Cordelia put on the dress that Nirupama had chosen for her and let Emina do her hair. Then, she sprayed the rose fragrance onto herself.
"You seem tense, Ojou-sama."
"…… Do I look that way?"
"Yes. Your face is all stiff."
Emina said that, just before Cordelia was about to leave the room. She observed her face in the mirror. Indeed, I might look tense. She realised that and took a deep breath; then she smelt the soft rose fragrance.
(…… It's alright. I can do it.)
She confirmed her appearance once again, and then went to the salon where her aunt was waiting.
"Looks like your preparations went well, Cordelia."
"Yes, it's all thanks to Nirupama-obasama's lovely dress."
"Fufu, you've said something really pleasing, but the dress is only shining because the raw materials are good, you know?"
Nirupama, who had already finished getting ready, greeted Cordelia in high spirits. Nirupama was wearing a dark green dress. The design was relatively calm, but when Nirupama wore it, she added appeal to the dress. She probably dresses well.
Then, Nirupama put her hands on Cordelia's shoulder.
"Ufufu…… I'll show you this angel……"
Those words were probably towards a certain countess, whom she'd mentioned the other day. Nirupama was muttering in a voice that sounded like she was cursing someone. Of course, Cordelia pretended that she didn't hear it. Besides, Nirupama only acted like that for a second.
"It's a nice fragrance, isn't it? It's like you're in a garden."
"Thank you very much. Oba-sama, you're also using perfume."
"Of course. It's a present from my cute niece, after all. I didn't think you would make something like this."
Nirupama was wearing the gentle orange fragrance.
The scents mixing together while they were near, ――― in order for that not to happen, Cordelia had adjusted the essential oils, to some extent, while they were being refined. She had devised them so that the fragrances would only mix lightly with others, and not too strongly, when they got within a certain distance of each other. She could faintly smell the other person's fragrance and there was no discomfort.
Nirupama looked at Cordelia again and muttered in satisfaction.
"But if you had told me sooner, then I would have made an orange dress…… How should I say this, I wonder if they'll laugh at me for not dressing my age."
"If it's Oba-sama, then you'll suit dresses in any colour."
"Thanks. Cordelia's so cute. If you're troubled over something, you can always rely on your aunt, okay?"
"Thank you very much."
"So, if you make a new balm, let me try it too, alright? I'll advertise it for you."
Nirupama spoke while winking and Cordelia smiled and nodded.
Nirupama's smile deepened and she suddenly looked at the entrance of the salon.
"I completely forgot. Elvis-sama asked us to meet him at the entrance once we're ready."
"Otou-sama did? Has he finished getting ready?"
"It's better to say that he hasn't. He came back from the castle and told me he wasn't going to change. So, I thought about talking with him in the salon until you came, but I wonder if he thought I was being too noisy. He told me he'd wait at the entrance and left the salon."
"Is that so?"
"Elvis-sama is really always unsociable; I can't even imagine him being sociable."
Nirupama said that, and walked gracefully towards the entrance. She didn't look like she was rushing at all. So, Cordelia held Nirupama's hands and sped up.
If Otou-sama is waiting, then we must hurry.
However, Cordelia couldn't make Nirupama walk faster with her power. Rather, Nirupama was watching her while smiling. On top of that, the servants, who saw them, were watching them warmly. Cordelia thought that her behaviour was surely childish, but she didn't let go off Nirupama's hand. Elvis was waiting; she had to get her to pick up the pace. However, Nirupama didn't change her pace at all.
"We've kept you waiting, Elvis-sama."
"I'm sorry for making you wait, Otou-sama."
Elvis replied briefly at what Nirupama and Cordelia said. Like Nirupama had stated earlier, Elvis was unsociable today. Rather, Cordelia felt that he was a little grumpy.
(I heard he's busy at work, I wonder if he's tired.)
Or was he tired of talking to Oba-sama, like she'd said he was. Or did he think it was troublesome to go to the Flantheim House today?
