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Time passed by as I tried to put that matter to the back of my mind, although I was constantly trying to find a chance to see Father, Mother, and Domi. Even so, I couldn’t be too suspicious. I was too oblivious at first and tried to follow my parents whenever they wanted to go to Capicastle on the pretense I’d like to play with Luca, Leticia, or Kiri in hopes I’d bump into Father or Domi at least, but after it was too much…
“Lyra, you’ve been coming to the royal castle for too many times. Is there anything you want to do there, or the house is too boring? If you want something that only exists in the castle and if Dad can get it for you, I’ll do that,” Dad said in a concerned face.
Before I could answer Dad, Mom said teasingly, “Don’t tell me you fancy Luca or Kiri?”
Dad’s face changed quickly and I was surprised that Mom would tease me like tha—or was she teasing Dad?!
“Lyra, you’re still too young—”
“Mom, Dad, that’s not the case! I… I found some interesting books in the royal castle’s library and I went there often to finish the books… I’m now finished, so I will come there less!” I quickly retorted.
Dad was speechless although he was still doubtful and looked like he wanted to say something to me. However, he held back and I could hear Mom’s chuckle.
Perhaps Mom thought I’d soon have my coming-of-age ceremony and thus she wanted to somehow let Dad loosen up and start to think about my marriage, therefore she brought up this kind of a joke…?
Either way, I tried to calm myself and told myself that there would still be time, there was no rush.
Yep, even during Clyde’s birthday, I couldn’t see my old family because… Normally, me and my siblings would attend to the parties of nobles in the same age or generation, or those with important occasions and if our school and other stuff aligned with the parties. It was rare for us to follow our parents during their generation’s celebration parties unless the parties were important. In that case, Mom and Dad would be the ones to ask us to come, not the other way around.
To not arouse suspicion any further than this, I gave up on the idea of asking to follow them to Clyde’s birthday party.
And then… It was soon Luca’s 12th birthday.
Day 33 Month 2 Year 982. One year before the crown prince has the coming-of-age ceremony.
Finally, this is my chance!
For an event as important as the crown prince’s birthday, most nobles would definitely come. Especially nobles like Father and Mother who loved to take care of their images the most. And because Domi is now the head of the family, he will inevitably be there, too.
With the help of the maids, my preparations were quickly done. I was wearing an excellent dress dominant of blue in color and the family emblem stitched to the dress. Perhaps because I would soon turn twelve too and then thirteen—thus getting acknowledged as an adult—the dress picked was somehow cute.
Most noble ladies her age would try and insist on wearing dresses with more mature designs as they thought they would be adult soon, so they wanted to emphasize that. However, they forgot to realize that after they turned into an adult, they would have no choice but to wear dresses with mature designs. If they were to wear cute dresses after they became an adult, it would invite ridicule. Therefore, while one wasn’t yet an adult, it was the time to enjoy wearing cute dresses as much as to one’s heart content.
Even if their parents understood that and deliberately picked cute dresses for them, if the children weren’t willing, then what could they do?
I knew this quite well, so I didn’t object my parents’ choice of dresses at all. Mom worried that I held back for her sake, but I quickly said that I liked the dress as well.
Cherish your time as the exact same time won’t come twice. I wanted to do this too.
During the birthday party, after some words of opening, I quickly went and gathered with my friends to greet Luca. It was the same as always. But this time, I tried to not wander too far from him, even when some of my friends didn’t follow. Only a few of us chose to stay close to Luca, and they were me, Kiri as Luca’s aide, and Ein who was reluctant to part from me. Leticia and my younger twin siblings went around to play. Alt-nii and Clavis wanted to stay, but they were quickly swept away by the other nobles their age. Carbuncle dragged Iris away to do as she liked. Briar and the miracle twins didn’t dare to be close to Luca as they didn’t want to attract useless attention.
Kiri would naturally stick to Luca. As for me… I was known as Luca’s close friend, so it wasn’t strange. Beside, I was also a duke’s daughter. Ein was a duchess’ son. It wouldn’t incite any trouble. We weren’t necessarily sticking close to Luca, we were only some distance away as Luca greeted the others coming his way.
I saw some familiar faces, but my mind was entirely focused on waiting for Father, Mother, and Domi. If the familiar faces were to greet me, I would nod and greet them shortly in return.
Eventually, my eyes caught the sight of Domi approaching.
His face was as flat as I could remember. He looked calm and composed, as if nothing really mattered to him. Even so, when he greeted the crown prince, his gesture was flawless. Like a machine.
