The Imperial Palace's banquet hall was more splendid than ever before as it was decorated for those who were making their social debuts for the first time today.
On a high podium located within the hall, the emperor, Russell, stood and gave a speech announcing the start and celebration of the debutante.
Russell's air had the power to attract people's attention, and the attention of all those present focused solely on him.
After a short, concise speech, music flowed from the band seated on the side of the hall, while the sons of nobles began their dance with their partners.
Among them was Ilya, dancing with Baron Titonsser.
Maybe it's because she was dancing with her father she hadn't seen in a while, Ilya's face shone brighter than all the other maidens.
Wells rolled his eyes and scanned the riotous party.
Her sister, Rose, was nowhere to be seen.
[TL/N: Riotous — unruly, rowdy]
“There's no way she would suddenly change her mind.
I wanted you to attend the year-end party together with me, sister.”
Looking around the party with his arms tightly crossed, Wells noticed that a person he knew quite well also happened to be missing.
He casted a sharp gaze across the banquet hall, searching for that face, and found nothing.
“I thought Duke Proud was attending today's event.”
A well-dressed servant approached Wells, who stood with his head sticking out to find Elliot's whereabouts.
His Majesty is looking for you.”
“His Majesty does? Got it.
I'll be on my way.”
“He is waiting upstairs.”
Wells took one last look around the banquet hall before he retreated.
Russell was waiting on the second floor of the banquet hall.
It was a space exclusively for the emperor, and one could see the entire hall at a glance when standing at the interior railing.
The emperor sat comfortably on the couch provided, lazily watching the dancers.
“Wells Honeywell is here, Your Majesty.”
Russell turned his head toward him.
“Sit over here.”
Taking the seat reserved for him, Wells decided to inquire about Russell's reason for calling him.
“What are you doing?”
“Does that even need a reply? Why do you ask?”
“I wondered if something happened because Your Highness is looking for me.”
I called the duke.”
Russell straightened his body comfortably and slumped on the couch.
He blurted out his confession.
Before long, Russell spoke heavily.
“Because I'm bored here alone.”
It was quite a serious confession to make at such an important event, and it took Wells a moment to accept.
Wells' face cracked as he registered the emperor's words.
He looked at Russell with a blank face.
…Your Majesty, did you know that the way you act and speak is the same as my Rose's?
I wonder if I tell you about this discovery, will you pull your face and sulk, saying it's not funny being compared to my younger sister?
Wells shook his head.
Come on, isn't it the first time Russell has said something like that?
Wells decided to enjoy the debut with the emperor to keep him company.
Actually being here with Russell might be a good choice for me.
Russell's side is a good place to avoid the prying eyes of aristocrats eager to introduce their daughter to me, who is still unmarried.
Wells, who had changed his posture comfortably, called to Russell.
“Have you seen Duke Proud? I don't think I saw him today.”
If it's Duke Proud, he went back to the mansion.
Said something happened.”
Wells answered lightly and started enjoying the banquet with Russell.
The gowns of the nobles circling the hall dazzled the eyes.
While chatting with Russell, sipping light non-alcoholic beverages, Wells noticed that the music playing at the party had changed.
When Wells appeared interested, he piqued Russell's interest as well.
“What about this song?”
“This is the song that was played when Rose first danced with me on the day of her debut.”
Miss Honeywell's debut.
You did it at the Honeywell Manor, right?”
Rose was very shy and timid, so I made her look gorgeous at the manor.”
Wells lowered his gaze to the ongoing banquet.
Even if she's not one of the debutantes, Rose will definitely be able to become a main character that draws attention anytime, anywhere.
But even though I have a desire for everyone to recognize our Rose, I also have a desire to hide her heart from being taken by any random brat as well.
I need to be very cunning.
Wells deep in thought, twirled the glass in his hand, he was curious.
He looked at Russell, who was reclining with a bored expression.
“Your Highness, I remember that in the old days, the Imperial family did not prepare for debutantes.”
“Yes, that's right.
Didn't the duke do it at the Imperial Palace because the predecessor, the Duke of Honeywell, wanted it?”
Fortunately, His Majesty the Emperor gave his consent.”
Wells smiled awkwardly and continued.
“It has become like an annual event now, but is there any reason to hold a debut in the palace?”
Russell nods lightly.
“Until then, each family would organize their own debut at their homes, but there were times when it would clash with one another.”
“Come to think of it, I remember that His Highness the Emperor first proposed the agenda.
The majority of nobles at the time agreed, but why did His Majesty the Emperor come up with such an agenda?”
As Wells recalled the past with a tilt of his head, he heard Russell's small laugh.
Russell laughed under his breath as if he had remembered something funny.
Russell laughs when Wells calls him.
Why did the Emperor come up with such an agenda?”
Russell's lips remained bitter as he looked around the thriving banquet, his arms resting on the armrests of the couch and his chin resting.
Wells saw the smile, and his curiosity grew.
It was when the night deepened and the moon in the sky grew brighter that Russell was able to return to his room.
After the ball, one of the events held before the year ends has finally come to an end, and I feel relieved, as if a heavy burden has been lifted.
