Even after we were announced, people kept entering one after another. 


I thought they were only crowded outside the ballroom, but it was no different inside.
Those who had entered earlier gathered together, chatting or standing in their designated places with tense expressions. 

It seemed that our family hadn’t entered yet, so we decided to go to our seats.

Our seats were at the far end of the ballroom.
Those who had already taken their seats sent us awkward nods.

‘There are more unfamiliar faces than familiar ones.’

Usually, people familiarize themselves with each other’s faces before their debutante ball, but due to various constraints, I didn’t have many acquaintances.
Those who had familiarized themselves were mostly seated in the front row.

I sat down with a nervous feeling.
Unlike me, Dalton seemed calm.
The person sitting next to him didn’t seem moved, which quickly made me feel at ease.

Even while holding our seats, people quickly entered one by one.
It didn’t take long for Therid to make an appearance.
He was seated much farther ahead than me.
It seemed to be because of his partner, who appeared mature for her age.

‘I heard she’s younger than me.’

She sat down with a relaxed expression befitting a central noble.
Then she looked in my direction, exchanged glances, and whispered something to Therid’s ear. 

As soon as she did, Therid blushed in surprise.
It felt strange to see Therid, who had become so gentle.
Perhaps it was because it was the first time I saw him like this.

‘It feels like he’s about to be devoured by her.’

Somehow, she had dressed up quite nicely.
I wondered if Therid had that kind of taste.
I felt a bit disoriented as if I had glimpsed Therid’s preferences.

‘Let’s pretend we don’t know.’

When I quickly averted my gaze, Dalton lightly squeezed the hand that he was holding.
As if asking why I was doing that, he spoke.

“Admission will be completed soon.
Let’s greet your family before the debutante ball starts.”

When I followed Dalton’s gaze, I saw my mother and father walking inside.
They seemed to be looking around as if searching for us, but as soon as I waved my hand, they immediately waved back.

If Dalton hadn’t told me in advance, I wouldn’t have known that my parents had entered and would have been just looking around while the banquet was about to begin.

‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I should see my parents.’

I hurriedly got up from my seat and said, 

“Thank you, Dalton.
I’ll be right back.”


Dalton nodded in agreement.
I quickly made my way through the crowd when I suddenly thought,

‘It seems like Dalton’s parents haven’t arrived yet.’

Come to think of it, I had never heard him talk about his family throughout.
I had never even seen him engaging in family conversations.

‘From the way he talks, he doesn’t seem to have a bad relationship with them.’

I didn’t realize I was a bit late.
As I was organizing my thoughts, my mother stood in front of me, clutching the hem of her dress with both hands.
Her hurried steps revealed her anxious demeanor.

“Siara, you look absolutely beautiful!”

“Thank you, Mother! You’ve already seen the dress through Madame Lulu, haven’t you?”

“Well, of course.
It’s your debut day, after all.”

My mother embraced me tightly.
The soft fur-lined cape she was wearing made her hug warm and comforting.
As soon as we finished the embrace, my father called out to me.

“Siara.”

“Yes, Father.
What is it?”

“After your first performance, you’ll have to greet the Emperor and Empress.
Don’t let any words you hear upset you.”

It was a high-profile event with many onlookers, and a single mistake could tarnish the family’s honor.
It seemed like a reminder to be careful with my actions.

‘But I’ve already prepared myself for whatever they might say.’

I nodded confidently.

“Yes, I won’t do anything that would bring shame to the family.”

“It’s not about shame… I said it because I worry about you.”

“Why would you worry about me?”

“Some people may not be pleased to see you, now that you’ve become a noble.”

“Well, that’s true.”

“You’re a distinguished member of the Astita, so don’t take it to heart.”

“Don’t worry, Father.
It doesn’t affect me at all.”

And indeed, why would it? 


If I had to doubt my lineage, I was a true noble, and my power was outstanding even among the nobility.
Perhaps that’s why.
I wasn’t afraid of the slander they threw at me.

As I nodded confidently, my father nodded as well.

“Alright then.”

My mother, who had been listening to the conversation, added her words.

“Exactly.
How can our Siara, who is so talented, have such worries?”

“That’s right.
I worried for no reason… How exceptional our daughter is.”

At the unfamiliar yet comforting words, my eyes widened.
An indescribable warmth filled my chest, swelling like a balloon.

* * *

Disguised as Dalton, Dianel quietly observed Siara with her family.
She looked joyful, and the conversation seemed lively.

Therid joined them belatedly, and a cheerful atmosphere was formed.
They appeared more sincere and genuine than any other noble gathered there.

It was a scene straight out of a fairy tale, and he couldn’t take his eyes off it. 

While he was engrossed in watching, a low voice sounded right behind him.

