12th Lecture

One way or another, Elsa was frequently attending the evening parties. Luca usually took her with him. He took her today as well. The evening party was held at Duke Verdi’s, the house that Luca’s older sister, Fiona had married into. Elsa was also acquainted with Fiona so she couldn’t avoid the party and accompanied Luca.

“Long time no see, Elsa.”

Fiona greeted Elsa first and not her brother, Luca. Elsa glanced up at Luca, then turned to face Fiona and bowed.

“It’s been a while, Fiona-sama. Thank you for inviting me today.”

“You don’t have to be so reserved. You’re going to become my sister-in-law.”

“……”

Elsa didn’t know what a good answer to respond with was and of course, looked up at Luca. Luca was calm for some reason. Why?

“Older sister, it’s been a long time. Thank you for inviting me.”

“Yeah, yeah. There’s more to you than meets the eye. I didn’t expect that you’d be able to snatch Elsa.”

Fiona said like she wanted to ask something and putting Luca into his place.

“It’s been awhile, Luca. Professor Elsa, too. Thank you for coming.”

Elsa was also acquainted with Duke Verdi, Benedetto. He was a famous jurist. As a result, Elsa also corresponded with Benedetto. She also had to take that into consideration so there was no way she couldn’t attend.

As always, he called her, Professor. She wanted to insist that she was an associate professor but it was rude so she didn’t.

“Thank you for inviting me, Duke.”

“It’s been a long time.”

Luca and Elsa respectively greeted Benedetto. He smiled and said, “Yes”.

“I can’t offer any superb hospitality but please do enjoy yourselves.”

Luca and Elsa respectively paid their respects. The two sponsors were busy.

Was it because Benedetto was a jurist? There were a lot of people who are involved in the academic society here and Elsa felt more comfortable than she usually did. However she was still a wallflower whenever she was away from Luca.

Elsa approached the sofa near the wall and sat down while gazing at Benedetto talking to Luca. Someone called out to her.

“Elsa. What are you doing?”

“Oh, Alesia?”

Elsa looked at Alesia and corrected her posture. Alesia sat down next to Elsa.

“Ah, I saw Duke Inglacia.”

“I see. You, where’s your husband?”

“My husband is going around giving his greetings to everyone.”

It seemed that Alesia escaped. Well, Elsa could understand. If she could, she also didn’t want to go around and give her greetings to people. Still, she did go once.

“What? Are you fascinated by Duke Inglacia?”

Alesia brought up the same topic again. Elsa once again gazed at Luca.

“…… That’s right. I wonder. Hey, I wonder if I like Luca.”

“…… Even if you ask me, I’m stumped.”

Alesia said confused, but she seemed amused.

“Elsa, do you think you like Duke Inglacia?”

Alesia asked and Elsa slowly replied while continuing to stare at Luca, “Mhm ~”.

“Yeah…… If I had to choose between like and dislike, then I like him but……”

However she didn’t know how to classify this『like』. She could just be fond of him.

“You’re not very clear.”

“Alesia, your marriage was a political one, wasn’t it?”

Elsa suddenly thought and asked. Her older sister Teresa had married for love but Alesia’s was a political marriage. That sort of thing was common among aristocrats. Of course there were times when relationships grew sour because of this; but Alesia’s and Marquis Marquisio, Raymond’s relationship was going well. Alesia mainly rebuked the insensitive Raymond but Elsa thought that Raymond, who never got angry even when his wife was severely rebuking him, probably had a very big heart.

Come to think of it, Luca was somewhat insensitive, or rather he was just a natural airhead and a piece of junk on top of that but Elsa had a feeling that he’d never been angry before. He has said, No, hurry up and save me! before, but that was him pleading rather than being angry.

In his case, it felt like he was being realistic, 『It’s just like that』, rather than he’d get angry. Elsa was also clear about Luca. They understood each other so they probably won’t quarrel.

“Well, my husband is mostly an airhead, but Duke Inglacia is one too.”

“Yeah, it’s too bad. He’s an excellent guy.”

Elsa agreed with Alesia’s unreserved words. Alesia laughed lightly.

“Raymond and I are in a political marriage, but look, you were in something like that before too, weren’t you? That’s why father and mother were at a lost, wondering if they should marry me off like that.”

When Alesia got married, Elsa was already living at the university dormitory so this was the first time she’d heard something like this.

“They were?”

Well, that might just be the natural reaction. Their father Dino had his important daughter betrayed by the person he’d chosen to be her fiancé once before.

“But I persuaded him by saying Raymond was alright and got married.”

Which meant that at that time, Alesia and Raymond had already built a certain degree of trust between them. Elsa didn’t even try to build up trust with her former fiancé.

Elsa said, reflecting upon her actions and Alesia swung her head side to side.

“That was his fault.”

That was it. However Alesia continued, “But…”

“Elsa. You were relieved, weren’t you? Well, all our sisters have this point as well but especially you, Elsa. If I had to say which, I’d say you were a good-looking man.”

“Luca also told me that.”

“Haha. In a way, you might be even better-looking than Duke Inglacia.”

