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I turned around to look at Alt-nii who was standing behind where I was sitting.
I shook my head before I stopped to think, and finally nodded.
Couldn’t deny that I was a bit nervous. My hands were fidgeting on my lap, it was quite obvious. Sometimes, I touched my side hair that was left hanging while the rest was tied in a high ponytail.
“You look stunning. Don’t worry and remember what I said about celebrating coming-of-age ceremony,” Alt-nii winked at me.
Right. He said that while one’s coming-of-age ceremony seemed like a grand milestone, it was honestly not as lifechanging as it seemed to be.
I had only tasted being thirteen for a short while, and even during that short while, I felt as if nothing had significantly changed. I thought that it was because the whole thing hadn’t sunk in yet, and at some point, things would feel different. But if Alt-nii testified like that, I guess it was true that I shouldn’t worry about this and treat it like other important events.
I smiled as I said, “Alright, thanks, Alt-nii.”
“Shall we go?” Alt-nii asked as he extended his hand towards me.
“Yup,” I put my hand on his as I stood up from my seat.
Then, we both walked towards the hall, where everyone was waiting…
It was time for my coming-of-age ceremony, and since I was without fiancé, Alt-nii became the one to escort me.
I remembered when we were discussing this detail together with the others…
“We can ask your friends to escort you, but…,” Mom said.
I shook my head, “Nobody is suited for that.”
If I were to ask Luca, people would gossip more about me becoming the queen candidate. If I were to ask Ein, he would gladly help… But I didn’t want that. As for Kiri… Hmmm… I still didn’t want to be escorted by any one of them as it’d spread rumour about my potential engagement…
“Then I—,” Clavis slowly raised his hand as he was about to say something when…
“Rejected, people will just gossip about that as well,” Alt-nii resolutely rejected as his arms formed ‘X’.
“Then, I—,” Dad spoke, but…
“It’d be best if I escort Lyra,” Alt-nii said as he clapped his fist on his palm.
“Ah, that’d be great! Thanks, Alt-nii!” I quickly responded.
Only after I responded and saw Dad’s slightly dejected expression that I noticed Dad was also thinking of escorting me…
But even so, Alt-nii would be the best choice. It wasn’t uncommon for other noble girls to be escorted by their brothers.
Thus, we arrived at this situation…
“Announcing the entrance of Alrescha Lyra Hartmann and her brother, Altaire Ophiuchus Hartmann!”
With a loud announcement following Dad’s welcome speech, I made my entrance together with Alt-nii as I could feel all the eyes on the hall landed on me.
We walked down the stairs and stopped midway so people could see me, the star of the party, and I could say several words to them.
“Greetings, everyone. I, Alrescha Lyra Hartmann, am turning thirteen today. Nothing makes me happy than seeing how all of you are here right now with me, celebrating my coming-of-age ceremony. Even after this, I hope that we can maintain a good relationship going forward. As I barely am acknowledged as an adult, I’m sure there are lots of things I’m still ignorant of, and I’d really appreciate your advice in such situations. Also,” I said as I turned to look at the rest of my family.
“I’d like to announce my gratitude towards my family who have given me life and raised me until I reach my coming-of-age splendidly. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to stand here like this,” I smiled at my family. I could see that Dad teared up a bit, but since he was in front of others, he tried to keep his composure. Mom smiled. Her smile showed her happiness as well as pride.
And that made me happy, because her smile was different from Reinst’s mother who smiled haughtily with only pride seen in her eyes. While Reinst’s father showed a similar response with her mother.
I finally caught up with Reinst’s age when she passed away, and soon, I’d be older than my past self. I was sure I’d experience lots of things I never knew before, but I didn’t feel very anxious, for I had my treasured people by my side.
“And lastly, though it’s not much, I hope you’d enjoy the party this evening,” I finished my speech and curtsied.
As I curtsied, I heard a round of applause from the people gathering in this venue.
It seemed I had done well enough. After this, it was just the usual socialization with the other nobles and I could eat, and… then dance.
After Alt-nii and I walked down the stairs, the first thing we did was to join the rest of our family members.
Freyr and Freyja were about to cling on me when our parents told me and Alt-nii to go and greet the other people, and they would be doing the same with the older generation nobles.
Thus, Alt-nii and I walked together. Soon after we separated from our parents and younger siblings, Alt-nii glanced to the left and right. Seeing this kind of Alt-nii, I finally remembered that Alt-nii invited Celeste to this party. A lot had happened after the talk about inviting Celeste that it slipped my mind. But now that it popped in my mind again, I was all excited as I joined Alt-nii and followed his line of sight.
Eventually, an elegant black-haired woman in a stunning dark red and black dress approached Alt-nii. Her long hair was let loose, but some parts were braided beautifully. Her bright yellow eyes didn’t show any sign of anxiety from being amidst all the other nobles. She looked confident with her every step.
I was stunned looking at her. She didn’t seem like a commoner at all. With this kind of appearance and attitude, nobody would notice that she was not a noble.
“Altaire! Thanks for inviting me,” Celeste said to Alt-nii before turning to me and curtsied, “Congratulations on your coming-of-age ceremony, Lyra-san.”
