It was the fifth day after arriving at the royal capital, yet no messenger from the royal castle had arrived.
Patrick said it’s important to show ourselves before His Majesty and the Queen, but I don’t think we need to this time.
I’m sure His Majesty is busy, and that he won’t take any initiative to meet us.
…As I was just thinking about that, the messenger arrived. Crap.
We quickly headed into the parlor. The one who’s playing the messenger was none other than the headmaster of the royal academy.
「Eh? Headmaster, what are you doing here?」
「Long time no see, Yumiela-san, Patrick-kun. And I’m not the headmaster anymore.」
「So, it was a temporary job.」
「Yes. You got that right, now I’m back doing my old job.」
He said with a shady smile plastered on his face, if that’s the case… then he must be one of His Majesty’s close aides. He didn’t even mention his family name, what a mysterious guy.
He had been sent to the academy to act as a liaison between His Majesty and me. And since I’ve graduated, I guess he doesn’t have to act as the headmaster anymore. I believe he stepped down from his position soon after my graduation.
We sat across from him.
「Headmaster… former headmaster, how can I help you today?」
「…By any chance, do you remember my name?」
「Yes. Your name is…」
What was it again? I don’t remember much. I’m trying to remember but I’d been calling him headmaster the entire time.
Patrick quickly opened his mouth in embarrassment.
「If you aren’t a headmaster anymore, should we call you Sir Ronald?」
「No, no, no, that’s too formal. Feel free to talk casually with me.」
As expected of Patrick. Headmaster Ronald sounds familiar, it definitely sounds like I’ve heard him somewhere.
「So, Ronald-san, what can I do for you?」
「I knew you didn’t remember that, did you?」
「No, I remembered it correctly. I’ve got a good memory.」
And just like that his name changed from headmaster to Ronald-san, then he caught Patrick’s eyes. There were two pairs of eyes in front of him, one that will lie and could steal and the other is a bonafide liar.
Then, he took out an envelope and handed it to me, it was stamped with the royal wax seal.
「 An invitation to a tea party from Her Majesty.」
A tea party with the Queen… Well, it can’t be worse than the one with the other noble ladies.
Besides, they’re making contact with me in a way I don’t mind. I know I’m being selfish, but I’m grateful for their consideration.
I looked at the envelope, which coincidentally smelled good and said.
「When is it?」
「Tomorrow,but if it’s inconvenient for you we can change the date…」
「No, no, it’s fine.」
「Alright, tomorrow it is. Her Majesty said she enjoyed having tea party with Yumiela-san.」
The date and time must’ve been mentioned in the letter but I’m trying to get a confirmation from Ronald-san. The Queen might have anticipated this when she sent him.
I’m quite vocal about the fact that I want nothing to do with the royalty, so it’s not something I tried to hide. They would find out about it anyway, just like Roland-san figured out that I had forgotten his name.
Knowing that I had to visit the castle tomorrow, I feel a little dejected. Roland gave a bigger smile. Feeling something else was coming I asked, 「Is there anything else?」
「There is one more thing I need to confirm. Do you know about Sanonism’s church in the royal capital and its barrier device?」
「Yeah, we went to the church two days ago… I’ve confirmed it’s existence. Did something happen to it?」
「We went there two days ago, but not yesterday.」
What happened to my fated nemesis? What the heck happened? I want to get my hands on that device so I can have my rematch someday.
「It looks like the magical barrier device have been stolen.」
Roland-san said casually.
Patrick quickly turned his face towards me. I think I might’ve heard a crack.
「No, no, no. It’s not me. I didn’t do anything.」
What’s coming out of my mouth sounds like something the culprit would say. But I really didn’t do it. I know I said I wanted to, but I wouldn’t sneak around to do it.
Looking at my suspicious behavior, Patrick’s eyes sharpened even more.
「Look, I can’t even enter the church. Besides, I don’t know where the device is located. My goal is to settle my fight with the barrier. I’d rather destroy it than steal it.」
Objectively I looked even more suspicious for my quick defense. If the position was reversed, even I’d think I’m the culprit.
Patrick hasn’t said anything at all and yet I’m the one who looked suspicious because of my desperate attempt to defend myself.
Could it be that I’m going to be falsely accused? After a quick glance, with his usual laughter Ronald said.
