Translator: apinklover Editor: HH
Gasp! Don’t I look more like a wandering ghost? Should I at least have tied my hair up? I-I’m sorry for your eyes…
“I hope she won’t fre—AH!”
I opened my mouth as I got carried away in that thought, only to end up with a horrific scream. It was because of Jannette who rushed over to me.
“Princess…! Is-is that really you?”
I felt a little embarrassed after looking at her doubtful eyes tremble in excitement.
Kek. She’s not checking if I’m actually a ghost or not right? She just lunged at me! Heh. She acts before she thinks sometimes.
“Yes, it’s me. For real.”
Her eyes began to shake even more than just before. Her hand shook as she grabbed my arm.
Uhh, hold up! Why are your eyes tearing up? Y-you’re not gonna cry, right? Huh? Please don’t!
But she started to cry anyway. I made another terrifying noise as Jannette hugged my waist with all her might.
Aah! I think you just crossed the line! Even though we had tea parties together and had letters sent, isn’t this kind of a huge jump from what we’re supposed to be?
Ugh, I must have let my guard down. I-it’s not like I don’t like it, but it’s strange. Look at my hands not knowing what to do!
“I… I thought…”
I panicked from having Jannette hug me so I couldn’t really do anything. I had held my hands behind her back but then looked downward to see her sobbing.
“I thought I’d never see you again… Sob.”
I flinched for a second.
“I heard that you suddenly disappeared from the-the Palace…”
“I thought I wasn’t gonna see you ever again…”
“I was so scared… sob… sob… So I…”
She was drowning in her tears so much that even I couldn’t understand what she was saying.
She held onto me tightly as if I was going to all of a sudden disappear and wept.
I watched and patted her as I let out a small sigh.
She started to cry more freely as I pat her back. Her intermittent sobbing knocked my eardrums and faded into the fresh night air.
I dared to think the person in front of me was poor and desperate.
If you laugh at me for not knowing myself before worrying about others, then I have nothing to say. I also knew it was foolish of me to empathize with a person who might put a dagger to my back.
But the fourteen-year-old Jannette holding onto me as if I were her last straw of hope gave me a lump in my throat.
According to the news I managed to gather, Mrs. Rosaria got involved in a rockfall incident, became seriously injured and passed away a few days ago.
Lots of natural disasters kept happening nowadays and she seemed to have become a victim of one.
I pat her without a word.
Hugging her made me feel somewhat weird. She normally wouldn’t be crying in loneliness like this.
In the story, she’d have had her debutante, gotten accepted into the Royal Palace, stolen Claude’s mind and lived a happy life with loving people around her. The book was designed to make Jannette happy anyway.
But she was here, in Alpheus’ mansion weeping her sorrows off her mind.
Maybe as a variable, I twisted the story and caused this to happen.
Her sobbing was the only thing hitting my eardrums in the silent room. I felt my chest get a little wet from her tears, and swept her back with my soft but rather dry hand.
I’m sorry, Jannette.
I recited with my inner voice.
Somewhere deep in my heart, I let out a sigh of relief as you suffer.
Because you didn’t show up to the debutante as Claude’s daughter, didn’t threaten my position, and he accepted me, not you, as his daughter… and your aunt who may have endangered me in the near future died…
So I might thank God a little bit that you’re the one who’s crying, not me.
“It’s such a relief that… sob, I met you again.”
I stared at the moonlight-lit ceiling as I listened to Jannette’s tear-mixed whispers.
It was clear that she regarded me as her only sibling. That’s why she, having lost her aunt, relies on me since I’m technically closer to her than Mrs. Rosaria.
“It sure is.”
And I dared to empathize with her as I stood. But on the other side, I was also kind of suspicious.
“I think so…”
I was there consoling her in my arms all while hiding my inner selfish thoughts.
It wasn’t to blame either Roger or Mrs. Rosaria. Maybe it wasn’t Athanasia but me who had been the real liar in the story laid out upon us.
As I thought of that, I hugged Jannette even stronger.
“Okay. Let’s keep it between ourselves.”
She hesitated at the start for some reason but she promised to never tell anyone we met.
“Then will you come here again?”
Then she looked up at me… Cough. I felt a little burdensome with her kitten-like eyes.
Wh-why do I feel like I’ve become the knight or the wizard who came to save the princess in the tower? I don’t like this kind of feeling.
And my mind becomes weak when I’m talking to pretty girls! Baw.
But when the time came for me to leave, it was glad to see Jannette stop crying and somewhat get herself together again.
She didn’t ask me why I don’t live in the Palace nor the magic I’ve started to use with no discretion. Maybe she thought I’d be burdened to answer? Eh anyway that’s good for me.
Huh. Everything looked to be going well until now…
“Simpletons. I won’t scare you if you listen to us.”
“Hehe, right. We just want to have fun with other lonely men and women. You’ve got two and we’ve got two! What nice pairs?”
How did I end up having to listen to this bullcrap again?
“Oh, Ati. What should we do?”
On top of that, scared-as-a-newborn Jannette was next to me. I reminisced about what got us into this situation while facing the grossly laughing thugs who cornered us into a dead end road.
* * *
Like virtually everything else in the world, what all started this was simple.
I kept rambling about beautiful tourist attractions in Atlanta—Sevira Waterfall, the Temple of January, the Giant Arboretum and the Lasus Flower Festival—before going on to brag about it in front of Jannette.
And I ended up thinking about “Pretty sure Jannette’s never been to these awesome places?”
Thinking about it, like I’ve always locked myself inside the Palace living like some plant inside a greenhouse, Jannette’s also been stuck inside Alpheus’ mansion.
So the feeling I’ve had exchanging letters in the Emerald Palace not too long ago was none other than kinship.
I overlayed myself confined in the Emerald Palace by Claude over Jannette’s not being able to go outside of the mansion.
But now that I’ve left the Palace and enjoying a free life, I was bothering Jannette in another way.
She couldn’t even attend her own aunt’s funeral.
I think it was at the last tea party when other peoples’ daughters were talking about the Founding Celebration, Jannette got all hyped to get permission from Roger to attend the celebration.
But today being only two days away from the celebration, she seemed like she didn’t intend to go there.
After I met her at the mansion that day, I met her again twice.
Frankly, meeting her was a great risk all by itself. But since I couldn’t live by thinking of Jannette’s lonely life limited to her very room and her joy-filled face when she met me, I decided to sneak into the mansion.
Also I was getting suspicious of Jannette, thinking it could’ve been her that put a curse on me. It was a trivial one at best but it was kind of creepy that someone wanted to ruin my life and Jannette was the only one among whom I knew that had connections with Dark Magic.
But as I kept meeting her, my suspicions started to fade away.
It made me feel guilty to think of her like that when she smiled at me with overwhelming joy whenever she met me.
And especially because it was an innocent 14-year-old who did that.
I’ve heard some rumors that Ezekiel’s been too busy to meet Jannette these days… Is that why he was rarely to be seen whenever I visited the mansion?
Jannette paltered, saying that it had been some time already since Ezekiel left the mansion for other reasons.
So after some consideration, I went looking for Jannette the day the Founding Celebration started.
Jannette didn’t really seem scared of me popping in and out of places with magic. Heh, I think it took some time for me to get used to Lucas but Jannette? She’s done it in a flash.
Uh… but weren’t those the lines a wife would say to a husband who just came back from work…?
I looked at Jannette smiling like a flower at full bloom with mixed feelings, then shook my doubts away. Then I told her what I’ve been contemplating about for the past few days.
[TN: Anniversary ball has been changed to founding celebration:)]
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