Sorry if this isn’t quite up to the usual editing standard, I got a new desktop and rushed to get this out on time since I’m moving all of my stuff over and redoing my setup.
Although the summer heat remained, not showing even an atom of feeling the heat, the duchess of the Ernest house smiled.
「Hey, Dia. Do you know about your calyx?」
She doesn’t know, but Lydia, who somehow remembers hearing the sound, stopped her hand that is lifting a teacup. While placing her sister Flora, who had grown one year older, on her knee, Lydia waits for her mother who continues to elegantly drink black tea. Appeasing her thirst, after putting the teacup back on the saucer, Octavia opened her mouth.
「The young women who danced with your calyx have unexpectedly dropped marriage proposals. Truthfully, a certain baron’s daughter who hadn’t been able to raise a marriage proposal, seemed to have a marriage proposal from Marquis Saru. 」
Isn’t that wonderful, thought Lydia, as she looks at her smiling mother, and with understanding where each person’s respective house is, realized it was blurry. There is no way her mother, the exemplar mirror of a lady, would act rashly on a groundless rumor.
「……why is the name concealed?」
Lydia understood she was being guided to ask a question, but still asked.
「I’m not concealing it, it’s because whose name it is, isn’t known. And then, the appearance isn’t either.」
The appearance also isn’t known, that is to say, it’s strange. Dancing is something you can only do with a partner. At the strange discussion, Lydia tilts her head in confusion.
「Does this person actually exist?」
「Yes. Because he is charming to many young women, he seemed to gather a lot of attention there. He’s like a magician of ash-covered princesses.」
Fufu, Octavia laughed, comparing him to a children’s story, but Lydia’s facial expression froze. She has an idea of a person who danced too much that didn’t want to stand out. The extra result is that the person in question, is that perhaps with the guidance she gave, unconsciously deals with dancing partners like flowers. Her father, who saw his way of dancing, from the beginning assessed him as a gardener.
Suddenly, after Octavia signaled to a maid who was waiting for her with her eyes, the maid brought out a silver tray. On top of the tray, there was an envelope that was apparently written invitations that form a small mountain.
「Yes, yes, there are invitations for a tea party for Lydia. Dia’s dance was greatly wonderful, wasn’t it? The young girls want to follow your example, mostly in dance.」
「……for dancing, if it’s possible, I would like to refrain from it.」
Because it isn’t the age for evening parties, she can understand there being invitations for tea. However, preparing a chance for dancing at a tea party is rare. Looking at the mountain of written invitations, Lydia didn’t want to be troubled. Even at the best of times, she received Madam Ella’s strict guidance, and although she doesn’t have self-confidence in her dancing ability, the pretext for invitations raised the bar higher.
For a moment, Octavia’s pink eyes became cold. Compared to Lydia’s coldness, it felt colder, and she recalled the sensation that hung in her eyes is similar to her mother’s.
「—the young women want to feel magical. Those parents want her to be in marriage talks with an influential person. Truthfully, it’s easy to understand, isn’t it? However, a situation that troubled Dia is unacceptable.」
As if amusing herself with the conclusion, Ocativa narrows her eyes, and the mood that was always there returned.
「……I feel as if it is getting worse.」
Worn out, Lydia slumped her shoulders. Although they don’t remember his existence, he stood out, it’s too strange.
「My, compared to having Isaac-kun stolen, it’s better, isn’t it?」
「……!? That isn’t it! I was only making sure Zack doesn’t say something rude……!」
Lydia frantically tries to dispel her mother’s misunderstanding. After she requested that the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice become her partner, she recalled his nature of expressing his impression with his own timing, and realized the potential to make the other noble girls surprised. Although they are used to being praised, without a preface, if it’s sudden, it would be rude.
With how she was only anxious over her partner’s trouble, she is worried about her mother misunderstanding. Even with her mother helping dress up, with how the boy who is a gardner’s apprentice tried not to stand out, and worried about how he would react when he saw other cute young women.
At her daughter’s claims, Octavia only softly smiles and listens. Lydia recently stating her own opinions had become delightful. Before, she strongly yearned for it, and in spite of her mother being the other person she restrained herself. Even though she was her mother, not even being relied upon is lonely. However, for the subject of the boy who became a gardener’s apprentice, because a particularly good response is returned, now it is very enjoyable. Her daughter earnestly argues, but no matter what she says, it feels like an excuse, and gradually weakening, at the end, with how she blushes and closes her mouth, it’s sweet.
