Elsa was thus waiting for Luca at the south-east gate of the University of Fillure, on the morning they had planned to go out. The University of Fillure was located in the suburbs of the royal capital so she would have to wait a while for Luca to come.
Capra’s National University of Fillure was said to be, 『A town within a university』. In other words, the university formed a single town so there was plenty of space within the university premises for houses and shops. In fact, Elsa was not living at the Lombardini Duke’s residence in Zola but instead, was staying at the teacher dormitory at the university.
Although it was a holiday, there was a lot of people at the southeast gate, which faced the capital. Many students glanced at Elsa before quickly diverting their gazes. Was Elsa’s waiting figure that unusual?
“Why’re you asking so doubtfully?”
Luca, the person she had been waiting for, approached her and stared before asking in doubt. He had left the carriage somewhere and walked all the way here. Dressed in a dark blue aristocratic outfit for travelling, he still exuded an aura of class and elegance.
“Ah, so it is Elsa. I’m a little relieved……”
Luca said, looking relieved, but Elsa didn’t understand what he had to be relieved about.
“It’s been on my mind a bit, but you’re handsome too today, Luca.”
“Ah, thanks. Elsa…… it suits you but you’re wearing something quite different today……”
Today, Elsa wasn’t wearing her usual dark coloured collar dresses but a bright green one. It was an outdoorsy dress so it was plain but the embroidery on the dress was beautiful. As Alesia suggested, Elsa decided to wear a two piece dress. It was difficult to find a design that would suit the mature adult Elsa was.
Alesia had also mentioned that Elsa was tall and therefore, she was wearing boots. It was only reasonable for her to do so since they assumed that she would be taking a stroll, but Luke was probably taller than Elsa even if she wore high-heels.
“If I look nice then don’t complain. Well, if you don’t like walking next to me while I’m wearing something like this then I’ll go and change.”
She was being considerate to Luca, who had gynophobia and got startled when seeing a dressed-up woman but he shook his head and said “No, it’s okay”.
“It suits you, and I’m fine with it if it’s Elsa.”
“If I just listened to your words they sound quite romantic, but you actually said something pretty terrible, didn’t you?”
As usual, it was only Elsa who felt that way.
“Well, if you don’t mind then let’s go. You’re taking me to Faiella Lake, aren’t you?”
Elsa smiled and said. She had applied make-up on. Additionally, she was still wearing spectacles. Her eyesight wasn’t bad enough that she couldn’t function without them but it was a little scary for her to go out otherwise.
Luca held Elsa’s hands as they walked toward the waiting carriage. No matter how concerned she was about his gynophobia, Elsa still felt that he didn’t see her as a woman.
The carriage had no crest and slowly started to move when they got in.
“By the way, what’s up with your clothes?”
“That’s the thing you want to retort about?”
Elsa returned Luca’s retort with one of her own. Well, if it was someone who knew the usual Elsa then they would also ask, “What’s wrong?” because she’s usually dressed so unfashionably, so the question was appropriate.
“Alesia helped me pick this out. I thought I shouldn’t wear what I usually did for an outing.”
“Yeah. Frankly, I also thought the same thing.”
Luca wouldn’t have said anything if Elsa had not cared. Elsa didn’t know how to react to that. Even if she had nothing to say, should she thank Luca for not saying anything? Or should she refute him? Well, even if she said something it was already irreparable and Luca’s reaction wasn’t wrong.
“But, as you’d expect from Alesia. It really suits you.”
“Yeah. As I thought, you should apologise to me, shouldn’t you?”
“…… But, I was telling you that it’s pretty.”
“…… Yes, like that. Wait, let me thank you.”
Luca smiled. For the time being, Elsa thanked him but she thought that he was only flattering her. However, she didn’t think that Luca was the type of person to look at a woman’s outfit and tell them, “It’s pretty”, so he was probably being truthful.
It didn’t benefit her in any way even if she thought about it, she shook her head and thought about something else. She was good at doing this type of thing.
“Did you go shopping with Alesia?”
“Well, yes. I also ordered a dress so that I could go this season’s social functions.”
She said as she looked at Luca and he said apologetically:
“I’m sorry and thank you. I also don’t feel like going to them but I thought I ought to at least attend a few.”
“No, it’s within the range of my expectations so there’s no problem.”
Elsa nodded vigorously and Luca looked relieved.
“Sorry, even though you don’t like them.”
“Indeed but Luca, you’re also the same, aren’t you? And there’s no lectures during summer holidays, so I think that attending them is better than confining myself inside, researching……”
“You don’t think it will take time off your research?”
“I’m researching because I have time.”
In other words, she’s wasn’t using her time to research because she really wanted to. She’s the type of person who devoted herself to research because she had time on her hands, although she did like researching.
