“Why such a scream?!”
When I shrieked, Jayden, seemingly more startled than I was, jumped.
“Yes, well, you popped up out of nowhere! You’re not a ghost, make some noise when you move.”
“Wasn’t that noise enough?”
“Not at all. Don’t assume everyone else is as sharp as a knight like you.”
Honestly, even among knights, someone as exceptionally skilled as George might not have caught on either.
A frown etched across Jayden’s handsome brow. Is he angry? On second thought, this isn’t exactly the time for me to be bossing Jayden around.
“Hahaha. Forget what I just said. Anyone can move silently from time to time. It’s my fault for not noticing.”
Caught red-handed in the laundry room at this ungodly hour with what’s presumably his pajamas. It looks suspicious to anyone’s eye.
‘I knew the fabric felt too soft. B-but why are his, a noble’s pajamas so modest?’
Without any ornate decoration or distinctive features, I hadn’t realized they were Jayden’s. How would I know what kind of pajamas he wore unless I’d seen him at night?
As much as I wanted to blame someone else for the mix-up, the fact that this situation was to my disadvantage didn’t change.
If Jayden got wind of something and decided to search my room… In the worst-case scenario, I could end up on the Marchioness’s bad side and get my leg broken by her, or worse, confinement.
This isn’t some progressive world where an unmarried daughter gets caught with a man in her room and everyone just shrugs it off. And that was true in the world I came from, too.
I racked my brain for an excuse, squeezing out whatever came to mind.
“So, you see, I couldn’t sleep. Thought I’d take a little walk, you know? And as I was passing by here, curiosity got the best of me. I just wondered what the laundry room looked like. We always get our clean clothes from here and I realized I’d taken it for granted.”
I wasn’t even sure what I was saying anymore. I was just spitting out the words as they came.
“And then I thought, ‘Why not have a look at the clothes while I’m at it?’ And, oh! I was surprised that among all the laundered clothes, there’s one that’s not quite done. It needed another wash, so I took a closer look and—who could guess—it was your pajamas.”
It was quite the spectacle. Jayden listened to my babble with a solemn face throughout.
His expression was perplexing as if he was either silently judging me, realizing it was all nonsense, or taking it at face value in the most straightforward way possible.
“Just… that’s how it is.”
“Well, they look clean to me.”
I dropped Jayden’s pajamas in my fluster.
“Sorry! My hand just slipped! But look closely. See there’s the dust?”
“Isn’t that from just now?”
“No, it was already there.”
Am I the only one feeling like the situation is getting worse? I hope it’s just my imagination.
Jayden just looked at me, silently. I guiltily averted my eyes.
After what felt like an eternity, Jayden leaned against the back wall.
“I see. It seems you’re right.”
“Are you not?”
“Ah, of course! But it’s just… surprising you’d agree with me so easily. I mean, it’s kind of awkward to say this but… you don’t like me, do you?”
Jayden’s expression hardened. I thought I had said too much, but at least it shifted his attention from the pajamas to something else.
Silence fell. I became flustered, not getting the reaction I expected from Jayden.
‘What’s his deal, really?’
According to the descriptions in the novel and from what people around me have said, Jayden has always blatantly ignored his sister. And it’s not in his nature to sugarcoat things either.
So, the most likely response to my question about whether he disliked me should either be an indifferent dismissal or a blunt admission that yes, he does…
But why is he just standing there looking all awkward, as if he’s been scolded?
After what seemed like an eternity, Jayden finally spoke up.
“If you’ve finished your walk, I can escort you back to your room.”
“Huh? No, it’s fine.”
“It’s late, and you never know.”
“It’s inside the house, what’s the harm!”
“No matter how many guards there are, a large mansion always has its vulnerabilities.”
“As if a bold thief would dare to break into our house. You really do worry too much.”
“…You clearly don’t want to continue being with me”
“No, that’s not it at all!”
Well, that’s not entirely true. If I’m being honest, I’m afraid because I can’t figure out why Jayden has changed.
But for the sake of my own peaceful life, I don’t want our relationship to sour any further. I should just give a roundabout answer.
“I just have some things on my mind that I want to think over alone. But I appreciate your concern, really.”
Jayden flinched at the unusual remark.
“Sister, have you noticed you’ve been a bit odd lately?”
“It’s called reflecting.”
“People can change this much in such a short time? That’s new to me.”
“Well, I got a good scolding last time, remember?”
“Oh, that time…”
It happened just the day before I found myself in this body. Cedric had learned that Charlotte was the one spreading malicious rumors about Aila.
Cedric, in a fury, had exposed Charlotte’s wrongdoings for all to see and issued a stern warning to the Lindsay Family. It was understandable why he was so angry—the rumor implied that Aila, of low status, was trying to cling to the Duke’s coattails by exploiting her parents.
Aila’s parents were loyal servants to the Duchy of Hyclide. It was their loyalty that had allowed her, a minor noble, to grow up as playmates with the archduke, Cedric.
