Shoutout to everyone who corrected “Iron Crow” to “Iron Claw” last chapter due to my insane tunnel vision haha. You guys rock, thanks for catching my very obvious oversight.
When I woke up, the worried-seeming faces of her parents were there.
Surprised at this, while being confused, Lydia sat up in her bed. Just when she did come back, she thought, tilting her head to the side.
「Are you okay? My angel, are you hurt anywhere?」
「Dia, it was scary, right?」
Her cheeks were stroked by her father as if to confirm she was okay, then she was hugged by her mother, and then she remembers the incident that happened before she went to sleep.
「I am fine.」
To be more accurate, she was already fine. She had cried for a while, and now, she had a strange feeling of calm.
When she smiles to make her parents relieved, she sees the relieved color of their faces, and because Lydia felt guilt in her chest at making her parents worry that much.
「Father, Mother, I’m sorry. Because I selfishly acted unreasonably and forcibly brought her, please do not blame Katherine……」
Collecting herself, Lydia realized the potential that her maid Katherine would take the responsibility for her own selfish actions.
She heard the boy who was a gardener’s apprentice was confined to his bed, and at the start she got angry, but gradually with time, worry exceeded it. If she carefully thought about it, the time he fell in the pond was because he was trying to help her, and feelings of guilt welled up.
When she decided to go and meet him, she had reached the limit of her worry and guilt, and asked Katherine to go with her because she wanted to visit someone who was sick. Because if she looks at Katherine’s face, she’s relieved, she was the one who pushed through.
At that time, she didn’t think for even a moment something like that could happen. She hated the idea of Katherine, who had ended up dragged into the results of her making light of this, being punished.
「That’s no good.」
From her father Geordo, a quiet rejection is given, and Lydia’s chest felt heavy.
「She has to be properly lectured by the head maid.」
When Lydia vacantly looks up, Geordo smiles while closing one eye.
「Because if we pretend something didn’t happen, Katherine won’t reflect on it and will become spoiled, you know.」
With being completely blameless, she’ll only end up blaming herself more, and will self-satisfyingly put all of the blame on herself, and again Lydia reflected on her imperfections as a master.
Seeing his beloved daughter hand her head in her mother’s arms, Geordo forces a smile.
「I didn’t have any intentions to scold Dia, but……」
She should be scolded. Even with her father whose love for his family is strong, there is no way he can overlook the matter this time. Lydia turns her doubting eyes towards her father. There, the same pale blue eyes softly narrowed.
「That is, you’ve already been scolded, haven’t you?」
When such a thing was pointed out, Lydia was surprised at how she guessed right.
The boy who is a gardener’s apprentice that she went to meet, the instant they met they argued, and when she was saved, she was first criticized. She was very surprised because she was thinking he was only worried and then relieved at their safety. Somehow, realizing at how she thought he was sweet to her made her embarrassed.
While thinking she doesn’t want to be spoiled, she was made to notice the truth he was spoiling her.
Again, she knew how much she worried him, with the strength of his clasped hands and mumbling voice that shook. She remembered the head of his clasped hands and how she tightly grasped onto both of his hands.
「Towards someone who is already reflecting, doing something such as criticizing the same thing has no point.」
「Dia hasn’t finished reflecting with this much, right?」
She decided she would never make him sad again. With that determination, in the middle of her mother’s arms, Lydia nods.
If that’s the case, now, they were just happy for her safety and again, both parents held her tightly.
A few days later, the first prince, Roy, who had already visited before her, visited Lydia.
There are many glass doors on the walls facing the garden, but the multicolored orchids guide the way to the parlor. From inside, the garden you see even looks like a good painting, Roy says, showing a brilliant smile.
Katherine, the maid, who finished preparing black tea as always, withdraws, and the other servants clear out. Around the time he took a breather with the warm black tea, Roy smiled as if his honey colored eyes melted in the fireplace’s warmth.
「Then, what is it? Miss Lydia.」 [T/N: Literally “Lydia-jou”, as in “ojou” without the “o”]
Staring at those eyes that seem to be filled with expectation, Lydia opened her mouth.
