Caron, upon recognising him, stretched out her arm and pull my shoulder.
Her expression screamed discomfort and reluctance.
But whether she was openly wary or not, Marquis Philfrontz still looked back and forth between Caron and me with a smile plastered on his face.
For that, I was the only one who had to stand between the two in an awkward atmosphere.

Luckily, I brought a fan to use at times like this.
I naturally unfolded the fan I was holding and covered my mouth.
And out of courtesy, he smiled softly and bowed his head.
But Caron was different from me.
She spoke to the marquis in a rather sour voice.

“What is the matter?”

“Since the two of you are having so much fun talking, I wanted to find out what was going on, so I risked rudeness and came here.”

“If you know it’s rude, go back.”

“Haha! Of course, I didn’t intend to ask Lady Caron.
Lady Katrina?”

To his call, I answered with a somewhat bitter face.


“It feels so good to see you in a formal event like this for the first time in a while.
I even thought that an angel has descended from heaven.
Come to think of it, I invited you to my birthday banquet, but I was very upset because there was no response.”

Since Marquis Philfrontz was the man who ran the largest merchant company in the empire, the size of his banquet must have been huge.
There was no way I, who barely made my debut, would attend such a place.
Above all, I didn’t want to get deeply involved with this man.
It was because the Marquis of Philfrontz was as sly as Lockherd, or even more snarky.

“At that time I was very ill.
If you invite me again next year, I will surely accept it.”

“Oh, then you must keep your word.
I will definitely remember and send out an invitation next year.”

“Of course.”

Thanks to hiding behind the fan, I didn’t have to force up the corners of my mouth.

Caron’s face still remained cold the whole time the man’s mouth ran wild with his nonsense.
At that icy gaze, Marquis Philfrontz’s shoulders slightly shuddered, but his smile remained.

“Hahh, I’m sorry to say this, but when the young lady is not around, Lady Caron often feels like a cat that has never been in contact with humans.
Do you know that? Otherwise, why did she scratch me when I accidentally touched the back of her hand the other day?”

Marquis Philfrontz shook his head disheartedly and showed me the back of his hand.
I slightly furrowed my eyebrows and pretended to be sorry.

“You should have been careful not to touch the back of her hand.”

“People make mistakes in life.
Still, since it was a wound given to me by Lady Caron, I treated it preciously without applying disinfectant.
For that, the mark is still there.”

“You…did well.”

Marquis Philfrontz rather seemed to enjoy Caron’s stinging gaze toward him.
Caron was more precious to me than this snarky man, so I dropped with the wordplay that came from his snake tongue.

“Can you answer with a little more sincerity?”

“Oh my, you did a great job!”

At my answer, Caron covered her mouth and giggled.
Then, with a satisfied expression, she clung closer to me.
A man who constantly expressed his interest, and a woman who could not care less.
Why did men always want to bother the woman they liked? I couldn’t understand it at all.

At that moment, a loud trumpet sound was heard.
The next person to appear was a black-haired middle-aged man wearing a cloak embroidered with gold thread.
There was only one person in the world who could make such a splendid appearance.

“His Majesty the Emperor is entering!”

Everyone in the hall bowed their heads.
The noisy party hall fell into silence in an instant.
I too leaned over the polished marble floor and listened to the dull sound of footsteps.

“Everyone rise.”

The emperor, seated in a golden chair, poured out long sentences with a solemn expression.
But I couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying, as my heart beating like it would explode at the thought of meeting Nezar, who was about to show up.

Why does 5 years’ time make people tremble so much?

I took a deep breath and leaned my head on Caron’s shoulder.

“Kate? What’s wrong? Are you still not feeling well?”

I shook my head and lowered it deeper.
At the same time, the front door of the hall, which had been firmly shut, swung wide open.
It was the entrance of the protagonists who led the victory.


‘Cough, Cough! … What did you just say? The Crown Prince’s mistress?’

‘You’re going to laugh at me, right?’

‘No, no.
I was just wondering why you suddenly had that thought.’

The frog-eyed Caron set the teacup close to her mouth back onto the table.
She was so startled that she coughed wildly, reaching for her handkerchief to wipe her mouth.
It was the first time I had ever seen her, who was second to none in being polite, so visibly flustered.

But I couldn’t help it.
I did not know about anybody else, but I had to tell Caron.
Other than my family and Nezar, no one cared for me as much as she did.
I thought I should at least explain why I was inquiring about the young ladies I didn’t even know well.
And so I did.

I was not good with words, so it might sound like a ridiculous piece of crap, but I didn’t want to fool my only friend.

‘I don’t want to leave Ezelot.
I have no desire to live in the imperial palace.
No matter how wide it is, living alone in such a stuffy castle won’t withstand my personality.
It would be much better to be stuck in the attic, being treated as an unmarried troublemaker.’

‘Is the royal palace that uncomfortable?’

‘Discomfort is one matter, but above all, I feel sorry for His Highness Nezar.
Of all women, he has to be entangled with someone like me…he ended up getting engaged with me out of sympathy.’

‘Where else can one find such a sweet and lovely young lady like Kate? From what I’ve seen, the crown prince is very lucky.’

After taking her handkerchief, Caron smiled softly and held my hand.
When her white, warm skin touched me, my shoulders relaxed as if I had tasted sweet whipped cream.

‘Well, if it’s the fiancée of Crown Prince Nezar, it would be the position given to a woman who would later become the empress.
Did you really think he signed the engagement pledges out of sheer sympathy for you, Kate?’

‘It’s just because you are unaware.
Contrary to his rigid appearance, His Highness is quite soft on the people around him.
Besides, even though we are not blood-related, he has a strong sense of responsibility toward me.
I’ve been a cunning child ever since I was little, and I’ve used that mindset to hold onto His Highness.’

‘Do you really think so?’


Her white eyelashes, which almost seemed transparent in the sunlight, fluttered like the feathers of a peacock.
Her bright violet eyes lowered to gaze at me.
It wasn’t Nezar or Lockherd, but I felt like those clear eyes were penetrating me.
I wondered what was Caron thinking while looking at me like that?

‘My lady is always full of confidence and pride.
Still, I often felt anxious about you.
There were times when you seemed particularly urgent at the most unexpected point… It was all because of unknown reasons.
You want to find His Highness a lover? If it’s for Kate, I’ll help.
No, it might even turn out for the better!’

I didn’t know what would go well, but her promise to help with her big smile moved my heart.
I was really touched.
To be honest, I had never seen a girl who said something as laughable as me among the many noble ladies.
After grabbing the prince by the leg to get the engagement, I was suddenly saying that I would quit with no good reason? I was surprised that Rick and Caron didn’t laugh at me.

No, actually, it didn’t matter if they laughed at me.
I was the new Katrina Ezelot.
Although it didn’t seem to make much of a difference whether it’s New Katrina or not, I had to work hard despite ridicule for my peaceful old age and Nezar’s happy marriage.
That was to repay Nezar’s kindness for taking care of me the past years.

‘I guess that is why you first talked to me.’

As I was trying to calm myself down, I heard a somewhat bitter voice.
Caron became tearful with the corners of her mouth drooping.

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