Chapter 1. The fiancé is back
“…the rainy season has begun in Williot territory.”
It might sound a little out of the blue, but to explain what happened, I had to say this.
It started with the fact that I was stranded in the estate due to the early rainy season.
To make matters worse, the riverbank collapsed, causing a great flood.
All the carriages except for Duke Williot’s carriage were put in to save the territory’s people.
As a result, all the carriages were broken, and there were no carriages to ride on.
…I didn’t tell him that Philen didn’t lend me the only remaining Duke Williot’s carriage.
Not because I thought of Philen, but it was because of my face.
I didn’t want to let other people know that I was a fiancée who was ignored by her fiancé.
“…so I was in a difficult situation. Luckily a procession of merchants passed by, I was able to get a carriage and come to the capital.”
“And it’s not just a carriage, but a luggage carriage?”
Kalian asked back as if it was ridiculous.
A noble Lady rode a luggage carriage rather than a regular carriage. It was funny even to me.
So when I stopped by the town in the middle, I thought about renting a proper carriage.
However, getting a carriage that travels long distances is not only expensive but also time-consuming, so I just came here by relying on the merchant carriage.
Thanks to that, my condition was a mess.
“Rather than riding a luggage carriage, you could have just ridden a horse.”
“…I am ashamed, but I do not know how to ride a horse.”
“Why? Did you not learn basic skills when you were young?”
Countess Thebesa couldn’t have taught me that.
There’s even no teacher to teach me about letters. I barely learned it from the books my half-brother had left behind by self-studying.
“Somehow, I missed the opportunity to learn.”
If I told other people about it, it would be an act of shooting myself in the foot, so I changed my words around.
It would have been difficult if he had persistently asked, but fortunately, Kalian didn’t.
“You did a great job on your test.”
Kalian picked up the teacup and said in a nonchalant tone.
“You’re the top.”
I’m… the top?
“That can’t be true. There must be some mistake…”
“Mistake? My Lady, we have 7 scholars and Ver… And do you want to say that my eyes are wrong?”
My mouth closed on its own.
I still couldn’t believe that I was on the top, but I couldn’t ask if he was mistaken when he said that.
“There’s no such thing as a mistake. It’s certain that the Lady is the top.”
Kalian firmly put an end to the question.
“So the Lady was selected to be my aide.”
What are you saying right now…
I, I was selected to be your aide?
I was stunned by the more unbelievable fact than being the top in the test.
Is this a dream?
I was worried that everything would disappear when I came to my senses again.
“Congratulations, Lady Thebesa.”
The indifferent congratulatory brought reality to my face.
Only then did I come to my senses and cover my mouth with my hands.
I really became the emperor’s aide.
Being an official had been my desired dream since I was very young.
However, I was giving up because of the custom, the custom that women couldn’t become officials. I couldn’t believe I achieved it like this.
My heart was full and my eyes were teary. It felt like I was walking on clouds.
I had to say thank you quickly, but no words came out.
Like a fool, I just repeated the word ‘thank’.
I stuttered, barely holding back the tears that were about to pour out.
It must have been frustrating for me to do that, but Kalian didn’t say anything.
He just quietly drank tea and waited until I could fully say thank you.
One by one, things that I had forgotten for a while came to mind.
The image of Philen, who was angry about what I would do with the duchess’s work when I became an official, flashed in front of my eyes.
“When can you start to work?”
I couldn’t say anything to Kalian’s question and just fiddled with the teacup.
Will Philen allow me to work as an aide?
If he doesn’t allow me, what should I do?
Should I… refuse it?
“It seems there’s no answer.”
Oh my, I couldn’t believe I ignored the Emperor’s question.
“I apologize. I have something to think about for a moment…”
“That’s the look on your face.”
Kalian held his chin and leaned his upper body slightly toward me.
“So, what’s your answer?”
“…I think I will have to go back to the Williot estate first.”
“I guess you do. You have to pack your stuff.”
“There’s that, but… I have to ask Duke Williot if it’s okay for me to work as an aide.”
Kalian tilted his head slightly as if it was strange.
“It’s your business. Why are you asking Duke Williot rather than making your own decision?”
“Because I’m the Duke’s fiancée.”
So? I thought that was a sufficient answer, but now that he asked back, I was disconcerted.
“Does Duke Williot ever ask the Lady for permission to do something?”
I shook my head.
Philen never asked for my permission and always acted in his own way, and it’s entirely up to me to take care of the aftermath.
“Why doesn’t he ask? Isn’t Duke Williot your fiancé?”
