Mariwa Toinette was drinking tea in the front parlour of her parent’s house.
It had been quite a long time since she had returned to her ancestral home. Even though she had grown up in this house she wasn’t allowed past the front parlour, let alone to her old room, that was how alienated she and her family were. Mariwa lived and worked independently, and they they had broken off family relations a while ago, so there was really no helping it.
The life Mariwa had chosen to live was not one her family considered to be proper. She was aware that the path she had chosen was different to that of the normal path lead by other ladies her age. As such she did not get along well with her father. But now that her older brother had become the head of the family; relations were slowly returning to what they had once been.
As she sat in her parent’s house leisurely drinking tea, her thoughts were on a young girl who had been her student until just a few days ago.
The look Christina Noir had that last time, it had been quite a shock for Mariwa.
Mariwa had said ‘Love your Fate’. That you were in charge of all your own thoughts and actions, this was preparation for the cruel and harsh outside world. Which could be said to be in line with Chris’ way of life until now anyway.
To her attempt at giving Chris hope….why did Chris’ smile at that time look so defeated?
Mariwa couldn’t seem to forget the girl’s reaction at that time.
There had definitely ben something wrong, but she couldn’t seem to figure out the cause.
“I’ve kept you waiting, Aunt.”
“…Not at all.”
Looking at the person who had entered the room, Mariwa put her thoughts on hold. The man who sat across from Mariwa had not reached reached thirty years old. He had a friendly smile that put people at ease.
The successor of the Toinette family. He was the child of her much older brother, so despite his age he was her nephew. Since he was actually much closer in age to Mariwa that her actual older brother, Igusa was more like a younger brother to her.
“That reminds me, I heard that your father had passed on the title of Viscount on to you. Congratulations, Igusa.”
“It happened quite a while ago actually…”
Igusa smiled bitterly at the delayed congratulations.
Among high nobility there were nobles who held multiple titles. It was common to bestow a minor title to the heir before passing on the full responsibility later on. The Toinette family held both the rank of Count and Viscount, so when Igusa came of age he was given the viscount title only.
“I’ve also heard you’re teaching swordsmanship to His Highness the Crown Prince Endo? I feel proud to be your relative.”
“Not at all, it is nothing compared to the you, Aunt, who has even taught the princess rather, this might be a blessing from being shown how to wield a sword by you all those years ago”
“It’s fine not to be so humble .You have accomplished it with your own power after all.”
The Toinette family was originally a knight family after all. Ass a descendent, Mariwa had also endeavoured with the sword. At that time, teaching Igusa sword basic was the first time Mariwa ever taught someone.
“Well, in the end I never managed to land a hit against you, Aunt.”
“That was only in the past. You lost because you were but a child then. That’s the only reason.
“Really? I’m pretty sure I could never match your skill…”
“The past is seen through rose coloured glasses is all.”
While chatting idly like that about the past, they eventually started talking about Mariwa’s work as well.
“That’s right, you were the home tutor for Lady Christina. When I saw how ladylike she was, I knew she must have been taught by you.”
“You’ve met that child?”
Having let down her guard, Mariwa let out a small sigh.
“You have never been great at reading people well. That makes me a bit worried.”
It was Mariwa’a own blunder that she had never fixed his overly optimistic impressions of people. Since in another twenty years Igusa would become the head of the Toinette family… It would be good if he could improve a bit by then she thought.
“I don’t really understand but…well, do you have plans for after this?”
“I have no plans for the rest of the day. I don’t have any particular business to attend to.”
“That’s good. Actually an acquaintance asked me to arrange to meet you. They’ve been patiently waiting for a chance.”
Mariwa had a patient look on her face as she looked at her nephew’s impish smile, as if he were up to no good.
‘Is that so? Then please show them in.”
She was quite certain it would be a child with black hair and eyes who would come in. This would be an opportunity to clear up her worries from their last class. Thinking that, Mariwa played innocent. Except, her predictions turned out to be wrong.
