All the attendants had turned in for the night.
Only a small light flickered in the dark hallways of the Count’s manor.
Hailey, Elena’s personal maid, was walking somewhere with a lit candlestick. Her ladyship, Elena Edelweiss, was also beside her.
What are they doing this late at night one might ask. It wasn’t to steal the count’s valuables of course, as Duke Edelweiss was the second richest man in the North.
The two of them stopped in front of a room. They opened the door very slowly to prevent anyone from hearing the noise, and went inside.
It was a cozy windowless room, consisting only of a bookcase, a fireplace, a few cushioned chairs, and a single desk.
There was one person already seated in one of those chairs; he was Count Kraus, the one who had called them there. Standing next to him was Ken, a wrinkled old butler who gave off a kind impression, and a middle-aged maid with quite the gray hair.
“It must’ve been hard to navigate your way here since all the lights were off. I’m glad to see you.”
“Hailey has great eyes for the dark. It also wasn’t that difficult since you had explained it to us well, Count Kraus. We just had to find a room with a light leaking from the door cracks.”
Truthfully speaking, Elena simply needed to find the room where she felt the strongest energy. The darkness was not a problem for her. No matter how close Count Kraus was to perfectly concealing his presence, he could not escape her senses so long as she was a transcendentalist.
“Count Kraus…sounds too formal. Just call your father-in-law, father. We’re going to be family anyway.”
The two of them smiled and responded to each other.
Perhaps it was because of the count’s youthful appearance, there was a sense of oddity with this picture. Hailey was the only one who minded it because she was not used to the man’s appearance yet.
Joachim Edelweiss, head of House Edelweiss, was also the same age as Count Kraus. Joachim did look younger than his actual age. The count, however, looked to be a young man in his twenties. Hailey would also find it strange since the count looked exactly like Damian, her ladyship’s fiancé.
Count Kraus introduced his attendants to Elena one by one.
“This is Ken, and the woman beside him is Maria. These two were the ones who raised that boy. They’ve been with Damian ever since he was a child, so they probably know more about him than I do.”
“That is not true. He grew up on his own. All we did was stay by his side.”
“I couldn’t be by his side that much either. Even when he had to say his farewells to his mother.”
Neither Maria nor Ken could reply to the count’s self-deprecating words. He was a good father, but the count thought otherwise. He saw himself as a bad father who couldn’t do much for his children.
In Elena’s previous life, she heard about Count Kraus from Alphonse and Damian directly, so she was aware how they truly feel about their father.
There was nothing Elena could say to the count now, perhaps in the future she could. Her regression applied to her and her only meaning she was the only one who remembered their past.
The current Elena Edelweiss, was only here to meet her soon-to-be fiancé, an arrangement which was made under the influence of their fathers.
“Oh my, I almost showed you a disagreeable side to me. Kindly forget what happened.”
Elena wondered if it was okay to offer consolatory words as a soon-to-be fiancé.
She didn’t deliberate for long.
“I may have met Lord Damian for the first time today, but I don’t believe he bore any resentment for his own father. I’ve never seen those from a noble household converse so comfortably during mealtime.”
Elena wondered if she was able to provide a little bit of solace. He loosened his hardened expression, and thanked her.
“Yes. If that’s how it appears in your eyes, I suppose so. Thank you for telling me. Geez, maybe it’s because I’m getting old, I’m not like how I was back then.”
“My father would be furious if he heard you say that considering how you look.”
“Heh? Tell him to get as angry as he wants or develop a magic spell that makes him younger. The bloke keeps taking it out on the innocent. Tsk tsk. I’m glad you take after your mother instead of him, Elena. What a relief.”
As soon as the count laughed, the cozy mood returned to the room.
Hailey, in particular, tried her hardest not to express how tense it had been. It felt like she could finally breathe now.
The count noticed her expression though, slightly raising the corners of his mouth to contain his laughter.
“Ahem! Why don’t we get down to business then.”
Count Kraus, Ken, Maria, and Elena were present. If they were to include Hailey, who stayed by Elena’s side, there were five people there in the room. There was only one reason why they gathered there, and it was to figure out how to get Damian and Elena to grow closer. That was the sole reason why the count sent a telegram to Elena after dinner.
“Elena, from what I observed during our meal, it appears that you already have your heart set on Damian.”
Elena wondered if she was that obvious to others. Her face started to burn up when a third party directly called her out.
She prepared several answers in advance in case the count questioned her love. However, the count waved his hand, as if to indicate she didn’t need to explain.
“No, you don’t need to tell me why. There are numerous reasons as to how people fall in love even if it is their first time meeting. If you want to tell me in the future, then you may do so then. He may be my son, but he sure is lucky. A sweet and pretty lass like you is taking an interest in him yet he can’t take the clue. I seriously wonder who he takes after sometimes.”
“For starters, I don’t believe he takes after you since your expression reveals everything.”
