Chapter 7 - The Invitation
Aris stifled another yawn and paid closer attention to the class… or at least pretended to. History class was as tedious as always, and pretending to be attentive was an act she was used to putting up. Whenever she felt herself slipping into slumber, she would pinch the back of her hand as hard as she could, trying to stay awake. She was just glad the professor allowed her to have a small break mid-class.
With how big the breakfast she’d eaten this morning was, it certainly was the cause of her sleepiness. It was becoming increasingly more challenging for her to keep her eyes open. The moment the professor stepped out of the room for a break, Aris took the opportunity to stand up and stretch vigorously. She could only do this when she was by herself, never while in sight of the professor.
Lucine entered with tea and snacks. The tea she brewed was always delicious, and Aris always looked forward to having it.
“Have some tea, my lady.” The maid offered.
The tea was sweet, with a delicate fragrance. Aris took a sip and bit into a soft cookie.
“The Marquis asks that you join him in his study after your lessons.”
“The study?” Aris frowned. Her father rarely called her to his study, and she couldn’t help but wonder if something had happened.
Aris tilted her head. According to the novel, nothing major was supposed to happen to her at this point in her life. Of course, the story started when she turned 19. Still, if anything significant had occurred in her past, it would have surely been mentioned.
‘I don’t know what it could possibly be.’
After she had transmigrated into the novel, Aris’s destiny had changed drastically. She was held in high regard by everyone, with a reputation of being an honest, hardworking girl. Perhaps she had changed so much that other elements of the story had changed as well.
‘I haven’t even made my debut yet.’
There was no way that she’d be receiving a marriage proposal, not at her age, she thought as she sipped her tea. Once the break ended, the professor returned, smelling heavily of smoke and tobacco. It seemed he’d gone out for a cigar.
‘Ugh, gross.’ She wanted to tell him to quit smoking, but she knew it was easier said than done. ‘At least he had the decency to go smoke outside,’ she thought and smiled despite her mild displeasure.
“Do you remember where we left off?” he asked.
“You seem a little tired today,” noted the professor.
“It’s very embarrassing, but I believe I’m somewhat drowsy today because I overate during breakfast. My apologies, sir. This won’t happen again,” she murmured and daintily covered her mouth with one hand.
The professor nodded and patted her shoulder, saying, “It’s no problem at all, I understand.”
He left the matter at that and carried on with his lesson. Aris focused on her studies while taking small sips of tea. She was glad Lucine had left it there for her; with it, she did not fall asleep again.
By the time Aris was done with her lessons, it was already evening. She figured it would be best to speak to Ian before dinner and headed towards the study, with Lucine following close behind. Two knights were guarding the door, but when Aris approached, they granted her entry.
“Father, it’s me, Aris,” she announced before entering.
Ian, who had been organizing papers at his desk, stood to greet his daughter. “Come, have a seat,” he said, gesturing towards one of the sofas in the study. Once Aris was settled, he sat down across from her.
“I’ll bring some tea,” Lucine said before scurrying out. Aris studied Ian’s expression— it didn’t look like he had good news on his mind.
“What’s wrong?” Aris asked. Ian seemed to be struggling to form a response.
“Your tea,” Lucine said, setting down a tea set and a platter of treats. “I’ll leave you both to speak now.”
She left, shutting the door quietly behind her. Ian let out a small sigh and took a sip of the tea before saying, “There will be a celebration ball for the crown prince soon.”
“Yes, I heard.” She had also heard that a candidate for crown princess would be selected on that day but paid little attention. It wasn’t something that involved her.
“The emperor made a list of candidates for the next crown princess, and… your name was on that list.”
“Excuse me?” Aris blinked, not having expected him to say that of all things. She set her tea down and pointed at herself incredulously.
“You mean… me?”
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