Although Count Kraus was of high nobility, the breakfast menu wasn’t as extravagant as his title.
Just because one was a noble, did not mean one sprinkled gold onto the food. Of course, a noble could if they were asked to, but why would they? The idea was ahead of its time. Additionally, unnecessary luxuries were not regarded as a good thing for nobles.
The attendant brought in the prepared meal. The breakfast for today was a small steak seasoned with the chef’s special sauce and a well-fried egg. There were various other dishes, including warm soup, all of which were small enough to finish with one bite, so the amount wasn’t overwhelming.
Elena picked up a knife and cut the meat into small pieces. After she dipped it in the sauce, she plopped it right into her mouth. It seemed like it was tasty as Elena had a satisfied expression. I started eating comfortably after seeing that.
I picked up a knife as well, sliced the meat, and put it into my mouth. The meat might have been of the highest grade, since the juicy sauce from the tender lean meat was divine. It had been some time now since my taste buds changed to seek high-quality meals. I couldn’t get enough of all the delicious food.
“Do you like meat, Damian?”
I was experiencing a high from the meal, so I hadn’t been paying attention to Elena, who was sitting right across from me. Her eyes were sparkling in wonder as she watched me eat the steak.
“I certainly do. It would be more precise to say I enjoy eating delicious food rather than meat. How is the food for you, Elena?”
So long as the meat’s quality was not horrendous, almost anything would taste delicious if it was grilled well.
“It suits my taste buds, too. Your chef can literally make anything. Even the quality of the desserts is spectacular. I must admit, I almost want to live here for the rest of my life.”
“Haha. Thank you for the compliment. I’ll introduce you after the meal. I’m sure my chef will be happy too if you say the same thing to them.”
Don’t tell me, that’s the reason you’re getting engaged to me?
When I saw her in awe, with both hands clasped together, it occured to me that could have been the reason. It would be nice if she simply missed the chef’s cooking rather than getting me shoved into the story.
Elena couldn’t stop admiring the view of the garden from the glass wall as she ate. In my opinion, her cheerful expression was much lovelier than a mere flower. But it must have felt different to her since she grew up in Melloheim, a land of snow resembling Russia.
“It’s hard to find a view like this in Melloheim. My father does have a glass garden where its temperature is adjusted with magic. But it’s the first time I’m seeing flowers under the sun from a glass wall like this.”
From what I remember, there were events similar to Japan’s Sapporo snow festivals in Melloheim. I believe I would have reacted like her if I had gone there. For someone like me, who grew up in a country with four seasons, a region with snowfall all-year-round felt more new and fascinating to me.
More importantly… Isn’t she too energetic?
The mood was completely different from yesterday. Was she really the Elena Edelweiss that I know?
It wasn’t just the engagement offer, the image I had of Elena was gradually deviating from the one I had of her in the novel.
Was it Damian who had completely warped her personality before the original plot unfolded?
It’s quite possible.
But it has nothing to do with me.
No matter how much her personality changed from the original, it had nothing to do with the current Damian, me. It might be better for her this way. If she fixed her introvertness from now on, she could lower the chance of many unnecessary hardships from occurring in the future. Hence, this would not affect her negatively.
I decided to ignore her exuberant personality.
Later on, she talked about what she saw and experienced here in Sarham, as well as how amazed she was. I engaged in the conversation, responding to her accordingly.
Just in time, the desserts that I requested from Ken had arrived so the mood was good.
The problem was…
“Ah, Damian! On my way here…”
“I see. That must have been interesting. Here, a macaron. Have a bite.”
“Wow! Thank you.”
“…Ah, Damian! Speaking of macarons…”
“I see. To think there was such a famous store there. Why don’t we go together next time? Oh, and here, a macaron. Have a bite.”
“Wow! Thank you.”
“…So anyway, it was really fascinating! It was my first time seeing something like that!”
“I see. Here, a macaron. Have a bite.”
Elena kept on talking.
