Author: lipzoldyck

 

“Staㅡrt!”

 

At Eleanor’s signal, the treasure hunt began.

 

The children, who had closed their eyes for a while, became active again and began poking around everywhere.

 

“You have to be careful not to get hurt.”

 

Eleanor walked leisurely, watching them and their three guardians. The three men were looking everywhere with more, if not less, enthusiasm than the children.

 

‘What’s wrong with those men?’

 

Eleanor began to wonder why the sturdy young men were more excited about the things prepared at the children’s level.

 

Izmel crawled through the cracks with his muddy hands, Adrian reached for a branch, and Kaidel squatted and peered through the bushes.

 

Their figures are fine. And so are their faces.

 

Besides, aren’t they better educated men than anyone in the Empire? A glass of wine would be more appropriate than ball games and treasure hunts.

 

‘There are times when you want to find your innocence…’

 

But Eleanor wasn’t one to procrastinate on complicated thoughts. The quick understanding Eleanor shrugged her shoulders and turned around.

 

Something touched Kaidel’s fingertips, who was eager for reasons unknown to Eleanor. His eyes widened.

 

“At last…!”

 

Kaidel opened the note with excitement.

 

– A cherished quill. Izmel.

 

Kaidel’s face crumpled after checking the elegant writing on the note. He immediately folded the paper back into its original position and set it aside.

 

“It was useless.”

 

On the other hand, there were others laughing with pure joy. It was Demian.

 

“I found it!”

 

Demian cheered a little when he found the note stuck between the tree bark. Amethyst-like purple eyes shone brightly.

 

– A nice telescope. Adrian Blake.

 

At that time, the voices of Sienna and Lucas came from afar.

 

“Found it! It’s His Highness’s quill.”

 

“The one I found is way better than yours. A silver compass.”

 

“Hmph, where would you use a compass?”

 

“If you write like that, where would you use the quill?”

 

“I’ll use it when studying, you dummy. It has nothing to do with you, though.”

 

Sienna snapped. Lucas wanted to shoot something, yet he couldn’t come up with the right words to fight back.

 

Overthrow Sienna Blake.

 

Someday, he will definitely step on her with words and logic. But that ‘someday’ wasn’t today. Lucas asked Demian loudly.

 

“Demi! Did you find the treasure too?”

 

Demian drew a circle over his head. It was when they thought it was over. A voice filled with joy came from afar.

 

“I found it!”

 

At that moment, all eyes turned to the source of the voice.

 

“The last treasure is mine, Eleanor.”

 

It was Izmel.

 

Kaidel and Adrian, who had been bending over and prowling here and there, jumped up.

 

Eleanor clapped her hands as she walked towards Izmel.

 

“Congratulations, Your Highness.”

 

“Thanks, Eleanor.”

 

“Strangely, it feels uneasy now that it falls into Your Highness’ hands…”

 

“That’s valid reasoning. How did you find it, I can’t just let it go.”

 

Izmel raised the corners of his lips. It was a dazzlingly pretty smile. Yet to Eleanor, that smile felt eerie, like a warning from the underworld.

 

“It’d be better if you use it quickly. I think that would make you comfortable.”

 

“Really?”

 

Hmm. Izmel looked into the distance for a moment, as he thought. He saw Kaidel and Adrian walking towards the two of them.

 

“Great. I have decided.”

 

Izmel met Eleanor’s eyes again.

 

“Eleanor, will you be my partner at the upcoming Imperial Ball?”

 

Eleanor’s eyes widened. Her heart thumped.

 

“Partner… with me?”

 

“Mmhm, with you.”

 

“Have you really thought about it?”

 

At Eleanor’s words, Izmel tilted his head.

 

“Your Highness knows it well. That I have no talent for dancing.”

 

“I know that well.”

 

“Are you still asking me to be your partner? Would that be a good idea?”

 

Izmel was lost in his thoughts. The memory of his first dance with Eleanor was certainly joyous and jovial, but it was also tingling and throbbing at the same time.

 

‘I was really sick at the time…’

 

Izmel’s shoulders shrank for a moment.

 

“Yes.”

 

But even taking into account her bruised instep, he still wanted to dance the first dance with Eleanor. The conclusion was the same even if there were dark blue bruises all over his body, not only the top of his feet.

 

“But still, Eleanor, I want to have my first dance with you.”

 

***

 

A garden bathed in sunlight. The sound of teacups rattling and laughter echoed.

 

The people who attended the tea party exchanged amicable conversations. Well, except for Dahlia Morris.

 

As usual, Dahlia, who had been forcibly pushed into Countess Maurice’s hand, traced the pattern on the tablecloth with her finger to overcome her boredom.

 

Bernadette, who was sitting close to Dahlia, asked loudly.

 

“Dahlia, did you hear that rumor?”

 

“What rumor?”

 

“You know that Princess Izent has always attended as His Highness’ partner, right?”

 

“Of course. I do.”

 

Dahlia replied indifferently. She had no interest in social gossip.

