FMDF – Chapter 23

-+=

Because Kaelus has to refrain from going out for a while and relax at home, I am in charge of meeting the crown prince at the palace.

“Ha….”

So I’m annoyed.

I changed my mind while trying to wear a hat with a veil.

Keep your eyes open and face Helios. I’ll have to make sure that what I sensed on that day is true.

Before leaving for the palace, I stopped by Kaelus’ room.

“I’ll be right back. I’ll deliver this document and get the foreign envoy’s event plan?”

The face of Kaelus in glasses turned to me.

“Okay, be careful.”

“Ha ha. All right.”

A glasses wearing version of my favorite instantly purified my irritating mood.

My favorite is the panacea for everyday life.

~~~~

The Lily Palace that I visited again was still surrounded by flowers. Somehow, it felt more colorful than before.

 “You must have told them that the dinner was turned into a luncheon, right?

If this colorful garden of flowers was cultivated by Diana for dinner with the foreign envoys.

“…Well, did it work out for lunch?”

The color of the flowers can be seen better during the day than at night.

I visited Helios’ office without a care. The guard guarding the door recognized my face and quickly went inside. I’m glad I didn’t veil myself.

“Please go in, Marchioness Hestia.”

“Thank you.”

After a short greeting, I walked in with my back straight.

“Are you here?”

Helios didn’t even look up to process the documents.

I hope you look into people’s eyes and talk. That way, I can check if I saw something wrong that day.

“My husband’s health is not good today, so I came instead.”

The document was placed gently on his desk.

He replied, still looking at the other papers.

“I see. I’ll check later.”

“And I have something to say about the marquis’ dinner. I’d like to get a plan for the luncheon prepared by her majesty the crown princess.”

“Oh, it’s here.”

Helios opened the drawer, took out a file, and put it on the desk with his eyes still elsewhere.

“…”

I know for sure at this point.

He’s avoiding my eyes now.

I packed the file. But I didn’t back down immediately and stood there.

“…?”

Then male lead raised his head, revealing his golden eyes.

I grinned.

“You’re barely looking at me.”

“… anything to say?”

An expressionless face and immovable eyes.

It looks calm at first glance, but I can tell from my experience.

Helios is struggling to look like he’s okay now.

As expected, I wasn’t mistaken that day.

“…”

What should I do? Should I just close my eyes and guess at this point?

I made up my mind to pretend I didn’t know. Besides, he’s trying so hard that he can’t ignore it.

All right, let’s do that.

In the end, instead of prying into the day, I brought up something else.

 “Well, can you move your office to the Lion Palace?”

“My office? Why?”

The golden eyes were slightly drained of strength. He seemed relieved, too.

I answered with my eyes down.

“The other day, my husband faced her royal highness alone in this lily palace. He had a seizure that day and was still in bed until today.”

“Oh….”

“I’m afraid this will happen often in the future, so I’m asking you to do it, although it’s difficult. You are in charge of state affairs as the emperor’s representative, so you may serve in the Lion Palace.”

“Hmm…”

Helios shook his head.

“Okay, I’ll think about it.”

“I’m honored, Your Highness. I’m going to go now.”

I’m going to be polite and leave.

“…How’s the marquis?”

“It’s much better. In a few days, I’ll take care of the affairs again.”

“Yes…”

He seemed to have nothing more to say.

I bowed slightly and left the office quickly.

~~~~

When I got home, I took out the files Helios gave me.

An event plan consisting of three or four sheets of dangling paper.

“Tsk….”

I had no choice but to click my tongue. Although it was an annual event hosted by the imperial palace and a large event inviting foreign ambassadors, the plan written by Diana was too poor.

“The school festival must be more detailed than this.”

Most of the items were written as ‘only for the temple’.

I couldn’t believe it. What are you going to do if you leave everything to the temple?

“Then what is prepared in the temple….”

Fortunately, the last page of the paper was accompanied by a plan for the temple.

“Ha….”

What a relief.

It starts with a ritual presided over by the new shrine, and the meal menu is mainly vegetables. Lastly, let’s say thank you to God again.

That’s a natural result. It’s an event hosted by the temple. It’ll all be like this.

This will inevitably put more weight on the dinner hosted by the marquis.

The burden that Kaelus and I bear increases that much.

“… This is really beyond me….”

I’m an ordinary little citizen who really knows nothing but to use the knowledge I read in the original novel.

I’m trying to make a secondary creation that the heroine regrets, but in reality, I’m just an ordinary person who enjoys reading rofans.

I should probably ask Kaelus for help before I make a bigger accident.

~~~~

Kaelus was in his study.

“Well….”

“?”

Hesitatingly, he held out Diana’s plan before him.

“It will be hard for me alone. I’ve never had such a big event before….”

“Oh, I see.”

He nodded coolly and took the papers and began to read.

“…”

“…It’s serious, isn’t it?”

“I’ll have to make up for the dinner.”

Kaelus let out a false laugh.

I was relieved to hear that he would help me anyway.

“It doesn’t have to be exactly the same as the one held at the palace. It’s enough to show the full veneration of the aristocracy.”

“Really? How long has it been since you had such a big party in this house?”

“… When I was young…?”

“…”

Damn it. I got it wrong. Kaelus knew nothing but in theory after all.

“We can prepare it together, Hestia.”

“Yes…”

It seems that we should at least send a rescue signal to Erinnis and Harmonia.

“Hmph. Don’t you trust me?”

“No, believe me.”

I should do it secretly.

~~~~

Fortunately, however, two veterans in the house were willing to step up without seeking outside help.

The butler Uross and the maid Clarice were called by Kaelus.

“It’s a dinner for foreign envoys….”

Uross nodded as if it were not a big deal.

“How many people are invited? If possible, please let me know their nationality. I’m going to decorate the dining room as much as I can.”

“There will be about five people. The nationality varies from guest to guest. We’ll bring vegetarian lunch from the palace, so the dinner table should be more colorful.”

Kaelus calmly pointed out the essential points.

“You can use the help of tailor Tekima for interior decoration. His job is related to clothes, but I think he has a knack for it.” Clarice said with a smile.

“Oh, that’s a good idea.”

I agreed with her.

