Chapter 72, little delay, but again, I got lots of exams this month 😀
For the Patrons, Chapter 73 and its preview are now available on Patreon!
Anyway, here is chapter 72, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
When she heard Itsuki say he was going sightseeing in Kablan with his friend, Francis, and Harold, Erica couldn’t help but suspect that her elder brother was planning something strange.
At his core, Itsuki was a considerate and proud elder brother, but somehow, when it came to mediating the relationship between Harold and Erica, he was quite passionate. And Erica was glad that he liked Harold.
Perhaps he did that because he had noticed Erica’s hidden feelings of love for Harold.
However, the problem came from Harold’s side.
He himself did not want to marry Erica. So he obviously wouldn’t think well of Itsuki pushing him into this so intensely.
And Erica knew why Harold was trying to avoid his marriage with her. In short, it was because she wasn’t good enough.
That day eight years prior, Harold had severely reprimanded Erica, telling her she was being too soft and that her kindness was just self-satisfaction. That was an opportunity for her to change, with a clear determination to grow into someone who could support Harold.
Since then, she devoted herself to improving her heart, skills, and physique so that she would become a suitable partner for Harold. And yet, his back, that she kept chasing after, was still far away from her reach.
Because, while Erica made progress, so did Harold.
He just wouldn’t stop. Therefore, Erica sometimes was crushed by uneasiness, wondering, how could she possibly catch up to him?
But whenever that weakness that lurked within her rose to her head, she would recall those tears that Harold secretly spilled that one day. Harold was also desperately fighting against his anxiousness and fear; by thinking that, Erica could find the strength in herself to recover her crushed heart.
She would tell herself that, someday, her efforts would bear fruit.
【”Erica, is there something wrong?”】
【”Are you tired? Want me to go get some drinks?”】
【”Rather than that, let’s go get some fresh air outside, shall we?”】
While Erica lost herself in her thoughts a little, the surrounding men, having felt that there was something wrong, called out to her and competed to show their worry.
This was the second day of the celebration. Erica was in the lobby, and the guests weren’t all the same as the ones in the banquet hall the day before. Many participants were waiting in here because the preparations in the banquet hall, were they were supposed to gather, had yet to be finished.
There was still time before the start of the day’s assembly. And Erica, who came around a too early, was surrounded by men in the blink of an eye. She thought they would hold back a little considering the previous day’s happenings, but seeing that Harold was nowhere around her, they rushed and flocked towards her en masse.
Looking at their faces, half of them were part of the people who fell prey to Harold’s blood thirst the day before, perhaps that meant that, in a way, they were quite mettlesome.
However, because those men showed too much interest towards Erica, it seemed like the other women who were participating weren’t very pleased. Erica felt some eyes, full of jealousy, aimed at her.
She could keep her distances from them if she were to leave the room, but with her being the main guest’s relative, that solution would not give a very good impression.
And as Erica was troubled about how to settle this matter gently…
【”Get out of my sight, you trash.”】
That sharp voice instantaneously cut off the place’s rising heat. The men surrounding Erica were frozen still.
Harold was standing within the crowd, with a face that did not conceal his bad mood.
【”I’ll give you three seconds. If you want to experience the same thing as yesterday, then stay right here.”】
Without waiting for the three seconds to pass, the men left and scattered in all directions. As expected, it seemed like they had been quite frightened by the previous day’s matter.
That incident turned out to be of a great help to Erica.
【”Thank you, Lord-sama.”】
【”It’s my job. Keep your gratitude to yourself.”】
Erica thought that way of speaking in the imperative form was quite characteristic of him.
Without separating from Erica, Harold entrusted his back to a wall and crossed his arms. Having declared that it was his job, it seemed like he was planning to reliably play his role as Erica’s guardian. His diligent personality, which was in complete contrast to his abusive language, was showing.
【”Where were you?”】
【”I was just keeping Itsuki company.”】
【”Once again, allow me to apologize in my brother’s stead for troubling you.”】
【”Like I told you, if you’re gonna apologize, then just start managing that guy properly.”】
【”I already told him not to do this but he…”】
It was close to impossible to stop Itsuki, who was extremely fond of Harold, from being reckless. Erica instinctively felt like sighing.