My heart shuddered because this Domi reminded me of my old self way too much. Perhaps it was because Domi was my full-blooded siblings, and that he was personally brought up by the same method as mine.
Even though Luca was much younger than Domi, I saw that Luca’s domineering aura didn’t lose out and it was clear that he was the superior, while Domi was the subordinate. And even if Domi was much older than Luca, he didn’t dare to show any hint of underestimation. He was full of respect. As expected of the head of the Grabberton family.
Luca and Domi exchanged a few words before Domi bowed to Luca and was about to excuse himself when his line of sight met mine.
Even if he didn’t see my eyes on him, I was sure he would notice me, Kiri, and Ein, and would at least come over to greet us shortly. And that was what he did.
“Greetings to the Duke Hartmann’s daughter, Duchess Loera’s son, and the young prince’s aide. How do you do,” Domi saluted.
I absolutely admired how he didn’t falter a bit even in his expression, as he greeted me and my friends respectfully like an equal—because our statuses could be said as equal, although in terms of age, we were all inferior to him.
We all returned the greetings respectfully.
From the corner of my eyes, I saw how Father and Mother caught up and were now talking with Luca.
As Domi didn’t seem to be interested in talking too much with us, he seemed to want to leave after a few words, but I quickly grabbed the corner of his coat and tugged it slightly. With that, Domi stopped and looked at me.
Truth to be told, it was exactly at this time that I planted Fenrir’s mark on him. There was no reason for me to tug on him, but I needed to come up with something to say to him, so in my very genius moment, I blurted out, “Domi-san, how is Adel-san?”
…because the only thing that came up to my mind was Adel, who was Domi’s fiancée. Speaking of which, I didn’t see Adel sticking to Domi even though I remember I saw Adel somewhere here… That also reminded me of the incident that happened during Domi’s birthday. And how there was another woman who tried to approach Domi. But that woman was nowhere close to Domi, so I guess… It was somehow resolved.
Even so, wasn’t it stupid of me to ask Domi about his fiancée, when I knew that things didn’t seem to go very well between them…?
Domi looked surprised hearing my question. And perhaps since he was facing a child like me, his facial expression turned gentle as he slightly bent down to talk to me.
…I was confident in my height since I was considered quite tall in school, yet it was incomparable to Domi. The Grabberton family’s tall height gene was indeed… running in his veins, and no longer ran in mine.
“She is doing well. We are going to marry soon. May young miss wait on our invitation,” Domi said.
I was surprised as I didn’t expect to hear this information about his marriage…
He would be married soon?
Although Domi was my younger brother (in my past life), my first concern wasn’t towards Domi, but towards Adel. After being raised in the house full of love like my current family’s, the importance of love in a marriage and in forming a family was even more deeply ingrained in my mind, and Adel was a good person, so I… hope she would be able to smile in the next half of her life.
I wonder how Domi feels about his fiancée?
With the example of his own family, I wonder if Domi would just repeat that…? Though I knew Adel wouldn’t turn out to be like Mother, and would be more like Clyde’s mother instead… I couldn’t help but sigh in my heart. With Mom as comparison, Clyde’s mother seemed rather pitiful.
Would that cold house of the Grabberton main family continue in the hands of my younger brother, or…?
“…Big Sis Lyra?” Ein was the one to call out to me, breaking my train of thoughts.
“Ah, I was so surprised to hear the news. I can’t wait to attend your wedding, Domi-san!” I quickly said in response to Domi.
“Uncle, I can’t wait too! At that time, make sure the flower bouquet be thrown to Big Sis Lyra, alright? Big Sis Lyra and I will soon follow!” Ein said enthusiastically.
Domi was surprised by Ein’s words that a light chuckle escaped his mouth. Unexpectedly, he patted Ein’s head as he said, “Sure, sure.”
Domi was quite gentle towards Ein, who was Clyde’s son… I think he was sincere, so I couldn’t help but think about his relationship with Clyde.
But I had to applaud his gentleness with children. That was a good sign. At least Domi didn’t seem to be as cold as I thought…?
My goal was reached, so I didn’t retain Domi and Domi left afterwards.
I wasn’t sure it was a coincidence or it was timed, but Mother quickly approached me not too long after Domi left. Luca and Father’s eyes followed Mother too.
Mother stood in front of me with her measuring gaze as shocking words came out of her mouth.
“And this would be the future spouse.”