I glanced at Kaelus in the face. I was worried about what I would do alone when you asked me if I didn’t trust you, but I solved the difficult problem nicely by asking for help appropriately.

In the original novel, it was Kaelus who always showed the appearance of a supporting actress who worked hard alone. While Helios was hosting a romance full of flowers with Diana, Kaelus was a grateful being that made readers outside the novel not have to worry about a problem in state affairs.

The role of a capable second lead in the rofan was generally similar. Even while Helios and Diana were dating late at night, he worked alone, and even if Helios was away from the palace to help Diana for a long time, he always kept Helios’ vacancy.

Thanks to this, writers and readers can focus only on the male and female leads who loved sweetly.

But if life is no longer a novel.

There is no main character who can fill all the gaps by himself.

Kaelus never dreamed that this world was a novel, but he accepted his world that had changed completely naturally and reached out to his surroundings.*

*TN: this is not saying he’s aware he’s in a novel. It’s saying he would never think about it and that he accepted that his world has changed.

“No problem. The dinner will be a success.”

Uross and Clarice smiled.

I can’t thank the two reliable people enough.

~~~~

After the discussion, the butler and the maid returned to their seats.

I snapped out of my thoughts to go back slowly.

“Hestia. Wait.”

“?”

There was no major change in the expression on the face of Kaelus, who called out to me.

But the words from the lips were very serious.

“You said you’d think about it before, did you come to a conclusion?”

“What…? Oh….”

He’s quite persistent. Is it such an important matter after the prophecies disappears?

I’ll have to answer roughly. So he won’t ask me again.

“I’ll just do it if I can live like this, and if I can’t, I’ll find another way.”

He wrinkled his eyebrows slightly. He didn’t seem to like something about it.

But I didn’t catch it immediately.

“In this situation, nothing will change.”

“Yes, yes, yes, yes. Haha….”

Frankly, I don’t entirely agree with Kaelus.

I don’t think anything will change here right now, but isn’t it life that you don’t even know what’s going on tomorrow?

“Then I’ll go back. Call me again if you need anything.”

“…Yes.”

In the end, the wrinkled forehead did not straighten out.

I’m sorry, my favorite. I couldn’t give you the answer you wanted.

~~~~

The fact that the invitation of foreign ambassadors to the imperial palace was changed to a luncheon event soon spread quickly to the social world.

I heard the complaints of the nobles from Harmonia in the salon.

“Lunch and dinner are different from the way you dress. The nobles who had been preparing to attend from a long time ago were a little embarrassed.”

Harmonia had an embarrassing smile.

I nodded my head.

“I fully understand. But why would the crown prince have decided that? Apparently the crown princess didn’t even ask madam for any help.”

“Yes… she said she would discuss it with the priests of the temple….”

Harmonia was also bitter.

Finally, the strong bond between the two, which has continued since the original novel, has been broken.

It was Harmonia, which supported Diana’s entrance to the palace in both physical and mental ways. She was the one who taught the hostess etiquette and taught her how to win the fight against the nobles.

In fact, Harmonia did not let go of her affection for Diana until the end. But Diana, already suspicious of her “rebellion,” arranged her relationship with Harmonia gracefully and coldly like a nobleman.

“I’ve heard that the number of new officials has increased significantly.”

Harmonia’s eyes were once again lonely at my words.

“Most of the women in the Lily Palace have also been replaced by those from the new building. The crown prince moved his office to the Lion Palace, and the replacement was done more quickly.”

“That’s true….”

Helios took what I said only once quite seriously. To a certain extent, I visited the palace and put it into practice the next day.

When I first found out about this, I was a little dumbfounded. I know you’ve been shaken by me for a moment, and you trust my opinion more than Diana’s, but this is too immediate.

Anyway, it seems that it is not an exaggeration to say that the relationship with Diana was the worst.

I wonder what society thinks of this situation.

“You know the relationship between the crown prince and his wife is unusual these days, right, madam?”

“Did you already know, marchioness?”

Harmonia sighed heavily.

“The impatient nobles are already talking about the abdication of the crown princess.”

“Ha….”

I pretended to be worried and burst out laughing inside. Everything is going well.

“If someone takes the lead and starts a public debate, it’s an atmosphere where everyone seems to stick together. Her Highness Diana should be aware of this situation…”

The depressed madam said furtively.

“Have you sent a letter?”

“Yes, but I didn’t get a reply.”

“Um…”

Diana’s bad habits. If she thinks you did something wrong, she’ll throw you away without giving you a second chance.

Kaelus was abandoned, and now Harmonia is also a victim.

“Madam, how much public opinion has gathered about the disclosure of the temple’s property?”

“We’re slowly gaining momentum, marchioness.”

She answered with a dark complexion.

“As the priests begin to take over the palace, the aristocracy is becoming more wary. There are also explicit calls to discourage people before they get bigger.”

“That’s great. I’m doing a separate investigation, so if you combine it with it and make it public all at once, it’ll be quite powerful.”

I smiled.

“Did you do any research?”

“Yes, I’m collecting data on accounting irregularities. There’s a report that they’re not doing their job as a temple, but focusing on accumulating wealth.”

There are no internal accusations, but since there’s no organization that doesn’t come out of dust by wiping it off, it’s probably apt.*

*TN: there’s no group that can come out of a disaster by just shaking it off

Harmonia’s expression became more serious. I raised my voice even higher.

“The plague among the people. The temple is not working hard because of its inertia, so the chaos is not subsiding.”

“Oh…”

She sighed heavily again. Then she looked at me and said,

“On the other hand, the Illion estate is rumored to be safe. Thanks to the well-maintained sewerage and the motivated soap.”

“Hahaha, I’m embarrassed to hear it like this.”

It’s very embarrassing to hear the compliments I spread with my ears.

“Thanks to my husband’s decision. Both of them are projects that require a lot of money, so I thought a lot about it.”

Nevertheless, Harmonia’s expression was not very bright.

I thought I knew the reason, so I sneaked out my innermost thoughts.

“Are you worried that my investigation will harm the crown princess?”

“…I’m sorry…”

It’s like she thinks Diana is a child. Of course, characters don’t change easily.

I giggled.

“In the end, it’s good for the crown princess, too. We have to shake off the temple as soon as possible. How long can she live as a saintess?”

