Chapter 8 – You Can’t Even See Me Next To Her?
“I’m going to talk to my Crown Prince today,” Dorothea declared as the carriage drew us forward to our destination.
“Good luck with everything,” I said flatly.
“…Is that all?”
“You’re not asking me to be your love coach, are you?” That was embarrassing in a different way. Even if I didn’t want to see Dorothea fail so badly, I hadn’t met enough men to give her any advice.
Ah wait. Now she was all teary-eyed. “It’s not like that. Please help me, Marie,” she begged.
“How do you want me to help you?”
“You know how I am. I’m very shy. No matter what, it’ll be uncomfortable for me to talk to the Crown Prince myself. Can’t you talk to him first?”
Hey, look. What was uncomfortable here was Dorothea making Maristella do all the work and then sitting back and sucking the honey. I burst into silent laughter in my head. Oh, of course it wouldn’t be difficult for me to talk to the Crown Prince. Even if she were really my true friend, I would have gladly done so. However, we weren’t bosom sisters, and so she didn’t know she would end up the target of trouble.
“That seems a little difficult, Roth. You know I can’t speak well to someone I don’t know.”
“So you can’t do it?”
“Well,” I started.
At first Dorothea’s expression brightened, but her expression crumbled a second later.
“No. I’m not going to do it,” I said finally.
“Marie!” she whined.
“My ear hurts, Roth,” I complained.
“You’re so mean. Can’t you do it for a friend?”
“Do you want me to go to your honeymoon when you get married?”
Dorothea’s brow furrowed at the unexpected remark. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, you said you were shy. Are you ashamed to go to your honeymoon without your husband? I think I’ll have to stay by your side to defend you.”
“Marie!” Dorothea yelled in a high-pitched voice.
“I can hear you even if you don’t shout, Roth.”
“How is that the same thing? Only newlyweds are supposed to go on a honeymoon! Without any awkwardness between them.”
“But the newlywed’s first night together needs to be prepared for, right? How can I do something so embarrassing like that?”
“Marie, that’s something I need to do, not you. Why are you butting in? Are you unable to differentiate what’s your business or not?”
I answered back with a calm expression. “You’re right, Roth. Likewise, I think it’s presumptuous for me to get involved in your love affairs.”
“I’m glad you agree. So do it yourself.”
Dorothea looked at me like I had slapped her in the face. I ignored her gaze and looked out the window. I expected her to blurt out another retort, but luckily or unluckily, she no longer opened her mouth. I laughed in my head and looked out the window silently until we arrived at the Imperial Palace.
The banquet hall was lavishly decorated for the occasion. Although the novel had described it as extravagant and beautiful, seeing it for myself left me in awe.
I stepped out of the carriage and walked towards the entrance of the banquet hall, then showed my invitation to the door attendant, who confirmed it and greeted me with a bow. I also bowed my head lightly in response, then stepped into the spacious area. A crowd of nobles milled about, far more people here than at the tea party at the Trakos mansion, and I was once again impressed by the sight. I wondered if it was possible to get lost in here.
‘Is my family still coming?’
Countess Bellafleur and Martina would have left later than me, so there was a high probability that they hadn’t arrived yet. Maybe I would find my family a little later. More importantly, there was something else I had to do at this party.
‘I can’t let Dorothea and the Crown Prince fall in love.’
That would be the first step towards Maristella’s tragic ending. The reason she had died in the novel was because Dorothea framed her for all the schemes she had done as the Crown Prince’s mistress. Of course, since I was Maristella now, I would never die for Dorothea, but I wanted to prevent a bad future just in case.
Dorothea’s voice interrupted me from my thoughts. I turned towards her. “What is it?”
“If you don’t want to talk to the Crown Prince, can you just stay by my side?”
If this was anyone else other than Dorothea, it would be a very romantic comment. Normally I would have firmly refused, but it was better for me to stick to Dorothea’s side at today’s party. Then I would be able to interfere before she and Crown Prince Xavier fell in love. The original work had already begun to change from the time I became Maristella, and it wouldn’t be too difficult to change another plot point as long as I put my head to it. I gave a nod.
