Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
When she entered the parlour, she spotted Charlotte sipping on her tea.
Drinking tea with her eyes lowered, she looked like a coy and pretty cat.
Charlotte slowly raised her head at Nelia’s voice. Charlotte’s absentminded eyes lit up almost instantly. She rose from her seat and strode toward Nelia to wrap her arms around her (Nelia) neck.
Nelia had to contemplate whether they were close enough to have such intimate gestures with Charlotte.
Somehow, Nelia was taken aback by Charlotte’s aggressive reaction, before Charlotte’s arms around her neck loosened gradually.
Charlotte noticed that there was someone who came with Nelia and glanced at him.
Nelia also looked at the duke.
His features hardened subtly. It was similar to when he faced Carlos.
She wondered why his features became firm, but Nelia thought she should introduce Duke Hart to Charlotte first.
“Charlotte, this is Duke Hart, the owner of the mansion, whom I serve as well.”
Charlotte looked at Duke Hart.
Nelia suddenly became curious about one thing. She wondered how Charlotte felt when she met the duke for the first time.
‘……Will she think he’s cool?’
In fact, Charlotte was strongly drawn to the duke on their first meeting in the original story.
Nevertheless, the reason why she loved Carlos instead of the duke was that she gradually learned about the secret atrocities of the duke.
If she might have not found out, she would have probably fallen in love with the duke instead of Carlos.
With that being said, the duke had abandoned the thought of having revenge, so it meant that Charlotte wouldn’t find out about anything when she liked the duke.
Her heart felt like beating anxiously again at the inexorable conclusion.
Nelia returned to her senses at the voice of the duke calling her name, and she hurriedly proceeded the rest of the introduction.
“Ah……. Your Grace, as I said earlier, this is Charlotte.”
The duke’s gaze turned to Charlotte.
Seeing his eyes widened slightly, she thought he was a little surprised.
Was it because he noticed Charlotte wasn’t a noble as she didn’t have a surname, or was it surprising that she befriended commoners? Or it might be because of her pretty face.
But shortly after, the duke drew a gentle smile on his face, just like how he was always polite to his subordinates.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Charlotte stared at the duke’s face without accepting his greeting.
Nelia knew that Charlotte was a bit lacking in mannerism because she had read the original story.
The fact that she grew up as a free spirit in a rural monastery couldn’t be missed.
It was probably because Charlotte, a commoner, had an audacity to act unreservedly toward him, a noble.
That’s how Charlotte grew up in a very rural valley.
Charlotte looked at the duke for a while before greeted him in a subdued voice.
Nelia already felt tired even if they just greeted each other.
She expected the duke would say something like, ‘I delivered my greeting, so you two may talk now.’ but when she saw the duke standing still, he seemed to have no intention of doing so.
Nelia eventually looked at the duke and asked.
“Your Grace, will you join us?”
“Nelia’s guest is here, so I’d like to entertain her as well.”
The duke said softly with a smile.
On the contrary, Nelia felt down when she saw that smile. She didn’t know the reason, but she just didn’t like the duke when he said he would be staying there with them.
But Nelia suppressed this displeased feeling and asked Charlotte.
“How about you, is it okay for the duke to be here with us?”
Nelia had her hopes up when staring at Charlotte. But Charlotte nodded.
“……Yes, I don’t mind.”
It was more surprising that Charlotte didn’t mind him joining them.
Nelia felt even more down, but she tried not to be so conscious of it.
She didn’t want to show her bad side that was about to jump out.
Pulling herself together determinedly, Nelia sat down on the sofa in the parlour.
Charlotte opened her mouth first.
The voice calling her name was somewhat subdued.
“I’m sorry I came to see you all of a sudden……”
She didn’t expect her to apologize first, perhaps because her expectations for Charlotte’s social skill were already low in the first place.
Moreover, she seemed to be sincerely sorry that she casted her eyes down. If she had ears (like a dog does), they must have drooped down at that moment.
“I had a hard time today, and I thought of Nelia…….”
Hearing Charlotte’s words, Nelia remembered one part in the original story that she had left behind.
Charlotte came to the capital and suffered through many difficulties.
Some of the money she brought was stolen because she was constantly harassed at the monastery. And she even knew about the backstory of her wandering around the streets, which was to find the thief who stole her money.
Nelia’s gaze landed on the gloomy-looking Charlotte.
‘…… Her money wasn’t stolen today, was it?’
It’s not her concern, but she was worried.
“Did something happen, Charlotte…….”
When she asked carefully, Charlotte raised her gaze.
“I’m ashamed to tell you this, but…… my money was stolen today.”
Oh, so her prediction was right. Nelia rested her head on her forehead.
“When I came into my room, the money I had stored in the drawer disappeared…… the door was locked properly, though.”
At Charlotte’s innocent remark, Nelia unconsciously put on a grim expression.
That’s because the culprit is the priest who shares the room with you…….!
“The priest who shares the room with me said that she saw a thief running in the direction of the city, so I kept looking for him, but no result.”
That, the priest was the culprit and she even lied to her!
Nelia looked at Charlotte and felt heavy with sorrows.
What should she do with this woman, who was going through such hardship?
