After that, people walked up to Cordelia without pause and she greeted a lot of people. It was the first time that she had talked to so many people at once, so she was exhausted by the time she could take a break.
“… Are you tired?”
“Otou-sama… No, I’m fine.”
She was actually tired, but she couldn’t leave. She can only pull herself together if she looks tired. However, Elvis, who had called a nearby waiter, took a glass and gave it to Cordelia.
“Go outside for a bit. You’ll feel better with some fresh air, and your head will clear.”
“You’ve already greeted everyone. They’re talking among themselves now, so it’s fine for you to slip out.”
Elvis declared and Cordelia couldn’t object.
It’s a special request, so I’ll gratefully accept.
“Then, I’ll do that.”
Elvis’s voice pushed her from behind as she went out. She could still hear the faint noise from the hall even though she was outside. The garden is usually quiet, but it’s a little lively today.
She thought as she sat on the bench to relieve the fatigue in her legs.
I can’t take a long break, but if I go back too early then Otou-sama’s concern would be pointless. I’ll go back after relieving my fatigue with the time I have, she thought and heard footsteps slowly approach her.
It was Vernoux who came.
“So even you get tired after greeting a lot of people.”
“Since you’re saying it like that, it means that you get tired as well, right Vernoux-sama?”
“Yeah. I’m happy that they’re celebrating for me, but I can’t help but think it questionable that there is a custom of tiring oneself out on a day of celebration.”
Vernoux said as if he wanted them to give him a break, but his attitude said the opposite.
“Can I sit next to you?”
“Yes. Did you have fun today?”
“Yeah, a lot of people came so I let them talk to me. Everyone else was so engrossed in their conversations that they didn’t even notice that you had slipped out. They’re all probably in high spirits.”
“Oh my, are you saying my presence is thin?”
“If your presence is thin, then who is thick? No one thinks that they can talk to you for a second time, that’s why they’re satisfied with just talking to you once. And, you’re going to get a lot of tea party invitations.”
“Oh my, I’m looking forward to those.”
If there’s a lot of invitations, then I’ll need a certain amount of physical strength. But, if I can get a lot of information from the tea parties, then I want to show up.
“I have something serious I want to tell you. You haven’t had direct contact with Earl Clydereine’s daughter since you’ve returned to the royal capital, right?”
“Yes. I think it’s best if we don’t get involved with each other.”
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that’s what she wants. Apparently, she’s been telling people 『There’s an evil lady who thinks about wicked things』, because of her dreams.”
“Is that 『Evil lady』me?”
“She didn’t state a name, but she said it was a girl with red eyes.”
“Isn’t that basically saying it’s me? Thank you for telling me.”
There aren’t many girls with red eyes.
Cordelia sighed since she had attacked her in a childish way.
“However, it was the right choice for you to go to Weltoria fief. Apparently, Miss Clydereine has been saying that the 『Evil lady』has been using whatever means she could to get close to the Prince, but you’ve been away from the royal capital for two years. It doesn’t seem like she knows that, but some people have started to doubt the divine message since Countess Weltoria and Hazel-jou have been going around saying that you weren’t in the royal capital.”
“I’m really grateful to Oba-sama and Hazel-sama.”
Hazel-sama hasn’t told me this directly, but I must thank her next time I see her, Cordelia decided.
The guests of today’s evening party are the head of houses and their wives, and their heirs like Vernoux-sama. However, Hazel-sama invited me to a tea party since she couldn’t come today. She said she was looking forward to celebrating grandly.
She thought then noticed.
“You get along with Hazel-sama more than I thought you did.”
“Why do you think so?”
“Am I wrong? At least from how you were speaking about her earlier, you don’t dislike her like you did a long time ago.”
“But if you don’t want to talk about it, then I won’t ask you any more questions.”
Instead of replying in a light and casual tone, Vernoux closed his mouth and looked conflicted. Cordelia felt that he didn’t have a bad impression of Hazel, but he wasn’t hiding his embarrassment and he probably wouldn’t say any sweet words about her.
“Well, I’m not sure what to think about how she chased after me a long time ago, but she’s interacting with me like a normal lady recently. She also tried really hard for the mobile library after you left the royal capital, Dilly.”
“Oh my, isn’t that good?”
However, Vernoux only frowned deeper.
“But I can’t get rid of the impression I left on her a long time ago. Rather than putting her guard up a little. Wouldn’t she find my attitude a bit suspicious?”
“No, it’s just the only lady who had you worried in the past and now has only been Hazel-sama.”
“It’s not funny.”
It was rare to see Vernoux lose his composure, so Cordelia struggled a bit to get her laughs under control.
(It still doesn’t seem like it would develop into love yet like this. Vernoux-sama isn’t a straightforward person, and surprisingly, they might be a good couple.)
