Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi Wo Shite – Chapter 12 :
“Having a distinct appearance is of grave importance in Drama.”
Rion spent the remaining days of his break preparing for the return to the Academy. For him, these holidays brought fairly satisfying results.
He only visited Julia, the Lord’s concubine and mother of Erwin once after their first meeting.
Regardless if his visits were to be seldom or frequent, his motives would still be mistrusted. After promising to somehow make time and meet her, the ones residing in his body have decided to do that only one more time.
On their second meeting, he came to the garden and had a conversation with her. It was similar to the first time, the subjects touched on were roughly the same as well. Julia praised Rion’s sincerity and brought the topic of wanting him to get along with Erwin.
Saying that her everyday life was full of boredom she wanted to talk about the things in the main house to ease her sadness. When it came to that, even though Rion’s loyalty to Vincent was on full display, he offered answers that Julia wished for as much as possible.
Although he was indicating the possibility of being pulled in as their ally, he was also making them think that doing so would not be simple. He aimed for a delicate impression that he couldn’t get too close, but he would find severing all relations very regrettable.
The results were better than expected
After all, Julia’s confidence in her own beauty resulted in her being flustered that Rion showed no reaction to her charms.
To Rion, her efforts at seduction weren’t even amusing. She was indeed a rare beauty, but her behavior was something he had experienced a lot before.
After concluding that an attempt to entrap him was indeed underway, his assessment of Julia fell down a level, but outwardly he pretended to be a thick-headed child still perplexed about those unusual emotions.
Because Rion’s acting was pretty good, Julia, judging by those reactions, felt she got a response.
Rion, accordingly, felt he got a reaction from her. For now, his aim was roughly achieved. It would now be easier to manage the aftermath of Erwin’s assassination or to obtain a bargaining chip to force him to withdraw from the succession conflict. Just thinking about it was inadvertently drawing a smile on his face.
–and when she saw Rion’s smile.
「What are you smiling about? Do you find not having to meet me anymore so pleasant?」
Ariel was pinching his mouth with all her might.
「Haa… The days will be boring again.」
「Uu… Y-your fingers.」
「…I guess there’s no choice.」
Although what she meant by “there’s no choice” was unclear, Ariel let go of Rion’s lips. Without delay, he offered a handkerchief.
「Milady… Your fingers have gotten dirty.」
Ariel shot a glance at her fingers and noticed that they were slightly wet from Rion’s saliva.
「…I’m fine with it.」
「…I guess it can’t be helped.」
Taking the handkerchief she wiped her fingers lightly and raised it towards Rion’s mouth.
「I-I will do it myself.」
「I see. Then do so.」
After taking the handkerchief from Ariel’s hands, Rion wiped his own mouth while Ariel watched his actions intently.
「Is there something wrong?」
「When will you return?」
「By the end of the year, I expect.」
「I see. That’s quite a while.」
「That’s right, isn’t it.」
「…Then, as punishment…」
Did he do something that deserved punishment during the conversation? He couldn’t recall such a thing.
「It’s a punishment for making me suffer boredom for so long.」
Rion wondered briefly whether that was even within his remit but he never voiced the thought. He was already programmed never to oppose Ariel. The one who imprinted that into him was of course… Ariel herself.
「As a punishment, you must write me letters.」
「Reports about the events in the Royal Academy.」
「Oh, so it’s about that.」
Unfortunately, what both of them meant by “that” was very different.
Ariel wanted to be told about all kinds of things by making Rion her informant. But he misunderstood and came to a conclusion that she wanted information about the Crown Prince.
This misunderstanding, at a later date, was going to make Ariel displeased, but that story would be for another time.
「Are you done preparing your bags?」
「…Then why are you still not wearing the new knight’s attire that I prepared?」
Ariel complained while looking at the set of clothes hanging on the wall. It was black, laced with silver and brand new.
「I was thinking of wearing it on the day of our return to the Royal Academy.」
「Do you like it?」
「Of course. Surprisingly even the size was spot on.」
「Well of course. I measured it properly.」
Rion had no memories of that happening.