「Feeling a desire to monopolize is bad, isn’t it? He’s close to you, but if he becomes friendly with other people, it’s absolutely normal to feel lonely.」
「For that reason, feeling justified to restrict the other person, for a lady, is shameful. However, denying that is also bad.」
The problem is how to deal with the problem she had. Restraining the emotions that naturally well up, the person in question only groans.
She is free to think, explains a smiling Octavia, and at her, Lydia feels surprised, again understanding. Because her mother never shows intense emotions, it was an unexpected feeling, but because she caught various emotions, she was comprehended as a dignified lady. For Lydia who doesn’t think her mother has these sorts of emotions, for a while, she’s confused.
After that, Lydia was a little angry.
「……you don’t believe what I said, don’t you?」
「No? However, that isn’t everything, is it? Dia is a shy person, right?」
When Octavia, searching for agreement from Flora, tilts her head, Flora, on top of her knee, imitates her gesture and happily smiles. At her mother pointing it out, unable to return a reply, Lydia bites her lip and remains silent.
「It’s fine, you know.」
Returning the hug to the spoiled and clinging Flora, while lightly rubbing cheeks together, gently, Octavia weaved a web of words.
「He’s an employee. One of a duke’s house, the Ernest house, right? Trying to use someone in our house, for the advantage of ourselves, thinking that person exists in our family is thoughtless, right?」
Because it’s the scene of a mother valuing her daughter, it should be pleasant. However, Lydia felt that it was oppositely cold.
「Ahh. But, I’ll get a little, you know.」
「What is it!?」
Lydia, who was thinking she can reject everything from the flow of the conversation, is surprised. Facing her, Octavia, like a young girl, puffs her cheeks a little.
「……after all, I also want to see Dia’s majestic figure with my eyes.」
Lydia falters. Certainly, especially since the prince’s party is different than a tea party, there isn’t a problem if her mother accompanies her where the host is a woman. Then, concerning Lydia, for Octavia, it’s a sign she’s longed for. That kind of mother, she is nervous about the dance presentation, but there is also a desire to see it. After, that appearance of pouting is sweet, but also sneaky.
「I, I understand.」
Seeing her mother shine with a seemingly happy facial expression, Lydia lets her feelings show with a smile that says it can’t be helped.
「I’m looking forward to it. I was hearing from the other wives that the Dia some time ago was very stylish.」
At the reality that the matter of the party had reached her mother’s ears, Lydia’s cheeks turned red. When Octavia waits for a reply at how Lydia broke off her words, while hanging her head with embarrassment, a few mumbles escaped.
「…………I only imitated what mother said.」
Last year, Lydia’s first party she participated in, the words Octavia had given her, she used the girl of red and yellow flowers. Because it was perfectly secondhand knowledge, it’s the limit of Lydia’s embarrassment. However, because they were the words that were very trustworthy and were the best at encouraging Lydia who felt such nervousness for the first time, at that place, she thought it was relevant.
「Dia, because you though that, you said that to her girl, right?」
Because she was asked, Lydia selfishly nodded her head.
「If that’s the case, certainly with your words, that girl had courage. I’m proud of you.」
At her mother who gives positive words while smiling calmly, Lydia blushed with a different meaning.
The refreshing yellow and green flowers that made her, her mother, and her sister forget the summer heat, and after drinking tea with with scent of the flowers of cherry trees in the garden, she went to go tell the gardener’s apprentice who is pulling weeds that from here on our, he would be her dance substitute.
「Your calyx? What is that?」
「……it’s you, Zack.」
At the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice who raised a wild voice, when she explains the details, he only tilts his head more.
「A guy that girls fall in love with, isn’t it because they were charming and lovely from the start? Because of that, aren’t I like a ghost??」
However, noble children seem grown up, don’t they, and although he mumbled that as if in admiration, the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice didn’t rest from pulling weeds.
At the appearance that he didn’t completely understand the influence he had, Lydia worries about what’s to be done. In the first place, is this something that if she makes him self-aware, will it be fixed?