 

“By the way, I heard that His Highness sent someone to the duke’s residence this time, what is it? He won’t be able to attend the upcoming Imperial Ball with her.”

 

“Sometimes he comes alone. It will be like that this time too.”

 

At Dahlia’s words, Bernadette shook her head. She whispered, lowering her voice.

 

“No. It’s different this time. It seems like His Highness asked another young lady to be his partner.”

 

“Is that so?”

 

This time, even Dahlia was a little surprised. The Crown Prince had the image of everyone’s lover, but thanks to his perfect way of life, he had never been swept away by intrigue.

 

But she still wasn’t interested. Dahlia gulped down the cooled tea in one gulp. It was a sight that would terrify Countess Maurice.

 

“And do you know who she is?”

 

“There’s no way I do.”

 

“Yes. Dahlia always comes to social gatherings, yet is rather slow at rumors.”

 

Bernadette burst out laughing as if she was having fun. She whispered softly in Dahlia’s ear.

 

“That’s Eleanor Everett.”

 

Blink.

 

Dahlia’s eyes widened.

 

“Eleanor Everett…?”

 

Excited by her positive response, Bernadette continued.

 

“That’s what I mean. To think that he rejected a beauty like Princess Izent and chose Lady Everett… Isn’t it amazing?”

 

“That seems to be true.”

 

“She talked a lot with Duke Valentine and Young Marquis Blake. Looking back, there must be something attractive about her.”

 

Dahlia shrugged her shoulders. Whatever Eleanor looked like, it was out of Dahlia’s interest.

 

“I guess so. She’s pretty cute.”

 

“Indeed. Did you hear that? The dress design that Lady Everett wore at the ball last time sold like hot cakes.”

 

Bernadette said excitedly, cupping her cheeks with her hands.

 

“I think I will send an invitation to the Everetts for our next meeting! I wonder what kind of person she is.”

 

Dahlia shook her head at Bernadette’s words.

 

“She probably won’t come even if I send it. I don’t think she likes these kinds of situations very much. Still, I want to see it once.”

 

Bernadette said, startled.

 

“Do you know Lady Everett?”

 

“Rather than knowing her, I knew her. It happened when I was young.”

 

Dahlia nodded lightly. Then Bernadette’s face turned pale.

 

“What should I do. I didn’t even know that the two of you were friends and talked a lot about Lady Everett in front of Dahlia.”

 

“Don’t worry, Bernadette. Because we’re not friends.”

 

Her voice grew colder.

 

“Eleanor and I will never be friends.”

 

***

 

Today was the day that Eleanor and the children were to visit the Marquis for music lessons. Adrian sat on the sofa in the drawing room of the march, staring at the family portrait on the wall.

 

Adrian’s father and mother were sitting side by side, and Adrian stood behind them with a slightly awkward expression. And beside him smiled Eleanor, her hair neatly plaited over one of her shoulders.

 

Some questioned the presence of Eleanor in the family portrait of the Marquis Blake. However, those who knew the situation well all nodded their heads.

 

Eleanor was more than family.

 

‘Is it when she’s 20? Until then, her cheeks were chubby.’

 

Adrian’s lips curled up slightly.

 

Since when was it, he wondered. When he felt something more than friendship with Eleanor.

 

***

 

It was summer vacation when he was 14. Adrian has been living in Dwight’s room for days. The people of the county were accustomed to accepting such Adrian.

 

“Let’s go, Rian.”

 

“Does there have to be flowers on the table?”

 

“Stop complaining and come quickly.”

 

Early in the morning, Eleanor went to the fields to pick flowers for a vase. Adrian grumbled that it was annoying, but picked up the vase and followed Eleanor.

 

“Hold the vase carefully. It will break if you do it wrong.”

 

“I’m holding it carefully.”

 

“I’m telling you not to shake it like that.”

 

The two of them walked side by side along a road lined with poplar trees.

 

Adrian kept only three steps away from Eleanor the entire time they walked. Unlike Eleanor, who was chattering, Adrian’s mouth was tightly closed.

 

She glanced at him.

 

“Why are you so silent?”

 

“That’s because you keep talking.”

 

Is that so. Eleanor smiled shyly.

 

“Tell me about school. How is the Academy? Is it fun?”

 

“It’s so so.”

 

“So so, you say… Are there many pretty girls?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

Adrian replied calmly. Then Eleanor laughed mischievously and stood close to him.

 

“What do you mean you don’t know. Isn’t there any girl who likes you? Hm?”

 

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Comments (3)

  1. What age did she have a crush on him again? I need to know the margin of the missed opportunity lol

    1. She was 17 if I remember correctly. I think Adrian is a few years older than her, so if his crush developed at 14 then she was likely 11-12 in this flashback.

    2. Okay, so after double checking, the age Ellen was when her crush developed isn’t actually mentioned, but I estimated late teens. Also, she and Adrian might actually be the same age, I forgot that she and her brother Dewey are twins.