Observation Record of a Self-proclaimed Villainess' Fiance -
Chapter 10 Bertia (16 Years Old)
Chapter 10 Bertia (16 Years Old)
It was spring when Bertia enrolled into the upper secondary school, it was my third year in the upper secondary school, and once again, I assumed the position of the president of the student council.
…and Bertia has started to avoid me.
The beginning of it all was when I saw Baroness Heronia said such terrible words towards her during the summer last year.
She has begun to show her anxious expression more often whenever she sees me. Also, even though she has always come crying to me as soon as something troubling her has occured up until now, recently she doesn’t consult anything to me and only shows a restrained expression that looks like she wants to say something.
I have seen her restraining herself more often, something that doesn’t suit her at all.
When I thought about the time when she started to avoid me and grew more distant, it was easy to guess that she was being influenced by Baroness Heronia’s words, so I was thinking about how I should handle this, but… Due to the excellency of her friends and my close aides, they managed to decrease the contact between Bertia and Baroness Heroina to utmost limits with their own ways while muttering, “We really don’t want to see Bertia getting hurt”, with their gloomy expressions.
Even so, Bertia’s uneasy appearance didn’t change.
That is why, I tried to pamper her more during the time when we were together, which was also increased in comparison to how it usually was.
…And thus, as per Bertia’s suggestion, we participated in an event linked to the scheduled [School Festival], in which there would be a voting among the students to select the best couple (limited to fiancees only), and claimed the first place.
Since it was a middle school’s project, even if I was participating as a partner, I still wondered about what would happen if I—who was in senior high school—were to participate. But due to Lady Joanna—who just became Shaun’s fiancee shortly after they dated—wished to participate with Shaun, Shaun stipulated a rule as following: [As long as one of them is a middle school student, a couple consisting of a high school student and middle school student can participate either by others’ recommendation or self-recommendation], and once we noticed, Bertia and I participated because we were listed in others’ recommendations.
When we won the prize, Bertia lamented, “Since the ‘Downfall’ is waiting next year, I thought that I’d want to create good memories with my friends while it was possible to do so!! This one that left a strong impression of, [Whenever you recall it, it’s a bitter event], but it has changed now!! It’s terrible!!”. Despite that, I still smiled and as part of service to the other students, I hugged her shoulders and kissed her cheek.
It can’t be helped, as enlivening this sort of occasion is the duty of the royalty, right?
Bertia’s body hardened as she turned bright red just like an apple. So I thought, ‘It can’t be helped,’ and I held her up in my arms as we descended down from the stage. Of course, I’m being gentle, you know?
I thought that by appealing our intimacy to the others in that manner, Bertia would feel relieved a bit. However, her attitude didn’t change.
No. When she entered senior high school, she began to run away from me even more obviously.
Because things have turned like this, there is only one countermeasure that I can take.
“Since you continue to run away from me, then I have no choice but to catch you, right?”
I smiled widely while cornering Bertia to the wall, placing both of my hands on both sides of her head, while tucking one of my legs between her body.
(T/N: Omg Kabedon!!! Like this? No, no, like this? No, just kidding, it might be likethis.)
Of course, I chased her who ran with lightning speed the moment she saw me… there is no need to pretend, as I led her to the rear garden where there are no people around, so there is no need to care about the public.
…In addition, since we strayed “inadvertently” during when she ran away along with her maids, there is no one other than Zeno and Kuro around this place, observing our condition from a spot apart from us.
“A, are you telling me that I have no option to escape?!”
And, “this is the rumored [Kabedon], right?”, while muttering yet another icomprehensible word, she returned to the present condition, with her face getting bright red and her eyes loitering around. After that, I raised Bertia’s face and when she looked back at me with her teary eyes, the corner of my mouth spontaneously elevated.
“It’s in males’ nature to catch the prey who escapes right in front of his eyes, isn’t it?”
“Prey, you said, but I am not a fodder!!”
“You look pretty delicious, you know?”
“…I may more or less have meat, but it’s not tasty to eat!! Please don’t eat me!!”
“…That’s the implication you got? How typical of you, Tia. Now that you mention it, even if it’s not for food, there are also wild carnivores who chased after their preys so that they could play around with them, right?”
“Please do not treat people as toys!! Besides, what you’ve been saying is quite savage!!”
…I can still more or less deny that part about being [savage], but wouldn’t it be way too late for her to notice about me [toying around wih people]?
Aah, since Bertia is obedient, could it be that she still hasn’t realized about how I always had fun watching her reaction?
She is truly adorable (plus a bit foolish).
“Look, Tia is as adorable as a doll, so I end up wanting to play together with you.”
“Oh my!! That is!! As adorable as a doll, you said!! I, I won’t be deceived with that kind of f, flattery, okay?!”
Despite saying that, Bertia’s face turned red and her expression made it clear that she wasn’t dissatisfied at all.
