“I’m glad your medication is working well.”
“If I ask you to call me Vivian, will you listen?”
“Of course, Vivian.”
Daniel replied with a smile, showing unexpected flexibility in such matters. I raised an eyebrow.
I wasn’t foolish enough not to notice the overflowing kindness in that smile. Frankly speaking, in these matters, I was rather quick-witted, as acknowledged by others.
But had I ever done anything to deserve such excessive favor from Archduke Daniel Anderson? I wondered about that.
Sure, I saved him from being stabbed with a knife, but I didn’t make his treatment particularly gentle. On his second visit, I even kicked him out. And now, I was treating him, a somewhat older youth and a noble as to say, like a pet dog.
In any case, Daniel obeyed my summons and entered the room and sat down on the couch, while the servants carried the empty cutlery back and Marie placed two cups of coffee on the table and left the room.
I asked something that had been bothering me since a while ago.
“Archduke Daniel, how old are you by any chance?”
“Just call me Daniel. I’m twenty-eight.”
“Oh, twenty-eight? That makes you about 498 years younger than me?”
“If you want to count the 500 years you spent asleep as part of your age, I won’t stop you, Vivian. I understand you passed away at the age of twenty-six.”
Well, that’s true. However, to say that I’m only twenty-six is a bit awkward. I came into this world with the memories of my past life intact and formed my current self in this world. I spent those twenty-six years in this way. So, even if I looked like a child when I first arrived in this world, no one treated me as such.
Hasn’t this fact been passed down to my descendants? I tilted my head.
“So, um… Your new status… Did you try to match it to that age?”
“New status? What do you mean?”
I picked up the coffee cup to take a sip but put it back on the table. Did some strange information slip out? Why would a new status be necessary?
Sure, I’d been hiding my identity since my return to this world, but that was only possible in the slums of the capital. A decent alias and enough money to buy a dusty wooden house on the verge of collapse were enough to live by.
But that was just my position, and I’m sure Archduke Daniel’s position was different. He must have come to me because he wanted to be the first to know of Vivian’s resurrection and wanted something, but a new identity?
“Aren’t you trying to conceal your original identity? I thought so and was preparing a new ID.”
But instead of answering my question, Daniel looked like he didn’t understand it his eyebrows was furrowed. He was already preparing a new ID?
“Well, yes, but…”
Why wasn’t what I wanted coming up in this conversation? I was genuinely puzzled.
“What is it that you want?”
“What do I want?”
Both Daniel and I looked puzzled. Our stories didn’t seem to align. I explained my intentions slowly.
“Didn’t you bring me here because you want something?”
“Vivian, you misunderstand me.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.”
“As I mentioned this morning, I don’t have any specific purpose.”
After saying that, Daniel was silent for a moment, as if thinking about something, and then he added
“To put it bluntly, I just thought you deserved to be treated fairly.”
I started to say something but stopped. I couldn’t decide what to say because I couldn’t even understand the meaning of the overflowing kindness in this man’s eyes.
Wasn’t this the same man in front of me who had threatened me using Jane, into this mansion in the first place, using the same words to say that he thought I deserve fair treatment?
“Isn’t it only natural for me, one of those that benefited from your grace, to think that I should do what is expected, or rather, I would like to ask you what you desire from me.”
The man’s eyes were kind as he spoke in a whispered, respectful tone.
“I dare say you deserve it.”
“….Even if you say so, why are you the one offering it?”
“Do you need a reason?”
Daniel tilted his head as he said that. He sounded rather frustrated, like he didn’t even understand why I was asking.
“If I must give a reason, Vivian, it’s because I want to do it.”
It would be more believable to say that it was love at first sight. I had thought of Duke Daniel Anderson as a good-looking and innocent stupid puppy, but I might have to reconsider that judgment.
This man seemed to have something different about him.
º º º
After that, Duke Daniel Anderson really treated me well.
In fact, it was more than just being treated well.
