In exchange for saying that I do not want to become the heir to the Grances family, I was assured that Alice and I would remain safe, I was finally able to return home.
When I returned home, Mary questioned me immediately.
“Welcome home, Leon-sama. You’re returning quite late….What have you been doing this late?”
“Ah, I just needed to have a talk with my father.”
“…I was surprised at how long you were gone. I see, would you tell me what you talked about?”
“I don’t mind telling you what we talked about- it’s not like any of it was meant to stay secret – I’m sure Father would gladly tell you about it himself. I’m more surprised that you seem like you were worried about me.”
“……..The reason for that is, you were true to your word and you saved Alice-san.”
Aah. That explains it.
Alice was the reason for her concern. Although, it’s not like I actually thought Mary cared about me……..Well, it’s a good thing that Alice has more friends.
“Thank you, Mary. If it wasn’t for you telling me that Alice had been kidnapped, I wouldn’t have been able to save her in time. Really, thank you.”
When I showed her my gratitude, Mary had a look of embarrassment mixed with surprise.
“……To be honest, I thought that Alice was inconsequential to Leon-sama, so I was surprised that you were so desperate to save her.”
It was a terrible misunderstanding – and I quickly held back the words I wanted to say.
Mary is still watching me for Caroline. Because of this, I can’t let her know how important Alice is to me.
“It’s only because Alice has been good to me every night.”
I told her this to hopefully get rid of any suspicions she may have. It seems that she believed me as her eyes quickly filled with disdain. If I could hear her inner thoughts I’m guessing it would be something like, “This child is the worst, he’s completely obsessed with sex.”
“By the way, where is Alice?”
“Alice is currently in the bath.”
Was I too late in getting to her when Blake had her? Is that the reason? I feel uneasy. But it seems Mary could sense my anxiety and said, “It seems she was covered in sweat when she returned.”
Geez, don’t surprise me like that.
“Well then, please tell her to come to my room when she’s dressed.”
Eyes full of disgust. I feel like I can hear her saying, “You’re going after a girl that just got done bathing, do you have no self control?” Wait, I feel like I really heard her say that!
“Ah, umm, I feel like you’re misunderstanding.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t hear what you said….did you need something?”
“No, it’s not that I need anything.”
“I see. Then, please, excuse me.”
Well…I guess it’s okay this way. After all this is what I wanted her to think about Alice and my relationship. At least now I know the reason she doesn’t talk to me.
Thinking about it from Mary’s perspective, I’m as bad as Blake was today. I’m a devil child repeating that act every night. Well, it’s only natural that she would hate me.
I feel depressed for a few minutes after thinking about this.
I could hear a small knock on the door; at the same time I could hear Alice’s voice outside the door. I guess she was checking to see if I had returned. When I answer her, Alice rushed inside the room.
“Leon-sama, are you okay!?”
“I’m fine, so sit down and let me tell you about what happened.”
I tell her that I have given up on becoming the heir to the Grances family. In return my father has guaranteed the safety of myself and Alice.
“No way…..Giving up all of that, for me, is that really okay?”
“Honestly, I’ve never been interested in the position. If I could guarantee your safety by making that clear to everyone, it was a small price to pay.”
“But, there were other things you could’ve asked for, such as bringing Milli-san back. I feel bad that you and Milli-san will still be separated because you chose to protect me.”
“It’s fine. You were in the most danger, so I decided to protect you.”
And Milli is hated by Caroline. If Milli’s reemployment was a condition of the agreement, there would’ve been a high possibility that Caroline would not have agreed to the deal.
“……Even if it is a lie, I wanted you to say that I was most important to you.”
To my surprise, when I looked at Alice’s face, Alice showed a slight smile and stuck her tongue out.
“Kidding. You couldn’t tell I was joking?”
“Don’t tease me, I’m just a innocent child.”
“Haha, who are you saying is an innocent child?”
“Can’t you tell I’m innocent just by looking? What will you do if you really hurt my feelings?”
“It’ll be fine.”
“What do you mean fine?”
“I mean, I’d never say anything that would actually hurt you.”
I smile a little, embarrassed. Alice shows a wry smile on her face.
“E~e, should we get back to the main topic now?”
