Chapter 14 – Home again

So, that happened…

I don’t remember going home. The butler had driven the second carriage home after delivering me, so I must have ridden back with Mother. I imagine I would remember something if we had conversed, so she must have left me to my thoughts. Either that, or I didn’t respond when she did try to talk to me.

I do remember the maid brigade surrounding me when we entered. Somehow, word had already reached them, and the entire staff was lined up at the front to welcome me, like something out of an anime.

It was declared in almost perfect unison. “Congratulations on your engagement, Young Mistress!”

The well-executed choreography fell apart the moment I finished running this gauntlet, with the crowd collapsing around me, squealing their individual congratulations and promising to make me extra beautiful for the engagement announcement, not to mention the eventual wedding. They kept saying all the things you would expect a bunch of hopeless fangirl maids to tell their young mistress while doing their fawning best. Mother just watched with amused tolerance until they had worn themselves out.

In my head, I was screaming at them, I am not happy about this, you know? I would rather die than get married to a guy!

Apparently, there are no mind readers on our household staff. My mental rant did not dissuade them.

Once they began herding me into the house and toward my suite, Mother told me, “After you have changed out of your gown, please come to my sitting room. We have a few matters to discuss.”

She excused herself, abandoning me to the fangirls, who herded me up to my quarters for another round of fangirl-driven humiliation.

I can undress myself, you know? I’m a fine and capable grown-up, you know?

Nope. In this world, it seems a fifteen-year-old daughter of aristocracy was considered as helpless as a newborn. And least, in the eyes of these women.

They stripped me bare again, applied more lotions and powders, and decked me in new underthings and a dress which might have been casual goofing-around-at-home clothing to these guys, but looked pretty damn fancy to me… I was drowning in flagrant luxury.

And I was too tired for this. Flying for six hours straight and then fighting had worn me out physically, and all the theatrics at the Palace had taken their toll on my emotions. I would have paid the entire one hundred twenty odd crowns of back pay I had earned while in the Hero’s Party for a tee shirt, athletic pants and a break.

Dressing wasn’t quite as time-consuming as before, but it still took long enough that I had time to reflect on the wild new angle this whole second life had taken. Marriage to a guy was something I had never contemplated in a million years, and for Tiana’s part, she had really never thought about it in anything other than the most abstract terms. It just wasn’t part of her plans, in reality.

Now, out of the blue, I would be getting married. It would happen in as little as a year and a half. That was when I would reach marriageable age as an aristocrat. And that breast-ogling jerk looked pleased as punch about it. No wonder I’d had the feeling, every time he looked at them, that he was ready to dive right in.

Well, I thought about the leering RAL captain that morning and had to admit Rod wasn’t anywhere near as bad as that one. And my dress certainly had been a bit too eye-catching to inflict on a seventeen-year-old guy.

But I’m a guy too, dammit! Even if I have these things decorating my chest. And none of a guy’s standard equipment. And…

I shook my head and muttered, “Adjusting to your new identity…”

My lady’s maid Genette asked, while putting tying a ribbon into my hair that would keep half of it piled up on top of my head, “What was that, Young Mistress?”

“Nothing. Just something someone said to me. Don’t mind me.”

Her silver-furred wolf-tribe ears did an odd twitch as she tipped her head in confusion. But I offered no clarification, so her lupine tail resumed wagging and she went back to the task of doing my hair.

At the same time, my mind went right back to the problem.

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Where had my fight-the-demon-lord story gone? I was completely off-genre!

Part of Tiana’s reason for diving into the mostly-male world of the knight’s barracks had been to get away from young women. She had to exercise control on her vampiric urges. For her, being around an abundance of comely, appetizing girls like she would have done at school would be like trying to diet in a donut shop. Now combine Robert’s masculine tastes with what looked appetizing to Tiana, and…

Well, wasn’t I kind of in trouble here?

I was now engaged to the second prince of the Kingdom and about to attend the prestigious Royal Academy which would be filled with young, gorgeous noble women that I had to keep my fangs off of. Tiana would have been attracted to their blood, but the guy inside me was also attracted to them sexually, making it more difficult for the Tiana side. If I wasn’t able to control myself, I would be a crocodile in their midst…

Wait…

  1. Engaged to the prince.
  2. Attending the royal academy.
  3. Half-vampire, so I have a dark side associated with villainy.
  4. Pampered daughter of a duke.
  5. Father is one of the worst criminals in the history of the Kingdom.

Aren’t I the perfect villainous rival for an otome game?

I managed to not laugh at the idea, but the humor took me out of my funk, just a bit. The maids at last finished with me, and made me do a full turnaround before the mirror to admire myself.

Ladies, are you sending me to Mother to talk to her or to seduce her? The slit in this skirt goes up to my hip, and what’s with all this side-bewb?!

I was beginning to wonder if our maids also thought I was a succubus.

So, while dearly wishing I could turn the other way and disappear into the oversized bed in my sleeping quarters, I instead went into the hall to make my way to Mother’s suite.

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Where I hesitated. I stood before a door like any other in this mansion, wonderfully carved and inlaid with ornate gold, and I couldn’t proceed. What made this door so intimidating was the woman on the other side. She clearly had been bothered by something that she saw in me, and that made me truly worry.

I had to do it. Tiana’s matchless backbone would not yield. So, I knocked.

- my thoughts:
Realistically, what sort of mother would allow her teenage daughter to dress like that? A Fairy. That's what. Mom can't help it; she was written that way.
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