He brought me all sorts of books and newspapers when I said I was bored, and my cooling crystal ball was placed in my room. After Marie inquired about my preferences, my closet was filled with all manner of clothes, from daywear to pajamas, and I was given silk socks and hats, as well as a few pairs of shoes. I even woke up to a dressing table with a large mirror that I hadn’t seen before..
And in the morning, Marie wakes me up with a hot breakfast.
“…… What’s going on?”
I mumbled as I chewed on my egg-filled toast. I was alone in the large room. If I asked the servants to leave, they all went out and never enter the room, but when I ring the bell, they come running into the room as if they’ve been waiting for me.
And it is not only the servants, but also Archduke Daniel himself, who, according to the newspapers, is usually busy at various social and charitable events. However, for the week I’ve been at the mansion, he’s been pretty much a chipper chap.
So, when I felt a bit bored, I just had to ring the bell.
“May I come in?”
Sure enough, there was a knock on the door. It was a familiar voice. I reflexively answered.
At my words, Daniel immediately opened the door and came in. Well, the dark-haired handsome man was certainly a sight to behold as he entered the room, bathed in the morning sunlight shining through the sheer curtains on the large windows.
I greeted Daniel while eating yogurt with blueberries.
Daniel, who was about to enter, stopped.
“I see you’re not finished eating, do you want me to go outside and come back?”
“And if I do, are you going to wait like a puppy by the door again?”
“As I mentioned before, puppies can’t read books.”
No, that’s not the issue.
In response to my sigh, Daniel gave me another strange look, one that said he didn’t understand why I was sighing.
It seems that in Daniel’s mind, a certain logic is unfolding. I called Daniel a puppy, but according to him, that was incorrect. Why? Because he is not a puppy. The evidence for this is that puppies cannot read books.
When I organize it like this, it sounds much more foolish. It’s akin to me selecting a ruby necklace because I want to add a bit of treatment fee, even though I already have a precious ruby necklace, and in everyday life, I might be a bit clueless.
It’s even more ridiculous when you think about it. Maybe he’s just a little bit clueless in his day-to-day life, like the time he tried to leave a ruby necklace at his treatment fee just because I slightly joke about him having to pay me for a little therapy.
It’s clear that Archduke Daniel has become the country’s handsome celebrity because the newspapers and gossip magazines have left his personality out of the equation, focusing only on his appearance and visible achievements.
Well, it might be considered cute according to personal taste, but it certainly wasn’t mine.
“By the way, I brought some books.”
“When we had coffee together last time, didn’t you say you wanted to read a book about yourself? But you didn’t feel like visiting a bookstore.”
Saying that, Daniel piled thick and thin books on the empty space on my table. I looked at those books with a slightly disgusted expression.
“I did say I wanted to read, but I don’t need this many.”
“Then I’ll have to take out a few.”
With that, Daniel actually stared at the books, seemingly contemplating, and soon took out several books. Then, he looked at me intently.
Goodness. I looked up at the ceiling. Did he really think solving the problem was as simple as taking out a few books? He looked at me as if he expected me to jump for joy at the sight of them. He seemed to expect me to immediately pick up a book and be pleased. How could the first love of the entire country be so clueless?
Giving up on turning the words around, I decided to be straightforward.
“I’ll read them later. I’m a bit tired since I woke up not too long ago.”
“Oh, I see.”
With that, Daniel, without a single word of complaint, put all the books that were on the table down below. Then, he sat quietly, crossed his legs, and clasped his hands over his knees.
Another sigh. Another sigh.
“…So, are you going to sit there and watch me eat in silence?”
“If it makes you uncomfortable, I can come back later…”
“No, I misspoke. I meant if you have something to say, say it.”
“I don’t really have anything to say, but I was wondering if you’d like to go for a walk if you’re free.”
“Go for a walk? Where to?”
“At the Lyon Art Museum, where they regularly display your portrait. It happens to be the period of the exhibition.”
I tilted my head at his words.
“You want me to go to …… to see my portrait?”
“I thought you might be interested in seeing records about Vivian… am I wrong?”
Perhaps due to his awkward dancing around the issue, confidence was absent from Daniel’s eyes. I put down the empty yogurt bowl.