In fact, this is a very sensitive matter.

The emperor was still not in state affairs. Even for the crown prince’s successor class, the period was too long.

The aristocratic society has already noticed. That the emperor’s health is extraordinary.

Even though there was a saintess right next to him, not getting better meant two possibilities. The first is that the emperor has become so old that he cannot be helped by the holy power. And secondly, there is an abnormality in the healing power of the saintess.

People’s guesses were generally inclined for the second one.

The emperor is still less than 60 years old. Considering that aristocrats of that age are still active showing off their health, it is widely speculated that there may be a problem with the saintess.

But who dares to drag a holy being blessed by God down? In addition, the emperor’s support for the saintess remained steadfast.

I said as if I were soothing.

“When you find out that the temple has committed irregularities, I’m sure the crown princess will also want to correct the mistakes. Look at my husband’s case. No matter how close you are, she points out that fault is fault.”

“….”

“Her highness can’t look at injustice. So it’s good for her as well, it’s no harm.”

She’s Diana, who sticks to her beliefs without her friends. They’re just friends of the temple. Well, they’re not better than Kaelus.

Therefore, if Diana is abandoning Kaelus, she must be able to abandon the temple without hesitation. Don’t you think so?

What if you don’t throw it away and hug it?

That’s what I’m hoping for, a picture of you two sinking together.

I don’t want Diana to abandon her original character. What do you mean, repentance for cider rofan?

Even though I felt this way, I comforted Harmonia for now.

“Madam also needs to be cool-headed. If you really want to help the crown princess.”

“…Marchioness is right.”

Harmonia let out a heavy sigh.

Whatever her feelings for her, she seems to be trying to fail in the end of losing Diana. Even if I can’t help her right by her side, I’ll watch her sadly from afar.

They are just too much for Kaelus, Harmonia and Diana.

How can the fate of the supporting actors who were doing good to Diana without any conditions be so consistent?

Dummy Diana won’t realize until she loses everything.

“The world didn’t revolve around her, the world did her a favor.”

~~~~

When I came home from the salon, a letter arrived for me.

“Erinnis?”

As if writing it in a hurry and sending it, the handwriting was not very neat.

But the content was incredible.

“The date of the merchant ship’s departure has been decided…?!”

I crumpled up the letter.

“!”

So Diana got the money and dedicated it to Potos! That’s a lot of money for the ship to sail right away!

The merchant ship will soon sink. Baron Potos and his family will run away at night. Or even if Helios, who knows the prophecy, stops the night flight, they’re already broke.

It’s already been decided. Diana cannot recoup her investment.

“It’s finally time…!”

By the time the merchant ship departs, the accusation data of the temple, which is being scratched, will also be quite thick. She will experience how little things are interpreted and attacked by people like me who have a ‘specific purpose.’

The epidemic rate, which is similar to that of previous years, will be considered as a massive disaster when compared to the situation in Illion.

Even if she tries hard to make excuses that she is doing what she normally does, she will not be able to make a living. The injustice of the temple that I worked hard to prepare will be revealed in a timely manner in public.

A rational explanation does not work for the angry public. The holy woman and the temple will suffer a blow that will not be easily restored.

Feel the magic of all the support of the people who supported them.

The temple’s warehouses will be empty as well. Of course, a devout believer among them may still give money for God, but it’s done on a personal level, so I have to accept it.

“Huh….”

I hummed my pen. I quickly completed a thank-you reply to Erinnis.

Oh, I’m going crazy.

I want to face Diana alone in a place where no one can see.

Am I really looking forward to it? What kind of face will Diana have when she sees me?

I want to feel the true heart of Diana as it is. Quite frankly, without any embellishment. Without anyone caring.

If she did, I could also show a little bit of my real purpose.

“I hope we can sail soon. Whoo-hoo….”

When meticulously set traps explode at once.

I’ll be happy to drink soda while watching the fireworks go off.

For the hostess seated in the splendid court palace.

~~~~

Fortunately, Kaelus recovered much faster than before.

While I was preparing for the ambassador invitation dinner with the help of the butler, the maid, and Tekima, he went to the palace every day to deal with the ever-present rush of affairs.

How fortunate that Helios moved his office quickly to the Lion Palace.

Thanks to this, Kaelus was able to enter and exit the palace safely without encountering Diana.

My butler, Uross, and I deliberately chose the menu for the dinner. Since Diana’s luncheon menu is mainly vegetarian, to differentiate ourselves, we decided to make fish and meat the main dish, and to add plenty of vegetable dishes.

The most important thing is dessert. Diana was particularly keen on desserts, so eating delicious desserts at the palace became a very difficult task.

Therefore, the winning place is right here.

“We need to make as many kinds of desserts as possible. I want some to be wrapped so that some of the VIPs can take it back.”

I think the butler agreed.

“Alright, ma’am. And they brought in some of the finest chocolates from a trading shop. The patissier will show his skill on the day.”

“Oh, how much chocolate is there? I’d like to make it fall like a waterfall, if possible.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea. If we don’t have enough, I’ll buy more and do that.”

Unlike the royal luncheon, which also involves nobles, the dinner has no guests other than Prince Helios and ambassadors from each country.

Therefore, it was better to make it more private. In addition to wine added to the meal, we decided to add colorful cocktails.

“Make sure you get a good bartender. If they refuse because they have another schedule, you have to give them more money to bring it.”

“I’ll do that. Then, how far should we open the dining room?”

“If the weather permits, we will include not only the grand banquet room on the first floor, but also the garden and the backyard. Please guide the guests so that they do not go up to the second floor.”

“Yes, Lady Hestia. I’ll keep that in mind.”

This time, I headed to the banquet room, which will be used as a dining room. Clarice and Tekima, were looking hard at something with a serious look on their face.

“How’s it going?”

“Oh, you’re here, ma’am?”

The two handed me the drawing they were looking at.

“Madam, the palace’s luncheon atmosphere is quite heavy and serious, so I’m going to decorate the dining room a little lightly.”

“It’s a good direction. But you should also consider Kaelus’ taste. It’s light, but try not to be too flashy.”

“Yes, marchioness. So I’d like to make the curtain material chiffon instead of velvet, what do you think?”

