One of the rooms in the inner palace was designed for guests of the royal family to wait. Led inside this lavishly decorated room were two sisters. They sat down on a splendid sofa with the highest level of comfort and waited for the one who called them here.
These two girls were the daughter of an important authority in the Greisis Kingdom—Minister Barbasse. The younger sister’s name was Violetta. She turned seven this year. Her chestnut-colored hair was loose and curly. Her large eyes were full of life. Her nose bridge was well-defined. Her lips were a light crimson color. She was a universally-accepted beauty.
“I want to go home.”
The girl puffed out her cheeks and said, displeased. But even that looked lovely, making the older sister think that such was the privilege of the cute girls.
The older sister’s name was Gene. Her straight brown hair looked like polished copper. While she turned seventeen this year, she was too old to be called a little girl but also too young to be called a lady. If things had to be said, she gave off a bland impression, unlike her younger sister. People complimented her by calling her neat and homely, but she didn’t feel very happy hearing that even after dressing up.
“Vio, don’t say that. It’s improper. Besides, this is what Father has decided.”
Gene reprimanded her younger sister for puffing her cheeks out and swinging her legs on the sofa. But, in opposition to her older sister’s warning, Violetta puffed her cheeks out even more.
“I don’t want to! The seventh prince is totally a child. I want to marry Lord Marcus!”
(Vio, you’re also quite the child…)
Violetta turned away in a huff, so Gene let out a small sigh.
Her younger sister had been acting more mature recently, so it had been harder for her to handle. Gene didn’t care much since she doted on her, but Violetta shouldn’t have this attitude towards others.
(Prince Marcus, huh.)
The first prince of the Greisis Kingdom was nicknamed the “Rose Prince” behind the scenes. Gene had only caught glimpses of him multiple times at the evening parties, but he certainly possessed the beauty to match the name. Moreover, talks among the ladies claimed that his beauty shone even brighter as of recently. The rumor-loving folk even spoke of the possibility that the prince finally had found a lover.
Although Gene wasn’t sure if the belief that women become prettier once they were in love also applied to males.
In any case, Gene knew she had to pacify her sister, so she accepted her fate.
“Still. You know that you’re the daughter of an aristocrat, right?”
The younger sister voiced her displeasure at her older sister’s reminder. But, even though she was upset, she understood that it was rare for a lady born into an aristocratic family to choose who she wanted to marry. Rather, she was the object of envy of other ladies for having her significant other be a prince.
Even if that prince was not only the youngest but also the one lacking any power.
Still, Violetta knew her selfishness wouldn’t work on her older sister. To her, Gene was both an older sister and a substitute mother.
“Then, can you sing for me until His Highness arrives? I want to hear that new song you made recently.”
Violetta looked up at her sister with upturned eyes and tilted her head. The devilish smile made Gene speechless. The song her younger sister was referring to was the one she had played on the piano the other day.
“I haven’t written any lyrics for that one yet.”
She finished composing the music but hadn’t settled on any lyrics yet. That was why she couldn’t sing it. She tried to make her younger sister give up, but the young girl continued to beg with upturned eyes.
“I like that song. Please.”
“…I give up.”
(I can’t win against her upturned eyes when she begs.)
Gene let out a bitter laugh and looked around the room to make sure they were the only ones inside.
Then, she began to hum. Since there were no lyrics, she hummed the melody. Nevertheless, the younger sister enjoyed listening to the song, her body rocking along with the rhythm.
Gene watched her sister, her eyes narrowing in a smile. She was reminded that the first person to listen to this song was her younger sister. Rather, she was the only one who ever listened to her songs.
Gene had come up with this song just the other day. The song was based on the slow change between seasons, the warming from winter to spring. She was reluctant to sing in the beginning, but she began to have fun and became engrossed in humming.
“That’s a wonderful song.”
Those words surprised Gene. She suddenly stopped singing and looked towards the voice’s owner. There was a young boy standing there. Just like the inspiration to her song, the boy’s pale hair was like the spring sunlight and his eyes were green like fresh leaves. This handsome young man also had a warm expression on his face. Gene knew from a glance who this person was, so she promptly stood up from the sofa and bowed.
“Your Highness, my apologies!”
She was so engrossed in her singing that she hadn’t noticed the prince enter the room. That was unbecoming of a lady of nobility. She quickly turned to her younger sister, who remained seated and faced away.
Gene reprimanded her younger sister in a voice low enough for the prince to not hear. But, Violetta didn’t change her attitude even after hearing her older sister call her. Rather, she appeared to be in a bad mood because her beloved sister’s singing had been interrupted.
