Author: alyalia

In the banquet hall of the Kaien Duchy. The door to this banquet hall opened for the first time since the current duke’s succession. I looked at Madam Kaien with surprised eyes. It seemed that Madam had prepared the banquet as a surprise gift.

 

The banquet hall was almost plastered with expensive mirrors on all sides, and the chandelier on the top was so gorgeous that it even looked grand. On the large table where enough 30 people could sit, purple and silver flowers were lavishly decorated with colorful candlesticks, and gold-rimmed tableware was set on the luxurious embroidered lace table mat.

 

“It’s really, really great.”

 

This banquet hall and the wealth of this family!  I was genuinely impressed. How could it be so different from Bornes County? Even if they were the same gold, why are they more luxurious in here?

 

“We have a celebration in our family, so I can’t help but to celebrate.”

 

I repeated madam’s words. Our… That trivial word made me so touched. It was because I had never been in the face of the word ‘our’ in my life. Fortunately, I managed to hold back my tears for no reason and opened my mouth.

 

“Mother, thank you very much. You don’t have to do this.” I spoke it happily, but the feeling of guilt crawled into my heart.

 

I was only bound to be here by contract. The fact that madam really treated me as her family made me feel sorry for not being able to tell her the truth.

 

“If it’s not me, who will take care of it? If I left it to your dense fiancé over there, you wouldn’t even dream of an event like this even after ten years.”

 

Charter didn’t respond. In fact, it was true that he hadn’t thought of a celebratory banquet. Even if he had an excuse, there was nothing to say.

 

“That must be true.”

 

I gave Charter a mischievous look, then turned my gaze to the side. Layla was sitting next to Charter with a sullen face. She lowered her eyes as if she would never ever meet my gaze and kept her gaze fixed on her plate. Maybe she was reluctant to attend at madam’s call.

 

“Thank you for coming, Lady Layla.”

 

Layla answered my words with a frown, “Yes, congratulations, Lady Arianne.”

 

I pointed out an error in Layla’s words. “No, Lady Layla. You can’t call me like that. I’m Baroness Devit from now on.”

 

As a result, Layla’s face turned like chewing up horse poop. But she couldn’t even answer here. In the end, Layla opened her mouth with an expression that she hated me to death.

 

“Congratulations, Baroness Devit.”

 

Layla’s hand, hidden under the table, gripped the hem of her skirt and trembled.

 

That’s how you should stay calm. Why are you messing with me in the first place? If Layla hadn’t shown much hostility to me on the first day of coming to the mansion, if she had stayed quiet as a guest of madam, we wouldn’t have been fussing over each other like now. However, the already severe relationship was impossible to revive without much effort. Besides, Layla and I had no intention of making such efforts for each other.

 

I turned to madam with a satisfied smile. “Mother, the flowers on this table are so pretty. The purple flower is hydrangea, but what is the name of this silver flower?”

 

“Sage. The flower language of purple hydrangea is sincerity, and the flower language of sage is wisdom. Don’t you think they both represent you?” said Madam, looking at me with meaningful eyes.

 

I wondered if I really fit the words ‘sincerity and wisdom,’ but I concluded that it was far from myself. “I’m flattered. Thank you again, Mother.”

 

“Why are you keep saying this? Don’t you feel embarrassed? Anyway, Sebastian, let’s get started.”

 

Sebastian nodded toward the kitchen, and soon the servants began to serve the dishes. At the end of the course, along with the fruit, I opened and tasted the precious wine that madam had been saving for a special day.

 

“Wow. I love it. It’s not sweet, not too heavy, um… how should I express it? Anyway, it’s delicious!”

 

My compliments made madam seem satisfied, and she said with a smile on her lips. “This will be served for my daughter-in-law weekly. There’s plenty of good wine, so feel free to drink as much as you want.”

 

“Can I really do that?”

 

I asked with my eyes wide open. Then madam nodded and said, “Of course. Isn’t it all yours anyway?”

 

“Ah, mine… that’s right.” Although it’s only for one year.

 

If so, what I had to do was decided. To drink as many luxury wines as possible within a year. My eyes glistened with that desire.

 

Charter, who noticed Arianne’s determination, shook his head, but no one interested him.

 

That’s what women talk about. After that, there was an extremely family-like atmosphere where laughter could be heard from time to time, and conversations were made while drinking wine.

 

“By the way, what kind of person was the former duke?”

 

At my question, madam looked surprised for a moment, but soon afterward, she smiled politely. “Are you curious?”

 

“Yes, I’m curious.”

 

Then madam glanced at Charter and began to talk. “He was a strong and honorable man. As the pillar of the empire, he devoted himself more than anyone else to support the imperial family.”