「A ghost, something like that, I don’t understand, but it became a chance to dance with Zack. Zack, what in the world did you say to those girls?」
「Eh…… for me, fundamentally, because I was looking only at Ojou, I don’t remember much, you know. That Ojou was incredibly pretty, I remember well, though.」
「It’s fine for me to hear it!!」[T/N: Literally just “It’s fine for me!” but added a bit for clarity.]
Although she listened to the exchange with the other person, at being told about herself, Lydia’s cheeks became red. He’s weak to dazzling things, but with how he doesn’t see himself as anything more than a follower, she understands he doesn’t have any ulterior motives, but his way of talking is confusing. Certainly, taking into account his accompaniment, she held back to the minimum of wearing metal ornaments, but the degree he wasn’t looking at anything but her, she wasn’t thinking he was that vulnerable to dazzling ornaments.
「At any rate, remember what you said……」
Scolded by Lydia, the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice frowns while thinking and mumbling.
「Well, we talked for the sake of filling in the time? Ummm…… the Moth Orchid girl, said she wanted to dye her gloomy pitch black hair, although jet black suits her, so it’s a waste.」
「The Calla girl, she doesn’t like being taller than those of a similar age, so she was bending her back, and such a thing, even if a few years go by, because even if she has the height, she won’t be able to conceal her femininity, so it’s better to stretch her spine.」
「……the last one.」
「The Dahlia girl, said because she has tight eyes, she isn’t cute, but comparatively when she smiles, because the outer corner of her eyes come down, if she laughs normally, it’s fine, right….. ah, maybe I should have properly used polite language.」
「That isn’t it!」
As if not relieved at the supplemented information, Lydia cries out no. The time of the party, he partnered up for a dance in order of the voices that called, but after the girls danced, the time that the strength of the voices that called out lost momentum, it became natural that he unconsciously was advising them.
While he is saying he didn’t do anything, wasn’t he making a mess?
「Ojou, did I do something wrong……?」
At Lydia who was troubled, a voice that seemed to be worried comes down. When she lifts her head to respond to that voice, his copper eyes were wavering in anxiety.
For him, who doesn’t understand the party environment, he was worried that he caused trouble. However, from the start, it was a request to cooperate from Lydia, so even if there was an unexpected situation, it isn’t his responsibility. Besides, it was unexpected, but at the present, she confirmed there were only good effects.
Because Lydia shows no signs of scolding him, there isn’t the hint of being blamed. No, that’s the expectation, but there’s only a little feeling of that remaining in her chest.
「Zack, you did a good job. Thank you for listening to my unreasonableness. But……」
She hesitated in talking beyond that point. Even during the time that her words that were coming out were sinking into silence, the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice patiently was waiting for Lydia’s words.
「…………then, the other girls…… what did you think of them?」
Becoming unable to look at the eyes of the gardener’s apprentice who is surprised at the unexpected question, Lydia lowers her gaze. Since she is self conscious about asking a childish question, her cheeks turned red with shyness, but because she already asked, afterwards she forcefully listens.
「In… In addition to the girls you danced with, at the party, there were a lot of cute and pretty people, right? Um, compared to me…..」
Because there were people close to her age, maybe there were people who felt they got along with their dance partner. When she thought about it, somehow, she became anxious.
「That is, maybe it was the case, but……」
Listening for his words of affirmation, her heart made an uncomfortable sound.
Called out, when she timidly raises her head, there was the gently smiling boy who is a gardener’s apprentice.
「I said it, didn’t I?」
「From the beginning, I was only looking at Ojou. The people I danced with, until you talked about them, I didn’t remember.」
「But, that is……」
「Yes. With how I was stepping in to dance, I went as an employee of the Ernest house. So, I, as an employee of the Ernest house, was lucky.」
「Always from the side, being able to see the incredibly pretty Ojou, is a side benefit, isn’t it?」
Slowly, Lydia felt hot. The feeling from until some time ago had suddenly been blown away. Unconsciously, she had gripped her skirt tightly. How did he easily remove her anxiety?
The boy who is a gardener’s apprentice smiles as if he has nothing to do with that.
「But, it’s a strange worry, isn’t it? There’s no reason I, who is something like a servant, can associate with those young women.」
「E, even so……」
With her face as red as it is, Lydia tries to argue vehemently, and becoming panicked, with both hands covers her mouth. At that appearance, the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice tilts his head.