“So, Dalton, I heard you’ve been busy with affairs in the territory.
Yet here you are, attached to this gathering.”

Chuckling, Dianel turned his head.
He had a sturdy physique, piercing eyes, and blond hair mixed with orange.

‘So, he’s the youngest of the Leven family.’

Dianel immediately recognized his identity and ignored him.
He judged that the person was not even worth a reply. 

Perhaps feeling slighted, Pete, the youngest of the Leven family, called out to Dianel with a hint of defiance.

“Dalton, are you ignoring me? You… do you know what happens if you offend me?”

“…”

“Don’t think that your father successfully avoided this incident.
The trap set by our family is still effective.
So, it would be better for me to see you in a favorable light, don’t you think?”

“A trap?”

“Yes, your family was involved in illegal slave trading before.
I have dozens of pieces of evidence related to that.”

“Are you talking about slave trading?”


“That’s right.
Your father captured and sold a ten-year-old healer, remember?”

One of Dianel’s eyebrows raised.
Whether he understood him or not, Pete laughed smugly.

“Bringing a healer to capture and sell, and bringing that girl as well? If it’s Astita, we could have helped if you had asked—”

“You’d better watch your mouth.”

Despite trying to endure his urge to spill out a string of information just by listening quietly, he had crossed the line just now. 

Dianel reached out and gripped Pete’s throat.
Pete’s throat was instantly constricted, and he struggled to breathe.

With many eyes watching, Dianel quickly released his grip on Pete’s throat.
Instead, he leaned close to his ear and whispered as if sharing a secret.

“You should be the one careful.
Especially when speaking, you should be prepared to pay the price.”

“W-what… What are you saying? Do you think I’ll back down even if you do that?”

“I hope you won’t back down, Pete.”

A wry smile appeared on one corner of Dianel’s mouth.
Unlike his usual gentle expression, there was a fierce vitality in his gentle eyes.
It was a gaze that sent shivers down one’s spine.

Instinctively realizing that the current Dalton was different from the previous one, Pete staggered backward.

“You, you… Let’s settle this after this is over!”

Pete grumbled and stumbled away.
At first glance, it looked like he was running toward his father.
Dianel turned his attention away from them. 

Just then, Siara, who had finished greeting her family, approached.

Having spent a brief but enjoyable time, Siara’s face exuded a radiant aura of happiness.

“Dalton, thank you.
Thanks to you, I was able to see my parents.”

Gratefulness, a phrase he had heard many times, but Dianel avoided eye contact and spoke.

“No, it’s not a big deal.
It’s about time for the ceremony to begin.”

“Oh, right.”

As the castle gates closed and the sound of trumpets echoed, the members of the royal family entered one by one.
Among them was Crown Prince Dianel.
He had brought a suitable substitute and used transformation magic to play his role.

In any case, the Crown Prince had little to do on the day of the debutante ball. 


Moreover, he was usually quiet, so it was natural for him to stay and then leave without raising suspicions.
However, for some reason, Siara’s gaze bothered Dianel.
Without realizing it, he scrutinized Siara’s expression.

As Siara gazed at them, seemingly mesmerized, she murmured to herself.

“Wow, it’s so magnificent.”

“…”

“They were originally supposed to give me gold.” 

Siara said.
She seemed uninterested in anything other than the reward she had originally agreed upon. 

Dianel pondered her words and averted his gaze.

After the Emperor’s brief speech, the ceremony began. 

The guests proceeded one by one to the ballroom and took their places. 

Dianel and Siara did the same.
They stood at the head of the ballroom, waiting for the music to start.
Siara greeted her family and then took Dianel’s hand.

Her expression was tightly composed as if she didn’t want to make any mistakes.
A slight tremor could be felt in their joined hands.
Dianel observed her expression, then hesitated before speaking.

“Don’t be nervous.”

“…But there are so many people watching.
I’ve never danced in front of so many people before.”

“I am here with you.”

Siara raised her head, surprised, and then asked with a smile on her face.

“Is that your way of trying to relieve my tension? Or is it confidence?”

“Both.”

“Dalton, you seem like a really nice person when I look at you like this.”

Just then, the music started.
Perhaps due to the relief of tension, Siara’s steps became lighter.
The song was calm, and the dance was not too intense, considering the elaborate attire of the debutantes.

However, Siara’s dress kept getting stepped on.
It was difficult to pinpoint the exact culprit due to the swirling dance. 

Siara’s expression grew increasingly rigid, perhaps because it was hard to identify the offender.

Siara’s steps became heavy again.
She had started to get nervous. 

Dianel noticed this and whispered cautiously to her.
Despite his gentle tone, his sharp eyes accurately pinpointed the culprit.

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