Eleanora invaded the Dolknes residence in the royal capital. Her early visit threw me off, even Patrick was surprised. But between us, the one who surprised the most probably was Prince Edwin.
Patrick led Prince Edwin outside the parlor in a hurry.
「Uh-oh! Do you think Miss Eleanora saw the dragon too?」
「Your Highness, please follow me to the room next door. Yumiela, I’m going to get some more details from His Highness. Please deal with Miss Eleanora.」
Eh, I don’t want to. Before I had the chance to refuse, they already left me alone in the parlor.
When I gave running away a careful thought, the door opened vigorously revealing Eleanora’s figure. With so much effort that had just taken place, it was a relief knowing that they didn’t bump into each other.
「It’s been a while! I’ve finally come to visit you Yumiela-san.」
「Yeah, it’s been a while. If you had let us know about your visit in advance, I would have prepared a more proper reception.」
「Well, were you really looking forward to my visit?」
I told her to let me know whenever she planned to visit in advance in a roundabout way, but I don’t think she understood.
From what I saw, she did this multiple times when we were still in the academy. It’s not like she’s gone out of the way to ignore what I said, it’s just that she really didn’t get it.
Quickly changing the topic, I asked what her reason to visit was.
「So, what can I do for you? You’re coming to visit all of a sudden, is there anything important you want to talk about?」
「Something important? You don’t need a reason to visit your friend’s house, right?」
Friend… it sounds sweet, but I won’t be fooled. This is Eleanora Hillrose, she comes from the dukes household whose father is coincidentally the leader of the extremists’ faction.
Even if she’s a nice person who liked me for her own self-interest, I was holding myself back when getting along with her.
Hmm, let’s just change the topic to Prince Edwin, the sooner we talked about him the sooner she will leave.
「How is it going with His Highness these days?」
「Will you listen to me about it?! …I think I made a mistake, I don’t mind telling you the story.」
She quickly recovered herself even though I could clearly see the sparks in her eyes. She carried herself like she was looking down on others.
Judging by her reaction, she’s ready to tell her story from the beginning.
And I replied without showing any emotion.
「Let’s hear it, you can start when you feel comfortable.」
「It can’t be helped! This is something!」
Alright, please tell me quickly so you can go back home.
When she starts telling her story, she did it in her high-pitched voice.
「Where should I start? I’ll just start from the beginning, I met with Edwin-sama—」
「I’ve heard that story more than 10 times. What about the latest story, what happened since we graduated from the academy?」
I could just let her say whatever she had to say and quietly listen, it had been a while since she had gathered some information. It would be a win-win if I could get a little insight about the current situation in the capital and Duke Hillrose’s thoughts.
Without bothering to ask for more details, Eleanora will tell me the details on her own.
But then her expression turned dim, like she was hesitant to say something.
「The latest… huh?」
「Yeah, the recent one.」
It is rare for her to look so uncomfortable talking about something. Especially if the topic was about the prince who she liked so much.
Shortly afterward Eleanora began to speak bit by bit.
「Ever since I graduated from the academy, everyone around me has been telling me this is my chance right now. That this is a good chance for me to be Edwin-sama’s girlfriend and that we could marry later on. But, Edwin-sama lost someone he held dear a year ago… and I don’t wanna take advantage of something like that…」
She was worried about Alicia who used to call her names in the past. She understood that Prince Edwin liked Alicia.
Nevertheless, she liked the prince, too. Eleanora was wondering what she should do because everyone around her kept pushing her.
It was easy to imagine Eleanora’s followers saying stuff and leading her on.
Inherently, Eleanora is a kind and good person. A little… maybe a little? But she still has that condescending attitude though.
Based on my experience interacting with her in the academy I figured it was her followers that instigated the bullying towards Alicia in the past. That’s how I know her behavior didn’t come from ill intention and how easy it was to believe people around us.
「Okay, I understand your point but who told you that this is a good chance for you to make a move on him?」
「Um… all of my friends said that.」
Everyone in Eleanora’s friend circle were the daughters of someone from the extremists’ faction. I won’t be surprised if the extremists used her as a pawn in the political strife.
And her father, Duke Hillrose, is no exception.
「How about your family? What did the duke say?」
「Father is telling me not to get closer to Edwin-sama. I think we should take a small break.」
「Huh? The duke said that?」
When the second prince inherits the throne, Eleanora could be the queen. I was pretty confident that Duke Hillrose will go with that plan. But why did he try to stop that plan?
I only met the duke once during the ceremony after the Demon King subjugation. He gave me a brief acknowledgment and said nothing else. So I have no idea about the Duke’s character at all.
As I started to get lost in thought, Eleanora added.
「What do you think, Yumiela? Do you think I should keep my contact with Edwin-sama?」
「…Okay, why don’t you follow what Duke Hillrose said and then you can decide for yourself?」
「Then, I’ll do as you said! And it’s getting harder not to look sad in front of Edwin-sama! I don’t want to be a bother!」
I thought she was annoying whenever she did that in the past, but now she has started thinking for herself.