Even if she wouldn’t be punished for disrespecting royalty since she was the minister’s daughter, her behavior was inexcusable. Gene turned pale, but in contrast, Herscherik didn’t criticize the young girl’s behavior.
“I don’t mind. You too may be at ease. I’m not good in formal situations. I should be the one apologizing for surprising you.”
The prince apologized.
“I haven’t introduced myself yet, right? It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am the seventh prince, Herscherik Greisis. And, this is my personal knight, Oranju.”
The young man introduced by the prince bowed. The orange-haired, blue-eyed man was dressed in a white version of the knight’s uniform and had his hand diligently placed on his sword handle. Since knights were not allowed to be armed outside of guard duty, it was as clear as day that this man was the prince’s personal knight.
Gene was also aware that while the prince called the man Oranju, he was actually Octavian Ordis, the third son of the former general and notable aristocrat Roland Ordis, and he had displayed his overwhelming strength at last year’s martial arts tournament.
“I also have a chief butler, but he’s currently preparing us tea. I’ll introduce him to you later.”
Herscherik showed a friendly smile and continued to speak. He was like a fairy straight out from a children’s story, and Gene was fascinated by him.
“May I ask for your name?”
Prompted by the prince, Gene remembered that she hadn’t given her name yet, and her cheeks flushed from embarrassment.
She pulled the arm of the seated Violetta to make her stand and curtsied.
“I am Barbasse’s daughter, Gene. And she is the guest you’ve called today…”
“My name is…Violetta.”
The girl didn’t curtsy and smugly introduced herself, causing Gene to be at her wits’ end. Gene knew that she was the cause of her younger sister’s spoiled upbringing and selfishness, but it was troubling if she was going to continue to act this way even before the prince.
“Violetta, behave yourself!”
Scolded by her beloved sister, Violetta lowered her stubborn eyes and hung her head. Seeing this response, Gene felt like she was the one who ended up saying the wrong thing, but she resolved herself to not back away. Just when she was about to open her mouth again to scold her sister, she heard the faint sound of the prince laughing.
When she looked, she saw Herscherik with his hand over his mouth, attempting to hold back his laughter. He noticed Gene’s gaze and coughed to clear his throat. The smile was still on his face, but he continued to speak.
“Miss Gene, please don’t get too angry at your younger sister. This is often the case with young children.”
Even though the prince was supposedly the same age as Violetta, his words had some kind of persuasive power to them.
“In any case, let’s have some tea.”
Herscherik said and led his two guests to another room.
Violetta shouted for joy at the scene before her eyes.
The room Herscherik led them to was a greenhouse inside the castle. The building was the accumulation of research, allowing for the temperature to be maintained at a specified degree. When the sisters entered the greenhouse, they were greeted by a black-haired man, who was supposedly Herscherik’s chief butler, a beautiful array of colorful flowers, and a wonderfully prepared setup for the perfect tea party.
Baked goods and chocolates were arranged on top of the table at the center of the venue. Several side carts were supplied with chiffon cakes, pound cakes, shortcakes, and jellies. Several types of fruit were even prepared despite it being wintertime.
(A true girl at heart, huh.)
Violetta’s eyes twinkled when she saw the sweets. Her cheeky attitude from before completely transformed into one befitting of a girl her age.
(In any case, Kuro’s skills are better than a patissier from my original world…)
No one would have ever thought that all of these sweets prepared were the work of Kuro. He was naturally particular about the flavor, but it seemed that he was also concerned about appearances today. The cookies were small like the miniature ones in Herscherik’s past life, and they were decorated with roses made from sugar and little birds made from candy.
(It seems like a waste to eat them. But, I do want to eat that chocolate one… Wait, more importantly!)
He had been completely charmed by the sweets, so he coughed to clear his throat.
“He is my chief butler, Schwartz. He made all of these sweets himself.”
The sisters’ doubtful expression asked, “Did he really make them?” By the way, Violetta looked half suspicious and half impressed.
“Then, please take your seat. Schwartz, pour them tea.”
“As you wish.”
Kuro bowed. Oran casually pulled the seat for Violetta to sit. Gene watched this and bowed.
“Then, I shall take my leave…”
The elder sister said and was about to leave when the younger sister quickly stood up.
“Eh? You’re going?!”
Her eyes were like that of an abandoned puppy. Gene saw them and let out a small sigh.
“Violetta, you were the one invited today. I am just your escort. Normally, any other woman besides the consorts and princesses are not allowed in the inner palace.”
That statement caused Violetta to puff her cheeks out.
