In the dark night when everyone was asleep, I woke up to the sound of moans.
The first thing I saw was the white, strangely stained ceiling that was hidden in the dark.
I turned my head towards the source of the sound.
My sister was crying and clawing at her pillow.
“No… Please… I said stop it!”
I got out of bed and walked over to my sister’s.
Then I got down on my knees and grabbed her trembling hand.
My sister sometimes had very terrible nightmares.
Whenever that happened, I sat next to her and sang or talked to her to reassure her.
It would be my job to hold her soft hand and pat her tummy so she could fall back to peaceful sleep.
“I’m by your side.
I will always be by your side…”
Whenever this happened, I couldn’t calm the feelings of loathing for the nobility, and at times I had the urge to barge into the rooms of the sleeping members of the ducal household… Even though I knew that it wasn’t their fault.
“It’s okay… Even if it’s not okay, it’ll be okay soon.
I’ll be sure to make that happen.”
If it’s for you, Sister, I can follow them all to the depths of hell.
You see, I’ve already been to hell once.
As I embraced her slender hand in both of mine and whispered, my sister soon fell asleep as if relieved.
She was no longer in pain.
I was then able to release her hand.
I sighed, rubbing the back of my neck.
“…I’m fully awake now.”
The desire to sleep has completely vanished.
I feared that I would have the same nightmare as my sister if I slept.
“Well, let’s go for a walk.”
I opened the door carefully so as not to wake my sister and went out.
What time is it now? The hallway wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be.
The moonlight shone through the window, dimly illuminating the hallway.
For a moment, I watched the moon, which felt exceptionally bright, and then started walking again.
Where should I go?
Okay, let’s go to the garden.
Compared to the morning, the garden during the times at night when I couldn’t sleep felt different.
The flowers had a dull and cold color, making you wonder since when has it bloomed ever so brightly, and they gave off a feeling as if they would shatter like thin ice just by touching it.
I walked around the garden, poking at the blooming flowers.
And during that, I found the duchess touching a rose, face full of loneliness.
I felt like I was witnessing a scene that I shouldn’t see, so I hurriedly ran out of there.
The memory of the contents of the original novel came back, but there were still many things that I wasn’t certain about.
T/N: I decided to change her title.
However, the story of the Duke of Emers, which I think has nothing to do with me, strangely comes to mind quite vividly.
The Duke of Emers was also called the ‘heart of ice.’ This was because she did not give her heart to any man.
So, I thought maybe she liked women.
However, her heart never moved to the courtships of neither men nor women.
The person who had melted that solid wall of ice was none other than an ordinary commoner.
The two fell in love as if they were the main characters of a fairy tale.
Then, the duchess’ husband died in a carriage accident.
The rose was his favorite flower.
Thanks to the magical devices the now duke has invested a lot of money in, roses bloomed all year round.
Thinking about it, the garden was a flag of honor in his memory.
It was like a large grave tomb, so the duke’s three sons hated roses terribly.
Truly, this information was something I didn’t even need to remember.
Rather, it would be several times better to know how the bastards act upon my sister.
Why can’t I remember that properly instead?!
“Should I hit my head one more time… Uh, no! No, I might end up crossing the river of death if I make a mistake.
Well, that’s that…”
I wiped the sweat from my forehead and got up.
“Where am I?”
Oh, it’s the area behind the kitchen.
It seems that I have come all the way here unconsciously.
Is Orange here? I looked around, but there was no sign of Orange.
I clicked my tongue in pity.
Then, I heard the sound of something falling down.
The sound was coming from the back door of the kitchen.
What is it? A thief? No way.
Perhaps the chef was preparing the ingredients.
But why so late at night?
I slowly opened the back door.
Unlike the usual where the chef would have locked the door before going home, the door opened as easily as if it had not been locked in the first place.
I had no doubt that there was no way a thief would sneak their way into the Duke of Emers’ mansion, so I was able to open the door with a light heart and then went inside.
If I had known that I would meet Osses, I would’ve never, ever opened that door.
But yes, to my regret, Osses was there.
The light from the lamp placed on the other side of the desk faintly outlined the shape of a man, but I could tell for sure it was him.
People tend to notice the things they dislike more quickly.
For example, a person who hates carrots could easily find grated carrots sneakily baked inside of bread.
The him now seemed a little different from his usual prosperous appearance.
Unlike usual, he was in his pajamas and half-buried under baskets, tableware, and spices that seemed to have fallen from the wall and the ceiling.
This scene seemed strangely familiar.
What was it? Something… I think I’ve seen it? Is it from the original novel?
When I met the deep red eyes glowing in the darkness, I took a couple of steps backward without realizing it.
I don’t know anymore, let’s run away! As I was about to turn around with that thought, he grabbed my wrist.
Why does this guy always grab me so that I can’t escape?!
“Oh, I’m sorry.
Did it hurt?”
As I turned around, he quickly let go of my hand.
Suddenly he was holding a lamp.
The bright light of the lamp illuminated his face yellow.
“Yes, you’re right…”
What Lala…? Isn’t that nickname too friendly? We’re not even close… He always called me Layla, Yuria’s younger sister, or Extra Layla.