Despite the fact that she went along with me and was moved by this easy-to-understand flattery while saying she won’t be deceived by it, why would she even run away from me?
If there is a reason, then it’d be better for her to tell me quickly so I can make some countermeasure.
Although I have a feeling that the key is her previous talk with Baroness Heronia about [the fated girl]… but somehow, Bertia stubbornly won’t tell me anything about that matter alone.
After saying various reasons such as, “I don’t want to hurt Cecil-sama,” she always runs away.
…and it’s not escaping by changing the subject, what I mean here is that she physically runs away.
I thought to catch her, but now that I’ve managed to catch her, she still wouldn’t disclose anything, could it be that to this adorable fiancee of mine, I have to be forcefu… a little bit coercive so that I could hear about her story. Since it can’t be helped, I will just go through with it.
For sure, if only I was a real [villain], then the talk could proceed with ease, right? Since I will be able to choose any possible means besides being a little coercive.
Also, the other person who knows what the story is about would be the one and only character—Baroness Heronia. I have thought to ask about it to her, but… it will certainly bring me more trouble, so I’m putting it as my last resort.
As much as possible, I don’t want to become an [acquaintance] of the bad kid who’s bullying Bertia.
“But Cecil-sama, a, at last, the compelling force has begun to operate! Destiny has started to move!! There is only one more year at maximum until I experience [The Downfall] and until I have to get down from the stage. I’ll have to say my farewell to Cecil-sama. I’ve decided that it’s better for me to distance myself from Cecil-sama in order to serve that role flawlessly!!”
‘Now then, in what way should I handle this?’ Amidst my pondering, when I noticed it, Bertia has already started to run wildly. The fact that she furrowed her eyebrows with tears showing on her face as if she was enduring something has caught my attention.
At her words from before, I naturally also furrowed my eyebrows deeply.
This is no good. Recently, my feelings have started to project easily on my facial expression when it comes to the matters related to Bertia.
If it were other things, no matter what was told to me or no matter what was done to me, I’d be able to let it all go past with a smile easily, so I wonder why?
“By compelling force, I wonder did something happen?”
Following those words, somehow there is one question that got caught up in my throat. ‘Did something happen again with Baroness Heronia?’
It is not good for me to be making a statement that doubted someone imprudently when there is no evidence whatsoever.
Especially for the likes of me who’s got a high status and influence, I have to be really careful in this kind of circumstances.
Restrain the pressing impulse, take a deep breath once, and keep your mind.
Once I have regained my awareness back and relaxed my eyebrows, if I were to launch my usual sweet smile, Bertia would nervously examined my expression with her upturned eyes.
If I were to urge her to continue the story by deepening my smile even further, she would squeak her lips once and try to keep it closed. Because it then turned into a serious expression, it also brought about a grave ambience, and she slowly opened her mouth.
“Since it’s Cecil-sama, I will tell you. Actually, I… have gotten weight.”
“I’m telling you, I’m getting fatter!!”
“…Uhm, what do you mean?”
Towards Bertia’s earnest expression, I also thought to inquire more about her story with my serious look. And since she didn’t really understand my insistence, she would begin to spontaneously tilt her head with a question mark on her mind.
It was the usual occurence, but she went above my expectation.
She is truly a mysterious and interesting woman.
“During last year’s autumn, precisely right after the [school festival] ended, for some reason, I have begun to gradually gain more weight. At first, I didn’t understand why, but I’ve managed to realize it! This is the so-called [compelling force]!!”
Bertia held her own cheeks with both of her hands, as she earnestly talked about it with a shocked expression, but… I don’t really get what she’s talking about.
“Tia, there are several things that I want to comment, but for the moment, there is one question that I’d like to ask you, is that okay? Why would your getting fatter become the so-called [compelling force]?”
At my question, Bertia had a slightly dissatisfied expression that seemed as if she was asking, ‘why wouldn’t you understand that?’—though she didn’t really say it.
…But I think I’m asking a proper question here.
“That is because, you know, after the first time I met Cecil-sama, I went on a strict diet in order to overcome my fate of becoming a third-rate villainess, so that I would overthrow the establishment of the original game’s chubby self. Despite this, now that the downfall is right before our very own eyes, my body build has reverted back to the original game’s Bertia’s state of figure!!”
Uhm, in other words, since she was [forced] to get closer to the appearance of Bertia that came out in that [Otome Game], she thought that it was the [compelling force] that started to begin working… Is it okay for me to perceive it like that?
Well~, I think this is where I’m supposed to laugh?
No, Bertia seems to be very serious, so it’s better for me to not laugh.
If that’s the case, then I think it’s better for me to give her an accurate explanation.
“Look here, Bertia. It might seem bad for you who’ve been earnestly worried over it, but the increase in your weight might not be due to the so-called [compelling force], but I think it’s because of the content of your pocket that caused your dress to expand a lot, wouldn’t you think so?”
