Aristocratic Daughters Volume 2 Chapter 3 part 1

Chapter Three: The Day of the Meeting, Part I
 

 
“I’m sorry, Sia. I’ll be borrowing your master today.”
 
“Oh no, not at all!”
 
On the scheduled meeting day,
 
Elena, the eldest daughter of the Leclerc family, arrived a little earlier than the appointed time. She was dressed in a black dress that accentuated her bright red hair. She was chatting with Sia, who was wearing a maid outfit, in front of the entrance.
 
Meanwhile, Byleth was preparing himself.
 
“Um, don’t you have to help Byleth? It’s your job, so won’t you get in trouble?”
 
“It’s fine! After assisting a bit, I received an order to ‘enjoy myself with Miss Elena!'”
 
Sia responded with a wide smile and squinted her round blue eyes.
 
“I see… Byleth always gives strange orders, doesn’t he? It must be tough to deal with them.”
 
“Exactly.”
 
Elena, who could readily contradict her master, was close to Sia and had solid reasons for doing so.
 
“But… this order was also considerate of me. It allows me to enjoy chatting with Miss Elena and take a break…”
 
“It’s also probably to keep me from getting bored while waiting. Talking to you is enjoyable.”
 
“Thank you very much.”
 
“You don’t need to bow your head that much, you know?”
 
Elena, with a mix of amusement and kindness, changed her tone as she spoke.
 
“So, Sia, if you have any questions for me, ask now. Your face says you have something on your mind.”
 
“I-I’m sorry. Then, may I ask a question about today’s meeting?”
 
“Yes. If I can answer it.”
 
Encouraged by Elena, Sia, who found it easier to ask, bowed her head and hesitantly asked her question.
 
“Um, will Miss Elena be attending the meeting…?”
 
“Hmm… I hate to admit it, but I don’t have the qualifications to attend the meeting. I’d only be a hindrance due to the gap in knowledge.”
 
“Eh, not even Miss Elena!?”
 
“Even Alan, who’s preparing to take over the business, is not joining.”
 
“S-so… does that mean Byleth-sama and Miss Elena’s father will be the only ones talking!?”
 
“That’s the plan.”
 
“I see…”
 
Sia’s tone dropped, and she furrowed her brows.
 
It was easy to guess how she was feeling just by looking at her.
 
“Worried about not having Byleth’s support?”
 
“…Y-yes. Miss Elena’s father is someone everyone knows about, after all.”
 
“True, the content of the meeting will likely be on my father’s level, but I think he’ll manage surprisingly well.”
 
“Even though they’re on different levels…?”
 
“He’s surprisingly accepting. He…”
 
Elena, who seemed to see through Byleth, still wore an incredulous expression as she praised him.
 
Her attitude, which showed not even a trace of worry,
 
“It’s understandable if it doesn’t make sense to you. Byleth avoids difficult conversations because he’s lazy. Probably to avoid trouble or because he doesn’t want attention.”
 
“Hehe.”
 
Perhaps she had some idea, Sia chuckled softly, covering her mouth with her hand.
 
At that moment,
 
“Sorry for being late… Hey, it seems lively here. What were you two talking about?”
 
Byleth, who had finished preparing himself, called out to them.
 
“It’s wiser not to ask.”
 
“Well, now that you mention it, I’m curious.”
 
“Oh, then I’ll tell you.”
 
Elena raised her thin eyebrows teasingly.
 
“About how cheeky you are. Right, Sia?”
 
Slowly, she approached Sia from behind, placing her hand on her shoulder.
 
“Huh!? Oh, that… that…!!”
 
Completely caught off guard,
 
Waving his hands in the air to prove it, he tries hard to explain himself.
 
“Ah, I see. Elena was complaining about me alone.”
 
“I didn’t complain at all. Right, Sia?”
 
“Y-yes!”
 
This time, Sia nodded immediately. Her panic seemed to subside a bit, and she replied with wide eyes.
 
From her demeanor, it was clear she understood it was true.
 
“…You didn’t complain?”
 
“I won’t tell someone who seems to be judging based on the face of a certain personal attendant.”
 
“Is that so, Byleth?”
 
“Uh, well… um…”
 
When Sia, who always took care of her, pressed her, he couldn’t help but weaken.
 
“Hey, Sia. If you get angry because you’re being judged, you might get something nice as an apology. Because it’s him.”
 
“Eek!”
 
Elena encouraged Sia while rubbing her shoulders.
 
With a face that seemed to say, ‘He’s not the type to get angry over something like this,’
 
And Sia, who was skillfully encouraged, turned her sparkling eyes towards him with expectation.
 
(Looking at Sia’s face, it seems like she wants her head to be patted… [Although she might forget that I’m supposed to be angry])
 
It’s a cute scenario, and since it’s not particularly troublesome, Byleth decides to let it slide with a thought of, “Well, I guess it’s fine for now.”
 
“…Alright, Byleth. Shall we end the conversation here? Time is running out.”
 
“Ah, yeah.”
 
Even though he’s the one invited, being late is unacceptable. Her prompt was appreciated.
 
“In that case, Sia, I’ll leave the rest to you. Use the spare time for yourself once you have it.”
 
“Yes! Um… Good luck with the meeting!!”
 
“Of course.”
 
With that, Byleth bid farewell to Sia, heading towards the carriage with Elena, feeling puzzled.
 
