In the parlour, Cyrus was sitting on the sofa in his plain clothes, and next to him were two items covered in cloth.
“Sorry for calling you here.”
“It’s fine. Did you need something, Onii-sama?”
“First, I have something for Cordelia. Earl Alcott has sent you this. Lara, do as I told you earlier.”
Lara nodded at Cyrus and removed the cloth from the small item, then a pearl pink dress with a patterned torso was revealed.
“Oh my…! This is a gorgeous dress.”
“It’s a floral silk dress. He also sent a matching hat.”
However, she understood that this dress came at a ridiculous price. She became flustered.
“Will you receive it?”
“He’ll probably be bothered if you return it.”
Even so, it was uncomfortable to say, “Thank you.” She hadn’t had much contact with Earl Alcott, but Christina spoke as if to dispel her hesitation.
“Cordelia-sama, I would also like to ask you to wear this dress.”
Christina encouraged, and Cordelia looked at the dress again. But…, she felt anxious. She wondered if it was really alright for her to receive it and she also felt concerned about whether she could wear it or not. She would lose to the dress… She didn’t want to be in a situation where she had to wear it. Christina seemed to understand her worries.
“Cordelia-sama, you’d shine if you wear it happily. So please wear it with a smile and make your dress happy.”
“I’m thrilled to become your sister. I was the one who chose this dress.”
Cordelia looked at Christina, who was smiling, and replied in a small voice while feeling a little embarrassed, “Yes.”
The dress was so gorgeous, and she still thought that it might be too much for her, but Christina had chosen this for her, so she wanted to learn how to behave in a way that wouldn’t spoil the dress.
And as the sisters smiled at each other, Cyrus spoke in an awkward voice.
“Then, the next one is… a gift to Christina from me.”
He said as he took the cloth off himself.
A wedding dress emerged from underneath.
Cordelia was speechless, and Christina gasped.
“You said you wanted to wear a wedding dress made from flora silk when you were little, didn’t you? I never thought that the Earl would give Cordelia a dress, so it seems like it’s a rehash, but…”
Cyrus said as if he was starting over.
“I can’t say anything witty, and I can’t promise that we will become the ideal couple that you dreamt of. But, if I can grant your wishes, then I will. But… sorry, I can’t seem to express myself well enough.”
(No, that’s a great proposal, Onii-sama.)
As opposed to Cordelia, who was thinking that Cyrus didn’t seem concerned at all.
But Cyrus wasn’t the only one. Cordelia glanced sideways at Christina and saw that she was bright red. She couldn’t see anyone but Cyrus.
“Cyrus-sama, I know what you mean… Please let me stay by your side from now on.”
She was relieved to see that Christina was grinning and approached Lara, who was squatting. Then she whispered.
“… Say, Lara. Shall we leave?”
“Yes, let’s leave.”
Cordelia gave a big sigh after she’d exited the parlour, which had completely turned into a world just for the two of them. She was so surprised that she had forgotten to give Cyrus the sweets and diary she’d received from Christina, but she could probably give it to him after Christina leaves.
“Sister-in-law will probably talk with Onii-sama all day… Should I go back to the greenhouse?”
“I’ll come with you.”
“Thanks, but you’re already back to your normal self?”
Cordelia expressed her thanks while teasing Lara, and Lara pouted.
“I thought it would be easier, but it was my first time. I was so nervous.”
“Thanks for your hard work. Are you tired?”
“No. But, I’m a little more confident. I’m glad that I can substitute for Emina if she’s absent.”
Lara looked happy in the end, and Cordelia thanked her again.
“Thanks. The meeting’s already over, shall we go have tea in the…”
Cordelia’s suggestion was interrupted by Hans as they were climbing the stairs.
“Cordelia-sama, you have a guest.”
“Oh my? A guest?”
They hadn’t made an appointment, so she thought it was Vernoux, but a cute face popped up from behind Hans.
“How do you do, Cordelia-sama!’
“H-how do you do, Hazel-sama.”
Hazel grinned while hugging a book.