“The inside of my pocket?”
She frowned quizzically, and then timidly put her hands inside the concealed pockets located in her own dress, and took out the things inside of them.
“…Are they the sweets you received from Ymir-sama and Otomeria-sama?”
Staring at the two baked sweets on top of her palm, Bertia blankly tilted her head. I spontaneously heaved a sigh in astonishment, and I don’t think this reaction of mine is bad.
“Tia, ever since last year’s autumn, accurately after the [school festival], you’ve begun to receive more sweets from the other noble daughters, right?”
“Wha-! That is certainly the case!! For some reason, the people who didn’t try to engage in friendships with me suddenly began to give me sweets. Could it be, the [compelling force] has already started ever since that time…”
“That’s not it. After the event called [school festival], it has become a common knowledge that you are a lovely woman, and so the noble daughters who wanted to get along with you have started to approach you by giving your favorite things as the evidence of their intention. That’s just it.”
Actually, since the top rankings during the event to select the best couple were all monopolized by the noble daughters who were closely associated with Bertia and the fact that those noble daughters have been giving Bertia sweets was witnessed by a lot of noble daughters, a rumor has started to flow as if it was true. The rumor goes as this, ‘If you present sweets to Marquess Bertia Evil Noches, your long-yearned love would come true, you will fortuitously find a dreamy love and become happy.’
Thus, there was an outbreak in the number of students who presented sweets to Bertia, but… since Bertia has her conscientiousness, each time she received the sweets, they would exchange greetings and then became [acquaintances], then after they got acquainted, there were a few people who’d sometimes consult their love or ask for advice or assistance, resulting in them being joined together splendidly. And so it has turned into such a condition where the rumor continued to be expedited even more.
Hence, since the amount of sweets presented to her increased, Bertia who [consumed] them would naturally gain more weight, such was the case.
In other words, since there is a reason for the outcome, this is not the sort of thing such as the so-called [compelling force] that Bertia talked about.
Aah, afterwards, since Bertia didn’t want to overdevelop her muscles, she would keep a [moderate] amount of exercises, so perhaps that also enhanced the effect of her weight accumulation.
“No, it’s unmistakably the compelling force…“
“No, wouldn’t it be fine to just reduce the amount of snacks you eat? And while you’re at it, it’s fine to temporarily increase your amount of exercise, but do it in moderation, all right?”
I cut off Bertia’s remark as she was still trying to push the blame for her weight gain onto the [compelling force], completely ending it there.
It wouldn’t be good for her health if I were to pamper her and let her believe in her strange rationalization on how [it can’t be helped that I got fatter].
Moreover, it would be troublesome if she were to behave recklessly under the impression that the [compelling force] had begun to operate.
“B-but, to not eat what was kindly gifted to me…“
“How about sharing it with the maids and eating just a little?”
“You’re aiming to be first class, right?”
Between my arms, Bertia hung her head dejectedly.
However, since she didn’t say no, it seemed that she agreed to my suggestion, albeit reluctantly.
“Ah, that’s right. In addition, if you are aiming to be a first class villainess, then Tia, it wouldn’t be good if you were not by my side, right?”
Next, I should forcefully emphasize that notion.
This time, she distanced herself from me under a pretext as incomprehensible as, ‘The [compelling force] has started to work. Hence, I must separate myself from the capture target, namely His Highness, Cecil.’
She has comprehended that it was all her misunderstanding, but hereafter, my graduation ceremony is approaching along with the [Downfall] she speaks of, so I have no doubt she would feel insecure and behave recklessly because of it.
Though it did sound fun to have a chase each time, it was way too inefficient.
Since that was the case, I decided it would be easier to observe and control her if I were to tie her to me first.
“Wh, why? Cecil-sama is going to become lovey-dovey with the heroine from now on, and is bound to gradually be separated from me. I’ll be desperate to hold onto that Cecil-sama, and rush down the villainess road. And, you, feeling that I am truly unpleasant at that time, on the day of the graduation ceremony…”
While speaking, tears rapidly emerged in Bertia’s eyes and it wouldn’t be strange if they spilled over at any moment.
Seeing Bertia rapidly blinking to hold back the tears while staring fixedly at her own hand grasping the front of my shirt, I reflexively displayed a bitter smile.
…If it’s really that heartbreaking, then it’s fine for her to not rush along the path of a villainess and just be my fiancée as it is.
Even though such thoughts arose in my heart, I wouldn’t tell her.
Though I wouldn’t have told her to begin with, but since she has her own reasons, anything I spoke of would probably end up with being resisted anyway.
If that’s the case, then I should take the necessary measures while being unnoticed by her, and then all I have to do is just overcome the events that will happen on the day of the graduation ceremony.
I am sure she will be convinced once we are able to overcome that day just fine.
…Or to be more accurate, if she makes any vain struggle even after the result is out, then I’ll just have to overturn that.
