A routine that doesn’t belong to me
He tried his best to figure out any suspicious things about her, Atalante’s eyes were full of innocence.
“Why am I saying this to you? It’s because you hate me and want me to disappear from His Highness’s side.”
“Aren’t we the same, despite our differences? As such, let’s help each other for the moment.”
Paul looked downwards at Atalante for a while, before letting out a long sigh.
It was because he discovered the dark red traces of blood that appeared on her indoor dress.
It seems that the wound that the doctor had expended all of his energy to sew had ripped open.
“That’s fine for now. Let’s work hard towards the same goal.”
“That’s good to hear.”
Her noble lady act was plausible, which was surprising considering her status as the head of an underground organisation.
‘But she’s unexpectedly slow.’
Atalante merely gave a content smile, as if she didn’t know what had happened to her thigh.
“First off, have a meal with the lord.”
“I had clearly said before that I don’t have an appetite…”
“Before that, see the doctor.”
If she shows up at the dining table like that, the grand duke will be thunderous.
Atalante belatedly noticed the cause of her pain, and furrowed her brows.
“If you want to use me, you should also help me.”
As what he said was true, Atalante nodded obediently without wasting her energy.
After partaking in a late brunch with Atalante, the grand duke’s mood was much better, unlike in the morning.
As proof of that, he even hummed an unintelligible melody from time to time, even as he was buried in a pile of work.
It was eerily uncharacteristic of Lionel Blanc, making others shiver.
“Your Highness, I have brought Rubel.”
Rubel, who travelled with them to the capital’s townhouse yesterday, stood in front of the grand duke and awaited judgement for today’s brunch.
Lionel was currently filling the white paper with his fine handwriting. He continued to speak without even sparing a glance at the trembling Rubel’s face.
“Serve pikata tonight as well. Use calves instead of chickens this time.”
Pikata was a dish consisting of sliced meat with various sauces and vegetables.
At the sudden order for the menu that came without explanations, Rubel blinked and looked at the grand duke’s nose bridge.
“Oh, remove Koje. I don’t think she likes seafood that much.”
“Did Atalante say that?”
Belatedly, Rubel nodded, before carefully asking a question before he left.
He needed to listen to Atalante’s advice, as if she was specifically evaluating his cooking.
He’s currently in the capital thanks to Atalante, after all.
During the journey to the capital, Rubel had repeatedly vowed to cook a dish perfect enough to satisfy her.
But the grand duke’s answer was quite firm. Lionel, who ended the conversation with an answer, immediately picked up another document.
Rubel had also watched them eat from a distance.
Atalante had indiscriminately eaten all the dishes, and even had a subtle smile throughout the meal.
As such, Rubel thought that the brunch he had prepared was close to perfection.
“She seemed to like Pikata, but didn’t seem to like Koje.”
“How did you know that…?”
“You have a lot of questions.”
At that moment, Lionel’s hand stopped, and he looked at Rubel with his chin in a palm.
In order to hear his response, Rubel, whose vision turned blurry to avoid seeing the face that was harmful to his heart, placed all of his focus on his hearing.
“I counted the number of times she chewed her food.”
“She took her time to chew when she was eating the pikata, but she swallowed the koje instantly.”
The corners of Lionel’s lips curled up gently, as if he was imagining her appearance while munching on her food.
‘For real… He has definitely been bewitched by that woman. His Highness, Lionel Blanc is…’
It was hard for him to believe it, even when he witnessed it with his own eyes. He might not believe it even when he’s on his deathbed.
But the angel-like smile only lasted for a moment, and Lionel added warningly with a chilly expression.
“She’s so considerate that even if it wasn’t delicious, it wouldn’t show on her face. I’ll pay even more attention, and cater to Atalante’s preferences.”
‘If His Highness says that, then what are the 60 unfavourable comments that I’d worked hard to make up?’
Holding back the dejected voice, Rubel nodded quietly.
As soon as Rubel left the office, Paul approached the grand duke, and asked with a worried gaze.
“Your Highness, are you really going to refuse all the invitations?”
Amongst the letters that kept pouring in, Lionel selected the letters that were worthy of a personal response, but there was a very large number of letters that remained.
The contents of the letters that bore various seals included requests to visit the Blanc Townhouse or an invitation to their mansions.
Lionel wrote the replies of rejection to all the letters from the noble families.
“I’m not sure if it’s my place to say this, but I think that it would be better to confirm your faction now. Whether you’re in the Imperial faction or the aristocratic faction.”
Unlike Lionel, who does whatever he wants indiscriminately, the previous generations of grand dukes were on friendly terms with the Imperial family.
While he had interacted with the Count of Sera, who’s in the Imperial faction, no one considered the grand duke in the Imperial faction.
Lionel didn’t even hide his dislike of the Emperor. Of course, there wasn’t anyone that considered him in the aristocratic faction either.