「It was while you were asleep.」
「Well If I did it when you have been awake, you would’ve known that I was preparing clothes for you.」
「That is true but..」
「If I haven’t, it wouldn’t be a surprise for Rion at all.」
「I see… I was completely unaware of it.」
The failure to wake up while being subjected to such a thing despite forging his body so hard made Rion depressed but…
「Well, I did use a sleeping drug.」
「After all, wouldn’t it be exposed if you woke up in the process?」
「…It would…wouldn’t it.」
Rion would never complain about whatever Ariel did to him. But this made him reflect on his carelessness in failing to notice that he was given a sleeping drug.
「I believe with this we’re done discussing that subject. If you are finished with the baggage prepare some tea for me. I’ll have it in the garden. Let’s talk there.」
「Understood milady. I will arrange it immediately.」
As if treasuring their remaining time, Rion and Ariel spent their time together like this every day while completely disregarding the suspicions regarding their relations.
Rion was not blind to the attitude from their surroundings, but even so he still never refused Ariel’s invitation.
What the two regretted was not how little vacation time remained, but for how long they would be separated next. But they weren’t aware of that yet.
As the two embraces their feelings, not even realizing, the relationship of the two continues. Not getting any closer nor getting far from it.
After the holiday break, the semester would start with an immediate exam.
For the freshmen, it would be their first examination. Because it was the first time that the academic ability of each student was on display, in front of the bulletin board where a score based ranking list was posted numerous students gathered.
Among them, one raised his voice. Knowing the reason behind that, the crowd immediately dispersed.
The vacated space was taken by three handsome and beautiful, although still very young people.
The young lord with the radiant blonde hair and crimson eyes was Arnold Highland, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom. The male student standing next to him with blonde hair and blue eyes was Lancelot Minister and the lady, with vivid reddish-brown hair and brown eyes, was the eldest daughter of the House Fatillas, Charlotte Lanchester.
With the three of them making an appearance together, it was natural for the surrounding students to move out of their path in panic.
「So Arnold was reliably first, huh? As expected of you.」
Looking at the ranking table posted on the bulletin board, Lancelot voiced his admiration.
「Oh my, I, and even Lancelot have lost.」
In contrast to that, Charlotte voiced her displeasure.
「I’m not the only one, okay?」
「…That’s right, isn’t it. Fuun~ *not just by the appearance*, huh?」
(TN: Honestly, I think this is wrong. the word “mitame/見た目” could mean differently, it could be “Not just on the surface” or something else. Anyway, I don’t feel very good about this part.)
Charlotte’s gaze was fixed on the name of the person ranked under the name of Arnold. It was Maria Theodore.
「Speaking of the devil…」
Approaching from the hallway, a female student came towards the board. Framed by the light coming from the windows, with her long, black hair outstretched, she was dazzling. With her cerulean eyes and pure white skin even by looking from afar, one would recognize her as a beauty.
It was Maria, and when she noticed Lancelot her face bloomed in a smile.
Though her delicate face was doll-like already, when a smile brightened it, her charm turned angelic. The surrounding male students could only sigh in admiration while the females could only groan.
「What’s the matter? I told you that it’s fine to drop the honorifics, did I not?」
「You did, but…」
Right after that, Maria’s face became cloudy. Just from that expression, Lancelot was able to guess the reason.
「Did someone say something to you?」
「It wasn’t anything bad, I was told that it would be good for me to practice etiquette.」
「Hou… Even though I told you that it’s fine, someone had the guts to protest?」
「Who is it? Just tell me the name and I’ll rebuke them strictly.」
「That person was gentle about it, so…..」
Maria already knew what the meaning of the “Strictly” that Lancelot said was and Lancelot immediately knew that Maria was trying to cover up for the person.
「Maria is really kind. However, I can’t put up with you calling me in such a refined manner.」
「…I understand. Good afternoon, Lancelot. Is this way fine?」
「Yeah. That’s just fine. However, Maria is really amazing, huh?」
「Your score. You came to see the results, did you not?」
「Ah, that’s right.」
Maria came towards the vacated spot where Lancelot was standing. After looking at the scoreboard and finding her name, she pouted.
「Oh? Maria is unsatisfied with being second?」
「I worked hard after all.」
「But only placing second, huh? Well, the person in first place was…」
「Would there be a problem if I finished first?」
Lancelot hesitated to answer Maria’s thoughtless question.
