Well, several weeks have pa.s.sed since the entrance ceremony.
There weren't any noteworthy events or anything of that sort for a mob like me, and I was finally getting used to this unfamiliar life at the academy.
In terms of the game, this is around the time where the protagonist would finish meeting with the male capture targets. Now that she's finished raising the flags in rapid succession, I suppose this is the period where she gets familiar with the capture targets.
Perhaps since the real protagonist is sly, this is the time where she's thinking about narrowing down who to go after?
Then, I suppose this is around the time where the villainess would show up and say “Know your position.” I can't recall the details too well since I played the game many times over and ended up using the skip function to skim through the text.
Well, I'll leave the story of the protagonist and co. alone without getting involved.
Now that I've begun to get used to life at the student dorms, I'm in the process of deciding which friends to a.s.sociate with.
I'm talking about Daniel and Raymond.
It's also due to the two being placed close to me, but the environment in which we were raised is practically the same. Due to that, conversations between us go well.
We were at a bench in the academy's courtyard.
Us three guys were sitting down while talking about the plans for a tea ceremony in the beginning of May.
“So, what to do for a tea ceremony? We should probably choose who to invite, right?”
During the break in May, the girls have time off, but it's different for the boys. It's when they can invite girls to tea ceremonies to shorten the distance between them.
It's not an event where anybody can send an invitation to anyone like a playboy would. One has to choose a suitable partner from a household of the same rank to invite.
Then, they have to properly open a tea ceremony and not be rude to their partner.
The tea ceremonies have become an unofficial event in the academy…Well, they prepare lessons for boys on how to welcome women as a gentleman, and that's so that they can show it off during the break in May.
Raymond cast his eyes downwards towards Daniel's worry.
“We do have our allowances from home, but we can't make a luxurious tea ceremony. Any girl would be fine as long as they partic.i.p.ate in my tea ceremony.”
The academy costs money, even though we aren't charged for living expenses like tuition fees or meals. Boys in particular are charged quite an amount of money, and is something they can't work around.
Even though I have some money in reserve, that's not a reason to burn through it, and I don't want to use it.
Why is it that we have to use up a large amount of money to humor a girl?
The thing about this tea ceremony…is that if one avoids doing it or just doesn't set one up, then the girls will start spreading rumors about them through their network. They'll spread talks about how that person didn't open a tea ceremony, and it would put them at a disadvantage when it come to marriage.
Even if they're not interested a partner, they still need to make a solid tea ceremony.
Like how us boys share our information around, the girls share their information around as well. Becoming an enemy of the girls means having them spread bad rumors, making things tedious.
This is yet another aspect where boys are at a disadvantage. In the first place, since girls hold the strong position in marriages, the boys are ultimately left with a weak one.
Then, there's one problem.
My merits have allowed me to exert independence after graduation, and I'm seen as a rich person by my surroundings. They're aware that I've gotten my hands on treasures of gold and silver.
“Does this mean I have to do a formal tea ceremony? It seems I do. Honestly, that b.u.ms me out.”
While us three were feeling down before the May tea ceremony, we saw Julian, who could be described as a winner, walking with followers and women accompanying him.
Near him was one of his close friends and bodyguards who is the heir to a viscount household──foster brother “Jilk Fier Memoria.”
He had deep green, long hair that made one question if that was really his natural hair. He had green, droopy eyes that contrasted with the prince's sharp glare.
Though he's from a viscount household of the royal court, he's also a close friend of the prince to the point of being a foster brother. It's obvious that he will be given an important position in the future.
The girls that talk to him have hearts in their eyes, and there are boys of high-ranking earl households near and far that pridefully follow and serve him.
“Are you going to open a tea ceremony in May, your Highness?”
“I want to partic.i.p.ate too.”
“M, me too!”
Looking at the girls who wanted to be invited to the prince's tea ceremony like dogs wagging their tails, we had to come to terms with reality.
Raymond covered his face with both hands.
“…Since his Highness and other n.o.ble families are here, it's going to be a big hurdle.”
Daniel dropped his shoulders.
“Quite the comparison to make between him and us. Pardon my frankness.”
Looking at the envious scene of the prince and the others, one girl then came along. She had followers surrounding her. It soon became apparent that she was of a high social status…
This person was a daughter of a duke household──”Anjelica Rafua Redgrave.” She was a girl with blonde hair that seemed to sparkle and had an upswept hairstyle.
Her white skin was lovely and her red eyes were fierce.
Her eyes gave off a strong impression and would make someone soon realize that there was something different about her from the others.
It seemed that she and the prince were both people that naturally had something about them.
I believe that on the inside, the protagonist definitely has something grand about her as well. Undoubtedly, there was something about her that made one recognize at a glance that she had a different feel than normal people.
Otherwise, I'm pretty sure that the crown prince and the other capture targets wouldn't have swayed towards her.
Although she may appear normal, she, the protagonist, definitely has a unique aura surrounding her.
“Is that his Highness the crown prince's fiance?”
The girls surrounding both the prince and Jilk took a distance faster than I could say it. It seemed that they weren't fools who would try to get invited right in front of the prince's fiance.
