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“My apologies, it seems like I’ve drunk too much.”
Just when I thought it was surprising for Grandpa to be here so early in the morning, it seems like he brought Ryle and Dida home. Because Grandpa is a strong drinker, it can’t be helped if he had to escort them back to the house.
“Tanya. Please make sure that these two get plenty of water to drink.”
After I made my request to Tanya, I sat down in the opposite seat front of Grandpa.
“Grandpa, even if it’s you, no matter how much of a strong drinker you are, drinking excessively is not good for the body. It’s better for Grandpa to refrain drinking too much alcohol.”
Grandpa averted his eyes while looking slightly apprehensive. …He is, after all, a liquor enthusiast.
“And so, how much exactly did you drink yesterday?”
“I was drinking together with the people from the Knight Order and the Military. Well… because I couldn’t suppress my happiness from drinking, the three of us went for another round.”
“Is that so…”
So the real reason is the latter one. From way back when, Grandpa told the two of them to “drink and know your limits” and took them out drinking, but the two will return unconscious each time. Because Grandpa likes drinking with the two of them, he kept drinking mindlessly, or so I was told.
“…Please excuse me.”
“Oh, Tanya. Is there something wrong?”
“Ludius-sama has arrived to pick up Gazelle-sama.”
“…What did you say!”
Grandpa suddenly became really flustered. I laughed at the scene I don’t see quite often.
“Please tell him I am not here.”
Before Tanya could finish what she wanted to say, Ludius unexpectedly arrived behind her.
“Grandpa, I heard all about it. The fact that you drank plenty of alcohol again.”
“No, about that…”
“How many times have I asked you to please restrain yourself? After all, you are a famous figure in this Kingdom. Although it might be peaceful at the moment, but if you were suddenly attacked while you’re drunk, it would be unsightly. I’m begging you, please don’t drink too much while you’re in public!”
With Ludius’ sound argument, it felt like Grandpa’s body was getting smaller and smaller. Ludius is my mother’s older brother’s son… In other words, he is my cousin and the current heir to the House of Marquis Anderson. Incidentally, my uncle, the current Marquis of Anderson, said that he is not as strong as Grandpa and thus is not affiliated with either the Knight Order or the Military.
As for Ludius, he is also not affiliated with either one and has been studying various things to become the proper successor. Although I don’t exactly know what he is currently studying. …That said, as expected of Grandpa’s grandson. His movements are similar to Ryle and Dida’s and he looks built despite his slender physique.
“It’s been a long time, Ludy.”
“It’s been a while, Iris. Ah, I’m sorry. Although it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other, sorry to have met this way.”
Because he is two years older than I am, I was in the academy together with him for just one year. Nevertheless, because we were in different grades, it was difficult to come into contact with him. And since I’ve been expelled from the academy… it goes without saying.
“It’s fine this way. I also told Grandpa to please refrain from drinking too much alcohol.”
“I see. I am grateful that Iris has also warned grandpa. Even though grandpa doesn’t listen to my words, he does listen to Iris’.”
“There is no such thing. Ah, does Ludy also want to drink some tea?”
“Although you took the time to invite me, I’m sorry to say that I have already made some plans. Now then, grandpa, let’s go home.”
“Grandpa, thank you very much for bringing Ryle and Dida home. When Grandpa gets home, please remember to relax your body.”
“Ughhh… I will remain here.”
Grandfather declared so while I was wondering why he was wrinkling his eyebrows.
“What in the world are you saying. Now then, let us return.”
Ludius decisively shot him down. As usual, it is interesting to see the conversation between the two of them.
“Iris. I will come again, so let’s talk slowly when the time comes.”
After Ludius said that, he pulled grandfather away. I wondered, where in the world is he hiding that much strength in that slender body of his?
* * *
When the storm had passed, the room is dead calm once more.
“…Tanya. May I have another cup?”
Let’s relax for a moment longer… that’s what I was thinking when, this time, Berne entered the room.
“Would it be acceptable if I accompany you?”
“By all means. Come, sit down over there.”
Before I even finished what I was saying, the excellent maid of mine, Tanya, placed a teacup that I do not know where she got from, in front of Berne.
“It has also been a long time since I’ve spoken to Berne like this.”
Since the Kingdom’s Foundation Day party, I have not seen him around much. While I was busy doing the things I had scheduled for myself, Berne was also busy working alongside Father.
“Yes, it seems so.”
Berne said in affirmation and drank the herbal tea. His expression relaxed when he drank the tea, it seems to suit his palate.