Paul gradually started to become worried. It’s because even if the Grand Duchy is an independent country, it isn’t able to continue living with its ties to the Empire cut forever.
“I’m not on anyone’s side.”
“Enough. If you’re not trying to ruin my mood, stop bothering me.”
The grand duke put down his pen and rose from his seat slowly.
Paul shut his mouth, but there’s still a lot of words that’s yet to be spoken.
“Let me say one more thing. It’s misleading that the only family in the Empire that you interact with is the Count of Sera. Since you’re in the capital, why don’t you also meet with Young Lord Union?”
Paulo Union. He was the only son of Count Union, but unlike Count Sera, he’s from a noble family that’s staunchly in the aristocratic faction.
If there’s something unique about him, it would be that he and Lionel had a pretty close friendship when they were children.
In the days when he was still called ‘The Lovely Grand Prince’.
An odd gleam entered Lionel’s eyes briefly, perhaps because he heard a familiar name.
“I’ll think about it.”
Lionel gave an ambiguous answer and checked his schedule while fixing the loosened string of his tunic.
“Madame Delica is going to visit in half an hour, right?”
“Yes. Other than that, I’ve also contacted the etiquette instructor who will teach ball etiquette, the choreographer in charge of teaching the dances, and the craftsmen who will be in charge of accessories, shall I call for all of them?”
Paul, who had made an elaborate plan, asked with his butler’s side.
“That’s enough for today. It’s because fitting the outfits will be tiring enough.”
“While she’s staying here, hire a physician in charge of treating her. A proper one.”
Her body was already weak, and yet she’s also suffering from a chronic disease.
[T/N: Plonk syndrome XD]
After adding those words of worry, Lionel clicked his tongue briefly and stepped out of the office.
‘You couldn’t have actually believed the Plonk syndrome or the something-or-another disease that was diagnosed then, right?’
Wondering if he hasn’t erased that thought, Paul stared blankly at the door that his owner had closed.
Gianna, commonly known as Madame Delica, was the owner of Delica boutique, the most popular boutique in the capital as of late.
Born as an aristocrat in the Kingdom of Paille, she started to focus on fashion while she was studying in the capital, and is currently known as the most successful foreigner in the Empire.
Her nose, which had been tilted up towards the sky, became even higher at the summons by the grand duke of Blanc, who was on a rare visit to the capital.
It was quite a distance from her boutique to the grand duke’s townhouse, but Gianna wasn’t tired at all.
Perhaps that was all there is to it, and she didn’t even have time to fear the notoriety of Grand Duke Blanc.
It’s because if her skills and the magnificent physique of the grand duke were combined, it would definitely become one of the greatest works of all time.
The townhouse wasn’t even his main mansion, and yet it wasn’t any less than the nature of typical nobles.
Gianna, who was guided into the drawing room politely, gave a graceful bow as soon as the door opened.
“It’s nice to meet you, Grand Duke Blanc. I’m Gianna from Delica Boutique. Please feel free to call me Madame.”
However, Lionel wasn’t the only person waiting for Gianna.
Upon noticing a pretty girl seated beside him, Gianna’s eyes narrowed.
“Excuse me, but who is… the lady next to you?”
Could it be that that woman is the grand duke’s fiancée? The one that he brought from the West?
The fact that he even used the warp portal to bring his fiancée back comfortably is a rumour that has spread throughout the capital.
The pace of Gianna’s heart quickened at the thought that she might be the first to know the news that everyone was curious about.
“For now, sit.”
Lionel ignored her carefully asked question, and nodded towards the seat opposite of him.
“…Thank you for your consideration.”
Not forgetting the Empire’s aristocratic greeting, Gianna imitated their gestures and planted her butt onto the chair.
“As you’re probably aware, I’ve called for you today to order outfits.”
“I was under the impression that Your Highness was only fitting for your outfit, would you be ordering an outfit for…your partner?”
Gianna shot a glance at the girl sitting next to him and couldn’t help but frown.
‘Was red hair common in the West?’
Everything she was adorned in was luxurious, but as far as she knew, there weren’t any aristocratic families with red hair in the west.
No, even if she pushed the thoughts about her hair back…
‘What’s with that vulgar colour for pupils?’
A violet hue that only commoners would have.
She wondered if she had seen it mistakenly due to the sunlight, but the colour of her eyes didn’t change, even after looking at them a few more times.
‘Wait a moment, if it’s a girl in her late teens, with crimson hair and purple eyes…’
She suddenly remembered the wanted poster that she ripped irritably this morning.
As the wanted posters were littered in front of her boutique everyday, she couldn’t be bothered to hire a cleaner… No, that’s not it. This description was definitely…
Inadvertently speaking the name that appeared in her head, Gianna immediately covered her mouth, but her words had already left her mouth.
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