15 Years Old – Q of Hearts
Note: Please don’t read it in the little pop-up for the reader. For some reason it doesn’t reflect my later edits (which I often make a lot of after publishing), so please click ‘view original’.
Upon coming home after work, I was hugged by Aimée.
Hurtss, heavyy… getting crushed.
“Did something happen? It shouldn’t be my birthday yet.”
Towards I, who was creating some distance in a panic, Aimée neared me while twisting her body back and forth.
“What are you saying…? Is it not obviously about your engagement being decided?”
“It couldn’t be! Have you failed to hear from Marquis-sama again?”
Getting contacted through my father again? It would’ve been fine just to tell me personally anyway, but…
Our butler Pierre retired last year, and his son took his place, but how should I say this…? His son is incompetent.
He completely forgot to contact me. If it gets too bad, I plan on firing him.
“Hey, who am I getting engaged to?”
“Uhuhuhuhuu, that is… you know?”
Instead of acting all dramatic, hurry up and tell me.
While I pressed my hand against my anxiously beating heart, I glared at Aimée.
A third person suddenly butted into our conversation.
Reacting to that voice, Aimée turned around.
“My, welcome home, Marquis-sama. You are early today, aren’t you?”
At the entrance to the house stood father.
“Otousama… Just now, what did you?”
“Like I said, Achille has been decided as your fiancé.”
Why? After that one incident at the dance party, didn’t I thoroughly ask father, “Please protect Achille from falling into the disgrace of being my fiancé.”?
And yet, why did Achille end up engaged to someone like me!?
“Otousama! I remember asking you to free Achille from this…”
“But… the Jade family formally applied for it, you know? Soleil was on board with it too.”
“And I’ve judged too that Soleil’s son is the better choice. There was another, more annoying, request, you see.”
It seems that without my knowing, various things have been progressing.
“I am truly very sorryy!”
I had directed a sliding dogeza at Achille, and Royce-sama was overlooking me in curiosity.
As expected of the carpet in Royce-sama’s room! Even though I was sliding, it didn’t hurt!
“…Camille, did you do something to Achille?”
Royce-sama, a woman is a being with many secrets, you know.
“Ahh, could this be about the engagement?”
Damn Achille, what a thing to admit in front of Royce-sama!
…Wait, or is it my fault for not choosing the time and place properly?
“There’s nothing to apologise about, you know. I don’t mind, after all.”
“Buttt… Because of me, your shining future has been crushed, Achille!”
“Why did you come to that conclusion…?”
Achille is scratching his head, looking troubled.
Huh? For some reason Royce-sama is looking downwards, trembling.
“-kuku… Wouldn’t it be better for you two to have a proper chat about this? …P-pfft-”
At Royce-sama’s suggestion, Achille and I decided to talk about it properly. Royce-sama kindly left.
Having said that though, what’s there to talk about after all this time? What’s happening this time is all because of my blunder.
While telling him that it would be alright, it ended up like this… Aahh, I’m depressed.
“Achille… I’m really so sorry.”
He sighed! Even though I know I’m in the wrong, it still hurts, huh.
“I’m not angry. Raise your head?”
When I raised my head like I was told, I found Achille’s face closer than expected.
His eyelashes sure are long. A nose that runs beautifully down his face, and well-shaped lips… He had ikemen elements to begin with, but he sure grew up well too, huh.
I was staring at Achille, but he didn’t show any signs of moving away.
“About being your fiancé, Camille… I’m not against it.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine, you don’t have to worry about me. You’re kind, Achille.”
For some reason he sighed again.
“The one who should be apologising is me… Listen, Camille.”
He gazed at me unexpectedly seriously, so I became bewildered.
“The one who proposed for an engagement this time, was me.”
“You did, Achille? I-, It couldn’t be that because the rumours about the time at the dance party spread uncontrollably, you gave up on finding a good bride? What do I do…?”
“Won’t you calm down?”
Achille placed both his hands on my shoulders, after I stood up vigorously.
“But… this is terrible!”
I was panicked.
A huge problem that would mess about with Achille’s life, at this rate, won’t getting engaged to me be the worst disgrace in Achille’s lifetime?
“Since that time at the dance party, I’ve always wanted to become your husband, Camille. It seems like you’re misunderstanding something, but this is what I want, Camille.”
…Speaking of which, Achille was an ambitious person.
As he matured, he’s gotten better at hiding that, but his true self hasn’t changed.
If he marries me, he’ll become the next marquis in every meaning.
Is that why Achille decided to become my fiancé and compromised…? Thinking like that, it makes sense.
“I’ve got it, Achille. If you’re fine with someone like me as a fiancée… I’ll be in your care.”
Achille is gazing at me painfully at point blank. What’s wrong?
Huh, it seems like Achille’s face is getting closer, and closer…?
Ah, that’s it!
I suddenly remembered a most important issue. I have to make sure I say this!
“Achille! …Even if you’re engaged to me, if you find somebody you like, you can make them your mistress, okay? I’m open-minded, you see, so as long as you properly do your job as the marquis, I don’t mind you doing that kind of thing!”
Huh? His face which is now point blank just stiffened… I feel.
I guess saying ‘mistress’ right to his face was bad, huh. Maybe he’s embarrassed.
But, if Achille became strangely considerate of me, and became unable to pursue his own romances, it’d be pitiful so…
I really don’t want this engagement with me to give him painful feelings, you know? Achille is an important friend after all.
“Anyway, Achille, I have work now so see you.”
It seems that Achille has rebooted from his freeze. Thank goodness.
If he says that he wants to be engaged to me, then that’s fine too, right?
I have no right to say anything more than this. …I feel relieved.
“Anyway, see you later~”
I enlarged the quill, and took off from Royce-sama’s window towards the Magic Building.
…Or so I thought, but Achille was grabbing my ankle.
“We’re not done talking yet, you know…”
Achille is in a bad mood for some reason.
“Sorry, Achille, but work is-”
“Your job starts in the evening today, right? It’s still daytime, so you’re still free for three hours, right?”
This guyyy, why does he know my shifts at work? Even though I thought I’d be able to indulge in laziness until my next job!
Because I had no choice, I landed in the room. Aah, my hours of sleep are disappearing…
The very moment I landed, Achille caught my arm. …Is it to prevent me from escaping?
Because we’ve known each other for a long time, he’s a man that knows me quite well.
“Not done talking, you say? Was there something else to talk about? If it’s about the number of mistresses you can have, I’m not restraining you, you know? If you have too many it’ll become troublesome, but if it’s two or three, then.”
I’m sorry about saying that he can’t have a huge number of them, but we have our financial circumstances too.
If it uses too much money, I’ll be troubled.
“You can stop talking about mistresses, you know? I’m not going to have any, after all.”
Not having any? I wonder if it’s a good idea to declare that now. He might want to make some later, after all.
“I’m fine with you, Camille. I’m fine with just you.”
“Geeez, this againnn.”
Honestly, this guy sure thinks of his friends, huh! Still being worried about me after all that time.
“You won’t believe me anyway, right? That’s fine… I’m going to prove it from now on, after all.”
Achille gave a slight smile, and for some reason my back ran cold.
Huh…? Did I, say something bad?
He raised the arm that he was holding, and gave the back of my hand, one light and gentle kiss.