Furthermore, it wouldn’t be an issue if she could feel relieved, like ‘surprisingly, everything turned out fine.’
Besides, in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, as long as I take precautions against most things to some extent, I’ll be able to adjust and do something about it.
Even up until now, there hasn’t been anything I haven’t been able to adapt to.
Then, all that’s left is just how I could enjoy the situation.
“I’m telling you, Tia. In order for you to be a splendid villainess, you must be by my side and monopolize me. Because if you do so, you will become an existence that stands in front of the [heroine] and blocks her way.”
“After all, your role is to burn with jealousy when the [heroine] ensnares my heart, right? Since that’s the case, first you have to cling closely to me and do your best to look over your shoulder, all right?”
“B-but it’s difficult for me to be by Cecil-sama’s side anymore than this.”
“What’s difficult about it?”
“If we get really close, parting and betrayal will also be harder to bear, won’t they? If we become any closer than now, I, I won’t be able to bear being treated so coldly and unfriendly at the end.”
Seeing Bertia with tears in her eyes and her head cast downwards as if she’s enduring her overwhelming feelings, I felt a small ache in my heart.
Perhaps by letting her go now, it would be good for guaranteeing her heart’s tranquility.
“Then, I just have to not be cold to Tia until the end. If so, then wouldn’t everything be all right?”
“Is there a way for [The Downfall] to be completed without you being cold to me?”
“Of course. Without being cold [to Tia], [The Downfall] will still be able to continue, so be relieved. So, won’t you leave that all to me?”
“Without a doubt.”
To reassure her, I gently patted her head and smiled.
Upon which, though she had an uneasy expression, she slowly raised her head to me.
“Then, I’ll also try harder without running away from these feelings just a little bit more. Because I am a first-class villainess!!”
I silently nodded my head towards Bertia who had a resolute expression.
I unexpectedly am enjoying my life at present.
That’s why I’m unwilling to part with the distinct color you bring to my life.
Because there is no life more painful than a boring life.
But, I’ll properly keep this promise.
A [Downfall] without being cold [to Tia].
In other words, it’d be fine to just do the [downfall] to someone else, right?
While watching Bertia holding back her tears with both hands clutched in front of her chest, I was speculating inside my head about what kind of [scenario] I should do.
Now then, I’ve decided on a strategy.
Because Bertia also returned to her original stable state of mind, all that’s left is how I should approach the end.
Well, since there are already various controllable pieces and materials gathered, all that’s left is how I should mobilize them.
“Hey, Kulgan. Recently, I heard that Baroness Heronia has been visiting your place quite frequently. How is she like?”
I asked Kulgan, one of my close aide candidates who was a student council member when we were in middle school division and similarly, also became a student council member in the high school division. Towards my inquiry, his hands, which were quietly working on administrative duties, stopped moving, and he turned his head to face me.
Even when there is no large-scale event going on, my aide candidates would naturally gather in the student council room everyday to work on things such as managing the student council itself, assisting me with my private royalty-related affairs and many other things.
Like always, the other members of my aide candidates gathered today as well. They also reacted to the words I uttered, specifically at the mention of [Baroness Heronia], which made their movements stop as they turned their gazes towards Kulgan and me.
“It’s not a very good feeling. She’s irritating as usual, but in addition to that, she’s been enquiring of me about Bertia-sama and Bertia-sama’s household.”
“For example… ‘do you know of any wrongdoing they’ve committed?’”
When I smiled and asked him that, Kulgan showed an astonished expression. Despite that, he nodded while furrowing his eyebrows.
“There’ve been several occasions where she’s asked questions such as if I’d heard any bad rumors concerning Bertia-sama’s household, or if I was being embroiled in troubles caused by Bertia-sama’s relatives.”
When Bertia talked about the [Otome game] before, she mentioned that Kulgan played a critical role in her [Downfall] event.
With this sort of timing where the [Downfall] Bertia spoke of is only just next year, when you think about it, Baroness Heronia’s frequent approaches to Kulgan is, without a doubt, for the purpose of preparing for Bertia’s [Downfall].
In truth, I managed to grasp the hidden meaning behind Kulgan’s remark just now.
“What are you chatting about? Are you having a fun conspiracy talk? Lady Heronia has been causing me discomfort over the matter concerning Lady Anne, so may I lend a hand?”
Charles, who had been eavesdropping on our conversation, cut in with a broad grin while resting his chin in his hands.
Come to think of it, Charles has been quite irritated by Baroness Heronia since she kept telling him over and over again to give up on Lady Anne.
She also told Lady Anne that, ‘Charles is an incessant womanizer’. On top of feeding her with a mixture of facts and lies, she also strongly recommended Lady Anne to proceed with her marriage talks to Charles’ brother.
Well, no matter how gentle Charles is towards the ladies, it’s justified for him to get mad at someone who would conspicuously hinder his romance that he painstakingly managed to seize.
