Happy New Year 2020! It’s been, what, 8 months since I worked on this series? But it’s fine now! I’m getting help in translating this series, and hopefully I can finish the series. Enjoy the chapter, and once again, sorry for the extremely late release!
Also, ebook for vol. 3 of this series has been released on 26/12, so grab it quick!
ED: clover, eristol
The teacakes were rusks prepared in a well-known store in the capital. They had a crunchy texture and the taste was well balanced, they are all I have been buying lately. I will be glad if Chloe also likes them.
When the preparations were over I called her.
“Chloe, the tea is ready.”
“Ah, sorry. Noel was so cute I got distracted.”
She came back to her senses after I called out to her, and somewhat reluctantly let him go. When Noel was free, he stretched out on the floor, then started to scratch his ears with his hind legs in a cute pose.
Chloe sat down in front of me. When Luke saw she was comfortable he served the tea.
A sweet scent filled the room.
“Luke. What tea is it this time?”
“I’ve prepared fruit tea today. It has apple, orange, and berries.”
“Uwah! It smells good!”
“Please enjoy the natural sweetness from the fruits.”
Chloe smiled as she thanked Luke. Then looking up at him, she told him honestly.
“Seeing you like this, it’s really clear you’re the butler of a ducal house. Your personality is really different from how it is whenever we meet in the orphanage. After all, you really do behave as is suitable for a mansion when in here.”
“Thanks for the compliments. Feel free to make yourself at home.”
With a bright smile, Luke separated from us and walked somewhere distant from us. All of his movements were composed and elegant.
Chloe is my guest today, that’s why Luke is treating her as the guest of his master, as opposed to how he normally treats her. While his behavior towards me was his usual, he treated Chloe like a guest.
I really like that part of Luke’s behavior.
We enjoyed the tea together and savored the rusks, then kept talking about random topics, until I made Luke go a bit further away and finally asked the main thing I wanted to talk about.
“Tell me, Chloe. What happened afterwards? Did Prince Wilfred contact you again?”
I really wanted to know what happened after that evening party.
Maybe it was a bit too soon considering it had barely been a week since then. But the attitude of Prince Wilfred that time kept bothering me. When she heard me, she started blinking rapidly as her face clouded. Then she turned her pleading eyes to me.
“Uhh, umm, Lily. I actually wanted to consult you about that today…is it okay?”
“Of course, I don’t mind. But did something happen to make you want to consult me?”
I turned to Luke and told him to stay further back with my gaze. Noticing we were talking about something private, he moved back until he couldn’t hear our voices. When I saw he was far enough, I turned back to Chloe and nodded to her, then she slowly started to tell her story.
“Well, you see, the day after the party, it seems my father got contacted by Prince Wilfred, saying that umm…he wanted me as his fiancée. Then my father told me I should seriously consider it.”
“…Fiancée? From his Highness? Not his Majesty?”
I frowned thinking about it; normally a marriage proposal is sent between the parents, so this is already an irregular procedure. But Chloe tried to correct me while panicking.
“It’s…not that much of a problem. Or rather… If I were to agree, then it would be passed as an official agreement to the King.”
“Ah…so it’s like that.”
That seems reasonable.
Most marriages are arranged between the parents, like in my case with Al, but there are also a few that worked the other way around. Of course they still have to consider an equilibrium between their social status first, but there were many cases where the parents would consent after the engagement was done.
“So it can be said that Prince Wilfred is trying to go out with you first before the marriage actually happens?”
I asked to confirm, and Chloe nodded while looking down.
“Y-yeah. My father also didn’t reply immediately, but…umm, since it’s the Second Prince, he doesn’t seem to be against it…or rather, he’s rather optimistic about it…and told me to decide…”
originals on starrynightnovels.wordpress.com
I can imagine that.
Marrying the Second Prince, that would normally fill anyone with joy.
“And well? What do you think? Do you think it’d be good to accept?”
“Of course not!”
Chloe rejected the idea immediately.
“I mean, I don’t even know Prince Wilfred at all. And the first time we met he dragged me around by force so I’m somewhat scared… That’s why even though I’m grateful he asked, I won’t accept it so easily and don’t want to accept it at all… I’m sorry Lily, I know Prince Wilfred is the brother of your fiancé, yet I’m talking like this about him…”
“That doesn’t matter.”
I told her clearly. Chloe was apologizing thinking she had offended me, but I didn’t want her to decide something so important only because of a small reason like that.
“Don’t worry about me. This is about you.”
When I told her that, she gave a vague nod.
But even then, even if she were to refuse, it is hard to tell how much her opinion would weigh.
In aristocratic families, customarily, the opinion of the parents is absolute. So if Chloe’s father thought it would be better for her to marry the Prince and voiced that opinion, there would be no way for Chloe to escape.
“What should I do…at this rate, I might…”
Even if the husband would be the Second Prince, a woman would never be happy being married to someone she doesn’t like. And in Chloe’s case, it is even worse since she has someone else she likes.
Chloe looked worried, her head and shoulders were down as I spoke to her again.
“You probably won’t like it, but maybe it’s better if you talk directly to Prince Wilfred before anything else happens. I don’t know if he’ll listen to you, but it’d still be better than not saying anything.”
“What is it?”
Her reply was too open-ended so I asked again and she replied with more broken sentences.
