“Is there something else?”
Raygrain seemed to have a quizzical look in his eyes. In response to his observation, Scheuer asked in a cheerful tone,
“Can’t I just hold the Duke’s hand once?”
“Being quite forward, aren’t you?”
“You didn’t even refuse… though.”
Did he have any idea about the elaborate frame prepared with all fingers ready to be stamped, only to be replaced by a marriage certificate? At her words, Raygrain faintly smirked.
“Why are you so fixated on holding hands?”
Scheuer discreetly moved to the seat beside him. Still gazing out the window, Raygrain’s sleeve was subtly pulled by Scheuer.
“I can have fun on my own. Just give me your hand.”
“Well then, shall I talk about what happened while I was tending to the garden? It would be better if you shared your experiences from the expedition, but…”
Eventually, Raygrain had no choice but to hand his hand over to her. It wasn’t easy to express Raygrain’s hand as ‘gentle’ in a positive way. However, she liked it for the evidence of his efforts, the large and rugged appearance. Scheuer grasped his hand as if she were shaking hands.
Briefly, Raygrain’s gaze was felt, but soon it seemed indifferent.
It was the usual attitude. According to the original work, Erina would be introduced as the new captain of the knights in the central region soon. The ceremonial handshake exchanged between them at that time would move Raygrain’s emotions. He wanted to be the one to fulfill that order.
Although Scheuer wasn’t a knight captain like Erina, and the handshake was an awkward gesture to call it such, she felt a strange sense of accomplishment.
Looking down at his hand, Scheuer thought, ‘At a time like this, Erina would have been engaged to the Crown Prince…’ It was an engagement achieved not through love or affection but through a contract. In the Netri family, the firstborn was destined to become the ‘flower of the family.’
Most noble families would typically grant the right of succession to their firstborn, but Netri, prioritizing individuals with sword skills, adhered to this rule more rigidly than other families. The only exception was if the firstborn passed away. Until Erina developed sword skills, there was a gap where no one in the family had become the ‘flower of the family.’
While the family pressured Scheuer, the firstborn, to fill this role, they had no expectations for Erina, the second-born. Even in such a situation, she did not give up the sword. Around the time Erina was 14 years old, countless marriage proposals came and went.
Most of these proposals came from those who sought to enhance their influence through the Netri family. The influence of the Netri family in the central region was significant, and in contrast, the imperial authority was gradually declining.
Erina proposed a contractual engagement to the Crown Prince, accepting the numerous proposals with positive regard. She offered a two-year contract: within this time, she would develop sword skills, and in return, the engagement would help the family withstand external pressures.
If she were to get married, Scheuer could not inherit the family as long as she was present. Therefore, Erina’s request was for the Crown Prince to protect her through the engagement.
When the Crown Prince accepted Erina’s bold proposal, their story began. Despite various excuses to postpone the engagement ceremony, they officially announced their engagement after Erina became the commander of the knights.
Now, Erina had fulfilled her promise to protect the Crown Prince until she developed sword skills. It was the time when Erina, who had become more active externally, might have encountered Raygrain in the North.
Scheuer hoped Erina would not want to see him again after all the conflicts they had. She thought, ‘Erina, judging by your actions, you probably wouldn’t even want to brush against the Duke’s fingertips.’
She really didn’t want to give her any chance, even if it was for her own sake. In the original work, Erina had vehemently rejected him. The order had changed now, so it should be fine.
Unlike back then, Raygrain was the one who felt emotions first this time. They had already shaken hands, so holding hands for the first time was similar.
However, this journey toward the central region intensified Scheuer’s anxiety. Why would she feel attracted to her for any reason? When she wiped her hand, the skin was rough, and there were small scars on the back of her hand. Scheuer took out a small bottle and said,
“This is a flower grown from the one the Grand Duke gave me.”
Raygrain asked sharply, “Can the flower bloom?”
“It’s not a Netri flower. It’s a flower the Grand Duke gave me.”
Scheuer said in a softened voice, looking around the flower vase.
However, the small bottle that Scheuer handed over contained a daffodil.
“It’s a daffodil, but it has the effect of drastically reducing affection for the opposite sex.”
Scheuer looked at Raygrain with bright eyes, adding emphasis to her gaze.
Raygrain looked at Scheuer with a puzzled expression. Scheuer spoke honestly without hiding anything.
“I should have known when you showed interest in my belongings. I’ve never had feelings for someone as much as having a relationship with someone.”
When Scheuer tightly grasped Raygrain’s hand, she spoke with a desperate voice.
“It’s not that I can’t trust the Grand Duke. It’s just that when I see a daffodil, it reminds me of you, what do you think?”
“In the end, it means you want me to take it with me.”
Raygrain said firmly as he accepted the small bottle.
Entering the capital, it was an entirely different world from the North. A carriage with Blenga’s crest passed through the main gate of the Imperial Palace. The grandeur of the Walker Empire was palpable. Even the Imperial Palace, where it was difficult to catch a glimpse during ordinary events, buzzed with excitement at the visit of Raygrain Blen, the Duke of Blenga. The carriage stopped, and Raygrain disembarked first. As soon as he did, a soft voice was heard from outside the carriage.
“Duke, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Crown Prince Silcaro.”
Scheuer, who had already gotten off the carriage, discreetly checked the figure through the gap left by Raygrain. Finally, the awaited person had arrived—the male protagonist, Silcaro Walker. Scheuer had an unrequited love for him, the man chosen by Erina. Through the window, she saw platinum blonde hair and crimson eyes. It was a strange feeling to see the male protagonist of the original story in person.
A hand, clad in leather gloves, reached out towards her. Raygrain’s cool voice commanded her to disembark.
Taking his hand, Scheuer descended, and Silcaro, with his large eyes widened in surprise, looked at her.
“Duke, I didn’t hear any prior discussions. Could this be Lady Scheuer of the Nettri family?”
Scheuer’s eyes narrowed slightly at his words. Considering her long-standing unrequited love, she couldn’t be unknown to Erina. Many people in the capital were associated with the Nettri family. Especially Crown Prince Silcaro had frequent encounters with Erina.
The news of her engagement had spread long ago, and it was likely that Silcaro had heard about it. However, Raygrain, who had lost his emotions, couldn’t possibly consider such complicated circumstances.