“If that’s the case, then I’m in the same boat. Even while I was reading a book, she would be next to me continuously speaking badly of Silica, and though she didn’t understand anything, she asked me, ‘Wasn’t it difficult for you?’ It irked me. Despite the fact that Silica scolded me out of her love to me. Silica was so adorable whenever she would eventually take care of me despite complaining.”
Nert muttered with a sullen expression as he furrowed his eyebrows and raised his head from his book.
As expected of Baroness Heronia, she managed to anger Nert who is rare to anger.
“I’m also in this. Though I hate to swarm around and deprecate someone together… I dislike her. Even when I thought I could finally go on a long riding date with Lady Cynthia, just the two of us, she unexpectedly asked to tag along with us. While it couldn’t be helped that she tagged along with us, but in the end she couldn’t adjust herself to our speed, and then grumbled about returning midway. Just how many dates have been ruined by her…”
Ah~, from what I could grasp, it seems like Baroness Heronia is a person who can mount a horse, but is quite reckless to think that she would like to keep up with Bard and Lady Cynthia.
Nevertheless, it could even be said that in a sense, she is a person who battles on in difficult circumstances and resolutely tries hard to do something over and over again. Still, it isn’t good for her to ruin those engaged couples’ dates.
Furthermore, from Bard’s statement, it seems like she didn’t do it just once or twice, but has repeatedly done so many times over.
Although Bard would basically get angry for only a short period of time, he’s the type who wouldn’t budge.
However, so long as someone repeats the same mistake without even slight remorse, the likelihood of him not minding it would gradually drop.
“I also can’t bring myself to like her. After all, she has said lots of things that hurt my Joanna.”
Shaun has just entered the high school division, so he hasn’t become a student council member yet. Despite that, he would hang out in the student council room. Taking this opportunity, Shaun also complained with his sharp words.
Well, it’s inevitable for the [Capture Targets] to be fed up with [the Heroine] as she kept repeating her coercive approaches while ignoring the occasion and state of affairs, disregarding how each one of them already has their respective partner.
…Because the power of her light spirit gets interrupted by Kuro’s dark defensive power, the special effects aren’t functioning at all.
“I actually dislike conspiracy. I just need to think of a defensive plan to protect my fiancée. Of course, I’ll treat her as just a complete stranger only if she doesn’t intentionally hurt my fiancée.”
“That is a matter of course. It’s something necessary for us, too, right?”
Without missing a beat, the other members also nodded in agreement with Charles who pointed that out while showing his usual smile.
Well, it’s because they are all in the same position of being mutual lovers or fiancés.
As men, if there is a possibility of our partners getting hurt, obviously we would think of protecting them.
“If we are all in agreement on how it’s indispensable for us to think of a defensive plan, it’s only reasonable for us to cooperate with one another, don’t you think so, Your Highness?”
When the word [cooperation] was mentioned, I can clearly understand that you’re looking at me with an expression that is trying to tell me to take the command, isn’t that right, Charles?
…Certainly, I think that it would be the safest option to entrust these members with my [scenario], since they will surely be able to execute it accordingly.
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As Charles and Kulgan have the ability to judge others’ characters, they would be able to behave rationally. It might be best to allow them to move independently.
However, for someone like Bard who’s simple and stu… honest, it’s possible that he might behave recklessly and trust other people without thinking of the consequences. Shaun and Nert were raised indulgently, so they might not be skilled at dealing with other people. It would be troublesome if these guys were to move imprudently because they can’t read others’ hidden intention and thoughts.
Because I’ve long been associating with them, it’s not like I can’t read all of their behavioral patterns. However, since I can read it, that’s why I understand the things that can be called risk factors.
“Ye~s, ganging up on a frail (though I don’t know if she is indeed frail) lady and attacking her is violating the gentlemen’s code, so I don’t really want to do it, but… when we’re cooperating to set up some traps as our defensive measure in order to protect our beloveds, it can’t be helped if someone gets caught in that [trap], right?”
After pretending to be troubled for a bit, they smiled and nodded and each gave their consent to the proposal of manufacturing traps as a compromise plan.
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Indeed, it can be said that it’s quite immature for everyone to be ganging up together to repulse a single noble daughter under a trivial reason such as [because she’s harassing our lovers], as we are all men who are carrying the burden of being the country’s central figures in the future.
However, if our opponent demonstrated a clear hostility towards us, then that won’t be the case anymore.
After all, if there comes someone grasping a sword in front of your beloved person and you would greet them with empty hands just because the opponent is female, then it won’t be enough no matter how many lives you and your beloved person possess.
If that’s the case…
By setting up [traps], it means you can create [reasons] for a counter attack in order to protect your beloved person from the opponent’s clear [malice].
Naturally, the [malice] and [reasons] are arranged to prepare [the real thing] that’s free from lies, deceptions, broad interpretations, etc.