「……before, you told me to use you.」
Roy affirms the conditions of the time they talked about engagement. In exchange for limiting Lydia with her engagement, she has the right to take advantage of her fiance position, was what he suggested.
「Then, please allow me to use you.」
At her words that could be taken as disrespectful, with her own determination Lydia opens her mouth.
「You’re going to be engaged with me, right?」
At Roy’s words of confirmation, Lydia nodded her head.
「Yes. At the present time, there is no one other than Roy-sama more suited for my marriage partner.」
「Is it okay if I hear the reason?」
Roy doesn’t ask the reason for engagement, but instead the reason she arrives at that determination.
「I… want the power to protect the things important to me.」
She doesn’t want anyone to be sad. At the least, she wants a future where the people within her own reach are smiling.
「For that reason, I want to learn about the world.」
She doesn’t want to learn everything in the world, but for the sake of knowing her own merit and making sure of the course of her future, she wants to understand what kind of world surrounds her. As just the daughter of the duke,as it is, she only sees the narrow world. The quickest method was an engagement with Roy.
So, she would use Roy. Even with the restrictions on those on the edge of royalty, for Lydia who couldn’t defend even herself, it was favorable.
At Lydia’s eyes full of determination, Roy blinked once, then brightens his facial expression.
「No, Miss Lydia is truly awe-inspiring, huh?」
「Please don’t say it like Zack……」
The expressions he’s using are intended for women, but Roy’s manner of speaking are like the time she was praised by the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice who called her cool. It didn’t feel like being praised and Lydia half-closed her eyes. Roy ended up strangely resembling him.
However, he is different, as immediately he apologized.
「Then, we’ll begin holding negotiations. Let’s get along from now, Miss Fiance.」
Standing from the chair, the approaching Roy presents a hand to Lydia.
Lydia also stands up and takes the presented hand in return.
「Let’s work together well, Roy-sama.」
Roy adds on something with a smile.
「Of course, because the engagement will be canceled when the other person asks to be able to be with someone else, let’s keep that part a secret, yes?」
「I understand…… but, does Roy-sama have that kind of person?」
At the way of speaking with a condition in regards to the other person, when Lydia asks, Roy sincerely smiles.
「I don’t know yet.」
「It’s because I haven’t met them yet.」
It seems meeting them is a settled manner. She doesn’t understand how he is so sure, and Lydia tilts her head in doubt. With how Roy only smiles back, it doesn’t seem like he wants to talk about the reason.
Then, Roy presents a situation that is likely there.
「Maybe it was when I met Miss Lydia before, huh?」
Neither denial nor affirmation leaves Lydia who is at a loss for words. Just what in the world is caught in her throat?
At her hesitating reply, when Lydia is having great difficulty, she can hear a voice of stifled laughter, and in her line of sight is a Roy who is smiling with amusement.
「No…… if we don’t take notice of each other, isn’t that somewhat strange……?」
When Roy said that to her, she noticed it for the first time. He was talking about how if Lydia and Roy both became engaged to each other, they completely hadn’t considered the potential that they would end up liking each other.
Of course, it isn’t disagreeable and a feeling of favor for the other is there, but to the end, they’re a friend.
「Now that you mention it, that is true.」
It was a funny story when she ended up realizing it: an engagement where absolutely, they wouldn’t want the other person to fall in love with them. Lydia also felt a smile come up, and they laughed together.
After laughing for a while, their eyes mutually met.
「I like Roy-sama.」
「I also like Miss Lydia.」
It’s the feeling of smoothly exchanging communication.
With how they absolutely wouldn’t come to fall in love with the other person, for this reason the other person was someone they absolutely wouldn’t come to hate.
Certainly, it was a big decision, Lydia thinks in the corner of her mind. But, because she feels as if it’s not a big deal that he is her accomplice, it’s strange.
Would the day she comes to regret the decision that day come, she wonders.
Thinking about that, she immediately shakes her head.
Certainly, she had a premonition that if she didn’t regret it, she would be proud of it.
During the new year, at the new year’s celebration party, Roy and Lydia’s engagement was officially announced.
Several days after that, Lydia was strolling through her residence’s garden by herself. At the party, many people had made noise about the engagement, but if she is in her own house’s garden, there is an unbelievable silence.
