Both of Their Royal Highnesses ,who were watching over the course of the events, smiled and took advantage of the opportunity.
“That’s nice. Then would you also not mind if I called you Claudia too?”
My brain couldn’t keep up with the sudden development.
“I don’t mind.”
As I consented for now because I didn’t have any reasons to refuse, His Highness Levy proposed something outrageous.
“Please address us casually too, Claudia.”
“Such a thing! I cannot do it.”
There’s no way I could talk to the Princes casually.
“Oh, how disappointing.”
Despite saying so, His Highness Levy didn’t look particularly disappointed and easily backed down. He must’ve said it while knowing that I would refuse.
My brother, who was listening to our exchange, sullenly opened his mouth.
“Levy, can you not make passes at my younger sister?”
“Why? I feel like I would become good friends with her.”
His Highness Levy flashed a radiant smile.
Did he want to tease my brother or did he want to tease me….this person is still a mystery to me.
While I was thinking so, His Highness Edgar whispered to me.
“Looks like Elder brother has taken fancy to you. You have my condolences. Elder Brother always pesters those he fancies endlessly!”
What does he mean by pester? I wonder what’s going to happen to me?
If you sympathize with me then I’d rather you help me out as his younger brother!
As if reading my heart, His Highness opened his mouth.
“I’ll warn you in advance that I can’t beat Elder Brother so I cannot help you.”
In other words, I should just resign?
At any rate, my goal of creating a friendly relationship with Their Royal Highnesses has been achieved.
In the novel, Claudia and Emily, who is heroine’s best friend, have never been on good terms. Obviously, His Highness Levy too, who held affection towards the heroine, was in a hostile relationship with Claudia.
Regardless, the tea party ended as a great success.
Will the future change if I act differently from the Claudia of the novel? If it’s true, avoiding BAD END might not be a fantasy either.
And I, more than avoiding the BAD END, was hoping to maintain a friendly relationship with them.
A month passed after the tea party with Emily and the others.
Jordan told me that apparently soon I would have a little brother or a sister.
According to the doctor, the child in my mother’s stomach is developing steadily.
It would be bad if something affected her body, so I haven’t gone to see her. Since her condition has gotten good enough to bear a child, I want both her and the baby to reach the childbirth day in a healthy state.
One day, His Highness Levy visited my room.
Ever since that tea party, Emily and Their Royal Highnesses often come over to play. Especially His Highness Levy comes over anytime he has free time so I’ve already warmed up to him quite a bit.
His Highness is busy with school and public work, so I think that at least on his day offs he should leisurely rest in the royal palace. But for some reason relaxing at my house has been becoming a routine for him.
I told him that I would be gaining a new family member.
“Why are you not going to see her?”
His Highness asked with a wondering expression.
“Duchess Letsya, of course.”
What is this person saying? If I do that, I might give unnecessary stress to my mother and the baby might not be born safely.
“How about you going to see her instead? I am sure she would be delighted.”
“Gimme a break, I’ll be scolded by the Duke.”
Since my father is doting on my mother, he seems to be declining visits from everybody other than the family members, saying that it would put burden on her body. That being said, I doubt he would get angry at His Highness who’s a royalty.
By the way, His Highness Levi refers to himself in『casual』manner when talking to people he is close with.
I have also let my guard towards him to the point that I had become able to crack jokes with him.
“If that happens, I will laugh it off.”
“At such times I’d rather you gently comfort me though.”
While we were having such conversation, my brother, Liam, had entered my room before I noticed it. He was looking at us with the corner of his mouth twitching.
Making an unpleasant face, His Highness Levy talked to to my brother.
“What did you come here for, Liam? Just when we were happily spending time together.”
“You seem to be relaxing as if this is your own house, but this is Claudia’s room. There is no problem with me, the older brother, coming to my younger sister’s room.”
“There is a big problem! Getting in the way of somebody’s tryst, there should be a limit to being boorish.”
His Highness Levy purposely shrugged his shoulders and sighed.
He really loves to tease my brother.
“If you say that this is tryst, I also have the right to choose my partner, Your Highness Levy.”
“Wah! That was casually rude. Recently you’ve become merciless towards me, Claudia.”
Listening to our exchange, for some reason my brother laughed satisfyingly. Seeing this, His Highness Levy shrugged again.
Such days continued and the day of the childbirth came in a blink of an eye.
My mother, whose labor pains started at night, entered the room that was prepared for the childbirth, while my father and the brother were waiting for the birth of a new life in the room next to it. I was watching stars with Gerald on balcony of my room.
