It had been a long time since Filina had received an invitation from the Imperial Palace to attend a light tea party.
The host of the party was Princess Hestia Alvar.
She was two years older than the male protagonist, Ian, but she didn’t have an important role in the original story.
However, to fill Cecilia’s portion, Hestia was also a supporting character that occasionally showed up at the venue.
“How does the Princess become more beautiful every day?
“That’s what I’m saying.
She must have inherited the dignity of His majesty Emperor.
There is always an air of maturity about her.”
The ladies who were invited to the tea party were eagerly picking out comments to make a good impression on her.
“Now that you’ve complimented, please go and have a cup of tea quietly.
Hestia said with a bored look on her face.
Then Sharon and Fabien were seen with awkward smiles on their faces.
Filina looked at them and drank her tea in silence.
The vast garden, filled with grass and fragrant flower petals.
The warm sunshine shining directly from the sky brought a drowsy sleepiness.
Then she suddenly opened her eyes as she felt a piercing stare beside her.
Filina frowned and gently turned to look.
The gaze she immediately faced became very burdensome.
For sometime now, Cecilia had been staring at her with those sparkling green eyes.
Filina could not face the gaze head-on, and turned to Hestia.
“What do you usually do, Your Imperial Highness?”
When Filina, who had been silent all the time, asked in a light voice, Hestia drew attention for a very short time.
Then she replied with a dull face.
“Well, I usually take boring flower arranging classes and force myself to do my own embroidery.”
“Aren’t you having fun with that?”
“If you don’t move all day and do the same thing over and over again, everyone gets bored.”
Hestia, who looked bored, suddenly asked back.
“Does such work suit your aptitude, Lady Debussy? For some reason, I think you’ll get bored with repetitive things like me.”
To her words, Filina replied with a small smile.
I’m not really into that sort of thing either.”
“Then Lady Debussy, what are your hobbies?”
Before she knew it, the teatime table was dominated by the conversation between Hestia and Filina.
Sharon and Fabien, who were staring at them, were trying to figure out where to intervene.
On the other hand, Cecilia’s face, looking at Filina, was not much better.
“I like to ride my horse in the woods.
I’m also learning to hunt animals these days.”
Hestia opened her mouth with a strange expression at Filina’s indifferent voice.
“I don’t know how a woman can ride a horse.
It looks dangerous.”
“Everything is difficult at first.
But your skills will gradually improve.
By the way, as dangerous as it is, if you are lucky enough to succeed in the hunt, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment.”
“Is that so?”
Hestia looked at Filina with a curious expression on her face.
Just a moment ago, her blank face was lifeless, as if she was a dead person, but now she looked a little energetic.
“May I also learn your hobbies from Lady Debussy?”
At Hestia’s words, Filina looked at her with a surprised face.
Before Filina could say anything, Sharon and Fabien, who had been secretly eavesdropping on their conversation, exclaimed with round eyes.
“What do you mean, Princess? A woman riding a horse! It’s outrageous!”
“Yes, it is! What would you do if you got a scratch on your precious body?”
Hestia looked at them with a frown.
Then Sharon and Fabien were seen gasping and breathing in.
Filina reached for her teacup on the table and turned her face quickly to her side.
Cecilia was bowing her head down helplessly.
Was she disappointed that the Princess was not paying attention to her?
This tea party in the original story wasn’t a very important scene for Cecilia.
So there was no need for her to look so disappointed.
What was more important now was the encounter with the Crown Prince that took place during the tea party.
It was the scene where Ian, passing by the garden by chance, found Cecilia and went out with her.
“Even if I get injured, I will make sure Lady Debussy won’t get in trouble.”
Hestia said in a quiet voice.
“Then why don’t you share your hobbies with me, Lady Debussy?.
Filina replied to Hestia’s suggestion with a troubled look.
“Wouldn’t it be better to invite one of the good teachers in the imperial family to teach you?”
“If I had been able to do that, I would have sought out a teacher early on.
However, the imperial family does not want that.
Because what they want from me is an imperial princess who quietly guards her seat.”
She leaned her back deeply into her chair and stared into the void.
“This boring life has already worn me out.”
Somehow, Filina sensed a shadow in Hestia’s face that resembled her own.
It was a look of no enjoyment in life.
No matter what she did, she had no fun and just felt desolate.
It felt intensely helpless and exhausted.
At the moment when these feelings reached their peak, Filina chose to commit suicide.
That was the very fourth life in the past.
A thin breeze swept through her hair as someone approached her.
Filina had a feeling that she could tell who it was that had barged into the tea party without lifting her head.
“Oh, it’s His Royal Highness the Crown Prince!”
Sharon and Fabien greeted him excitedly while adjusting their distraught hair.
Ian’s dull eyes scanned the infants one by one and finally went to Cecilia.
