Aristocratic Daughters Volume 2 Chapter 2 part 3

“Yes… I should have thought more before acting…”
 
“No, no, that’s totally fine! So, is this really for me…?”
 
[Nods]
 
Sia nodded shyly.
 
All previous actions suddenly made sense.
 
“Hey, can I open this?”
 
“S-sure.”
 
“Thanks. Let me take a look inside.”
 
My fingers trembled with excitement as I opened the box slowly. Inside, I found a black feather pen and ink set, reflecting the light beautifully.
 
Seeing the luxurious item, Sia anxiously asked, “How is it…?”
 
“…… “
 
” …… “
 
“B-Byleth-sama…?”
 
“S-sorry. I couldn’t react… Haha.”
 
“I-I’m sorry! You didn’t like it, did you!?”
 
“No, that’s not it! It’s just… I’m so happy I’m speechless.”
 
“Hehe, I’m glad if that’s the case!”
 
It seemed clear that both of us were embarrassed. While Sia smiled shyly, hiding her face behind her bangs, I couldn’t help but wonder if I felt the same way when I gave Sia a present…
 
“I wonder if I felt like this when I gave Sia a present…”
 
“I hate to say this, but since I received something nice, I felt happier.”
 
“That’s not true.”
 
“It’s not not true.”
 
“Haha.”
 
“Hehe.”
 
The atmosphere shifted from a few moments ago, and they both laughed together, more relaxed than before.
 
Sia’s occasional moments of defiance were quite endearing.
 
“Thank you so much. I’ll cherish it.”
 
“Thank you! Well then, I’ll get back to work!”
 
“W-wait a moment.”
 
“Yes!?”
 
I stopped Sia, who had energetically risen from her chair.
 
“Um, Sia. Can we talk again about the future after I’m done with the meeting with Elena’s father?”
 
“T-that’s… um… sure…”
 
Seeing her worried expression, as if expecting to be told to work at the palace, I reassured her with a simple statement.
 
“It’s not about that. If I could discuss how how I can stay with Sia…”
 
“…Y-yes.”
 
That one statement seemed to convey everything.
 
Blushing, with glistening eyes, Sia softly responded.
 

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The next day came. When I arrived at school as usual…
 
“Hmm…”
 
“W-what?”
 
Elena entered the classroom a few minutes later and approached with narrowed, beautiful eyes.
 
“Did something good happen?”
 
“Huh!?”
 
“I’m right, aren’t I?”
 
“Y-yeah… How did you know?”
 
“It’s obvious. You were grinning by yourself. That’s the proof.”
 
“Hey…”
 
After placing her belongings on the desk, Elena coolly pinched both of my cheeks with her chilly fingers. Then, she pressed down, causing me raised corners of the mouth to return to their original positions.
 
“See? You were grinning, weren’t you?”
 
“Ugh…”
 
“Hehe, what a weird face. You ruin the slightly cool look you had.”
 
“Release me quickly.”
 
“Alright.”
 
When I encouraged her by playfully tugging her sideways, she immediately released her hands.
 
Although her blushed cheeks made her mumble incoherently, her message came across clearly.
 
“Anyway, wasn’t that too abrupt? You got your cheeks pinched within ten seconds of meeting.”
 
“I’m sorry. It’s because your expression was so sloppy.”
 
While she apologized with folded hands, she laughed gleefully. Clearly, she wasn’t repentant.
 
“I feel like every time Elena teases me, she always pinches my cheeks…”
 
“That’s because you don’t avoid it or resist it, right? Maybe you just want me to touch you?”
 
“I thought you’d pinch me whether I avoided it or resisted it…”
 
“I won’t force you to do anything you dislike. Unlike you, I’m not barbaric.”
 
Saying so, Elena continued to playfully tease him.
 
“Maybe you’re so barbaric that your cheeks are stiff. I’ve been thinking that every time I touch them.”
 
“What kind of ridiculous theory is that?”
 
“It’s the truth. Want to touch my cheeks? I think mine are twice as soft as yours.”
 
“Huh?”
 
If she puffed out her right cheek a bit, she leaned in closer as if to ask, “Wanna try?” Her perfectly composed face looked like a doll’s.
 
This was a side of her that Sia, who interacted with me every day, didn’t have. I couldn’t help but feel flustered by her unfamiliar actions.
 
“…I’ll pass. Rumors might spread that I’m bullying Elena.”
 
“Oh, did you know about those rumors? Like, that I’m interacting with you because I’m being threatened by you?”
 
“Huh?”
 
“There’s a rumor going around that I’m only associating with you because you’re threatening me.”
 
“I haven’t heard that one before……”
 
I was unaware that such malicious rumors had even reached Elena’s ears.
 
Pressing my hand against my forehead, I gave her a grave look.
 
