Al is here! And more explanations about Victor’s attitude. Enjoy the chapter!
“Lily, I came to visit.”
Finally his work circumstances settled, Al turned up, and it has been around two weeks since I began to talk to my eldest brother.
The location is the reception room we used last time. I asked my father to lend it because Al came.
I felt the deadlock in my relationship with my eldest brother, I had been hoping for Al to visit and greeted him with delight.
If it is Al, he surely will be able to come up with some plan for me.
Although I regularly consult him through letters, it’s completely different from meeting and speaking directly. I was looking forward to seeing and speaking with him after a long absence.
Today, Al looks a little more casual than usual. I’m pleased to see him looking like he came to play, and not looking like this was a formal visit.
Speaking of which, I’m wearing a cute and gentle dress with a ribbon on my neck. The one who chose it was the maid whom I asked for help last time. She refused at first, but when I told her that “Rather than my taste, it seems that the one you chose meets Al’s taste” she seemed convinced and arranged my dress. I also had my make-up done softer than usual.
Neither of these is my taste, but again, as soon as Al sees me, he praised my dress and me without reserve.
Even while being praised, 「I see, it seems my taste is not good after all. I will have to thank the maid who picked this dress once again later」 I was thinking about such things.
And with this, I firmly decided that I would like to study how to dress that is not 『villainess』-ish.
We sat on the sofa while chatting and drinking the tea that Luke had brewed. Like that, after composing myself, I began to talk.
I couldn’t give a detailed explanation in my letters, so I talked about the details in order, including the stories I had written to him. Al listened to me seriously.
“—and that’s what happened……”
After finishing my explanation, Al looked at my eyes and smiled gently.
“I see. Lily, you were doing your best, huh.”
“U-um……it didn’t work out, but I worked hard.”
Perhaps the right answer here should be 「No, not at all」 but I didn’t say that.
There is an indication that Luke is smiling behind me.
But, it couldn’t be helped, you know? I really did try hard.
One needs to have a considerable mental fortitude to talk to my eldest brother and survives his absolute zero-degree gaze.
I kept trying so hard that I couldn’t say 「I didn’t try my best」.
This is a completely different problem from being prideful.
While feigning indifference as I pouted, Luke burst into laughter and Al also let out a chuckle.
“Yeah, that’s true. I think you did a good job. Great, in fact. The one behind you also seems to think so.”
“……Luke is just laughing because he finds it amusing. Recently, he always has that sort of impression, so as you’d expect I have gotten used to it.”
There’s no point in scolding him over such a minor matter every time. When I just sighed but let him be, Al smiled softly.
“It seems you have a good master-servant relationship, huh. People who see both of you now probably wouldn’t believe that you were unfriendly with each other until a while ago. I am convinced since you directly consulted me, but if I had no prior information, I definitely wouldn’t believe it.”
“Is that so?”
I feel like I was able to reconcile with Luke because both of us told each other our true feelings, but I didn’t know how outsiders would see us. So, I’m happy Al could tell that we’re getting along with each other.
“Yeah. The air flowing between both of you is very gentle. Luke, was it? Please take care of my fiancée well from now on. She is a bit strong-willed, but she is a very cute person to me.”
The other day, I told Luke the matter about the 『villainess』.
I asked Al for advice through a letter and received a reply that it’s not a bad thing to trust someone familiar with my situation. At first, Luke was seriously worried that my head might have gone crazy, but since I told him that I want to become a perfect lady and that I will try my best to reach my goal, he made a complete change and said while smiling that he would cooperate.
He seemed to think that the story about the 『villainess』 was just our delusion.
“Yeah, yeah, I understand. It’s that kind of 「setting」, right? It is a good thing for Milady to have a change of heart and try to become a wonderful lady so I will cooperate with you……but please don’t say this kind of thing to outsiders,” he advised me with a serious expression.
I knew that. Because I also don’t believe it one-hundred percent.
However, there are things that cannot be dismissed, that’s why I’m doing my best like this.
While I was recalling the first time I confided to Luke, he is lowering his head carefully towards Al.
“Thank you very much for making efforts for the sake of Milady and me. Milady is my benefactor, so I plan to serve her with all my heart.”