“Yep, let’s do that.”
I gently change the subject, I still need to find a way to help Claire.
“In any case, we just need to wait for Caroline’s decision, but I think it’s likely she’ll agree. So the biggest problem left to deal with now is Claire’s marriage.”
“Claire-sama? She recently went to a marriage meeting, right?”
“It seems so.”
To be accurate, it wasn’t a normal marriage meeting. The meeting took place at a ball that had powerful families from many places, it seems that there were arrangements made in advance so there was also a masquerade held that was designed to have several children of the nobility meet with each other.
At this ball, Claire seems to have danced with a 19 year old marquis. His personality and appearance weren’t bad…For these reasons it seems like Claire isn’t allowed to refuse this marriage.
That’s why Claire had visited me to complain about the marriage.
“Then, if you want to stop Claire-sama’s marriage, wouldn’t it have been better for you to become the heir to the Grances family?”
“………You say it like it’s an easy thing to do.”
“If Leon-sama puts your mind to it, wouldn’t it be easy?”
“Honestly it would be impossible. There’s only one year left until Claire’s marriage. No matter how hard I try, it would be impossible to become heir in that time.”
“Maybe so…but…don’t you have any other ideas?”
“I have some ideas, but they’ll all take too much time.”
The Grances family really wants this marriage to happen. If Claire marries this marquis the Grances family would stand to make a large profit.
In other words, if I can find a way to make a larger profit for the family, it may be possible to earn Claire’s freedom. So the problem is whether or not I can find some way to produce a profit large enough to use as a negotiation material.
It might be possible if I use the power of the Grances family as a shortcut to reach the needed profit, but in that case Caroline would probably notice what I’m trying to do.
There is the option to negotiate with Caroline beforehand, but it is difficult to put together a believable story within a year and then also produce the needed profits.
“It seems like it will be pretty tough……Well then, what happened with Leon-sama’s fiancée? You visited the Sfir family today, right?”
“Oh yeah, Sophia was a very cute girl. Though, she’s still quite young so she felt like more of a younger sister.”
“Like a little sister…So she’s like a love interest?”
“What!? It was fun to be together, but that doesn’t make her my love interest!”
“Eh, why are you making a face like that?”
“Well….Look at Claire-sama, you’re trying so desperately to help her because you love her.”
“No, that’s just because…..It’s just a love between brother and sister, okay?”
“A sister could be a love interest to her brother.”
“What are you saying? Do you want me to be interested in my sister?”
“Is there a problem with that?”
Huh, Alice looked at me with a straight face. Perhaps it is a normal thing in this world?
……Huh, being born in Japan I realize I have a different sense of values, but….this is a bit much.
After all, even if I’ve died I can’t forget those values I was raised with.
“Alice, do you have any brothers?”
“……E-eh, I did.”
Her deep blue eyes darken. I see, she used past tense when referring to her brothers.
“No, please don’t worry. It’s something I’ve already got over.”
She’s gotten over it? After all, when I asked about them Alice’s face reflected a sad past. Then I noticed the hair ornament that was in Alice’s cherry blossom colored hair.
“You said that hair ornament was very important to you, right?”
“That silver ornament. When we first met you said that it was an important memento and you didn’t want me to take it from you.”
“Oh, yes, it’s something that I have to remember my brother.”
“…..Do you not want to talk about it?”
“No, it’s fine. This hair ornament belonged to my older brother.”
……Belonged to her brother, huh…… No matter how you look at it, it’s a hair ornament for a woman. With her reaction it seems like it would be better if I didn’t press any further.
I don’t fully understand it, but there’s no way Alice is hiding any malicious intentions. I’ll just pretend like I didn’t notice anything.
More importantly, I need to decide what to do now.
First, about Alice. Someday I want to release her from slavery, but currently I have no way of accomplishing this. So, for now, I’ll need to put that off for a while.
About Milli. As I’ve already confirmed, Milli is living in a peaceful place in her hometown, there is no need for me to hurry to help her. So this problem too can be put off for now.
Then, there are the problems of Claire and myself, but…I still have a relatively long time to find a solution for our problems. So, first, I guess I’ll need to deal with Claire’s problem.