“Hello.”

“Oh, Vernoux-sama. Good morning.”

It’s rare for Vernoux-sama to come to the office early in the morning. He usually comes in the afternoon, Cordelia thought as she headed to the entrance. 

But, in contrast to Cordelia’s greeting, Vernoux slanted his eyes, and he didn’t reply.

“Do you not feel well?”

He looked as if he was in a bad mood, if that didn’t have to do with his health, but Cordelia hesitated to say that. It’s harder to deal with him if he’s in a bad mood, so I want a different answer from him… She thought, but Vernoux gave a long sigh. Unfortunately, it seems like he is in a bad mood.

“Dilly, why haven’t you been at home since morning? I came over, but it was a waste of time.”

“Vernoux-sama, you rarely come to my house early in the morning, right? And, people normally check the other person’s schedule beforehand.”

Cordelia shrugged. Even if I tell him at this point, I probably can’t expect that he would make an appointment. However, usually, it would be amusing… However, when Vernoux heard Cordelia’s answer, he looked stunned and tilted his head in an exaggerated way.

“Even though I was bringing you good news…”

“Good news? From you?”

“Do you want to know?”

“If you act pompous like that, then I don’t know if I want to know or not… I feel like it’ll be bad news.”

The reason being, Vernoux looked like he was planning something. Did something crazy or unpleasant happen? ――― Cordelia put up her guard, and Vernoux looked stunned. 

“Why do I have to deliver bad news first thing in the morning? That’s tiresome.”

“That’s true, but I can’t think of any good news that you have to tell first thing in the morning either.”

“Jeez, you don’t hold back at all. But don’t worry, it’s happy news. You’ve been accepted in the competition show.”

“… Excuse me?”

Cordelia couldn’t help but tilt her head at his surprising words. Come to think of it, the competition show screening should be finished, and it’s nearly time for the exhibition. She recalled, but her doubt preceded her joy.

“What the? That’s a weak reaction.”

“Oh, yes…”

“It’s not a joke or anything. This is being told to the person herself, so even Earl Pameradia doesn’t know about it yet.”

“Then, why do you know, Vernoux-sama?”

Cordelia asked since she wouldn’t rejoice while she was confused, and Vernoux smiled. 

“Because it’s one of the events organised by the kingdom, right? The Queen, who is involved in the screening, usually informs the participants every year, but this year’s notice was left to His Highness, Prince Sylvester.”

“Perhaps…”

“It was convenient, so he left it to me. It’s a notice from the delivery personnel. So, will you go to the castle? Miss Prize-Winner.”

She felt like she heard the words, “the permit for the Big Bookcase is waiting for you,” but it took all she had to not twitch. 

She did think that an award ceremony might be held since the prize for the royal family sponsored competition show was a grant and a permit. 

(But I never imagined that His Highness would be involved in this before his adulthood…!)

I carelessly assumed that, even though the royal family didn’t have a rule stating that they wouldn’t be involved in events unless they were adults. However, if I think about it, this might be an excellent event to gain experience if it’s just about giving notice. 

(I was careless… But I can’t say that I wouldn’t have entered even if I knew this. Because there aren’t many chances to get a permit for the Big Bookcase…)

So, it can’t be helped. Cordelia convinced herself and tried to calm down. That’s right. It should be over quickly if I just have to receive the permit.

However, she recalled something else that worried her.

“… Vernoux-sama, did you say ‘go’?”

“Yeah. The quicker, the better, right?”

“Please wait. There are no arrangements for the winner to go to the castle right after they receive the announcement, right?”

No matter how I look at it, this is too sudden.

Cordelia needed time to dress up and prepare herself, even if she couldn’t avoid her audience with the Prince. If possible, she also wanted to prepare responses for the Prince.

However, Vernoux scowled in response to Cordelia’s remark.

“You don’t have to worry about that.”

“No, I do.”

It certainly feels like I’m going to tremble, but usually, it was odder if people don’t worry.

Cordelia stated that while glaring at him a little, and Vernoux sighed as if it was troublesome. 

“Like you guessed, there will be a formal award ceremony… well, it’s not that grand, but His Majesty will say a few words to congratulate you. But that’s after the exhibition period ends, it’s customary to give the Big Bookcase permit first. The earlier you get to enter the Big Bookcase the better, right?”