「I don’t doubt you. I just wanted to confirm if there was a barrier two days ago.」
「I’ve thought about destroying it, but never about stealing it.」
「You cant even break it, right?」
And I totally understand that I shouldn’t break the barrier. Whether I’d do it or not is another story. Even if the world was talking behind my back and became my enemy, there are some things that we humans have to do.
As I was thinking about what to say, Ronald explained the situation further.
「The cardinal always checks the barrier device every morning and evening, during his checks, he discovered it was stolen yesterday evening. I didn’t know if the barrier really existed, so I decided to confirm the barrier’s existence while I was you.」
「The barrier definitely exists. It was really solid. And one day I’ll defeat it.」
「Please don’t break the barrier…」
Then, the crime happened yesterday at noon and I had a perfect alibi for it. I’m innocent.
Patrick seemed to realize it too before turning away his gaze from me.
「See? Didn’t I tell you I’m not the culprit?」
「…I didn’t say anything.」
「But who could have stolen the device then?」
「You’re… you really didn’t do it, right?」
Patrick is really skeptical. He needs to trust me more.
In fact, Ronald didn’t even doubt me from the very beginning. He then explained why he believed that I was innocent.
「Yumiela-san was seen outside the rampart yesterday. And many people witnessed her going back straight to home.」
「See? It’s not me, alright?」
「I get it, sorry for doubting you.」
Patrick honestly apologized. Eh? It’s a rare sight to see him apologize, usually it’s the other way around.
Now, how will I make the most of this opportunity? Maybe I could ask him for a favor, even if it’s an outrageous one. I’d do anything to get the upper hand in my love life even if it meant being unfair.
Ronald opened his mouth to interrupt my daydreaming and said something awkwardly.
「And while we are on this topic, can you stop jumping over the walls next time? In case you’re wondering, we’re keeping track of the number of people going in and out.」
Patrick’s expression changed again, this time back to his usual expression.
「Yumiela, you can’t just jumped over the rampart and please stop walking over the roof.」
「No, me jumping over the rampart has nothing to do with walking on the roof. If anything, even if I walked on the ground I would have still jumped over the rampart.」
「…And from now on, it’s forbidden to go in and out from the window.」
The tables have turned, how did this happen? Patrick starts acting like a nagging and lecturing mother, even a hundred-year romance can turn sour… no, it didn’t turn sour. We had this kind of relationship to begin with, so it’s not a big deal.
The problem is that I’m not allowed to walk on the roof. It was a hell lot of fun and I wanted him to experience it too. Maybe he would change his mind after experiencing it.
I pretended to be remorseful and listened to his words while in truth I was thinking of ways to drag him to the wonder of aerial travel.
The storm passed relatively quickly, maybe it’s because of Ronald’s presence. Patrick said we’re getting off-topic and steered the conversation back on track.
「I’m really glad that you’re here, Patrick. You’re the only one who can stop Yumiela from acting rash.」
「Acting rash? Would you believe me if I said I’d change my speech and conduct?」
「…You sound like you’re putting words in your mouth. Well, that’s the end of the story. Just let me know if you know any information about it.]
The fact that the church’s treasured artifacts have been stolen is quite an alarming situation. Maybe I should join the search. And if in the process there’s a chance, accidentally, even a slight chance, a probability that I could have a match with it is more than enough.
I’m going to tell them my eager desire to help.
「I’m going to help find the barrier device too. What kind of shape does it have? Are there any other clues you can give us? If you have a list of the people who visited the church yesterday, that will help.」
「…It’s okay, you don’t have to help search for it. I have a feeling that it would be even more dangerous if you’re the one who found it. You can’t tell anyone about this, okay? It’s classified information for government and top church officials only.」
Unfortunately, they refused to let me join the search party.
But this made me question just who is Ronald-san actually? He was aware of classified information and was also in charge of the investigation? I’m also curious as to why he stubbornly refuses to reveal his family name. I doubt that he’s a commoner, though.
He must’ve been able to guess what I was thinking when he spoke with a friendly grin.
「I believe that it’s useless trying to figure out who I am. Not many people know about it, the people who know about it are lower than those who know about the barrier thing.」
Him saying that only made me even more curious. He became one of His Majesty’s close aides at such a young age and looking at the work he did, it seems like was well trusted.
Wait! By any chance is he His Majesty’s illegitimate child? It would make sense why he was adamant about not revealing his family name.
「You’re not thinking I’m His Majesty’s illegitimate children, are you? Because I’m tired about people thinking I’m his illegitimate children.」
He already anticipated it even before I said anything. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find another possible theory.