None of them wanted to even say a word.
Anjelica's eyes got a bit sharp.
“Crown prince your Highness, I have something to talk about regarding the May tea ceremony. Is it alright that we attend together?”
Within the academy, it's said that one should not to abuse the authority of their position nor their parents' power, but such a thing is not possible to stop in the real world.
Julian breathed a small sigh.
“Anjelica, you're coercing the surrounding people. This is the academy.”
“Right, I know. However…the people around you are quite noisy, crown prince your Highness.”
There was no fool in the academy that would go against the daughter of a duke household.
The girls awkwardly averted their gaze from Anjelica.
“I suppose this is the protagonist's rival. I get this strong feeling that she's a formidable enemy.”
As I was mumbling to myself, there was one girl remaining in the place where the crowd had dispersed.
I squinted upon seeing her.
If Anjelica was said to be a beautiful woman, then this girl felt like a small and cute person.
She was a girl with blonde hair, blue eyes, and was the daughter of a viscount family.
Her name was “Marie Fou Lafuan.”
She's someone that I haven't come to like in any way.
I get irritated looking at her. Yet, it's not a feeling of hatred, but something complex…I can't put it into words.
Jilk noticed that she was looking over their direction with her blue eyes and notified the prince.
“Hmm? Aah, it's Marie. Perfect, I was looking for you. Can you come over here?”
The prince smiled while looking at Marie.
Anjelica's eyebrows moved with a twitch.
When one of her followers whispered about Marie into her ear, she knit her eyebrows grandly.
Marie went over to him since her called for her, and a feeling of tension rose in the location.
It seemed that Daniel, with his hands over his stomach, wanted to run away on the spot.
“Can I not go home?”
A quarrel was awakening near the bench, but we would stand out if we got up and escaped. Raymond shook his head.
“No. It's better not to move until it's over. All things considered, perhaps she's the rumored girl.”
“Do you know who she is, Raymond?”
Uneasy about Marie, I asked about her, and it turned out that she was relatively famous.
“You don't know, Leon? There's been talks about her. She, Marie, had slapped his Highness Julian.”
Daniel was surprised upon hearing him say that.
“…That's gotta be a lie, right? I heard that when she dined together with a prestigious n.o.ble, she ordered a steak and ate it vigorously. That's the rumor I know about.”
This time, it was Raymond that was surprised.
“Huh? Is that so? I didn't hear about a rumor like that. But, it seemed that Julian actually forgave her for the slap while smiling.”
It turned into a conversation about Julian's leniency, but does this Marie girl not know her surroundings? Then there's her eating a steak like a guy would…hmm?
There's something about this in my memories, but I can't recall it.
Thereupon, Marie called out to Julian with a lovely voice.
“Could you invite me, your Highness?”
“Actually, the boys have plans to arrange tea ceremonies in May. Since I don't really want to hold a flashy one, I planned on only inviting acquaintances. So, I wanted to invite you too.”
Hearing that, Anjelica objected.
“Crown prince your Highness, there are rules to the tea ceremonies as well. I won't say that it needs to be flashy, but a suitable scale──”
However, Julian didn't cease.
Then I remembered this scene.
──Wasn't this the game's coercion event?
However, it doesn't seem like the protagonist is here. When I stirred around trying to find her face while uneasy, Raymond seemed to have taken notice.
“What are you doing?”
“Well, there's someone I'm looking for…is the scholars.h.i.+p student here?”
Raymond similarly looked at the surroundings, but shook his head.
“She's not here. To begin with, the scholars.h.i.+p student wouldn't mix in here. Look, just stay quiet. Bear with whatever you're feeling until this storm pa.s.ses.”
We can't escape.
There were occasionally some students that would try to enter the courtyard, but run away after noticing the strange mood. I'm envious of those that were able to escape.
The prince seemed a bit annoyed while arguing with Anjelica.
“That's enough, Anjelica. This is the academy. I'm just a student here. You're my fiance, but that's no reason for you to interfere this much.”
Anjelica backed down after hearing that.
“…Excuse my discourtesy.”
Saying that and stepping away, Anjelica glared at Marie in the end before leaving.
Her surrounding followers also turned towards Marie with a harsh look.
“My apologies, Marie. I made you feel bad.”
“N, no, I'm fine. However, is it really okay for me to partic.i.p.ate?”
Jilk shrugged his shoulders while smiling.
“His Highness is not fond of formalities. He hopes for a tea ceremony with a light mood. By all means, he wants you to partic.i.p.ate, Marie. Besides, his Highness has never been so eager to invite a woman until now.”
Jilk chuckled while the prince looked away in embarra.s.sment.
“A, anyways, I want you to partic.i.p.ate. Look, let's go, Jilk.”
When the prince and Jilk started moving, their followers left as well. However, they too looked at Marie with a complicated gaze.
Daniel and Raymond were relived after having finally been freed, but I looked at Marie's countenance.
Perhaps not thinking that anyone was watching, Marie negligently let something slip for just a moment. It was really just a moment──but she let out a slight grin.
Turning away from Marie like that, I joined the two in leaving the location.