Putting in the blame of asking what she was trying to say on him, Lydia glares while covering her mouth. She doesn’t want him to know the words she was seemingly going to say in that instant. It does not mean he was particularly trying to ask, but it’s so embarrassing that a feeling like resentment surges.
Not understanding Lydia’s inner thoughts, he blankly stares back.
For the sake of him not investigating further, there is a moment of silence, and unable to withstand that pure gaze, Lydia gave in.
「N…… it’s nothing.」
First of all, as for that he might be stepping in as a substitute from now, the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice agreed. The walk that day was something that tired her.
Several days later, at her friend, Tordelise’s ordinary tea party she was invited to, Lydia took a breath. Seeing that, Tordelise apologetically slumps her shoulders.
「Lydia-sama, I am sorry. I was only able to do something small scale, but……」
With how she lowered her ears having the appearance of a dispirited rabbit, Lydia reflexively smiles at her.
「No, do not worry. It is because I am the cause.」
The table Lydia and her companions are sitting at gathered the gazes of those from a distance. This time, it’s a tea party with only women in attendance. After the matter of the prince’s birthday party, the girls following Lydia increased, and despite being in the same generation, treated her specially. It does not mean she wanted a lot of friends, but until now, as for being shown this much respect, there is no one she can turn to.
「Which reminds me, you aren’t together with your servant today.」
Casually asked, Lydia is scared in her inner thoughts. The hand that elevates the teacup from her saucer slightly shook.
「It is because he was an agent chosen by my father for the dance. Furthermore, today is only for women, isn’t it?」
「Is that so…… because it’s like a story, it’s a little disappointing.」
That Terese, who was weak when talking with men outside of her family, was trying to talk about this is rare. Why does she have an interest in him, it weighed on Lydia’s mind.
「That gentleman, because Lydia-sama is held dear by him, I was thinking he is a fellow kindred soul.」
「H, held dear……!?」
「Yes. At the party, when it comes to Lydia-sama, his facial expression softened.」
At Tordelise, who is seemingly gladly smiling, Lydia doesn’t understand how she should reply. Given that her face turning red is somehow or another avoiding losing, she tries with all of her might not to. Even though it’s Tordelise who was smiling at her, she was Lydia’s friend, so she says it. She realized an unnecessary truth. Immediately, she thought about how much she should hit him. [T/N: literally “stop the enemy team from scoring” rather than “avoiding losing”, but it’s weird as a translation]
「Um, Lydia-sama, it has been a while.」
「Oh my, it’s you.」
Her voice became a little bit restless, and when she looked, there was curled red and golden hair she has memories of. That girl, while feeling obliged, gave her thanks.
「I am humbly called Saskia von Vight. Although I am from a baron’s house, please forgive me for saying something rude. By all means, I want to give my thanks for a few days ago……」
「It is no problem. Which reminds me, Saskia-sama, it seems your engagement was decided. Congratulations.」
「Eh!? Um…… not yet, well…… that person, to me, was awe-inspiring……」
Seeing Saskia blush and become flustered, Lydia and Tordelise felt a sensation of charm. It seems like it wasn’t a marriage request against her wishes.
Tordelise also finished her self-introduction, and when she tried to have tea together with them, someone laughed. Moreover to someone laughing, Lydia and her companions furrow their eyebrows and trace the origins.
Before following, while timidly examining the surroundings, was a girl who eyes were looking down. It seems they are the same age, but it was obviously amateur and hastily prepared manners. It’s rare for Lydia and her companions that it appears there is a girl who has no bit of conduct to her.
Perhaps, with only that, varied guesses from those surrounding at a distance were murmured, and they were made the target of ridicule, it seems.
「……I am not impressed.」
「I will go to them!」
Lydia, to Tordelise who was the host this time, was thinking she should consult what to do, but Saskia declared it with fighting spirit seeming to burn in her eyes. The girl’s anger was the same as the one at her situation a little bit ago and she nods her head, but her ability to take action is more than what she thought. Even when based on the time of the party, she, rather than think about it, was the type to take action first, wasn’t she?
She greets the girl who became a bed of needles, and Saskia was taken along to make a declaration. With that state of affairs, Lydia, a duke’s daughter, rather than directly greet her, makes an appropriate judgment, and Lydia smiles, then ushers in the girl.
