Chapter 01 – That’s Right, Let’s Just Break it Off!
“…Both the tea party the other day, and the recent luncheon, it feels as if circumstances are growing worse and worse, aren’t they…?”
Taking a small bite with a gesture as elegant as you’d expect from a member of royalty from the immaculately prepared roast beef sandwich, plated specially by the Redmayne family’s head chef himself, Lady Sophia sighed to herself as she spoke.
With a small nod, I agreed with a “You’re right…”, whilst looking back and forth between Lady Sophia’s face and the basket of sandwiches.
Somehow, it felt like we had finally reached the end of a pleasant springtime dream, and it reminded me of the phrase I’d read once, ‘thus passes earthly glory’… That phrase from a far away land was the best way to describe what was happening now, 10 years after my strange and shocking meeting with her.
Sophia Lydia-Rose Redmayne, my personal Queen who I idolize, had experienced her first ever obstacle in her seventeen years of life, and that phrase used to describe the rise and fall of stunning Empires from history seems only right to use now.
That said, it’s not as if she herself has become any less stunning as she grew up, especially her looks. Rather, her soft blonde hair, the colour of honey, only became more wonderfully lustrous as she became an adult, and her almond shaped eyes shone like beautiful saphires below her bangs.
Her plump, cherry pink lips always catch the eye without any need for lipstick, and her slightly slanted eyebrows always give off an impression of her strength.
To put it simply, that little girl who seemed like a porcelain doll painstakingly created by a master craftsman had grown into a beautiful woman who was so bright it was as if she shined. By the way, I’d gotten a little taller than I was back then, and I can proudly say that I’m actually just chubby, rather than the sort of person people would call ‘chubby’ just to be nice.
Apparently, some nasty people say that I have a body like a ‘wrestler’, but I’m not even going to give weird comments like that the time of day.
My main problem now is this garish carrot coloured hair of mine. Back when I was rounder, it didn’t stand out as much, but now it’s what everyone notices first. What’s worse, my hair isn’t nearly as high quality as Lady Sophia’s, so on rainy days I have to tie it up in braids or it will fray every where like a badly baked loaf of bread.
Although my facial features are a little more visible nowadays compared to before, my chubby cheeks still make it so that it’s hard to open up my golden-brown coloured eyes wide.
And since those golden-brown eyes are the only things I inherited from my beautiful mother… It’s a little disappointing, to say the least. But being able to open my eyes wide wouldn’t make much difference to my appearance anyway, so it’s fine… Or so I’m told, at least.
“Even so, Lady Sophia, I think seeing to those sandwiches is more important than worrying about that for now. It’s not good for your beauty if you can’t eat because you’re stressed out.”
“That might be so, Chloe, but maybe you ought to be the one worrying about your sandwich intake?”
“No, that’s… Well, I’d like to say you’re wrong, but you’re right. But, it’s a sandwich made by the Head Chef of the Redmayne family. It’d be such a waste to let that warm and fluffy bread go cold and dry out.”
“Haa… When I try and talk you out of your voracious appetite, suddenly it seems like all my troubles are just a trifle, doesn’t it?” Sophia laughed at my determined reply with a smile.
And when I answered, “Well, actually, it really is just a trifle.” without giving it much care, Lady Sophia’s cheeks twitched as she answered “…What was that? This little piggy…”
“That’s just the way it is!” I answered back cheerfully despite Lady Sophia’s icy glare and reached out to take a sandwich from the basket. As one of the only two people in the world used to her thorny stares, I wasn’t frightened in the slightest.
The moment I touched the sandwich and my fingers sunk into its warm and soft embrace, a smile crept to my lips. Since it was only Lady Sophia and I in the room, I unreservedly licked my lips and took as big a bite as I could.
“You even eat like a commoner, don’t you?” Lady Sophia said, with a wry smile on her lips, but not an ounce of venom in her eyes.
“If anything, watching you made me regain my appetite as well.” Far from anger, Lady Sophia giggled softly as she sunk her teeth into the sandwich she’d laid down earlier.
…No, ‘sunk her teeth into’ doesn’t really do her elegance justice. Lady Sophia, who took bites so small that it was almost as if she never opened her mouth at all, looked every bit the beautiful and unapproachable noble lady.
Maybe placing so much emphasis on something as trivial as how someone eats makes me look a little immature, but for some reason, I felt like championing her even more than usual. It didn’t take long before I couldn’t hold back my praise anymore.
“Ah jeez… jeez…! Just from something so small as eating a sandwich, I can feel all of Lady Sophia’s elegance, wisdom, style, and magnanimity coming out of every bite! A Goddess!”
“T-Thank you, Chloe. I don’t really understand what you’re talking about, but… it feels like you’re the only one who says things like that about me these days.” Lady Sophia stared at me in surprise with the sandwich still between her lips as the praise tumbled out of my mouth, but eventually she expressed her gratitude despite her confusion.
But, I had to stop her right there. Because, if I take credit for being the sole person to pour praise upon Lady Sophia, I know for certain there’s one person, in particular, that I’d catch absolute hell from.
“No, no, that’s not true at all, Lady Sophia. It’s just that other people happen to be blind, that’s all. There’s not a single part of you that isn’t perfect, from your head to your toes.”
“Is… Is that so…?”
“Yes, I can guarantee it. And, please excuse me for saying so, but I’ve never thought that Lord Hereford was a good match for you anyways.”
“E-Ehh…? You think so…?” Lady Sophia seemed flustered as I, the final person she could wholeheartedly trust, and her last remaining crony, confessed exactly what was on my mind.
Seeing my idol have to go through something like this, I cursed that incompetent fiance of hers in my mind with every foul word that I could imagine.
