Chapter 19 – Meeting a strange girl
I’m the eldest son of Earl Ascarot, Nico Ascarot.
Since my father is this country’s prime minister, I’ve had many chances to go with my father to the castle since I was little. Because of that, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with the princes of this country.
In particular, I got along really well with the twin princes that were one year younger than me.
My childhood friends, the twin princes, began changing about one year ago.
The third prince Jared would always have a perfect fake smile plastered to his face. He would always say “boring” and it was as if his eyes reflected nothing.
However, one time, Jared said “I discovered something very interesting” and laughed. His smile seemed to be somewhat different from his fake smile up to now.
And then as time passed, Jared began changing rapidly. His fake smiles decreased, and his smiles became bright and lively.
And, as for Jared’s younger brother, the fourth prince Alan. Alan was always being compared to Jared, and so he had strong feelings against Jared. The desperate way he looked always seemed rather pained to me.
Such an Alan also began changing from a certain point in time. It was as if a heavy burden had been removed from him, he stopped competing against Jared. What’s more, saying he liked the subject, he began to focus more on music. His talent was amazing, and it’s even being said that he’s been blessed by the god of music.
However, the biggest change of all was that Alan was now interacting with Jared normally when he used to avoid him so much. Everyone in the castle was surprised at this. After all, Alan had always treated Jared as a rival in an extreme manner.
What’s more, not only did they start interacting normally, they even began doing things together again. Recently, they’ve even been seen chatting happily together in the castle.
It was really such a dramatic change. However, most people did not know the reason why the twins would have changed so much.
And then, since an unknown time, there was a rumor abound –
The reason the twins have changed so much, and why they’re together so frequently now…… Has something to do with the Claes family.
There’s something, or someone, there that caused the two of them to change so much –
A few days after the tea party at the castle, I myself visited the Claes mansion from the rumors.
While my sister and I were at the tea party, my sister was invited by the daughter of the Claes family, Katarina Claes, to go visit her at the Claes mansion.
My younger sister, Sophia Ascarot, is a very gentle, cute, and splendid lady.
However, her hair and skin are pure white, and her eyes are red, Sophia looked a little different from other people.
It was a very cruel world for my sister just because she looked a little different from everyone else.
If she goes out, people will look at her strangely, and people that envy our family will keep gossiping and telling people that she’s a “cursed child.” Also, it’s the really foolish children that say the cruelest things of all.
And, always being glared at heartlessly, always being talked about heartlessly……
Eventually, Sophia shut herself up in her room and would no longer go out.
By now, Sophia hasn’t went out for several years. It’s been decided that she’ll participate in the tea party being hosted by my childhood friends, the twin princes.
Sophia was considerably reluctant, and even I didn’t really want to go if I didn’t have to. The princes are somewhat acquainted with Sophia, so they definitely won’t be looking at her strangely or anything. However, since this tea party is the first one that the princes are hosting, it’s a very large scale affair. There’ll be a ton of noble children there. There will definitely be people there that look down on and make fun of Sophia.
I insisted on not going to such a place, but was persuaded by father.
“Both you and Sophia have magic power. When you turn fifteen, both of you will be required to attend magic school. Also, you’re a different grade and gender from Sophia. You can’t always stay by her side and protect her. Sophia has to learn how to protect herself on her own. And since there’s going to be so many children there, Sophia might even find herself a friend.
Both of us have magic power, and it’s mandated by law that a person has to attend magic school once they turn fifteen.
I’ll be enrolling in school after four more years. And then Sophia will have to enroll in school one year after me.
I always want to stay next to my important sister and protect her. However, I know that it’s not possible to always stay next to her and protect her because our grade and gender are different.
Before Sophia started shutting herself in her room, our parents had wanted her to go out and to be able to make some friends, but…… Children are sensitive about those different from themselves. Most of the time, it just ended in Sophia being hurt.
I also understand very well that just staying like this isn’t good either. However, I don’t want Sophia to get hurt and cry any more…… I’m very scared of that happening again.
At the tea party that Sophia and I attended together, of all things that could have happened Sophia got separated from me. Even though I was thinking how important it was for me to protect Sophia, I’m so ashamed of myself.
There were several noble children at this tea party that had verbally abused Sophia before. While I’m separated from Sophia, I’m worried that they’ll do something to Sophia again.
And then even though I desperately searched for Sophia I couldn’t find her anywhere, when I finally ended up finding her the tea party was already over. And so, when I found Sophia, she seemed to be stunned for some reason. When I asked her why since I was worried that someone may have done something to her –
“I was invited to visit a person by the name of Katarina Claes-sama.”
Sophia mumbled this while stunned.
And so, I visited the Claes mansion from the rumors.
