After lunch, Cordelia asked Emina to accompany her to the castle, and Hans appeared in a rush.
“Hans, what’s wrong?”
After asking that, Cordelia realised that Elvis was behind him, even though he would definitely not be home at that time, and quickly approached him.
“Welcome home, Otou-sama.”
However, even though he was home, she could guess that it was only temporary from the way Hans was rushing. But she couldn’t come up with a reason for why he was home.
“Otou-sama, did something happen?”
There was no response from Elvis, but it was unlikely that he had forgotten something at home, and, if he had, then he could have just sent a messenger.
(Oh, that’s right. I sent him the report…)
He had already received the letter since he hadn’t said anything upon seeing that Cordelia was ready to go out. However, a letter was a letter. She should report that she had won the reward again, but she wanted to ask something else first.
“This hairstyle… does it suit me?”
She had faith in Emina’s skills. But, she wanted to hear Elvis’s honest opinion as his daughter. However, her tension increased after she had asked that.
Elvis finally opened his mouth slowly at Cordelia, who was holding her breath as she waited for a reply.
“… Aren’t you cold?”
“Huh? No, I’m not…”
It was true that her hair usually covered her neck and back, so there were a lot of areas for air to touch. However, she didn’t feel cold because of the season.
Cordelia tilted her head, and Elvis turned to Emina.
“Understood. I’ll bring a shawl.”
Emina left after she bowed respectfully.
(But I’m really not cold…)
For the time being, it’s not like I don’t look good even if I look really cold.
It’s a bit disappointing since I didn’t receive a clear answer, but doesn’t seem like he’s dismissing my hairstyle.
However, I wanted to hear his opinion if possible…
“… It’s not… bad.”
“――― Thank you very much!”
Cordelia, who was observing him, was praised by Elvis, who looked sour like usual. He hadn’t said anything else, but coming from him, it was enough.
“Are you going to the castle now?”
“Yes. Vernoux-sama will be picking me up at the east gate.”
“Then I’ll take you there.”
“Huh?! Th-thank you very much.”
Cordelia was surprised when she realised what time Elvis had come home. She never imagined that he would briefly return home for her. Still, she felt at ease if she was with him.
“I feel relieved that you’ll be with me Otou-sama.’
If possible, she would like him to accompany her to meet the Prince, but her wish won’t come true. The notice itself came to Cordelia… In other words, it might be undesirable for her to be accompanied by an adult, since she was treated as an adult. And, Elvis only said that he would accompany her to where Vernoux was.
(If I ask for too much, then it would look like Otou-sama is using his daughter to intervene.)
This would only be a disadvantage to both Cordelia and Elvis, so she had to accept it.
“… You look worried.”
“You only need to be dignified as you head to the castle.”
Cordelia quickly followed after Elvis, who had turned his back and started walking.
Thank you for worrying about me, Cordelia thought that Elvis would be uncomfortable if she told him that, so she held back, but she was deeply grateful.
In the carriage, Cordelia told Elvis that the reputation of the galettes and crepes had reached the royal capital to distract herself. She also told him that she wanted to conduct questionnaires at the stores in the future.
“… It’s probably because the food is rare, but they probably also appreciate the interior design and furnishings.”
“Yes. I heard about that from the manager as well.”
“The downtown restaurants aren’t bad either, but it’s easier to talk about them if the ambience is distinct.”
Cordelia imagined enjoying an affordable meal at a bustling restaurant downtown. The position might be reversed, but if I can enjoy a different ambience… then I’m sure it’ll feel special.
“Don’t go on your own.”
It seemed that Cordelia’s interest was clear, since Elvis had said that.
I want to go, and it seems like I can as long as it’s not on my own. Cordelia smiled in reply.
I’m looking forward to it. If possible, I would like to go with Otou-sama. Cordelia thought, but she was pulled right back to reality.
She looked at the carriage and saw that they were already approaching the white castle walls.
Vernoux was waiting at the east gate just like he had promised.
He saw Elvis and opened his eyes wide. However, he quickly changed his expression and tried to greet Elvis, but Elvis didn’t even glance at Vernoux and walked off.
“… Shall we go?”
On the way, Cordelia’s tension rose again. Vernoux sighed deeply next to her.
“… The Earl is angry, isn’t he? He looked scary.”
“Scary? Vernoux-sama, that’s rude. Otou-sama was just a little reserved.”