“Right. The current you are fine. No matter what happens, you will not betray her. I think Lily made a good decision.”
When Al nodded, he returned his gaze back at me.
“But, Lily. I read it in your letter, it was good that you noticed the matter about Victor. I heard this from Will, but he also seems to be a 『capture target』, so I think that being disliked by him is not a good idea. Your hard work is not futile.”
“Ah, my eldest brother is a 『capture target』, huh……”
This is the first time I heard that. But, I certainly heard that there are many 『capture targets』 around the 『villainess』. And that most 『villainess』 are hated by these 『capture targets』.
Hated……yup. That sounds familiar.
I hung my head and nodded.
“……t-that’s right. My eldest brother……it’s unfortunate, but he hates me.”
When the 『villainess』 is being judged, severe words will be thrown by those 『capture targets』 as they forsake her, but when I imagine that my eldest brother is going to enter the fray, just thinking about it deals terrible damage to my spirit.
Particularly, that eldest brother of mine has an absolute zero-degree gaze as if he despises the other person when he looks at them. If that sort of gaze points toward me as he forsakes me……I shuddered.
“I, I definitely must do something about this……but, I don’t know what I should do anymore.”
As I muttered while trembling, Al said.
“That, you told me that he hates you, but did you have no idea about this before?”
“Even if you asked me that, this has been going on since quite a while ago. Besides me, Yugo-niisama is hated as much. Even if we talk to him, the conversation itself won’t hold. Nevertheless, well, he talks to our parents. But, recently, I have come to think that perhaps my eldest brother is that sort of person.”
If he takes up the same attitude not only towards us but also towards the people in the castle, it can only be thought of as my eldest brother’s character. Of course, I don’t know how my eldest brother interacts with everyone in the castle.
But Al denied it with a complicated expression.
“He’s not like that. Victor entered the government service at the castle and I have a professional relationship with him, but he has never taken up such attitude. He certainly doesn’t talk much, but his work is precise and I even thought that he is a man of character who is strict to himself.”
“M-man of character? Are you talking about Victor-niisama?”
I widened my eyes as I listened to his impossible words.
Just how is that coldhearted Nii-sama who is like ice a man of character, if it weren’t Al who said that, I would have shouted “Don’t lie!”
“Um……just to make sure that I didn’t hear you wrongly, is that really my eldest brother? Are you not mistaken?”
“To me, the Victor you were talking about seems to be a different person. He has a gentle demeanor, he is only severe towards the people whose works don’t reach the level he deems acceptable……aah, I see.”
Al suddenly nodded as if convinced, and I fixed my gaze at him.
“Sorry, Lily. I will say slightly harsh things from now on.”
I wonder what he wanted to say. I nodded while thinking so, and Al said.
“Victor is definitely a good person. But at the same time, he has a tendency to judge others with the same degree of strictness as himself. So, I want you to think. Both you and Yugo. Is there a possibility that both of you were acting in ways that Victor wouldn’t approve? Lily, think about it. Are you sure you can’t think of anything?”
“You can’t think of anything if I asked you suddenly like this? Well then, what if I tell you this: Victor likes people who can discipline themselves. For example, if they have money, they do not waste their money and can effectively use only the necessary amount. If they are high-ranking aristocrats, they do not oppress the weak, have a strong sense of justice and protect the weak instead. They do not discriminate people, whether they are aristocrats, commoners, or others, with any kind of measures. Can you say that you or Yugo are the kind of people he likes?”
Of course, I couldn’t answer immediately.
If it were the past me, I would have said 「That’s just a matter of course」. It is also highly likely that I would have given a frown of incomprehension while pretending not to see what’s inconvenient for me.
But, I am trying to rid myself of the 『villainess』 label, and the current me who is trying to look at the hard fact has no word to return to him.
Because, the examples Al was saying, all of them hold true for me.
I did not think anything even though I spent money like hot water.
Because I am a duke’s daughter, I had no doubt and believed that I am different from everyone else.
And this is also true for Yugo-niisama; he doesn’t acknowledge people other than those he deems beautiful.
He thinks that it’s a blasphemy to even get close to ugly people.
—Aah, I see.
No wonder Victor-niisama sees us with a cold gaze.