Chapter 1. The fiancé is back
“Today’s banquet is for those who led the war to victory.”
As if struck by lightning, my mind, which was digging into the cruel past, came back at the solemn voice.
I finally came to my senses and took a deep breath.
I could feel someone’s gaze. When I looked to the side, Baron Delrond was looking at me worriedly.
He asked if I was okay with the shape of his mouth.
I tried my best to smile and replied that I was okay, then I clenched my cold sweaty hands.
Pull yourself together, Leila.
You can’t ruin what you have to do just because of the past you don’t want to remember.
I took a deep breath and braced myself.
“Duke Williot, Count Asdar, Sandra…”
In the meantime, after finishing his speech, Kalian called out the names of the main characters who led the war to victory.
Those who were called came out to the front of the stairs with their glasses.
Because of that, I was able to see Philen more closely and gritted my teeth in a different meaning than when I saw Andante.
On the other hand, Philen didn’t give me a single glance as if he was not interested in me.
I was deeply relieved by the fact, but also anxious at the same time.
It felt like seeing a dormant volcano just before it burst.
After calling all the names of the main characters, Kalian raised the glass handed by Rahel.
“To comfort the others who were unfortunately killed at the war, cheers.”
All the nobles, including the main characters, emptied the glass they were holding.
The banquet began by emptying the glass.
As before, Kalian came down from the higher seat and danced with Duchess Cloud first.
The aide had nothing to do until halfway through the banquet. So all we could do was to enjoy the party.
…will I be able to enjoy it?
I peeked at Andante’s side.
Andante was not there.
I looked around the banquet hall to see if he had gone somewhere else, but I still couldn’t find him.
Did he leave? No way.
The banquet began now, and there’s no way he could have left.
More than that, why’s Andante Thebesa here?
Shouldn’t he be in the academy by now?
Let alone the Count of Thebesa being a fallen noble and having done nothing during the war, they couldn’t possibly attend this banquet.
I knew they didn’t even get an invitation.
So how did Andante get here?
If it were Countess Thebesa or the Count, it would have been, but not Andante.
I was anxious. I had to find him before he could do anything.
I was looking for Andante anxiously when someone suddenly grabbed my shoulder.
I looked back in surprise.
Behind me was Baron Delrond, who looked more surprised than I was.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
Baron Delrond raised both his hands to his chest level.
“I didn’t mean to surprise you, Sir.”
I was surprised purely because I was stupid. Baron Delrond was not at fault.
“What’s the matter?”
“The banquet hall is a little stuffy, so I’m going out to the terrace.”
Baron Delrond pointed his thumb at the empty terrace.
“If it’s okay with you, would you like to go out there with me?”
Getting out of the people’s eyes was something I wanted too.
I gladly followed Baron Delrond to the terrace.
“It’s been a while since I wore the uniform so it’s stuffy.”
As soon as Baron Delrond came out to the terrace, he frowned and unbuttoned the button that was tightening his neck.
Seeing the baron like that, my tension was relieved and laughter came out.
“Is it funny that I feel uncomfortable?”
“If you laugh and say something like that, it’s not credible, you know?”
Baron Delrond looked at me while grunting.
The first song ended as I was talking with Baron Delrond.
Numerous ladies gathered around Kalian as if waiting, but Kalian didn’t seem interested.
That’s interesting. His reaction was quite different from the men I had seen so far.
“Sir, aren’t you going to dance?”
At the baron’s question, I looked back at him.
“I’m not good at dancing, so I’m just going to rest.”
“I saw you dance before, and you were good at it.”
Ah, did you see that?
“I’m only good at the first waltz. And I’m totally poor at the other songs. Besides, I can’t dance in this outfit.”
When I pointed to the uniform, he nodded, saying he understood.
“Well, Sir is a woman, so it’s kind of weird to dance in a men’s uniform. But it’s ironic that the uniform suits you well.”
“The uniform suits me well?”
That’s a relief. I was worried if it didn’t suit me.
“Still, it’s a little awkward. I don’t know how to greet people.”
“Can’t you just greet the way noblemen do?”
“Is that okay?”
“I didn’t know, that’s why I asked.”
A moment of silence passed.
The baron and I looked at each other and burst out laughing out loud.
It’s been a while since I laughed like this. It seemed like a really long time.
I didn’t know why I was laughing though.
After a long laugh, Baron Delrond realized that his champagne glass was empty and clicked his tongue briefly.
“I should go and get some champagne. Will you still be here, Sir?”
Inside the banquet hall was stuffy, and if I went inside, I might meet Andante or Philen.
