Act 67: Each of Their Paths
Two years have passed since that long day.
Sylvester had declared that Cordelia should prepare herself, but they continued their peaceful relationship and not much had changed.
Cordelia met with Sylvester more after she found out that he was Gille. For example, when she visited the Big Bookcase, Sylvester would invite her to the greenhouse or gardens to have tea with him. It wasn’t just always the two of them, Vernoux and Clive often joined them for tea as well. Other than that, they also exchanged letters like they had when he was Gille.
However, that didn’t mean that nothing had changed.
Sylvester would visit the Pameradia household alone, and sometimes he would change into Gille and they would go out. As expected, Cordelia didn’t think it was a good idea for Sylvester to wander around without a guard and complained bitterly about it when he had first invited her to go out, but he boldly declared 『I’m used to going around incognito since I was a child, and it’s too conspicuous for adults to go on dates with guards around』, so she couldn’t stop him.
Cordelia knew that they were going on dates even if her reply was prevaricating, but to be told this gave her an indescribable nagging feeling. Perhaps because she hadn’t stopped him from going out, he would tell her, “It was fine before, wasn’t it?” so she no longer had any words to stop him with.
Incidentally, whenever she went out with Sylvester, Cordelia also used Vernoux’s magic to change into a different person. Gill and Vernoux were surprised that she had changed into a woman with black hair and eyes. Vernoux couldn’t choose people’s appearances when he used his magic on them, so it was surprising that her appearance made her look like Sylvester’s sibling.
However, there are times when she was glad to go out with Sylvester.
She felt happiest about this when Sylvester asked her, “Will you listen to the story about my first love?”
She could only say that she was curious when asked, but if she had been in public, then she would hesitate to say it honestly.
According to Sylvester, he first saw Cordelia even before she had met 『Gille』. Cordelia had also heard that Sylvester came to the Pameradia mansion when the Queen visited the greenhouse. However, she had no way of knowing that her appearance while she was researching would captivate him.
“I was really disappointed when my mother told me not to talk to you then. But I didn’t realise that it was love at first sight until much later. At first, I just wanted to talk to the girl more and spend time with her. I also thought that it was unfair that Vernoux was close with you.”
“… Love at first sight?”
“If it had only been love at first sight, then I probably wouldn’t have realised that you were my first love. When you scolded me on the street, I couldn’t say anything back and I thought I had done something uncool, so I wrote you a letter, and I was happy that you wrote back to me. And from then, I wanted to talk to you more.”
When she heard that story at the park, she felt like cowering if only there weren’t so many people around. Even so, she managed to maintain her composure, but Sylvester didn’t hold back.
“I’m not rushing you for an answer. But, don’t forget that I told you to prepare yourself.”
Those words had been incredibly embarrassing, and yet she was troubled since she wasn’t put off by them. And she couldn’t help but think that Sylvester often threw her off her pace.
As for the rose, Vernoux told her, 『You’re really slow, aren’t you?』but she could only retort, 『I didn’t think Gille-sama would know my real name, and that it was a coincidence. How was I to know that His Highness would go incognito with you?』
Looking back, although she had many childhood memories with Gille, the one that made her most conscious about was when he came alone as Sylvester to rescue her from Ghost.
Although Cordelia thought she could be calm about it, she couldn’t help but realise how safe Sylvester made her feel as more time passed. Even now, the feelings she had at that time were becoming stronger.
(Even though I said I could deal with Gille-sama calmly when I was little… I’m also easily swayed.)
『You look like a hero to the girl you saved』, who would have thought that a day would come when I realise that the words I said to him on the day when he saved the flower girl would come true?
However, she couldn’t help but think of that all the time lately.
(I think he was reliable at that time because he did his best in his studies and training, but I’m worried that he will keep pushing himself in the future.)
I was happy that he protected me, but it’s not in my nature to be protected one-sidedly like a princess in a fairy-tale. It’s a bit difficult to support him in terms of combat, but I can support him in other areas.
However, she felt that he was the only one doing things for her and she hadn’t done anything for him.
She could think of a lot of things he had done for her including the rose 『Cordelia』, the place that he showed her incognito before she headed to Weltoria and the special scenery in Star Falling Hill.
In contrast, Cordelia only recalled giving him souvenirs and baked goods. Of course, he had been really satisfied with those things, but she wondered if she could have done something else for him as well when she thought about it.
When she thought like that, she wondered if being by Sylvester’s side was the best way to grant her wish, but she didn’t know if that could be called love. And she still couldn’t decide if she could tell Sylvester that she wanted to be by his side with that kind of motive.
Additionally, there were also still some embarrassing memories in her mind. She was also conflicted about whether it was alright to move this fast since they’ve been together ever since they were young. Shouldn’t I be more careful in preparing my response? Sylvester-sama won’t believe me if I reply too fast, right? Various thoughts swirled through her mind. Gille-sama said that I don’t have to rush my answer, but is replying after two years still too fast? Since Otou-sama said that he won’t marry me off for at least three years, should I wait until the three years are over before I reply? But I feel like it’s already too late considering we already go out together.
