The shock of the food of the gods, mayonnaise and marinated meat, was hard to calm down from.
In order to calm Brother Will down, I first promised to visit his house in the near future and pass on the recipe to the servants.
Next, I promised his father and mother that if I came up with any new recipes or received guidance from another spirit, I’d make sure to try following the advice.
And so, finally, we took a break, and Connie, who had hurriedly filled her stomach, returned to serving with a big smile on her face. She prepared some after-lunch tea.
“It’s been two years since I’ve had Alice over to my house, hasn’t it?”
With a smile, Brother Will spoke. Indeed, it had been two whole years since I had avoided him due to the Rouge incident.
It’s been so long, I also can’t wait to meet Brother Will’s older brother, Brother Oluris.
Brother Oluris is a quiet and very gentle man who is good at plant magic, the special skill of the Virgil family. The reason why I remembers this with only the memory of a three year old at the time is because he was truly that skilled at it.
I can still remember that time…Even though I was quite shy, he kindly showed me some of his magic. He took a withering flower and revived it instantly so that it was once again young and in full bloom. He also showed me his plant manipulation ability by making a small ivy plant grow up the side of the wall right before my eyes.
…There is actually one thing about Brother Oluris that is bothering me though…
It’s not Brother Oluris’s fault, so I’ll think about everything once I see him again.
When I remembered that, I called out to Brother Will.
“Brother Will, is Brother Oluris doing well?”
When I asked that, for some reason Brother Will’s expression became a little stiff.
“Oh—yeah…I think he’s fine.”
‘I think,’ he said. Do they live separately now?
I didn’t want to ask Brother Will any more, who had sipped his cup and gone silent, so I changed to a different topic.
“Brother Will, would you prefer meat or fish as a souvenir when I go to visit?”
He answered immediately. He was smiling so brightly and his eyes were shining…where did the tense atmosphere from earlier go?
Apparently, I had captured Brother Will’s stomach completely. (T/N: I’m over here getting “Fake Cinderella” vibes, hehehe)
“I’d like to try Alice’s idea of a fish dish.”
My father casually joined the conversation.
As I replied that I’d think about it, my mother also opened her mouth with a beautiful smile.
“Oh, then I’d love to come up with some new sweets recipes with you, Alice.”
I didn’t expect mother to be on board too. But it’s nice to invent snacks together. It’s like mother and daughter time!
“Ehehe. I’d love to do that with you!”
“Then it’s settled, then.”
So I guess I’ll end up inventing meat, fish, and even sweets recipes. I’ll have to mobilize all the basic culinary knowledge I have to pull this off.
We were talking amicably when my father saw my body shivering from continuous exposure to the autumn wind, and had us leave in a hurry.
I am now in my father’s arms and we are going down the garden.
“Alice, are you still cold?”
To reassure my worried father, who was peeking at me, I hugged him tightly and cheerfully said,
“My father is very warm, so I’m feeling cozy now!”
“I see, warm and cozy, huh?” He made a face as if his heart was feeling the same way.
I go back to my comfortable position as my father became relieved, making a happy face.
To other people, Father probably gives off that feeling of being a cold cool beauty, but the way he parrots back and says, “warm and cozy” is a bit cute.
When he’s not talking with his family, he seems rather cold and expressionless, so there’s a big difference. Even though he’s my father, I can’t help but admire the gap moe. (***Gap moe is when someone does something completely contradictory to their usual character, creating an irresistable/cute attractiveness.)
I was enjoying a blissful moment as I observed my father in this way, when suddenly I heard an angry voice from nearby.
Most of the people we had seen in the gardens up until now were quiet visitors, such as lovers and elderly couples taking a leisurely stroll, so the voices echoed even more.
“—What?! How dare you look at me like that. Do you have a problem with what I say?!”
A timid voice starts after the screaming has died down, but that is cut off by a slapping sound that reverberates throughout the surrounding area. It’s no longer a calm atmosphere.
I look over and see a group of six people stopping in the middle of the road, making a scene.
The one shouting loudly is a young lady with a blonde drill-like curls and a red dress. She has a cute face from a distance, but her furious aura makes her look unapproachable. I wonder if she was about the same age as me.
A stern-looking maid and a frail-looking male attendant are standing nearby, trying to quiet the young lady down.
About another step away from them stands an older, beautiful woman in the prime of her life, watching the whole scene play out with a cold demeanor. Her face looks similar to the girl’s so I am guessing that she’s probably her mother…
At first glance, she appears to be smiling a little, but there is no warmth. It’s like I can’t see anything on the inside with that expressionless face.
Following the mother are two attendants who are also expressionless and emotionless.