“Hmm, if you layer several sheets, it feels elegant and light. All right.”

I added with a grin.

“The budget we need will come from the palace anyway. Don’t spare it and use it to your heart’s content.”

“Hahaha, I see.”

Clarice and Tekima  also laughed at each other.

I’ll make up my mind and write it down. I’ll show you a different level of consumption.

~~~~

Finally, that day, Kaelus and I attended the royal luncheon, but I was the only one who left first, and finally checked the preparation for the dinner, and decided to greet the VIPs at home.

Kaelus stayed in his seat until the luncheon aas over. The marquis couple, the highest aristocrats, cannot all disappear during the event.

The only gathering we went to as husband and wife was a concert hosted by Countess Erinnis. It was virtually the first official event of this scale.

But with no excitement, we arrived at the palace almost in combat.

“I hope the atmosphere won’t be too rigid, Kaelus.”

I murmured anxiously.

The imperial palace event, in which Diana takes center stage and the priests take charge of actual affairs. I can’t tell whether this is a temple ceremony or a social event.

Will I be able to build friendship while laughing in that air?

But Kaelus was calm.

“I heard that the emperor will join us for a short time. The attention of the nobles will be focused on the condition of bis majesty, so the atmosphere itself will not matter much.”

“Um….”

As he said, today’s viewing point was other than a pious (?)* luncheon.

*TN: Hestia is confused on how to label the luncheon

It’s the appearance of the emperor.

It was him who hadn’t appeared in public for many months. He quietly devoted himself to recuperation at the Lion Palace, leaving most of the political affairs to Prince Helios.

Still, the power succession took place without much confusion. It was thanks to the fall of the Duke Orcus, a leader of the aristocracy.

Therefore, the problem arose elsewhere, not in relation to the succession of the throne.

Due to the Emperor’s long illness, people began to doubt Diana’s divine power. To make matters worse, Diana’s relationship with Helios, the only corner to lean on, had deteriorated.

As Harmonia mentioned, the nobles gradually questioned the existence of the present crown princess.

This is because two important elements that pushed Diana, a commoner, into the royal family have disappeared. The healing power bestowed by God and the ardent affection of the crown prince.

The change of the event into a luncheon due to the intervention of the marquis was also a challenge to the authority of the crown princess. Although we did it at the request of Helios, others would have considered it another meaning.

However, Diana did not directly complain to us about this. Helios could have blocked it in the middle.

If so, there is a possibility that she will express her uncomfortable intention with anything she faces today.

Especially when Kaelus remains alone after I leave the palace for dinner.

“Well, Kaelus.”

“Hmm?”

“By any chance, when I’m away, the crown princess may ask you to talk.”

“….”

“If you can’t handle it, don’t face it.”

“…Yes, I’ll remember.”

He answered slowly.

~~~~

The banquet hall of the Lily Palace, where the luncheon will be held, was as calm as a chapel.

“Well…”

“….”

He seems to be so cautious that it is difficult to greet him with a welcoming voice. It’s really like a temple.

Still, when we appeared, they began to murmur little by little that the highest aristocrat of the empire had appeared.

When people approached and greeted us first, we also gave a ceremonial reply.

Countess Erinnis approached with a strange smile.

“I expected it, but it’s really better than I expected, marchioness.”

“Well, it’s all white.”

I replied with an awkward smile.

Kaelus said, kissing my fingers lightly.

“I’ll go somewhere else for a second.”

“Yes, go ahead.”

There were a lot of nobles who wanted to talk to him over their backs. I let him go without a hitch.

Erinnis, who was watching us, said jokingly.

“The marquis is so sweet to his girl.”

“Hahaha….”

Well, Diana was the only object that Kaelus was affectionate to, but she wasn’t Kaelus’ woman.

I don’t agree with Erinnis very much, but I don’t want to argue. Isn’t it funny that the spouse tries hard to claim her husband’s heartlessness?

Eventually, foreign envoys from each country, the main characters of the event, arrived one after another.

They were the first to greet Kaelus. Drinking the bottle, they  congratulated him on returning to politics.

“Phew….”

I feel proud for some reason.

It seems that Kaelus has overcome all his mental illness. I am indescribably moved to watch him from the side all the time.

The only person who is perfectly qualified to carry out diplomatic negotiations in the face of war threats with other countries, which anyone admits.

An indispensable person in this empire.

Standing among the nobles, my favorite is truly the pillar of a great empire.

After a while, the loud voice of the servant rang out.

“Everyone, stand up and be polite!”

Attendees who were sitting in designated seats stood up on the spot in unison.

The emperor, Helios, and Diana, who soon appeared.

The nobles responded in unison to the majestic royal family.

“Honor to his majesty the great emperor of the empire.”

“Everyone sit down.”

The emperor’s face was thinner than before. I couldn’t take my eyes off him as I sat down.

Kaelus and I were the highest aristocrats of the empire and sat at a table just below the upper seat where the royal family sat. Thanks to this, I was able to recognize every little expression and gesture of the emperor’s family.

“Today’s luncheon has been arranged to pray for close alliances and close friendship with each country that exchanges with our empire before God.”

That’s amazing. This is how you wrap up the imperial palace event in a temple-like atmosphere.

The meal began with the priest’s clear prayer.

From the pre-dinner dish to the main dish, the plates were carried in one by one in order.

“…”

As expected, it is not unexpected.

Diana’s belief is that it is an important luncheon attended by the emperor.

The number of ingredients in a plate did not exceed three. Even the spices commonly used in aristocratic families were rare at this table.

A meal that really seems to have taken out all the ‘privileges’ that the privileged class can enjoy.

This is the image of the empire pursued by the crown princess, the next empress.

I glanced at the emperor.

“….”

An elderly man holding a meal silently without any change of expression.

Yeah, let’s say this diet suits a patient like him a hundred times.

Then what about other decent people and foreign guests who are specially invited here?

This bizarre scene, as if to say that everything fancy and expensive is sin.

It is truly pain, in itself, to forcefully follow an unconvincing belief.

I turned to the emperor, and this time I looked around the nobles.

Each of the ladies who had already experienced Diana’s tea party had a false smile or a sneer on their face.

Meanwhile, the male aristocrats, who faced Diana’s “belief” for the first time, seemed to be trying to calm their embarrassment.

