About one month after the disturbance caused by Patrick.
I turned twelve-years-old and was spending my days busy with finishing the clothing and making advancements with the crops.
One day, Claire called me to her office……No, I didn’t do anything bad. Rather, we received a letter from the Marquis of Gramp.
And that’s why I was at the office that had become Claire’s base.
Originally, this was meant to be my room as the head of the family. Since Claire has been using it so frequently, everything in the office has become Claire’s private property.
“Otouto-kun, the reason I called you here is probably obvious. I’m sure you’ve heard, but we’ve received a letter from the Marquis of Gramp.”
Based on Claire’s behavior, I’m guessing the letter isn’t terrible. But, I can’t know for sure without asking.
“What did the letter say?”
“First, he complained about a member of the Rodwell family humiliating himself.”
“A complaint…..Maybe Patrick didn’t say I was doing anything suspicious here?”
“That seems likely. The Rodwell family is connected to the Gramp house. It would be pretty shameful if everyone knew the heir to the Rodwell family was out picking fights with other noble families — The letter continues.”
“Uwaa…then……What is the Marquis’ request?”
I’d be fine if he wanted us to apologize or to even pay reparations.
However, if he wants us to close the school or give Patrick Sophia, I won’t be able to go along with that.
I held my breath and waited for Claire’s answer.
“The Marquis demands that…..otouto-kun and I must go to his mansion so he can hear our explanation.”
“You mean…he wants to hear our side of the story?”
“It seems like he wants to first hear our side. By the way, he’s given us sixty days to decide and travel to his mansion….Factoring in travel time, we have fifty days to decide if we will go or not.”
“Hmm, that grace period is quite long. Maybe he isn’t such a bad person then.”
“Unfortunately, I have my doubts about that. It’s possible he intends to send spies to thoroughly examine the Grances territory and find any weaknesses while we’re away.”
“I see…..So you think his true intention is to spy on our territory?”
“The students and employees at the school should be fine. Everyone there is easily recognizable and anyone new would be very obvious. But there’s nothing we can do for the rest of the territory.”
“Well, that’s true.”
Anyway, it seems difficult to handle this in a normal way. I don’t really know how the talks will go with the Marquis, but it seems he seriously plans to crush us if we don’t at least talk with him.
“By the way, I know why he wants me to go, but why do you think he called you, Claire?”
“It’s probably because I am temporarily the head of the family.”
“Maybe it has something to do with your engagement…..?”
I was thinking it may be possible that the Marquis would want to become engaged to Claire again and would demand that as part of the negotiations. If that were the case, why would he ask Claire to go as well….
“Is it possible the Marquis of Gramp hasn’t given up on you yet?”
“Honestly, I’m not sure about that. When we met, he seemed to like me a lot.”
“Muu…..that is troublesome.”
“True. If we don’t know the Marquis’ true intentions, we can’t possibly come up any countermeasures.”
“He may ask to give Sophia to Patrick as his bride, or to give Claire to him as his bride — or maybe demand both.”
At that moment I could hear a rattling sound from outside the door.
“…..Hmm? Is there someone there?”
I opened the door and looked out into the corridor. I could see the back of a uniform running away down the hall. Is that the medium length blonde hair of Sophia?
“Was someone out there?”
“Sophia seems to have overheard our talk.”
“Sophia overheard us? Isn’t that bad?”
“…..Ah, it’s very bad.”
It was just a hypothetical situation, but the way I said it made it seem like it’s impossible to save both Sophia and Claire. Sophia must be feeling quite anxious after hearing that.
“I’ll go after her.”
“Yes, that would probably be for the best. Ah, wait a minute.”
“Hmm? What is it?”
“Actually, it seems that Patrick is making moves in secret. And —”
I finished listening to Claire’s story and quickly went after Sophia. I passed by Alice and she told me Sophia looked like she was heading to her room.
So my destination is Sophia’s room.
“…..Sophia, please don’t do anything drastic.”
Recently, she has become happier, but Sophia is still unstable. When I imagine what Sophia may be thinking after hearing what we said, my heart begins to hurt.
Why wasn’t I more careful? I should’ve known what we were saying could be heard from outside the room.
I stood at the door to Sophia’s room, blaming myself for this situation.
“Sophia, it’s Leon. Can I come in?”
I knocked on the door with an uneasy feeling in me.
“Eh, Leon onii-chan? No! Don’t come in!”
As expected, she didn’t want to see me. But, I can’t just leave like this. Sophia definitely misunderstood my words earlier. I can’t leave Sophia alone when she’s feeling so upset.
So — I opened the door and entered her room.
“Sophia, I know you’re feeling anxious, but you don’t need to hide from me. I won’t abandon Sophia….so…you…”
I quickly become speechless — Sophia was changing her clothes in front of me. Sophia covered her chest with her removed uniform and her crimson eyes widened.
— There was a brief moment of silence.
Then, Sophia’s face became bright red and she began to panic.
“Le-Leon onii-chan? Wh-what do you mean I don’t have to hide? You want to see So-So-Sophia’s na…naked body?”
“Fu~u!? Yo-yo-you’re wrong! That’s definitely not it!”
“B-but, Sophia’s breasts aren’t growing like Alice onee-chan or Claire onee-chan……..ah! You said you knew I was worried, but you wouldn’t abandon me, right? S-so that means, onii-chan sees Sophia as a….umm….”
“Uwaaaaaaaaaa! Calm down, that’s not what I meant!”
I desperately tried to stop Sophia as she was beginning to lower the uniform covering her chest.
After that, I explained why I was here and cleared up the misunderstanding. However, once Sophia had finished changing clothes, she seemed to be in a very bad mood.
“It was bad of me to enter like that. It was my fault, but please cheer up a little.”
“You really think it was bad?”
“Yes. I’m really sorry.”
“Then, Leon onii-chan should take responsibility for seeing Sophia’s naked body.”
“Wha-!? Don’t say strange things like that! I only saw your underwear for a second!”
“Fu~un…..so you saw my underwear.”
Th-this is terrible. Being judged by the innocent Sophia is terrible! Please stop looking at me like that!
“So, will onii-chan take responsibility or do I have to make you take responsibility?”
Will I take responsibility voluntarily or will I have to be forced to take responsibility? Between these two choices, it would be better if I took responsibility voluntarily…..wait,
“Why do the two options both involve me taking responsibility!?”
“Onii-chan hasn’t properly reflected on his actions yet.”