“Then I’ll be back with only champagne. Please wait for a moment.”
I let the baron go and looked at the wide garden.
It seemed that my stuffy heart had relieved a little.
I liked the quiet silence, too.
As I was looking at the wide garden, hoping that the banquet would end without anything happening, like the quiet silence, I could feel someone coming in.
“Are you already back…”
Of course, I thought it was Baron Delrond, but unexpectedly, it was Philen.
As soon as I saw Philen, I took a step back because I wanted to run away, but I couldn’t run away much because the railing was right behind me.
When I tried to run away to the banquet hall, Philen was blocking the entrance like an iron fortress, and when I was going to ask other people for help, there’s no one around except for Philen.
And there’s no sign from Baron Delrond, who said he would be back.
Then I had no choice but to face it head-on.
“Get out of my way.”
I snapped sharply, but Philen didn’t blink an eye. Rather, he came closer to me.
I leaned my back to the railing as much as I could, wary of Philen.
“I told you to get out of my way, didn’t I? ”
“I have nothing to talk about with you.”
Philen grabbed my arm. I groaned at how hard he grabbed me.
But instead of groaning out loud, I glared at him fiercely.
“Let me go.”
“If you don’t run away.”
“As I said before, I have nothing to talk about with you.”
“Even if it’s about Williot estate?”
…about Williot estate?
My resolve not to talk to Philen was shaken.
Should I hear what’s going on?
Because if there’s a problem with the territory people, I have to help…
It wasn’t for Philen. It was for the people of the territory, and furthermore, for the empire.
“…what’s going on?”
When I expressed my willingness to listen, Philen finally let go of my arm.
My arm, which he was holding, was throbbing. I wrapped the area with my other hand and glared at him.
“If you have something to say, hurry up and say it.”
“Since when did you become His Majesty’s mistress?”
What kind of nonsense is this again?
Philen had said countless nonsense so far, but this time it’s by far the best.
Philen’s eyes gleamed dangerously as I stood still saying nothing.
“Seeing that you didn’t deny it, it looks like you really became the Emperor’s mistress.”
“Do you not think I didn’t deny it because it’s so ridiculous?”
“Are you saying that it’s a false rumor?”
“Of course, it’s a false rumor. Why would I become the Emperor’s mistress?”
I firmly answered no, but Philen didn’t erase his suspicions.
Just think whatever you want.
Having no intention of making excuses, I waved my hand.
“So, what’s going on in Williot estate?”
“Cecily is going to have a baby soon.”
“I told you to tell me about Williot estate, didn’t I?”
“This is about Williot estate, too.”
“How can this be related to Williot estate?”
“Of course, it can. The lord’s child is about to be born.”
It’s just pure coercion.
“So, you want me to congratulate you?”
“If I want it, can you do it?”
It wouldn’t have been possible if I was in the position of his fiancée, but now that we’re completely unrelated to each other, it was possible. There’s no reason not to do it.
I congratulated him with pleasure, but Philen sighed, rubbing his face.
“You think Cecily’s having a baby is completely someone else’s business, huh?”
“Because it is someone else’s business.”
As I spoke honestly about what I thought, the wrinkles on his forehead deepened.
“How can this be someone else’s business?”
“I would rather ask this. Why do you think it has something to do with me?”
“Because you’re my fiancée.”
It was so ridiculous that I couldn’t even laugh.
“Did you forget what I said before I left the mansion? I said that I wanted to break off the engagement, right?”
“I know it’s out of anger. You’re angry because I told you to leave.”
“I think you’re misunderstanding something, but what I said that day was sincere. I want to break off the engagement. No, our engagement has already broken up.”
When I emphasized the word ‘broken up’, a deep wrinkle was formed on Philen.
“Why? Is it because you became the Emperor’s mistress?”
Why did his mind only roll in that direction?
“I said no.”
“Then, come back. If you want to work as an aide that much, I’ll let you do it.”
The way he spoke as if he was being kind was ridiculous.
“I’ve said it many times, but I’m not going back. I have no intention of going back.”
“I told you I’m not lying.”
“That’s a lie, too.”
Fury rose from the depths of my heart. Even talking to the wall seemed less frustrating than this.
“Okay. I’ll make sure you believe it. Just the way you did it.”
I grabbed Philen’s arm and headed towards the center of the banquet hall.
People’s attention was drawn to my sudden move.
Philen also looked at me in bewilderment.
“What are you doing now…”
“Duke Williot, I will say it once again.”
I ignored Philen’s words neatly and said.
“I, Leila Thebesa, want to break off the engagement with you, Duke Philen Williot.”