“Wow, really?” Dorothea said.
“I was worried because you’ve been behaving so rough towards me! Don’t leave me, alright?”
I didn’t really feel sorry towards her, but I laughed inwardly without saying anything. Then, I heard someone calling to me.
Ah, that was a familiar voice. When I turned around, I saw a young lady I had only seen once. I smiled awkwardly and said her name.
Wait, I don’t think this was in the original…? I had a puzzled expression on my face. Odeletta and Maristella rarely interacted in the original novel; perhaps once or twice at most. Even then, that was only after Dorothea became the Crown Princess’ mistress.
I gave Odeletta a gentle smile. “Hello, Lady Trakos. This is the first time we’ve met since the tea party, is it not?”
“Yes. You’ve become more beautiful the last time I’ve seen you,” Odeletta replied.
‘You become more beautiful since the last time I saw you’ seemed to be a standard greeting in this world. I smiled awkwardly and offered the same sentiment.
“Thank you, Lady Odeletta. The same goes for you.”
“I’m flattered. I’m so happy to see you again. Actually, I wanted to talk to you at the last tea party, but regrettably I couldn’t. I’m so happy I could see you at the start of the banquet today!”
Uh…wait, since when did Odeletta have this kind of personality? I panicked. The image of Odeletta stored in my head from the novel was a woman with an intelligent head and a cold beauty. While she was appropriately polite and welcoming at the last tea party, she was nowhere near this bubbly and energetic. Somehow…she kind of reminded me of a big dog that greeted a person after a long separation. Of course, that was a rather rude way to describe a person.
“Thank you for welcoming me like this, Lady Odeletta.”
“Not at all, Lady Maristella. I had a good feeling that I was going to be lucky today,” she said with a soft smile, then went on in an excited voice. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to speak to you.”
Ah, this was even more unexpected. I looked on in bewilderment. Today’s original plan was to stick by Dorothea, the person I hated so much, in order to stop her from falling in love with the Crown Prince. I hesitated and debated whether I should change my plan or not, when a sharp voice came from my side.
“What are you doing, Lady Odeletta?” Dorothea scowled. “Can’t you even see me standing right here?”
Odeletta wasn’t blind of course, but she blinked in surprise as if she just noticed Dorothea’s presence by my side. The funny thing was that I thought Odeletta was funny and cute, not fake or hypocritical. Perhaps if my place had been switched, I would have thought the opposite. Come to think of it, I was a dual-faced person, wasn’t I?
“My apologies for offending you, Lady Dorothea,” Odeletta said in a voice that didn’t sound apologetic at all, and I almost burst out laughing.
“Please understand, My Lady,” Odeletta continued, “I have bad eye-sight.”
It was a ridiculous answer, but Dorothea’s mouth gaped open wordlessly. A moment later she squinted her eyes.
“I’m sorry you don’t have good eyesight. Your father seems to have good eyes,” Dorothea said.
“…Haha,” Odeletta tittered, but her eyes were like steel. It was obvious that she was unhappy. “I suppose I take after my mother. Anyway, Lady Maristella, why don’t we go over there and talk alone?”
“Hey, Lady Odeletta. Marie’s been with me all this time,” Dorothea interrupted.
“Then she can stay with me from now on. Isn’t that right, Lady Maristella?”
“Lady Odeletta, what is the matter with you? You don’t seem to have learned a lady’s manners properly.”
“Lady Dorothea, I’ve been educated properly as a lady, and so I’m asking Lady Maristella for permission. As far as I know, your hearing is fine, so I’m sure you heard it correctly.”
“You didn’t ask for my permission.”
Odeletta didn’t say anything. Dorothea smiled triumphantly as if she had won the argument, but I saw it completely differently—Odeletta was silent out of surprise, not because she had lost the argument.
“I don’t think you have anything more to say, could you please leave?” Dorothea said.
“No, no. Wait a minute, Lady Dorothea,” Odeletta said, bewilderment evident on her face. “Are you two sisters? I heard that Lady Maristella has a younger sister…”
What terrible words, Odeletta! How dare you compare Martina to Dorothea?