The girl's name is Miriella Fowlders, the 7 years old daughter of a duke.

Her sparkling strawberry-blonde hair and deep scarlet eyes are like her mother's.
She has the same lovely, doll-like appearance as her father.

Miriella and her parents, plus her brother, were the four members of the Fowlders duke family.

No, there is another 'relative' in this house.
Although not related by blood, the brother of the head of the family – in other words, Miriella's uncle – lived in this house.

His name is Leon Fowlders.

However, no one in the family, including Miriella, pays any attention to her uncle, because he didn't leave his room for nearly three years.

The former Duke of Fowlders' death left him without anyone to count on.
Even when he's living in this mansion, he avoids Miriella and the others, as much as posible.

“My uncle…
is he sick?”

Miriella asks the maid beside her, who brings some caramel-covered cookies.

 

She is in the courtyard of the mansion, gracefully having tea.
The young lady, who has a sweet tooth, has a bumper of cookies and scones in front of her.
The bright pre-summer sunshine and the scent of tea's green leaves fill the air, and Miriella is devouring the sweet treats without a care in the world.

“Yes.
He has a high fever, but the illness is still unknown.”

“Hmm.”

Miriella thinks about his uncle.

He is lower in rank than she is.
She heard her parents talking, that he's someone who dislikes interacting with others…
Not only with them, but with everybody.
(“Someone grumpy, must he be”)

“Well, whatever.”

Miriella keeps drinking her tea.
What interests her right now are the dresses and sweet treats that are popular in the royal capital.
Also, she heard that there's a new romance novel that is very popular.
(Cute…
Glittering things!)

She really doesn't care about her uncle who never came out of his room, whether he is sick or not.
As she recalls, he was eleven years older than Miriella, so must be eighteen now, but she couldn't even remember his face at all.
She hadn't seen him in the last three years, after all.
Miriella looks at one of the windows of the mansion, thinking about it.
(I'm pretty sure uncle's room was over there.)

“Why aren't you a damsel in distress??!”

A strange exclamation came out from the room, (“What was that?”), as she was looking at it.

“What was that? Someone was yelling quite loud”

“…I think it was from Leon-sama's room….
Should I go and have a look?”

 The maid, who almost dropped the pot of tea, looked startled at the window, as Miriella did.

“Mmm, I don't know.
My uncle has a maid, too, doesn't he? You can ask her later.
Yes, you can to that later, now please more tea.”

“Oh! I'm sorry, my Lady.”

The true is…
I'm very curious too, but an aristocrat doesn't have to show interest on something like that.
It will be shameful to admit it.
Even so, I think that Uncle was talking about me…
Can it be?

Nevertheless, Miriella is glancing at the windows of the mansion again, unable to contain her curiosity.

The maid pondered what to do, but if she insists the selfish prideful young lady would feel she was discovered and will get angry.
So, she decided to keep quiet.

That evening, Miriella was sitting at the dinner table with her father and mother.
Miriella's older brother, Edmont, had been absent since the spring of this year as he had entered the boarding school, the Royal Academy.

His uncle, who seemed to have been making strange exclamations, was not at the dinner table as usual.

In the center of the large, white room was a large table.
Her father was seated at the seat for the head of the family, her mother to his right, and Miriella sat across from her mother, quietly as the maids laid out the appetizers.
She waited, but her anxiety was visible.
Her mother looked at Miriella, who was moving anxious in her chair and whispering.

“Miriella, is something bothering you?”

“Oh, no.
Um…”

As Miriella was hesitating whether to tell them about her uncle strange behavior in the afternoon or not, the door of the dining room opened.

(Waaa, here it comes!)

It was Leon, who opened the door and walked in, and Miriella opened her eyes and mouth wide.

The last time she saw him was 3 years ago, she didn't remember him at all, only vaguely that his distinctive red hair.

She was wondering what was correct to say in this situation, “Hi Uncle, long time no see” or “Nice to meet you”.
Her parents were in the same situation, after years without seeing him, they were silently looking at him with their eyes open wide, trying to compare the image of the 15-years-old boy to the actual person in front of them.

Miriella's father has a dubious look on his face, and her mother has a blatantly disgusted look on her face.
Normally, Miriella would have acted like that, but today is different, she is very curious about him.

“It's been a while, Leon.
Ehmm…
What's going on?”

“Good to see you again, brother.
I'm here just for dinner.”

Miriella's father, the duke Fowlders, raised an eyebrow, but did say nothing more.

A maid rushed to inform the kitchen's chef and when Leon was taking a seat, she came back with additional plates on a wagon.
Leon looked around the room for a bit, then settled into a chair next to Miriella.

(I can't believe he's shouting like that in the middle of the day and now, he shows up at the dinner table for the first time in years! There's definitely something wrong with him! I've to know! I've to know! )

Normally, it is at dinner time, when parents and children would have a conversation, but all of them seemed to be struggling to think about what to do.

Of course, Miriella was also glancing at him sideways, while thinking that her uncle looked like this and that.
Leon, however, silently cleared the dinner plates and hastily drank all the water's jar.

“Well, then.
Excuse me, I've to leave.
Have a good night.”

After saying so, he stood up and walked towards the door.
Just a moment before crossing the door, Leon turned back and looked at Miriella.

(Kiii, I'm curious! Really curious!)

Her parents were still in shock even after he left the room, but Miriella wasn't.
She hastily finished her dinner, just as her uncle did, and went out.

 ***

The air was tense in front of Leon's door.
There is Miriella and beside her, Melisa, her personal maidservant, who heard her uncle's screams at afternoon too.
Both are standing in front of the door, side by side, they exchange glances again and again, until Miriella decides to knock the door.

“Come in”
“!”

After looking back at Melisa with wide eyes, she put her hand on the knob and turned it slowly.

“Excuse me…
Uncle?”

“Hi, Miriella.
I've been waiting for you.”

Maybe because it's the first time she has seen her uncle dressed as an noble, or because he says “I've been waiting for you” but it makes her look at her uncle with a tense fear.
The Eighteen-year-old Leon is a tall man like her father, but very thin, probably because didn't leave his room nor make exercises nor eat properly.
But his smooth, red hair is beautiful, and his eyes, which were before hidden by his long hair, are a deep blue, like the clear sky.

Miriella determined that even if he makes the people feel nervous, has a sweet face that is likely to be popular with the ladies.
Without paying any attention to Miriella, who was staring rudely at him, Leon offered her a seat.
She sat down on the couch in front of him.

“Well, Miriella.
Do you want to make a deal with me?”

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