Besides, she could do research anywhere as long as she had the materials. Elsa had thought that she would return to her residence in the royal capital this summer, even though it was troublesome.
“Honestly, thank you Elsa.”
“I’m receiving research funds in exchange. There’s this technical book that I want.”
“I got it.”
“Men with money are indeed different!”
Elsa was surprised at his immediate reply. He didn’t ask for the price, as expected of a Duke-sama!
“…… Well, honestly, I feel like I have more money than I know what to do with.”
“Why don’t you invest it into some kind of business?”
“I’m bad with those things, though if you do it for me then I’d invest it.”
“Absolutely not, it’s troublesome.”
Elsa had knowledge in economics and business administration but only in theory. It was highly probable for her to fail since she had never put it into practice. Besides she would rather research if she was going to do something like that.
While they were having a pointless conversation, the carriage arrived at their destination, Faiella Lake. Luca got out of the carriage first. Elsa was a bit hesitant to take the hand he had offered her. After walking for a while, they saw the lake.
“It’s big, isn’t it?”
Elsa said. It wasn’t her first time coming to Faiella Lake but she thought about whether it had been this big before. The shore on the other side was far away. There were boats floating everywhere on the lake and there were a lot of people who looked like couples. Faiella Lake was a date spot close to the royal capital.
Although it was a date spot, the two mostly came for sightseeing. They took a stroll on the trail around the lake. They had walked about half-way before Elsa had said that.
“Luca, why don’t we have lunch? I bought it like I told you I would.”
Elsa, who had told him beforehand, 『I’ll bring lunch so let’s have a picnic』, said and pointed at the basket that Luca was holding. Elsa carried the basket at the beginning but then Luca said, we can’t have that, and took it off her. The basket was indeed bulky.
“By the way, is this handmade?”
“That’s right. Would it have been better for me to get it cooked by a chef?”
“Hey you, aren’t you too talented?”
“I live in the dormitory, so I can do something like this now.”
Elsa said in return to Luca’s retort. Elsa was currently living in the dormitory with the female students and staff. The dormitory also had a dining room, vut if you miss a meal then you would had to cook for yourself or else there would be nothing to eat. The meal times were set and so it became necessary for her to learn how to cook.
“Well, I only made simple dishes; Panini, piadina and there’s also sfogliatella.”
“You made quite a lot.”
“I brought the bread.”
She didn’t have enough time to make bread but if she wanted to make it then she could have.
Elsa opened the basket after spreading a sheet on the ground. Luca sat down next to her without hesitation. She took out the thermos, poured tea into a cup and gave it to him.
“Here you go.”
She watched Luca drink from the cup with narrow eyes and said.
“Eat whatever you like. I made it at the dormitory’s dining room so a few of the students took some.”
Vania Dormitory, where Elsa was staying, housed most of the female students attending Fillure University and also its female staff. Therefore, if you made lunch in the morning, the female students would be yelling, “I want to try it!” Elsa was relatively close to the students in age, so they adored her… or rather, she felt as if they pitied her.
“Is that so? That sounds like fun.”
“It is fun.”
Another reason why Elsa hadn’t married by now was probably because she was having fun at the moment.
Luca took a panini out of the basket and ate it. Elsa also took a panini stuffed with cheese, tomato, lettuce and ham and began eating. It was something that she had made herself but it looked professional.
“I’m glad you think so. The toasted ones taste good as well but I didn’t bring any because it would have cooled down by the time we eat.”
The students ate the toasted ones without reservation.
“I see. Will you make it for me next time?”
“…… Well, I could.”
It felt like a normal date but Elsa didn’t know what a normal date was supposed to feel like.
Elsa, who ate a panini and piadina was a little puzzled about whether or not to eat the dessert, sfogliatella, as well. Even if Elsa had casted aside her femininity, she still cared about getting fat.
Sfogliatella was a pastry stuffed with cheese and cream, baked in a pleat-like dough. It tasted good but it was hard. However, it was perfect for carrying around.
“You, what are you doing?”
She was staring at the basket so Luca rebuked her. It was a blander since Elsa herself, recognised that he had rebuked her.
“…… Well, I was wondering if I should eat the sfogliatella. Well, I could always make it again if I don’t eat it now.”
Since she made a lot of it she left it at the dormitory but it would have definitely been eaten by the students.
“So you also care about getting fat?”
Luca’s words were severe but she was living that kind of lifestyle so it was inevitable.
“More or less. If I exercise later then it wouldn’t be a problem.”
“Then should we ride on the boat later?”
That wasn’t exercise because the boat would do all the moving for her.
“I don’t mind but you’re rowing, Luca. I have weak arms.”
Elsa could use self-defence but she didn’t have enough strength to row the oar. Luca laughed and said, “Leave it to me”. Elsa took the sfogliatella and ate it.