Cordelia was surprised because, unlike Vernoux, Hazel had never failed to make an appointment, even if it was one-sided. Judging from Han’s actions, he didn’t know either. On top of that, he looked troubled, so maybe Hazel had slipped in somewhere and hadn’t waited for him… Or something like that?
“It’s been a while. I couldn’t see Cordelia-sama at all because of the Founding Festival, so I was a little sad. So I came over uninvited. How have you been?”
“Thank you for your concern. I’m glad you haven’t changed a bit. We’ll get tired from standing around talking, so I’ll guide you to my room. This way, please.”
I want to take her to the greenhouse, but she’s holding a book, so she probably wants to show me something. Cordelia thought and asked Hans to tell Cyrus at a suitable time that she’d returned to her room.
Cordelia returned to her room and sat on the sofa facing Hazel.
“Hazel-sama, what did you do during the Founding Festival?”
“I spent most of my days reading to my brother. But they opened a part of the castle, right? I forced Otou-sama to take me to the castle for a day. It was gorgeous. I want to hurry up and become an adult so I can explore it on my own. Won’t you come with me when I do Cordelia-sama?”
Hazel said, with an enchanted expression, as she recalled the castle and Cordelia answered vaguely with a stiff smile. It’s nice that she invited me, but it’s not a place I want to visit.
No matter how wonderful Hazel made the castle sound, she was only interested in the gardens, which had a variety of plants, so she couldn’t react appropriately for the other parts.
“I also walked around the city for a bit when we went home.”
Hazel clapped her hands as if she’d just remembered that, and Cordelia was finally able to respond.
“I heard that the city was bustling too.”
“It was! I saw a lot of dancers in vivid outfits. And it seemed like there were a lot of rumours about the 『Dreamer Girl』.”
That remark made Cordelia a little tensed. She knew that the Heroine’s power was unique, and Earl Clydereine had been able to find the 『Dreamer Girl』, Shelley because rumours of her had spread far and wide.
(… Which means I will probably meet her soon.)
She intended to do her best to avoid the Prince and Heroine, but it wouldn’t be strange for them to meet since they both held the same social status as Earls.
(She’s unlucky for me, but I don’t know what she’s like.)
But, those were Cordelia’s feelings, she didn’t know how Hazel felt about Shelley.
“Are you interested in her now, Hazel-sama?”
Hazel-sama had said that she didn’t like the 『Dreamer Girl’s』fortunes before, but did she change her mind after listening to the rumours again? Cordelia thought a little uneasily as she asked her question. Hazel groaned a little.
“Well… I think it’s a bit different from interest, but I’m curious about what she thinks about while fortune telling, and whether she uses some kind of power. It might just be selfish of me.”
Cordelia remembered that the Heroine in the game was as kind as a saint, and she used her power for those around her. But when she thought about it, she would become a little scared if she had the Heroine’s powers. Her abilities would reinforce her words and give her a lot of influence.
(I don’t have confidence if it comes from a dream.)
Even though her fortunes are never off, they were just dreams. There was no guarantee that the next dream would be spot-on.
(The Heroine has undoubtedly helped a lot of people since she believes her dreams to be true.)
Cordelia had never experienced that before, but she might become confident in her power, even if they were dreams if she helped a lot of people.
“But it’s no use for us to think about it.”
Cordelia smiled wryly because Hazel didn’t seem all that interested in Shelley. She had to agree because Hazel’s answer had been simple. She had thought about it, but there was nothing she could do except for being careful of her actions.
“Anyway, Cordelia-sama, let’s talk about why I came today.”
“I found an interesting book. It’s about love fortunes. Do you want to read it with me?”
While Cordelia had made her decision, Hazel held out the book she’d brought as she spoke gleefully to her. It had an impressive title, 『Love Fortunes & Charms』.
“… Don’t you dislike love fortunes and charms?”
She had an adverse reaction to the『Dreamer Girl』, and was interested in her for another reason today, but why this book? Cordelia thought curiously, and Hazel stared at her blankly.
“I don’t like fortunes that are always spot-on, but I like fortunes themselves. I also buy charms. You know, sometimes you get advice that you don’t expect, and it becomes a good chance, right?”
Hazel flipped through the pages, and then held the book out to Cordelia, “See, like this.”