“That’s right. It’s all Ken’s fault. It’s because of you. I shouldn’t have let you near Damian when he was little. You turned Damian into a stone. How are you going to take responsibility for blocking my son’s engagement?”
“Wait, how has this become my fault? The young master has always been that way.”
“Nonsense! He was just like me when he was a kid. He was full of expressions!! Didn’t he mature too quickly because you were so strict!?”
“Strict you say, but Count Kraus, you were the one who….”
“Anyways! Do any of you have any plans?”
No one had an immediate answer.
Elena didn’t know how to date in the first place. Whereas in Hailey’s case, she had always been by her ladyship’s side, so couldn’t have dated before either. That’s why Elena relied on her father-in-law and Ken, but their conversation had already proven their unhelpfulness.
Maria was the only one she could turn to now. The older woman appeared to have been pondering for a moment, before she soon came up with an answer.
“Um, miss, could you cry for us once?”
Time flew by and the next morning arrived again.
Count Kraus and Ken helped choose a venue so that the two of us could have breakfast together.
It was at the eastern annex. I had heard that the Isilia Pavillion was where his mother, Arwen Kraus, used to grow her garden. It was unlike the main building which I stayed in earlier.
My heart drummed at the whiff of the flowers’ scent carried by the wind and traces of his smell.
It wasn’t long before he arrived. We would dine, repeat yesterday’s Q&A, and not go any further. To be precise, it was because I talked endlessly that he couldn’t bring anything up.
Probably a quarter of how much I said was the amount I spent talking to him in my previous life. However, I couldn’t delay it any longer as he brought up talks of the engagement.
“Elena, we haven’t clearly discussed our arrangement yet. More importantly, it’s still too early to…”
I knew it was time to do what Maria told me yesterday.
Miss, a lady’s tears can become one’s weapon. It’s even more powerful when it’s coming from a beautiful lady such as yourself.
But how would she be able to cry on the spot, Maria? I wonder if such a display would even move the young master’s heart. He didn’t so much as flinch when I weeped in jest.
That’s because your acting is worse than Alphonse’s aegyo1Aegyo: what a person does to act cute, lovable or in a childish way., Ken. And the young master is very perceptive in the strangest ways. Mere teardrops won’t affect him. Emotions. You have to truly feel sad.
Okay, but how do you know that?
I did it to the young master in the past when he kept training and overworking his body. I don’t know why you’re asking when you’ve fallen for it many times.
What are you talking about…? Wait… Then before when you…!
Before my memories jumbled up, I stopped myself from remembering the irrelevant stuff. The point wasn’t Ken and Maria’s fight, but the fact that I had to genuinely cry for him.
Lady Edelweiss has met the young master for the first time today, so it’ll be effective to use this move after you get to know each other more. The more time you spend together, the more sincere your emotions.
Maria explained. However, she didn’t know I regressed.
Who else except for me has spent more time with him than I did?
“You said you would respect my choice, Damian. And I chose to engage you. Isn’t that enough?”
What I had to do was direct my remorse and sorrow at him, both of which I was confident in doing as I only needed to recall my memories from several hours ago.
It hadn’t been 24 hours since I regressed; it had been just over 19 hours. In other words, it had only been 19 hours since he died in my arms. I could forget about it for a while since he stood in front me, alive and breathing. That being said, it was too little time to completely erase that memory.
It wasn’t fairly hard to recall a past from a few hours ago. The painful memories, which I couldn’t bury no matter how hard I tried, began to resurface again.
The feeling of his hands slowly growing colder and colder, the sound of his heart beating slower and slower, and finally, the gentle smile of his which reflected in my eyes…
When those memories popped up in my mind, warm teardrops streamed down from my eyes.
I saw him panicking when he saw my tears.
My magical energy had also automatically turned the wind cold.
“So why would you say that?”
I forgot what I was saying after I uttered those words. Right now, sadness and grief overwhelmed me. Little by little, I forgot about the present, and the past began to consume my mind.
Affected by the cold I induced, I grabbed his hand out of reflex. The hands, whose temperature should’ve dropped, were very warm.
“I’m sorry.” He apologized as he embraced me to shield me from the cold.
“It wasn’t my intention to worry you. It was just so sudden. I only meant to say we need time to get to know each other. That’s all.”
To be honest, I couldn’t hear what he was saying. The only thing I could feel was his warmth and his pounding heart.
The final blow was the way he looked at me. He was alive and that blew away everything I knew of the past.
Did I feel relieved?
I snuggled into his arms, forgetting my true purpose for being there.
Next Chapter should be out either on the 6th or 7th, and I’ll include a note on that chapter about what the plans are for premium chapters for this novel.
Edit(01/06/2022): Due to the weather in my area, I’ll have to delay the next chapter till Monday (01/09/2022), sorry about the delay on the promised chapter, but I promise the premium chapters will be coming.
- 1Aegyo: what a person does to act cute, lovable or in a childish way.