After a while, wind spirits nearby started to stir and eventually all at once headed towards a certain place.
“Looks like the baby was born.”
Unusually, Gerald talked to me without telepathy,
“Seems like so.”
People from the Letsya Ducal family are loved by the wind spirits. My father has the protection of the Wind Spirit King, so the ones who share his blood must be even more precious for the wind spirits.
That’s why, when a baby is born, lower spirits go to see them like this. I’ve heard that it was the same when my older brother was born too.
However, when I was born, they seemed to have scattered in all directions.
Because of his overly strong magic power, Dark Spirit King is feared from other spirits too.
The only ones who are able to easily approach him are only the spirit kings of other attributes. Nonetheless, Dark Spirit King’s magic powers are stronger than any other spirit king’s, so they’re also very wary of him.
I wonder if Gerald isn’t lonely?…
While I was lost in my thoughts, Jordan came to the balcony.
“Ojou-sama, it is your younger brother that was born. His name was decided as Sylphonse-sama.”
“Then his nickname must be Syl?”
“That would be right. How about going to visit him once too, ojou-sama?”
Jordan told me so, but there is no way I could go.
“Thank you but I would prefer to refrain.”
“Babies are very sensitive. If I get close, he will definitely start to cry.”
“Is that so….I understand.”
Jordan made a disappointed face and returned to the room. The feeling of guilt welled up inside of me, but this is something that can’t be helped.
“Aren’t babies just noisy and bawl loudly? There is no need to bother going to see him.”
“Oh my, do you hate babies, Gerald?”
“I’m just not interested.”
Gerald said sulkily. Babies are sensitive to the presences of the spirits. I bet until now babies only cried after seeing him.
“….Well, there is no way that I would go to see my younger brother on my own accord.”
Saying so, I looked towards the direction the wind spirits flew to.
Almost a year has passed since my younger brother was born.
I have been trying to keep away from him and possibly because of that, there haven’t been any problems till now.
Just like this, until my younger brother grows up, I’ll watch over him from the shadows.
One day as I was thinking so, an incident happened.
It was at the time when I had returned from my outing to the downtown. That day, since I was using a carriage, I entered the house through the front gates.
Beyond the entrance door, there is an atrium.
When I unintentionally looked up at the corridor on the second floor that was surrounding the hall, I saw Sylphonse peeping at the first floor.. When he noticed me, perhaps because he tried to come over to my side, he easily slipped through the gaps between the handrails.
Sylphonse’s hand cut through the sky and his body inclined forward. Strangely enough, I could see his movement in slow motion.
In order to catch my falling younger brother, I stretched out my arms and started running.
The spirits around him blew wind from below, so his falling speed slowed down and I was somehow able to catch him.
There was almost no impact when he fell into my arms either.
Even if I didn’t catch him, he would most likely still land safely.
Although he didn’t seem to have any injuries from what I checked, Sylphonse burst into tears with a loud voice enough to resound in the entrance hall.
The maid, who heard his crying, came running with a ghastly face.
“What are you doing?!”
The maid shrieked and snatched Sylphonse from me. It was a newly-hired exclusive maid for my younger brother.
She glared at me while soothing Sylphonse. Her eyes were clearly suspecting me.
Normally, I never interact with servants other than Jordan, so the maids are still evading me.
Following after the maid, my mother and the wet nurse came to the entrance.
“Sylphonse-sama! I’m glad….we have finally found you.”
The wet nurse said with a truly relieved voice.
Judging from her words, he most likely left the room the moment they took their eyes off him.
My mother saw me for a second but averted her eyes and called out to Sylphonse’s exclusive maid.
“What in the world happened?”
“Ojou-sama was trying to harm Sylphonse-sama….”
Sure enough, the maid started to treat me as a villainess.
“Wait, I haven’t done anything!”
“Then why was Sylphonse-sama crying in such a way?! By the time I arrived, he was crying inside ojou-sama’s arms. I can’t think of any reason other than you having done something.”
I cannot deal with being doubted just because of something like that anymore.
“Claudia, did you possibly try to….”
My mother’s face turned pale.
“Please wait, I….”
I unintentionally took a step forward. Looking at me, my mother hurriedly took Sylphonse from the maid. And then hugged him as if trying to protect him from me.
“Stop it. Don’t come near Syl.”
My mother, who until now would made her stiffen and fall sick after seeing me, sternly glared at me.
I’m being treated as a culprit even though I’m innocent and on top of that, there is nobody who would stand up for me.