Cecilia looked at the Crown Prince with a bewildered expression.
“I was attracted by a friendly atmosphere and turned to this place without realizing it.” (Crown Prince)
He asked with a polite face and a nice tone.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to take Young Lady Haley with me for a moment.”
The only person who did not avert his gaze was Filina.
The teacup in her hand shook awkwardly.
It was because Ian stood right behind Filina, and he put his hand on the chair where Filina was sitting with a natural gesture.
The long fingers that kept touching Filina’s back bothered her.
“‘Of course it’s fine! It’s Lady Cecilia, not anyone else’s!”
Sharon and Fabien turned to each other and began to laugh.
Ian, who smiled faintly, looked at Hestia who was next to him and asked,
“Are you okay with that, sister?”
Hestia replied with an indifferent expression.
Ian smiled in satisfaction at her answer and looked at Cecilia.
Cecilia then stood up with a puzzled expression.
Ian said in a hushed voice.
“I’ll only be a moment.
I won’t take that much time.”
Cecilia nodded and stepped over to him.
Ian, who had been staring at her, looked down for a moment before turning his feet.
A neatly raised red hair and trinket came into his view.
Filina didn’t look at him, she just brought the cup to her mouth.
Ian, who had been gazing blankly at the figure, turned around.
Filina, who was swallowing a sip of warm tea, suddenly flinched her shoulders and quickly wrapped her hand around her neck.
“Lady Debussy, what’s wrong with you all of a sudden?”
At Fabien’s words, Filina smiled awkwardly and put down the teacup.
Contrary to her words, her expression was somewhat gloomy.
Filina was inwardly swearing at Ian.
It was because when he turned his body, he lightly brushed her neck with his fingers.
It was only for a moment, so no one else witnessed it.
Only Filina felt his touch.
The heat that had swept her skin was still there.
I kept quiet, deliberately pretending not to know about the goosebumps that had grown on her arms.
According to the original content, Ian will tell Cecilia that the engagement ceremony has been set for next spring.
At his sudden notice, she looked embarrassed and asked him to postpone the engagement ceremony.
“Please delay the engagement a little bit longer, Your Highness.”
“I’ve made enough concessions.
It’s too difficult for me too.”
“His Majesty asked that the ceremony be held this fall.
If I make this many concessions, shouldn’t you also adjust to me to some extent?”
Eventually, this day caused a small amount of friction between the two.
Cecilia inevitably began to avoid him unilaterally in order to delay the engagement, and he eventually agreed to give her an additional two years.
However, who knew if the story would flow as it did in the original story or move in a different direction.
Once Filina went to the military academy, she wouldn’t get involved with the main characters anyway.
So it was no longer a matter of concern.
“Let’s wrap up today’s tea party.”
Sharon and Fabien looked unsatisfied at Hestia’s words.
It was because they had not yet had a proper conversation with the princess.
Hestia looked at Filina, who was nearby, and parted her lips.
“How about next time you and I will have a tea time together?”
Filina couldn’t answer hastily, and only smiled awkwardly.
Phyllina couldn’t answer carelessly and only laughed awkwardly.
“There’s no need to feel burdened.
It’s just a new hobby to share.”
Hestia lifted her shoulders lightly and then averted her gaze.
“I’m sorry, Lady Sharon and Lady Fabien, but we have to postpone the next meeting.”
Looking at each other with a difficult look at the Princess’s calm voice, they forced themselves to speak casually.
“Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to experience a new hobby.”
“Yes, it is.
Besides, I’m sitting with the Princess, isn’t that fun?”
Cold sweat seemed to be breaking out on their foreheads.
Filina let out a small laugh as she stared at them.
Hestia looked at Filina’s face with an interesting expression.
The tea party ended without any incident.
Filina was walking with Laura to the carriage to return to the mansion.
Just then, she heard someone hurrying up behind her.
Filina stopped and looked back.
Then she saw Cecilia running towards her from afar.
“What’s the matter, Cecilia? Why are you in such a hurry…?”
She let out a heavy breath and smiled awkwardly as Filina gave her a puzzled look.
“I’m very sorry that I didn’t get to speak to you properly today.”
Filina was dumbfounded at her words.
‘Did she just say she was sorry she couldn’t talk to me? not Hestia?’
Cecilia spoke again without hesitation, as if what she had said had not been misinterpreted.
“If it’s all right with the Lady, may I offer you another cup of tea at the Count’s residence?”
“I’m sorry, but that’s not possible.”
But it wasn’t Filina who replied to Cecilia’s question.
Before she knew it, Ian was walking leisurely towards them and stood beside Filina.
“So this is why you looked towards the garden like a puppy who wanted to poo while talking to me.” (Ian said to Cecilia)
His glistening blond hair shone beautifully.
His golden eyes glanced at Filina, who was next to him at that moment.
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