Tensei Saki de Suterareta no de, Mofumofu Tachi to Oryouri Shimasu ~Okazari Ouhi wa my Pace ni Saikyou Desu~
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Father’s expression was dangerous and intimidating as the moonlight caused stark shadows to fall across his face. As his daughter, even I was scared, so Ileus and the others must have been terrified.
Ileus pulled a face, while Sumia was completely frightened. Lucien was the only one left unperturbed. He was truly amazing, as expected from my capable butler-to-be.
Silently praising my excellent attendant, I looked at my father on horseback.
“Father, why are you here? Were you not supposed to be working late tonight?”
Father shouted sharply at me while looking like a demon king.
“You’re more important to me! That’s a given!!! How could I live with myself if something ever happened to you……?”
He pinned me with his stare then exhaled loudly, sighing with a mixture of relief, anger, and anguish.
My heart swelled again at the sight of my father, appearing more frail than I had ever seen him.
“…Father. I’m very sorry for worrying you so much…”
“…I was terror-stricken. Why did you sneak out of the house in the middle of the night without informing me?”
“…Because I didn’t want to trouble you, father. I thought that Lucian and I should deal with this matter by ourselves so as not to bother you while you’re busy.”
That was why I left the mansion secretly. I had thought that if I finished my business and returned quickly, my father, busy at work, wouldn’t notice.
“I’m sincerely sorry for any inconvenience caused by my selfish actions…”
“Don’t apologize, Leticia. You shouldn’t be the one apologizing here.” My father groaned as he removed the hand that was covering his face. He once again wore his usual intimidating, stern appearance.
“The third son of the Duke of Ilegar and His Highness’s new fiancée, Sumia?”
Sumia trembled as my father turned his piercing stare to her.
“What in the world were you two trying to do by calling my daughter out here so late at night?”
“Depending on the response, you might get cut to pieces,” was his unspoken warning. My father was a civil official so, of course, he would never actually do it…
But, given his intense appearance, one couldn’t help but imagine something like that happening.
“This is a misunderstanding, Duke Gramwell. We haven’t harmed Miss Leticia.”
Unlike Sumia, who was shivering, Ileus stood his ground under my father’s gaze. As one would expect from crafty four-eyes, he at least wasn’t trembling on the surface, but rather had a polite and proper façade and diction as he faced my father.
“Haven’t harmed her? Then why did you summon my daughter out here? If you wanted to discuss something, meeting in such a deserted place wouldn’t have been necessary, now would it?”
“…It’s just that young people sometimes want to talk to each other away from prying eyes.”
“Talk to each other? Then, how are you going to explain why my daughter cut Sumia’s hair? Perhaps it was a counterattack as she went after my daughter?”
Sumia bit her lips and averted her eyes as father looked down at her.
“Hmm. When I heard from my daughter that His Highness had been stolen from her, I wondered what kind of brave woman had done it, but now I can see her poor upbringing. Third son of the Duke of Ilegar, I’m going to complain to your father about this evening and demand an apology. I’ll overlook what happened here, so go and take Sumia away already and return to your residence. And you’d better think of an excuse for your father.”
“…Thank you for your generous treatment.”
With his head lowered, Ileus took the arm of Sumia, who didn’t hide her frustration as she was dragged away beside him. My father kept glaring at them until they disappeared from view, then he dismounted from his horse to stand before me.
I faced my father silently, illuminated by the moon.
I felt very awkward but understood that the moment required me not to avert my eyes.
“As I thought. You don’t want to rely on me…I’m sorry for being such an undependable father.”
“No. I rely on and have faith in you, father. That is absolutely not the case.”
“I need no consolation. It is true that I haven’t treated you well since I lost Serena, your mother. Is that why you’ve been avoiding me as you grow older and have stopped seeing me?”
What a terrible misunderstanding.
After screaming involuntary, I understood that this was why we had spent years passing by one another without interacting.
“I respect you a lot and, as your daughter, I have always wanted to have a good relationship with you…But, it’s just that you always seemed so busy. I felt bad asking you to make time for me, so I didn’t.”
“…What? So, you mean to tell me that you missed someone like me, who was not a proper parent to you?”
“Father, you taught me what it means to be an aristocrat, and you have always protected me, haven’t you? And I know that I was only able to concentrate on the Crown Princess training thanks to your support.”
That’s right. Whenever my father did something, it was always for my sake.
Before now, I had thought that my father, who had never shown me a smile, had hated me. But now that I regained memories of my previous life and could see the parent-child relationship somewhat objectively, my father’s love for me was undeniable.
“To even sympathize with a tactless man like myself, Leticia, you’re such a wise and kind-hearted daughter. That’s why I recommended that you become His Highness’s fiancée and set it up, all to make the utmost use of your talents, and yet—”
My father’s eyes got sharper and changed into something that could cause one to faint from a glance.