That’s why, even if we set up some [traps], if she actually doesn’t hold any [malice], then her sins won’t become apparent.
By all means, the best case for both sides would be if nothing happens, but… Honestly speaking, I don’t mind whichever happens.
I’m fine as long as my fiancée doesn’t have a hard time, and so long as I can arrange the circumstances in which she would be by my side and entertain me as always.
Besides that point, I don’t have any interest in Baroness Heronia.
Aah, but, well, since she is also a citizen of this country, as the crown prince, I’d still have to do something to deal with her if she were to cause trouble for this country.
“For the moment, I will be reporting whenever she’s acting fishy. …And Kulgan, if she comes to you to enquire something again, can you deal with her appropriately in a thoughtful manner without giving any denial or affirmation?”
“Of course I won’t affirm anything, but should I really not negate any of her unjust suspicions?”
Perhaps unable to grasp the intention behind my instruction, Kulgan furrowed his eyebrows and showed a perplexed expression.
Facing his reaction, I nodded and smiled as usual.
“Yeah, don’t deny it as well. From what she can perceive from your reaction, I wonder what kind of movement she will make. That’s what I want her to show me. …Since Bertia and Marquis Noches haven’t done anything shady, then there shouldn’t be a problem, right?”
I gave a half-smile and sent Kulgan a profound gaze.
For the others, it might seem that my words earlier contained too little information to be executed, and they weren’t able to surmise my intention. However, it seems what I wanted to say was conveyed well enough for Kulgan to understand with just that.
“I see. As expected of Your Highness! However, will my little sister… will Bertia-sama be exposed to any danger that way?”
Kulgan showed his cold and satisfactory expression, but the next moment, perhaps because he thought of Bertia, he slightly scowled in concern.
I don’t really care on why he seemed to be worried… No, I do care, after all! Why did you address Bertia as [my little sister] just now?
Could it be that you’ve been addressing her like that deep inside your heart, and that it carelessly left your mouth just now?
…It might be necessary for me to find an opportunity to discuss this with him.
“I won’t let my fiancée, Tia, be exposed to any danger. For that reason, we won’t be attacking until [the very last moment]. Avoid provoking Baroness Heronia and just monitor her thoughts and movements for now. Even if she were to attack, it’s important to just skillfully evade her attacks without making any counter attacks until that time. …Fortunately, Bertia has agreed to promise me that she will increase her time with me, so all of you should use the same pretext to increase your time together with your beloved person. During the time when they can’t be together with us, if you remind them to stay alert, the girls are smart so they will surely be able to protect one another, won’t they?”
“With all due respect, the other noble girls might be like that, but I feel like if we try to warn Bertia-sama, she will react to the contrary and charge ahead…”
Kulgan smiled bitterly, and somehow that smile seems to be filled with warm affection.
Yes. I know Bertia very well. I think so, too.
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…It’s just, I wonder what I should think of this mood arising from him gazing lovingly at the actions of the cute little sister who’s not that far apart from him in age?
She might be your little sister, but she isn’t your lover or fiancée, okay?
“…That’s right. I think so, too. That’s why I’d be pleased if you could try to conceal this matter from Bertia, all right?”
Once I turned my eyes to take a glance at everyone inside the room one by one, all of them seriously nodded.
Because everyone here has been baptized by Bertia somehow, obviously they would understand the terrifying consequences of giving Bertia any excessive information.
…Because there have been occasions where she acts in a simple and pure manner without any good or bad intentions.
“Well then, for the moment, unless Baroness Heronia moves in a very dangerous manner, just evade her temporarily and gather information while keenly observing her, okay? We shall hand down the final judgement… let’s see, shall we set the timing as the graduation ceremony?”
From Bertia’s talk about the [otome game] and according to the [scenario], surely Baroness Heronia will move at that time, right?
Still, there is no way I can talk about it with everyone here, so as long as I choose the time limit based on a plausible reason such as [I want to settle everything while we are still in the school as a third year students. That’s why, I’m limiting the time to be at our graduation ceremony], they would agree without any suspicion.
After that, as long as we arrange the preparations until then… it would be sufficient to just wait for the other side to make their action while protecting Bertia.
Aah, of course, I shall have Kulgan operate in various ways for the sake of those preparations.
So that he won’t have any opportunity to meet Bertia, of course he should be occupied.
“Now then, let’s look forward to how it will turn out?”
As I smiled with a brisk feeling after deciding the rough [scenario], everyone who’s present on the spot looked at me and smiled.
Why is it that, for some reason, those smiles seem very villainous?
…Well, should I conclude that it’s just my imagination?
“Father, would you happen to know anything about [the fated girl]?”
The day after I gave up obtaining any information from Bertia and Baroness Heronia, I adjusted my schedule and returned to the royal palace in order to gather information about the phrase that somehow strangely got stuck in my head.