 

I listened to madam with an interested face. Even Layla, who was shivering, turned her head and stared at madam, hoping she would continue her words.

 

“Did Mother get along with him?”

 

Madam was at a loss for words at the unexpected question. Did we get along? That person and me? What should I say about this… Madam was in agony for a moment. Glancing at Charter, he seemed to be completely unconcerned. If so, it didn’t matter if she told the truth.

 

“He and I had different lives to pursue.”

 

“I don’t understand what that means.”

 

Madam smiled bitterly and moistened her lips with wine. “At that time, I was rebellious, just like any other woman. I married him and had a child, but I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I was lacking something in my life. So I started writing.”

 

“Yes? Mother wrote something?”

 

“What are you so surprised about? I don’t know what you think of me.”

 

I said with a shy smile at the criticism from madam. “That… Mother is such an example of nobility…”

 

“I hated that word. In other words, doesn’t that mean I have the appearance of the old-fashioned noblewoman?”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

At my apology, madam comforted me with a benevolent smile. “You don’t need to apologize. Everyone thinks of me that way. Anyway, I started writing and even tried to publish it. But that’s where it started to go wrong. Between him and me…”

 

“Why? There is nothing wrong with publishing a book.” I asked as I couldn’t understand.

 

“The problem is that he and I were not considerate of each other. We couldn’t accept each other’s differences. By the time I realized that it was already too late.”

 

“Ah…”

 

“The important things are to be considerate. I hope you and Charter live with consideration for each other,” said Madam, glancing at Charter. Charter was still listening with an indifferent face.

 

“Don’t worry, Mother. I’m a very considerate person.”

 

Tuk. Madrenne’s chin dropped as if it would fall off.

 

* * *

 

“Uah~ I’m a Baroness now. I can’t believe it.”

 

“Your worth has only been proven.”

 

“In conclusion, that’s what happened.”

 

The corners of Charter’s mouth went up in response to my coy answer.

 

I was on my way back to my room after a rather friendly banquet. It’s a shame… But what’s wrong with today? It was a shame to just sleep like this. So I begged Charter to have another drink, just like a drunk person did.

 

Charter, who was especially weak to Arianne, naturally granted her request and continued the unfinished story in front of the liquor table Sebastian had brought. There was grape juice in front of Charter, not wine.

 

“I don’t know if I deserve this kind of love. Mother… she’s such a nice person.”

 

As I spoke with a sad face, Charter poured wine into my glass and said, “You deserve to be loved.”

 

At Charter’s words, I looked him in the eye and asked. “Really? Do you really think so?”

 

“That’s right.”

 

Facing Charter’s unshakable eyes, I felt better as he was sincere with his words, which made me want to tease him.

 

“Then… Do you love me too?” I asked him mischievously with a provocative look on my face. Then his face hardened like a statue.

 

Do I love him? Charter was unable to give a quick answer. He didn’t even know what love was in the first place, but… he was sure he didn’t hate her.

 

“No! I take back what I just said. That… I must have gotten drunk and twisted my tongue. Haha.”

 

Uaah! If you’re not, just say not. Aren’t’ you thinking so seriously?  It wasn’t until I took back my words that Charter’s face finally softened. I was sulking at his attitude and started to babble.

 

“Hey, if a woman seems to be drunk~ You should stop her from drinking more. Why do you make me make this mistake when you’re not even drunk?”

 

It was always different how a drunk person held onto another person and insisted on another drink. Charter smiled happily because this figure of Arianne was cute. Then, seeing Arianne’s red cheeks, he had the urge to touch her. Was it because he got drunk too, even though he didn’t drink a cup? Before he knew it, his hand was stroking Arianne’s cheek.

 

“Ah?”

 

I began to get nervous when his face got closer. Again? Is that the timing? For kiss… What should I do with this?

 

My purple eyes met Charter’s deep black eyes. And my gaze turned up automatically.

 

A few days ago, I pushed him… with the palm of my hand. I already pushed him once, so I guess I’ll have to accept him this time? Honestly, I was embarrassed before, but I didn’t hate it.

 

I, who made up my mind, naturally closed my eyes and lifted my chin toward Charter. What should I do with my lips? Do I stick them out? Should I open them up a little bit?

 

A person who has eaten meat knows how to eat it. [1] But I’ve never kissed anyone before. Still, why… he didn’t do anything. Our lips didn’t touch even after a long time had passed.

 

When I opened my eyes to grasp the situation, I faced a pair of fierce black eyes staring at me as if they were going to eat me.

 

“Charter?”

 

My vision blurred for a moment before I could feel the hand holding my cheek coming down and grabbing my neck.

 

“Uh… huh?”

 

I lost my consciousness.

  • 1. It’s an idiom with a meaning that when you already experience doing something, you will know how to do it better next time.
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