It’s a real spectacle.

I whispered to Kaelus.

“As expected.”

“Hmm.”

He accepted the situation with a very small nod.

I can feel how wise it was to change the event to lunch. I would never have been able to decorate the dinner in this atmosphere.

It is absurd to talk comfortably in a quiet atmosphere like a temple. No matter how noble the aristocrats are, if they are this quiet, they are even careful to breathe.

I spoke softly to foreign ambassadors sitting at the same table.

“You don’t mind having a light breakfast, do you?”

“Huh, of course.”

I’m glad the distinguished guests understood. It seems that building friendship comfortably is only possible at the dinner of the marquis.

In time, the meal ended calmly and quietly.

The luncheon event was wrapped up with a prayer solemnly recited by the minister.

It’s time for the nobles to gather around the Lily Palace after the emperor leaves.

“Kaelus, I’ll go and prepare dinner.”

“Okay, I’ll see you later, Hestia.”

I glanced at Diana in the upper seat. Our eyes met momentarily, but she turned to another place first.

It somehow bothers me to leave Kaelus alone.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“It’s no big deal if it’s not okay.”

He answered dryly.

It was Kaelus who didn’t say it was okay even if it was empty words. Should I rather be relieved because it’s the same as usual?

It bothers me one way or another, but I have to go back.

~~~~

I came home quickly in a small carriage.

“How was your breakfast?” asked the butler Uross, welcoming me.

“It was as I expected. It was completely a temple chapel.”

“Oh, my….”

We clicked our tongues but diligently checked the menu and checked the banquet hall.

Tekima prepared a dress for me and waited.

“As the marchioness had ordered, the hem of the skirt was opened.”

“Oh, that’s great. It would be more comfortable to move around.”

A few days ago, I asked him to fix my mermaid dress like a qipao. Tekima embodied my lame explanation perfectly. As expected, a competent designer.

One wall of the dining room was connected to a large terrace. The terrace door was opened wide to create a garden as if it were a place.

“The bartender will make cocktails on the terrace, madam.”

A bartender who was successfully recruited by Uross recognized me and politely honored me. I also finished the last inspection by simply responding.

The sun sank slowly. When the sunset was shining, a stone lantern illuminating the garden was lit.

“Alright…”

The preparation is perfect.

It was near the time for the guests to arrive.

~~~~

After a while, the sound of a cheerful carriage rang loudly everywhere.

I stood among the two rows of servants, greeting Kaelus and the VIPs like a graceful lady.

“Welcome. Kaelus.”

First, I kissed my favorite’s hand, and then I headed for the guests.

“I’ve been waiting, ladies and gentlemen.”

The expression of ambassadors from other countries also brightened up, with the appearance of the marquis, which is quite different from the atmosphere of the royal palace’s luncheon.

“Thank you for your hospitality, marchioness.”

“It’s my first time to have a marquis’ dinner, so I’m looking forward to it. Hehe.”

I spoke as if I were a mistress.

“I hope what we’ve prepared will live up to your expectations.”

Kaelus whispered briefly in my ear.

“I’ll change into something else.”

“Okay, well, how was it at the palace?”

“We’ll talk about it separately later.”

He walked up the stairs with a brisk pace.

“…”

There must have been something.

But now I don’t have time to think.

Helios decided to come to the marquis at the end of the meal. So I decided to eat first without waiting for him.

 I led the distinguished guests to the dinner. I didn’t forget to decorate the hallway while walking.

“I feel like I’m walking in the gallery.”

The guests reacted. It’s worth the careful attention.

We finally arrived at the dinner room.

The luxurious space, which combines the fresh scent of grass leaves in the garden and the string performance of the band, welcomed the party.

“Oh….”

All in all, the expressions seemed satisfactory.

 To be honest, it is thanks to the fact that the score was cut too much at the Imperial Palace. Even Countess Erinnis can do this.

We sat around a round table. Kaelus changed in time and came down and sat down together.

The bartender made cocktails and served each seat an aperitif – an appetizing drink before meals.

Soon after, the hors d’oeuvres – pre-dinner dish – was served. The menu is salad with seafood, smoked salmon, sturgeon eggs, and pickled fish.

“It’s simple, but we prepared it with all our heart.”

I said this, but first of all, the number of food overwhelmed the luncheon prepared by Diana. And of course, eye-pleasing plating and cocktails.

The distinguished guests were all smiles and chatted together.

“You are indeed the lord of Illion, who is known for his wealth, Marquis Kaelus.”

“It is a dish that is enjoyable for all five senses. Thank you.”

The servants quickly carried the entree dish in time for hors d’oeuvres to be almost finished. Each large plate was filled with boiled dishes, baked dishes, steamed dishes, and fried foods.

The VIPs took as much food as they wanted. While the dishes were moving, conversations naturally went back and forth.

“Excuse me, can I have some salt there?”

“Oh, here it is. Even so, it seems that the people’s livelihood is difficult because the salt market has risen recently.”

“I know. I’ve heard that the amount of sunlight was insufficient because it kept raining until recently in the salt mountains.”

“Well, I’m glad the water isn’t as bad as it was last year. Oh, there’s almost no damage to Illion, right?”

“Yes, but we repaired the embankment this year. Prevention is the best way to prevent disasters.”

“The kingdom also suffered heavy damage last year, and the aftermath seems to be affecting it until this year. The recovery is a long way off, but even the people’s livelihood was almost destroyed.”

“Aha….”

This is why the kingdom continues to provoke the empire. The ruler of the kingdom used the empire as a scapegoat to divert the angry public sentiment from the flood.

As the status of the VIPs was their status, the conversation flowed into quite serious topics such as political situations and economic issues in each country. The initiative of the conversation was naturally given to Kaelus.

I tried to be as reticent as I could to keep the conversation going. Instead, I did my part by listening.

The entree is almost over, and it’s already time for dessert.

The butler Uross approached me.

“His highness the crown prince will arrive soon.”

“Oh, then I’ll go out.”

I stood up quietly without disturbing the meals of Kaelus and the VIPs.

Helios got to the marquis in time.

“Welcome, your highness.”

“You’re going through a lot. Marchioness, what is the atmosphere of the distinguished guests?”

