“Marius. Did you have to make the kid cry like that?”
Leopold couldn’t tear his gaze away from Regina, who was getting farther away, and Liliana, who was still sobbing, as he glared at Marius resentfully.
“You have a strange sense of humor.”
“Still, thanks to that, you made plans with Lady Regina, so why are you complaining?”
Marius flashed his characteristic cheerful smile.
He couldn’t help but find it quite amusing to see his friend and brother-in-law Leopold in this unexpected light today.
It was ‘that’ Leopold. The gruff and principled Leopold von Waltrachen.
How amusing it was to see such a person trembling and unsure of what to do after encountering a young lady by chance.
‘Anyone could see that he fell in love at first sight.’
Regina also seemed to have quite a liking for Leopold, but Leopold’s feelings for Regina seemed even warmer than one could imagine.
If the knights under Leopold saw this, they would surely think they were dreaming and slap their own cheeks.
“We lost our way and ended up at the playground. Isn’t that a chance from the heavens?”
“…I guess so.”
The two of them had arrived in the country a little earlier than planned to take care of some personal matters before attending the Trovanza summit and negotiations.
The Trovanza government was understandably uneasy about the situation of two people wandering around without any guards, but Leopold was a swordmaster known as a human weapon in the Empire.
Furthermore, Marius had not become Emperor simply by bloodline alone.
He was a ruthless Emperor who had seized the throne through battles and conflicts with his brothers.
With the skills to easily protect their own bodies, they ventured out in Trovanza without fear and went sightseeing.
The problem was that even though they had power, there was no one to guide them.
“But can we find our way back to our lodging?”
“I memorized the address, but I have no idea where we are now.”
Originally, it was supposed to be a free trip where they would go wherever their feet took them, but they hadn’t intended to venture all the way from the coast into the residential areas.
“I think Trovanza’s standard of living is higher than I thought. I expected it to be in a state of suspension due to their isolationist policies. Leo, if Trovanza were to go to war now, the Empire would also suffer greatly, wouldn’t it? Don’t you think so?”
“It seems that way. Moreover, with thirty percent of the population being multi-talented, it’s undoubtedly a country that cannot be ignored.”
Trovanza was a sunny and warm island nation all year round.
It was prosperous, peaceful, and beautiful.
Furthermore, the mild climate and abundance here were things that any conqueror would covet.
Instead of conquering Trovanza, just establishing diplomatic relations with it would bring many benefits to the Empire.
That’s when it happened.
A clear and refreshing laughter like the waters of Trovanza reached the two of them.
It came from a playground not far away.
Emperor Marius, who loved hearing happy laughter regardless of whether it was from a foreign child, found himself unconsciously heading toward the playground.
There, a young girl with curly jet-black hair was laughing as she swung on a swing, screaming with delight.
“She looks like she’s having a good time.”
Leopold mumbled quietly.
Marius’ blue eyes darkened as he spotted Liliana.
“She’s Verchio’s child.”
“I looked into the Verchio family before coming to Trovanza. They have a youngest daughter.”
The Verchio family was a prominent political family in Trovanza, whose reputation had even reached the Empire despite the isolation policy.
That’s why Leopold had gathered information about its members in preparation for the secret summit.
“But why did Andrea Verchio go to the countryside?”
It was incomprehensible that a promising politician who was still in the prime of his life would give up everything and move to the countryside.
Leopold muttered, and Marius left him alone to approach the little girl playing on the swing.
Marius waved Leopold off as if to say not to worry.
In an instant, he approached Liliana and pushed her on the swing.
It was a very short moment, but as Marius stared at Liliana’s backside, something incredibly complex flashed through his eyes.
Witnessing this, Leopold was captivated by a strange sensation.
Whether it was because Marius had made an unusual expression or because of the warm and unfamiliar feeling that welled up inside him, he couldn’t tell.
But he didn’t linger on the unexplained sensation for long.
Leopold quickly came to his senses and looked around for another Verchio who might be nearby.
And then, when he spotted Regina Verchio, the whole world turned black and white, and only one person appeared before his eyes.
It felt like his breath was being sucked out of him. His chest grew warm, and his mind seemed to go blank.
It was the first time he had ever experienced this feeling.
The sunlight shattered over him. No, his soul was shattered.
It was the moment when Leopold von Waltrachen fell in love with Regina Verchio.
* * *
“You made such a decision on your own about a matter like this? It’s Lily’s business, so how could you not say anything to your sister or me!”
