Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 35: A Deceitful Dance
Vincent and I moved through the hall to greet His Majesty.
The king and his family were seated on a dais at the end of the hall. His Majesty looked so young that it was hard to believe he was 50 years old. His hair was a beautiful chestnut color, lightly streaked with gray. His Highness Edward must have inherited his silver hair from queen consort Dahlia. His eyes were the same beautiful blue as His Majesty’s, though.
Beside His Majesty, queen consort Dahlia sat with a dignified posture, looking so beautiful without looking like a mother of two. Many ladies admired queen consort Dahlia. I, too, couldn’t help but admire her beautiful, noble, and graceful figure.
How was it possible for her to have that black-hearted prince Edward as her son?
Right behind His Majesty stood my father as his advisor. A short distance away, the second prince, Edward, and the first prince, Douglas, stood in waiting. This time, side consort Bianca, side consort Claudia, and the young prince Michel weren’t in attendance, possibly because it was a formal event.
At our approach I thought, even if it was proper etiquette, this was a tough custom to follow – both for the person giving the greeting and for the ones receiving it.
Behind us was a long line of nobles. Sometimes the order of greetings corresponded to the order of entry into the venue, but at formal events such as these at the royal palace, it was according to status.
House Lewis was a special case. As a marquessate, we didn’t have much power, though we met the requirements for a dukedom. Thus, we were treated with the same grace as a ducal house.
House Lewis was second in line after House Inglot, where princess Shelly married into, so we didn’t have to wait long before doing our greetings, which was nice.
Once House Inglot’s greeting was over, we stepped forward. Vincent, as the next in line for the title of Marquess Lewis, was participating as a knight. I, who had undertaken the position as the House Representative, did the greetings on behalf of our father, the Prime Minister.
Father stood behind His Majesty without a flicker of expression, even when we, his children, approached them. It was the same old. While he seemed to be indifferent to his children and loyal to His Majesty, I did not feel insecure because I believed in his love for us even when he did not show it.
During our approach to His Majesty, I exchanged a glance with prince Edward, who smiled at me with his ‘Ideal Prince’ smile, to which I returned it with my ‘Perfect Lady’ smile. There was no need for me to get upset.
I thought I saw father’s expression stir for a moment, but… I guess it was just my imagination. There were a lot of people behind us, so let’s get this over with quickly.
I paid my respects, and together with Vincent, we greeted our host His Majesty, the King.
“Your Majesty. Thank you for inviting us to the prestigious Knight’s Awarding Ceremony and this evening’s soiree.”
“Julianna, I have heard of your excellence. I hope that you and Vincent will continue to support the Rowlands Kingdom.”
“Yes, Your Majesty. We will dedicate ourselves to the Kingdom.”
“My sword is dedicated to the royal family. I will continue to serve you most devotedly.”
I would marry for the sake of the kingdom, and Vincent made it implicitly clear that he would continue to be a royalist. He declared it in front of His Majesty and checked the nobles of the religious faction.
I glanced at our father and saw that he was as expressionless as ever. Then, I covertly made a sad expression, showing it to those who were nearby. With this, the rumor that Marquess Lewis and his children didn’t get along will gain more and more credibility.
Above all, I aimed to show it to Duke Inglot. It only took a few subtle steps to create the right impression. For the sake of revenge, I couldn’t care less what became of my – and by extension, our father’s – image.
After finishing our greetings, we moved to a corner.
“The Barbarian Demon King was smiling at you. Did something happen?”
“Sis, are you lying to me?”
Vincent looked at me with glittering, puppy-dog eyes.
Ugh… stop looking at me like that.
I sighed softly in surrender and told him about what happened before the Knight awarding ceremony.
“I met with Their Highnesses Michel and Edward in the garden before the ceremony. That’s all.”
I didn’t need to tell him about prince Edward’s sweet proposal-like whispers earlier, but that I had met him before the ceremony should be fine.
“Hmm. If you say so, I believe you, Sis.”
When the greetings came to a close, music started to play. His Majesty and queen consort Dahlia came down from their dais . The first dance was about to begin.
“As always, Queen Consort Dahlia is a very good dancer.”
“She is leading the dance, isn’t she? How pathetic of him.”
“Vinnie, don’t say that out loud. You don’t know who’s listening.”
“No one is listening.”
“Someone could read your lips.”
“Not many people can do that.”
“Those who hide what they can do that are the most difficult to deal with. You never know who might hold resentment for you, so it’s better to be careful.”
“Yes. I’ll try not to worry you.”
“I’d feel lonely if you didn’t worry me a little bit.”
“Pfft, what’s with that? It’s hard to gauge things like that.”
While Vincent and I were laughing with each other, His Majesty and queen consort Dahlia’s first dance ended. The music changed, and many men and women went to the dance floor.
“Tonight, I ask for the honor of being your first dance, Sis.”
“Yes, with pleasure.”
I took Vincent’s hand, and we walked to the dance floor. Everything was calculated and perfect, from my facial expressions to my steps, my posture, and the way my dress fluttered. The other nobles were looking at me with admiration, as I befit the title of a perfect lady. Among them, one stared at me intensely. Vincent must have noticed it, too, because he pulled away from me after one song.
“Lady Julianna, may I have this dance?”
“Yes, with pleasure. Duke Macmillan.”
I took Duke Macmillan’s hand, concealing my rising killing intent behind a mask of smiles. I kept smiling as we danced. Duke Macmillan softened his gaze as if he were looking at someone he loved.
“Lady Julianna, you’re a very good dancer. Very different from Ellie.”
Was this man… looking at mother through me again? I smiled innocently. Inwardly, I was disgusted.
“I have been practicing a lot so that I could do what my ailing mother couldn’t, at least, as her daughter. If Duke Macmillan is willing to praise me, then all that practice was worth it.”
“…You are truly beautiful.”
Like a pure-hearted young lady, I turned away from Duke Macmillan with flushed cheeks.
Ah, I could not wait to end this charade.
I excused myself from further dancing with Duke Macmillan, citing my physical condition. I had hoped to gather some information by talking with him today instead of dancing but since that was futile…
I looked around, but so far, there was no group I wanted to talk to.
It can’t be helped; let’s take a short break.
I picked up a glass of champagne from a waiter and headed for the wall. Of course, I couldn’t be a wallflower, but a little rest was in order.
“Excuse me, Julianna. May I have a moment of your time?”
I was sipping my champagne when I was interrupted by a prince of this country. More specifically, it was first prince Douglas, second in line of succession to the throne, whose mother was side consort, Bianca–