“What do you mean, Father?”
“Exactly as I said. Your engagement to Herbert-kun will remain in place.”
“But I thought you were opposed to it yourself!?”
“I was, but the circumstances have changed, Nell. Herbert-kun has changed; he has reformed genuinely.”
“It’s too late for…!”
Convinced that Marquis Ferdinand, her father, would only turn a deaf ear to her, Nell stormed out of his father’s room. She knew full well how discourteous it would be, but she still slammed the door to demonstrate her anger.
She then returned to her private room and lied on her bed.
“Why, why now all of a sudden”
Nell has just been informed by her father that all plans to cancel her engagement with Herbert would now be stopped. In other words, despite their efforts thus far, Nell was still betrothed to Herbert. She wasn’t given any real reason as far as she was concerned, and was pretty much told to do so simply because the head of their house ordered her.
That not only perplexed her, it infuriated her as well. And yet, all she could do was firmly grab her bedding.
None of it made any sense. It was as though everyone around her suddenly became her enemies.
She found herself no longer being able to trust her father, her whole family, and even the people in her father’s employ. She couldn’t even think of anyone in her home to confide in for her idle complaints against Herbert.
…maybe not at home, but there might be someone in school.
Nell was basically an introverted girl who didn’t actively mingled with others. Even then though, Marlon boldly and persistently talked to her in school. Unfortunately, given the recent events—what with Marlon being appointed as the person in charge of Herbert’s bid to start things over—Nell couldn’t trust even Marlon right now.
But if not Marlon, who else?
The female friend Nell made through Marlon came to mind: Her Highness Princess Isabella herself.
Nell began to imagine what she wanted to happen tomorrow once all lessons were over…
“Hmm, do I have any idea what the reason your engagement with Herbert wasn’t cancelled, is it? …I do.”
“I see, I should have known that even Isabella wouldn’t have kno…wait, you know why!?”
Perhaps it stemmed from Marlon talking in a casual tone with everyone, but people around him had also adapted the unspoken rule of speaking frankly with everyone in the same year no matter the gap in their social standing.
Thanks to that, Nell, who should have been really discreet with the words she used when talking with Princess Isabella, was able to call the latter simply by their name.
…that said, she still felt nervous at the beginning and only recently felt that they were friends of equal standing. And even then, Nell felt she should still speak respectfully toward the princess.
“Yes, I do. Obviously though, I can’t tell you my source.”
“Won’t you please tell me? If you can at least tell me why, I—”
“Sorry, even if it’s a request from you, my friend, I would have to decline. It’s something that’ll affect the kingdom, after all…I’ve already said too much.”
At that implied hint, the quick-witted Nell immediately realized the scope of the situation. In all likelihood, some kind of agreement between their parents were preventing their engagement from being called off.
If that’s so and not just some whim…I can’t really decline.
Nell subscribed to the belief that a noble woman’s duty was to obey whatever her parents had decided for her.
As a firstborn daughter and a Lindner noble, she accepted her fate to be used as a political tool for her parents. But that was precisely why she hoped that the one she would marry was someone she at least liked.
Nell thought like that as she gently combed her hair with her fingers.
When she raised her head up, she saw Isabella’s kind face.
“You’re so stubborn, Nell…is being married to Herbert that bad?”
“It is. I…hate him.”
“But weren’t you always by his side not so long ago?”
“Let’s not talk of something so ancient!”
While it was true, it was a past she would rather not remember.
It was a past where Nell liked, no, loved Herbert.
However, after certain things happened, the only feelings that Nell had for him was hatred.
He hated him now as much as she loved him back then.
And so, now that she was hit with the realization that their engagement would proceed as initially planned, Nell was confused on how she should react.
Seeing Nell hesitate like that, Isabella clapped her hands together.
“—alright, in that case, I have an idea.”
“You should go see what’s he’s like right now. I don’t think those betrothed should be left in the dark about one another, so I’ll use my privileges as royalty to show you something.”
Like that, it was decided that Isabella would bring Nell to a certain place during their lunch break the next day.