Act 66: 『Sylvester』
The large, bluish full moon lit the area brighter than usual. Looking up from the unobstructed meadows, many stars shone brightly in the sky and their light didn’t lose to the moon’s.
Cordelia and Sylvester travelled from the forest to the hill on the black horse that Sylvester had ridden. He had dismounted his horse a short distance away from the hut to avoid being noticed by Ghost, but the black horse was docile and waited for his return.
When they reached their destination, Cordelia followed quietly after Sylvester as he walked ahead with a light in hand.
Cordelia stopped when she heard those words and followed Sylvester’s gaze to the place he was pointing at.
Then, she saw a place filled with white budded jasmine.
Perhaps because of the influence of the earth’s magic, the flowers seemed to be mysteriously floating and seemed covered in a slight light.
Cordelia couldn’t help but say, and Sylvester smiled.
“This can only be seen at night. I’ve always thought that you would be happy to see this place ever since I first saw it.”
But Sylvester immediately stiffened.
“… I’m sorry for not telling you all this time. And once again, I am 『Gille』and『Sylvester』.”
“Ah, hmm… I’m Cordelia.”
“I know that.”
Cordelia wasn’t telling a joke either, she just didn’t know what to say and inadvertently introduced herself. She didn’t know what expression she had on her face, but Sylvester chuckled.
“I actually meant to tell you sooner. But I couldn’t say it.”
“Why… is that?”
I have been avoiding Sylvester-sama all this time, and I’m sure we would only have bland conversations had he revealed his identity sooner. As a result, Gille-sama’s silence about who he was, made him my close friend. As for Shelley, it’s possible that she would have bothered me like she did even if I didn’t get acquainted with Sylvester-sama.
Still, it bothers me that Sylvester-sama had kept quiet about his identity and that Vernoux-sama had helped him to trick me. I also feel like my childhood friends have left me out of the circle.
As she thought this, Sylvester said something surprising.
“Because you don’t like people who lie, right Dilly?”
“… Excuse me?”
“Dilly likes knights and people who don’t lie. That’s what Vernoux told me.”
Even if you say that, I don’t remember ever saying something like that. However, if Vernoux-sama had asked me this at some point, then I might have answered without giving it much thought…
Cordelia put her hand to her mouth and tried to recall her memories and Sylvester continued.
“I also heard that you respected my father’s reign, but you’re not interested in me.”
“… I don’t remember this. But I’m sorry if I’ve offended you.”
Those things are the truth, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I said something similar to that. I always insist that 『I’m not interested in Sylvester-sama, so I won’t get close to him』, but I never imagined that the person himself would hear about this. There’s nothing more embarrassing than this.
“I thought it was natural for you not to be interested in me, since I was a helpless child at that time. So, I studied and trained hard to get you interested in 『Sylvester』, then I was going to reveal myself… But you continued to show no interest in me, so I continued to act as 『Gille』, but then I started to get impatient. I thought too much and wondered what you’d think of me after I revealed myself to you with the way things were.”
“Dilly, it’s not that you’re not interested in Sylvester, but you were avoiding him, weren’t you?”
Cordelia froze since he had guessed correctly.
“I also didn’t understand why you were avoiding me at first. You said you weren’t interested in me, but you also didn’t say you hated me, and I’ve never done anything you hated as 『Sylvester』.”
Cordelia certainly kept a safe distance from Sylvester.
“That’s why I didn’t say anything unnecessary. But I realised it thanks to Clydereine-jou. There’s a lot of trouble around me and not everyone gets close to me because they want to. So, it wasn’t strange for you to keep your distance.”
That was slightly different from why Cordelia had avoided him, but from Sylvester’s point of view, the result was the same. Either way, she felt bad that Sylvester was trying to tell her the truth even after he understood this.
“But then I grew even more impatient when you returned to the royal capital.”
“Why were you impatient?”
“Because you’ve become really beautiful.”
“Huh? Wh-what are you saying all of a sudden!?”
Cordelia quickly squeezed her words out while feeling her face heat up from his sudden words. However, Sylvester wasn’t surprised by anything and remained calm.
“I was afraid that someone would take you away from me if I didn’t tell you the truth sooner. So, I knew that I needed to improve myself so that I could tell you the truth about me being 『Sylvester』, but you experienced something unpleasant because of me.”
Cordelia slowly felt as if she was being confessed to, but she quickly calmed herself down, thinking that it was just her imagination.