Since I didn’t obtain the information that I wanted from the library, I thought that I might find some information about it among the intelligence passed down from successive rulers or any tradition related with [me]–the royalty. In order to confirm that, I paid a visit to my father.
I bought some baked sweets from my mother’s favorite confectionery shop, which was located on my way back to the royal palace from Halm Academy, and prepared material that my father needed for his current government affairs as well as a summary of the information that I dearly desired.
Although my father was very busy as the king, once I curried my mother’s favour by bringing what she liked and told father that I have some information that can help in advancing his government affairs smoothly, he quickly made a time for me with pleasure.
“[The fated girl]? You’ve taken an interest in something quite romantic, huh?”
After personally handing over the offering for my mother to the grand chamberlain with great care, my father who held the materials I brought with a beaming expression, widened his eyes a little and unexpectedly stared at me.
“It is a phrase that came up as a keyword in a matter that I’m personally investigating, but I’m troubled because I can’t really grasp the original meaning behind those words.”
“So even you have something that you can’t understand to the extent that you’re troubled by it. Have you tried to look it up in the library?”
I smiled at my father who was looking at me as if he was looking at a rare animal.
“I have looked it up there, but I couldn’t find it. No, to be more accurate, there are a lot of stories in which the similar phrase came up, but honestly, I couldn’t judge if any of them were relevant.”
“Then, why would you ask me?”
“It seems that it is something related to the royalty. If that is the case, I think that it won’t be unthinkable for father to know it if it’s an important existence.”
I constantly smiled despite my father giving me a doubtful expression as he shrewdly raised his eyebrows.
Truthfully, I don’t really understand whether it is something that’s related to the royalty or if it’s something that’s only related to me, but I purposely asserted that it is something that’s [related to the royalty].
In case that the matter turned out to be a top secret related to the royalty, my father will handle the judgement from his position as a king first before his position as my father, whether or not he could give me the information.
In this case, the popular excuse such as [since my son pestered me] won’t work, so it would be better for me to operate by showing hints of holding some information to a certain extent in order to draw more information out from the superior.
We exchanged glances at each other while probing into the other party’s attitude.
My father squinted a little as he tried to probe into my real intention. On the other hand, I remained smiling without any change in my expression.
The one who yielded first was my father.
“Despite being my son, your smile was like an impregnable fortress. I thought I would like to probe into your real reason for asking that question, but I don’t feel like I can pull out any information from you, whose expression doesn’t change even once.”
“There is no more information. I just thought that I might as well investigate it as I was slightly interested because a certain person thoughtlessly predicted that it was something indispensable to me.”
“I’m telling the truth. …So, does father happen to have a clue about it?”
In response to my words, Father gazed at an empty space as if he was recalling something and raised his voice, “U-n,” as if he was groaning.
“… Unfortunately, there is nothing coming to mind. Since our country is a big country with a long history, there are various types of prophecy related to the royalty that has been handed down, stories told by oracles concerning the royalty, the legend of the saint, the folklore of the war maiden, and many other stories. However, I can’t think of anything that’s closely related to your story. On the other hand, if we were to draw the category of [the thing that has any resemblance to it in some respects], the results are way too many that I don’t know which one you are seeking.”
“Yes, that’s the truth.”
This time, I squinted my eyes slightly and turned to face my father as if I was trying to probe into him.
My father stared back at me as if saying with his gaze, “I don’t have anything like that.”
I watched him intently so that I won’t overlook any slight movement such as his pupils dilation, his eye movements, his breathing, and his cheek muscles’ movements… and then I loosened my gaze with a sigh.
It is most likely that my father doesn’t lie.
“…Is that so. If even Father doesn’t know about it, perhaps it is only a lie or just some random speech, right?”
“You are still not giving up on it, huh?”
“It’s because I understood that Father didn’t speak any lies. If even Father doesn’t know about it, then it’s certainly not an important affair, or it’s something that doesn’t even exist. …Since there shouldn’t be any important matters related to the royalty that Father, who is the king, wouldn’t know.”
When I shrugged my shoulders, Father gave me a sarcastic laugh as if saying, “You’re overestimating me too much.”
“In addition, even if I was interested in it to the extent that I asked you under the premise that if you knew, there might be some helpful information, but if you don’t know about it, then there’s no problem at all if it remains unknown.”
“Is that all right? Isn’t it a [prophecy] that made you demonstrate an apparent interest?”
“It’s [thoughtless remarks that look like a prophecy]. After all, I have a fiancée named Lady Bertia. In truth, if such a person really appeared, then she would be nothing but a nuisance. If it becomes troublesome to deal with her, then the most I can do is to leave her as she is. If she’s good, then she can be used as a pawn if possible.”
“Was it the [fated] girl?”
Towards my father who grinned broadly as if he was teasing me, I smiled in my astonishment.
“After all, I have Lady Bertia. Wasn’t it what you decided yourself, Father?”
I tried to give a slight emphasis when I mentioned Bertia’s name, and Father showed a slightly surprised expression before smiling warmly as if he was feeling relieved.