James Christopher Hereford. Even though that idiot had the chance of a future together with my Goddess, he had become entranced with a girl two years younger than him called Charlotte Rainworth, who was a Baron’s daughter despite living as a commoner for most of her life.
Thanks to that unfaithful heart of his fluttering towards Charlotte, my dear saviour Lady Sophia has found herself in a precarious social position. The Redmayne and the Hereford families are both exceptionally powerful nobles houses in the Kingdom of Astromeia.
With both families able to trace their lineages back to historical royalty, a marriage tying these houses together had much political significance… But he had trampled all over it. Despite the houses having seemed so close for so long, it’s as if the Herefords had grown conceited and arrogant, no longer needing the Redmaynes.
It’s true that girl had luscious brunette hair, deep green eyes and a certain fragility in her faint smile that makes the hearts of men ache to protect her…
Whilst, on the other hand, although Lady Sophia does (in my opinion) claim a complete victory in terms of beauty, the moment she opens her mouth it’s as if a dragon from legend had billowed forth smoke and flame, and her tongue is like a lash that can tear a man apart at the seams.
Though, from the very moment, I met her, for whatever reason I always thought there was something fishy about Charlotte. Just why did I think that way? I couldn’t even tell you if you asked. I suppose that people would just say that it’s the ugly jealousy of a woman then, right?
But, let me tell you, as someone who has always been by Lady Sophia’s side, I’ve never had any of that petty sort of womanly pride.
Because, by standing next to someone who is so heavenly that it’s ridiculous to call her a ‘human’ like us lowly creatures, I couldn’t care less about those fickle men and what they consider ‘beautiful’.
“Yes, that’s right… That aside, it’s absurd to see all those men like Lord Hereford gushing and gawing whenever that whipped-cream-for-brains Miss Charlotte is talking to them. Just what on earth is so exciting about hearing her discuss the weather?”
Even as I raised a single plump finger for emphasis, Lady Sophia replied with “Oh, but the weather is important, don’t you know? Both when it comes to our day to day lives, not to mention agriculture.”
“That’s exactly it!” “Eh?” Lady Sophia tilted her head as I brought down a hard slap on my knee, and continued where I’d left off.
“Then that’s exactly where the conversation should lead! But she’d just continue with ‘then, let’s go out and play tomorrow if the weather’s good!’, like some sort of vapid idiot!!”
“I-I suppose you’re right…? But, if you look at it from another angle, perhaps James’ heart was stolen because I didn’t have that sort of cuteness he liked?”
“Ufufu, you shouldn’t think that way, Lady Sophia. This is the sort of thing that common people call a golden opportunity! We should just let those people with nothing but flowery meadows in their heads frolic together to their heart’s content. Meanwhile, let’s expose his unfaithful behaviour and break this engagement right away!”
“But… would Father ever forgive me for doing something like that to our house? Not to mention, I wouldn’t want to burden my brother at all. After all, he’s finally feeling well enough to get out of bed these days…”
This was one of the reasons why the Hereford family had grown to consider themselves superior to the Redmaynes. That is the circumstances of Lady Sophia’s brother, the heir to the Redmayne family, who had a frail body and was in poor health. Although many didn’t believe he would survive to adulthood, he had turned 22 this year.
However, even if he did one day become the head of the family, it would be difficult for him to see to his tasks as Count due to his health issues. What’s more, due to his situation, there are no ladies lining up to offer their hands in marriage, nor noble houses interested in organizing a political match. After all, what’s the use of a marriage with someone who seems to constantly live on death’s door?
In this country, there was no way for a woman to legally inherit a noble title. However, a son couldn’t simply be adopted and made heir when the current heir was still alive.
Whilst there isn’t any issue whilst the current Count is still alive, what happens when he and his frail son are no longer there? The house will either fall into the graveyard of history or fall into the hands of a distant relative. And if the former should happen, then Lady Sophia who is without a fiance, would be left in a dangerous situation, wouldn’t she?
What’s more, it’s likely that said lands would fall into the hands of the neighbouring Hereford family, who would hardly be on Lady Sophia’s side if she truly did break things off with the current heir to their house. That bastard… I’ll never forgive him, even in his next life. Or the life after that.
And even if a distant relative did inherit the house, I don’t see a good future for a beautiful girl with no power and no backing.
But, putting all that aside, the most important thing of all to consider is… I wonder just who would benefit the most if I could finally muster up the courage to tell my dear Lady Sophia just how much of a dastardly knave that brother of hers is? Me and my poor stomach, most likely.
Right, there tends to a misconception that thicker folk tend to have hardier stomachs, but we suffer from stress cramps all the same, let me tell you.
“Please rest assured. In the first place, the unfaithfulness came from their side, and on your side, this is simply a marriage to raise the status of the family. Besides, there’s no need to consider love or anything like that when it comes to a clear cut political marriage. So, on that note, wouldn’t everything be settled if you find a new fiance of higher status than Lord Hereford?”
“I suppose it would-”
“Then please, command me to do that for you at once. I’ll stake my very heart and soul on finding an excellent noble lord who will only ever have eyes for you, Lady Sophia!”
“Good grief, you’re always so energetic, even with all that extra meat you carry around, aren’t you?”
Whilst bursting with love for Lady Sophia as she giggled girlishly, I set to working out the math in my head for just what needed to be done in the six months remaining before the graduation ball at the end of the school year, but…
“Ah, come to think of it… my brother wished to see you. If you have the time, it would be good if you could stop by the mansion today, but… I suppose you don’t?”
“O-Of course I’ll go…” I answered, completely unable to refuse the adorable request from Lady Sophia, who seemed to look up at me with puppy dog eyes. Though, as I said that, I could feel a familiar ache creeping into my stomach.
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