“I appreciate it, but… I’ll be given it on the day of the announcement, right?”

“No, His Highness said you can come get it whenever you want, so I just thought I’ll take you there today. The faster, the better, right?”

As expected, Vernoux-sama is the cause of this suddenness…!

Cordelia thought and was exhausted. 

“Has His Highness already acknowledged that I will be visiting today?”

“Yeah, I told him. He told me not to force you. He said you might have plans since it was so sudden.”

Cordelia liked the Prince a little more because he knew full-well that Vernoux is forceful, and tried to stop him, but she was worried. 

I don’t mind if it’s today or later… What reason do you tell a person who says this, to change the day? And even if I make a reason, Vernoux-sama will probably pursue it. 

“Vernoux-sama, even if I go to the castle today, I can’t go straight away. I’m dressed like this right now.”

She wore today’s outfit so she would be trouble-free because she was visiting the office… In short, she was dressed as a town girl instead of a noble daughter. Even if she went to the castle today, she would need to change her outfit.

But, Vernoux shook his head.

“You’re always dressed like that, so it’s fine, right? His Highness doesn’t really fuss over women’s clothing.”

“It’s a big problem. The castle isn’t my house nor is it town.”

“… If you’re going to put it that way, then I don’t mind if you change it to another day. His Highness said he could host a tea party if you come on another day.”

“I’m sorry, Vernoux-sama. I need some time to go home and change, would it be alright for me to go?”

For a moment, she thought she had been saved, but Cordelia understood that changing the date would choke her. 

If I’m going to get a troublesome invitation like a tea party, then today is better. 

“You don’t have to push yourself, you know?”

“I’m not. I feel bad for taking up His Highness’s busy time again.”

“Well, alright. There’s no reason for me to say no if you say you’re going to go.”

While reciprocating with a smile, Cordelia couldn’t help but think that her bad premonition was spot on. A terrible pitfall was waiting for her on the way to the Big Bookcase.

“Ah, come to think of it, Vernoux-sama. I was allowed to exhibit my work as a joint project with Ronnie, but should I call him as well?”

“Yeah, that’s why I came… but is it inconvenient?”

“Ronnie isn’t feeling very well. If possible, would it be alright for me to go alone? If we have to go today, then we can have it another day…”

Ronnie, who was still sleeping, was only lacking sleep, but she wanted him to relax if possible. Cordelia didn’t want to appear in front of the Prince alone, but she was anxious about Ronnie’s etiquette. It was inevitable even if they have an audience with the King at a later day, but Ronnie didn’t want to appear in front of the royal family, and Cordelia was nervous, so nobody wins. 

Vernoux put a hand on his chin and thought for a while, then he lightly nodded.

“It’s okay since you’re just getting the permit. If he can’t come right away, then I can ask His Highness about his schedule and get in touch with you later. I’ll show you around if you come to the castle, so come to the east gate.”

“The east gate, right? Okay.”

“Then, I’ll go to the castle first.”

In the return carriage, Cordelia wrote a letter to Elvis, who was at the castle, to let him know what was happening. She wrote that she had received the results of the competition show and that she would be heading to the castle today. The words she had written in the swaying carriage were shaky, but it was unavoidable.

(It would be better to let him know before I go to the castle.)

Since she had received permission for the exhibition, it shouldn’t be a problem for her to obtain the permit, but the castle is where Elvis usually works. Somehow, it felt awkward not to inform him of this. 

(If possible, I would like Otou-sama to bring the permit home.)

Cordelia sighed as she folded the letter. However, she could visit the Big Bookcase if she could get past it.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

When Cordelia got home, she headed straight to her room. 

“If it’s just His Highness, then it would be ideal to wear something that would leave a weak impression… but, I might meet other people on my way to see him, so I have to avoid them questioning my fashion sense.”

However, all the dresses she had were those she liked, so they had unique features. She was supposed to choose her favourite dress, but she felt depressed. She somehow felt bad towards the dresses.

“I’d rather wear a dress that will hype me up and support me emotionally.”

Christina said before that she receives power from her dresses. Cordelia thought it was a good idea and finally picked a dress.

“This is definitely the dress to wear to hype myself up.”

It was the flora silk dress she had received from Earl Alcott.

