Jerania brought Cordelia to the parlor room next to her bedroom.
Seated at the table in the middle, she gestured for the servants to bring tea and looked at Cordelia, who was sitting across from her.
“Are you really Cordelia?”
Jerania looked intently at Cordelia’s innocent, blinking face.
Well, unless it was Cordelia herself, there was no reason for the name of Laurence Blanc to come out of her mouth.
They had no connection whatsoever, and it was unlikely for them to be involved in any way.
“Explain properly what’s going on.”
“Sister, well… It might be hard to believe, but right now I’m in a state where I’ve switched bodies with someone else.”
Cordelia gradually explained the events that had taken place in detail.
The fact that Jerania, who was accustomed to laughing, had such a serious expression meant that the atmosphere wasn’t one for jokes.
Sometimes she described the experiences vividly, even incorporating body movements to make it more tangible, but despite the comical nature of a burly man doing such things, Jerania never once smiled.
“Oh, so that’s why your reaction was odd earlier.
I thought you were hurting somewhere.”
“It seems it’s not easy to hide perfectly… Noah is much shyer than I thought.
I told him he could be a little more outgoing.”
“But he did make quite an effort.
Both I and Calia were somewhat uncertain.”
Taking a sip of tea, Cordelia nodded her head.
With no one else in the parlor room under Jerania’s authority, Cordelia could securely fix her bangs with her hat.
As her field of vision expanded, Cordelia felt a sense of acceleration.
Indeed, she needed to trim her bangs.
Repeatedly reminding herself, Cordelia finally asked the question that had been on her mind since earlier.
“Sister, it’s your birthday party.
Why did you come out so early?”
“I was a bit tired.
It’s just a nominal reason anyway, and it’s not a big deal since it’s a show of the stability of royal authority.”
“Well, His Majesty seems to have a slightly different opinion?”
Playfully remarking, Jerania was momentarily dazed, then covered her mouth and burst into laughter.
“Why are you laughing?”
“Your way of speaking is so characteristic of you that I can’t deny it, can I?”
“What’s my way of speaking? You mean cute and charming?”
“No, it’s straightforward.”
At her resolute response, Cordelia pouted.
Even though her sister was usually gentle, she could be so stern about things like this.
She thought her sister’s criticism was a bit too harsh for someone as cute, charming, and lovely as her.
“Other than you, who knows about this?”
“Just us, Noah, and Linus.”
“Well, at least that’s a relief.
Jerania, who had been lost in thought, holding her chin, finally spoke up.
“For now, it might be better to bring them here and discuss a plan.
Besides, I just met Rick a little while ago.
It would be troublesome if we happen to run into him.”
No, but I did tell him to avoid him at all costs.”
“Well, that’s a relief, then…”
“Well, no matter what happens, Liam would have intervened.
Did he come today?”
He brought Mikhail with him.”
“Ah! Their oldest child, right? I heard he’s not very healthy, but he still brought him.”
“He’s the same age as Aira, so I hope they’ll get along, just like we did.”
It wasn’t too difficult for people of equal status to make friends.
Cordelia understood that sentiment quite well.
Even those who were friendly and interacting still managed to keep an eye on her.
Approaching the door, Jerania called for the servant and instructed him to fetch Cordelia.
As she chatted with Jerania, who quickly closed the door behind her to keep her out of sight, Cordelia waited for an opportune moment to cautiously ask the question she most wanted to know.
“Are you and Noah acquainted? Your reaction seemed like it.”
Jerania’s face seemed even more troubled than before.
Why such an expression, Cordelia wondered, when she finally spoke.
“Unless he reveals it, it might be better to meet him and hear the explanation.”
Cordelia looked at Jerania with a puzzled expression as she drew the line with a gentle voice.
Her sister, Jerania, was someone who generally used honorifics, but it was rare for her to address someone so formally, considering their positions.
Who on earth could Noah be that would warrant such a reaction? Cordelia’s mind churned, but she couldn’t come up with a clue.
As Cordelia wrestled with her thoughts, Jerania, who had been looking at her with a warm gaze, subtly suggested:
“Anyway, let’s wait until he arrives.