「…Maria, it would be good for you to remember the name of the Crown Prince.」
「Crown Prince Arnold was the best in the Academy and person himself stands in front of you.」
Hearing Lancelot’s explanation, Maria’s face was dyed red and her body became stiff.
「…Is my face, perhaps, that strange?」
The Crown Prince asked in a cold voice.
「I’m asking you if it’s really something for a woman to be surprised about.」
「…No, I think it is very dreamy. I might’ve been surprised due to that.」
「Ah, excuse my rudeness. It slipped from my mouth.」
「…You’re a weird woman.」
Arnold spoke looking astounded. Maria, hearing that, smiled. She thought that the starting point was perfect, something the surrounding people were not aware of.
「…Are you really happy with being called a weird woman?」
「You smiled just now.」
「A-Ah, I figured that I heard Arnold-sama’s real feelings, so I have become happy.」
Arnold intently stared at Maria as if looking at a weird creature. She caught his gaze with a bashful look.
The two of them stood in silence again.
「Oh well, dealing with Maria, I guess even Arnold’s manners will go awry.」
Lancelot smashed that mood. Without a doubt, it was on purpose.
「…My manners weren’t really affected.」
「Is that so? Well putting that aside, how about we drink some tea to celebrate the results?」
「How did it lead to that?」
「Isn’t that fine? It’s the gathering of the four highest scorers of the Academy.」
「Does that mean that she is included?」
Charlotte cut into the conversation sounding displeased.
「It does, why?」
「Don’t tell me, you’ll let her enter the lounge as well?」
「That was the plan, why?」
「Lancelot, this woman is a commoner, you know?」
The “Lounge” that Charlotte was talking about was a special room for people of high status. Officially it was a club room of the Socializing Club the purpose of which was undefined.
「There is no rule stating that commoners are forbidden to enter.」
「That’s true, but… Arnold?」
「….Do what you want.」
「Are you sure?」
For Charlotte his reply was unexpected. She thought that Crown prince Arnold would certainly oppose such a suggestion. Not just because Maria was a commoner. She knew that he suffered from extreme shyness to the point of nearly hating crowds.
There’s no way she would let Maria go to the lounge which was his only place to relax.
「Two ayes. It’s decided then.」
That was a godsend for Lancelot. With this, if he invited Maria to the lounge again, Charlotte’s opposition would be overruled, or so it was supposed to be.
「I’m against it.」
A new voice suddenly entered the conversation. As Lancelot glanced in its direction and saw Vincent standing there.
Lancelot’s face twisted in an ugly sneer.
「Two ayes and two nays. It’s a draw.」
「….This does not concern you.」
「It does. I also have the right to enter the lounge.」
「Rich coming from someone who had never come there in the first place…」
「I was busy. Besides, I am yet to find the reason to do so.」
「Well then, as I thought, it doesn’t concern you at all, right?」
「Wrong. The lounge is something that was passed to us by our seniors and will be passed down to our juniors in the future. Its traditions are not something we should change on a whim.」
Honoring the established customs was very Vincent-like. Lancelot who was also an aristocrat should originally have had the same thoughts, but…
「…That’s trivial. What’s the use of being chained down by the past?」
He still rejected Vincent’s words.
「I’m not being chained down. I am just cherishing the tradition.」
「You don’t have the qualifications to say that!」
「None at all. You’re a disgrace to the aristocrats.」
「What did you say!?」
「Look at the rankings. Where is your name placed? You’re the only one from the four families missing in the top ten! You’re not even in the twenties. If this is not a disgrace, then what is?」
Being told that, Vincent could offer no rebuttal. Full of frustration he could only hang his head in shame.
Lancelot, witnessing that broke into a satisfied smile and continued his verbal assault.
「That’s right. Let’s change the rules of the lounge. Rather than those with higher pedigree let’s make those who really are superior be the ones allowed to enter. If we do that, you won’t have any problems with her entering it.」
「I will not acknowledge such a change!」
「You opinion is irrelevant. Arnold, what do you think?」
If Arnold accepted Lancelot’s suggestion, Vincent would be left with no recourse. Arnold was royalty, and the future king to boot. There was no way Vincent could go against his opinion.
