——Lately, there’s a topic that’s been astir in high society.
Namely, it’s about the relationship between that man, hero of the saved world, and the daughter of the Valentine family.
Although it’s been quiet, it’s turned into plausible rumors, spreading around everywhere. Naturally, it’s even the hot topic today as I attend a tea party with my friends, daughters of noble families.
They say things like 「He’s finally decided on a partner, hasn’t he?」 Or 「The daughter of the Valentine family is well matched to him.」 Or 「I’ve heard she visits Sir Agedilus every day, she really is serious about this, isn’t she?」 Or 「Even Lord Valentine can’t possibly have any complaints about it if Sir Agedilus is her partner.」
There can’t be any topic more delicious than this for young women of the kingdom. Entranced, each of them thinks about the love story between the hero that saved the world and the daughter of a grand aristocrat family.
Until now, they’d shiver just by speaking of that man’s name. I realize once again from this situation just how powerful the title 「hero of the saved world」 is.
Well, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I do somewhat think, ‘Why all this after you’ve been afraid of him all this time?’ But more than that, I think joyfully of how he’s certainly being praised now. It makes me happy that his small world is finally opening up like this. It’s also true that I feel slightly lonely at the thought of it, but that must be my own selfishness.
Indifferent to me, my friends are happily making lively comments over the matter at hand. It’s the sort of thing that a mentally [redacted]-years old lady can’t help but feel like murmuring「Being young is so nice」. They look so lovely as they happily talk about other people’s love stories, cheeks flushed, I feel like just being here is making me young again.
But it’s also true that at the same time, I feel bitterness and a feeling of something else that is difficult to describe, which are spreading within me.
——I haven’t told even them, my friends, about being married to that man……. Far from it, I haven’t even told them about being childhood friends with him.
The topic unfolding at hand here, right now, is about none other than the man who is my husband – it’s not just about anyone else. Even though I’m related to this rumor about him in a sense, I’m simply listening to their conversation, revealing nothing about my position. It’s rather petty, if I do say so myself.
It’s a rather inexcusable explosion, to deceive the ones who have been friends with me for so long. But if I ever tell them once, the fact that I’m married to that man would spread like a raging storm. Which is not something nice, from his perspective. Yes, from his perspective.
I put a lid over the gloomy emotions in my chest, about to burst out. On the inside, I nod, 「I see.」 Hmm, so this is what that man and Lunamerie have become to the world, huh?
As my friends say, there’s no deficiencies in Lunamerie as his partner, and vice versa. Even if he’s a ‘Black-Hair’, the honored title of being ‘the hero of the saved world’ is something hard to get for the Valentine family, who hold not only social position but political power. And from his perspective, there’s no reason for him to refuse a beautiful girl that adores him, unconcerned with him being a ‘Black-Hair’.
Yes, as my friends say, they certainly are 『well-matched』.
So this is something I had no way of knowing, as I haven’t visited him since I bumped into Lunamerie, wow. So she visits him frequently, does she? Could that possibly be the reason that man’s coming home even later these days? If that’s why he’s started repeatedly telling me 「Go to sleep earlier,」 these days, that’s oh so kind of him. It would be an unbelievable misunderstanding if I actually was glad over him caring for me like this.
Just what am I to that man? I want to go ahead and ask him that already. It’s my weakness to think about it without actually doing it. Even though I wasn’t like this before, ever since I started seeing that nightmare, this inerasable anxiety contained in my chest has made me stop in my tracks.
That man doesn’t say anything. I don’t say anything either. Or, rather, I can’t say anything. Has nothing changed from before we got married? But I just don’t have any way of breaking down this present situation.
Reflected in the calm surface of the black tea is me, with the smile mask I inherited from my father. I think that face, coated in makeup, is rather well-balanced if I do say so myself. But soon, just hiding it with makeup may become my limit. The nightmare I see every night is becoming crueler by the day, and my complexion is becoming worse because of it.
God, this unforgivable lack of sleep. This morning, there were finally eye-bags under my eyes. I’ve managed to hide it by mixing various kinds of powder and putting it on, but I can’t put on makeup any heavier than this. Too much makeup is bad for the skin. As if I’m going to stand suddenly losing this natural skin I got from years of grooming just like that.
「——Lady Filmina, what do you think?」
A voice interrupts my thoughts as I sit with my head looking down; I raise my head. My friends’ gazes have all gathered on me without me realizing it. I blink in surprise. The organizer of this tea party, the young woman who is my oldest friend, laughs refreshingly.
「Oh come on, what’s the matter, Lady Filmina? It’s about Sir Agedilus and Lady Lunamerie.」
「Ah, yes, I’m sorry. This tea was just very delicious……」
「Oh my, to be told that by Lady Filmina! I absolutely have to praise my maid afterwards.」
She knows I make my own tea. By all rights, if one is a young daughter of a noble family, it’s something your lady attendant would make for you as she said. The typical nobles would scowl at it. But she was the kind of person that had smiled and said, 「Isn’t that alright, as long as it tastes good?」 She’s the so-called gourmet kind of person; my way of making tea that she praised was actually taught to me by that man. You could say it’s rather ironic in this situation.
I put on my smile mask at the question my beloved friend asks me, opening my mouth.
「I think they’re both well-suited for each other.」
‘Much more than I am for him. Much, much more.’ Saying that in my heart, I bring the black tea to my mouth once again.