“『If you think that your attacks aren’t working, why don’t you try pulling back? 』”
“Um, that’s why I’m distancing myself from Vernoux-sama a little.”
“But it doesn’t seem like things are changing for the better. So, I’ll go back to how I was acting before if nothing changes within three days. If nothing’s going to change, then, it’s better to be stress-free.”
It seems like Hazel has already tried fortune telling and failed, but she took the results positively. Cordelia was relieved to hear that. Hazel had stopped thinking about Vernoux for now. It would be bad for Cordelia if the『Dreamer Girl’s』had predicted the result for it, but it seemed like Hazel didn’t care about that.
“It’s just like you, Hazel-sama.”
“Right? So next, I will… not rely on fortune telling, and make a charm that will work for love. The material is a lizard’s sun-dried fish bone…”
When Cordelia heard that, her feelings of gratitude from before had disappeared. Well, this was Hazel acting like herself after all…
“Hazel-sama, rather than a charm, isn’t that a curse?”
The book, that Hazel was holding, started to look eerie to Cordelia. Please don’t curse me… Cordelia thought a bit seriously, and she gave Hazel another reason why she couldn’t agree with that.
“And even I wouldn’t stock a lizard’s sun-dried fishbone.”
“Oh yeah. I didn’t bring one with me either.”
Although Hazel looked like she regretted it a little, she quickly shut the book because she knew it was impossible. But right after she’d done that, she showed Cordelia another book.
“Then, how about this one? This book features bouquets made from fabric. You can use it as decoration later, and your brother will get married soon, right? It’ll be a nice present for your sister-in-law.”
“That looks beautiful, but wouldn’t it be difficult to make if we’re not skilled artisans?”
The bouquet on the page that Hazel had shown Cordelia was superb. The bouquet was extremely detailed, and she didn’t know if she could balance it well. But Hazel smiled at Cordelia’s fear.
“It’s fine. Feelings matter the most for things like this, and sewing is my speciality. I’ll help you, so do you want to make it together?”
“Then… please do.”
“I’ll be happy to!”
Cordelia spent the next few days hectically; she studied in the mornings, made the bouquet with Hazel in the afternoons, and put the data together at night.
But, she didn’t feel distressed because they were things that she had to do, but she felt a little sorry for Hazel, who often visited to see how the bouquet was shaping. However, Hazel didn’t seem to mind at all… On the contrary, she looked as if she was having fun and Cordelia prepared Hazel’s sweets as a small token of appreciation. Hazel was a straightforward girl, so Cordelia immediately knew which her favourite sweets were.
She also negotiated with the Eris firm while on house arrest.
Her negotiation partners were Ronnie’s father and eldest brother. As Ronnie said, his family were all merchants, unlike him, but thanks to Ronnie’s advice and her estimations, she had managed to drop the price of the paper to the lowest she could. They couldn’t give her a reply straight away, about whether or not they would invest in her cultivation and improvement project in farm villages, but judging from their attitude, she could expect a good answer. They were probably reassured when they found out that Elvis had already approved of the project, but the balm sample which she had prepared for the negotiations had also played a significant role.
And Ronnie, who was listening to the conversations play out, gracefully sipped his tea and muttered.
“I’m sure father and brother are surprised. Most contracts aren’t concluded in the first meeting for large deals. They probably didn’t want to miss the chance to have a relationship with Ojou-sama, since she’d thought of this, and they didn’t want to miss a big opportunity.”
I would be happy if that’s so. I have to keep studying hard and produce results so they will continue to think so, Cordelia thought.
(Above all, I want to report my success to Otou-sama, who showed his understanding.)
Cordelia thought as she signed the contract with the Eris firm.
Before long, she had completed the bouquet to a standard which Hazel had complimented, “Perfect! I knew you could do it!” She felt that Hazel had exaggerated too much, but she knew that she had made something that she could give to Christina without feeling embarrassed.
After that, three days later, Vernoux also visited the Pameradia’s greenhouse.
“It’s been a long time, Vernoux-sama.”
“Yeah, since we passed each other in the castle.”
“Oh my, did you see me?”