So why are you calling me that all of a sudden? Ah! I know… It’s clear that he’s trying to get closer to seducing my sister by becoming friendly with me.
As if he noticed my strange gaze, he quickly added,
Yuria kept calling Layla that, so I guess I got attached to it without realizing it.”
Osses smiled in embarrassment.
I glanced at the baskets that had fallen on the floor.
I guess I failed to escape… I opened my mouth, swallowing a sigh that was about to come out on its own.
“What were you doing here?”
“I was reading a book until dawn and came to the kitchen because I was hungry.
I found the bread, but there was no jam.
I was digging through the cupboards for jam, and I made a little mistake.”
“…Did you come by yourself? Why? Couldn’t you have called your exclusive servant?”
“I would feel sorry for waking him up.”
How can such a sorry human being ruthlessly lock up my sister?
“Why is Layla awake at this time of night?”
“Just… I couldn’t sleep.”
I organized the baskets and spices that had fallen off the shelves and hangers.
Along the way, Osses tried to help me, putting the items back one by one.
After tidying up, I rummaged through the shelves on the bottom and took out the peanut jam, then took out the strawberry jam and the grape jam from the storage that ran on cooling magic (I call this the refrigerator) and placed them all on the table.
On the table were bread and a bread knife that Osses had found beforehand.
Don’t nobles always only eat freshly baked warm bread? The bread he had right now was eaten by employees and occasionally eaten as a snack.
“Here are the jams.”
“Wow, you found them so quickly.”
He smiled like a flower and opened the lid to a jam.
“Isn’t Layla hungry?”
“Ah, no… I’m okay.”
Whenever I see Osses, I often hold feelings of regret as well as feelings of resentment.
From letting go of my wrist as soon as it hurts to speaking and acting respectfully to anyone, regardless of their status, it was a strange feeling.
Ah, really, he was the perfect candidate for my sister’s groom… Why? Why did you imprison my sister in the future?! No, he’s a bit of a sly guy in the first place, so maybe I was lucky to be able to see through him.
Shall I get going now?
“Then I’ll be leaving.”
“It’s a bit lonely to eat alone.
Can’t we stay together?”
Pardon? Don’t go? He spoke it as if it were a request, but it was clearly a command.
What are you planning? I shook my head aggressively.
No, no, no! I don’t want to be here with you anymore!
I’m a little sleepy.”
“If it was in the past…”
As I was about to turn around, I heard a small mumble.
It was too faint to be considered as talking but loud enough to reach me as a murmur.
It seemed like he was talking to me.
“If it was in the past, we would have sat down and eaten together.
In the past, we would have eaten together? I don’t know what he meant, but I got goosebumps as soon as I heard that.
I turned my head back to him, smiled brightly, said my greetings, and left.
It was said that after misfortune comes luck.
That morning, after eating, I was invited to the head maid’s office.
The head maid would bring some of her trusty (actually just her favorite) maids and make them work in her own room.
Lemon was also sometimes called in, going through paperwork or assisting the head maid.
Meaning, since I was invited to her office, I completely earned her trust!
Oh my gosh, did that apple pie help to boost my likeability? I embraced myself with a pounding heart, sat on the couch, and shook my feet until the head maid, who had gone to the bathroom for a while, arrived.
It was my first time entering the office, so I looked around.
Then I found a document on her desk that read, “List of nobles invited to the party.” It seemed like it was a list of people invited to the duke’s birthday party.
When I came to my senses, I had already grabbed the list and was looking through it in a hurry.
Layla, what’s wrong with you? If she finds out about this, the affection you’ve built up in the past may crumble.
However, my eyes continued to read.
My hands trembled at the fact that he might be on the list.
Count Siegfried, Marquis Laurent, Baron Epault…
My eyes stopped at that name.
Strength flowed into my grip.
I hurriedly creased out the crumpled paper.
It left a few marks, but nothing to worry about.
I took a deep breath and looked at the list again.
This drives me crazy… Is that guy coming to the rose mansion? I heard that only selected individuals can be invited to a noble’s birthday party.
Being on this list means that the Duke of Emers has invited Count Nigor.
Why did she make this choice?
Count Nigor didn’t have a good reputation, and his territory was in shambles.
Do the noble’s eyes see only the merits the size of dust?
I will never let you meet my sister.
Next to the count’s name was written: “Attend by proxy.”
Fortunately, it seems that a representative will attend instead.
Just as I was about to breathe a sigh of relief, I heard the door open.
I quickly put the list back in its original place.
The head maid who had just entered the room smiled at me.
“You are here.”
“Yes! I heard that you called for me.”
“Do you see the list on the desk?”
She pointed to the list with her hand.
I couldn’t help but flinch.
What is it? Did I get caught? My heart started to beat faster.
“This is a list of nobles to invite.
Please look carefully and make sure the number of invitations and the number of recipients is correct.”
“I’m good at this kind of thing!!”
“You seem trustworthy these days, so I am leaving this to you.
You must do it without mistakes.”
Wait, you are going to leave it to me? If I had known it would be like this, I wouldn’t have peeked at it.
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