“I figured that you will be returning to the territory soon.”
“That’s right. Since I’ve been away from the territory for quite a while, it’s about time for me to return. …What has Berne been up to lately?”
“…I have been accompanying father here and there, and I’ve learned a lot from him. I must make up for the lost time when I was taking it easy.”
“I don’t think you were playing around or anything, so isn’t it fine? There are many things that you can only experience as a student.”
That’s what I have experienced in my previous life. The time I spent in school were very valuable. One will think so, even more, when they start working. People of the same age gathering together, studying in the same place, making many friends and arguing with each other… Although one might experience painful times, it also becomes a part of those shining moments. Youth, I finally understood the true meaning of this word only after I have graduated from being a student.
“…Despite it all, I have taken that precious time away from you.”
Because Berne said it in a really soft voice, I wasn’t able to hear his words. Since his complexion turned really pale, I understood that the subject was something unpleasant.
“…Older sister. Please allow me to take this moment to apologize to you.”
“And here I was thinking what you were going to say… What exactly are you apologizing for?”
Speaking of apology… even if I don’t hear what it’s about, I can conclude that it was about my expulsion from the academy.
“…About that, it’s regarding my lady’s expulsion from the academy.”
Although I already knew the answer, I still wanted to hear what he wanted to apologize for.
“If it’s regarding my expulsion from the academy… there is no need for you to apologize. That was the result of me making a move after being overwhelmed with emotions… In other words, it was my own blunder.”
“If I’m not mistaken, my lady have mentioned the same thing before. However, I don’t think that’s all there was to it. I, myself, as well, at that time, I liked her… and because of that, I moved based on my feelings. I made a move based on my emotions, I didn’t think about the consequences at all.”
“In other words, as someone who is aiming to become the Prime Minister, you want to sincerely express your determination by apologizing to me…”
Really, I felt like I heard him saying ‘I will not be influenced by my emotions again.’ He probably came to this conviction after undergoing training under Father.
“There is that, too. However, that is not the entire reason.”
“…Is there something else?”
“I was extremely enamored by her that I moved solely based on that feeling and because of that, I was blinded towards my own shortcomings and failed to understand that my lady is also affected by emotions. My lady also has her own feelings, and even though it was a matter of course, I failed to grasp that my lady has been hurt that’s why she did what she did. That’s why, as a family member, it is imperative that I apologize to you.”
After listening to Berne’s explanation, I was lost for words. Although I felt peeved that he only noticed it now, I still felt slightly happy.
Ever since that ‘ending scene,’ I stopped regarding Berne as a family member. Because at that time, he had already chosen the Baron’s daughter, Yuri.
The predecessor of ‘myself,’ would have probably felt “I can’t be helped that he wants to take the side of the person he likes”. In contrast, when I replaced ‘her,’ my head cooled down, and the Iris whom I have become kept appealing: “Why, why”, “Why do you not understand?”, “I just like that person. Even Berne wants to abandon me!” and so on. Because it was my own feelings, I understood it better than anyone else and I can sympathize with the words desperately crying in my heart.
To be honest, when it came to Dorsen or Van, since I had no relationship with them, I didn’t care whether or not they were present.
However, it was different when it came to Ed-sama and Berne. As someone who was engaged to Ed-sama, the desire of being loved was there. And Berne is an important family member. Therefore when these two people chose her over me and the fact that they were able to discard me at the drop of a hat left me dismayed. Furthermore, I suffered humiliation at their hands.
In front of a large crowd, they held me down and condemned me. I was lucky and recovered the memories of my previous life, however, if I did not regain it in time, I would have fallen into a state of panic.
At that very moment, ‘I’ made a promise to myself to never fall in love again. In addition, to never completely trust and rely on another person. Because even family members can discard their own. With the reason that he took part in the event that forced me changed my values, “Yes, that’s right,” and thus I could not forgive him.
The hard-hearted part of ‘myself’ thought ‘What are you saying at this late hour,’ but the other part of ‘myself’ wanted to reconcile with my younger brother and they resisted each other.
“…I will accept your apology. However, I cannot immediately forgive you.”
That girl… If it was her, the Baron’s daughter, Lady Yuri, I wonder if she would say she forgives him. That kind of meaningless speculation floated inside my head.
“Even so, that much is sufficient for me.”
Despite my response, Berne was satisfied with it and accepted it with a smile.
* * *
For those who might be confused with the conversation between Iris and Berne: At first, Berne spoke to her informally, but when he started to apologize, he spoke semi-formally, calling her “my lady” instead of “older sister.”