Love is difficult after all.
Cordelia couldn’t help but think.
Cordelia stepped into her shop and the bell at the door rang while she was thinking about the past.
Unlike the shop in the noble district, this was aimed at the common people. At first, she had set up a sales area beside her café, but it soon became popular, so she rented a new store. According to the employees, novelty products that were popular among nobles and the quality of the cosmetics, although they were cheaper versions, seemed to have fuelled the rumours.
“Welco…. Oh, Ojou-sama?”
Ronnie, who was carrying luggage, noticed her, but she put her index finger to her mouth. She had a lot of baggage today, so she came here to ask Ronnie to help her carry them.
Cordelia walked to the office with Ronnie, who was trying to carry all the bags to the back of the store.
“What’s wrong? The servants have been excited with preparations for the tea party since His Highness is coming tomorrow… Is it alright for you to be here, Ojou-sama?”
“That’s exactly why I’m here.”
“Ah, you couldn’t stay calm? Well, how about some tea since you’re here? I was thinking about taking a break now too.”
Ronnie looked the same as always as he said that.
Then, Cordelia suddenly remembered what Ronnie had said in the past.
“Ojou-sama? What’re you thinking about?”
“Hey, I know it’s a bit late to ask this, but you said that you weren’t surprised when the servants were gossiping about His Highness and I at the mansion, right? Why was that?”
“Did I say that?”
“I don’t remember that, but you went to Oulu Village with His Highness, didn’t you? Do you remember? The Flantheim House’s young master was with you two.”
Cordelia froze when she heard that.
“… Ronnie, you knew?”
“Huh? You didn’t, Ojou-sama? No, I did think that it was possible you didn’t.”
“Then, you should have confirmed that with me…!”
“Don’t be absurd. His Highness might have been trying to hide his identity from me as well, and if he noticed, then I might have to take responsibility for any problems that may arise.”
She could understand Ronnie’s point. However, Ronnie told her how he realised that Gille was Sylvester before she could ask him.
“It was only a little bit, but I could see His Highness’s magic mix with the Flantheim House’s young master’s. I remember it since I saw him at a parade once. That’s why I noticed it when we went to Oulu.”
“I can’t see it.”
Ronnie’s abilities could only be described as extraordinary since he could recognise who Gille was just by looking at him.
(Honestly, why is he working for us when he’s this amazing…?)
I’m beyond grateful that he is working for us, and he says he doesn’t want to be in the military so it’s fine as long as he’s happy with it. But if he was willing to, then he could become someone who would go down in history.
Cordelia felt complicated when she thought this.
After Cordelia finished her conversation with Ronnie, she returned to the sales floor again to see the displays.
Then, the door opened, and a new customer came in.
An unwilling voice entered Cordelia’s ears. The one who had uttered that familiar voice was a familiar pink haired woman.
Shelley, who she hadn’t seen since that day, was standing there.
“Why are you here?”
That was Cordelia’s line.
“Even if you ask me why… because this is my store?”
While answering, Cordelia tilted her head at Shelley’s outfit.
Cordelia could understand if she dressed like that to go incognito, but the clothes also looked well-worn.
Shelley let out a big sigh when she heard Cordelia’s reply.
“… This sucks.”
Cordelia didn’t often experience this being said to her, and by a woman at that.
However, Shelley glared at Cordelia and grabbed her arm. Cordelia didn’t shake her off because she couldn’t feel any magic from Shelley or anything like she had before at the evening party.
“I want to talk to you. We’ll stand out here, right? We can talk just over there.”
Shelley’s tone was still arrogant, but Cordelia couldn’t sense any hostility from here even if Shelley viewed her as an enemy. She told Shelley to wait, then told Ronnie she was going out for a while before leaving the shop.
Shelley, who was waiting in front of the store, started walking when she saw Cordelia come out and stopped a block away from the store.
They stood against the building so they could watch people walk by, and then Shelley spoke after a while.
“I don’t regret what I did to you at all.”
In contrast to her words, Shelley’s expression didn’t look good. She still had an irritated expression on her face, so her true intentions must lie elsewhere.
“… That’s all?”
“I don’t like you after all.”
Shelley looked disappointed. She was probably prepared to be insulted. Still, Cordelia felt that Shelley was different from before.
Cordelia hadn’t forgotten that Shelley had caused her a lot of trouble and nearly killed her. However, the verdict had already been passed for that incident, and Ghost had something to do with her actions, so Cordelia felt like it was too late to question Shelley.
In the first place, Cordelia couldn’t dismiss the possibility that she could have become 『Cordelia』if she didn’t have her previous life memories.
“… Then let me ask you something. What kind of dreams did you have? Did you dream about me acting violently?”
