We are finally in chapter 11! I will be splitting this chapter to 3 parts, and I will be finishing all three parts by the end of this month!
Also, this chapter is another sponsored chapter!
Special thanks to sponsor: Naomi O; and all patrons to this series: Ayesha, Salamon A, Jason S.
Chapter 11 part 2 will be coming soon~!
Bertia 17 Years Old (1)
As we have arrived in the climax of the story, [Bertia 17 Years Old] won’t end with just a chapter alone.
I’m sorry for those who thought this would be the last chapter. The story will continue a bit more.
(T/N: No, really, I’m happy it’s longer!)
Translated by: LynneSuzuran & Senhiro
“Tia, what color would you like for your graduation party dress?”
Finally, something happened one day on an early afternoon, three months before my graduation ceremony.
That day, the school-related events and lessons finished early, and I passed the time leisurely drinking tea together with Bertia at a deluxe suite.
Bertia listened to my request and spent her time together with me whenever she was available, but her usual glittering and sparkling eyes darkened as soon as the topic of the graduation ceremony was brought up.
Because of that, I tried not to bring up anything related to Baroness Heronia, the graduation ceremony, and the otome game as much as I could.
I detested purposely bringing up the kinds of topics that make her eyes darken. When such a time comes, I think it’s irrational to have an argument with each other that has no end in sight, and letting the matter run its course is also concerning.
However, now that the graduation ceremony was coming up soon, I had to say something about that topic.
Regarding the matter of Baroness Heronia, we have been steadily proceeding in our private circle with everything without Bertia, the other students, or the teachers knowing about it. All the necessary preparations were finished so there was no problem, but the preparations for the graduation ceremony itself couldn’t be carried out within just [our private circle].
Needless to say, I had to have Bertia, who’s my fiancée participate as my partner on the appointed day.
“Graduation party dress?”
The happy expression that Bertia had, as she stuffed many bite-sized baked sweets that could be eaten in one go into her mouth, changed into a stiffened expression.
…It’s not a big deal, but the point of the baked sweets being small enough to be eaten in one go should be to avoid the stuffy cheeks that you have right now, you know? If you put a lot of pieces at the same time into your mouth, then there’s no meaning to it, right?
Then, she tried to gulp down her saliva… or so I thought, but since her mouth was packed with stuff, one would normally end up gulping down the food. With that, her figure wouldn’t look good, right?
“Yeah, that’s right. It’s a general rule to go to the graduation party with a partner. And there’s an implicit rule dictating that those with fiancées should go along with their engagement partners. …Since you’re kind, you wouldn’t refuse to come as your fiancé’s partner and make me end up as a pitiful man, right? That’s why, I would like to give you a dress as a present for being so kind.”
In order to brighten up the atmosphere of the place even for a little bit, I purposely made fun of her, and Bertia clumsily smiled a bit.
“Bu-but, wouldn’t it be fine to go with the heroine? Instead of me, giving the dress to her would be…”
“Tia. I’m asking my partner, and that’s you.”
Bertia looked at me with her upturned eyes and an uneasy gaze, and the words I let out in order to interrupt her words were unexpectedly biting that even I was astonished at myself.
Perhaps because she noticed the irritation that my voice contained, her body trembled with a jump, and the sweets she held on her hand were crushed on the spur of the moment.
“…Ah, you’re really… Your beloved sweets were destroyed, you know?”
I paused briefly as I held back the irritation that was welling up inside of me and stood up as if nothing stood over the table and took her hands that were grimy from the wreckage of the sweets.
The moment I touched her hand, this time, her hand trembled once more in her uneasiness, but I pretended not to notice it and slowly opened her hand, collecting the crushed sweets.
It’s bad after all, isn’t it?
Perhaps it’s due to the instability that comes with puberty that my emotions were very unstable these days.
Without even noticing it myself, I ended up feeling restless at her every action.
Since I have never lived with this kind of thing up until now, I was honestly perplexed.
Well, but for some reason, as long as it wasn’t a matter related to her, I could operate as usual. Because my feelings weren’t particularly unstable, it didn’t impede me from doing my duties as the crown prince, so it wasn’t particularly a big problem.
“Yeah, the sweets were quite delicious.”
During the time when her maids were quickly preparing for a wet cloth in order to wipe her hand, I tossed a piece of the broken sweet from her hand into my mouth.