“I see. That’s right. …Hey, Cecil.”
“What is it?”
“Is your life fun right now?”
I tilted my head reflexively towards the sudden question because I couldn’t understand his intention.
However, even if I couldn’t understand his intention, I have decided the answer to that question even without thinking.
“Yes, it’s fun. After all, my fiancée is always so amusing.”
“Then, that’s good. …It means that my eyes didn’t fail me when I decided on her as your fiancée.”
“Would you like it if I were to say, [as expected of Father!] here?”
“Isn’t it fine to praise me more?”
“I will leave that role for Mother. Wouldn’t you be happier that way too, Father?”
When I said it in a slightly jesting tone, Father stared blankly for a moment before letting out his voice and laughed, “Hahaha.”
“That is certainly true. It would be better for me to report this matter to Olivia and have her praise me while we’re in bed. I would surely be very delighted that way, don’t you think so?”
“Father, Mother is not that young anymore, so can you please keep it at a moderate amount?”
“Hm? What are you referring at?”
“Don’t play stupid. To think that I won’t understand your implication, I’m not a child anymore, you know? Also, please refrain from bringing up such a delicate subject in front of your own son.”
“I don’t really understand the meaning behind your words.”
“…If that’s the case, then it wouldn’t be a problem if I were to go to Bertia right away to do the thing that Father’s trying to do to Mother, right? Of course, if someone were to question it, I will answer confidently that [His Majesty, the King permitted me.]”
“Stop that!! At least until your wedding ceremony!! I would be killed by the Prime Minister and Olivia who’s taken a liking to her!!”
“It won’t be a problem as I was just going to have her praise me, right?”
“…It was my bad. I’m begging you, please keep your relationship moderate as a good crown prince until your marriage.”
Towards my sulky father whose lips pouted as he scratched his head boisterously, I showed my bitter smile and grumbled, “It can’t be helped.”
As the king of this country, I think that he’s a good and dignified king from my point of view, but… Once he was separated from the affairs of the state, his face as just a father looked quite miserable.
Still, I unexpectedly don’t hate that side of my father, too.
…I feel like it’s fun watching him like this, but not to the extent as the amusement I got from Bertia.
“Well then, it’s about time I should be taking my leave.”
Though I couldn’t find the answer that I was looking for, I heard everything I needed to, so I should take my leave now. I greeted my father as I headed towards the exit.
My father reminded me again, “keep your relationship moderate,” but I just ignored it with a smile.
…Naturally, I’m not willing to do something that can hurt Bertia, but it’s fun seeing my father’s face turning pale, so I just went with it.
As I finished my greetings and walked towards the door, suddenly I heard a voice calling me to halt my steps from behind.
I turned around only halfway and faced my father while wondering if he might still have something he wanted to tell me.
Then, to my surprise, I saw my father with his serious expression.
“…Cecil, you’re a very excellent son that I can boast about. However, just because you’re excellent, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have any worries. In fact, because you’re excellent, you are bound to have some worries. I may be unreliable, but if you’re troubled, then come here and discuss it with me at any time.”
I don’t understand why would Father say that kind of thing so abruptly.
However, when I witnessed that face of a [father], and the moment I heard his words, I strangely acquired a sense of relief.
Then, I suddenly realized.
Deep inside me, the emotion known as [anxiety] that I hadn’t experienced up until now was quietly lying down there.
When I decided on the [scenario] hereafter, there wasn’t any element of anxiety.
There is certainly a feeling that I would be able to manage it somehow, and I arranged the preparations by believing that alone.
It’s troublesome to have something to do with spirits, but the moment I remembered Bertia thought that magic didn’t exist in this world midway, I speculated that it wasn’t necessarily the work of an unknown big force that we couldn’t manipulate.
Moreover, in the worst case where such power was exercised, we have two superior spirits named Zeno and Kuro by our side. It couldn’t be that big of a threat.
Logically thinking, there shouldn’t be any element of anxiety.
That’s why, I thought that I wasn’t anxious at all.
However, when I felt relieved due to my father’s words, I realized for the first time that there existed a small quantity of [baseless anxiety].
Aah, how pathetic.
“Thank you very much, Father. At that time, I will depend on you mercilessly, so please be prepared.”
“Yeah, leave it to me. Accompanying you to worry about a matter is something your father is capable of doing.”
“Didn’t you just talk big, asking me to leave everything to you?”
“Parents of an extraordinarily excellent son are modest.”
“I think that’s each to their own.”
“I think so, too.”
After grinning and exchanging glances at each other, I pretended not to see him this time and turned around to go towards the door.
Before going out from the door, I upheld my manners by saying, “Excuse me.” And when I glanced at my father’s figure, he has already returned to his usual expression as a king, focusing his attention to the documents I presented.
Towards that father of mine, I muttered a small [thank you] in my mind.
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