2. The Downtown
The tea party was over, so I escaped the castle as stealthily as I could. It was the so-called way of the shinobi.
I preferred downtown more than the suffocating noble society. They treated each other like equals, were humble, and full of humanity. That was because in noble society everyone wore a façade, it was hard to gain any insight to anyone’s true nature.
When I went to the downtown, I would dye my hair red and used a fake name, Artie—something somewhat derived from my actual name by reading the characters backward.
Although it may have sounded simple, I was confident it wouldn’t be deciphered easily.
The reason was because it was unusual for a Duchess to sneak to the downtown in the first place.
I turned towards the source of the voice. Rat was a black-haired, black-eyed young man whom I happened to meet and befriended in the downtown.
Rat approached, his cheeks puffy because he had stuffed them with skewered mochi.
“Uwa, it sure has been a long time! Doing well?”
“Of course! How about you, Rat?”
“Mm…a bit busy, I am.”
“Why are you walking around the city, then?”
“Relax, I’m taking a break.”
Rat seemed to be the son of a merchant. Recently, he was learning a lot in order to take over the business—as such, I barely encountered him anymore. Seeing Rat after a long time, my heart fluttered.
“More importantly, Rat, would you spare me some of your time?”
“It comes out, your aristocratic tongue.”
“There’s something more pressing I want you to hear.”
I had a lot of accumulated stress—be it from my fiancé, or that Baroness, I could barely hold it in anymore. Now seemed like my opportunity to explode.
Rat had already deduced my noble origin… albeit he didn’t know I was the fiancée of the Prince and also the Duchess.
As long as I spoke vaguely of the details, I should pass as an ordinary noble lady.
Instantly, I grabbed Rat’s wrist. To me, he was a friend who would willingly listen to any of my complaints—whom I could talk with about anything.
As a noble lady, this was an unseem act—but as of that moment, I was but a town girl.
I wasn’t ashamed of doing anything.
“What is it? You look ticked.”
“Rat, you can tell?”
“Our relationship could be seen as new, but Artie is easy to read. So? What happened?”
No way. I didn’t expect that a Duchess such as me would be deemed, ‘easy to read’. While feeling uneasy, I pulled Rat to a coffee shop. Rat threw away the skewer he had finished eating into a nearby trash can. After that, we entered the coffee shop together.
“Do you think a man can do as he pleases just because he’s good-looking?”
“Wait, wait, wait, what is this all of a sudden? Did something happen between you and the fiancé you mentioned before?”
Rat held his forehead with his hand—Rat was as sharp as usual.
“Indeed… well, Rat, to be honest with you, there’s this girl… and I don’t know how to act when I’m around her…”
“Other than that, this girl… how do I say this… I don’t know how to put it…”
One of the reasons why I didn’t like her was because of the fact that I couldn’t stand up to her and denounce her actions… because from the general public’s perspective, what she did wasn’t wrong…
“…She lacks common sense.”
Yes. Those were the words I was looking for. She shouldn’t be acting so familiar with a noble lady she had never met before and of higher status than her, much else getting familiar with said noble lady’s fiancé…
“It seems that my fiancé is also infatuated by her… just like all those other men who are on her side…”
Rat sounded intrigued.
It might be a fresh, new, perspective for a merchant like Rat.
***T/N: There you go! That Guy who Will Always end up Friendzoned appeared!