Home Post 1085-chapter-39



At that moment, a loud noise was heard from behind us. It started as a small dot in the distance but grew larger as it approached, revealing itself to be a four-wheeled carriage. Two brown horses were pulling it, running swiftly.

As the carriage drew closer, the pattern carved on its side finally caught my eye. Unexpectedly meeting it, my pupils dilated.

A trout, crafted from dogwood leaves, protruded from the center of a round wreath.

It was the crest of the Barden Family, unforgettable even in dreams.

A sense of movement of several bodies came from the direction of the mansion behind us.

The chatter and murmur among them gradually quieted as the sound of horses’ hooves approached.

Prince’s expression subtly changed as he faced me directly from behind.

Step. Only one more step from someone’s foot, extending forward.

“…You two are here.”

I turned around. Behind the main gate stood five ladies gathered together, while in front of me, one stood alone.

“Your Highness.”

She greeted calmly, her emerald eyes rolling toward me. Her petite, red lips parted slightly.

“…And Khalia.”

I chose not to respond unnecessarily. Helena, unfazed by my silence, naturally approached us. Her movements were as fluid as water.

“You seem to have gotten wet.”

Her voice, too, was gentle and moist.

From a small silk reticule bag on her wrist, Helena pulled out a handkerchief.

Lilac in color, with the Barden crest embroidered in the corner.

“Use this to wipe off some of the moisture. It’s a season where the wind gradually turns cold. If you stay out here too long, you might catch a cold.”

Unexpectedly, her white arm extended toward mine, as if in competition, holding out the Lilac handkerchief. It fluttered gently with her movement. Claude glanced down at it.

“My apologies for feeling embarrassed, Your Highness.”

Helena prompted. Without looking in my direction, she kept her gaze fixed on Claude.

‘What is she trying to do.’

It was an amusing spectacle, almost like a competition over selection.

Helena didn’t want to speculate on the situation based on the handkerchief and keys I held or the connection between the Prince and me.

She subtly attempted to take the handkerchief from me.


At that moment, our hands touched. I raised my head in surprise.

“I appreciate the sentiment, Lady Barden. However, Lady Khalia was about to offer her kindness first.”

Claude smoothly took the handkerchief and the library key from under it. As he withdrew, his fingers brushed against my palm. The moisture on his hand transferred to my gloves.

“…I see.”

Helena touched my hand. She stood a bit apart from Claude and me.

Hastily, I withdrew my hand. The finger that had dropped down moved strangely on its own.

“But I didn’t know you two were so intimate. I left early intending to return home soon, but seeing you two slip away during the party to have a private conversation is quite surprising.”

Fanning herself, Helena spoke with her face covered. She glanced at the Prince’s wet collar.

“Has Khalia been rude to Your Highness?”

Then, quite deliberately, she turned her gaze on me.

Unlike the gaze that roamed up and down earlier directed at Claude, it was cold.

“Lately, it seems she’s taken to baptizing others as if it’s a new hobby.”

“Not quite. she actually helped liven things up.”

“…I’m glad to hear that,” Helena murmured, her delicate lips pursed.

“By the way, calling her ‘Khalia’?”


Claude asked casually. Helena flinched slightly, trembling softly. It seemed like she was tense, judging by her peripheral glance.

“No. Lady Khalia was expelled by your family. Even her guardian was replaced. I thought there might be some grudge, but calling her quite familiarly…”

The murmurs from behind grew louder. I looked at Claude with renewed eyes.

Only Claude Valentine could question the parties involved in such matters.

He was a worthless member of the royal family, having received no authority and therefore escaping any responsibility.

“Well, that’s… She’s my sister, after all.”

“Is that so? But Lady Khalia, why did you expel her from the Barden Family?”

Prince turned the question to me. Helena seemed unsure of what to do from the side.

A wry smile involuntarily formed on my lips at this amusing situation.

No one had asked such a direct question before.

No, it seemed like nobody was even curious. They all seemed to have predetermined answers in their minds and thought accordingly.

I answered with a cheerful mood.

“I didn’t fit their values. I didn’t have a pleasant youth. And since there was a new opportunity with the Duke, I simply seized it.”

“I see. Lady Barden, what do you think about this statement? Did you have a pleasant youth as a viscountess?”

The ladies’ hushed murmurs reached us on the breeze.

“Why are you asking such questions, Your Highness…?”