“That’s right. In my dreams, you were domineering, and you were merciless in your attempts to win His Highness over. You were an arrogant woman who placed blame on other ladies and were quick to bring up your House name. And you were quick to cause trouble. That’s why in my dreams, His Highness was troubled because your House tried to make him marry you.”
Shelley didn’t look at Cordelia at all and continued to speak plainly.
“So, I wanted to get rid of all the things that would make His Highness unhappy. Because in my dreams, we were in love with each other and I was able to dispel his sadness. That’s why ――― I made a mistake, but I don’t regret it. I just did what I wanted to do.”
Then, Shelley glared at Cordelia after having said that much.
“In any case, you want to say that the you in my dreams is exactly like me, right?”
“I didn’t say anything.”
If she asks me if I think that, then I can only say yes. However, if she understands this herself, then I don’t dare point it out.
“More importantly, I heard that you were resting in your fief.”
“Yes, publicly that is. But I don’t want to be imprisoned in the mansion either. No one wants to marry a lady who has caused a ruckus, even if it was because of a curse, that person was furious. He always told me I could act according to my dreams. How selfish of him.”
She must be referring to Earl Clydereine.
Cordelia stared at Shelley quietly without replying and Shelley turned away awkwardly.
“Don’t look at me with pity. I can’t go to that house anymore, but I was able to buy a house with a storefront near here with the consolation money that I’d never make if I had worked normally, and I was able to start working.”
“Oh my, what kind of place is it?”
“It’s a massage parlour. I used some cosmetics when I was an『Ojou-sama』and they felt good. I thought it was perfect since there was a shop selling good essential oils, but it sucks that it’s your store.”
Then, Shelley glared at Cordelia.
“… It was you, wasn’t it? You’re the person who made my punishment lighter.”
“I even accepted a curse because I really thought that it would be good if you were gone. And yet, I can’t believe the only thing that happened to me was that my magic was sealed… If you hadn’t pleaded for me, then I’m sure I would have received a harsher punishment.”
Shelley seemed to be able to assess the situation better than she had back then. She looked like she wanted to swear at Cordelia, but she didn’t seem possessed.
“I only told them 『Shelley-san is delusional, so she might not realise the truth』.”
“You really are the worst…! I didn’t like you from the moment I met you!”
Is she talking about when we met in front of the church for the first time? Cordelia recalled what had happened back then, and suddenly remembered something that bothered her.
“Come to think of it, you once said His Highness saved you, but when was that?”
“… When I was little. I sold flowers in the city when my mother was still alive. At that time, His Highness saved me when he went out incognito.”
“I didn’t know who it was at first. But His Highness appeared in my dreams when I wondered if there was anything I could do for him. I thought it was a joke at first too, but when I saw His Highness at the parade, I was shocked beyond words.”
“I knew it was him… You don’t believe me, do you?””
“I don’t, but I can’t refute either. I don’t have the power to do so.”
“Yeah right. My dreams aren’t even correct.”
Cordelia smiled wryly at the way Shelley had said that.
Her dreams were certainly wrong when they were about herself but 『Gille』is『Sylvester』.
“Shelley-san, I was probably there too.”
“It was in front of a magic tool shop on artisan street, right? His Highness was the person who had leaped out, but Vernoux-sama was the person who had knocked the man out and I was the person who constricted his feet.”
All emotions drained from Shelley’s face.
Although Cordelia was smiling, she never imagined that she had already encountered Shelley from back then.
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?!”
“Because I didn’t know either.”
“You should have!”
“Oh my god, this sucks.”
Shelley looked more embarrassed than ever before, and Cordelia had no words to say to her. She would be adding fuel to the fire no matter what she said.
“… But, it’s strange. I feel calm ever since I stopped dreaming.”
“So, you’re glad that your magic was sealed?”
“That’s right. I had magic, but I never used it consciously before I was taken in and the dreams just came by themselves. So, I don’t feel any inconvenience without it.”
Shelley straightened her back and took a step.
“Are you leaving already?”
“Yes, I’ll go home after I buy what I need. I’ll use my own products and when I become a millionaire who can hire a lot of employees, and so you should be sure to regret this.”
“That means you’ll help us promote our products. I’m looking forward to it.”
Shelley glared at Cordelia and stomped her feet, then she turned around. But she didn’t leave, and her shoulders were shaking. What’s wrong? Cordelia thought, then Shelley said clearly, “Say…”
Her voice was quiet compared to before.
Cordelia couldn’t help but blink since those words weren’t like Shelley.
“Don’t 『What?』me. Did you miss what I said? Argh, honestly this sucks! I shouldn’t have said it!”
Shelley said before walking off without turning back to look at Cordelia.
Perhaps Shelley will continue to come to my store to shop, but still, our lives won’t interfere with each other’s anymore.
“――― Though, I’m not kind enough to wish you well either.”
Nevertheless, Cordelia secretly wished that Shelley’s life would progress from now on since she was able to escape from her 『Heroine』power, ――― or from Cordelia’s perspective, her curse.