I don't know why he's in such a bad mood, but if the answer lies within one of the things I guessed, then I guess it can't be helped. Cordelia decided to visit him with a hot compress after they returned from the evening party.
But in contrast to Cordelia, Nirupama looked like she didn't mind at all.
"Anyway, look at Cordelia. Isn't she cute?"
Elvis responded with silence to Nirupama's lively voice.
Even if it was Cordelia, Elvis had never complimented her before, by calling her cute or anything like that, so if that did happen, then she thought that her heart would jump in surprise. It's enough that he didn't say I don't suit it. She thought that, but Nirupama pointed her right index finger at Elvis and gave him some advice.
"Elvis-sama, even if it's embarrassing, you should compliment women when it's necessary. Please understand a woman's heart."
"Hey, Elvis-sama. Can't you tell your daughter that she's 『cute』?"
"Oba-sama, that's enough……"
It was pointless to press Elvis while he was expressionless and not talking…… Or rather, Cordelia felt sorry for him. Humans had their fortes and weaknesses, so it was pointless to try and force someone to say something.
"You look nice in it, at least."
Even though he had said it in a mechanical voice, Cordelia doubted her ears, since some unbelievable words came out of his mouth. Elvis, the person in question, turned his back and started walking after saying, "Let's go."
"Argh, Elvis-sama! Just say 'you look nice'!! What do you mean by 'at least'?!"
Well, such a trifling thing didn't matter to Cordelia.
(…… Otou-sama complimented me!)
It was inevitable that she felt amazed rather than impressed. However, it wasn't like she wasn't happy. The corners of her mouth rose up naturally. She followed Nirupama and boarded the carriage.
Nirupama talked a lot inside of the carriage, too. She talked about different sweets and fashions, and Cordelia found them really interesting, though Elvis didn't seem like he was listening at all. In rare cases, Nirupama would ask Elvis something and he responded with only three words: "Yeah," "No," and "I don't know."
(…… His interactions with Oba-sama are exactly like with Marquis Flantheim.)
I certainly feel that the way they talk to Elvis is somewhat similar. If so, then it's no wonder Otou-sama's replies are the same…… Does Otou-sama have something that attracts lively people?
The carriage, with the three inside, arrived at the Flantheim residence while she was thinking.
The Flantheim residence was a white mansion, and it looked like it had been cut out from a part of the castle. The Flantheim mansion was bigger than the Pameradia mansion, but the garden was smaller.
(It's a mansion……)
Her own residence was also a mansion, but she was surprised at the different atmosphere it gave off.
(Vernoux-sama, you're really a Marquis' son aren't you……)
Of course, it wasn't like she doubted that, but she would feel strange if she heard that Vernoux, who suited the word capricious, lived there.
A lot of people were already gathered for the evening party and everyone was dressed in gorgeous outfits.
Cordelia followed after Elvis and her aunt while listening to the noisy people. Her heart, which should have calmed down when they left the mansion, started pulsing faster.
"Oh my, it's Countess Weltoria. She looks as pretty as always."
"It's rare to see her with Earl Pameradia."
"Is that child the Earl's daughter?"
"She's around the same age as the prince, isn't she?"
Cordelia tried desperately not to tense her face up in that situation, where she became the focus of attention just by walking.
Smile, smiling is important.
It shouldn't be a problem if she just walked quietly with a smile. In fact, Elvis didn't seem like he cared about the rumours and Nirupama smiled with confidence. She couldn't say she got cold feet while looking at the two. She once again straightened her back and looked forward.
Then, she heard a familiar voice.
"Oh! This is a rare combination."
The voice belonged to Marquis Flantheim; Leonard. It seemed that he was walking around the venue.
"I haven't seen you for a long time, Leonard-sama."
"It's been a while since we've met."
Nirupama and Cordelia gave their greetings and the Marquis nodded in satisfaction. Then, he looked over at Elvis, who didn't say a thing.