Alesia, who told the joke, laughed. Elsa looked at Alesia and contrary to her joke, she had a serious expression on her face.

“Hey Elsa. You’re intelligent and have been surrounded by men since a long time ago, haven’t you?”

“…… Well, yeah.”

Elsa nodded for the time being because she couldn’t find anything in there that she wanted to deny.

“Apart from Duke Inglacia who has been with you since the beginning, the men around you understand you. How can I say this? Is it better for me to say that there was no gender barrier? Because you’re intelligent enough to compete with the men so I think everyone recognises you as a colleague.”

“……”

“But Mark was different. He saw you as a woman. Well, you are a woman. But you are more intelligent than Mark. His pride is higher than heaven so he didn’t want to admit that his own wife is more intelligent than him. And Elsa your personality’s like that. So it wouldn’t have worked out in the first place.”

Having said that, I don’t think it would have worked out very well with me or other girls either, said Alesia. She’s pretty merciless.

“Anyway, it’s not your fault that it didn’t work out with Mark. No decent woman would be able to keep a relationship with him.”

“…… Just to be sure, you’re including me in the decent woman category, aren’t you?”

“You’re an eccentric person but your sensibility is normal.”

“…… Yeah.”

Elsa narrowed her eyes and lifted the corners of her mouth. As expected, Elsa knew that Alesia was comforting her.

“Thanks Alesia.”

“Yeah, you know what?”

“Yeah?”

Elsa tilted her head at Alesia, who had completely changed her tone.

“Is it okay to leave that alone?”

Elsa looked in the direction that Alesia told her about and she saw that Luca was caught by a lady who looked like she was in her late teens.

“…… It’s charming.”

“Elsa, I think you’ve been looking after students for too long.”

Alesia rebuked. Elsa should be angry that Luca, her sweetheart, was being seduced by someone and should not be viewing said woman as charming.

“Well, I’ll go.”

“Hurry up and save him……”

Her younger sister was shocked. Elsa slowly walked through the crowd of people aiming at Luca’s tall stature. Elsa had grown accustomed to wearing heels but it was still tough because she had trouble seeing.

“Hey, wait!”

“Yes?”

Someone suddenly grabbed Elsa’s arm and she was surprised. Her vision was blurry so she inadvertently narrowed her eyes.

“What’s with that face?! Are you trying to make a fool out of me again?!”

“Huh?”

She noticed who it was when he began his sentence. If she wasn’t mistaken, he had given a presentation at the academic meeting. In other words, he was a scholar.

“You made some horrible accusations at that time……! Did you think you could get away with it?”

Ah, this man is drunk, she thought. If he wasn’t then he wouldn’t have directly picked a fight with Elsa. In the aristocrat world, her family, the Lombardini family was one of the earlier families, counting from the top; and now she was even 『dating』Duke Inglacia. The Inglacia household and Lombardini household held the same status.

In other words, if you picked a fight with one of those families, there’s a higher chance you’d be crushed instead.

Incidentally if she had to say, she only pointed something out; she didn’t accuse him of anything.

“In the first place, it’s your fault for coming to the academic meeting when you’re only a woman! Women competing with men is……!”

“Ouch……”

He grabbed her arm strongly and she inadvertently raised her voice. If she screamed in a place like this then everyone would pay attention to them. She thought she wanted to avoid that.

“Excuse me.”

Elsa’s shoulders were released and her shoulders were pulled from behind. Her back lightly collided with something. When she looked up she saw that Luca was embracing her and he had also grabbed the arm of the man, who had picked a fight with her.

“Although you’re drunk, you shouldn’t be raising your hand at a woman at my evening party. Tony, I’m sorry but please retire for today.”

“Argh…… Duke Verdi.”

The man, Tony was surprised by the appearance of Benedetto. Benedetto nodded, “Yes.”

“Professor Elsa is an excellent woman. I was also at the academic meeting and what Professor Elsa pointed out was correct. You’re the one who’s making accusations. Moreover, she’s my brother-in-law’s companion. Now then, would you please leave?”

He said it directly this time. Tony opened and closed his mouth many times but he immediately left the venue. They saw him off and Benedetto said:

“I’m sorry, Professor. I was the one who’d invited him.”

“N-no, I’m fine.”

She was slightly frightened. Elsa tried to get off Luca and stand by herself but he wouldn’t let her go.

“Saying something like that, you’re still trembling, you know?”

“……”

She became aware of it when she was told. Was it scarier than she had thought? Elsa’s shoulders was slightly trembling. She was surprised at herself.

“Oh, I am.”

Even her voice was trembling. The two men were slightly amazed at Elsa, who hadn’t changed the way she spoke.

“…… Luca, take Professor Elsa into a room to rest.”

“Thank you, brother-in-law.”

Luca held onto Elsa’s shoulders as they walked. He had also grown accustomed to walking with her and was walking slowly. While they slowly left the hall and walked through the corridor, Elsa looked up at Luca.

“Hey, Luca.”

“Yes?”

“Thanks.”

When she gave him her gratitude, he laughed and said, “You’re welcome”.

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