“You were with Cyrus-dono, weren’t you?”
“I didn’t see you at all! I wish you’d called out to me.”
So he did notice me, she thought as she feigned ignorance. Then she urged Vernoux to sit down as if to gloss it over. Vernoux looked dubious… He looked at Cordelia doubtfully, but he didn’t ask her any more questions and gave her an envelope.
“Here, your letter.”
“Thank you very much.”
However, Cordelia hesitated a little after receiving the letter and didn’t open it straight away. She would typically open the letter straight away and write her reply, but she couldn’t today because she remembered the agony she went through the other day.
“… No, it’s nothing.”
It wasn’t nothing, but I couldn’t tell him the reason, she thought. Then she slowly and carefully opened the envelope with the paper knife she’d taken out from the cupboard. She had a feeling that she would accidentally cut the letter if she’d opened the envelope with magic.
Vernoux looked at her dubiously because her actions had been slower than usual. “You’re really strange today, Dilly,” she thought she heard him mutter.
“Well, whatever. Dilly, you promised Gille that you’d go meet the Green Witch with him, right? His schedule is written in the letter, so reply which day is convenient for you.”
“I’ve been ordered to stay home for a while. Is next month alright?”
“In that case, write which days won’t work for you. Gille will align to your schedule.”
Cordelia took out her own planner and started to write her reply. While writing, she asked Vernoux.
“Has Gille-sama been busy lately?”
“Well, he was. Why?”
“His letter feels different, so I thought he might be tired.”
His writing was still beautiful, but it wasn’t meticulous, and his words were all over the place. Gille’s writing would look very composed if he were not rushed by Vernoux, but this letter didn’t feel like it had been rushed.
Vernoux let out a long and stupid voice. It looked like something had popped into his head.
“He’ll cheer up if he gets a letter from you.”
“I’m not kidding. If he’s tired, then he should get a good night’s rest!”
“Well, he’ll sleep if he wants to.”
Vernoux’s reply was vague, and Cordelia dropped her shoulders and sighed. We’re supposed to be good friends, so what the heck is with that answer?
“I have tea that is good for sleep, could you give it to him?”
Cordelia said as she took out two cans of tea from the cupboard and handed it to Vernoux.
“One is for you. It’ll help you relax.”
“Alright, I’ll give it to him. He’ll probably be happy with whatever you give him.”
She ignored Vernoux and continued writing her letter. Vernoux picked up a sweet while watching her.
“Say, were you at home during the opening day of the castle too?”
“I stayed at home the whole time the Founding Festival was on.”
“Aren’t you secluding yourself too much? Research is important, but it’s also important to make yourself known, right?”
Cordelia raised her face.
“Even if you say that Otou-sama and Onii-sama have their own work to do. I can’t go out without a guardian.”
Even if they could take me with them, then I would rather go to the town around the castle than the castle itself. Cordelia thought, as she spoke and Vernoux looked shocked as he sighed.
“You should have told me. My father can act as your guardian, so it’s fine.”
“That might be a good idea, but if I go to the castle with the Marquis and you, then people would think that we’re engaged.”
In the past, Vernoux has used Cordelia as a shield to starve off Hazel’s fierce attacks. At the time, she only feared that they would misunderstand the relationship between the two. But it would be different if she was together with the Marquis, people might think that she was his official fiancée. ‘Just let them misunderstand,’ ――― saying that would just spread the misunderstanding.
“… If that happens, then the Earl might tell me to take out my sword.”
Cordelia had spoken mischievously, but Vernoux had spoken seriously. Is he serious? Or is he joking with a serious look on his face? In any case, this should be troublesome for Vernoux-sama.
Cordelia tilted her head since he whispered words that sounded as if it was someone else’s business. Who the heck is he talking to?
“I feel bad for the man who will tell the Earl that he wants to marry you in the future.”
Vernoux was deadly serious.
“I don’t think Otou-sama would do something like that.”
If Otou-sama were to say something like that, then my marriage candidate would stay as candidates forever. So no way that would happen. ――― Cordelia smiled wryly and Vernoux scoffed.
“Dilly, you’re still too naïve.”
