The fact that Valia and Schuden had a ‘second wedding’ was already different from what happened in the past, so maybe the future would change little by little. Valia decided to think so. Even if she could not change anything else, maybe she could change the man next to her even a little bit. But she needed to muster up the courage to do so. After all, he had not had a ‘second wedding’ in the past.
Suddenly, she remembered the blessing Philemon had given her. Blessing wishing for her happiness. She was just in a rush to get out of misery so she never really thought about happiness. She wondered what type of happiness would come to her. If possible, she would like to have his confession.
‘…Is that too materialistic?’
Valia spun the pen round and round. She wondered.
Schuden treated Valia this well because she was his wife. But what kind of expression would he make for the woman he loved? What kinds of words would he whisper? And what kind of gaze would he send? This little curiosity was concavely pooled in the corner of Valia’s chest like a small puddle.
Contrary to the calmness of Garth’s manor, the whole high society was buzzing. The famed Marchioness Garth showed her face for the first time in high society only in Diana’s tea party, where invitations were issued only to a small number of people.
Thanks to that, the noblewomen who attended the same tea party became busy. Each time they attended a banquet or a ball, they were always asked the same question. It was all about the rumored Marchioness Garth. Of course, there was no noblewoman who gave an honest answer to this curiosity. In order to raise the dignity of the meeting in which only a few participated, proper silence was a proper measure.
However, they did slip one story.
“Marquess Garth came to pick up his wife.”
“Oh my. He came personally?”
“Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”
The reaction was quite explosive. For the nobles who were well known in high society, no one was unaware of this rumor, and the nobles who were surrounding Valia were clicking their tongues. Marquess Garth was a noble who advocated neutrality without supporting either the First Prince Gusto or the Second Prince Elvan. Still, the power he held was so strong that everyone was only aiming for a chance.
Then, Valia appeared and became Marchioness Garth. All that was known was that she was a noble from the Kingdom of Lisa and the daughter of a knight. Some high-ranking nobles sent people to the Kingdom of Lisa to find out more information about Valia, but there was no return. Schuden had already taken measures for that. In the end, everything about Valia came out completely blank. Nevertheless, the unusual rumors kept spreading in high society, so the high-ranking nobles could not just move on.
Having a second wedding, sweeping all the jewelry in the auction house, and coming to pick her up at the tea party…
Under the current circumstances, it was foolish not to send an invitation to Marchioness Garth. Usually, all invitations were written with similar contents and were sent in bulk. However, sending an invitation to Marchioness Garth was different. A drop of expensive perfume and gold powder was sprinkled on high-quality thick paper, and even the contents were specially written and sent. Thanks to this, the workers who carried the invitations became very busy.
“Sarah, are these all invitations?”
“Yes, Madam. These are the invitations received until this morning.”
Valia tilted her head. The number of invitations she got recently has increased significantly. There had been many invitations to Marchioness Garth before this, but it had not been this much. In fact, it seemed like the amount had doubled.
‘Is it because I attended Diana’s tea party?’
She could not think of any other reason other than that. Valia looked at a few luxuriously shining invitations and put them down. Sarah asked.
“Madam, shall I send flowers to all of them this time too?”
In Gel’s high society, whenever an invitation was not accepted, a flower was to be sent. It was a euphemistic yet elegant method of rejection. The maids skilfully tied ribbons to the flowers. The amount was more than enough to make a few abundant bouquets.
Valia had no intention of attending another tea party yet. She intended to keep only this level of socializing until the upcoming Imperial banquet.
Instead of not attending other tea parties, Valia only attended Diana’s tea parties. It was fun to chat, but more than anything else, there were many stories to listen to. The noblewomen seemed to find it rewarding to constantly give Valia information about high society.
“Have you heard? There is a cute trend among the ladies these days. I heard they would bake cookies and give it to their lovers.”
Valia tilted her head after hearing the noblewoman’s reaction. It was because the contents of the rumors these days were similar. Even at today’s tea party, Valia had heard the word ‘lover’ three times.
“Oh my, I heard about it too. I heard it’s popular among young couples.”
The word ‘couple’ four times.
“Young nobles these days are enthusiastic in expressing love. It’s romantic.”
The word ‘love’ seven times.
‘It’s only love stories these days.’
Valia felt that Gel’s high society was a place full of love. Still, she could not help but listen to it a little. Diana was well aware of why the noblewomen only talked about such stories in front of Valia. She only hid her laughter.
“By the way, the Imperial banquet is already around the corner.”
“Even at other tea parties, everyone is only talking about the Imperial banquet. Since so many nobles will attend, the boutique will become very busy.”