“Because my legs hurt a lot…… and I missed Nelia, so I came here unannounced.”
Nelia said with a sigh.
Nelia thought it would be better rather than being fooled and kept walking around…… she suddenly recalled one more thing she had forgotten.
Charlotte was originally looking for the thief when she met Carlos, who was on a trip for inspection.
In other words, according to the original story, she should have met Carlos for the first time around this time, but Charlotte came to see her instead.
But Nelia wasn’t as confused as before.
‘Even if it doesn’t exactly happen that way, the original plot already fell short, didn’t it?’
After all, the future was bound to become different the moment Charlotte jumped in front of the carriage she (Nelia) was riding.
As she was going through all sorts of thoughts in her head, she felt like already developing resistance to any kind of situation.
Nelia comforted Charlotte cordially after setting her thoughts aside.
“Charlotte, what happened today must be tough for you, but I hope you can get through it well.”
“Thank you……. I’m glad I decided to see you, Nelia……”
Charlotte showed a faint smile.
Nelia began to question her again after seeing the sincerity from her smile.
Although she helped Charlotte once, she felt terribly awkward at the closeness she sensed with her.
‘Why in the world does she…….?’
In the original story, Charlotte was nice, but she was originally preserved and shy.
Therefore, except for the priests from the rural monastery whom she grew up with, it was said that she had no close friends.
While Nelia was pondering about Charlotte’s demeanor, Charlotte shoved her hand into the pocket after spitting out, ‘Oh, right.’
“It’s not a weird thing, but I brought it because it reminded me of Nelia.”
Two pretty-looking acorns were laid on her white palm.
“There was an oak tree on the way here.”
The acorns brought by Charlotte were very clean and well-proportioned, so they were definitely prettier than regular acorns.
But apart from that, Nelia was curious about the reason for this random gift.
Nelia was staring at the acorn when she heard Duke Hart’s voice.
“Nelia is a human. She will certainly not like acorns.”
She was grateful that he willingly spoke up for her, but the duke’s word, ‘human’ was very offensive.
I mean, of course I am…….
But, the duke’s remark wasn’t the only strange thing.
“Don’t you like acorns?”
Charlotte asked, seeming a little shocked. Was it so shocking that she didn’t like acorns?
Nelia felt odd, but she thought of Charlotte’s sincerity in this thing, so she tried to speak calmly.
“I don’t like acorns, but because it’s Charlotte’s gift, I will take care of it well.”
But Charlotte still didn’t seem to get out of her trance.
The duke, who didn’t say anything since his last remark, asked Nelia and Charlotte.
“When did you two know each other?”
At the sharp question that came out of nowhere, Nelia was dumbfounded.
She introduced her to the duke as her friend, so would he laugh at her if she said they only met a few days ago, and that they only met once so far…….? It just happened that he thought she didn’t have any friends.
While she was busy in her thoughts, Charlotte spoke up first.
“I met Nelia a few days ago.”
The duke looked at Nelia and murmured, ‘A few days ago…….’
“So you two didn’t meet very often.”
“Yes, this is the second time.”
Nelia’s cheeks gradually turned red at Charlotte’s honest answer.
For some reason, the duke’s gaze seemed as if saying, ‘I knew it.’ when they were directed at her.
Charlotte, who didn’t know anything, innocently asked.
“But may I know why you ask that…….?”
“You two seem very close, so I wondered how far you have known each other.”
Charlotte’s brows narrowed slightly. It was a pretty big change in Charlotte’s expression from what she has seen so far.
“The depth of our relationship…… You don’t need to know how deep it is.”
The duke smirked.
“There are exceptions, but the intimacy of the common relationship can be measured by time.”
“I don’t think so.”
Charlotte glared at the duke.
Nelia was slightly confused by the side of Charlotte that she had never seen before. Why did she get so worked up by this talk…….
“We’ve only met once, but that doesn’t mean we’re not close, right…….?”
Nelia couldn’t bring herself to agree with Charlotte, who looked at her and sought for affirmation.
“No. I think we can get close even if we don’t spend a long time together.”
“Nelia thinks the same as well.”
Charlotte gave a pretty smile as if she was satisfied with her response.
The duke only shrugged while looking at Charlotte.
Nelia thought the atmosphere between them was strange. As if they were wary of each other……
And she gave up her suspicions shortly after. They met for the first time, there was no reason to be wary of each other.
Nelia hurriedly brought up another topic to escape the awkward atmosphere.
Luckily, Charlotte quickly became immersed in another topic. The topic was where Charlotte lived. Charlotte’s eyes lit up almost immediately and talked about where she lived.
She said the flowing stream was so clear that the riverbed could be seen from the surface, and there would be rustling leaves that sounded like a song in the evening.
Charlotte, who was too far gone in explaining the area she lived in, suddenly covered her mouth with her hands urgently.
“I’m sorry…… I was talking too much about myself.”
Nelia shook her head.
“It was fun listening to it.”
Charlotte blinked with downcast eyes.
And she looked up again, seemingly hesitant to speak.
“I’m also…… curious about Nelia.”
Chapters 55-59 is up on Kofi Shop
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