Only the short sounds of Lydia’s footsteps in the winter garden make noise.
She follows a road she doesn’t frequently travel. If she notices that even by herself, she became able to reach the destination. This growth is fine, isn’t it, Lydia thought to herself.
Because usually he’s guiding her, unconsciously she starts humming.
Then, she puts on a hood and ducks underneath the hedges she saw.
In her field of vision that opened up, at the place clear white sunshine fell, ivy enshrined the fountain like battle standards. The ivy didn’t immediately put its root in the fountain, but a fence of wood was used to encircle it, and that ivy twisted around the fence.
The perpetrator who arranged the water fountain is crouching at its side, doing work.
When seeing her, the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice lifted his head. Maybe as a result of using his cotton gloves as they are to wipe sweat, there is dirt on his cheeks.
At that dirt he doesn’t realize, Lydia spills out a smile.
「Although, I can’t do it yet.」
He mumbles as if seeming to regret how he can’t show her its perfected state. Lydia moves until she is next to the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice and looks at what he’s working on.
There was a rabbit with white hairs made of chrysanthemums and red eyes.
「This one, rather than a mountain hair, would you hold it?」
It’s only one rabbit that was drawn by the side of the water fountain, but because he said it was still incomplete, from here, they’d multiply, perhaps.
He doesn’t have any confidence in his artistic taste, does he, Lydia thought, and at Lydia’s impressions, the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice let out a sigh of relief.
At how she appeared to regret the dissolving of her rabbit last year, she remembered the magic her father Geordo used for her. When she faces the reality of remembering all of those trivial memories one by one, at that tenderness, her heart fills with warmth.
「When it’s complete, I want to show Flora as well.」
「Mhm, that’s fine.」
When she says that her sister would also be delighted, he acknowledged it with a smile. Standing up their next plan was looking forward to the near future.
Towards the boy who went back to his work, Lydia calls him.
「What is it?」
While tilting his head to the side, he looks at her, and the boy sho is a gardener’s apprentice continues to wait for her words.
Inhaling the air that had become cold, Lydia told him.
「I don’t need a dance substitute anymore.」
「I was engaged to Roy-sama.」
She remembered the optical illusion as if her heart had grown cold with the inhaled air. Even though all she did was tell him the ordinary truth.
The eyes of the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice went wide, and clapped as if understanding.
「Is it okay to congratulate you?」
When she was asked anxiously, Lydia ended up smiling. At the beginning, he was worried about Lydia’s feelings. He really did prioritize her too much.
「I don’t understand.」
「It’s that, I, while I like Roy-sama, I don’t like him romantically.」
He’s the lovable prince that came out of a picture book himself. He’s the best partner for some of the Ernest house. The way she can’t come to like him is strange.
However, because that strange thing actually ended up happening, there’s no helping it.
The boy who is a gardener’s apprentice shows an appearance of firmly thinking.
「……Ojou, do you hate it?」
Asked with a final confirmation, Lydia tried to cheerfully smile.
「I decided it.」
「I see. Ojou is cool, huh?」
It isn’t either good or bad, but she receives the highest grade of compliment from him. He sees her quietly smile, and feels like she’s grown up a bit.
「I’m not happy, you know.」
「Even though you were praised?」
「You are not praising me.」 [T/N: God, these two are so precious.]
When she deliberately looks angry, she turned towards a proud looking face. When she’s smiled at just like that, she ended up thinking of the self he believed in.
「Will you be my partner for one last song?」
When Lydia lightly lifts her hand up, the boy who is a gardener’s apprentice understands, puts his cotton gloves into his pockets, and politely takes her hand.
Each humming a waltz rhythm, they dance around the water fountain.
Lydia suddenly straightens her spine.
Because that was his highest grade of compliment from the beginning.
No matter what the future held from here, she would keep her head up.
And that is Volume 2 done.
These two are going to give me a heart attack with how precious this chapter was. All the pieces are slowly being assembled for the start of the otome game.
Anyways, small announcement that isn’t relevant for a few months. I will be taking a hiatus from updating in the month of November. This is because I will be taking the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) in December and want to take the full month to study instead of translating. I’ll obviously post this again in October but just a heads up.
See you all next volume!