「…This conversation is worthless. Let those who want to use the room, use it.」
「This is a waste of time. If you want to go, just go. If you don’t want to, then don’t. Hurry up and decide.」
「….Then, let’s go.」
The reason why Lancelot was forgiven for calling him without honorifics was because the two of them were close. However, he still couldn’t ignore nor go against the Crown Prince’s decision.
「Your highness! Why would you allow that female student to accompany you!?」
「…What did you say?」
The dispute which was reaching its conclusion was reignited again by Vincent. Furthermore, he did it as if questioning the prince’s decision. Arnold’s face adopted a severe expression.
「Even for a Crown Prince, to ignore something that his predecessors have decided upon… That is…」
Although Vincent raised his voice towards the royal at first, upon realizing Arnold’s displeasure, he was not able to continue his argument to the end.
「Rather than being concerned with others, shouldn’t you do something with yourself first? You could not even deny the words of Lancelot, could you?」
「Such a guy is a Windhill…」
「Vincent-sama, I apologize for making you wait.」
In this situation, Rion cut into the conversation by intercepting the words of the Crown Prince. He concluded that letting the confrontation between Vincent and Arnold continue would not be good.
「Rion, right now the Crown Prince is–」
「Sir? Ah, I’m sorry for my rudeness. To think that it would be his majesty himself.」
「…The servants are just like their masters, huh? To think you wouldn’t even recognize the face of your own country’s royal.」
「Ah no, the face was familiar. However, I was thinking it must have been a different person. 」
「What did you say?」
「According to rumors Crown Prince Arnold has been wise ever since he was a child. Someone who ignores the admonishments of his retainers cannot be called that, so I thought it must have been a different person.」
A severe sarcasm towards the royalty. The surroundings exploded with murmurs. and Arnold, being at the receiving end displayed surprise mixed with other complicated feelings while glaring at Rion.
Along with his voice, Vincent’s fist flew towards Rion’s face. Flat-footed by this Rion fell down without having to act.
「Such a thing, towards his highness!」
The one who shouted at Vincent who was scolding Rion was Maria.
「How cruel! Rion faced the Crown Prince for your sake, you know!?」
「Such a thing was unforgivable.」
「To that Rion, to do such a thing! You are the worst!」
「What did you say!?」
「Rion-kun, it’s all right!」
As expected Vincent would be furious with such a manner of speech but in that moment, Maria turned her back on him and rushed towards Rion lying on the floor.
「I will heal your injury now.」
It wasn’t really an injury, just a few scratches on the lips. And even if it was worse, Maria’s healing would still be unwarranted.
「If I do, it will close on its own.」
「That’s why healing magic is not needed.」
This time, it was Maria’s turn to be ignored. Shaking off her arms and standing, Rion came towards Vincent and knelt, bowing his head.
「My lord, I apologize for my behavior.」
「…No need. Just understand that an insult towards his highness is an insult to me as well.」
「Understood sir. I will remember it well.」
「That’s fine for me. But…」
At Vincent’s words, Rion immediately stood up and headed towards Arnold only to kneel down again.
「Sire, I am aware that my conduct is not something that could be forgiven with just an apology. I will accept any form of punishment, what are your orders?
「….Well then. Die.」
「As you wish, majesty.」
Saying so Rion already had a dagger in his hands.
He pointed the tip towards himself, and without hesitation, stabbed himself. The fluid, graceful movements made everyone forget to stop him and only watch in a stunned surprise.
The first person to come to his senses was the one standing in front of him, crown prince Arnold. Seeing the blood flowing from Rion’s body Arnold’s mind sobered up.
Hearing his surprised voice even the surrounding people became aware of what was happening.
Maria desperately rushed towards Rion who seemed to be suffering.
「It’s going to be fine! Rion-kun! Pull yourself together!」
Hugging Rion in her arms, Maria cried those words and in reply…
「….B-Be… Silent. D-Don’t ….tou…ch me.」
Rion said coldly.
「What are you saying!?」
「…Th-This is, a pu-punishment….., I-I must d-die…」
「Don’t say such a stupid thing! Arnold-sama!」
「Forgive him, hurry up!」
This was also disrespectful coming from Maria, but no one admonished her. It was not the time to be concerned with such things.