That’s right, why didn’t he get permission from me?
Because he’s the Duke?
Of course, there had to be a reason, but I couldn’t say that it was necessarily the case.
Because when the previous Duke Williot did something, he always asked the Duchess.
When I looked at it interestingly, the previous duke stroked my hair with a broad smile, saying that if he was considerate of his wife, he had to do this.
Consideration, that’s right. This was a consideration, not an obligation.
Philen wasn’t as considerate of me as I was of him.
…why did I realize this now?
No, I already realized it, but I had been turning a blind eye to it all this time.
If I acknowledged that fact, I would be so miserable.
It made me so pathetic that I couldn’t let go of the duchess’s position even after being treated like this.
“It seems like you have a lot on your mind again.”
It was disrespectful to keep thinking differently in front of the emperor.
“I will be careful from now on.”
“Does that mean that the Lady and I will see each other again?”
Of course, I tried to answer yes, but my mouth kept closed.
Because I knew that what he meant was not as Duchess Williot and the Emperor, but as the Emperor’s aide and the Emperor.
When I looked at the teacup silently, Kalian smiled brightly and picked up his teacup.
“You said you have to go back to the Williot estate, so I’ll have to give you plenty of time. A month should be enough, right?”
“That is enough. Thank you for your consideration, Your Majesty.”
“You’re someone who’ll help me with my work in the future, so this is nothing.”
After taking a sip of tea, Kalian put down his teacup and looked at me.
“I’ll accept whatever choice the Lady makes, but I want you to know one thing.”
His blue eyes twinkled mischievously.
“That I really need the Lady’s help.”
If the emperor needed help, I had to help as I was a noble.
“If that’s the case…”
“Ah, I’m not forcing you.”
Kalian raised both hands to his chest level, smiling.
“I just said that. The Lady can do whatever she wants.”
“Still, I hope to see you again in a month with good news.”
My eyes went down to the teacup, which had lost its warmth.
“I’ll always be waiting for you.”
The words that he’ll be waiting echoed in my ears.
I was grateful to Kalian for letting me spend the night in the Imperial Palace, and also for lending me a carriage.
I should say thank you for his help later. And also gave him a thank you gift.
What should I give him? Jewelry? Clothes? Or…
I couldn’t believe strawberry candy came to my mind as a gift.
It seemed like the strawberry candy he gave me before left quite an impression on me.
In fact, even without worrying about this, I already knew what Kalian wanted the most.
Me accepting the position of an aide.
Kalian said he didn’t force me, but it was still burdensome.
I was thinking a lot about it.
If he had forced me to accept the position, I would have accepted it with ease.
No. I shouldn’t think like this when he thought of me and gave me the chance to make a choice.
I sighed deeply and looked out the window.
The scenery became more and more familiar. It meant that Williot territory was getting closer.
It also meant that the time had come to meet Philen.
The thought of seeing Philen gave me a headache.
He must have already heard that I passed the official test.
How will Philen react when he sees me?
I hoped he didn’t get too upset, but… it would be impossible.
If I thought of my relationship with Philen, I had to refuse the position. But if I thought of my dream, I wanted to accept it.
…it would be too much to catch two rabbits at the same time.
What on earth should I do?
The worries weren’t resolved, rather it continued to grow like a snowball, and by the time I arrived at Williot’s estate, it became uncontrollably huge.
When I finally arrived at Duke Williot’s mansion, my face had turned dark
The imperial knight and the coachman, who took me all the way here, asked me what was wrong.
I tried hard to smile, saying there’s nothing wrong and went into the duke’s mansion.
“You are back, My Lady!”
Sarah and Misa came out to greet me with bright smiles. Other servants were also seen.
I didn’t see them for only about 10 days, but I was happy as if I hadn’t seen them for a year.
“It’s been a while. Is everything okay?”
“Of course! As you may have seen, the territory restoration is going smoothly!”
Did it? I didn’t pay attention as my head was full of other thoughts.
“But My Lady.”
Sarah looked at me with twinkling eyes.
“I heard you passed the test? And on the top too!”
As expected, that story had spread all the way here.
“As expected of My Lady! You are amazing!”
“Somehow, I was lucky.”
“It can’t be lucky enough to be on top! My Lady got it because you’re smart!”
Sarah gave me a thumbs up saying I was cool. Other servants also made a fuss and complimented me.
It’s not like I had done a great job, but being complimented by so many people made me embarrassed.
“Stop it. It’s not a big deal.”
“Yeah, it’s not a big deal.”