After leaving the attendants to wash and change his clothes, Russell sat on the bed.
His tired body demanded rest and sleep, but Russell did not go to bed easily.
He stared at the moonlight that fell across his feet.
“Now it has become an annual event, but is there a reason to hold a debut in the Imperial Palace?”
Wells looked genuinely curious when he asked that question.
The face came back, and Russell burst into laughter.
“Maybe everyone thinks it's the consideration of the Imperial family, but only I know the truth.”
To meet a girl.
The earliest event a girl can attend at the Imperial Family's banquet is her debutante ball.
There was no point of contact, and that was the only way to meet, so how much did I cling to the previous emperor, my father, to do this favor for me?
Russell let out a laugh.
“However, the person in question actually made her debut at her own mansion.”
He laughed again and threw himself on the bed.
With memories of the past, he went to sleep.
The new morning dawned at Honeywell's Manor.
Rose wasn't going to the Imperial Palace today.
She was going to have a meal and listen to the stories of the ball from Ilya from the day before.
During the meal, with some light chatter, Wells called for his sister.
“I heard that Duke Proud came and went yesterday.”
Rose's hand holding the fork faltered.
…Did Anne say something? Although I didn't explain it properly.
I can't hide from my brother that I cried.
She quickly glanced up to check Wells' expression.
As their eyes met, he spoke as if answering for her.
“The butler reported to me.
I was going to ask you because you said you would come see me when I got back, but you slept early yesterday.”
I fell asleep because I had nothing to do.
I went to bed early and felt bad that I didn't see my older brother and Ilya back to the manor after.”
Rose answered with a smile and let out a sigh of relief.
Fortunately, Wells didn't seem to know what happened between Elliot and me in the room.
“I heard that because there was work at the mansion, he didn't spend time at the ball and went back.
Didn't the duke say something to you?”
Rose put her fork down and slipped her hands onto her lap to stay calm.
Her small hand grabs the hem of her skirt.
What do you mean? He gave me a bouquet of flowers and went right back.”
“The butler says the Duke carried Rose into your room.”
Ilya, who had quietly listened to Wells and Rose, exclaimed.
Rose stuck out her tongue sheepishly at the butler's report.
It was reported in great detail, I see.
She shook her head and answered without the slightest delay.
“I fell while walking, but I was so shocked that I couldn't move so went to take me to my room.”
“I'm glad that's all.”
Rose knew that Ilya wanted to know more about it, but Wells ended the conversation because he did not want to bring up the engagement breakup as a meal topic with other people around.
The topic of conversation changed to the weather and the upcoming year-end celebration.
Because of this, the meal lasted a little longer, and Wells was almost late for work.
After seeing Wells off with the butler, Rose and Ilya headed to the manor hall room.
“Is the dance for the year-end celebration the same as with the debutante ball?”
Upon arriving at the wide hall, Ilya turned to Rose and began a round of questioning.
Rose nodded towards Ilya.
But everyone said they talk more than dance.
Actually, this is my first time attending one, so I'm not sure.”
Calmingly watching, Rose stood close to Ilya, who was spinning and dancing alone.
“I'll ask my older brother later.”
If the dance is different, practice with me.”
Did you enjoy the ball yesterday?”
Ilya, dancing while waving her skirt, stopped at Rose's question and turned her head away.
Ilya's eyes shone brightly.
“Yes! It was great!”
“How come all of the ladies who attended the debutante ball are so beautiful and cool?”
“But Ilya would have been more beautiful.”
Father said that too.
I danced the first song with my father!”
Refusing to sit down, Ilya stood and started talking about the debutante ball.
Since this was the first time Ilya had ever been to an event in the capital, Ilya explained everything in detail one by one.
Ilia's story was unfamiliar to Rose, who made her debut at the manor.
and a certain young lord asked me to dance.
He said that he, like me, participated in the debut for the first time last night.”
Ilya chattered nonstop.
Like a child listening to a story being told, Rose was immersed in Ilya's story, and the two of them did not move from their seats, unaware of the passage of time.
It was the butler's voice that finally interrupted Ilya's story.
He handed Ilya something small that fit in her hand.
“This is a letter for Miss Titonsser.”
“For me? Is that from my father?”
Even before Ilya received the letter and identified the sender, the butler announced it with a calm smile.
“It's from Baron Gardner's mansion.”
Not knowing all the nobles, Rose tilted her head.
Then, she noticed that Ilya's face lit up when she heard the sender's name.
“It's from Gardner Manor?!”
She was so excited that she even raised her voice, unaware.
Rose quietly watched the baron's daughter as she urgently checked the correspondence.
I cannot understand what is written, but I can tell from the smile on Ilya's lips and the blush on her cheeks that she has been waiting anxiously for this letter.
Rose took a deep breath.
Before she could think more about the Gardner family, Ilya, who had finished reading the correspondence, looked at Rose.
“He is the one who asked me to dance yesterday.
He says he wants to attend the year-end celebration as my partner.”
Reality began to flow differently than it had in the past.
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