Chapter 1 - Prologue
“What do you mean Stern humiliated me?”
“Ah, Marquis Haneton, it’s hard for me to say this out of my mouth, but Seria was hiding by the door even though the Marquis was looking for her.”
The Marchioness’ words echoed and people started to whisper.
“Hide by the door?”
“Did you embarrass the Marquis by going to such a low place?”
But Kalis opened his mouth without changing his expression.
“Stern avoided me? There must be some misunderstanding.”
“A lot of people attend the banquet, so I asked Stern politely before if she could wait for me at the door.”
The Marchioness looked at Seria.
“… Why didn’t you say so earlier?”
“Is there any reason for me to tell the Marchioness everything?”
She heard a small murmur around her. The eyes of those who had criticized Seria until just now had calmed down.
“There’s no reason to tell you everything. We’re not that close.”
“If you cared for me, you would have taken me to western society often, but you never did.”
The Marchioness’s face was clearly upset. Kalis looked at her with an unreadable expression as he spoke.
“Marchioness. Please don’t get involved like this.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s unpleasant.”
Kalis’s comment was harsh. Of course, Haneton and Kellyden were both Marquis. However, Kellyden was the foremost authority in the West. Therefore, when comparing the two families, Haneton’s rank was a little lower.
The Marchioness’s face turned pale. As it was such a strong comment, it caused quite a stir. The Marchioness and Kalis all had unexpectedly strong hands.
“Apparently young people these days are more sensitive to affectionate relationships.”
“Also, they’ve both had long social runs on the Imperial Capital.”
“Yes. It’s a little different from the West.”
A nobleman who seemed to be a close friend of the Marchioness added in. Kalis gave them a cold look.
“I want you to stop talking about us.”
A chilly silence descended.
“Let’s stop. Marquis Haneton.”
Marquis Kellyden, who had been watching the situation with a firm expression, stopped Kalis. At his gesture, music began to flow, evoking the atmosphere.
“You must stop as well.”
The Marquis spoke, and the Marchioness’s expression hardened and she quickly disappeared. Kalis’s appearance was a surprise. Seria didn’t expect he would come forward and try to sort things out like this.
At Kalis’s obvious words, the Marchioness would be remembered only for the fact that she got nothing and just caused mayhem.
Marquis Kellyden looked at Seria and said something unexpected.
“Will you dance with Cassius in a little while? A memorial banquet for Lady Magrus should never end in such an uncomfortable atmosphere.”
A determined voice. But Seria had pointed out earlier that she wouldn’t dance with anyone.
Regardless of her notoriety in the West, Seria officially held the position of Grand Duchess of Berg. It would naturally help the party’s social reputation greatly if she danced with the son of the family.
‘What fear I have for Cassius if I can rule it out, I feel my hands would get cold in real time.’
Kalis glanced at Seria, then turned his gaze to Marquis Kellyden.
“Marquis, Stern is my partner, so she must dance with me.”
Marquis Kellyden smiled unconcernedly.
“There is no law that says Seria must dance with only one person.
How many times are you going to embarrass me like this?”
Kalis couldn’t finish his sentence. Because Seria stopped him with a slight tug on his sleeve.
“Thank you for your concern. Marquis Haneton.”
Kalis had already embarrassed the Marchioness of Kellyden in front of everyone. If he did more, they wouldn’t just end up with a casual squabble in society.
If rudeness was repeated, it could lead to conflict. Possibly a big one since Marquis Kellyden would not be able to ignore the public eye. It was evident that it would lead to great damage to Haneton.
Seria didn’t want to owe Kalis such an emotional debt.
It was only one dance with Cassius. Seria also didn’t want to lose her reputation either.
“Then I guess I’ll have to get ready, Marquis.”
Seria headed for the lounge connected to the banquet hall and changed her shoes. The shoes that her servant had made her wear had the thinnest and pointiest heels of all the shoes. The heels were like a weapon. It wasn’t made for dancing.
‘I will not be able to walk properly for about two weeks.’