“I’m sorry. I was also overwhelmed, so I forgot. Listen, Regina. This is a great opportunity. With magic skills at the level of François Cassel, we can—”
“I know that François Cassel is a genius, but Lily isn’t some test subject and we can’t just feed her something like that.”
“I can prove it through my research papers. Do you think I didn’t make calculations for that?”
I heard my older sisters arguing in the living room.
I sighed and buried myself under the blanket, covering my head completely.
Older Sister and Youngest Sister were twins, but their personalities were completely different.
Older Sister was meticulous and cautious, while Youngest Sister was cynical and fearless.
They often clashed over trivial matters, and today, it was about my youngest sister taking me to François Cassel.
‘If only I were stronger, my sisters wouldn’t fight like this because of me.’
I felt bad thinking it was because of me.
I hugged Cookie tightly.
For the record, Cookie is my favorite stuffed bunny.
You have no idea how cute Cookie’s soft pink fur is.
“Cookie, I hope Eldest Sister comes back soon. Okay?”
When Eldest Sister comes back, Older Sister and Youngest Sister will stop fighting.
Alice is the strongest woman in the world.
I fell asleep while waiting for Eldest Sister to come home from work.
When I opened my eyes again, Emilia was waking me up with swollen eyes.
“Little one, get up.”
“Ugh, I want to sleep a little more.”
“No, you can’t. We have somewhere to go, so get up, wash your face quickly, and come out.”
Emilia forced me to get up and pushed me into the bathroom.
Still feeling too sleepy, I laid down in the empty bathtub.
But when Emilia, who had opened the door wide and entered, raised her eyebrows, I reluctantly got up, pouting.
I splashed my face with cold water, and Emilia handed me some clothes she had prepared.
While having breakfast with bread and jam, Emilia tied my hair into two neat ponytails.
“Sister, where are we going?”
“Do you remember the handsome guy we met the other day? His hair was silver. We’re going to see that guy.”
We’re going to see François Cassel now? My mouth dropped open as I tore my bread.
“Youngest Sister… I think I should stay home because my stomach hurts…”
“Little one, you get scolded by your sister if you lie.”
“No, no… I really have a stomach ache. I want to lie down on the bed.”
Emilia stared at me as if to check if I was really in pain.
Seeing her eyes narrow like a cat’s, I got scared.
If I were caught lying, I would have to endure an hour of nagging.
François Cassel, or an hour of nagging?
I surrendered to my youngest sister’s intense gaze in the face of the difficult choice.
“I think I’m okay now…”
If François Cassel were among the potential dangers for the future, then lying was a risk factor that could be exposed in a matter of hours.
After brushing my teeth, I held my youngest sister’s hand and left the house, heading to a café near our home.
There, François, possessor of an unreal beauty, was waiting for us.
Since my older sisters raised me to be polite, I couldn’t skip the greeting, even though he was intimidating.
“Hello, little lady.”
“I’m Liliana, and I’m six years old.”
So, it’s Liliana or Lily, not ‘little lady!’
Of course, that was just my inner thought. Adding that would only make me more nervous.
“Emilia, I want grape juice! And strawberry cream waffles, too!”
Ever since I met Marius the other day, I had been craving grape juice.
Youngest Sister ordered the waffles and juice I wanted and engaged in conversation with François.
As the conversation went on filled with difficult technical terms that felt more confusing than listening to a foreign language, I absentmindedly admired François’ face while eating my waffle.
Despite his fearsome demeanor, he was really… really incredibly handsome.
‘If only it weren’t for that madness… what a shame.’
Family, wealth, profession, looks.
I wanted to connect him with one of my sisters in every way possible.
Then, François reached out and wiped my cheek with his hand.
Startled, I turned my face away, and there was a lot of cream on his fingertips.
He was wiping the cream that had stuck to my cheek.
François wiped his hand with a tissue and gracefully closed his eyes.
At that moment, the setting from the original work crossed my mind.
‘No way! He’s not going to be my brother-in-law!’
Before becoming infatuated with the female lead Rebecca Marquione, this man was the ultimate playboy who had numerous scandals with women in the imperial capital.
Absolutely, under no circumstances!
François couldn’t become my brother-in-law.
Even if dirt got in my eyes… no, if dirt got in my eyes, I would allow it, but until then, absolutely not.
When I was firmly resolving this, Francois secretly added something to my grape juice.
“Liliana, the taste might be a little strange, but it’s not anything weird. Just bear with it for a moment.”
As I raised my head to confirm with Emilia, the straw touched my lips.