She had always thought Gille was a natural airhead. Even now, she was sure that he was saying that if Cordelia had a fiancé then she would probably meet with her male friends less. She was sure of it.
“I thought it’d best for me to stay away from you if I cared about you. You always worked hard and shined everywhere. But… I didn’t want to do that unless you made it clear that you 『hated』me.”
“… I’m also happy to have been able to meet you, Gille-sama. You’re a very dear friend.”
I also think that it was convenient for me to avoid him, but even if I know that Gille-sama and Sylvester-sama are the same person, it’s awkward to look him directly in the eye because of my conditioned reflexes.
But he is definitely 『Gille-sama』, since he came to my rescue and I can talk to him like this. When she thought like that, she mysteriously stopped caring about Sylvester’s appearance.
But Sylvester shook his head slightly.
“You might think of me as a dear friend, but I don’t.”
“What do you mean?”
Cordelia tilted her head in confusion and Sylvester smiled softly.
“You have always been my first love.”
His firm voice rode the wind and reached her ears.
I didn’t mishear him.
But Cordelia couldn’t reply since it was too bizarre.
“I’m not asking you for an immediate reply. However, if you don’t want to see my face anymore, then don’t hesitate to tell me this as soon as possible. I’ll give up if you tell me this directly. I don’t want to make you feel bad.”
Sylvester said as he smiled. Cordelia thought that he was slowly straightening his back, but he immediately fell on his back.
Sylvester put a calm expression on his face as Cordelia bent down in surprise.
“I said it. I haven’t been able to say it for eight years, so I’m spent.”
“Well, I’ll talk about it another time.”
Eight years. Isn’t that when we first met?
“It’s extremely rare for you to have a silly expression on your face.”
“You don’t need to hide.”
Sylvester squinted his eyes when he saw Cordelia cover her face with her hand and got up.
“But it feels really good. I was worried about keeping silent about this, and I thought you might hate me, but I’m relieved to see that you’re worried about me. As I thought, you’re still you.”
“What does that mean?”
“Exactly what I said. But I’ve let it out now so prepare yourself.”
“Like I said before, I’m not asking for an answer straight away and I’ll give up if you want me to. But I won’t hold back if that’s not the case.”
Cordelia couldn’t help but avert her eyes away from the gaze that was directed at her.
Her heart was beating awfully loud.
She felt like the sound was turning her face redder and redder, and it didn’t feel like it would stop even if she told herself to calm down.
(Neither Gille-sama or His Highness has ever looked at me like that!)
Her fierce heartbeat reminded her of the past; of the time when they danced together when they were twelve, and of the time when they went to visit Fulvia together, and Cordelia was getting more confused. I did think that he was kind and gentlemanly, but if that was because of some special feeling ―――.
Sylvester suddenly laughed as Cordelia was thinking.
“Seeing the look on your face right now, I’m really glad I said it. I wish I had told you sooner.”
“Don’t look at me! What expression are you saying I’m making?!”
“Probably the expression you’re thinking of… I’d really like to spend more time with you like this, but we have to go home. I’ve sent a messenger, but I’m sure they’ll be worried until they see your face.”
Then, Sylvester stood up and held his hand out to Cordelia. She quickly pulled back when their hands overlapped.
“Then… let’s go apologise first. Vernoux has informed Elvis about this, but I have to report to him as well.”
With those words, she felt her somewhat fluffy feeling suddenly return to reality.
When they got back to the royal capital, Vernoux and Clive greeted them at the city walls.
“I sent a messenger using His Highness’s appearance, but His Highness was at the scene, so the knights are rather confused. Did you come up with a good excuse so that our switch wouldn’t get found out?”
“I see. Then, do you have an excuse for Earl Pameradia about why you’re back late even though you left first?”
“That would be a sincere apology.”
Vernoux seemed to know that they made a detour before coming back and that Cordelia knew that 『Gille』and『Sylvester』was the same person.
Vernoux slowly approached them as Cordelia dismounted with the help of Sylvester, who had dismounted first.
Then, he put his arms around Cordelia and Sylvester’s necks.
“I’m glad. I was worried about you two.”
He frankly told them this as if he was sighing, and Cordelia froze for a moment since she felt guilty for worrying him and happy that he had worried about her, but her expression quickly faltered.
When Cordelia and Sylvester said that today, Vernoux let them go.
“Well, I’d like to say… that you should rest first but… Hey, Clay. Do you think it’s a long shot judging from how Earl Pameradia was acting when we explained the situation to him?”
