Count Kraus was unusually in high-spirits today.
The coming of spring did energize people, but that reason alone wouldn’t make the manor this boisterous.
The reason why the place was bustling right now was because the lord was going on an outing. Such an occurrence had not happened in a long time. It was not just a simple outing either, there was news that he was taking his two sons with him.
Some might wonder what the big deal was about a family going out together, but all the servants who had worked in the manor for several years knew that Count Kraus had never sent his youngest son out after his wife’s death.
Damian, the eldest son, had been too mature for his age ever since he was a child and even now as a 16-year-old. Unlike him, the 7-year-old Alphonse was loved by the servants because of his cuteness and his adorable charms.
The fact that he lost his mother at an early age made Alphonse the subject of sympathy too. It was natural to take pity on the boy who had never stepped outside the manor.
However, that was going to be bygones now.
They didn’t know what made Count Kraus have a change of heart, but the important thing was that this was the first outing their beloved youngest master was going on.
That might have been the reason why everyone was full of life.
“Why do you keep staring at the wheel?! Can’t you see we’re busy?”
“Hey, but I’m still anxious. What if it breaks on the way?”
“That’s why I changed all the wheels.”
“What if the ones in the storage were already worn out? Also, isn’t this the first time the youngest master rode a carriage? What if he gets motion sickness during the ride?”
“…Just go down there and grab a new wheel. I’ll work on the seats.”
The servant kept checking the carriage when once or twice would’ve been enough. On top of that, he completely removed and replaced the existing seats as he was worried the boy might get motion sickness after riding it.
In addition, as soon as the chef heard the news about the outing the day before, he woke up early to prepare Alphonse’s favorite food. The knights that were dispatched to escort the family were more nervous than ever.
Everyone looked forward to the outing and at the center of it all was Damian.
After speaking with Elena that day, I tried spending time with Alphonse for a few days.
It wasn’t that hard to make time for him. I only needed to reduce my studying and training. Honestly speaking, I spent too much time on them, so this wasn’t bad for me either.
So far, my anxiety over the future did not make me feel so relaxed. Although this world had a fixed plot, I wanted to get out of my assigned role as a villain named Damian. I didn’t know anything else besides the “The Story of Elena Edelweiss,” so it made me nervous and drove me to a corner.
Before I met Elena, I was like a hamster constantly spinning in a wheel. I couldn’t move forward, but I couldn’t let go either.
Was it because my relationship with her was different from the original?
The short time I spent with her changed a lot of things. Strangely enough, I no longer felt anxious about the future when she smiled at me.
Was it because she knew she’s the main character of this world?
I immediately erased the thought from my head.
The reason was actually not that important. What mattered was that because of her, I was able to rid myself of the anxiety which held me back and I also spent more time with my brother now.
“Noonim, this hyacinth is like the color of your eyes. I think it suits you well.”
“Oh my, thank you for the compliment, Alphonse.”
Of course, that time wasn’t spent just with Alphonse.
Elena was currently a guest at our manor. She was also my visiting fiancé. Although we had not yet exchanged engagement rings, she was being treated as the wife to the next head of House Kraus.
I certainly spent a lot of time with her since I was engaged to her after all, which meant it affected how much time I spent with my little brother.
Alphonse had begun to follow Elena around, calling her “Noonim,” ever since their previous dinner. They got much closer to each other.
I occasionally found the two of them chatting when I headed to see Alphonse after I finished my work.
The way they laughed and conversed made me unconsciously smile. But in the corner of my heart, it also felt like my younger brother was stolen away.
I definitely felt that me and Alphone were closer than before, but it was still disappointing.
It couldn’t be helped. Let’s just think of it as karma for not caring about my younger brother.
We were in the garden of the Isilia Pavillion where Elena and I last walked through together. There were several gardens around the manor, but the hyacinths had only been planted here.
Alphonse liked to hear me talk about my mother at the pavillion. When I talked about the stories written in my mother’s diary, I also became lost in those memories.
Unlike before, I wasn’t buried in them. I was only immersed to share those beautiful days with my younger brother who was not there at the time.
As our conversation continued, I talked about Damian’s past instead with my mother’s. I also came to hear of Alphonse’s story, which I had neglected to care about before.
“I didn’t really care about mother since you and father are the only family that I remember.”
“Then, at the pavillion…”
“It wasn’t because Father ordered me not to visit that I secretly went there. I was just always curious who my brother and father were seeing through me.”
What I also learned from our conversation was that my brother was much more mature than I thought. It was to the point where I doubted such words came from the mind of a seven-year-old boy. It made me wonder if Alphonse was like me.
“But after seeing Mother’s diary and hearing stories from you, I wonder…what she would say if she saw me. I want to talk with her with Brother and Father there too.”
Alphonse might have longed for his mother more after our conversation. He told me he was fine though.
“But I’m okay. I have an older brother who cares about me so much, the strongest father in the world, and a pretty and kind Noonim. So please don’t feel too sorry for me. I’m a happy child.”
No one could take the vacant role of a mother. However, memories to fill that hole could be accumulated going forward.
What I was concerned about however, was that I didn’t know how my existence as a villain would affect my family in the future.
In the original story, with the exception of Damian, Kraus’ family was not estranged. As to whether they were happy or not, I did not know. They were merely supporting characters in a passing plot.
But I’m Damian now, the next head to this household.
I wanted my family to be happy.
My anxiety over the future began to resurface again.
I immediately opened my eyes and saw Elena. The scent of the hyacinths tickled the tip of my nose.
When I saw Alphonse and Elena smiling, I suddenly felt at ease. It’s quite amusing I’m like this considering I was trying to break our engagement just a few days ago.
Why do I want to get closer to her even though I know we will grow apart later?
I don’t know either.
I’m not sure if I was depending on her because she’s the main character of this world, or if I’m attracted to the Elena Edelweiss whom I had spent time with.
Both could be correct.
Elena turned her head as I approached, making a different expression than the one she had with Alphonse.
I also returned her smile as I asked her a question.
“Elena, do you remember when you asked to go on a picnic together?”
I might not understand the cause of this ambiguous feeling, but there was no doubt in mind that I wanted to be with her a little longer.
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