She and the Morning of the Ninth Day 4
With my heart throbbing over what the main issue would be, I drank freshly brewed coffee. Today’s coffee was different from what I’d drunk before. The acidity and bitterness were suppressed, and the taste was very balanced. To put it simply, it was incredibly easy to drink.
“Ooh… I like this too.”
Coming to Irvine spurred on my love for coffee. As expected, it’s best when drunk at its homeplace. While enjoying the taste, I picked up a chocolate served with it.
I put a hand on my cheek with a sigh. When I bit the chocolate, the filling spilled out and a mellow taste of coffee spread. What an incredible delicacy. I had no doubt it was also a considerable masterpiece.
Ilya seemed poor with bitter things and was drinking it with milk and sugar. I heard her say hot, so she probably has a cat’s tongue1.
After enjoying the tea break, I readied myself to hear the reason the Queen invited me and Ilya. She took us to the room in the back.
I was getting more and more nervous about what secret conversation it would be, but I followed after her.
There were colorful dresses there.
Their designs were also different. Some were princess line, and some were of a mermaid type. However, every dress had a lot of frills, making them look incredibly flashy.
While I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of dresses, the Queen told me joyfully.
“Princess Lydiana, you are going back tomorrow, right? Following our promise from the last time, I’ve been thinking of having you wear a dress of my choice.”
“… Ah, aah.”
Come to think of it, I did promise that.
Various things happened so I completely forgot, but I certainly promised the Queen I’d wear a dress she chose.
She must’ve decided on it since I’d be going back tomorrow. It’s the fact that I made the promise, so I had no objections to being told to wear it.
“I understand. Er, which one should I wear?”
“My! Unlike Ophelia, you’re obedient! It makes me happy!”
Perhaps because my obedient nod struck a chord with her, the Queen’s voice turned cheerful. Then she also spoke to Ilya, who was standing in a daze next to me.
“Of course, you will wear one too, won’t you? Lovely designs will suit you especially well. I’ve always found Hendrik hiding you unamusing. I don’t intend to miss a precious opportunity like this.”
“M-Me too…? B-But… Will they suit me…?”
Although Ilya completely shriveled, the Queen didn’t let her go. She grasped Ilya’s hand and, looking her into the eyes, appealed. She looked just like a carnivore checking on its prey.
“My dream was to dress up my daughter. However, the essential part – my daughter – is like this, right? That’s why I gave up and killed my boredom by dressing up young ladies who came to the castle… But if possible, I want to pour my parental affection into adorning my daughter. It’s difficult with my real daughter, so I thought I could at least do it with you, my daughter-in-law, but… I understand. I’m an annoyance, right?”
The Queen emotionally appealed to Ilya with moist eyes. However, I could see a beast sharpening its fangs in her.
Be that as it may, Ilya didn’t notice. She was completely deceived by the Queen’s acting and nodded, with her own eyes moist.
“I-I… Um, if you’re all right with me…”
“My, thank you. Unlike Ophelia, you are a gentle child.”
“… Esteemed Mother, please stop acting. Not only Lidi, but now even Sister-in-law…”
Raid rebuked her, but the Queen only standoffishly faced away.
“In the first place, it’s because you don’t play along with my hobbies.”
“I’ve said it doesn’t suit me so many times you should understand, right?”
“But you now have a gentleman you love, right? As your mother, I don’t think it’d hurt if you tried to be a little feminine. If he only knows you dressed as a man, there’s a decent chance he’ll be defeated by the difference.”
The Queen didn’t overlook Raid’s face twitching despite her saying it was irrelevant to her. The Queen grinned.
“Ophelia, think of it as one of strategies to win over your beloved gentleman. There’s nothing embarrassing about dressing beautifully and tempting him with captivating words and actions. It’s a natural privilege given to women. You simply didn’t need to use it until now. But since you say there’s a gentleman you want to obtain, you should use all means at your disposal. Am I wrong?”
“T-That’s… not wrong.”
Despite her hesitation, Raid agreed.
“Indeed. It would be much more unsightly if you backed down without making any effort. Do everything that’s in your power. Love is war. And you have a way to control it. Ophelia. Wear a dress. And then smile at the person you have feelings for. As your mother, I can declare that just that is effective.”
Upon the Queen’s confident words, Raid pondered to herself, “Effort… I see, effort, huh,” and then raised her face.
“… Esteemed Mother. Please.”
“Ophelia! You understand!”
“I will put any effort I can into obtaining him!”
“Right! As your mother, I knew you were serious. This is a matter related to the future of Irvine, so I’ll cooperate as much as you want!”
With great determination, Raid grasped the Queen’s hand. As for the Queen, she seemed to be grinning.
She must’ve been happy the conversation went the way she wanted.
―― Raid, you’re absolutely being deceived by the Queen.
That said, I was also interested in how Raid would look if she seriously wore a dress. Having judged it wouldn’t be wise to speak up here, I conveyed to Ilya, “Let’s keep quiet,” with my eyes.
“After all, I hate it! A dress like this doesn’t suit me!!”
“What are you saying? There won’t be a problem if we put make-up afterwards. Ophelia, you’re being unsightly. You decided to do it, so be obedient!”
“Esteemed Mother! I can’t do this!”
Since some time ago, a battle between a mother and child had broken out.
I and Ilya, who had long changed into the dresses prepared for us, judged it would still take some more time and decided to drink newly brewed coffee.
“… I feel sorry for Lady Ophelia.”
“Hmm, but it was Raid’s decision to wear it.”
“You have a point.”
We sat at the table together and leisurely talked.
From time to time I heard Raid’s screams and the Queen’s delighted voice. The difference in their enthusiasm was incredibly amusing.
Just what kind of dress had the Queen prepared for Raid? While looking forward to seeing her in it, I and Ilya were left no choice but to wait patiently, so we decided to amuse ourselves with conversation.
With a face that looked like she was sympathizing with the screaming Raid, Ilya asked me.
“Say Lidi, you know who Lady Ophelia’s beloved is, right?”
“Eh, yup. I was there when they met.”
“How nice. I also want to see what kind of person he is. I’m incredibly curious about what kind of gentleman won over Lady Ophelia’s heart.”
Ilya’s eyes sparkled. Unfortunately, the ears on top of her head were hidden at the moment.
She drew them in because court ladies couldn’t be allowed to see them. I hadn’t looked at her cat ears enough, but it couldn’t be helped, since her situation would worsen if they were seen.
The dress the Queen dressed Ilya in was a lovely one in pastel colors.
The entire fabric was embroidered in flowers and felt a little see-through. There was a large ribbon tied on her waist, and the hem of the skirt spread out lightly, which suited her very well.
1) A Japanese idiom that means a dislike of hot food ↵