“She’s going to reveal her identity to the person being attacked, but she also cleverly sneaks through the cracks and slips through the cracks.”
Upon hearing those words, I realized something.
‘Come to think of it, Dimitri also knows that Madam Elbas is the one who placed the curse on him.’
It wasn’t Dimitri who found out, but it was Madam Elbas who revealed what she had done in the first place. As I thought so, I observed Grandmother Rosanne’s expression. Wasn’t she the one who used to defend her?
‘But why is she telling me these things?’
…With a face that seemed like everything was crumbling.
On her face, rather than anger or hatred towards Madam Elbas, there was a sense of sorrow and bitterness. I also recalled Dimitri had mentioned that Grandmother Rosanne was someone who was utterly difficult to grasp.
I wanted to know for sure whether she was on our side or not.
“Is the reason you’re telling me these things just to give a warning to be careful?”
“What a disappointed face you have there, Rowaine.”
“I’m contemplating whether to be disappointed or not. If you take sides with Madam Elbas, who did such a thing to me, I’d be very upset.”
“Do you think I would take that person’s side?”
“Last time when I had a disagreement with Madam Elbas, you were so generous to listen to her rebuttal.”
When Madam Elbas arbitrarily brought lilies into this mansion and made Sasha sick, Grandmother Rosanne took her side. It was only later, when I sacrificed myself by taking medicine that triggered allergies and fell ill, that she scolded her.
‘It wasn’t just to me that Grandmother Rosanne took such action.’
At the thought, I gathered my courage and questioned her, rummaging through the past.
“Even when you saw Dimitri was being abused by Madam Elbas when he was a child, you didn’t help him, did you? You just let Madam Elbas continue her cruel actions, knowing everything. Isn’t that true?”
It was a statement that instilled guilt in her. It could have provoked her, given her temper, though I trusted the bond I had built with Grandmother Rosanne until now. Still, I quite like her, and I thought she knew that. I felt that she also liked me.
So, wouldn’t she overlook this level of honesty?
“To be honest, I really don’t even know Grandmother, but I like you and I hope you’re on my side. If you take Madam Elbas’s side again this time, I think I will feel betrayed.”
After finishing speaking, I observed her reaction.
Did I say too much? Did I offend her? Despite the fact that I was worried, I didn’t like keeping things lukewarm.
I believe that if you don’t express such feelings and keep them to yourself, human relationships will inevitably suffer. If there were no need to build trust, it would be best to get along well, but for some reason, I wanted to trust her.
I didn’t want to be disappointed by her.
“There must be a reason why you warned me about Madam Elbas’s atrocities and want to protect me. Haven’t I earned your favor? If so, please be a bit more firmly on my side. Help me so that I won’t be broken in vain.”
Sometimes, there were people who became close for no apparent reason—a person who you wanted to give and receive affection for no reason.
Grandmother Rosanne was like that. I simply enjoyed her occasional boisterous laughter. Despite dismissing my jokes, the way she scolded me with affectionate eyes felt warm. Although her occasional stubborn expressions were quite intimidating at times, in reality, I could tell she was a genuinely good person.
So, I hoped that she would provide a convincing explanation for her actions so far.
Of course, she had no obligation to do so, and I was just asking too much of her. Even knowing that, I still hoped she would tell me that there was some reason behind her actions.
I wanted to build trust.
Upon seeing my earnest gaze, Grandmother Rosanne, upon seeing my earnest gaze, suddenly burst into laughter.
“You’re being very honest, Rowaine!”
I thought she might get angry, so I was perplexed when she burst out laughing like that.
“I’ve never heard such emotional appeals before. Tsk, tsk. You lack the qualities of a negotiator.”
“I’ve heard similar words from Dimitri, too…”
“In your position, resorting to material gain and threats is the easy way. It takes a lot of time and effort to sway someone’s heart through emotional appeals.”
My lips protrude out sharply against my will. Perhaps I was talentless when it came to negotiation.
At that moment, Grandmother Rosanne added with a mischievous grin.
“Still, that method suits you well. I think I know why Dimitri is so in love with you.”
I wanted to retort that Dimitri wasn’t in love with me, but he was just agreeing to my deal. Even though everyone said I wasn’t good at negotiating, in reality, I’ve used this skill to succeed in the most important deal of all — this contract marriage.