Cordelia wore this as her finest dress to family birthdays and tea parties that her aunt Nirupama took her to. She liked the dress quite a bit, but the size was becoming a problem.

(I pray that I won’t grow any taller until Onii-sama’s wedding.)

She could imagine that she would grow to some extent when she looked at her tall family. But she didn’t mind if she stopped growing soon. It was really disappointing that she couldn’t wear that flora silk dress anymore. This dress was designed for young ladies rather than children, so she could still wear it if height wasn’t a problem. 

Cordelia, who had decided on the dress, called Emina and Lara. She told them what had happened and asked then to help her prepare.

“Understood, Ojou-sama. Lara, get the carriage ready.”

“Yes, right away.”

Cordelia, who was quickly changed, sat down in front of the dresser as Emina gently combed her hair. 

“Ojou-sama, since you’re going to the castle, how about using a little lipstick? And, I want to set your hair, is this alright?”

“Set my hair?”

“Yes, your usual hairstyle is nice, but if you’re going to the castle, then I think you should look more grown-up. I’m sure it would look good on you.”

It was a slightly surprising proposal to Cordelia, who had never been conscious of having an adult aura, even though she tried to avoid giving a childish impression. She thought about it for a while and eventually agreed. 

“Yes… Please.”

It’s still not time yet, so if it doesn’t suit me then I can get her to redo it, and Emina probably wouldn’t propose something that wouldn’t suit me, considering her fashion sense.

(Besides, it’s probably calming to get my hair done, and my feelings will probably calm down too.)

Unfortunately, her prediction was wrong, and she couldn’t settle down until her hair was all done.

But her hairstyle made her blink.

“It looks good on you.”

“Th-thanks.”

“My pleasure. I had fun as well.”

She wasn’t used to seeing the hairstyle reflected in the mirror and didn’t know if it suited her or not. However, she did feel that the hairstyle suited the dress very much. She also gave off an adult impression like Emina had expected, and although she was happy, she felt embarrassed and uneasy.

“Then, Ojou-sama. Look here too.”

Cordelia stood up at Emina’s recommendation and looked in the full-length mirror. Her fully dressed up image reflected back at her.

(This… I might not be this composed.)

The hair and dress matched better than she had expected, and she certainly looked like a young lady who would not be ashamed, no matter where she went. However, she was worried that she looked too fired up. She did want to get hyped up, but she didn’t intend to go this far.

(It’s like I dressed myself up so that His Highness would look at me…!)

I’m glad that she did my hair, but she did too much. 

However, she couldn’t tell the smiling Emina that she wanted to untangle the hairdo, and if she says it looks good, then Cordelia would ask her to do it again in the future. So, she should try to calm down and clear this hurdle. 

(It’s okay, I’m just getting the permit. Peacefully… I’ll come back safely.)

Cordelia convinced herself and looked in the mirror, then she heard a knock at the door.

It was Lara who had returned.

“The carriage is ready. And Vernoux-sama sent a message.”

“Thanks.”

She opened the letter which had been handed to her nervously and saw that the appointed time was written on there like she had expected. She would have perfect timing if she headed there after lunch. 

However, since she had a fairly good amount of time, Cordelia felt suspicious. 

(Did His Highness really free up his time?)

Don’t tell me Vernoux-sama forced him to open up his schedule… I’d like to believe this isn’t true, but if it is, then it would look like I had behaved selfishly. That’s the thing I don’t want the most. 

“Ojou-sama, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I’m a little nervous because it’s my first formal meeting at the castle. The appointment is a little after midday. I’m sorry, but could you prepare me a light lunch?”

My reaction might have seemed weird since I had dressed up to go to the castle. However, I don’t have the authority to change the specified time. I can only believe in Vernoux-sama.

“Understood, I’ll tell the chefs. In exchange, you have to eat a lot for dinner.”

“Okay, I’ll leave it to you.”

I’m not really in the mood to eat, but I don’t want my stomach to growl in public.

“… When it’s all over, I’ll have a toast.”

There shouldn’t be any competition at the castle, but I want to drink good alcohol for success. Unfortunately, Cordelia wasn’t confident that alcohol won’t influence her, so she only had juice, but she was looking forward to having some with dinner.

Translator: Blushy
Editor: SenjiQ