"Elvis, you seem to be in a bad mood?"
"Oh, the worst."
"It seems like you have a lot of work to do lately, you must be tired. I thought one of your sons would come in your place today."
The Marquis placed his hand on Elvis's shoulder with a face that said that he knew that Elvis was attending for his daughter. However, his hand was immediately brushed away, as if Elvis was brushing an insect off his shoulder.
But, the Marquis still had a smile on his face. It was as if to say that he was having fun.
Cordelia saw Nirupama concealing her mouth with her fan and laughing at the exchange between the two.
"Leonard-sama, isn't Cordelia so cute today?"
Nirupama said as she talked to the Marquis.
"Yeah. She's so cute that it makes me think that I want a daughter of my own."
(Otou-sama, he's just saying that out of politeness.)
Cordelia felt reassured from that fast rebuke, and she had a smile on her face as she watched the two talk. Of course, it sounded like a joke from just those words, but for some strange reason it no longer sounded like a joke when Elvis said it. Elvis's response seemed to have amused the Marquis more.
"That is up to your daughter. There's a chance for her to become Vernoux's wife."
(Otou-sama, that's a joke too.)
Rather, there's no way it could be anything but a joke, Cordelia thought as she endured and kept the smile on her face. In the first place, something like marriage with Vernoux was impossible unless he changed how he viewed her. Cordelia also didn't think it was possible and could only say, "What stupid things are you saying?" That was why she could be relieved and think of him as just a friend. It wasn't necessary for her to worry about it in the first place, but she did hate herself for taking a moment to imagine it, because of the Marquis' words.
No, nope, it's impossible.
"But, you're also beautiful today Countess Weltoria. You should meet Sara later, she'll be glad to see you after so long."
He said that and looked towards a beautiful woman exchanging greetings with the guests with Vernoux.
The woman with the same blonde hair as Vernoux was Sara Flantheim. She was Vernoux's mother and the Marquis' wife. This was the first time Cordelia had met her, but she knew who she was straight away. She didn't think they looked like each other, but she could tell that the adult Vernoux had some of her features.
"Oh my, are you leaving all the work to your wife and skipping out, Leonard-sama?"
"No. I just wanted to go greet my close friends. That's why I saw you two earlier."
"How convenient for you. Please greet the guests while Sara and I talk. I can't speak normally with her if I'm getting blocked."
"Women spend a lot of time talking, after all…… But, okay. If that makes Sara happy then I'll do it."
The Marquis started walking towards Sara. Nirupama followed but Elvis didn't move.
"I'm going to go talk over there for a bit."
"Okay. Follow me, Cordelia. You're going to congratulate your friend, aren't you?"
A couple of men with frowns on their faces stood in the direction that Elvis was headed towards. She didn't think they would talk about complicated things, considering the place, but Cordelia concluded that it wasn't something that she should interrupt.
Cordelia walked to where Nirupama was, and they headed towards Vernoux.
"Come to think of it, you're using a very rare scent today. Did you import some rare things?"
"No? I haven't seen them in foreign kingdoms either."
Nirupama immediately answered the Maquis, who was tilting his head in confusion while walking. She looked proud even though her mouth was concealed by the fan. The Marquis immediately understood her expression.
"So, the way to obtain it is a secret?"
"Do you also want to use it, Marquis-sama?"
"No, I thought it would make Sara happy. Don't you think it would make a nice gift?"
"I see. It's certainly nice."
Contrary to his favourable question, Nirupama evaded the answer. He smiled wryly.
"It doesn't seem like you'll tell me that easily."
"For now, that is. But, you'll find out soon."
Cordelia reached her destination while listening to the two talk.
"Sara. Countess Weltoria is here."
"Oh my, Nirupama! I wanted to see you."
"It's been a while, Sara. Thank you for inviting me. I came with my dull brother-in-law and cute niece today."
Cordelia spoke at Nirupama's introduction.