It was true that Elvis’s expression might seem sharp to Vernoux, since his father is cheerful, but his remark was rude toward someone else’s father. Cordelia forgot her tension and argued.
“No, but, he obviously wasn’t being reserved. Well, it might not be impossible, since he had an iron wall guard until now.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, if there is another opportunity. Anyway… It seems like you really did have to get ready. You certainly seem different.”
Cordelia took a long hard look at Vernoux, who had fully understood something on his own, and averted her eyes a little.
I didn’t think it would be a big deal to look like this in front of my childhood friend even if I do look different, but it’s embarrassing when he points it out. Her tension, which had subsided, rose once again.
“The truth is… You thought I lied?”
“No, sorry. Honestly, I thought you were just saying whatever came to mind.”
“I’m getting the permit, so I won’t do that.”
Cordelia turned away as if she was sulking. She was aware that her childish attitude didn’t match with how she looked, but it was perfect for hiding her embarrassment.
When she turned her head away from Vernoux, she saw a beautiful garden.
“What? Are you interested in the garden?”
“… Yes, a little.”
“You can look at the greenhouse as well, before you go back. The greenhouse was originally designed by Earl Pameradia, and His Highness will probably let you see it if you ask him. Maybe he’ll even show you around.”
However, Cordelia couldn’t agree with that.
“I am interested, but I think it’s too brazen, so I’ll ask him if I get another chance to. Even if Otou-sama designed it, I wasn’t involved.”
The act of coaxing the Prince was something she wanted to avoid because it was associated with the in-game 『Cordelia』; a selfish young lady. In the first place, she wanted to get away from him as quickly as possible, so she wanted to avoid things that come with horrifying possibilities.
“You don’t have to be shy. Oh yes, let’s say it’s from me as an apology for earlier?”
“Don’t worry about it. If you want to apologise, then please give me delicious tea leaves. I’ll be happier with that.”
Vernoux shrugged at Cordelia’s words.
They stopped talking when they passed through the garden and entered the castle. Cordelia quietly followed Vernoux through the corridor. Then, Vernoux stopped before long.
“His Highness is in this room. Are you ready?”
Enter, greet him, and receive the permit… She imagined, but she didn’t doubt her mannerism themselves.
In contrast to Cordelia, who was looking straight ahead, Vernoux was casual.
“He cleared everyone away, so well, you can take it easy.”
“Isn’t it better if there were people there?”
“What if I say something rash or what if I start spreading strange rumours? It would be fine if it were someone close to His Highness, but with me, there are too many problems.”
“I’m not worried since you declared those possibilities. Oh, even if he cleared everyone out, I’ll be there as a witness.”
I’m not sure if I should be relieved that he would be here or not.
When we first met, I thought that I could get information from Vernoux-sama so that I can avoid the Prince, but I can’t believe that he would be the cause for us meeting.
(It’s a bit late now, but I really hadn’t expected this.)
It’s not like I don’t wonder how this happened, but it’s not fatal yet. I probably won’t meet the Prince for a while after I receive the permit.
Vernoux lightly greeted the two guards at the door and told them that he was entering, but the guards looked troubled.
When Vernoux tried to ask for the reason, a vigorous voice came from within.
『That’s why, I said ――――.』
『So ―――… I said!』
Vernoux and Cordelia looked at each other when they heard a young man’s voice.
“It’s a bit lively in there.”
“Yeah… That Clay is going on a rampage again.”
The owner of the voice was Vernoux’s acquaintance.
“Well, but, he’s always like that. Don’t worry about it.”
“Vernoux-sama, we should see how it goes…”
“It’s not going to end quickly with him like this. His Highness is also there, right? Now, let’s go in.”
Vernoux forcibly grabbed Cordelia’s arm and took a step forward even though she was puzzled by the unexpected situation.
Cordelia was surprised by his sudden movement, and immediately tried to return to her earlier posture, but his stride was wider than she had imagined.
“Vernoux-sama, please wait.”
“I told you that you don’t have to worry.”
“That’s not it!”
The heels that she was wearing to match her dress couldn’t handle Vernoux’s movement. She wanted him to let her go at least, so she tried to protest, but he opened the door.
Vernoux continued forward, and Cordelia lost her balance.
Cordelia, who couldn’t sense where her centre of gravity was, raised a voice she’d never heard before and fell forward.