「I-I understand. I forgive you.」
As told by Maria, the Crown Prince uttered words of reprieve.
With this, Rion’s sin was forgiven even if it was not Arnold’s intention for things to turn out this way. The one who steered things in that direction was actually Rion.
「Now then, you don’t have to die anymore. I will heal you, so..」
「Th-There’s n-no, need.」
「What are you saying!?」
At the same time as Maria yelled, a gentle wind glided onto Rion’s body. Its radiance was steadily increasing and enveloped him completely.
And when that light died down, Rion exhaling sharply once, stood up as if nothing happened.
「I apologize for making you worry. However, there was already someone else to heal me.」
It was the tone of voice of the usual Rion. Although the surroundings seemed to be at a loss with that, his knight’s attire was still stained with blood confirming that what had happened before was indeed real.
「Well then, I will excuse myself.」
Even after offering his gratitude and separating away, Arnold still called out to him.
「Your Highness? Is there anything else you need?」
「….Ah.. no.. nothing.」
However, Arnold despite calling him, was not able to put his thoughts into his words. Even disregarding facial expression, he was pressured into silence just by the aura that Rion was releasing.
Rion bowed his head once again in front of the Crown Prince and went towards Vincent
「Thank you very much for healing me, sir.」
Vincent wasn’t able to respond to Rion’s words of gratitude. He just stood rigid with stiff face.
「I am fine. I am not hurt anywhere. All thanks to Vincent-sama.」
「…Is that so?」
Finally, Vincent was able to speak few words. Due to that, a smile has returned to his face that looked devoid of strength.
「However, this matter needs to be…」
「Kept secret from Ariel, right?」
「Well if this really reached her, the outcome would be grave.」
「Surely. She would certainly make a face even worse than she did before.」
「She really would, wouldn’t she?」
「Well then, let us return. It seems that Vincent-sama has no time to be carefree.」
Saying so, Rion had once again began walking with Vincent following behind. Such a scene, rather than a Master and a Valet, evoked a relationship like that of a close friends.
「Hey, what did you meant by not having the time to be carefree?」
「That was your rank on this exam.」
Hearing his rank from Rion, Vincent’s face broke into a grin. If he was to be asked, ranking thirty-second was better than expected.
「Please sir, do not be delighted with this.」
「But, you know..」
「I also think that those results are fine. However, this shows that if Vincent-sama gives it his all, he is able to learn well.」
「If you persevere, your ranking is guaranteed to rise. If that happens, then insults like those won’t happen anymore.」
「…Sorry… Going to such lengths for me.」
「No, please do not mind it. I only did so because my head lost its cool.」
Vincent owned the loyalty of Rion. If one insulted his lord he would not let it slide, even if is the offending party was a royal.
「However, to think that you would really hurt yourself…」
「Not doing so would be predictable. It was for him to realize the weight of his own words.」
「That’s right but…」
「Besides, when I was really about to die, Vincent-sama saved me even though it meant going against the words of the Crown Prince.」
「Well, of course.」
「That’s why such a rash action was fine.」
「But even so, it’s too reckless. I knew it. Ariel should be told about this. If I inform her, something like this will definitely not happen anymore.」
「That… No, I will gladly do it again. It was for the sake of Vincent-sama after all.」
「However, if Ariel tried to stop it for your sake?」
His answer was silence. Rion was not able to find the right answer to his question.
「My bad, it was an unfair question.」
「No, I do not mind.」
Vincent knew the relationship between the two. He understood that it was something he should not support in his position, but as an older brother, he couldn’t help but to get annoyed by it.
With the two of them denying their own feelings and having them bottled up at the edge of their hearts, it was natural for him to get irked by it.
After this day, for a while, Rion would be working on extinguishing a new rumor about Vincent. That rumor said that in order to avoid his own punishment he used his own servant as a scapegoat.
The next chapter would be an excursion or a trip separated by two parts, that’s why I’ll work hard to deliver the two chapters next week. By this time you should’ve already realized that Rion’s battle against the plot would most-likely be always uphill.
In my opinion, the real fight starts after the excursion so please do look forward to it.
Note: I’m mostly only 2 – 4 chapters ahead so don’t accept my comments as a fact regarding the story.