But honestly, I wasn’t all that interested in it. That’s because, we’ve received such invitations before, and they all turned out to be in order to make fun of and look down upon Sophia.
Since I couldn’t help worrying, I asked my childhood friend Jared, who also happens to be Katarina’s fiance, about Katarina. He was close by greeting guests when Katarina invited my sister, so I asked him what happened.
“I thought that recently she seemed to be quite well behaved, but to see that she’s hooked yet another girl……”
For some reason, Jared was talking to himself in a small voice, then he smiled profoundly.
“Nico. Although Katarina is really strange, she definitely won’t hurt your all-important imouto-san.”
Since Jared said so, I decided to believe him, and accompanied my sister to the Claes mansion.
“I think, that Sophia-sama’s silken white hair, and eyes that sparkle like rubies are very beautiful in my opinion.”
Katarina Claes smiled at Sophia as she said so.
“As such, I’ll be very happy if you could continue coming over to play with me. And if it’s alright with you, won’t you be friends with me?”
She was smiling kindly while holding Sophia’s hands.
It was just as Jared said. This girl would never hurt my precious sister.
And so, I noticed it while looking at Katarina smile towards my sister. It was definitely this girl that changed Jared and Alan.
A strange girl with a unique atmosphere. The princes are probably visiting this mansion so often in order to meet with this girl.
And so, after meeting Katarina, Sophia changed as well. She escaped from the cage of her room, and began actively going out on her own. Her formerly gloomy face became lively and bright, and smiles returned to her expressions.
I’m deeply indebted to Katarina Claes.
When Sophia began to venture out more often instead of staying inside her gilded cage, vicious slandering by gossipmongers increased as well. However, now that my sister had finally recovered her smile, there was no more returning to her dark room for her. I did my best to silence those that spoke ill of Sophia. I decided that the way I did things before wasn’t sufficient, so I silenced them as thoroughly as possible this time.
And so, those second-rate worthless fellows decreased gradually……
“I feel very sorry for Nico-sama who’s burdened by working so hard for the sake of his imouto-sama.”
“Even though Nico-sama is so outstanding, it’s pitiful that there’s so much being said about the siblings.”
“The Ascarot family is so unfortunate to have so many bad things being said about their daughter.”
People were no longer looking down on us as much, it was more purely pity and sympathy now. Since I had desperately worked so hard for Sophia’s sake on this matter, those voices increased.
There was no malice present in those voices. But, unfortunately, it was nothing but pity.
However…… Those words were stabbing me mercilessly in the heart.
I’m not burdened in any way. My family isn’t unfortunate at all.
I’m actually very proud of my splendid parents, and my gentle, lovely sister, and consider myself to be a very lucky person……
It’s not that I can’t understand why they think that.
If I say I’m very fortunate then I’m always told “you’re amazing for being so patient and working so hard.” It’s very frustrating to hear that.
Even though I’m so lucky…… Why does everyone arbitrarily decide on their own that I’m supposed to be unfortunate?
Don’t decide on your own that my precious sister is a burdensome existence! Even though I think that I’m extremely fortunate to have Sophia been born as my little sister……
Before long, I had gotten very tired of hearing all these disagreeable thoughts. I thought that it would be best if I didn’t bother with hearing them anymore.
Right now, my precious sister is smiling so happily. That’s enough for me.
Even if people think that it’s unfortunate and pity us…… There’s nothing I can do about them not understanding. I thought it was fine like this, but……
“Your parents are so wonderful, and your sister is so cute as well, Nico-sama, you’re a really lucky person.”
The girl before me, Katarina Claes, was smiling as she said so. It’s the same gentle smile that’s been directed at Sophia before.
That’s right, that’s what I’ve always been thinking. However, nobody ever understood that until now.
“……You think I’m a lucky person?”
I stared straight at Katarina.
“You have such a wonderful family…… Isn’t that so?”
Her light blue eyes were looking directly at me as well.
“……That’s right. I have great parents I can respect, and I’m very lucky to have such a gentle, lovely sister.”
I thought that it would be fine even if nobody understood. I’d already given up.
This girl…… Katarina understands……
Ahh, in truth I always wanted for someone to understand this feeling of mine.
I felt as if all the frustration I’d ever felt in my heart was subsiding.
I looked over the girl in front of me once more. The duke’s daughter, Katarina Claes. The strange girl that managed to completely change the twin princes and my sister.
When nobody ever understood what I was thinking, she’s the first to ever understand.
Why the princes and my sister would visit Katarina’s place almost every day, I finally understand the reason now.
And so, I’m sure that I’ll be joining them in going over to her place frequently from now on.
Not in order to accompany my sister, but in order to see Katarina.