The form was distorted, but the sweetness that spread through my mouth brought some kind of a nostalgic feeling somewhere and managed to make me calm down.
When she took a glance at me, her face stiffened and turned bright red as she silently let me keep her hand.
When I looked at her appearance, I felt more healed compared to when I tasted the sweets’ sugary taste.
“Yes, it’s clean now.”
I instructed Zeno with my gaze to bring over a chair next to her, where I sat down and took the wet cloth that the maids brought and wiped her hand myself.
The maids seemed to hesitate in giving me the task of wiping Bertia’s hand as I am the crown prince, but when I smiled sweetly, they finally handed over the wet cloth without a word.
“So, Tia. What color would you like?”
After I finished wiping her hand, I placed it under my own palm and lightly grasped it… As if giving me a warning, Kuro who was right behind me knocked her bushy tail at my chair.
…I understand. Under the public gaze like this, I won’t do anything more than this.
“Yes, the color. I have the design at my disposal, so could you decide it? Of course, I have properly selected something that would suit you well.”
When I repeated the same question twice, Bertia whose face was still bright red slowly began to think. As I observed her like that, I smiled at her.
She seemed like she wanted to say something, but when she saw my smile with her sidelong glance, she couldn’t voice any more words of refusal.
“…A calming yellow. N-no! As expected, blue is good!!”
After a bit of consideration, she chose the color that she usually wore the most with a slightly bashful expression… Then, her expression turned into a slightly taken aback expression, and she quickly retracted her choice and chose a different color.
When I inclined my head because I sensed something out of place in her reaction, she raised her eyebrows and gave me a troubled smile that looked like she wanted to cry.
“A-another different color will also do. Like red, or black, or… Yes, that’s right! A color that’s more villainous-like will be…”
(T/N: Huh? What color would that be? Dark-ish, like pale purple, dark, etc? O_O)
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Her hand grasped my hand tighter.
It might be her unconscious action, but I felt like that action of hers seemed as if she was clinging to me.
This girl who chose another color for her dress that’s different from the color of my hair that she usually wears.
She rejected even the color of my eyes as if she was compromising and began to pick another color under the pretext of [more villainous-like].
From yellow to blue.
From blue to red or black.
From red or black to designating a color that’s [more villainous-like].
Each time she blinked, the sadness in her eyes deepened, and I reflexively wrinkled my eyebrows at her as she swapped to colors that felt like she was getting further away from me with each one.
“Hey, Tia. Why don’t you go with the usual yellow color? …Or have you lost interest in yellow?”
Instead of somehow stopping my voice from lowering naturally, I narrowed my eyes as I smiled like always.
With eyes dyed in sorrow, she hung her head and didn’t notice the extremely unpleasant smile plastered to my face.
The feeling of [losing interest] that can’t really be described, is the most clear and familiar feeling to me.
Even for things that I thought might be good or kind of interesting, most of the time, they followed how I’d imagine them to go so I quickly tired of them.
If I just saw some of the beginning, I generally got the gist of how things would turn out, so I couldn’t find it interesting.
I have experienced this kind of feeling many times over.
When that happens, the [interest] born inside of me would disappear in no time, and the thing that I felt to be slightly special up until that point would be considered as something no different from a stone rolling over on the roadside.
I was so used to that kind of thing as an everyday occurrence, but for the first time ever, I felt anxious when the position was reversed and I was put in the position of something she lost her interest in.
[Losing interest] is a familiar sensation. Therefore, the moment I thought of the possibility of her [losing interest in me], I had a vivid hunch of how her feelings had changed, and my heart felt as if it was grasped tightly, and I was attacked by the sensation of a cold chill running down my spine.
…No, why was I getting frightened by the thought of something foolish?
Her eyes are grieving over being separated from me and her [downfall] through me.
Her hand grasped tightly to mine, as if she was clinging to me.
Contrary to the words she spoke and the path she aimed at, her whole body revealed her true feelings towards me.
Because I compete against so many old schemers, I am not weak at probing into the subtle signs of others’ emotions.
Even when taking that point out of consideration, since Bertia was fundamentally honest, despite whatever came out from her mouth, her feelings inevitably leaked out from the mood behind her actions and expressions.
There’s no way I could make a mistake in reading her.
I should have understood that, but contrary to logic, my heart selfishly felt uneasy.
It’s different from the kind of anxiety from instinct or intuition.
It was the feeling of being frightened that something with less than 1% possibility, was still not a 0% possibility.