When Uncle came in, it was my cousin, Crinum who accompanied him. For some reason, it was only her.
「Kaffir… Actually, my wife doesn’t want to come out of her room. Would you be so kind as to help me pacify her?」
Saying it rather miserably, Uncle asked Father to come along with him.
Before leaving us behind, we both exchanged strained smiles.
「Good day, Crinum. It’s been a while」
「Yes, Lycoris. Thanks for always sending letters」
After greeting each other with a smile, I was amazed by her change.
She had grown taller with a curvy, womanly figure. But I didn’t mean that she was fat, her waist and limbs were still as slender as before. Although dark freckles might considerably cover her unusually white skin, I dare say, it would likely fade away in a few years time. And though she likely put on perfume in her hair, it had a fragrant smell.
I don’t know whether it was because she’s been living together with Uncle, but since the day I met her until now, she was far more mature than I was. Perhaps, it was because of age.
「Crinum, during the time we didn’t meet, you grew even prettier」
「You were already a beautiful girl to begin with, but now you’ve gotten closer to becoming a beautiful woman」
「You praise me too much, Lycoris. You’ve grown considerably as well. You’ve always been conscious of your almond-shaped eyes for a long time, but that child-like roundness stands out from your features. You’ve become an incredible beauty in my opinion」
Since it was Crinum who was evidently saying all that, most likely, my face turned bright red.
While that was going on, Father came in escorting Aunt. How should I put it – as expected of Father’s skills, that was extremely fast.
Crinum and Aunt, when they were standing next to each other, were really a spitting image of each other.
「Hello, Lycoris. Thanks for worrying about Crinum and coming today」
Having Aunt give a slightly weak-looking smile, I could only return a「No, it’s nothing much」as I thought of how unforgivable my true intentions were.
『She was worried about Crinum~』was probably the explanation Father gave to her. Although I was worried for Crinum, in truth, the reason I came to this place was mostly so that I could meet『Shade』.
Times like this when I rush on madly towards one matter, I might forget to consider other people’s feelings. I shall reflect on this.
Now then, what has happened to 『Shade』?
Even at that time, when we took our seats for dinner, he has yet to show his face .
The reason he hasn’t shown for dinner, as Aunt explained, was:
「He hasn’t learned etiquette yet. That’s why he can’t come out and taken the seat」
Well, I think that might be highly probable. Dinner etiquette was demanded in the aristocracy; I’d say, if it wasn’t obviously beaten into my head at a young age, it would be doubtful for me to comprehend the intricate gestures required during mealtime.
Having said that, in Aunt’s words, were a biting sense of coldness as expected. Even considering that Aunt was reluctant to let it out in front of us, the thought of having a stepson should be a complicated affair. That was only natural, though.
Directing to me, Uncle said.
「That’s right, Lycoris. If you don’t mind, why don’t you teach manners to that child? He’s a slightly shy kid, but he might trust you who is of the same age」
If Uncle believed a『shy kid』would lower his guard to a female relative who appeared out of nowhere, then that would be considerably “positive thinking” in my opinion. Everything won’t suddenly work out just because we are of the same age. I didn’t voice that out though.
Crinum was very quiet throughout dinner. Honestly speaking, I had been curious about what Crinum thought of her little brother, but asking her directly is, as expected, not possible.
And so, after dinner.
Finally, Uncle led both Father and I to 『Shade』 and met him face-to-face .
Shade was an adorable, seemingly angelic child.
Peculiar gold-brown hair framed his soft cheeks, his eyes were a deep brown… was what I thought, but when I looked closer, his eyes had more of a reddish tinge than brown.
His skin looked transparently white, and his cheeks were rosy red. I seriously didn’t think a day would come that I would
ever describe a boy like him
However, his body was considerably and delicately thin.
Thinking of a guy that was around the same age as him, Wolf came to mind. Although since Wolf rapidly became buff recently, he probably wouldn’t be a suitable target of comparison. But, even then Shade was really thin. I wonder if he was malnourished as a child.
「This child is Shade. Shade Rankgerüste」
In response to Uncle’s words, as usual, my head was filled with information.
Shade. In the game, he had been in the same magical school as the heroine for five years. In other words he had been sixteen years old. The current him had no resemblance to his older self; his masculine appearance floated in my mind. In the game, his still-pictures had lively, or otherwise charming smiles on it.
Contrary to Wolf who had hated women, Shade had been a character who loved them. However, there was a problem with his love for women. He actively pursued women by happily giving out sweet words — then blatantly leaving them afterwards. You’d think that he just hated women, but if he only hated them, he wouldn’t try getting close to them. In other words, he had a love-hate relationship with them.
Being cheerfully sociable, was a well-crafted lie. He was the type of character who had a good head on his shoulders.
His mother was a harlot. His father a nobleman. Pulled away from his mother, and only receiving neglect from his step-mother, when he somehow sneaked out and arrived at the nightstreet where his mother should have been, he found his mother running away with a new man. Such a painful pas– hold up, wait – wait just a moment.
The father in this case was Uncle Narcissus. Wouldn’t this mean, he received ill-treatment from Aunt?
「Shade, she is your cousin. Beside her is the Duke of Lilia, my brother-in-law. Look carefully you two. The color in this child’s eyes are red」
This… happy-go-lucky Uncle, at the moment, he unveiled his family. Aah, isn’t this how he conducted himself when he was searching high and low for the many cultivated plants or purchasing them?
Although it’s horrible, I’m already completely awake.
Furthermore, this was closer than expected.
「Your Grace. Miss Lycoris. Pleased to meet your acquaintance」
He — Shade, was anxiously clutching his chest with small thin hands, but still, he smiled with all his might as he bowed his head. Because of the other party’s high social standing he didn’t really know what to do, but still, the young boy used all his might to show his thanks. This was how it looked like to me.
I wouldn’t know what the actual contents of his heart is by only looking at what’s outside.