But I don’t have to explain it, but the laughter over the hall told him everything.

“…it seems to be no problem.”

Helios’ expression was somehow bitter. Maybe it’s because it’s compared to the daytime luncheon.

He walked leisurely down the hall and looked around.

“I think you have more decorations than before”

“Yes, I had to greet people who are precious, so I paid attention to this and that.”

“Oh, you did all this by yourself?”

“No way. I got a lot of help from the butler and the lady-in-waiting, and I also asked for advice from an acquaintance who is well versed in art.”

The field that I am not good at should be helped by the person who is good. Doing everything on my own doesn’t necessarily bring good results.

Sometimes outward results are more important than inward intentions. This dinner is one of those.

So Diana’s choice is more painful. A belief that is consistently adhered to is valuable when you first respect the other person you face.

“….”

Helios was also quiet as if he had a lot on his mind.

While walking like that, I reached the grand banquet room where the dinner was held.

Kaelus was the first to recognize Helios.

“Your highness the crown prince.”

Then the other VIPs rose in droves.

“To the great little sun of the empire….”

“Haha, that’s good etiquette. Let’s all sit comfortably.”

Helios waved with a smile.

Soon, the patissier’s dexterous dessert was brought in. Cookies filled with plates piled up the tower, and chocolate fondue, which flowed down like a fountain, appeared. In addition, pudding, cake, and food that was unacceptable for Diana filled the grand banquet room one after another.

I said with a bright smile.

“Why don’t you stand up and eat it to digest it?” There are many refreshments next to the fondue that go well with chocolate.”

Guests began to roam freely and enjoy dessert.

The high-dose liquor was also poured into each cup. The bartender filled the glass diligently among the distinguished guests with bottles.

As if they had promised, none of them talked about the daytime meal. Even Helios.

I suppressed my desire to laugh out loud as I watched the strangely united people.

I need to show this to Diana. It’s too bad.

~~~~

As the strong liquor began to get drunk, the guests were getting ready to go home.

“It was a very pleasant meal, marquis.”

“That’s what I mean. I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve enjoyed it so comfortably.”

Kaelus responded plainly.

“It’s all my wife’s credit. I didn’t help much.”

I can’t believe you saved my face in front of the distinguished guests. My favorite was this sweet?

The maidservant loaded each carriage with a packed dessert present before the guests returned. Foreign envoys were also moved by the hospitality that did not miss the grace until the end.

Helios unexpectedly stayed with us and sent the guests first.

“See you at the palace soon.”

“Yes, I will always wait for your call.”

Seeing that Helios stayed without going back with the guests, there must be something else he wants to talk about.

Kaelus also noticed this and recommended it to Helios.

“If you don’t mind, would you like to go to the backyard?”

“Shall we? The weather is nice, so it’s not bad to take a night walk after a long time.”

I frowned secretly. We’re not that close to each other. Like taking a walk.

With the butlers and servants organizing the banquet hall, each of us eventually headed to the backyard with a glass.

~~~~

“…”

“…”

“…”

Kaelus and I quietly waited for Helios to speak. Helios was organizing what to say, and he just walked silently.

After some time.

“…I managed to save face thanks to you.”

“I’m sorry, your grace.”

Kaelus immediately handed it over.

So far, there is no sign of anything other than basic courtesy between the two military leaders.

I’m a little distant from the two, of course. I have a slight nervousness.

Then.

“Kael, I’m sorry.”

Words of apology that come out of nowhere.

“What are you talking about? Your highness has no reason to feel sorry for me”

Kaelus responded plainly, too. Nevertheless, Helios shook his head.

“Hestia is right to point it out to me. I’m always putting the burden on you.”

“Your highness, it’s….”

“Hey, Kael. At least for now.”

A slightly angry voice.

“Can you not say that, your highness?”

“…”

Kaelus shut his mouth tight.

I was dumbfounded behind him. Do you think he shouldn’t have done this? Don’t you know the meaning of a breakup?

Helios sighed loudly and shook his shoulder.

“Yeah. I’m sorry about this, too. I’m taking it out on you again.”

“…”

“And…”

He took a beat, then slowly opened his mouth.

“……It’s too late to be of any use, but I apologize. Kael, I didn’t know how precious you were to me and I treated you recklessly.”

“…”

While Kaelus was silent, I looked at Helios with stunned eyes.

What the hell is he up to? I don’t know what he wants to say now. Do you want to ease the guilt you have left?

Did Diana, who even won by killing her friend, belatedly realize that she was actually an empty gangjeong* and wanted to return it to Kaelus?

*TN: a dessert that is empty inside so Hestia is calling Diana a hollow person

Nevertheless, his voice was very calm.

“I will never make such a mistake again. I won’t turn away from you just because I’m looking at my life.”

I couldn’t help but cut in.

“Sorry, your grace. Isn’t that something that only your friend would say?”

“Hess.”

It was unexpectedly Kaelus who responded to my words.

He turned around and added, holding my hand lightly.

“I’m fine. I’ll hear the prince’s words out for now.”

“…okay.”

I’d just like to turn around and walk away, but if I did, I don’t know what that unrestrained man would really say.

I have no choice but to hold it in.

Helios’ lips slowly opened.

“Thank you, Kael. Hestia, too.”

“….”

I deliberately turned away from his gaze. Because I had to do something to show my discomfort.

Kaelus said in a dry voice.

“I think you’re a little drunk.”

“Haha, does it look like that?”

Helios shook his glass with an awkward smile.

“But this isn’t too strong. I drink brandy every day.”

“That’s a bad habit, your highness.”

“I can’t help it. I can’t sleep unless I drink.”

That’s a pity. What should I do?

“Kael.”

“Yes, your highness.”

“I really, really swear. I won’t bother you again. I won’t covet what’s yours, I won’t break your peace.”

“…You’re already doing that.”

But I clenched my teeth silently.

It’s not just about Kael. That’s what I’m saying about me.

I confess that I was shaken for a while as my relationship with Diana deteriorated.

At the same time, he made his own pledge. He declared to himself that he will never touch Kaelus’ again.

“…”

My legs stiffened by itself. I was lagging behind in my footsteps.

I wish someone would shut that guy’s mouth.