“That’s right. I heard that the boutiques for top designers are already fully booked and that they are refusing any extra appointments even when they’re offered extra money. I heard it’s still impossible even if they are to operate the sewing machine for 24 hours.”
“It has been a long time since an Imperial banquet of this size is held. Everyone is looking forward to it.”
Listening to the noblewomen, Valia thought of her exclusive designer. Fleur had been visiting Garth’s manor every few days for some time now. The shadows under her eyes were getting darker day by day. As it was Valia’s first banquet, her exclusive designer, Fluer, was very careful about her dress. She still worked hard even on the day Valia was away from the manor for the tea party. Even on such a day, Fleur did not rest and searched with Sarah for jewelry suitable for Valia.
Matters concerning the Imperial banquet soon turned its attention to the banquet entrance. A noblewoman asked Valia if they could enter together should she not have a prior engagement. However, Valia put on a sorry expression and said.
“I’m sorry. I already have someone to take me.”
“Oh my, you don’t have to be sorry.”
“Of course. It’s more romantic to enter with your husband.”
‘…Why does everyone seem to like it? Am I seeing things?’
Seeing the noblewomen blushing, Valia only blinked her eyes.
That day in the manor, Valia took off her heavy dress and put on a light gown. She was immersed in her thoughts.
‘Baking cookies and giving them as a present?’
Even though she seemed like she was drinking tea calmly, Valia had been, in fact, listening intently to the chatter of the noblewomen. Young ladies giving cookies to someone they liked had happened before once in a while. But it was at this time that it became very popular.
Afterward, it became a custom for the young gentlemen to offer the hides of animals they hunted themselves to the ladies in return for the cookies. As the trend grew, later on, the day on which cookies were presented and the day on which hides were presented were set separately. The former was when the ladies expressed their feelings and the latter was when the gentlemen expressed their feelings. There were also cases where the opposite happened.
Valia was subtly interested in the cute expression of love that was still just a trend.
‘Wouldn’t it be okay… if I bake it a little less sweet?’
She remembered what Shaun had said to her. Schuden did not like sweets very much.
It will be aromatic if I add nuts instead. Wouldn’t it be okay?
Her heart pounded like a girl in her first love. But it did not last long. A practical problem arose.
‘Grandfather told me not to cook at all…’
Carl was a kind man, but he was sharp when it came to cooking. When Valia cooked, three problems would arise at the same time—the ingredients would go to waste, the tasters would suffer, and Valia would become dispirited. She took a long time to learn before she could finally bake bread to be edible.
“…As expected, this won’t do.”
Carl always reminded her to never cook anywhere. It was a piece of heartfelt advice for Valia, who was raised like his own granddaughter.
‘Should I just go hunting and give him the hides?’
I think that would be better than baking cookies.
Knowing her own cooking skills better than anyone else, she could only sigh.
A few days later in the evening, it was time to work in their respective offices. Schuden, who finished work before Valia, immediately left his office. His footsteps were heading toward the Marchioness’ office, located opposite to his own office. The locations were each at the very end of the building so he had to pass through the central part of the building connected by stairs to get to see Valia. When Schuden was walking past the stairs, the employees who were just coming up found Schuden and greeted him.
“Greetings to Lord Garth.”
“Greetings to Lord Garth.”
Schuden shifted his gaze without much thought. The employees were carrying a number of dishes with silver lids. Since Schuden usually did not have any refreshments other than tea in his office, it was not difficult for him to notice that it was not his.
“Are you taking that to the lady?”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
“Bring another teacup. I’m going to join her too.”
Valia liked the relaxed atmosphere of tea time. So, in front of her, Schuden also ate quite a bit of sweet desserts that he did not normally enjoy. But the amount brought by the employees was a little more than usual today.
Was dinner not filling for her?
Schuden, who was about to pass by, felt something strange. The employees holding the trays were strangely restless.
‘What’s going on?’
Schuden was sensitive to the presence of others. He stretched out his hand towards the silverware the employees were holding, just in case. The employee’s hand shrunk back. Schuden sensed that there was something in this silverware and immediately lifted the lid.
There were odd-shaped lumps of flour on the silverware. It was only a beat later that Schuden realized what was on the tray was supposed to be cookies meant for human digestion.
Have they only brought something like this for Valia?
Serving food in a mess was often used as a mockery in a noble family. Schuden’s voice subsided icily.
“Have you given these to the lady?”
“No, no. It’s not like that, Your Grace.”
“You all have gone mad to get your necks cut off.”
“It’s not like that, Your Grace!”
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