Having likely guessed Erica’s sentiment, Harold did not pursue the matter any further.
【”Which reminds me, are my brother and Francis-sama not with you?”】
【”I left those two behind but… Erica”】
Just being called by her name made her heart throb. Erica hid that and replied while feigning calm as well as she could.
【”Just now, you called Francis by his first name, didn’t you?”】
【”Well, he said he prefers I call him that way.”】
【”In other words, you don’t think bad of him, right? “】
【”I was surprised yesterday because of his sudden actions, but I don’t really dislike him since I don’t even know his personality yet.”】
She neither hated him nor liked him. The impression she had of him was that he was a kind of passionate person and was her elder brother’s friend.
However, after thinking about something, Harold asked Erica.
【”If you were asked to marry Francis, would you accept?”】
Erica desperately suppressed her voice so as not to let her emotions rise to the surface. She didn’t understand what was Harold thinking when he asked that, but that question was enough to shake her spirit.
Given her feelings, it would be very difficult for her to accept that marriage. Because that meant giving up on being Harold’s companion.
Erica’s goal of supporting Harold did not necessarily require her to be bound to him. She was perfectly aware of that, in fact, if Harold were to become the companion of a woman other than her, Erica intended to give him her blessings.
However, it was unimaginable for Erica to marry someone else while Harold had yet to be bound to anyone. As long as she had the slightest chance of being chosen by Harold, it was enough for her.
Therefore, she couldn’t accept to marry someone else. That’s likely what Erica would have answered if she was able to give priority to her own feelings.
【”…… Right. I’m aware that you’re not enthusiastic about getting married with me, so, though it would be difficult to do so right away, if it was my brother and father’s decision, if it was for the sake of the Sumeragi household then I――”】
I think I would accept that marriage. Those were the words Erica was about to say, however, she was interrupted by Harold.
【”You idiot. This has nothing to do with your relatives or your household. I’m asking you, Erica Sumeragi, as a person. “】
What did Erica want to do as an individual? What if she could remove her situation and social status from the equation and make the decision with her own feelings?
In that case, then she had decided on an answer. It was the hope that had been continuously warming up within her for eight years already.
【”…. If I had the permission, then I would not accept the marriage. If at all possible, I…. I would like to be bound to the person I truly love.”】
Erica answered so while looking straight at Harold’s eyes.
Harold took on that gaze for a short while, and then turned his face slightly down, as if to cut off his connection with Erica’s line of sight.
Erica might have been mistaken about this, but, as Harold said that with his cold voice, she saw some satisfaction on his face.
(Just now, that smile was…?)
Unlike his usual cynical sneer, it felt as if he had a gentle smile.
But that was only for an instant and there was no way to ascertain it. Even if Erica tried to confirm it from him, he would only deny it.
【”Humph, so you’re back at last.”】
Following Harold’s line of sight, Itsuki and Francis were walking towards here, side by side. Upon seeing them approach, Harold moved his back away from the wall he had been leaning on.
【”If you’re together with these guys, then you won’t be approached by any of those disturbing insects. I’ll be resting in my room until the start of the celebration.”】
Having said that, Harold disappeared from the lobby.
And Itsuki and Francis came around to trade places with him.
【”Where did Lord go?”】(Itsuki)
【”He said he would be resting in his room until the start of the party.”】(Erica)
【”Well, I guess we tired him out.”】(Itsuki)
【”If even Lord is tired, then what about me?”】(Francis)
【”Then, you’re going to rest in your room, too, Franck?”】(Itsuki)
【”I’d like to, but, before that, would you give me just a little bit of your time, Erica?”】(Francis)
【”Well, I don’t mind but…”】(Erica)
Erica glanced at her brother. Although Itsuki disliked it when Francis interacted with Erica, this time he didn’t say anything. In others words, he gave his permission for that.
Had he somehow changed his mind?
【”It’s a difficult talk to have here. Let’s go out to the garden. “】
Following Francis’ lead, Erica went out to the mansion’s courtyard. Since there was a terrace in the garden, there were some people chatting there, but Francis went away from them, and when he came to a place where there was no one else nearby, he stopped his feet at last.