Cordelia didn’t say this to Vernoux even as a joke since it would annoy Hazel if Vernoux got angry. At least, Cordelia was happy if they could get along as friends.
“Well, let’s go back to what we were talking about. That lady’s way of doing things is crude, but her tenacity is first-rate. Fortunately, she didn’t show up in public much until she reached adulthood, so there’s still a lot of people who don’t know what she looks like.”
Cordelia tilted her head at Vernoux’s way of speaking.
“Vernoux-sama, have you talked to her directly somewhere before?”
“I went to Miss Clydereine’s coming of age ceremony. Well, I went to greet her and spy.”
“Oh my, I haven’t heard this before.”
“It wasn’t something I had to tell you straight away, and I didn’t think the servants should hear about this, so I thought today would be a good time to tell you. However, I’ve told you all I know, all I know is that she really is mysterious and magical like the rumours overly praise her as. I, myself, have been asked by the Earl to act as a mediator between him and His Highness.”
Vernoux wrinkled his eyebrows after saying that.
“I don’t want to say this but be careful of harassment. From Miss Clyderine as well as the ladies who are trying to suck up to her.”
“I understand. I am prepared to some extent. I knew she loathed me when she declared war on me two years ago.”
“Well, the ladies who are trying to suck up to her just want to snuggle up to her power and influence. I don’t think they would make the Pameradia House their enemies, and that lady won’t make any flashy moves unless she has positive proof that she can win against you. Well, I’m sure you can guess this, Dilly.”
“But, a really amazing person has set their eyes on you.”
Cordelia could only smile at those words.
(But surrounding herself with people and gossiping… sounds just like something 『Cordelia』would do.)
Shelley is said to be the second coming of the saint and uses the 『Dreamer Power』. She acts on her dreams. But I read in the Big Bookcase that the original Saint, who also made prophecies using her dream powers, started using her powers for herself, and as a result, made prophecies that never came true. Shelley must have begn using her powers for herself that’s why she’s saying delusional things which differ from reality, but it’s not unbearable if she dreams the wrong things.
“I can’t say that she won’t find proof. But, regarding her delusion about me deceiving His Highness, she probably won’t believe me if I say, 『I’m not trying to get close to His Highness』.”
“Yeah. But if you don’t sort this out as soon as possible, even the people who don’t think well of Miss Clydereine will start thinking that you’re a worrisome lady since you’re involved with an annoying lady.”
“It’s true that something troublesome would happen if we were to meet face-to-face.”
“Sorry for talking about this on an auspicious occasion.”
“Why are you apologising, Vernoux-sama? You’re telling me this because you’re worried about me, right?”
“But, it’s a depressing conversation, isn’t it?”
Vernoux shrugged and Cordelia laughed a little.
“Somehow, it’s strange. I can’t believe there would come a day when I hear these words out of your mouth since you used to only come here to eat cake.”
“That’s what I thought too. I really wished that my father would stop taking me everywhere, but I’m glad he brought me here. I was able to make a good childhood friend thanks to that.”
Cordelia opened her eyes wide when she heard those words. Vernoux didn’t tease her and he looked calm and relaxed.
“This is rare.”
“It’s because it’s a day of celebration. I won’t say this after today.”
“That’s a shame. But I also think I’m lucky to have met you. The time I spent with you and Gille-sama was very fun and I treasure them.”
I’m delighted to meet a friend who I can talk to without reservation.
However, Vernoux also looked surprised like Cordelia had earlier.
“Hearing you say that doesn’t sound like you at all.”
“You said something similar, didn’t you Vernoux-sama?”
“It’s alright for me since I’m only saying them today.”
“Then, I’ll also only say these words today as well.”
“I see. So it’s just for today?”
“No, I just thought it would be better if you told that to Gille too. It’s sad that he’s being left out.”
Like Vernoux-sama had said, there’s no reason for me not to tell Gille-sama, but I feel like the meaning would be different if I wrote it in a letter and gave it to Vernoux-sama to pass it to him. But I don’t know when I will see Gille-sama again.
“Well, I won’t force you to. It’s his fault for not being here.”
“Yes. If the conversation flows towards this the next time, I see him then I might tell him… but I can’t write it in a letter. I’ll put it off for now.”
“Well, it might be embarrassing later if you write it in a letter.”
“I don’t think it’s something to be embarrassed about?”
Cordelia was amazed since Vernoux had said it as if her black history was confirmed.
“But I think that important things should be told directly.”
“Then tell him directly. Well, I’m more concerned about that lady more than this right now. Even if she sees dreams that come true, a person who doesn’t notice the contradictions between reality and dreams becomes a burden. I don’t think she would ever be fit to be queen in the future.”
