smile instead of shedding tears.


“……Yes, Your Lord.
I will.”


Marianne rose from her seat as if it was the end of their conversation.
And covered her face with the veil again.


Marquis Schneider, who was watching the scene from a distance, suddenly spoke.


“Kristoff is my only grandson.
My son and his spouse died young, so I put my expectations solely on Kristoff.
I wanted him to be even more perfect, and reign over others.
I wanted him to fulfill my dreams which I couldn’t achieve.
Being a man at the top of the empire.”


Marianne slowly turned her head and stared at him.
Marquis Schneider was staring somewhere in the air, not at her.
As if there was someone he longed for.


It was similar to a confession.
Marianne quietly listened to his confession in the midst of silence.


“Kristoff did his best to meet my expectations.
I have always been content to have him as a grandson.
He was also a grandson that made me proud.
However, it’s true…… Those expectations turned him into a cold-hearted man.
No, in fact, it’s my fault for pushing that child despite having known it.”


Marquis Schneider, who was talking on his own bitterly, turned to Marianne only after that.
His gray eyes shone with affection.




“Yes, Your Lord.”


“I don’t know if you know this, but I really care about you.”


Marianne couldn’t get any word out of her mouth.
She just nodded after letting out a slow and hoarse voice as if swallowing something hot.
Her lower lip trembled slightly.


“I know, Lord Schneider.
That’s why I’m here.”




Marquis Schneider nodded with a smile.
That was probably not a compliment.


After running away from Kristoff, she visited his grandfather, not just to catch him off guard.
Perhaps, she could lean on him.


Marquis Schneider continued half jokingly.


“But at the crucial moment, I will stand by Kristoff’s side.”


“……Yes, Your Lord.”


It was an obvious matter.
Marianne stared at him calmly, without any sign of disappointment.


Marquis Schneider thought there was no one who fit to be Kristoff’s wife more than Marianne.
There was no other reason.
It was because Kristoff chose her.


He had no doubt that his grandson would have an arranged marriage.
The marriage between similar families was more like a contract than a marriage, and Kristoff was more of an ambitious person than a dreamer.
Therefore, political marriage was a reasonable and realistic alternative for him.


Besides, he hasn’t even seen Kristoff feel something toward someone, let alone love them.
Then, he walked past the mansion’s threshold while holding Marianne’s hand, who was anxious at the time.


Marquis Schneider still hasn’t taken that moment away from his mind.


─When Marianne graduates, I’ll marry her.


He wasn’t asking for permission.
It was a firm declaration and report that doesn’t allow any objection, regardless if it was Marquis Schneider.


The marquis added in a tender voice after returning from his brief thought.


“However, I promise.
I’m on your side until that crucial moment comes.
So, let’s see how Kristoff will show up.”


Marianne’s expression, which had been composed until that moment, was greatly shaken upon his words.
It fluctuated mercilessly like a sculpted ship in the midst of the storm.


She dropped her gaze and whispered in a voice laced with emotions.


“Perhaps…… It’s fine.
He doesn’t even know I’m gone because he’s immersed in his work, just like usual.
Or perhaps…… he’d probably already filed for divorce.
I’m not that important to Kristoff, Your Lord.”


It was her who ran away from him, but she still hasn’t given up the lingering feelings she has for him.


No matter how much dry firewood has been piled up in her heart, she loved him so much that she couldn’t bring herself to move on anymore.
Her heart for him couldn’t be cut off like cutting a tree.


However, time would solve everything.
She decided to believe it when she got away from him physically, and she might be able to get away from loving him.


Marquis Schneider stared into Marianne’s face over the veil.
Then, he pulled the corners of his mouth upon seeing her trembling fingers grasping at the hem of her dress strongly.


“Well, I have a different opinion, but it’s something you’ll find out if you wait for a little while.”


Marianne politely greeted Marquis Schneide after breathed out quietly and left the parlor.
Marquis Schneider gave an instruction to the butler.


She moved slowly.
Marianne walked by herself through the endless hallway.
She suddenly thought her life might be suited to stand in this path.


At the end of the hallway, it led her to a crossroads.
There were no servants around.
After thinking for a moment, she turned to the left corner.


She prayed there would be a light that indicated the exit.




“I’m glad the marquis gave me a carriage.
Or the sun must have already set when going down the private land.”


While looking at the sky where the dusk began to fall, Marianne quietly spoke to herself.


Her eyes were distracted by the unfamiliar townscape as her body followed the swaying of the moving carriage.
The scene, which was similar to the capital but still quite different, unfolded before her.


She also saw scruffy-looking children run around screaming and carts selling dried fish.
There were men carrying long fishing rods, while neatly-dressed nobles were seen walking around like ladies and gentlemen.
From time to time, foreigners with exotic appearance were seen crossing the street.


Come to think of it, she could feel the salty smell through the breeze that brushed the tip of her nose.
As she listened quietly, she heard a bot horn not too far away.
The sound was lower in octave and heavier than the cry of the steam locomotive.


It finally dawned on Marianne that she was standing alone on the land she had never been to before, finally leaving Kristoff’s side.


“I should find a place to settle before sunset.”


It was when Marianne mumbled anxiously while looking at the dim street.
The running carriage came to a stop.


Marianne looked around once again.
She could see houses that were close to each other.
She still had no idea where she was.


Then, the door of the carriage opened and the coachman appeared.
It’s the butler assistant who guided her to meet the marquis.
Marianne casted her eyes on him while arranging the veil that covered her face.


“Can I get off here?”


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