「I am Lydia von Ernest. If it is okay with you, shall we go together for tea?」
「Ah…… Um, I, I am humbly call, called Stephanie von Vitting……」
It wasn’t the case she was lowering her head. With only that, she was able to understand the girl isn’t of noble origin, but the way she gave her name weighed on her mind.」
「Oh my, are you perhaps the daughter of Count Vitting……?」
「Um…… in the spring, my mother was Count Vitting’s second marriage, and I was brought along…… um, so I’m something like a daughter in law.」
「I see. Congratulations on your mother’s second marriage.」
「Th, thank you, very much……?」
Not thinking she could receive words of praise, Stephanie stared in wonder reflexively as she gave her thanks. From the other girls, she seemed to exude the appearance of a commoner, although she scornfully laughed, before their eyes, the daughter of the duke, rather, gave her a warm look, and she was confused.
「Nevertheless, you are amazing.」
At Lydia’s mutterings that felt like admiration, Stephanie tilted her head to the side.
「Being able to improve your posture to that extent in a few months, you really did your best, didn’t you?」
「That’s right. Wearing a dress like this and straightening your back is hard, though.」
「Yes, Stephanie-sama is incredible.」
In order to match the dress given by the count even a little, she recalled the practice of etiquette and straightening only her back, but as for being recognized for that, unconsciously Stephanie stares in amazement.
Because of the attitude of the other girls, was she too hasty to participate in tea parties, she wondered, and felt regretful. As for friends of the same generation in noble society, if she cannot desire them, she was giving up. At that time, as for receiving this kind of tender words, she ended up seeming to cry.
Seeing Stephanie’s eyes water up and frantically trying to endure, Lydia forces a smile.
「But, it’s better if you remember to curtsy next time, you know.」
「It is a girl’s greeting, Stephanie-sama.」
Receiving Saskia’s explanation of a curtsy, Stephanie’s eyes light up.
「I see. Yes, it’s only a little, but I will do my best to get closer to Lydia-sama……!」
「!? Why me……?」
Suddenly being made a target, Lydia’s eyes widened.
「Because I admire the feeling Lydia-sama has of a young lady.」
「Is that so!? I also follow Lydia-sama’s example, and want to become a lady that matches her.」
「It’s because Lydia-sama is wonderful, right?」
Seeing two people sympathetic to Stephanie’s opinion, Lydia lets out a 「Hamuu」, becoming angry.
「……Although we are the same age, why am I made the target?」
Because she is only mumbling softly, she thought she wasn’t able to be heard, but it seems like that when the three of them were able to hear her, they froze. Identifying that reaction, Lydia blushed as if feeling embarrassed.
The three of them said it at the same time. At that, Lydia is startled with a jump.
While the eyes of the three of them glitter, they approach Lydia.
「Lydia-sama, you’re too cute.」
「Having that kind of cuteness on one side of you, it’s unfair.」
「If someone like me is fine, I would like to humbly become a candidate to become your friend.」
She thought she had said something childlike and were disillusioned, but rather, Lydia is surprised at the situation of the three of them seeming delighted.
「What should we do, so Lydia-sama’s lonely feelings will disappear?」
「Wait….. for me, something like loneliness……」
「That’s right, isn’t it? It might be something like an idea of commoners, but calling you by a nickname, how about that?」
「For me, Stephanie is a long name, so for someone like my mom… my mother, she calls me Phanie.」
「Ahh. An informal name, is it? For me, call me Torde.」
「For me, if it’s fine, call me Kia.」
Telling their nicknames, the three of them altogether turn towards Lydia’s direction. At the three sets of eyes loaded with anticipation and staring at her, Lydia falters. Then, timidly, she opened her mouth.
「For me, call me Dia……」
For Lydia, who is a little embarrassed, blushed while hanging her head. Seeing that, the three smiled, seeming satisfied.
In the future, at Prince Roy who came to visit, assessed that she is very popular.
ZACK. ZACK, WHAT’CHU DOING, MAN.
Overall a pretty fun chapter, I really wish I had been recording myself laughing when translating what Zack said to all the girls he danced with. He’s a danger to himself.
Not a whole lot to say, though. Again, sorry if there’s a drop in editing quality. My new computer came in on Tuesday and I set it up, but with work and other things, I didn’t get my usual day to sit down and edit the chapter to clean everything up. If there’s any super egregious errors, let me know, I’ll try to clean it up. I just didn’t want to accidentally miss my usual 2 week deadline, so oof.
See you all next chapter.