Author: alyalia

As soon as morning came, Kriella was incredibly busy without a moment to breathe. She had to cover all the bruises and wounds on her body with makeup. Even as she gritted her teeth, she forced herself to smile while looking in the mirror. After all, Lobelia’s wild behavior could only last until this morning.

 

After quickly eating the breakfast Chelsea brought to her room, Kriella focused on her makeup. Since she couldn’t attend the emperor’s coronation, she had to dress up and make a good impression on the emperor. She thought hard about what kind of bribe would please him as she went outside. She planned to visit the storage room.

 

“Mother?”

 

“…Endimion.”

 

“Why are you here, Mother?”

 

Seeing her son’s face after coming back from the brink of death made her tears well up. However, the cold Endimion spat out his words without knowing what his mother had been through.

 

“No matter how much you call me your son, I’m the head of the Hamilton family! Did you come up here secretly, against my words?”

 

“…Hear the detailed story from Lobelia.”

 

It felt like her heart was breaking, but she turned her head slightly without showing her feelings. Curses of disdain swirled on the tip of her tongue, but it seemed she still regarded herself as a mother. It appeared that her longing for her son came before her anger.

 

“Using Lobelia as an excuse…!”

 

“I allowed her to come up.”

 

From afar, the beautifully dressed Lobelia approached them with steady steps.

 

“…Lia.”

 

“There’s a debutante ball today, isn’t there? And the Gracie family is hosting a banquet. You’ll need your mother.” She gently tapped Endimion’s shoulder as she spoke.

 

He glanced at Lobelia briefly. And then he sighed softly. It seemed he had let go of his anger towards her.

 

“If you say so, then so be it.”

 

“Thank you for understanding, Endimion. Oh, and I’ve sent a letter to Princess Gracie. Asking her to speak well of you to the duke.”

 

“Lia, you… you are truly the best wife.”

 

At Endimion’s words, Kriella’s mouth dropped open in shock. To call her wife when they weren’t even married, how should she educate this pathetic fool? She clicked her tongue softly.

 

“Today will surely be the best day for you.”

 

“Thank you, Honey.”

 

Oh, Mother.”

 

One of Kriella’s eyebrows twitched. When had Lobelia, who had been speaking informally, become a true noble lady, exhibiting perfect manners?

 

“…Why?”

 

“As you know, the empress died dethroned, and the current powers are the new emperor and Duke Gracie.”

 

Ha, the first prince and Duke Gracie…” Her words trailed off with a sigh.

 

It was a terribly unfavorable situation for the Hamilton family, with both the first prince and Duke Gracie involved.

 

“With your political skills, Mother, you surely know which side the Hamilton family should take, right?”

 

Lobelia asked with a smile, and Kriella’s eyes narrowed.

 

“…Of course.”

 

There’s no way to just give up. With just a connection to the empress, the Hamilton family managed to maintain a very close relationship with the Bonitare family, leading to its influence. It was all thanks to her. So, she would cling to Duke Gracie’s side this time as well and somehow survive.

 

“Don’t worry, Endimion. I, too, will lend you strength.”

 

“…Yes.”

 

“I’m thinking of choosing a gift for the emperor. Lobelia.”

 

“A gift?”

 

“You were his benefactor, so you must know what he likes, right?” She hinted slyly.

 

Hm. Are you planning on giving a bribe?”

 

“Thinking of giving a bribe?”

 

“Bribe? There’s such a refined expression as ‘gift.’”

 

“If it’s given with the hope of receiving something in return, it’s not a gift. Isn’t a gift supposed to be given purely out of goodwill for that person?”

 

Lobelia retorted quickly without yielding an inch. Though her tone was gentle, it was clearly laced with criticism.

 

“…Fine, you win.”

 

“Frinel doesn’t like such things. Oh, he seems to like tea. Why don’t you stop by the market and buy some?”

 

Oh, tea leaves…! Yes, I’ll prepare the finest tea. Then, let’s be off.” At least there was something to be gained. Kriella left first, energized.

 

“I’m sorry, Lia. You’ll have to be alone today.”

 

“It’s okay.”

 

“I was thinking of taking the kids today. They’ve built a playground at the Gracie Duchy.” Endimion continued his words as if he couldn’t believe them himself. “A playground in that majestic mansion and garden. I can’t believe it. How did they build it?”

 

“…Ah, yes.”

 

I already knew. Grandfather had moved all the flowers in the garden to make room for a playground in anticipation of his future great-grandchild’s visits. Though I hadn’t seen the completed version, it was bound to be huge.

 

Suppressing my laughter, I nodded reluctantly. “It seems Princess Gracie is getting married soon.”

 

“It appears so.”

 

“Then I’ll head to the imperial palace for the debutante ball first.”

 

“Yes. Have a good trip.”

 

I saw him off to the carriage. Soon, the excited Merilly and Roseni ran out from the mansion.

 

Uh? Grandma?”

 

“Are you coming with us, Grandma?”

 

“Yes, it’s been a while, right?”

 

“Yes!”

 

From a distance, Magorit walked out. As soon as she saw her, Merilly’s shoulders twitched.

 

“…Endimion.” Alternating glances between Magorit and Merilly, I whispered to Endimion.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Take good care of Magorit. Make sure she doesn’t cause trouble for Merilly.”

 

“Of course. Don’t worry.”

 

He was ultimately an unreliable person to begin with. I’d rather trust a stone rolling on the roadside than trust you.

 

I had placed a protective barrier around Merilly long ago, finely crafted so that if the child sensed danger, she would feel it too. If Magorit did something, as long as the child realized she was in danger, I could immediately come to her rescue.

 

“Merilly, Roseni. Have a good time. Enjoy.”

 

“Thank you, Lobelia. I wish I could go with you.”

 

“Yeah. It’ll be so boring alone. It’d be nice if you could come…”

 

The two children clung to one of Lobelia’s arms, murmuring. I blushed slightly at their adorably clingy behavior.

 

“Thank you for the thought alone. We’ll see each other again soon.”

 

It was a meaningful statement, but Roseni and Merilly just tilted their heads slightly and then lightly kissed my cheek.

 

“We’ll be back!”

 

“We’ll be back!”

 

Merilly climbed into the carriage first. Roseni followed but paused momentarily, then returned to Lobelia. In a whisper so low that no one else could hear, she said, “I’ll protect big sis.” With that, she hurried onto the carriage.

 

Feeling a pang in my heart, I smiled sadly at the children.

 

“Then, I’ll be going, Lia.”

 

“Yes. Have a good trip.”

 

“Take care of the house, Lobelia.”

 

Unaware that her divorce papers would be processed today, Magorit followed Endimion.

 

Soon, everyone had boarded the carriage and departed. Now, I was the only one left in the mansion. A long-awaited silence fluttered with the wind. Though everything would end tonight, time seemed to crawl.

 

“Maybe I’ll enjoy a nap for the first time in a while.”

 

I stretched leisurely, and a smile formed on my lips.

 

“Chelsea. I think I’ll take a nap.”

 

Oh, I won’t disturb you, Madam.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

With that, I entered my room and lay down on the bed. Having been so busy lately, I felt drowsy the moment my body hit the soft bed. Eventually, my eyes slowly closed. I drifted gently into sleep.

 

How long had passed? Suddenly feeling a chill, my eyes snapped open.

 

“…Sigh.

 

Before my eyes,

 

“I knew you wouldn’t go down without a fight.”

 

Dozens of masked assassins were pointing their swords at me.

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