It was as though I was stuck in an endless loop. I passed her a macaron every time she finished a story and she would eat them and tell another story.
She was as cute as a child so I handed the sweets over to her, but I didn’t know it would turn out like this.
What was it? A requiem?
I couldn’t see this conversation ending. Words continued to flow out of Elena’s mouth ceaselessly like a broken tap.
What in the world did the original Damian do to turn this chatty girl silent?
Come to think of it, Elena did seem to become very chatty when she talked to her female friend.
That friend was one of the few people who opened the door to Elena’s heart. In other words, it meant Elena felt as comfortable with me as she had been with her. I didn’t know the reason she felt this way, but it didn’t feel so bad, even if it was the exact opposite of my desired outcome.
Before I knew it, all the macarons were gone. There were still other desserts left, but if we finished them too, we wouldn’t be able to leave this room today. Now was the right moment to wrap it up and turn things around. I took back the lead to solve yesterday’s mystery.
“Elena, I have one question.”
“Hm? Ahh… I talked too much about myself. I’m sorry. I got carried away…”
“No, It’s okay. It makes me happy to see you happy. I just had something to ask regarding our engagement.”
“Engagement? Oh! Now that I think about it, when should we hold our engagement ceremony?”
What is she talking about?
I made a blank expression. Elena’s face was flushed, but she continued as if she hadn’t seen my face.
“Spring’s good, right? No, it should be held in spring! I’ve always dreamed about having a ceremony surrounded by blooming flowers. Oh, we can do that for the wedding. For the engagement ceremony, it wouldn’t be that bad for you to come to my estate either. Melloheim may be different, but the one good thing is the scenery.”
“Eh? What? Um, wait. Let’s settle down for a second. Elena.”
She was like an unstoppable train. I managed to stop her from rambling any further. If I were a little late, I might have heard about her plans for our second generation when we haven’t even come of age yet.
This was very sudden. Even though I wanted to point something out, I couldn’t come up with anything to say when I saw her smile and sincerity.
My heart, which pounded at the very sight of her, and the shady desires that would always crawl out, were also crushed by her vigor. I was only left with embarrassment.
I contemplated for a while on how to break it to her, before deciding to go back to the basics. Elena’s personality had already changed a lot from the original. I didn’t know how she would react, but I felt it would be better to just get this out of my chest. Although I was afraid how the smile would warp on her face, I still plucked up the courage to speak.
“Elena, we still haven’t decided on the engagement though. Above all, it’s too early for us to get engaged…”
She only said one word, but it felt as though a blizzard had frozen over the land, leaving only the permafrost.
Her warm smile, which had shone like the sun, turned cold like the moonlight. Just meeting her eyes made my body freeze up.
“Damian.” She called my name in a completely different tone than before.
The weather was obviously warm, but the hands which were holding mine were as cold as ice. Elena continued to stroke my hand as if to covet the warmth, and I trembled at the growing chills.
I was definitely not intimidated by her. Her grip became stronger, but it didn’t hurt. I only wondered why she was doing this.
She spoke first, not giving me a chance to dwell on it.
“You said that you would respect my decision and I decided to engage you. Don’t you think that’s more than enough?”
The ice, which seemed like it would never thaw, melted, resulting in the downpour of water.
Her icy face was covered in tears, water droplets streamed down from her violet eyes as if it were going to overflow.
“So then, why would you say that?”
She looked like she was going to break.
She resembled the thin ice which would crack at the slightest touch.
Enthralled by her appearance and critical state, I made up my mind to never bring it up again.
I clasped her hands with both of mine. It was still freezing cold, but I had to grab onto her. Otherwise, she would crack.
“I didn’t bring it up to make you anxious. It was just so sudden. I only wanted to say we need more time to get to know each other. That’s all.”
Then, I pulled her into my embrace. It was the only thing I could do. I slowly patted her on the back and waited for her to relax. I could tell she was calming down from the breathing I felt on my chest.
She smiled whilst in my embrace but for there to be mixed feelings was a given.