“That’s not true. You’re here because I was invited here, and you’re my older sister! Besides, it makes no sense for me to get married before you…”
Gene involuntarily called her younger sister by her nickname and quickly covered her mouth. Herscherik had silently watched over the scene unfold, but he decided that it was about time for him to intervene.
“Miss Violetta, you really love your sister, don’t you?”
Herscherik’s statement made Violetta blush, but she didn’t say anything to deny it.
“Miss Gene, if you don’t have plans after this, please stay with Miss Violetta. I’m sure she is anxious about being left alone. Besides, there are plenty of sweets for everyone. Don’t hesitate.”
When faced with Violetta’s pleading look and the prince’s proposal, Gene had only one choice.
“…Then, please excuse me.”
Once Gene said that, Oran pulled out a seat for her as well. Because his movements were so natural, Herscherik was impressed.
But, his attention was soon taken by the chocolate cake placed before him. When he looked at the one who placed it before him, the butler had already moved onto the sisters and had the ladies choose their own cakes.
Herscherik knew that it was etiquette to wait for his guests first. He fought against the cake’s temptation. After checking that the sisters had their cake and tea ready, he announced.
“Then, please enjoy yourselves.”
Herscherik said while diving into his cake first. He cut a bite-sized portion of the cake with his fork and broke into a smile. It was a chocolate cake fit for him who wasn’t a sweet tooth, yet it also wasn’t bitter either.
(As expected of Kuro. A cake to my liking…hm? To my liking?)
It wasn’t sweet enough to give to children. Herscherik considered the possibility that the sisters might have chosen this and looked at Kuro. There were other chocolate cakes on the trays, but there was a slight difference in the design of the chocolate decorations on the one he was eating. He exchanged glances with Kuro again, and the butler grinned in a way only the prince could see.
(He found out! He knew what I would choose!)
Slightly embarrassed now, Herscherik shoved another piece of cake into his mouth, pretending none of this happened.
(Yum, it’s good.)
When he looked around, he saw that Violetta had a shortcake with sugar decorations and Gene had a souffle cheesecake. When those two took a bite out of their cakes, their faces broke out into a similar smile.
The two didn’t look like sisters. Gene had a rather plain face, and Violetta looked rather showy. However, their expressions and smiles were similar, making you think that they really were sisters.
Herscherik suddenly met eyes with Gene, who had been engrossed in eating her cake. Her face was slightly red, embarrassed that she was caught in the moment. Herscherik thought her expression was cute and different from her usual “older sister” face.
“Lord Herscherik, what do you usually do?”
“…Let’s see. I normally study and train.”
Gene tried to change topics with this question, so Herscherik answered.
He also did such aggressive moves like slipping out of the castle, helping out in the castle town, and reforming various places, but he decided that it would be best to keep quiet about his extreme actions.
“Your Highness is very diligent. I’m sure your efforts will bear wonderful fruit.”
Herscherik responded to Gene’s statement with a bitter smile. Sensing something from his expression, Gene’s own expression darkened.
“I apologize. Have I said something to upset you…?”
“Miss Gene, you have done nothing wrong.”
He knew that she had no ill will. He also understood that this was his problem.
“Rather than diligence, it’s more like continued effort. But, the fruits have yet…”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, I’m pathetic when compared to my brothers.”
Herscherik said, not holding back. He thought it was a rather good topic, given that they had nothing in common to talk about.
“I’m worried that my instructors will abandon me one day.”
“I tried to learn the piano recently, but it’s quite difficult… Come to think of it, what about that song you were singing before?”
Herscherik suddenly recalled the song.
The ballad Gene had been singing before in the parlor resembled a song he liked to listen to back in his previous life. It wasn’t by a famous singer, but it was rare for someone like Ryouko, who only listened to anime and game themes and soundtracks, to be interested enough to buy it. He was lost in nostalgia for a moment.
Herscherik’s words bewildered Gene.
“It’s embarrassing to say, but I composed it myself… Writing music and song lyrics are a hobby of mine.”
“Is that so? That sounds amazing.”
Herscherik said with a smile. It was fortunate that he could recounter this nostalgic song by chance. Gene seemed to be embarrassed by the prince’s smile since she turned away.
All of a sudden, Violetta slammed the table and stood up.
Drawn by the outburst, he saw that there were already three empty plates in front of her.
(I guess she liked the cakes. Girls really do love sweet things.)
Herscherik thought as he looked at Violetta. The eyes of her adorable face were raised in anger now.
“Your Highness, don’t you feel any shame for calling yourself pathetic?!”
Violetta’s words caused Herscherik to open his eyes wide.
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