As I wondered if he was right and that I was wasting my time thinking about this, I heard a commotion coming from the hallway. Ah, here we go again. Instinctively Patrick and I looked at each other.
Unlike Patrick, Ronald had no idea what was going on. He looked curiously towards the door.
「That’s a lot of noise. What happened?」
「It’s something that happens quite regularly, it was about the time they’re here.」
Sure enough, the hustle and bustle approached closer. Just like what we thought, the door was thrown open.
「I’m here for a visit!」
How can she move so aggressively in a dress like that? Eleanora quickly entered the room.
I glanced at Ronald, who froze at the sight of Elanora. As if it wasn’t surprising enough, Eleanora looked at him and rolled her eyes.
「Onii-sama, what are you doing here?」
Onii-sama? Is Ronald Eleanora’s brother? Then, he’s Duke Hillrose’s son?
In the middle of the turmoil, he put on a wry smile and said.
「Hi, Eleanora-san. I haven’t seen you since you graduated.」
「Eh? We’ve met before, haven’t we?」
「What are you talking about? It’s not like teacher and ex-student aren’t supposed to meet outside of school, right?」
「Oh! I shouldn’t call you Onii-sama! …Nice to meet you, headmaster.」
「I think you’ve mistaken me for your brother, hahaha.」
No, no, no, don’t let him fool you.
After a moment of awkward silence, it was Elanora who broke the tension.
「So, why is Onii… sorry, I mean headmaster here?」
Is she going along with him?
He looked suspicious enough, in the end, he raised both of his hands and said.
「Fine, I’ve been able to hide it until now… That’s right, my name is Ronald Hillrose. I did hide my family name and am currently working as one of His Majesty’s close aides.」
This kind of look is rarely seen on him, he looked displeased with how things were progressing.
It really surprised me, not to mention who he actually is and how he could hide their relationship.
I’m also curious as to how Eleanora had been able to get away so far without revealing it and using it to her benefit. I also really wanted to know why he was hiding his family name.
If it hasn’t been discovered by those close to him, then it meant that he was raised separated from the Hillrose family from a young age. Why did the Duke go that far?
「It was my father’s idea. I’m going to live my whole life as someone who has no relationship with the Duke’s household.」
「There’s a reason for that, isn’t there?」
「Of course. The first time I was told about this, I wasn’t sure if this would work, but now I’m grateful for it. My father’s predictions are not something that can be taken lightly.」
A vague answer for a vague question. I don’t see any reason for him to hide his family name at all, but I don’t think that’s a can of worms I want to pry open.
In a society that emphasizes the family where you come from, he lives by hiding his family name. There’s nothing more painful than this. I’m sure various complex and complicated situations prompted him to do it.
「Well, I understand. It’s something irrelevant to me, I won’t ask anymore and I won’t tell anyone.」
「Yeah, it’s irrelevant. But it helps, thank you.」
Why does the 「irrelevant」 part sound like it has a hidden meaning? It probably happened before I was even born, there’s no way it has something to do with me.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a door opening. I looked at the source and saw Eleanora leaving the room. However, Ronald stopped her from leaving.
「Eleanora, wait, it has been a long time since I’ve had a chance to talk to my sweet little sister.」
「Are you mad at me, onii-sama?」
「No, no, no. There’s no way that I’m mad at my sweet little sister, am I?」
「That’s not true! There are times when you’re smiling but it feels scary instead!」
I do remember Eleanora did say her brother’s expression rarely changed a few days ago. But seeing it in action is an entirely different experience. Ronald was smiling as usual but there’s this aura of intimidation aura behind it.
He was smiling and angry at the same time, meanwhile Eleanora asked me for help.
「I have an appointment with Yumiela-san after this! That’s why I can’t stay and talk to you!」
She looked at me and gave me poorly executed winks. Is that supposed to be a sign for help?
Knowing that Eleanora was asking me for help, Ronald catches my eyes. His smile is scary.
「Is it true you have a prior appointment?」
「We don’t have any appointments. Miss Elanora has been getting into trouble for coming without warning almost every day.」
「Can I borrow a room? Because I think we need to have a conversation right now.」
「Please, by all means, you can use this room. We’re going to give you some space.」
I ditched Eleanora and left the room. Patrick was feeling just as guilty as he followed me as we quietly left the room.
It’s not that I’m angry at her but this might be a nice chance to get her stopped coming over unannounced.