As I was bracing myself, not wanting to get involved, and wanting to pass by quickly, my mother calmly called out to me,
“Alice. No matter what happens, no matter what they say, just maintain a smile.”
What, are you sure you want to get involved? I’m feeling nervous, but as soon as I can, I force a business smile with all the gall of a 30-year old woman.
If I look at my father’s face, he is also in business mode. If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s the cold-hearted beauty-face, distant and slightly smiling. It would seem that the people over there are unpleasant acquaintances of my parents.
He hugs me a little too tightly and it hurts, but I can sense he’s trying to protect me, so I keep quiet.
Connie, who doesn’t seem to know what’s going on, seemed upset, but she gingerly puts more pressure on the hand holding the basket. Brother Will has a controlled look on his face, but his disgust is transparent.
“Young Mistress, please calm down a bit. There are a lot of people watching.”
“Haa?! Who cares!?”
The high-pitched young lady noticed us as the frail-looking attendant called out to her.
The young lady, who stared at me, looked miffed the moment she saw me in the arms of my father.
“……Good day to you, Marquis Archelaus, and Count Virgil’s son, Young Master Virgil.”
“……Good day, Marchioness Verandel.”
The woman over there greets us, so my father and Brother Will reluctantly reply.
“I apologize for the unsightly situation. She is quite a headstrong child.”
The woman didn’t even glance at her daughter as she apologized to us with a taut smile.
What she said sounded like something normal mother would say, but for some reason I felt a chill in her voice.
“No, don’t worry about it. Your daughter is only five years old, so a bit of that is to be expected.”
When my father replied in an obliging manner, the woman lowered her eyes and smiled.
Ever since earlier, my mother has been super neglected in the conversation.
The greetings were only to my father and Brother Will.
She is still having a conversation with my father, but she doesn’t even send her a glance.
Mother herself is standing beside my father with her usual calm smile.
I thought it was quite unpleasant as I turned my attention to the blonde drill-curled girl who had suddenly become quiet, and I saw that her face, which had been bright red a moment ago, had turned pale.
I wonder if this is that phenomenon. I wonder if she’s turning pale like that after calming down from a tantrum. As I looked at her, I was glared at by the young lady who noticed my eyes. How scary.
As I hurriedly turned my eyes back to my parents, the woman on the other side finally called out to my mother.
However, she called out to her but didn’t even send her eyes, just turned her body slightly. I can feel the obvious prejudice.
“…Oh? My dear Eleanor. Your mental health much seems better today. Have you been cured of your illness?”
Wow, she acts like she only just noticed her presence. How rude!
As I was inwardly fuming, my father’s eyes twitched as if the discomfort he was feeling from earlier had reached its peak.
I think I’ve managed to maintain the smile that my mother told me to give them, but my mouth is about to turn into a crooked smile at any moment.
“Yes, I am much better, thank you. Both my daughter and I have made a full recovery, Graziana-sama.
My mother replies to the other woman with a graceful smile.
Apparently, this person’s full name is Madame Graziana Verandel. She gives off a very strong impression.
Perhaps sensing the change in my mother’s way of speaking, Madame Graziana finally looked directly at mother, showing a hint of astonishment on her taut smile.
Well, that makes sense. When she was sick…or rather…when she was under the curse, my mother really had bad mental health. Her beauty didn’t change, but she was pale and weak.
But now she has bounced back from the curse, was being whispered words of love 24 hours a day by her husband who had gone through hardships with her, restored her relationship with her daughter, and her confidence and energy are fully charged. She is more beautiful than ever before.
Madame Graziana’s gaze swiftly shifted to me, and her eyes finally widened in surprise.
I can’t remember if I’ve ever met this woman, but if she knew me after my illness, she would definitely be surprised. After all, I had been like a ghost with a negative aura screaming death.
Now I have the mental strength of a 30-year old woman and have a perfect business smile on my face, despite this unpleasant woman’s gaze…at least I should have a smile, but my face feels like it might cramp up.
“Oh…your daughter has changed a lot.”
Madame Graziana couldn’t help but blurt out. Her tone makes it obvious that she wishes I had stayed sick! I can see through it!
I felt the urge to make her speechless somehow, so I decided to give her a proper greeting.
“Good day, Graziana-sama. I apologize for causing you to worry for so long. I’m sure we will be seeing each other in the future at tea parties and other events, so please and thank you for your support.”
I declared so calmly and prompted her to reply with a very childlike incline of my head.
Madame Graziana froze for a moment, shocked by my response uncharacteristic of a five-year-old, but then she realized she was being prompted to reply and responded in a typical way.
Then she glanced at her own daughter for the first time since we had appeared, but in the end did not introduce her to us.
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