The person who appeared was younger than the child she had expected.
“Good afternoon, Ms Mariwa.”
It was a young girl with gold hair and blue eyes.
Hair that should have been long as a noble daughter, had been cut roughly above her shoulders, but more than anything it was the coldness in those eyes that nearly made one shiver.
“Though you are already acquainted I believe, this is Duke Noir’s-”
“Would you allow me to speak alone with this child for a moment?”
Igusa’s introductions were cut off mid way. While Igusa was slight taken aback at the sudden request, he understood the serious tone of Mariah’s voice. Without asking any more, he acted according to Mariwa’s words.
Once she was sure Igusa had left them, she returned her gaze to Michelie.
“Greetings, lady Michelie. What business do you have with me today?”
“…There’s something I wanted to ask you”
How did she find Mariwa and how did she manage to get to the Toinette house all alone?
The girl who exuded a dark light asked her question.
“In that last class, to my big sister, what did you say to her?”
The fury that emanated didn’t seem to match with the small figure in front of her.
Mariwa didn’t seem flustered, as though it was similar to murderous intent, Michelie was too young for that.
Apart from that she was satisfied.
Michelie who is always stuck to her sister had actually gone out of her way to find Chris. As she had thought, Chris must have gotten some strange notion from her words.
That is why Mariwa answered frankly.
“I don’t know.”
Michelie frowned as her question was dodged.
“I told that child to ‘Love her Destiny’. That the path we walk is up to our decisions, and our decisions alone, and that knowing that would allow her to prosper, that was the meaning I had intended to teach her.”
Thinking of Chris’ temperament in class up until then, this meaning should have been conveyed to Chris.
But for some reason, Chris had seemed to resign herself.
Defeated and powerless, she had smiled.
Her reaction had been incomprehensible, more than anything, it was so out of character for that child.
“That time, what that child understood, I still haven’t figured out an answer to that”
Muttering to herself, Michelie slowly lifted her head.
“…I have a request”
“What is it?”
“Please tell me how to win against my sister. I will surely have to fight against my sister from now on. So that’s why, please teach me”
Today, not a single thing had gone as expected. However, there were days like this sometimes. Letting out a sigh of agreement, Mariwa threw a question out to understand a bit more.
“So basically, you want me to tutor you?”
“I was paid to tutor Chris. Why should I teach you?”
“Ms Mariwa, you have quite high expectations for Chris didn’t you? I heard you also tutored Leon for free. I already know that you do not teach for money.”
She had so easily pinpointed her weakness. Mariwa restrained the urge to frown.
“If she stays like this, Big Sister’s future will certainly be different from Ms Maria’s hopes. That’s why I will bet my future.”
I will, for my own sake, bet my own future, so that I can recover Big Sister’s future. That’s why, please teach me”
Her eyes were strong.
She no longer resembled the always laughing child she had been, instead there was just…
“You don’t resemble your mother at all do you.”
She looks more like her adopted older sister than her own blood related mother.
Aah, Michelie gave a small nod of understanding.
“As expected, Mariwa knew my mother.”
“Well yes, do you want to know about her?”
“Mmm. It doesn’t really matter to me…Are you disappointed?”
“Not at all. I hate that person, so it’s a good thing that you don’t resemble them. Even now, I feel relieved from the bottom of my heart knowing that.”
Mariwa spoke her opinion of the former princess beloved by even the gods mercilessly without reserve.
“Then that’s good. However you had better be prepared. I am by no means a soft teacher.”
“Of course, Ms Mariwa.”
“Incorrect, Michelie Noir. I am not ‘Ms Mariwa’ to you now.”
No sooner had Michelie nodded her agreement than Mariwa had her in her sharp gaze.
Abilities are sufficient, her enthusiasm is vast, and the strength of her purpose is endless. Those qualities made up her new student, Mariwa gave her first lesson in a cold and dignified voice.
“You will call me Ms Toinette.”