“The…the truth is, I have an affinity for spirits, and in two weeks I’ll perform a contract with a spirit. And well…when Prince Wilfred heard about it, he said he wanted to be present for it…so uhh…my father said that if that was all, then it would be okay for him to be there… So what should I do?! Lily, they’re saying he’d come to my house! I can’t talk to him so suddenly!”
Chloe was about to burst into tears, but for a moment I wasn’t sure of what to do myself.
After all, spirit contracts are something I didn’t want to talk about and a sure-fire way of lowering my mood.
But now I have no time to worry about myself.
—I have to save Chloe.
I forcefully pushed away the gloomy feelings that started invading me.
I could only be annoyed at how Prince Wilfred was trying to cross over any obstacles as fast as he could, but his methods weren’t necessarily bad. He was properly asking her father for permission and was looking for multiple chances to show he was serious about it.
But then, what can I do to save her?
As I thought about it deeply, Chloe’s pleading eyes were still fixed on me.
“Lily, please. Can you also come with me for my contract with the spirit?”
My eyes opened wide hearing that unexpected invitation. Tears had started to well up in her eyes.
“I know I’m being selfish. I also know it might be a nuisance for you. But I…don’t have anyone else to rely on but you…so please, I want you to be with me as well for the spirit contract. If you’re also there apart from my father and Prince Wilfred, then I can…”
I was perfectly aware of what she was trying to say.
I could also understand what she meant when she said I’m the only one she could rely on. If the Second Prince would be there, she couldn’t just call over any low-ranking ladies, even more so considering she is the daughter of an Earl.
But then there is me, I am the fiancé of Prince Wilfred’s older brother Al. And I am also the daughter of a Duke. And while having me participate as her friend might have some downsides as well…it should probably be barely acceptable.
Chloe was almost crying as she kept talking.
“Please…! Prince Wilfred might be a good person. But for now, I can’t see him as such. And what if he tries to forcefully get closer to me? Or if he starts plotting something with my father? I am probably being too self-conscious, but what if my father consents to the marriage? There’s so many things I can’t stop thinking of…”
I was still a bit hesitant but I nodded.
There is nothing else we can do. I feel too bad knowing Chloe will have to make a contract with a spirit accompanied by her father and a suitor she has no feelings for. And if my being there would make her feel at least a bit calmer, then I have to go for my friend.
“Tell me the exact date. I’ll go with you.”
“Really?! Thank you!”
Chloe stood up and ran to my side, there she kneeled down and held my hands in hers.
“Thank you, Lily. I’m really glad you’ll be with me. If there’s anything I can do to support you, just tell me! I’ll do anything for you!”
“…Thanks. But it’s okay.”
originals on starrynightnovels.wordpress.com
I smiled as I dismissed her.
For a moment I thought about telling her how I had failed at making a spirit contract myself. And also how it kept worrying me all the time.
But I quickly pushed those thoughts away.
I don’t want to involve her in my own worries since she already has to deal with Prince Wilfred. I don’t want to worry her even more.
—Well, that’s not really true.
The actual reason is something else.
It is true I don’t want to worry her more, but there is something else, a strong yet disgusting feeling that makes me not want to show my own weakness to my friend.
To Chloe who was referred to as the 『heroine』.
I don’t want her to know I had failed the spirit contract.
In just an instant, that thought would kick in into my mind and make me unable to say anything.
Even though Chloe had asked me for help so honestly.
Even though I was glad she did that.
I was unable to do the same thing with her.
And because of that, I had been called a 『villainess』.
I felt overwhelmed by how different I was to Chloe. Her existence felt like the sun, shining brightly.
So, so bright I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I felt like I would hardly be able to live unless I escaped to a darker place.
It is true that I really like her, as honest and straightforward as she is.
I really want to help her, I’m not lying when I say that I want to pridefully say that I’m her friend.
But for some reason, from time to time, there are moments when I strangely feel like destroying everything.
—This is bad. Just when I had been able to say I was no longer a 『villainess』.
What am I going to do if I return to being like that by myself?
What am I going to do if I abandon the place I came to with so much desperate effort and with so much help from Al? I wouldn’t be able to face Al who loves me because of that.
I shook my head trying to wipe off those negative thoughts.
Chloe is my important friend. It isn’t okay to just slap a dubious label like 『heroine』 on her.
That’s it, who cares about 『villainess』 and such, I’m different from that. Isn’t that what I have been telling myself all this time?
Even when I questioned Al since he was a capture target, he just said ‘I’m me’. And I have to think the same way.
And I should also say the same about Chloe.
If I am angry because I have been labeled a 『villainess』, I can’t label Chloe a 『heroine』 the same way.
I had been thrown off by being called a 『villainess』, and I am still being thrown off by it. I have to see Chloe the way she really is.
—I have to be careful.
If I don’t…I would never stop falling down.
“Lily, did something happen?”
Chloe asked me while looking puzzled. That kind of expression was expected and harbored no hidden feelings.
I smiled right away.
“Seriously, it’s nothing… I will really go with you to your spirit contract so calm down.”
If my friend needs help, I will help her.
If it’s for Chloe who I like so much.
I returned to my usual self. Then tried to smile as naturally as I could and told her everything was going to be fine since I would be there.