“Of course, ‘that person’ committed wicked acts.”

“But why are you speaking as if you’re defending ‘that person’?”

They seemed to realize that something was off, but they lacked the audacity to intervene where the Prince and I were present.

Helena’s face turned pale.

Separated from the crowd she usually accompanied at the Academy and receptions, she suddenly looked frail and lonely.

It was the first time I felt her as “alone” between me and Helena. It sent a slight shiver down my spine.

“…Even if my sister may have spoken ill of our family, envied me, and told lies, we are still blood relatives. From an elder sister’s perspective, all I can do is comfort and understand her. We can only hope that she will come to understand our sincerity and return someday.”

Helena spoke calmly.

“‘Speaking ill’ and ‘lies.’ Interesting choice of words.”

Prince remarked, crossing his arms. His cheerful tone was terribly annoying yet amusing. Helena clutched the handkerchief he hadn’t taken.

Despite this being my business, I found myself watching as if observing someone else’s affairs.

It was quite audacious. Claude’s arguing skills, which used to burst at me, seemed excellent and satisfying when directed at Helena.

‘I’d like to ask Aila to bring some cookies and enjoy this show together.’

I missed the Desmiere Family’s party etiquette.

Helena only squeezed the innocent handkerchief and protested.

“Despite my affection for Khalia and loving her as family, it’s true that this child has inherited some bad traits from her father and hasn’t developed a proper temperament. It’s also true that she used conspiracy and lies to harm our family, who tried to correct this. Your Highness is well aware of this, isn’t he? I’m confused why you’re pushing this on me, Your Highness.”

“That I don’t know…”

Claude slowly turned to me, drawing out the end of his sentence.

Our eyes met. His grayish-green eyes shimmered ambiguously, making it hard to gauge his thoughts.

“It’s because of people like you that I’ve gotten so good at hiding and imitating.”

A crack appeared in Helena’s expression. Her composure finally broke down completely. Her artful voice faltered and cracked.

“W-what, um, what do you mean by that…?”

“No need to dwell on it. Just let it go.”


“Are you going back to the reception, Lady Khalia?”

The prince interrupted Helena. Seeing her faltering, he nodded toward the ivory-handled fan she was clutching.


“I’ll escort you.”

“No, it’s fine. I can go alone.”

One of his eyebrows raised.


“Of course. You don’t need to worry about me.”

After a moment’s thought, he replied readily, “Alright.”

As he gestured, a carriage from the royal family, waiting nearby, approached.

Claude opened the door of the carriage beside me and stepped onto the footboard.

Before entering, he turned back to me and said, “I’ve received back what I lent you.”

I nodded silently. I felt Helena’s gaze on me from the side.

“Make an effort. It won’t come easy.”

He grinned slyly. His smile was dazzling. Despite being soaked and looking rather pitiful, he didn’t seem diminished and still radiated light.

“It may sound funny coming from me, but I have experience in running away.”

“Well done. I’m confident in my escaping skills as well.”


Claude laughed without saying more. He glanced at us one last time before entering the carriage. Soon, the coachman shouted “Let’s go!” and they departed.

As the carriage moved away, Helena brushed past me as if caught in a light breeze. I turned my head to follow her retreating figure.

She went back to her friends who were waiting for her at the main entrance.

The ladies who had gathered together waved goodbye to Helena like a flock of sparrows.

“Lady Helena….”

“Thank you all for seeing me off. I’ll talk a bit more with Khalia and then head home.”

“But that’s ‘that monster’…! Are you sure it’s okay for you two to be alone? Shouldn’t I stay with you?”

The last words were directed at me with a somewhat resentful look from a student in the fifth-year elemental class.

It was quite refreshing to see her here.

I waved to her, and she turned her head away with a disgruntled look.

I lowered my arm and waited for the next move. I knew Helena would come to me alone.

As expected, she gently rebuffed her friends’ concerns.

“I’m really okay. We’ll chat briefly and head straight home.”

“But still…”

“Thank you. See you at the Academy.”

She gently refused their protests. It was gentle yet firm enough to prevent further questions.

They eventually left with some regret and turned back to the mansion, stealing glances at us along the way.

It seemed like they were just outside to see Helena off. I admired their friendship.

I wasn’t sure if Helena would consider them friends in the same way.

She waved to her smiling friends and finally turned back to me.

Her face no longer held that kind smile.