‘Hmph. She wouldn’t even know that.’
As I muttered to myself, she smiled.
“Like you said, I like you. So. I’m going to be honest with you as well.”
It was a positive response.
Grandmother declared with a determined face.
“I won’t turn a blind eye to this matter. I don’t think I can overlook Cayetana anymore.”
She looked straight at me.
“I’m not on anyone’s side but Blois’s. You’ve said that you wish for me to be on your side, Rowaine. If you’re on Blois’s side, then I’m on your side.”
“Dimitri was the child of a mistress. He was never Blois, not until he received the title of Duke.”
The gaze of Grandmother Rosanne as she spoke seemed extremely cold. However, viewed from her perspective, she appeared more just than anyone else. Her presence, which had been shrouded as if covered in fog, was now clearly visible.
‘Grandmother Rosanne was a fence.’
The person who protected the Blois lineage.
‘…I feel like I know how to firmly align her on Dimitri’s side.’
“Grandmother, Madam Elbas is trying to remove Dimitri and establish her nephew, Dieppe Leon, as the duke.”
Dieppe was thoroughly an outsider to the Blois family. Despite being Madam Elbas’s nephew, he was a complete stranger with not a drop of Blois blood in his veins.
When I quickly explained this, she narrowed her eyes and stared into the empty space as if Madam Elbas was there.
“I knew that. How dare she try to swallow Blois.”
“Did you already know?”
“Haven’t I already said it? I’m not on anyone’s side.”
I was surprised to learn that she had been keeping a close eye on Madam Elbas all along. She was seeing right through her.
‘She’s been constantly on the move. I knew what Madam Elbas was up to because I’d read the book, but Grandmother Rosanne didn’t. Moreover, this time, she let me know that Madam Elbas was planning to harm me even before I did.’
It meant she had a good source of information.
The statement that she wouldn’t just stand by and watch Madam meant that she had the strength to deal with her whenever needed. There was a basis for the confidence of Grandmother Rosanne, who made Dimitri cower and made Madam Elbas cautious of her.
It was a stark reminder of being entangled in the struggles of powerful figures. It felt as though I was a shrimp caught between whales.
‘In the first place, wasn’t she the kind of person who could be swayed by material gain and threats, right?’
If I had done that, I wouldn’t have even been able to pick out the bones*.
[ T/N: The phrase is an idiom which often used to convey a close call or a situation that could have turned out much worse — e.g., ‘It could have been a real disaster’ or ‘It was almost a serious situation.’]
Grandmother Rosanne, who was observing my relieved expression without a word, thought for a moment before she opened her mouth.
“I used to think Dimitri was unfit to be the leader of Blois, but it was an unavoidable choice to make him the Duke. As I expected, he still hasn’t fully grasped the reins of the elders, and due to his background, he faced rejection in aristocratic society. That much was true. However…”
She looked at me and smiled wryly.
“Now, he seems to be putting the elders in their place. I know that together with you, the two of you will do great things against the nobles.”
Smiling contentedly, Grandmother Rosanne quietly took my hand.
“It’s said that only those who have weaknesses to protect can truly become a strong person. Dimitri’s weakness is you, Rowaine.”
I was a bit taken aback at her words. It felt burdensome.
‘…If Grandmother Rosanne finds out about this contract marriage, I—’
…I might get dealt with quickly
As I smiled awkwardly while feeling fear, Grandmother, who didn’t know what I was feeling, tightened her grip on the hand she held.
“Whatever you have planned, I’ll help you.”
After that, a string of strong curses erupted from her mouth, and my eyes widened in surprise.
“Those d*mn old men. They should just go into their coffins and lie there comfortably. Joining hands with Cayetana, trying to harass my grandchild’s daughter-in-law? Those rotten b*stards.”
She finished her words firmly.
“I need to summon the elders.”
“Will you attend the elders meeting?”
“I’ve retired, so I can’t attend any official gatherings.”
Then, Grandmother Rosanne gave a chilly smile. It was a sinister smile that made even me feel uneasy.
“I told you, didn’t I? That threats are easy. In politics, things are often conducted more clandestinely behind the scenes than in official settings.”
Then, she elegantly swept her hair back with a single stroke before summoning her knight and giving him an order.
“Bring Cayetana and the old men here.”
For some reason, it seemed like something was about to happen.