Do you want to have some cake?”
As Cordelia enthusiastically replied, her mood lifted as if she had never been sulky.
In that fleeting moment, as Jerania absentmindedly stroked Cordelia’s head, the door to the parlor room opened.
* * *
Noah’s group, having left the star palace where the celebration was taking place, had now entered the main palace.
Noah followed behind the pace of the courtier, lost in thought.
If it was a royal who summoned Lady Cordelia, could it be the queen? Was she holding a separate gathering to meet her again after such a long time?
In reality, it didn’t matter if his true identity was exposed.
The issues that would arise afterward were the complicated ones.
As they entered the corridor leading to the central area, it became even quieter than before.
Just as they were about to step into the eerily silent passageway, a commotion arose from behind.
“Who is it?”
At the cautious call, the courtier and Noah turned around.
As expected, the king was there, staring at them intently.
The courtier quickly bowed his head.
Following suit, Noah unconsciously lowered his head.
But he lifted it again, subtly reminding himself that he was in Cordelia’s body.
Cordelia wouldn’t just bow down without question in front of the king.
The most famous handsome man in the kingdom, known for his dazzling looks.
The fact that he was being observed by that uninterested gaze made Noah’s palms sweat, but he clenched his fist to avoid showing any sign of nervousness.
“Why are you here?”
“The queen called for me.”
I had something to discuss with her too.
It’s better if we go together.”
While Noah cautiously spoke, Franz walked ahead as if not expecting an answer.
His steps seemed rather hasty, so Noah followed behind him in silence.
* * *
Upon seeing the face that appeared as the door to the parlor room opened, the sisters were taken aback.
It was because an unexpected face had appeared.
Jerania, who had regained her composure before Cordelia, spoke with a puzzled voice.
“Franz? How did you get here?”
Franz, Jerania’s husband and the king of this country sighed and replied.
“I heard the story of you bringing someone.
I wanted to know what was happening with the sick person…”
As Franz was about to say that, his expressionless face changed when he looked at Cordelia.
The term “changed” was appropriate.
Cordelia had never seen the face of the powerful king so surprised.
Despite his dismay, he quickly commanded the attendants.
“Bow your heads and immediately close the door and go outside.”
As per the king’s command, the doors of the parlor room closed in an instant, leaving only the four people.
In the heavy silence that felt like a century’s passing moment, the king’s gaze fixed upon Cordelia was as intense as the midday sun.
“Exactly how did you end up here…”
Franz remained with his mouth agape, but no words came out.
In the instant when his eyes, which had been filled with dismay, turned sharply focused, a voice unexpectedly emerged.
“Just a moment.
I can explain.”
Cordelia, or rather Noah, who had followed behind Franz, stepped forward.
After briefly glancing at Cordelia, who seemed confused and clueless about the situation, Noah began to explain calmly.
“To simplify the process, our bodies somehow got switched.
I, in Cordelia’s form, came to present a birthday gift to the queen in Cordelia’s place.
Cordelia herself came to merely meet the queen, who is her blood relative.
There’s nothing to worry about that should cause concern.”
Noah laughed bitterly as he blurted out the words as fast as he could without being interrupted.
Although he was amused, he continued to speak earnestly.
Noah, who wasn’t used to this style of speaking, made a wry smile.
He understood that rectifying the situation was a priority, even if he wasn’t sure why Cordelia was here.
He addressed the king as he spoke.
“As I am not in my original body, please forgive my inability to kneel.
I apologize sincerely for this unexpected meeting, Your Majesty.”
With a gentle tone, slightly lowered voice, and without further explanation, there was an intuitive sense that something significant had happened.
Franz’s eyes widened even more than before.
Above all, Franz knew well that Cordelia didn’t use such a manner of speaking.
The eloquence she had acquired during their time apart made him acutely aware of the passage of years.
Franz opened his heavy lips and declared.
“You can just call me like you used to.
As the attendants had already left the room, there was no one else present except the four of them.
Noah nodded his head in acknowledgment of Franz’s leniency.
And then, he began to speak.
“It’s been a long time, older brother.”
The final words of his sentence quivered slightly and trembled.
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