But there is one thing that I don’t understand.
「Aren’t you making your decision too quickly?」
「If Yumiela-san said so, I’d never doubt it!」
I don’t want someone to trust me that much. Rather, it’s really easy to listen to the people you aren’t close with and it makes one hell of trouble like the situation right now.
「I’m not sure you should put that much faith in what I say.」
「How should I say this… compared to others, Yumiela-san is really blunt? And you don’t have the habit of telling people not to trust themselves, right?」
No, but saying those things is inappropriate, you know.
If nothing else, keeping her away from the prince is a nice added bonus, so I’ll keep quiet. Then Eleanora continued.
「And Yumiela-san has the same feeling as my older brother! Even though it doesn’t look much at the first glance but if you pay close attention to it, I can see how expressive you are!」
「Are my expressions really that unusual?」
「Mhm, not at all!」
People have been calling me expressionless and yet… But didn’t Patrick say the same thing, too? Then, the way she views me is the same as Patrick… let’s not talk about this.
「So, Eleanora-sama’s older brother’s facial expression rarely changes.」
「He’s always smiling, even when he’s angry.」
This kinda reminds me of Headmaster Ronald, who’s always smiling. And his smile makes him look kinda shady. I don’t like that the Duke house’s heir has that kind of smile.
Still, I don’t think she should put her faith in me just because I’m similar to her brother. From what I’ve heard, he seems to be a bit fishy.
She then grabbed my hands and tightly grasped it and said.
「That’s why I was so happy when Yumiela-san said the marriage between me and Edwin-sama was a sure thing.」
「…Ah, I think I remember saying that.」
I remember jokingly saying that to butter her up… I didn’t know that she took that seriously. What do I do?
After that, she seemed content to talk about the prince’s positive features for a moment.
She took a breath and continued in a hushed voice.
「And what about Yumiela-san?」
「Me? What do you mean?」
「I’m talking about your relationship with Patrick-sama.」
「We just got officially engaged the other day.」
It’s a bit embarrassing to say it out loud but I’m not hiding it either. Eleanora smiled like a blooming flower.
「Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!」
「So, when is the wedding?」
I looked at Eleanora who was happy for my engagement. I felt a little guilty when I remembered that I kept avoiding her while I was at the academy and now that we have graduated I’m still trying to keep my distance.
But if you ask whether we are going to get along well in the future, I’m having a hard time deciding. One thing that I hate the most is when people keep their distance because of my family’s social standing.
「We’re still undecided regarding the date of the wedding.」
「Then, you haven’t picked your dress yet? I can help you to pick one!」
Hey, is it okay to skip a hundred steps of preparation and just attend the ceremony? But isn’t it strange for her to participate in the preparation stages?
I feel like a fool for taking it seriously. I have a feeling like no matter how much I refuse, she’s going to keep pushing. Our current distance is just right.
「I can choose the dress by myself. I mean, is the dress really necessary?」
「Of course, it is! Yumiela-san you’re missing the important part!」
I never expected the day when she would call me out for missing the point would come.
And I know that I need a dress for my wedding. But I’m talking about the need for the wedding itself. Patrick and her need to stop assuming that the wedding will be held.
「Honestly, is a wedding necessary?」
「Haa, Yumiela-san, you really… I feel bad for Patrick-sama. Having a beautiful ceremony is necessary for marriage, you know?」
With an exaggerated sigh, Eleanora begins to talk about the wedding passionately. Sigh, it’s another long rant.
◆ ◆ ◆
「—Oh, and you can wear as many as you want with dress change!」
「Eleanora-sama, its time…」
「Oh my, am I talking too much? I’ll come again later.」
Feeling satisfied after giving me a speech about the wedding, Eleanora left without a fuss.
She’s going to come back, huh.
Let’s go outside tomorrow.
Not long after Eleanora left the residence, exhaustion came over me as I leaned on the sofa. Patrick and the prince, the two traitors who left me to deal with her soon returned to the parlor.
When Patrick looked at me, who is more expressionless than ever, he asked with a voice full of concern.
「I’m sorry, Yumiela. Are you tired? What did Eleanora-sama say?」
「She’s going to refrain herself from making advances toward His Highness for a while.」
From Prince Edwin’s point of view, this is good news. But I’m still not happy about him coming to my house.
Looking surprised than happy, Prince Edwin said.
「That Miss Eleanora? How did you do it?」
「I’m not doing anything in particular. Oh, do you know anything about her brother? What kinda person is he? She told me that I was like her brother.」
「Miss Eleanora’s brother? Wasn’t she an only child?」
Eh? Prince Edwin doesn’t know?
That can’t be true. Both of them are nobles living in the royal capital, moreover they come from the royal family and the duke house. It’s impossible that they have never met, much less not knowing he even existed…