of the most composed, talented girl in school.
“I don’t understand why you would want to stay,” Weiss choked out. She kept her face buried in her arms. Pathetic, hissed a voice in her head.
“It’s okay,” Pyrrha repeated. “Really. Why…why are you crying? Is it because of… me? Did I say something wrong?”
“No, no. It’s just…” Weiss shook her head. She knew she shouldn’t, but she really did want to explain herself to Pyrrha. She’d been holding this in for so long. It wasn’t as if she could embarrass herself any more than she already had. “I am a Schnee. I’m supposed to be all of these things. I’m supposed to be perfect. And I’m not. I’m bratty and mean and untalented- my grades are ‘average’” she spat out the word, angrily shoving her report card at Pyrrha. “But you… you really are perfect.” Weiss’ face heated at that final sentence as she directed her gaze down at her feet.
Pyrrha was silent for a long time. Then finally she spoke, taking her time to form careful sentences. “I understand how you feel. I do- believe me!” she added as she noticed Weiss’ skeptical expression. “There was a time when I would spend weeks after every tournament obsessing over what I had done wrong. How I could be better. I was terrified because the whole world saw me the way you see me, and I was waiting for them all to realize that I was really just a fraud. I still feel that way sometimes.” Her openness took Weiss aback. How could Pyrrha see herself as anything less than what she clearly was? She was at a loss for how to answer.
Thankfully Pyrrha spared her the awkwardness and continued to speak. “I think you’re good enough, Weiss, not unkind or untalented at all. I’m sure that doesn’t make you feel any better- because you want to be perfect. But nobody is! Not even me.” She put an arm around Weiss’ shoulders. “Does that help?”
Weiss nodded, wiping away the last of her tears. “I’m sorry, Pyrrha. I didn’t mean to burden you with my problems.”
“Please, burden me!” Pyrrha gave Weiss a friendly squeeze. Weiss prayed that Pyrrha wouldn’t notice the blush creeping up her neck. “I’m your friend, it’s what I’m here for.”
“Thank you,” Weiss managed to croak out. She was close to tears again, for an entirely different reason.
Pyrrha handed back the report card. “Try not to be too hard on yourself. Try to remember that nobody is perfect.”
Try telling that to my father, Weiss nearly replied, but she had bothered Pyrrha enough for one afternoon. Instead she stood, dusting herself off. “I’ll see you around.”
Pyrrha flashed her beautiful smile and Weiss felt a familiar twinge. “It was a pleasure talking with you, Weiss. If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.”
Weiss wanted to kiss her, right then and there. But she maintained self-control. “Thank you. I should return to my rooms now, my team will be wondering where I am. Do I… does it look like I’ve been crying?”
Pyrrha studied Weiss’ face for a moment. “Well, yes,” Pyrrha said almost apologetically, but quickly added “but you don’t have to go back to the dorms right away. I’m sure your team can make do without you a while longer. I…I know a nice spot on the roof, it could just be the two of us?” she suggested, and Weiss could have sworn she looked nervous.
But she could have been imagining things. All Weiss knew for sure was that she didn’t have to force her smile this time.