21. Ring the Opening Bell—the Most Boring Comedy in the World is about to Begin
Shortly after Viz and her friends fled, His Highness Weiss appeared.
“I was looking for you. Turns out you were in a place like this.”
Did he come for me?
The question flashed across my mind for a moment, but of course I couldn’t ask the prince.
No matter how friendly he acted with me, he was still the second prince of that kingdom while I was a mere duchess.
“I stepped out for a break.”
“Yes, but it’s getting cold out here. If you want to rest, let’s move to the waiting room.”
“That’s an intriguing offer, but I can’t leave the venue for too long. I’ll return at once.”
“What a shame. Even though this was a good opportunity to monopolize you.”
Is he being serious?
As if he could read mind, His Highness Weiss uttered that.
While I was lost over how to reply, His Highness Weiss said to me, “Let us return to the venue.” Then, he offered his arm. It seemed that he’d be escorting me to the venue.
I hesitated a little, but soon put my hand on his arm and proceeded for the venue.
As if he was my lover, His Highness Weiss maintained the same pace as me. I felt both happy and sorry for that.
When I returned to the venue, I spotted her cherry-colored hair.
Aries. She was looking around as if searching for something. It was unlike her to be alone. I was certain she had witnessed the fall of my father. Due to the fact that I wasn’t the same as before, she might have been aware that she wouldn’t be able to become a duke’s daughter.
Aristocrats are sharp like that (except for some sloppy idiots…)
Upon spotting me, Aries laughed happily. Then, after seeing my escort, she was stupefied. For a moment, bitterness crept across her face.
It was so fleeting that I thought I had mistaken it.
She quickly regained her smile and ran towards me. The sight reminded me of a dog who had found its master.
Except that’d be offensive to dogs. Dogs were cute.
“My sister, I was looking for you! Where were you?”
“I went to the garden for some air.”
“With His Highness? I never realized my sister had penchant for being around men!”
While her smile looked pleasant, she was certainly ridiculing me. Only I could tell.
…What a pitiful girl.
I wanted to hit my former self who truly believed that she was a kind girl merely because she treated everyone nicely. I was truly blind.
No, I purposefully averted my eyes from the truth. I pretended not to notice for convenience’s sake.
Just like what she did to me, I wanted to use her to increase my own value. I always thought that if I were to kind to her, my father would love me someday. Therefore, I was kind to Aries.
I didn’t want to be a villain.
I was kind because she was kind. I was protecting myself by thinking so. But I didn’t need to do so anymore.
“However, wasn’t your engagement with His Highness Wagner just recently annulled? Won’t this hurt your future prospects? Your Highness Weiss, I do apologize, but I’ll be relieved if you’d refrain from having this kind of contact with my sister. It could be a nuisance to her. In exchange, I will accompany you.”
The face of an innocent girl who knew nothing. However, her gaze spoke louder than her mouth. Her eyes were those of a predator aiming for prey. She intended to switch targets to His Highness Weiss, someone with a higher chance of succeeding to the throne.
She truly thinks all men will fall for her merely because she speaks to them.
At the same time, how disgraceful.
I knocked away Aries’ hand just as she was about to touch His Highness Weiss with the fan I was carrying.
Aries, who didn’t expect me to do that, was stunned. If it were my former self, I’d have taken her advice at face value and would have even thanked her. I was positive I would’ve given up on His Highness Weiss.
“Aries, what do you think you are doing?”
“Becoming the fiancée of His Highness Wagner doesn’t magically transform you into a member of the royal family, you know? You’re still a baron’s daughter in status. Despite that, you think you’re in a suitable position to give me advice? All this time, I wanted to be courteous. But, if I’m being utterly frank—aren’t you the one who stole my fiancé? If you claim to be His Highness Wagner’s fiancée, don’t touch His Highness Weiss. Also, learn some courtesy. I’ll ask His Highness Wagner to arrange for a tutor for you.”
“…You’d, ask His Highness Wagner?”
She was asking why I wasn’t arranging one for her. She truly didn’t know her own position.
“That’s because you aren’t the member of the duke’s family. Therefore, it’s up to the baron, or your guardian, or your fiancé—His Highness Wagner, to arrange for one.”
While I did appear to be conversing with Aries, my true objective was to inform everyone at the venue.
The Duke of Lark wouldn’t be adopting Aries.
“But, aren’t you my guardian?”
“No, while you’re certainly my cousin, Baron Heldin is at the bottom of the family branch. Therefore, I can’t be your guardian.”
Strictly speaking, it was possible because it wasn’t stipulated by law.
However, it’d result in some nasty rumors. Aries would be suspected of being the duke’s child from an affair.
Maintaining one’s reputation was important for the aristocrats. To just create an opening for another party to ruin it… that’d likely be fatal. As such, I deemed becoming Aries’ guardian undesirable.
“That’s… but I heard that in some cases, higher-ranking aristocrats have acted as guardians for lower-ranking aristocrats, haven’t they…?”
“Because it’s profitable, that is something similar to an upfront investment.”
With the fan I had, I lifted Aries’ chin so she’d look up at me.
“As of this moment, there’s no point in investing in you, someone indebted to the duke family. I’m not telling you to return the money that my father spent on you, but I won’t allow you to call yourself Lark.”
All the money that my father embezzled was spent on Aries. Just by hinting such information, the aristocrats could speculate on their own. Perhaps, Aries had already been aware that the former duke was embezzling money.
…Not like it was important.
The more interesting the story, the better. Especially if it was a story that would make the other party miserable.
For a baron to rise to the title of duke. That dreamlike story would vanish like bubbles. Her humorous appearance, as she was pushed into the abyss, would suit the tastes of aristocrats.
First of all, I’d ruin your position in the social circle—just like what you did to me.
***T/N: Then Weiss would swipe in to steal the kill later.
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