Author: alyalia

Ah, just go straight down that alley and turn right at the inn with the white bricks.”


“I see. Thank you. You look familiar, though. Do you have a handsome brother or something?”


“No, I’m an only child.”


“Must be my mistake then. Thank you. Ah, what’s your name? You look so familiar. I thought we might know each other.”


“My name is Luize di Cloette.”


“Cloette? That Cloette… Ah, that’s why you looked familiar.”




“Never mind. See you around.”


Her eyes, as lively and green as the garden she tended, held a mischievous glint. Red hair was rare in Kaillon but more common in the neighboring kingdom of Pendel.


“Is she from Pendel?” Luize murmured to herself and turned back towards the store.


* * *

“Your impatience remains unchanged, Princess Diana.”


“No more than the Grand Duke himself.”


The afternoon at the grand duchy was peaceful. Edward was welcoming a guest who had visited the estate after a long time. If Luize had her childhood friend Maxion, Edward had Diana. Though they were the same age, their atmospheres were markedly different.


Edward’s gaze settled on Diana, seated across from him. “Your official visit hasn’t started yet, I believe.”


“A letter from the grand duke isn’t an official document, right? So, I arranged my schedule to arrive before the delegation.”


“I won’t be able to spare much time due to urgent matters. I thought you’d contact me by letter as usual. What brings you here?”


“What surprise gift do you have for me? I wanted to see your face and hear it directly after so long.” Diana leaned closer with her green eyes sparkling.


“Count Reiad de Cloette. The man Princess told me to notify you that if he gets divorced, he will soon officially become divorced and reappear in society.”


“That man doesn’t seem to be divorced yet.”


“The delegation has already departed, so it’s only a matter of time. I’ve prepared another gift in case he doesn’t proceed with the divorce.”


Diana smiled thinly, her eyes gleaming. “Oh my, is the emperor trying to attach that man to me this time? Is he that stupid?”




Hmph. What does he take our friendship for?”


“…Rather than friendship, it’s more like I’ve been unilaterally exploited from what I recall,” Edward spoke softly, causing Diana to cough awkwardly.


“I’ve repaid you enough. I contributed as much to the national treasury as I earned in the empire. I even gave you the terms of a personal business deal for free. You’ve also profited handsomely.”


“Let’s leave the past in the past.”


They agreed not to delve too deeply into each other’s private lives unless their interests intersected. Diana had exported potions to the empire using a fake identity created in Pendel. When she got caught by Edward, they renegotiated the potion business terms in the empire’s favor in exchange for keeping her fake identity a secret.


Hmm, so you called me here early because of Madam Cloette? Luize di Cloette, right? She looked pretty.”


Edward’s hand, which was about to drink tea, stopped. His smile disappeared, and his red eyes turned to her.


“…Did you meet her?”


“By chance, in the market on my way here. I saw her portrait in the news right after her marriage. It took me a while to recognize her because she looked different. I wonder what happened over the years.”


The change wasn’t gradual over the years but was sparked by the meeting of Edward, Maxion, and Luize. Edward smiled faintly, then returned to his expressionless face.


“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t involve her.”


“I know, I know. You’re trying to keep her by your side, right? You’ve always surrounded yourself with beauty. Back then, it was men. So I thought you had a unique sexual preference, but it seems not.”


“…Think whatever you want.” Edward set down his cup without a change in expression.


Regardless of Luize’s wishes to get a divorce, this was a necessary measure to keep them both safe. If she had first said she wanted a divorce, they wouldn’t know how Reiad would turn out. If it were him, he wouldn’t just let Luize go because he still needed her. One way or another, it was highly likely that he would try to cleverly blackmail Luze to keep her by his side.


“I briefly saw Luize in person, and she seemed like a good person. Especially her appearance.”


“Why don’t you grow up a bit?”


“Pretending not to know? After all, it was the grand duke who introduced me to a whole new world when I was as blank as a sheet of paper.”




“So, that’s why you never said anything, no matter how much I bothered you.”


Diana grew up with a serious beauty addiction, greatly influenced by Edward. Knowing this, he didn’t deny or make excuses.


“But about that woman, Luize. Is she alright with it? If she’s unaware of everything, it could be quite a shock.”


“I plan to keep the back story hidden from her.”


“Well, if left as is, she might end up being killed by the grand duke’s hand, especially since she seems to be quite liked. You wouldn’t want that. But explaining the situation fully might be impossible if you can’t fully trust her, right?”


“As far as I remember, we agreed not to delve deeper into each other’s personal lives than where our interests intersect.”


“Carrying a rotting secret that’s obviously going to blow up worries me. After all, we’ve been friends for a long time, and in terms of romance, I’m somewhat of a senior, right?”


“…She’s not a romantic partner. Keeping the back story from her until the end is to preemptively prevent other dangers.”


“I doubt it will go as planned,” Diana smirked.




Edward locked eyes with Diana in a calm manner. She flinched slightly. Those red eyes often had a chilling effect. It felt as though the smell of blood was in the air, not just because his eyes were a bloody hue.


“Do you intend to tell her the truth?”


Diana hastily responded to his subdued voice. “Of course not. What I mean is it might be better for the grand duke to personally explain the situation if she ever finds out. She’s going to be Grand Duke’s person anyway.”


Diana took a sip of tea to calm down before continuing. “If she finds out about this later, she might feel played by your political games. She could be deeply hurt and even come to hate Grand Duke. Just because one isn’t physically harmed doesn’t mean they’re okay. What’s the use of a physically intact wreck?”


Diana glanced at Edward for his reaction. He was still looking at her with an unchanged expression.


“…It seems Grand Duke would rather change your plans and call me to the empire sooner than let her be harmed. It’s important to you, so don’t make her disappointed in you.”


“I understand the Princess’s point.”


“Then that’s a relief.”


Diana took another sip of her tea. Edward pulled out a watch from his pocket to check the time. His brow furrowed slightly.


“If our conversation is over, may I take my leave? As I mentioned earlier, urgent matters have arisen since the Princess’s arrival is imminent.”


Diana nodded and cautiously added. “Grand Duke, I’m concerned about you. Our alliance remains strong, right?”


“I understand. I won’t create any situations for you to worry about. And your last remark sounds like you’re planning to cause trouble again and want me to clean it up.”


“It’s something along those lines. See you in two weeks.”


“Two weeks?”


“I’m curious about how my darlings are doing. Want to check up on them.”


“I thought so, so I had the butler prepare documents summarizing their recent activities. There’s quite a lot, so it will be delivered directly to your carriage.”


“Always so thorough. No need to see me off.”




Diana smiled lightly and left the parlor. With his impeccable posture, Edward rose from his seat and headed to the window. He watched as Diana received the documents from the butler and boarded her carriage.


“Barely surviving wreck.”


The princess was wrong. Even if Luize knew the whole truth, she wouldn’t break down like he did. Leaving his side due to disappointment might be a possibility. But that was something he should rather welcome.


After completing this expedition and final preparations, he would return to the capital to start a rebellion. There was no place for Luize there.


* * *

“Ellisian. Have you been well?”


“Ena?” Ellisian approached her with a happy expression.


Ellisian, known as the best gigolo in the empire, had light pink hair and navy blue eyes reminiscent of the late evening sky. And he was the man she, as ‘Ena,’ had once put the most effort into.


“Yes, it’s me.”


“I saw the new potion. It’s great to be able to care for the garden without killing the caterpillars.”


Ellisian welcomed her inside with excitement.


“Even though it’s new, that potion was a complete failure. How do you remember it well?”


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