“Just Lyra is fine,” I quickly corrected her. But inside my heart, I was in awe at her understanding of etiquette. I was a noble, and she was not. So, even if I was younger than her, she used ‘-san’ to address me. But I wouldn’t like that as Alt-nii was addressed without any honorifics.
“Then, Lyra. Once again, thank you for inviting me and happy birthday,” she smiled.
As I looked at her close to me like this, with some parts of her hair braided, I could see her pointy ears. They were long, but not as long as other elves, as I expected. She wasn’t a full-blooded elf.
“Alt-nii’s friend is my friend too. How is your day so far? Did you encounter any difficulty?” I asked.
“Not at all. I am doing good. The party is lovely,” Celeste didn’t look as if she was hiding her difficulty here.
When Iris and Carbuncle first joined the noble parties, other nobles noticed that they were my commoner friends and only dared to speak behind their backs. As a result, Carbuncle gave them some lessons.
I wonder if Celeste really didn’t encounter any problem?
“I’m glad. If you overhear someone talking bad about you, tell me and I will teach them a lesson,” Alt-nii said.
“I’m really fine, don’t worry,” Celeste chuckled.
Now that I noticed, even her gesture as she chuckled was refined.
“Ah, now that I think about it. Celeste, you’re very refined. Did you study some of the noble etiquette and mannerism before?” I asked as this was what I was wondering on.
Celeste seemed to be a bit surprised but that little bit of surprise on her expression was quickly gone, as if I was hallucinating.
“Yes. My mother is the daughter of a fallen noble,” Celeste quickly answered, “…though her family was merely a low status one.”
“Oh… Which family is it?” I asked out of curiosity. Even if she was of a low nobility and a fallen one too, she managed to raise Celeste to be this elegant, even some of the noble daughters could lose to her.
“You wouldn’t know. She was from Cielle.”
“Oh… Oh, no wonder! Is your father a human, then?” I unconsciously asked before realizing and added, “I’m sorry for asking too much. It’s fine if you don’t want to answer it.”
Celeste shook her head, “No, it’s fine. And yes, my father is a human commoner.”
It was interesting to finally know Celeste more. And the more I knew about her, the more I liked her.
Though it was hard for a noble like Alt-nii to marry a commoner like Celeste due to how people would definitely badmouth Celeste, if Celeste were this stunning, I think it wouldn’t be a problem.
She could easily slap the gossiping nobles with her elegance that surpassed them.
I smiled as I thought about it, while looking at Alt-nii talking to Celeste with an obvious happiness in his expression.
“Ah, I need to go and greet the other nobles. Alt-nii, you escort Celeste and make sure she’s enjoying tonight’s party, alright?”
“Eh, but would you be fine?” He asked, clearly worried.
“I’m alright…,” Celeste added with a low voice.
“I’ll be fine. I’m not a child anymore and like Alt-nii said, this is very similar to my previous birthdays anyway, so I will be alright,” I said as I walked away from them.
“Then, just find me if something happens,” Alt-nii said.
“Yeah,” I suddenly paused and turned around, “Don’t forget to introduce Celeste to our parents!”
Alt-nii’s cheeks slightly reddened in an instant.
“Lyra is right. It’s common courtesy for me to greet the head of the host family and their partner,” Celeste added.
“Eh? Ah, yes, that’s right,” Alt-nii stuttered and that was the last of their conversation that I could hear, as I was already too far from them.
It was funny seeing Alt-nii who was usually so confident to act flustered in front of Celeste like this.
From how I saw things between them today, it seemed like Alt-nii’s probability of success was quite high.
Once Mom and Dad saw Celeste, I’m sure their initial worry would disappear, just like mine had.
I’m rooting for you, Alt-nii!
As soon as I walked away from Alt-nii and Celeste, several other nobles began walking to me, initiating conversations here and there.
It was to be expected, and I came here prepared. With my usual smile and improved social skills, I managed to have some pleasant conversations with the other nobles.
Unlike when I was Reinst, I felt like my conversations with the other nobles as Lyra were smoother. I put more thoughts and hearts to this now, even if they were all just formalities. And the effect really did wonder.
While I was being surrounded by other nobles, sometimes when I glanced aside, I could see some of my friends wandering around, stopping as they made eye contacts with me, and waved their hands at me.
I understood their concern. Since they were my friends, it’d be easy for them to talk to me later on, as I’d definitely try to find them. So, they didn’t try to insert themselves among all the other nobles that were trying to talk with me.
Such consideration, I really loved my friends.
As I was just ending my conversation with a group of nobles, suddenly, I noticed that the other nobles surrounding me seemed like they were moving aside to make way for someone to come to me.
I turned my line of sight following the nobles who were making way, and I saw a girl who was older and taller than me, making her way confidently to me.
Her hair was of a dark purple and long enough to reach her waist. An ornamental flower decorated her head, close to one of her curly horns. Her outfit style was one that I rarely saw—she was wearing an elegant kimono that had a modern touch to it.
If Celeste was an elegant and delicate beauty, this girl had an air of arrogance, confidence, and boldness on top of her beauty.
As her purple pupils locked eyes with mine, I finally recognized who this girl was.
It had been quite some time since I had this kind of close interaction with her. Despite that, I remembered her well.
Fumitsuna Yuzuru, the only daughter of the Fumitsuna ducal family of South Riviera, and the next head for the family.
One of my idols!