24: After a Long Time, My Last Ball
The carriage moved swiftly. It went up a tiny slope and past the gates leading to the Royal Palace. The guards at the gate quickly confirmed who was inside the carriage as it passed through the gates… Oh, was this how they checked if a suspicious person was inside?
They must have done the same thing when I had my debut, but I don’t remember at all. I could experience it happening this time because I wasn’t that nervous. I smiled wryly.
I got off the carriage and we four siblings headed towards the sun room.
We confirmed our names on the guest list on our way to the sun room. It seemed that everyone would be divided into groups for dancing. I was in the 5th group and separated from my brother and sisters. They probably planned something like this because the purpose of this ball was to increase the chance of meeting new people.
There was over an hour until the ball started. I was glad that we didn’t get here last minute.
If you look around, you could see two types of people.
「Those who didn’t have a fiancé/fiancée and were determined to find one at this ball」and「those who didn’t want to come here today, but were forced to」. No matter how you looked at it, the people who attended this ball were different from those who attended normal balls. It was also rare to see a large number of people in their 10s and 20s in one place.
It was extremely fun to watch them.
I was going to become a commoner soon and these nobles already have nothing to do with me, so a carefree thing for me. Also, I would be fine as long as I don’t smear the Thousand House honour.
“I don’t think escorts are needed today, so I’m going to where my friends are. You can act on your own. Return to the carriage as soon as the ball finishes.” Using Guerlain’s words as a sign, my siblings scattered away when we entered the venue.
I received a drink from one of the waiters, who was wandering around the room, and moved to a nearby wall. I was going to observe people from here. I could pass time just by comparing the difference between the real person and what’s written in the almanac. Since, I don’t know anyone here.
After a while, the fanfare sounded and lively music began playing.
The Emperor and Imperial Prince made an appearance on the stage. I was far from them but I can still tell that they were glistening. As expected of the royal aura.
It was the 3rd Imperial Prince. The 1st Imperial Prince was married and the 2nd had a fiancée. They had a 10 year old sister, but she couldn’t attend this time because the minimum age was set at 15.
Elegant dance music flowed throughout the venue after the Emperor’s greetings. The groups will be dancing in sets, starting from group 1. I was in group 5 so I still had some time.
I thought about getting something to eat and moved to the snack area.
The meat looked so lustrous. The prawns were huge. The vegetables looked vibrant.
I could tell that they used the best ingredients. You couldn’t see these kinds of ingredients at the marketplace. They were probably purveyors to the royal house.
I tired the marinated fish first. Wow, there was a mild sour taste to the fish and it was easy to eat. The sour taste wasn’t produced from lemons. Lime… No, it was shequasar.
The roast beef was tender. The amount of salt on it was just perfect for me.
The vegetables in the salad were crispy and fresh. The grilled vegetables were also cooked perfectly and I could taste the sweetness from it.
The white sauce smelt nice. They used salt-free butter, didn’t they?
Woah, what’s with this consommé jelly? It was so transparent, they probably made it from chicken and beef. What’s with this richness?
I broke into a smile, because everything was so delicious.
Of course, the meals at normal estates were also delicious, but I guess the Royal Palace was more refined.
Cooking methods always came to my mind whenever I ate, because I helped out in the kitchen at home. The chefs’ hard work comes to my mind.
“Eating is definitely a way to repay the chefs’ for their hard work.”
Yup, I muttered and kept eating.
There were several people around me who were devoted to eating like I was.
… But, there were a lot of people who were eating vulgarly. I wasn’t going to see who they were in the noble almanac.
I have to be careful as not to look vulgar while eating. I tried eating small portions of a large quantity of food. I was glad that I was weaken by my corset. Even though they were snacks, there were just too many different kinds of desserts. I wonder if I can try them all.
I watched the dance progress as I ate.
There were about 20 people per ground. They were forced to dance and make contact with the opposite sex.
… Hmm, did they not separate us by age or rank? How did they split us up? This ball is really informal.
Groups were formed everywhere in the sun room. I wonder if the higher rank nobles were at the centre of them. It was better for me not to go near there. I did want to see their popular faces up close, but I didn’t want to incur the wrath of the young ladies. So I stayed away from there.
I was used to not caring about it even if someone said something, so it was fine. Even if they said something that hurt my feelings. It didn’t matter if they said something about my half-blood status, because it was true.
I was aware that I mistrust others, especially nobles.
Therefore, I’ll do the minimum when concerning myself with them.
I knew that there were young men who were trying to approach me when I ate in silence. At those times, I would casually distance myself from them. If I knew them, then I wouldn’t be able to do something like this, but I didn’t.
Group 5 was called to the dance floor while I was doing that. I also have to go.
We lined up separately according to gender. A young man with silky brown hair and long bangs was standing in front of me. If I can’t see their eyes then I can’t recall who they are from the noble almanac. There were a lot of people with brown hair. He looked plain. It was probably because of his clothes.
I might be okay with having such a plain person as my first dance partner. Still, I was getting more and more nervous. I haven’t danced with another man except for Guerlain since my debut.
I straightened up my back, bowed, took my partner’s hand and prepared to dance.
(Woah, my hands are throbbing like my heart.)
A slow song began playing to start the dance.
We began to dance to the beat of the music.
(Woah, he put his hands on my back. Nope, don’t mind, don’t mind.)
Yup, it felt good. It was light. Dancing is really fun after all.
When I began to dance, I was able to move my hands and legs freely according to the song. This could be the result of my training, or my partner was just good at leading. I began to smile as my arms and legs moved.
When my partner turned, his bangs swished out of the way and I was able to see his eyes, no, I was able to see his face clearly.
The eyes I saw were amber. It was a really rare colour. Only Roberto-sama, the Prime Minister’s son came to mind when I thought of a man of around 20 years, 180 cm tall with brown hair and amber eyes. His real personality wasn’t plain at all. He was one of the people that everyone was aiming for.
I realised that my face had paled.
“It seems like you’ve noticed who I am, but please don’t make a big fuss. Lady Ayesha-marie, let’s enjoy our dance.” He said and pulled me closer to him. I felt him staring at me, but I didn’t meet his eyes.
(What’s with him? He’s being overly-familiar. Looks like he knows my name.)
I don’t know if he’s used to woman or if this was normal for him, so I was careful not to get too close to him.
We changed partners at the end of each song.
“Lady Ayesha-marie. Afterwards, “Thank you very much. Farewell”.”
It was good mannerism for a lady, but I interrupted Roberto-sama. That was close, how dangerous. I wanted to avoid getting deeply involved with him.
Anyway, I don’t expect to meet high ranking nobles after today.
I put on my best smile and thanked Roberto-sama the best I knew how and quickly took the hands of my next partner.
I managed to dance with half of my group and I was feeling more mentally tired than physically tired.
I became anxious when I saw a tint of blonde hair at the corner of my eyes. Don’t tell me that’s the person who I thought would never have anything to do with me.
Mm, today, only today. Just a little more and then it’ll be over, I encouraged myself.