Looking at the carriage adorned in white paint with a spacious compartment and windows,
 
it’s evident. It’s a luxurious carriage made with considerable expense.
 
“I’m glad I didn’t have to arrange such an impressive carriage for myself…”
 
“Hehehe, I wanted to see that expression on your face, so I purposely chose it. Father was enthusiastic about it too. He said, ‘Let me know the reaction later.'”
 
“W-What’s that supposed to mean…?”
 
It was said in jest, but Byleth is the one invited.
 
For the Leclerc family, it’s a matter of course behavior to not tarnish the family name. Accepting this in his mind,
 
“Sorry, please take care of me today.”
 
He greeted the gentleman with a white beard, the Leclerc family’s exclusive coachman, who smiled kindly and bowed his head.
 
“Then, please get in. Father is already preparing to receive you.”
 
“Yeah.”
 
Byleth, who boarded the carriage first with those words, immediately reached out to Elena.
 
“Here you go.”
 
“Oh, my… You’re being gentlemanly.”
 
“Your black dress suits you, so it’s special.”
 
“I see… ‘Special,’ huh? Not ‘as usual’…”
 
Elena, who muttered a complaint while looking down diagonally, took his hand, slightly pouting.
 


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“To say this, I felt relieved when Elena came to pick me up today. Honestly.”
 
“Why’s that again?”
 
While the carriage swayed on its way to the destination, Elena, seated across from Byleth, was told the following:
 
“Look, since this is kind of like my first meeting with your father, I’m feeling rather tense about it……”
 
“Heh, I see. Well, that’s what Father ordered.”
 
“Huh!?”
 
“If it were me, who sees you often, you could relax even in the carriage, right? That’s what I think, so you won’t tire yourself out before the meeting.”
 
“Is that so?! I felt something was off with just you coming… I see. I realize again how amazing Father is.”
 
“He’s someone I admire, so it’s natural for him to be amazing.”
 
Such praise is often heard as a formality, but Elena understood.
 
She knew he was speaking from the heart.
 
“(Really, I’m happy to receive praise from him like this. Because it’s his words…)”
 
She might be called a pushover, but Elena values her family so much. It makes her feel warm inside.
 
“I have to do my best for the meeting… Even though I’m the one invited, they’re taking the time to see me.”
 
“You’ll be fine.”
 
“Do you really think so?”
 
“I really believe so. It’s the first time Father has done something like this.”
 
“T-Thanks.”
 
While taking a bite, Elena notices something as she watches Byleth, who seems restless, peering outside the carriage.
 
“You really don’t need to be so nervous, you know? Just be confident.”
 
“Don’t say that lightly… He’s the other party, after all.”
 
“You were fine in front of Sia, weren’t you? Yet you’re like this already.”
 
“I thought you’d say that…”
 
Byleth hastily explains, looking irritated.
 
“I didn’t want to show a worrying side to Sia. If I worry while working, I might make a mistake, and I don’t want to show an uncool side.”
 
“Even though you’re transparent in front of me?”
 
From others’ perspectives, Byleth’s actions might seem “uncool.”
 
However, Elena sees it differently. The side he shows only to her makes her feel special enough to unconsciously raise the corners of her mouth.
 
“Please keep this a secret from Sia…? It might be selfish of me, but I want to keep being a master I can be proud of.”
 
“The false facade will come off eventually.”
 
“I’ll repaint it before it comes off.”
 
“That’s easy for you to say. Well, I’ll keep that request. I’m not doing anything bad, after all.”
 
“Thank you.”
 
Elena, who fully understood what Byleth disliked being teased about, accepted it straightforwardly without mocking him.
 
And seeing his relieved face as he thanked her, she inwardly felt exasperated.
 
(It’s not like Sia would stop boasting just from this coming to light. Since it was an action considering her, he could have been more proud of it.)
 
Although she thought this, she didn’t express it, knowing she would simply be brushed off with something like, “What are you talking about? You’re just being unreliable as usual!”
 
As Elena replayed the sequence in her mind, twirling a lock of her well-groomed red hair with her index finger, she shot Byleth, standing in front of her, a meaningful glance.
 
(Besides, it’s not uncool at all, really…)
 
An action considering the position of a dedicated maid. To put it more clearly, an action considering a young girl.
 
(I’m glad for you, Sia. That he did the kindest thing.)
 
At first, she was enveloped in a heartwarming feeling.
 
“…………”
 
She became engulfed in confusion. Her chest tightened painfully.
 
Unfair, feeling full of such emotions.
 
In casual conversation, many things are conveyed.
 
How much she is cherished. How much thoughtfulness is put in. And additionally, the strong bond that is being fostered.
 
Presented with such things, she couldn’t help but feel something.
 
As a girl… Elena felt an uncontrollable jealousy. Unconsciously, Elena spoke.
 
“Hey… Byleth.”
 
“What?”
 
“Oh, uh, I could hold your hand if you want. As a thank you for considering Sia properly.”
 
“…Huh? W-Why my hand?”
 
“T-That’s, of course, to ease your nerves. Don’t they say touching warm skin calms you down?”
 
“Oh… Okay.”
 
She panicked at the unclear response.
 
‘Is it revealed? Whether my excuse, “To ease your nerves,” is exposed? Whether my true feelings, “I feel uneasy,” are revealed?’
 
Elena racked her brain and quickly fired another arrow.
 
“H-Hmph. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t want to hold your hand or anything.”
 
“…Is that true?”


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