“I have no idea where that came from. By the way, four people came up to me this morning saying things like, ‘Has Lord Byleth done anything to you?!'”
 
“This morning too…geez. Sorry about that, I’m causing you trouble.”
 
“You don’t need to worry. I’m fine.”
 
“But aside from being approached, aren’t there other problems?”
 
“I’m not sure. I said it based on some expectations, but it turned out to be right.”
 
“Well, if you can help me out of the crisis, I might receive some favor. There seem to be more nobles thinking like that.”
 
“I-I see…”
 
“Do you really not understand such ulterior motives?”
 
“It means Elena is quite charming. I think so too.”
 
“W-Well, I don’t need such flattery… It’s a poor attempt at flirting.”
 
“I didn’t mean it as flattery, though?”
 
“Hmm…”
 
A drawn-out response came as if expressing disbelief.
 
“Anyway, I’m not particularly happy about it. Even if people think that about me.”
 
“Is that so?”
 
“Because they’re misunderstanding you. …I’m hesitant to say it out loud because I was one of those misunderstanders.”
 
“I see…”
 
It was a statement showing a glimpse of honesty about oneself.
 
“Um… just so you know, I’m reassuring them. I’m telling them, ‘Since I’m just being friendly, don’t worry about it.'”
 
“Haha, thanks. That’s the most comforting thing to hear.”
 
“…I-It’s not like I said it with you in mind. Don’t misunderstand.”
 
“I get it, I get it.”
 
“That’s good.”
 
As soon as she finished speaking, Elena turned away.
 
Her neatly arranged red hair swayed, and the scent of jasmine perfume wafted.
 
“S-So, um… let me know if you encounter any trouble too. I mean, I’ll help you out a bit.”
 
“Thank you.”
 
Elena quickly averted her gaze if our eyes met.
 
While her words lacked honesty, her feelings were clearly conveyed.
 
I sincerely thanked her.
 
“…So, getting back to the conversation, what was it about? What happy thing happened to you? I’m curious.”
 
“I can tell you, but you might get jealous, Elena.”
 
“You’re being unusually coy. Sorry to interrupt your self-satisfied face, but it’s probably not that big of a deal, is it?”
 
“N-No, it’s not!?”
 
After setting the stage like that, I told her about yesterday’s events.
 
Unconsciously, I found myself smiling.
 
“To tell you the truth… Sia gave me a present! It’s for home use, so I can’t show it to you right now, but it’s a feather pen and ink set!!”
 
“Oh, I see. That’s definitely something to envy.”
 
“I never thought I’d get a present like that, so I was really happy. I need to work even harder from now on, though.”
 
“Haha, then you’d better deliver some solid results.”
 
Instead of jealousy, Elena seemed amused, covering her mouth with her hand.
 
“Living together, you start to resemble each other, huh? You have the same way of boasting as Sia, you know. Both in speech and expression.”
 
“A-Ahaha…”
 
“But I understand now. It was a while ago, but Sia asked me a question. ‘Do you have any ideas for gifts that men would appreciate?'”
 
“S-She did!?”
 
She was giving me valuable information I didn’t know.
 
That the present wasn’t something impromptu, but something she had carefully selected over time.
 
“By the way, she asked a lot of people besides me.”
 
“……”
 
“That girl budgeted her entire savings for it. She even took advice like ‘big gems’ at face value.”
 
“She’s quick to believe, just like Sia… Did you stop her??”
 
“Of course I did. She went too far, but because it was you, she said, ‘Rather than the amount, a gift with heartfelt feelings would be more appreciated.'”
 
“That’s exactly right.”
 
If I had received a present that used up all her savings, I would feel nothing but sorry.
 
A thoughtful present would be much more appreciated.
 
“To be honest, I had trouble giving advice. Ordinary nobles would be pleased by the price alone, so…”
 
“Haha, isn’t that not true?”
 
“That’s why eccentric people like you are a hassle.”
 
Elena opened her pink lips and let out an exasperated sigh, but she smiled gently, as if touching a chord.
 
” …… Let me tell you something. About the meeting with father. “
 
“Hm?”
 
“He suggested next Saturday at two o’clock. it seem a carriage arrive at your mansion by one o’clock. Is that okay?”
 
“I’m fine with that. I’ll prepare around one o’clock then.”
 
“I’ll leave it to you.”
 
“Yeah.”
 
As the plans for the meeting finally solidified, there was something else I remembered.
 
“…Um, Elena.”
 
“What now?”
 
“Uh, sorry. I forgot what I wanted to say.”
 
“Huh? What is it…? Let me know when you remember.”
 
“Y-Yeah.”
 
I couldn’t ask.
 
Elena must have also seen the words written on the invitation.
 
[If there’s extra time during the meeting, We could discuss about engagement.]
 
Words about that content.
 
And so, the promised day of the meeting arrived.
 
Next Saturday


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