"It's nice to meet you. I am Cordelia Enna Pameradia. Thank you for inviting me today."
"You're exaggerating when you say something like invite. I'm especially thankful that you brought Elvis-sama with you. My husband would sulk if he didn't come. He was pouting when he heard that Elvis-sama wouldn't come because he was busy."
Sara spoke jokingly and stared at Cordelia while narrowing her eyes.
"Cordelia-san, I'm so happy to meet you. I've heard a lot about you from my husband and Vernoux. Thank you for getting along with Vernoux."
But, the person in question, her son, said disgruntledly.
"…… Mother. That expression is a little…"
"Oh my, are you embarrassed?"
Cordelia, at least, didn't think he sounded embarrassed at all. If his mouth spreading in a thin line was him being embarrassed, then his embarrassment was a little disappointing.
However, Sara's heart-warming aura didn't change. Probably because her aura was soft. The guests were mostly under the Marquis' care, but the ladies weren't far away from Sara.
On the other hand, Cordelia felt that the ladies' gazes were more focused on Nirupama than Sara.
(Their attentiveness is very high.)
It was an evening party hosted by the Flantheim House, so it wasn't strange if Sara and the Marquis received everyone's attention. However, if Nirupama received more attention than them, then that just went to show how much the ladies couldn't keep their eyes off her. Cordelia didn't doubt it but, Nirupama being in the lead at fashion wasn't just an exaggeration. And, if she drew that much attention then the people around them could probably hear what they were talking about. So, they couldn't talk much about their interests and preferences there, since it would be widely known.
Of course, that was certainly because Nirupama stood out, in the first place, and she had the power to make those around her want to imitate her.
Amidst that, Sara met Cordelia's eyes and tilted her head in confusion.
Cordelia widened her eyes because such a cute action was being performed by a woman with a calm aura.
"What's wrong, Sara-sama?"
"Cordelia-san, you're very unusual, aren't you?"
"Unusual, you say?"
"Yes, the scent of flowers. Nirupama is also emitting a nice smell."
Cordelia felt as if the people around them toned down their voices at Sara's question. Then, they all turned to look at Nirupama.
Nirupama is keeping a secret, that was what they were thinking.
Nirupama put the fan to her mouth.
"Are you interested in it, Sara?"
"Yes. Because Cordelia-san smells like she's in a flower garden. Of course, I also like Nirupama's refreshing scent. It's a citrusy smell."
"But, it's not like you're wearing orange juice and she's not covered in flowers either, right?"
Sara moved her body and confronted Nirupama.
Nirupama removed the fan from her mouth and grinned. The answer that Nirupama muttered while having everyone's attention on her was simple.
"It's a secret."
Sara and the surrounding people's eyes widened at that sentence.
However, Nirupama immediately continued, "But,
"It won't be a secret if Cordelia says it's alright to tell you, Sara."
"If Cordelia-san does?"
"Yes. This child is very smart, and she is my niece who has a promising future. She's also familiar with beauty products, you know?"
Nirupama placed her hand on Cordelia's head as she said that. Cordelia knew that the surrounding ladies were holding their breaths from this conversation.
The grin stayed on Nirupama's face as she turned her gaze at Cordelia, and Cordelia knew what she was aiming for.
Nirupama didn't answer the Marquis when he'd asked because she was looking for the most opportune time to do it.
And she was trying to give Cordelia the advantage. Nirupama's declaration sounded like she was recognising Cordelia for her talents. More than anything, by announcing this with Cordelia's permission, she was spreading Cordelia's network.
"…… Aunt is mean. There's no reason for me to keep a secret from Vernoux's mother."
Sara widened her eyes in surprise at Cordelia's words and then rubbed Vernoux's head over and over again.
"I'm glad that I'm Vernoux's mother."
"Mother, please stop. My hair's getting messy."
"Oh my, are you embarrassed?"