“I have nothing to do with the fight she wants to have. But, I’m relieved to know that Vernoux-sama and Clive-sama are by His Highness’s side since you two think that way.”
“Even if we’re not there, His Highness isn’t blind.”
Vernoux lightly poked Cordelia’s head as he stood up after saying that.
“Don’t lose. Use everything you can. Me, Clay and Miss Hazel will be happy to help you. And it seems like you’ve gained a much stronger hand today.”
“Thank you very much. But do you think I’m going to lose?”
“I don’t want to think of my childhood friend as being that weak.”
“Weak, you say… Even though I look like this, I’m a weak lady.”
“I’m praising you for having a firm heart… Or so I thought, but what about you is weak? A weak lady wouldn’t go horse riding or sneak out, would they?”
Then, they looked at each other and burst into laughter at nearly the same time.
“I should go back soon. Since, I’m the star of the night.”
“I see. The Earl will glare at me if we go back together, so I’ll stay out here for a bit longer.”
“Okay. You might not be able to see the flowers since it’s dark, but they smell nice so please enjoy it.”
However, Cordelia didn’t recall a time when Vernoux had even admired the flowers at her mansion whenever he came over.
At that time, a soft but strong wind blew into the area.
However, that wind only lasted for a moment, and then she heard a rustling sound.
“No… This might be strange to ask… But is Gille-sama here?”
There was nothing strange around her. The garden looked as it always did at night. Still, she felt that the aura was different from normal.
“As expected of you. You can’t see him, and he has no presence, but you can tell?”
“So, he is here?”
It was a little different from the thin presence she had felt at the Hale Mansion when she was 12.
At that time, Gille had used a mask to block other people’s recognition of him, but the presence right now was less than that.
Even if she knew that someone was here, she couldn’t feel their presence.
(Maybe he’s using a mask I’m not familiar with that’s why I can’t feel him… I honestly can’t feel his presence.)
If he’s here, then did he come here to celebrate my coming of age?
Cordelia waited for Gille to show himself, but he didn’t.
She asked curiously but received no reply.
Instead, Vernoux spoke.
“Gille can’t show his face today. He came to see me not you.”
“To see you?”
It might have been unavoidable that a suspicious expression appeared on her face.
Vernoux looked amazed. Then, he walked a few steps and stopped. He put out his right hand and a piece of paper appeared from thin air.
(He really is here…!)
“He said to give this to you.”
She looked at the paper and saw that it was an unsigned birthday card, but she knew it was from Gille because of the familiar handwriting.
“Did he come to deliver this?”
“Yeah, I was asked by Gille too, but people will misunderstand if I gave it to you in front of people. Then, he came himself. He said that he was going to leave it near the gate so that someone can see it. He thought that they would bring it to you since it’s not in an envelope and they would be able to tell that it’s not dangerous. But he came in because he thought you would be here.”
“Then, can he show himself? No one is around.”
“Well, give him a break. It’s also for your sake that he’s doing this.”
“If Gille’s parents found out that he was here, then they would want him to marry you, gah. Hey, don’t hit me suddenly.”
“… Vernoux-sama, it’s only obvious that you would get hit. Even as a joke, please improve your sense of humour.”
She wondered what he would say, but it wasn’t anything decent.
She regretted listening to him seriously and sighed.
(But it’s certainly unnatural for him to be here unless he’s the oldest son.)
Like how Hazel-sama isn’t here, Gille-sama might be in a position where he can’t come here with his real appearance. Nevertheless, there will be needless rumours going around if someone were to see him here.
Vernoux and Gille were talking about something while Cordelia was thinking, but when she looked at them, it looked as if Vernoux was acting in a one-man play and it was funny.
“Well, isn’t it like that?”
“Alright, alright, I got it, I got it. My bad.”
“Ah, whatever. I’ll listen to you next time so let me off for today. You, go home.”
Vernoux flicked his hand as if he was chasing away a dog, and Cordelia finally burst out laughing.
“You know, Dilly. You come calm him down too.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what expression Gille-sama has on his face right now.”
“Even I can’t see his face… Argh, Gille show yourself already.”
“Please don’t force him. It’s your fault for saying something strange after all.”
“No, it’s because Gille decided to come here.”
However, Cordelia decided to ignore Vernoux since she probably wouldn’t be able to agree with him even if she heard what he said.
Instead, she bowed towards Gille who she couldn’t see.
“Thank you very much. Does the hair ornament look good on me?”
She couldn’t hear a reply, but she felt like the air got softer.
“Now then, I really must get back.”
“Yeah. Well, I’ll also warn Gille about his trespassing.”
Cordelia smiled wryly at Vernoux, bowed, then went back into the hall.
It’s disappointing that I couldn’t see my friend after two years, but he doesn’t seem to have changed at all.
She felt this from his invisible exchange with Vernoux and became a little happy.