I feel like I’m going to scream.

“Hess…?”

Kaelus turned around and looked at me.

Brilliant silver hair under the moonlight. Purple eyes worrying about me.

I took a look at Kaelus and looked at Helios.

The closed lips, the shade hanging over the beautiful face, and the lonely sinking gold.

Don’t get caught. Don’t show it. Don’t spill it.

Don’t show your trashy feelings to Kaelus.

The closed red lips slowly fell off.

“Hestia, don’t worry.”

“!”

“I will be careful not to cross the line drawn by you and Kael. Friend or not, Kael is as precious as ever to me.”

A remarkably ambivalent expression.

How is it possible to say the words of different meanings to me and Kaelus in one sentence so exquisitely?

“Don’t worry, Hestia. I will never betray Kaelus again.”

The golden eyes of Helios turned straight to me.

“….”

I didn’t answer back. Instead, I glared at him as hard as I could.

I’ll kill you for real.

If that male lead betrays my favorite again, if he breaks that oath he utters.

Then I’ll set fire in front of you and drag you into the fire.

“Hestia.”

Kaelus carefully grabbed the cold-hardening hand.

“…”

It melts little by little in that warmth.

Only then did I catch his burning gaze.

“Ha….”

I let out a long sigh.

The tension and anger that was strangling me finally dissipated.

I clasped my favorite’s hand. Then I opened my mouth.

“…the baron’s merchant ship is about to depart.”

“Yes, I know.”

I asked in a slightly sarcastic tone to Helios’ calm voice.

“Didn’t you say you banned the crown princess from investing? So how did the merchant ship get out so fast?”

“I don’t believe Diana made the worst choice.”

Helios’ answer sounded like he’d rather believe it.

Kaelus looked back at Helios.

“But you have to keep the worst in mind.”

“….”

Helios bowed slightly at his words.

“I promised the emperor. I won’t abandon Diana.”

“!”

“Your highness!”

I can’t believe the word “abandon” came out of his mouth.

It is an expression that can only be said because we are alone, but it was so blatant and direct that I stopped shouting.

Nevertheless, Helios himself was just calm.

“Ha… yes. The marquis is right. Anyway, we have to come up with measures in advance.”

But there was no specific word on what to do. After all, Helios also means that there is no countermeasure right now.

He grinned at us standing in a daze.

“It’s late at night. I’ll be on my way.”

He patted Kaelus on the shoulder and strode out of the patronage.

“…”

“…”

We looked silently at the back of Helios.

Somehow he seems to have become very small.

~~~~

“Whoa….”

When I was ready to go to bed, I got a fiery drink.

I don’t usually get drunk with a few drinks like this. However, maybe because I was nervous all along, I got tired late and my body was drooping.

Just when I thought I should go to bed soon.

“Madam, are you sleeping?”

The voice of the butler Uross came from outside. I had just quit going into bed and opened the door quickly.

“What’s the matter?”

“Ah, Lord Kaelus asked me to call you to his room if you were still awake.”

“Really? Okay. I’ll be there now.”

I was dizzy from the drunkenness, but I tried to walk straight down the hall.

“Kaelus…?”

“Oh…. You haven’t fallen asleep yet.”

Kaelus was about to go to bed, and sat on the bed covered with a blanket.

“You must be tired, but you didn’t go to sleep right away..”

“…I have a favor to ask of you.”

Somehow hesitating feels somewhat familiar.

I laughed softly.

“Do you want me to hold your hand again until you fall asleep?”

   “…can’t you…?”

How can it not be possible?

It’s just a little dangerous. Because I’m about to fall asleep before him now.

But without revealing any of that inside, I sat on the edge of the bed.

“Ha ha, give me your hand.”

“Thank you, Hess.”

Kaelus dithered into the blanket. With his hands in my hands.

“Good night. Kaelus.”

“Yes…”

Gradually, my favorite closed his eyes.

Fifty thousand emotions fluctuated today, but looking at him with his eyes closed like this just calms me down.

“…”

Anyway, right now.

“…”

I hope he falls asleep soon.

~~~~

“…”

I opened my eyes.

But a strange sense of incompatibility was felt instinctively.

“…?”

I don’t know the identity of this feeling because I’m not awake yet.

I blinked slowly.

I think the wallpaper is a little different. Come to think of it, the location of the desk is a little weird.

That sofa is the same as my favorite’s bedroom.

Hmm… Favorite… Is it the same?

“…?!”

A flash of shock struck me. Huck, I jumped up without realizing it.

And then a pretty silver thread caught on my finger… no‥!

“Yes….”

A groan to make matters worse.

“!”

Ahhh! I’d rather have a nightmare!

No, no! I need to run before my favorite wakes up!

An instinct that is faster than reason. Before I knew it, I stretched my feet out of bed.

All I have to do is not shake the bed and just walk away! Please, may this bed be still, not loud!

“…Hess…? Where…?”

“!”

I’m doomed.

Purple jewels glances through the narrow eyelids of Kaelus lying down.

“Hess…”

“Sorry, sorry. Oh!”

With my feet sticking out of bed and stiffening, I hurriedly apologized first.

Wow. My face must be red right now. I don’t even need to look in the mirror.

It’s crazy.

I slept with my favorite.

Oh, this is why you shouldn’t come to men’s room after drinking.

I must have hit him first, trembling all over the place.

“I just held your hand, Hestia.”

“Sorry, sorry….”

Suddenly, I wonder why this is something to be sorry about, but I think I should apologize first.

“But it’s much warmer with the two of us in one blanket.”

“Oh, sorry, sorry!”

“Why do you keep apologizing?”

“Just, uh… I’m sorry…”

“…”

A dark history that I’ll never forget in my life.