"But, Sara-sama. I've only just started my research. Therefore…… This is a secret between the three of us, Sara-sama, Nirupama-obasama and me."
"Of course, if that's what you wish Cordelia-san. Let's have a secret tea party next time with Nirupama, just the three of us."
"Mother, my hair's getting messy so please stop."
Vernoux said it again, but Sara's hands didn't stop so, he forcibly stopped it with his right hand.
"Oh my, Vernoux has gotten really strong. I'm happy."
"…… I'm glad you're happy."
"Cordelia-san, let's decide on the date of the tea party next time."
"Yes, I look forward to it."
Sara, who proposed that with a smile, was genuinely happy. This was the most favourable development for Cordelia. Therefore, she immediately forgot about her pity for Vernoux, who was fixing his hair.
"Isn't that nice, Cordelia?"
"Yes. I'm very happy."
Not only Cordelia, but Nirupama was also in a good mood.
(Well, of course.)
Of course, I think that Oba-sama is happy for me. However, it wasn't like this had nothing to do with Nirupama at all.
『If you want to know the secret behind the fragrance then ask Cordelia』
Just by saying that, it was impossible for people, who had nothing to do with Cordelia, to quickly ask her about it. Even if Nirupama recognised Cordelia, she was still a child and she had very few chances to appear in public. Like that, a lot of nobles would probably ask Nirupama to introduce them to her.
(If it's like that, then things would work out well for Oba-sama too.)
But then, it also worked well for Cordelia if they went through Nirupama. No matter how much of a chance it was to broaden her network, the amount of information she had on people was too small. It was better for Nirupama to choose people who took precedence over others. Nirupama had more knowledge than Elvis about women's society.
(But, they're reacting more to it than I thought they would.)
She'd thought that it would be easier to spread the aroma if she got the interest of the Marquis and his wife, who were close to the Royal Family, but she didn't think that it would attract that much attention.
(I might have sown more seeds than I thought I would.)
However, if I arrange the stage like this, then I'll have to complete a product that would measure up to their expectation.
(I have to be more fired up.)
"I also have to get psyched up."
Sara uttered the same thing Cordelia was thinking.
Cordelia looked up at Sara in surprise.
"It's my first time entertaining such a cute guest. I'm looking forward to it."
"I'll prepare a lot of sweets," she said, and Cordelia was relieved. She thought that her own thoughts had been unintentionally transmitted to Sara.
(But, I can't believe that Sara-sama is going to prepare a lot of sweets for me.)
The reason why Vernoux often came to the Pameradia mansion was because 『he couldn't eat sweets at home』. That reason was surely because Sara didn't like sweets. Therefore, she was super happy.
She built up a lot of expectations and achieved one of her goals for the day.
"So, mother will be preparing sweets? I'm really jealous of you."
"Vernoux-sama. Happy birthday."
"Thanks. I thought you'd forgotten."
Vernoux, who shrugged as he said that, turned to face Sara.
"Mother, I will leave for a bit. Dilly, can you come with me for a bit?"
"Huh? Yes. But I want to give you your gift before we leave."
Cordelia said that and held out her right hand that was clasped tightly. She opened it when Vernoux peeped at it curiously.
There were a lot of seeds in her hand. The seeds were oval and shone like jewels.
"Dilly, this is…… Are you telling me to grow them?"
"I did think you would enjoy that, but you wouldn't be surprised, now would you?"
Cordelia said as she threw the seeds at the ceiling. The seeds shone more brightly in the light.
"What are you doing……?"
"Please wait a moment."
Vernoux said that one sentence, while surprised, and Cordelia raised her hands and concentrated magic onto her fingertips. Then she fired it at the seeds.
The shining seeds popped and opened. At the same time, a number of flowers began floating in the air. The people around leaked out a shout of joy at the flowers which suddenly appeared.
"Were you surprised? It's a wandering flower that blooms from magic."
"Did you make it, Dilly?"
"It's a bit of an exaggeration to say that I made it."