Why is Vernoux-sama acting so proud? She thought, as she once again denied, “He won’t do that.” No way would that happen. This isn’t even my wishful thinking.
“Well, let’s stop this conversation there. Let’s go back to what we were talking about. Do you mind if I come with you when you go out with Gille?”
“Eh? I thought that you would be coming along. I intend to bring Ronnie as well.”
“I see. Then I’ll tell Gille.”
He’s asking strange questions, she thought, as she watched Vernoux nodded, then asked.
“I can’t get in touch with Gille-sama if you’re not there, so won’t you come with us?”
“Well, that’s true.”
“And I can tell my House who I’m going out with if you come with us.”
It shouldn’t be a problem if I tell them that I’m going out with Vernoux-sama, even if he brings a friend with him. But, if I were to meet Gille, then I would have to tell my family who he is. Since he’s hiding who he is, it’s impossible for me to tell them.
But what’s more, two people meeting up and walking through town… even if it was to meet his sensei. Isn’t that like a date? She got embarrassed when she became aware of that. It’ll be okay if I don’t think about it, but I wonder if I could stop…
“… What’s wrong?”
She lightly coughed to brush it off as she continued writing. She started off with a bland greeting, then about which days wouldn’t work for her, and finished it off by asking him to rest a lot if he’s tired. But, the letter would be too short if she ended it here, so she added how she was lately, and about what she did during the Founding Festival.
(I don’t need to imagine weird things. If Vernoux-sama is with us, then I definitely won’t think about such odd things.)
She put all the blame on Vernoux for saying strange things. She finished writing, folded the paper and sealed it.
“Then I’ll tell Gille to send you the next letter after he’s decided on a date.”
“I’ll leave it to you.”
“Ah, one more thing. I’ll tell you while I still remember it. When you meet the Green Witch, I don’t want you to meet her as a daughter of the Pameradia House, but as 『Cordelia』. Of course, I’m sure she realises that we’re nobles, but Gille and I never told her our House name.”
“Because the Green Witch acts as if she doesn’t like nobles that much. We’ve never asked her about it, and she teaches us properly, so it might just be my imagination… In any case, you don’t need a House name to ask her to teach you.”
Cordelia nodded. Then she remembered that Gille had told her that he’d met the Green Witch by chance. She had thought nothing of it at that time, but they had probably met when he went incognito with Vernoux. It’s obvious, but they’re probably close.
“Well, you’ll have fun either way. Stop looking so irritated. It’ll bug Gille too.”
“You don’t realise you’re doing it? You don’t look like yourself today. I thought you started imitating the Earl.”
“… Vernoux-sama, just what is your impression of Otou-sama?”
“Well, he’s a peerless former knight, right?”
Vernoux said frivolously. Cordelia was shocked as she gave a long sigh in her mind. What am I doing?
(I didn’t realise it, but I must still be nervous because a lot of things are going on.)
The people around her had definitely noticed, since Vernoux had, even if she hadn’t seen him in a while.
“What have I done…?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
She just thought that she still had a long way to go. She had many people that she could rely on, and, if she was worried about something, then she could just talk to them about it. She could think about it herself, but it was depressing how she couldn’t get to the bottom of her own problems.
“Thank you, Vernoux-sama.”
“Oh, you’re welcome? I don’t get it, but you can thank me with more sweets?”
My anxiety towards how Ghost would appear next still hasn’t disappeared, so it’s important to stay vigilant. But, if I keep thinking about him, then I’m acting just as he wants me to.
(Peaceful times are peaceful. I have to enjoy myself.)
Cordelia heard from Cyrus that Ghost had utterly disappeared from the Royal Capital and they couldn’t find him anywhere. We might meet each other again someday, but if I narrow my view, then I might miss important information.
“I’m looking forward to going out with both you and Gille-sama.”
So, first I have to enjoy myself on this outing.
A woman who knows a lot about medicinal herbs. Someone who I’m very interested in.
I’m not trying to ignore Ghost, but I want to move forward in the things I want to do, one step at a time. I’m sure this is the most useful thing for me to do.
Cordelia told herself and motivated herself again.