“It’s not my place to say this, but I wouldn’t suggest that His Highness take Cordelia-jou home.”
Cordelia’s cheeks twitched when she heard Clive’s words. Of course, she knew Elvis would be angry, but the expressions on Vernoux and Clive’s faces said more than their words did.
“… Your Highness. I can go home by myself from here. I’ll explain the situation to Otou-sama.”
She didn’t think that Elvis would take his anger out on Sylvester, but she couldn’t be sure.
However, Sylvester shook his head.
“It’s dark, so I’ll take you home. Besides, I still think that I need to tell Elvis this properly.”
“Dilly, give up. His Highness won’t listen once he’s made up his mind. That was the case when he went incognito. If he was the kind of guy who easily backed off in the first place, then he wouldn’t have gone to the forest alone.”
Aren’t you the one who invited him to go incognito? Cordelia wanted to say, but she didn’t have time to spare. She could only hope that the discussion would end peacefully.
Something felt out of the ordinary in her familiar house even though it was only dark outside.
The thing that Cordelia felt most unfamiliar with in this situation was that the head of the house, Elvis, was standing outside the gate.
Elvis’s expression was different from what she had imagined and didn’t contain a fierce rage. However, she could feel a quiet, icy anger coming from him and her legs felt weak.
Cordelia kept her voice firm to keep it from shaking.
She knew it was inevitable that he would be angry, but she couldn’t think of any way to appease his anger. So, she told herself that she should accept whatever he threw at her without shame even if he was angry.
However, Elvis’s gaze went straight to Sylvester and he didn’t even look at Cordelia.
“I’ve heard all about it from Marquis Flantheim and Marquis Eames’s House. Your Highness. I would like to complain that your conduct of endangering yourself was very foolish.”
He said that without any reservations whatsoever.
But Elvis’s words didn’t end there.
“… But as a father, I would like to thank you deeply for bringing my daughter home safely.”
Cordelia and Sylvester widened their eyes at Elvis, who was bowing deeply, then Sylvester quickly shook his head.
“I was expecting more of a scolding.”
“You are not a child anymore, Your Highness. If you’ve decided for yourself that that was the right thing to do, then all I can offer is my opinion.”
“That means… you’ll give up on me if I continue to act too selfish, right? I’ll be careful.”
Elvis spoke plainly and was still as expressionless as ever, but the coldness Cordelia felt earlier was already gone.
“But then, no matter what I think, I’m sure there are those who were inspired by what you did.”
Elvis replied to Sylvester in an indirect way and Cordelia smiled a little.
“Elvis. Can I ask you something?”
“What is it?”
“Will you allow me to make Cordelia my Queen if I can persuade her?”
Cordelia stopped thinking completely when she heard those words.
“Of course, I won’t force her if she doesn’t want to. I’m not going to tell Their Majesties about this, so you can think of this as my personal wish and not that of the royal family’s.”
Cordelia glanced at Elvis and although his expression hadn’t changed, she felt as if something black was coming out from behind him. That probably wasn’t because it was night-time.
“… Three years.”
“My daughter has just made her debut in high society and I don’t plan on marrying her off to anyone for at least three years.”
To anyone, of course, included Sylvester. This was the first time Cordelia had heard this and Elvis’s voice had said that in a really low voice, but Sylvester didn’t flinch at all.
“That’s a relief then. I’ll also try my best to gain her favour in the meantime. I don’t know what my parents will say if I take too long.”
Elvis didn’t reject Sylvester because he approved of him to a certain point, but he didn’t accept him either.
Rather, his mood seemed to rapidly worsen.
“My daughter has matured a lot from the time she was little. But with all due respect, I don’t know if my daughter would be satisfied even if it were you, Your Highness.”
“I know. That’s why I’ve been doing my best not to lose to Dilly.”
“Even you, Gille-sama…!”
But Cordelia was startled by her own words as she rushed to stop Sylvester.
She had said that because of what he had said, but she felt a strong gaze from Elvis. Cordelia smiled while twitching since his gaze was asking her when they had gotten close enough to call each other by nicknames.
Even her appearance like that seemed to amuse Sylvester.
“I told you, didn’t I? Prepare yourself.”
She felt that the smile that Sylvester had on his face at that moment was a little meaner than it had been in the past.
But, it was a gentle and serene smile which made her think that he was still the same even though his appearance was different.