How could he not be outraged when the woman he loved and the daughter of a faithful servant were subjected to such talk? Even the readers were terribly shocked.
There were comments flooding in begging for the ‘orange head’ to be killed, and I also remember posting something along the lines of ‘For a commoner turned noble by sheer luck, she sure dares to act superior to our noble-born Aila.’
‘And when Cedric gallantly pressured Lindsay to punish Charlotte, I was full of satisfaction like gulping down a cold soda.’
What was a thrilling scene to read in a novel became a catastrophe when I ended up in Charlotte’s shoes.
The very event that marked the beginning of Charlotte being officially hated and ostracized by everyone—why did they have to throw me into her body right after that happened?
Is it because I live in a modern society where all are supposed to be equal, that I’m guilty of leaving classist comments about commoners and nobles?
Anyway, because of that incident, Charlotte had been scolded far more harshly than ever before. She had become the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.
If there was one silver lining, it was that my newfound meekness meant I attracted less suspicious glares. People might be thinking, ‘Oh, she’s capable of remorse, after all.’
It seemed that Jayden had come to some sort of understanding after recalling that event.
“That… I’m sorry about that.”
“Sorry for what?”
“For what my father said. He didn’t mean those harsh words, the disowning and all.”
But really, why is he acting like this? He’s the last person who would want to keep me around.
Embarrassed by his own words, Jayden’s face turned awkward as if he had thorns in his mouth, and then he turned to leave.
“I should go. Please take care on your way back.”
“Are you sure you’ll be alright without a lantern?”
“Yes, I didn’t have one on my way here either. Goodbye.”
And he was gone. Does becoming a knight make one get better night vision or something?
I waited until Jayden was far enough away, then grabbed a pair of pajamas that seemed about his size—definitely not his, just similar—and stepped out of the laundry room.
‘That ghostly brat, he’d probably notice even if I washed and returned them clean!’
Ah, what a hassle in the middle of the night. I should’ve just put Eugen to bed in his day clothes instead of pretending to be tidy.
“I’m back. Huh?”
When I returned, Eugen was nowhere to be seen.
Something suddenly popped out from under the bed, nearly making me scream out loud.
Be careful. Just because it’s night doesn’t mean that all the servants in the Marquis’ house are asleep.
“Why are you hiding under the bed?”
“You told me to hide if someone came.”
“Oh, right, I did say to hide if someone comes.”
Eugen said with a slightly proud look on his face.
“Now I will remember. The sound of your footsteps.”
The sight of him, a grown man, squished under a bed because I told him to, was so funny that it sent a giggle escaping from my lips.
“Good job, really. But next time, try to avoid under the bed, okay? You’re all covered in dust.”
I started to dust off his brown hair, then quickly pulled my hand back.
‘Oops, was that too familiar?’
Even with his child-like moments, he’s a full-grown adult, not to mention the Mercenary King. Just because he’s docile in front of the female lead, Aila, doesn’t mean he’ll be the same with me.
Fortunately, Eugen didn’t seem offended and casually inspected his own clothes.
“Would you be okay sleeping in the bed?”
Was I imagining the look of disappointment on his face when I asked that?
“No, it’s fine. I’ll just dust off and change my clothes.”
When I handed him the pajamas, Eugen didn’t hesitate to peel off his top. Confronted by his bare torso, I quickly covered my eyes with my hands.
“Wh-What the heck! You can’t just strip like that! I can see everything!”
“It’s okay to look.”
This guy’s asking for trouble. It’s clear as day he sees me as ‘Some Member’ of the mercenary group, but that’s not who I am! And what’s with these men, including the crown prince, always undressing in front of me!
Then, a mischievous thought like a devil’s whisper came to me.
‘…But if he’s okay with it, maybe a little peek wouldn’t hurt?’
I never dared with Reynard because I was too scared, but Eugen’s easy-going nature made it less intimidating. And I had his permission.
Just a tiny look. Really tiny.
“I’m all dressed now.”
“……Good job. That was quick.”
“What’s with you?”
“I’m just starting to dislike myself a bit.”
There went my conscience.
Once we were both ready, we lay down side by side on the bed. Eugen seemed to really enjoy the feel of the blankets, rubbing his face against the bed.
The sight filled me with a warm feeling. So peaceful. Just yesterday, I was trembling at the thought of being sliced up by the crown prince. It’s only when I feel this serene that I can truly enjoy sharing a bed.
“We need to get up before the maid comes to my room tomorrow, okay?”
The conversation was surprisingly relaxed for two young people of the opposite s*x sharing a bed, and it was incredibly refreshing.
As Eugen turned off the light and came back, a wave of sleepiness that had briefly receded came rushing back. Finally, it was time to rest.
But when I opened my eyes again, it was still the middle of the night.
I had no choice but to take a deep breath. Eugen, who had been a good distance away when I fell asleep, was now right beside me, snuggled up close.