Is this what they call being surrounded by enemies on all sides?, I thought as if it was somebody else’s problem.
“Do you truly think that I have done something to Sylphonse?”
“Yes. Because you find us hateful, right? for being unable to accept you. That’s why, as a retaliation you tried to…Syl…”
“Madam, what are you saying!”
Jordan came after hearing the uproar. He stood between me and my mother as if to shield me.
Looking at his figure, Sylphonse’s exclusive maid cried out.
“Why are you protecting her, Jordan-sama!”
“Shut your mouth! You seem to have made reckless remarks towards ojou-sama, haven’t you? Looking down upon the daughter of the family you serve is not something a servant should do. Gather your belongings immediately and leave this house.”
“How can that be!”
The maid’s sorrowful voice echoed.
Even when I called her, my mother didn’t try to meet me eyes. Regardless, I continued.
“Was what you said your true thoughts? Do you truly think that I hate you people and want to harm you?”
“I cannot think otherwise!”
My mother declared so, despite her face being pale.
“Madam! Ojou-sama would not do such a thing!”
Jordan was still trying to protect me. At that moment, familiar low voice resounded in the entrance hall.
“Foolish. Truly foolish. I’ve been staying quiet till now, but you people just keep yapping as you wish. Claudia hasn’t done anything to that brat.”
My mother and the maid screamed at the sudden appearance of Gerald. Sylphonse inside of my mother’s arms started crying with an especially loud voice.
Gerald knit his eyebrows together, as much as to say that he was displeased.
“Claudia only saved that brat when he fell from the second floor. Hey, woman over there, don’t accuse Claudia because of your stupid speculations.”
Hearing Gerald’s crawling low voice, Sylphonse’s exclusive maid gave out a short scream and fainted. The misunderstanding might have been solved because of Gerald.
But it was obvious for everybody that this incident resulted in a definitive crack between me and my mother.
After that, my father who received a report from Jordan, came to me as I had withdrawn to my room.
He told me that dismissed the maid who falsely accused me and then once again opened his mouth as if feeling remorseful.
“Claudia, about Isana…”
“What about the Duchess?”
My father showed a bewildered face to me, who was acting as if nothing had happened.
He must have prepared various words, but he could only say this. I kept staring at him expressionlessly.
My father also kept looking at me silently for a while, but after sighing, he deeply bowed his head.
“Also, about Syl…thank you.”
“It’s nothing, I only did a natural thing as a human.”
Sylphonse is still my younger brother, even if I’m not permitted to hold him in my arms.
Only saying this much, my father turned silent once again.
“Is there still anything else?”
“Y-yeah, um…are you okay?”
“What do you mean?”
I don’t understand what my father is concerned about. After all, I am okay. Even the possibility of something like this happening is something I would know if I thought for a little while.
Me being shunned is something that cannot be helped. That’s why, it doesn’t hurt. I’m not hurt.
Every time I told this to myself, I was able to endure the tears that were about to overflow.
“Oh, nothing, it’s all good then if you’re okay.”
My father left the room as if running away and once again I was alone.
I have a power to destroy the world. It’s natural for people to fear or hate me. Even the blood-related parents aren’t an exception.
I told myself again that it couldn’t be helped and swallowed back my tears alone in the room.
A year passed after that,
It’s the season when the spring flowers are in full bloom. The gentle sunlight wrapped up the surroundings.
However, the atmosphere between me and my family was unrelated to that warmth.
After that incident, I started to put more distance between me, my mother and my younger brother. I try to avoid coming across Sylphonse as much as possible and my mother and the maids are also careful to not let him approach me.
Sylphonse seems to have some interest in me, but it’s unclear whether or not he recognizes that I’m his older sister.
Ever since that time, I have also declined the invitations from Emily and Their Royal Highnesses and often spend time withdrawn in my room. Although, instead of seeing each other, we often exchange letters and tell each others news about our current affairs. I also often hear about His Highness Levy from my brother.
While I was living such days, I turned 12 before I realized it. And finally, the day I enrolled in the school came.
The school in this world has a 7-year system and the ones attending it are only the sons and the daughters of the nobles. There, while learning how to handle magic, they establish personal connections that would be helpful for the future or search for fiancés,
The school is at the outskirts of the royal capital and it takes about an hour by the carriage from the mansion. It’s a very quiet place that’s surrounded by the mountains.
I’m worried about whether I’ll be able to live in a group and cannot help feeling anxious.