“—And yet His Highness went, with unbelievable foolishness, and announced the engagement annulment and your exile right in public. No matter what happens in the future, I can forgive neither His Highness nor myself for assigning such a person to be your fiancé.”
“Up to now, you have selflessly given your all to the Crown Princess training. It may be far too late, but…if you wish for anything that I can grant, feel free to tell me.”
“…If so, then can you please smile for me, father?”
My father groaned when I voiced my wish.
“Are you serious about that, Leticia?”
“Can’t you? I can feel how much you love me, father, but I just wanted a visible proof of that love, I wanted to see your smile.”
“Is it difficult?”
“…I understand. You’d better prepare yourself.”
As I was wondering what he meant, I looked at my father’s expression.
Scary. Super scary.
That was what I thought as I saw my father’s smiling face for the first time.
Yes. A smile.
I understood his hesitation as soon as he smiled, but how can I put it? His smile was so intense. Bluntly, he looked quite evil. His face was fierce and full-on intimidating from the start, but—
Instead of softening the atmosphere, his smile made it even worse. The expression was that of someone plotting something. The grin would make children cry and say, “That uncle is scary!” when they saw it.
“Father, t-that smile is…”
“It’s quite frightening, isn’t it? I know that. It’s no good. Whenever I smile, I look like a good-for-nothing. I smiled at you when you were little and you cried, so I have been avoiding doing it since…That’s why I have stopped smiling. I didn’t want you to hate me even more…”
I had no choice but to apologize. I, indeed, thought that it was a smile that would make a child cry just now, but I didn’t know that I had been guilty of that when I was little. I didn’t realize until now that children can sometimes be cruel.
“That’s why you don’t smile anymore, so as not to scare me…”
I couldn’t help but feel exhausted. I didn’t expect that our avoidance of one another for so many years had been caused by my fear of my father’s smiling face. Father was very tactless.
I understand that my father, who had lost his wife and worked very hard, was worried about how to deal with me, his only daughter…
But how could I put it? Um… I guessed that excellence as a public figure and clumsiness in private life sometimes went hand in hand.
“Yes, that’s right. Your older brothers told me severely that my smile was way too scary…And I was really sorry that you, my daughter, looked like me.”
“…Eh? Please wait a minute. What on earth do you mean by that?”
I couldn’t help but ask for him to repeat his unexpected words.
“I supposedly look like Mother, don’t I? My reflection in the mirror greatly resembles my mother’s portraits.”
“…Only the features. You do look as beautiful and lovely as Serena, but…you resemble me when you smile. Yours is the spitting image of my own smile.”
That must be a lie!
To deny it, I took my hand mirror from my dress’ pocket. I was relieved to see a blond girl smiling softly back at me when I smiled at the mirror.
“Here, father, please have a look. What part of this resembles your smile?”
“Of course; I know that. When you smile like that, you look like an angel. But try to imagine His Highness in front of you. While keeping your guard up and thinking that you can’t show any weaknesses to the other party, you should smile and see.”
“His Highness right in front of me…”
I remembered. Until now, I had been sure not to show any weaknesses or shameful aspects in front of His Highness. I recalled and reproduced the expression I directed at His Highness whenever I tried to act tough and hide what was on my mind―
I involuntarily released a sound unbefitting of a lady.
―No matter how you viewed it, my reflection looked villainous. Thank you very much.1
Shocked, I glared at my hand mirror. I saw there a young lady with narrowed, daring eyes, up-turned up lips, and an aloof aura.
Well, it was true that if I looked like that, I wouldn’t look shameful or show weaknesses, but…it was too diabolical.
Though not as powerful as my father’s smile, it was still too intimidating to be that of a 17-year-old young lady.
……………………Father’s DNA was working too hard, wasn’t it?
Whether I liked it or not, the smiling face I had inherited2 made me shudder.
I had been attending the academy for about two years, but there were only a few people I could call friends. I thought it was unavoidable because I had been busy with Crown Princess training and because of my status as a Duke’s daughter…
But I now realized that people must have found me unapproachable due to that sinister smile and furthermore because of my rank as a Duke’s daughter and Crown Princess-to-be.
If I could have seen this smile in the mirror before…
It’s quite hard to be objective when it comes to your own face and expression. But now that I had regained my previous life’s memories, I looked at the hand mirror again and was quietly shocked by the fiendish lady’s smile.
And now that I had noticed the destructive power of my smile, I was unpleasantly convinced that it was why His Highness had run to Sumia. I can’t forgive His Highness and I can affirm that there was nothing wrong with me whatsoever, but…
I realized that His Highness must have felt suffocated if I had been smiling wickedly all the time.
―I had decided. Improvement was in order.
I would improve my smile.
I vowed to get rid of this villainous face.3
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