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 Returning to the mansion, leaving Ortansia, who was perhaps a bit dazed from her heavy drinking, in the care of the maid, Gérard let out a small breath.

Perhaps it was the result of the duke's education, but Ortansia behaved perfectly as a ladylike duchess on social occasions, but this made him think that she was not ready for socializing yet.

 From Gérard's point of view, Ortansia's still innocent smile, the way her eyes flickered with anxiety whenever something happened, the way she gets drunk and flustered so easily, and so on, are all defenseless.

Today, numerous nobles were swarming to take up arms against Ortansia.

And to call her a "damaged goods" was nothing short of daredevilry.

Gérard was more concerned about the insult she had received, and he would make amends for it.

He had something else on his mind.

"Welcome back, Gérard-sama."

Gérard was suddenly called from behind, and he slowly turned around.

There, Gérard's follower, Lucien, was bowing to him.

"You returned earlier than expected. Was there something unforeseen?"

"No problem, Everything went smoothly." Gerard said.

"I'm glad to hear that. I was expecting some hilarious happenings, such as the young lady being discovered by His Royal Highness the Prince."

Gerard suddenly stopped in his tracks at Lucien's teasing words.

His father's words Just before he returned from the palace, came back to his mind.

"…I'm sure you've heard that the prince is looking for Ortansia. But it would be cruel to take her to see him in her current condition. I'm sorry, but please take Ortansia back to the mansion first."

When she had encountered Prince Victor before, Ortansia had been terribly frightened.

He had heard that she had met the prince by chance when she went to the spirit world... but the way she was frightened was unusual.

He was sure Prince Victor was interested in Ortansia. He had hoped that the prince's interest would be lessened by having her evacuated to the Ducal territory for a few years, but apparently it didn't work out that way. Read only on

Whenever he thinks of Prince Victor and Ortansia, he gets a strange and unpleasant tingle in his chest.

It would be a pleasure for the duke's family to be discovered by royalty, for all the good it would do.

 Even though he knows this in his head, he still feels an unpleasant feeling that makes him want to spit in his chest.

  ... "Oh.... brother! Please help me! I am accused falsely! I have not attempted any assassination!"

The crying face of Ortansia, who appeared in his dream one day, overlapped with the face he just saw tonight.

Immediately after that, his head hurt, and Gérard pressed his forehead.

"Oh, Master Gérard. Is there something wrong?"

"... No, nothing."

With a small sigh, Lucien continued somewhat amusingly

"However... is the young lady finally making her debut in the social world? The beautiful and intelligent young lady. I am sure that all the nobles in the country will not leave her alone. As her brother, I'm sure you must be very anxious about her."

"It's up to Ortansia to decide what to do. She's not so stupid that she can't decide her own path." Read only on

"Hmmm, you have faith in Ortansia-sama, don't you? What a beautiful brother-sister love!"

Gérard turned back at him, staring coldly at Lucien, who had such a theatrical tone.

"If you don't have anything to do, I'm going back to my room."

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"Oops, I apologize for detaining you for so long. But still... with the way the young lady is now, it wouldn't be surprising if even His Royal Highness the Prince took notice of her. The two of them are close in age and their social status is well-matched. The sight of those two standing side by side would surely be a good match."

Gérard barely endured the urge to click his tongue.

“For the young lady, there would be no greater happiness than being welcomed into the royal family as a queen. And I'm sure Gerald would be proud as an older brother, wouldn't he?"

Lucien's story was just a hoax.

It was nothing more than vulgar nonsense that doesn't even need to be taken seriously.

Gerard told himself so and took small breaths to calm himself down.

He  felt that if he didn't do that, dark emotions that he couldn't control would overflow from within.

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"I'm not interested in hypotheticals."

With that, Gerard walked away from Lucien this time.

The smile of the young Ortansia and the tears of Ortansia in her dreams. The beautiful Ortansia and Prince Victor standing beside her.

 Gérard found himself feeling surprisingly uncomfortable as these fantasies flashed through his mind.

"It's Ortansia who decides."

Gérard intended to watch quietly (and keep her out of harm's way) to see how she would decide on her own path.

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However, it was also true that he couldn't imagine himself offering sincere congratulations if Ortansia were to decide to take Prince Victor's hand. 

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