I created it this morning.

~~~~

Eventually, Kaelus, who was completely awake, even served tea.

“…”

“…”

It should have disappeared like air. Why am I so slow and humiliated?

“What are you thinking?”

“…”

I’m crying. Kaelus, I’m going crazy.

Kaelus laughed in a daze.

“Ha… you woke up in the same bed with me…”

“Gasp!”

The tea trickled down my nose.

I managed to come to my senses after a long time of scrambling.

“Phew….”

“Is it okay now?”

“Yes…”

Kaelus shook his head. That smile on your face must have been caused by the absurdity. It’s for sure.

“I have something to talk about, so take your time. You don’t have to go out this morning, do you?”

Why would I go out so early in the morning?

I nodded with tears in my eyes.

“I’ll go slowly…”

“Hmm.”

By the way, I keep looking at the long silver hair that flows gently. Hair can’t move, really.

He put the tea cup down on the table, and Kaelus spoke.

“When you left first after lunch yesterday…”

Come to think of it, while I left the palace first yesterday to prepare dinner, I thought something had happened to Kaelus.

I’ve been losing my mind since the morning, so I forgot for a moment.

“What did the crown princess say?”

“Well, that’s a little confusing.”

Kaelus tilted his head.

~~~~

Shortly after I returned to the marquis.

As Kaelus was cooling his head alone in the garden of the Lily Palace, he heard a small movement.

It was Diana who appeared in front of her favorite when she looked back. Just in time for him to be alone, as I expected in the carriage.

[Kael? Why are you alone?]

[My wife went home first. We have a lot of things to prepare.]

[I see…]

She was the one who asked after him out of the blue before. Why has her attitude changed so much recently after acting as if she would never forgive him?

In fact, the reason was obvious. Because it’s cold with Helios.

However, isn’t the relationship between husband and wife supposed to become stronger by moving between cold and hot?

Kaelus knew well that even if she approached him gently now, it wasn’t because she fundamentally changed her opinion of him.*

*TN: Kaelus’ point of view from here

Just a temporary favor, nothing more or less.

The longer they faced each other, the more painful the old feelings will be.

Kaelus made a brief bow and tried to get out of course.

But Diana eventually held him back.

[Don’t you have anything to say to me?]

Has it come?

I guess she was going to argue about changing the dinner she prepared to lunch.

Thinking this, Kaelus bowed politely.

[I’m sorry, your highness. It was the prince’s will to have a separate dinner]

[….]

Diana was silent.

But whether she accepted it or not, Kaelus was less inclined to argue.

I’m just going to leave.

[Kael. Do you think I’m doing something wrong, too?]

She twisted her face as if she were about to cry,

What do you mean something wrong?

How can everyone be blamed for doing their best on their own path?

Kaelus recalled the past of giving the Duchess Orcus a poison tea.

Do I regret it? No, I don’t regret it.

No matter how many times I thought about it, the conclusion was the same. Even if I go back in time and go back to that time, I would make the same choice.

So I answered.

[No, I don’t think so]

[Kael…]

[We cannot dare to judge right or wrong by what we have done as we believe. Like I did, so did your highness.]

He turned his back at the end of the word.

“Asking you if she’s doing something wrong.. It’s definitely a surprise.”*

*TN: back to Hestia’s point of view

I spoke my mind frankly.

Kaelus also nodded.

“The Crown Princess is a very upright person. It was an unimaginable question for her.”

“The situation around the saintess is not good these days. His majesty has been ill, she has been at odds with the crown prince, and she has become estranged from the nobles.”

I’m speaking calmly, but I’m actually dying to laugh.

Come on, Diana. It’s really your first time with the ‘world’, right?

Since she was born as Diana, she’s been walking on flower and cider roads all the time, so this situation must be very unfamiliar.

But look carefully. This is the world that people who are not the main characters have lived in.

It’s a reality that’s hard and refreshing, and cider is even more of an illusion.

“I’m sorry if she were asking me for advice.”

Kaelus looked down quietly.

But I don’t think so.

“Huh. No way. If she really wanted to ask for advice, she wouldn’t sneak in and ask when you’re alone in the garden, but she would have prepared a proper place to listen.”

“…”

“It was just because she wanted you to say what she wanted to hear.”

“Is that so….”

Somehow it looked weak. He must have been distraught at the thought of depressed Diana.

Do you want me to cheer you up?

“What you said to the saintess may have been something she really wanted to hear. You did what she wanted.”

“?”

The purple eyes that look wonderfully are very beautiful.

There was a spontaneous smile.

“I told her she wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

“Oh…”

“The crown princess would have needed certainty. Not thinking for herself, but being acknowledged by others.”

Helios, who has grown apart, will no longer be able to act as Diana’s ‘answer’

Why did you kick Kaelus, Diana?

“…”

Kaelus hasn’t spoken for a while.

And then finally.

“…You’re right.”

He accepted with his usual expressionless face.

Anyway, I’m done drinking tea now, I wanted to get out of this pajamas quickly.

“Then I’ll go back to my room.”

“Won’t you have breakfast?”

What context is this? I answered, rolling my eyes diligently.

“I have to eat it, right?”

“But why would you go back to your room?”

“What? No, do you go down to the dining hall like this?”

“…”

Kaelus, with a somewhat frustrated look, spoke step by step as if he were a patient teacher.

“You don’t have to eat breakfast at the dining hall. We’re drinking tea here now, and we can ask them to bring their meals here.”

“Um…”

I know what Kaelus wants to say.

But what’s urgent for me right now is not breakfast. I wanted to do something about this thin outfit.

“But I’m going to change and come back…”

“Sigh… Yes, I see.”

Eventually, I was so grateful that my favorite, who seemed to raise his hands, accepted my stubbornness, that I bent down.

“Thank you, Kaelus!”

“…See you at the restaurant.”

“Yes!”

~~~~

Since I drank at dinner the day before, breakfast was prepared with hot consomme for the hangover.

“Hmm….”

A spontaneous exclamation came out. Koreans should drink hot soup.

“…”

Kaelus looked at me quietly, and soon focused on the meal again.

I smiled silently.

It’s calm but peaceful. Perhaps thanks to the hot soup, it seems that the whole body as well as the heart are warm.

How many days has there been such moments since I became possessed by a novel?

What’s more, it’s the morning I woke up with my favorite.

Maybe it’s a lifetime of embarrassing history and luck to remember forever.

“Well, Lady Hestia. Maybe last night….”

“Cough! Cough…!”

“Madam! Are you okay?”

I choked heavily. Of all things, Uross brought up nonsense!

“…cold water.”

Somehow I could hear the sickening voice of Kaelus.

“Thank you….”

It’s not so peaceful.

I’m really desperate for a hiding place.


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