But, in difference from Claudia of the novel, I’m not alone. There are my friends, Emily and His Highness Edgar in the same grade and I also have a friendly relationship with His Highness Levy and my brother who’ll become my upperclassmen. That’s why, if everything goes well, I might be able to even make new friends. I held such expectations too.
Nothing will come out of standing still. Telling myself that everything would be okay because I wasn’t alone, I decided to take a new step.
On the day of the entrance ceremony, I, His Highness and Emily entered the classroom together.
Right away, the students that have been happily chatting with each other stopped and looked at us. Pretending that I didn’t care, I confidently headed towards my seat.
I wonder if I slightly seemed like a villainess?
My seat is the furthest at the back, Emily is in front of me and His Highness is beside Emily.
Although it’s a seating that has been predetermined since the beginning, I’m glad that those two are close to me.
The moment His Highness Edgar took his seat, he was called out to by the classmates of all genders.
“Nice to meet you, Your Highness.”
The one who talked to him before everybody else, was a blonde-haired boy with golden eyes and short stature. According to Emily, he’s the son of the Pope.
In the Kingdom of Leycia, state religion is the Mist faith. The top of the church is the Pope and his position is hereditary. Therefore, within the clergy, only the Pope is allowed to marry.
His rank is the second highest after the royalties, but since the Pope cannot intervene in the politics, substantially, Duke Letsya is the real 2nd rank. It’s because our family has had matrimonial alliances with the royal family several times in the past. However, since on surface the Pope’s status is higher than mine, I cannot ignore him.
I’ve heard that the current Pope has a very gentle personality and is a reliable person. He’s intimate with the citizens and even among the nobles, there are some who go to him for consultations.
However, apparently those traits don’t seem to have been inherited by his son. It’s obvious at a glance that he wants to win His Highness Edgar’s favor and since His Highness also understood this, he was ignoring him with a sullen face. Taking the opportunity that His Highness wasn’t talking, another male student cut in.
“It’s been a long time, Your Highness Edgar.”
As he approached with a radiant smile, His Highness Edgar’s face became even more sullen.
“I am honored to be able to study at the same schoolhouse as His Highness. My father would also like to send his best regards.”
This male student, who failed to notice His Highness’ bad mood, was the Prime Minister’s son, Grayson Alfar
If I remember right, in the novel he was the heroine’s counselor. He didn’t have core strength like Emily, but he should’ve also had the role of cheering up the heroine after she was bullied by Claudia.
Just as depicted in the novel, he had a reddish brown hair with blue eyes and gave out an ordinary impression.
Right when he tried to talk to His Highness Edgar more, he was easily pushed away by the female students.
“Your Highness, please let us greet you too!”
The girls must be making efforts to somehow leave a favorable impression on His Highness. Each of them has a thick layer of makeup on. But, since it doesn’t suit their childlike faces, it looks extremely unnatural. They also seemed to be wearing an ample amount of perfume and with all the scents mixed together, it smelled disgusting.
His Highness’ face distorted in disgust. But the noble ladies, who were desperate to butter him up, didn’t notice that their efforts were fruitless.
I and Emily were looking at him as if it was somebody else’s business.
“His Highness has it rough too.”
Emily murmured with sympathy.
I would love to help him out, but there is nothing we can do.
As soon as I gave up, a certain male student approached the female students that were surrounding His Highness.
“Ladies, how about leaving it at that and setting His Highness free?”
Both His Highness and the ladies looked towards the direction relaxed voice came from. There stood a quite handsome boy with blonde hair and blue eyes. Female students were instantly enchanted by his refreshing smile.
“The school life has only just started. Even if you rush and introduce yourself like that, His Highness won’t be able to remember all of you. Would it not be better if you came to know each other slowly and became good friends?”
With the handsome boy pointing it out, the female students surrounding His Highness seemed to have realized that the current situation wasn’t very favorable.
“Y-you are right.”
“My apologies, Your Highness.”
Unanimously apologizing, the girls hastily scattered away.
When the crowd disappeared, His Highness talked to the handsome boy.
“Who are you?”
Then, the handsome boy bowed to His Highness with refined movements.
“I am sorry for the late self-introduction. I am Ronald Windor. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Marquis Windor’s son, huh. You saved me there, Ronald. You have my gratitude.”
“No, I am honored if I was of use.”
Ronald only said those words and returned to his seat.
He was a male students that left a quite good impression, but my heart felt strangely unsettled. However, before I was able to determine the cause, the homeroom teacher entered the classroom and I had no other choice but to stop thinking about it.