The maidservant was sent away, and after exhaling for a while, Seria turned around at the sudden sound of someone’s presence. Her body immediately froze.
Cassius strode into the lounge. Seria could feel some movement outside the lounge. She thought it was Nissos. The lounge she was in was the innermost one, only available for Kellyden family.
“Did the Marquis send you? You’re here to rush me, aren’t you?”
Seria asked, not hiding the fact that she was annoyed. The dance music had already started. This memorial banquet was thoroughly prepared by the Marquis, and with that, the time between dances could be increased or decreased as much as possible at his discretion.
Cassius stopped in front of Seria, his bright blue eyes glaring at her.
“I’ve seen a lot of commotion in the banquet hall. It seems that you don’t want to dance with me very much.”
“Why? Do you want to dance with me?”
“I don’t make it obvious that I don’t like you. Thanks to you, I’m a hot topic among people, no matter whether I talk or dance with you.”
“You think I’m an idiot, don’t you? Do you think I don’t know that even if people talk a little, the honor you get from dancing with the Grand Duchess of Berg is much higher?”
Seria said quickly and walked straight past Cassius.
Suddenly Cassius grabbed her arm.
Cassius opened his mouth in a low voice.
“I can tell by the arm. You’re about to faint.”
“Is it still because of that time that you don’t want to dance with me?”
‘That time’. Seria could tell instinctively. That was the decisive reason why Seria was so afraid of Cassius.
Seria glanced at Cassius and slowly adjusted her voice.
“Yes, why did you do that to me then?”
Cassius bit his lip.
“You pretend to forget everything, but you are still so pathetic that you were driving me this far because of what happened then.”
He said in a mocking voice.
“The Glick socialite, the one who pretended to be fearless, actually valued her life very much. Seria Kellyden.”
“Everyone’s life is precious. And…Was it worth it?”
Seria added, as vaguely as she could, since she didn’t know exactly what happened back then.
“I really thought I was going to die then. You know that.”
Cassius glared at her, unable to answer.
It seemed that there really was a time when the original Seria almost died because he did something.
Her head whipped around in intense fear. Seria decided to borrow the name of the only person Cassius seemed to fear in this castle.
“Does your father know that I almost died?”
Cassius’ eyes wavered slightly. With all her nerves focused on reading his expression, Seria recognized it immediately. There was definitely something going on between the original Seria and Cassius, but it was clear that the Marquis didn’t know about it.
It was then that she heard the quiet presence of people outside the door again.
Cassius misunderstood her shifting gaze towards the door and grabbed her shoulders in a tight grip. Seria’s feet trembled.
“… Let go of me.”
“It’s been ten years and you want to tell father…”
“Why, you’re gonna try to kill me again like that time?”
The question popped out without much thinking, but Cassius’s expression changed strangely at that moment. It was indescribable. It was really strange.
Suddenly, the lounge door burst open.
It was none other than the chief butler of the castle who jumped in.
“Young Master! Please calm down. You can’t do this!”
He hurried in and released Cassius’s grip on Seria’s shoulder. Seria said with trembling lips.
“Father… I’m going to tell father.”
The butler grabbed Seria with a pale face just as Cassius’s complexion changed.
“Young Master didn’t do it on purpose back then! It was a mistake!”
“Yes, Young lady. He didn’t know that there was a hole in the ice at that time!”
A hole? Thin ice?
“You’re acting really pathetic after all these years.”
Cassius said and quickly left the lounge. Seria grabbed the butler’s wrist like a cane. She asked, holding it up.
“Was it really a mistake?”
As expected, the butler opened his eyes wide in surprise.
“It really was a mistake. Miss. You were very young at the time and might have misunderstood… But then, Young Master was also very young at the time. The age of mischief. The castle was turned upside down because Young Master Nissos and the Young Lady secretly went out to the rear garden lake of the castle in the middle of the night, and… Young Master Cassius accidentally buried the Young Lady in the snow. It’s a common prank played by children.”