Erica was a bracing herself a little considering Harold’s question from earlier.
【”So, what did you want to talk about?”】
【”I thought I’d apologize to you for yesterday. Sorry for my abrupt actions.”】
【”Please raise your head. I was certainly surprised, but you don’t have to apologize, I’m not angry.”】
【”Thank you. However, I’m not apologizing for you alone.”】
【”What do you mean? By any chance, were you told something by my brother?”】
【”No, I’m doing this for Lord…. or rather, Harold. Oh, hmm, I won’t tell anyone else about him, so please don’t worry.”】
【”….. How did you find out?”】
【”I had no proof of it, but when I went to Itsuki to confirm it, he easily confessed the truth.”】
Erica felt her head aching.
It seemed like some punishment would be needed later on. This, including Itsuki’s attempts to sway Harold, demanded something more than some healhearted warning.
However, putting that aside, how was an apology to Erica related to Harold?
【”So, as I was saying, I got quite the sermon from Harold.”】
【”A sermon, you say?”】
【”In summary, he said something like『Someone of your pathetic level can’t possibly handle Erica.』He turned out to be way scarier as an opponent than Itsuki.”】
Francis smiled wryly. From what he said, it seemed like Harold had repelled Francis for approaching Erica.
However, that was impossible. Because Harold did not want to be married to Erica, so if she were to be bound to someone else, it would have been convenient for him.
There was likely a misunderstanding. That was probably it.
【”….Aren’t you somehow mistaken? It doesn’t quite seem like Harold-sama to put in a word about these kinds of matters.”】
【”Wha-.. Could it be that Harold didn’t tell you anything, Erica? That man is so difficult.”】
【”What do you mean?”】
【”You seem to believe that Harold doesn’t think much of you, but it’s not that surprising. This is what he told me:『Erica isn’t some frail and fickle woman who can do nothing but be protected by others. She has the strength to fight, and an unwavering will to oppose her own fate. So don’t got thinking she’s just some pretty little flower.』”】
【”D, did Harold-sama really say that?”】
【”If you still have some doubts, then just ask Itsuki. Honestly, it felt like he was showing me the large difference between my feelings towards you, and his.”】
Something so convenient could not be possible. Far from her being half-convinced, her doubts had actually taken the advantage over her by far.
However, on the other hand, Erica couldn’t help but wonder, what if it was true? That reality was perhaps what she wanted more than anything else. And no matter how many times she told herself to settle down, she still had some hope.
【”….Gee, if you show this kind of face, I won’t feel like being jealous anymore.”】
【”I don’t know if you’re desperately trying to hide it or whatever, but your joy is clearly showing. I guess if it was me, I wouldn’t be able to get you to make that kind of expression, right?”】
As that was pointed out, Erica promptly put her hands on her face.
Her cheeks had shaped themselves in a way that displayed her great delight. Having become conscious of that, Erica was full of embarrassment.
【”No, that, this, it doesn’t mean that…..”】
Erica was completely flustered as she couldn’t find an excuse. Looking at her being in such a state, Francis was unable to bear it and burst out laughing.
That made Erica’s shyness rise even more.
【”P, please stop laughing at me….”】
【”My bad, my bad. But with this, I understand clearly. It would be quite boorish of me to try to force my way in between you and Harold.”】
【”I have no idea what happened between you two, but the both of you are seriously thinking of each other and you’re just not being honest. Looks like there is no room for anybody else to butt in.”】
Declared Francis, with a cheerful face.
It was hard to believe for Erica, because Harold had never turned this type of words and feelings towards her, but she recalled his smile from earlier.
Since the day before, Francis was constantly trying to appeal to Erica. What if that made Harold a little jealous or anxious?
What if that smile meant that Harold was relieved that Erica said she didn’t want to marry Francis?
【”If that’s true, then I couldn’t be any happier…”】
In a voice low enough that Francis wouldn’t be able to hear it, Erica spoke her honest feelings.
Translator’s note: Getting close to the end of volume 3, and therefore, the start of volume 4!
If you’d like to read chapter 73 or its preview right away, and to support Defiring Translations, you can do so by pledging on my Patreon page!