Alessia tried on a few dresses, and then a sundress and several hats.
Kaon had never seen her with a hat on, so he didn’t know for sure, but she seemed to like them.
He vowed to remember that just in case.

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Their trip back to the mansion was very serene.
Unlike when they had just left the mansion, Alessia had closed her window and was resting quietly.

Kaon’s thoughts ran wild.
It would be ideal if she were simply tired from their excursion, but what if she felt depressed because of the words they had overheard earlier?

“Alessia, If you’re not very tired…” he began, then paused when she opened her eyes.

The lack of expression on her face was unfamiliar, almost strange.
But as soon as their gazes met, she smiled and raised her eyebrows as was her habit.

“I have something I want to show you.
Would you like to come with me?”

Can I look forward to it?”

“Look forward…”

Alessia grinned widely, and Kaon decided to set aside his unnecessary thoughts for a while.


“Are we going through the back door?”


“I haven’t been there yet.”

The two got off the carriage and walked side by side.

Upon approaching, Alessia seemed to regain her usual vigor.
“What is it that you want to show me? You haven’t even given me a hint,” she complained.

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Kaon managed to contain himself.
He was thinking of introducing her to his little friend, Coda, whom he visited several times a day, especially when he was in a bad mood.
He was certain that she was at least somewhat hurt by the conversation they had overheard, and tired from choosing all those clothes, so he thought it would be a nice change of pace to play with the puppy.

The sound of panting grew louder and louder even though they hadn’t reached the door yet.

‘What a good boy! You can tell it’s me, can’t you? Good boy!’

“Coda, come here.” Kaon stretched out his hands and sat down.

Emboldened by his master’s voice, the dog ran at full speed with its relatively short legs.

“That’s right, you’re the best runner.”

As usual, Coda rolled over, his tail wagging enthusiastically, pinkish belly plump due to all the snacks the doting knights gave him.

“Come on, boy.

Coda responded to Kaon’s tone and sat down quickly.

Kaon admired his pet’s sleek fur.
It was a dark gray color, glossy from the grooming that he performed himself.
It was hard to believe that Coda was once a stray dog.
The black eyes and perfect inverted triangle of a nose were all so cute.
He couldn’t believe that such a cute creature could exist.

“Alessia, this puppy here…” He turned around.
“Alessia?” His smile faded.

She was frozen, almost petrified, then staggered back.

Kaon jumped up, grabbing her shoulders and scanning her too-pale face.
“Alessia, wake up!”


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Getting her to breathe was the priority.
He shook her body gently, receiving a low groan in response.
Fortunately, while she was still immobile, her eyes became more focused.

“I’ll apologize properly later,” Kaon muttered, then swept her straight off the ground into his arms.


After returning to their room, Kaon carefully lowered Alessia onto her bed as if handling a fragile glass doll.
He was terrified that he would break her accidentally because she was so light.
Even though he knew she was eating well, he was beginning to have his doubts.

‘What happened? Why did she suddenly…’

He bit his lower lip nervously.

Was it because of Coda? It must have been, since nothing else had happened, but he really couldn’t have foreseen this situation.

‘I should have asked.’

Kaon ran a hand through his hair, his stomach churning.
He’d only wanted to give her a pleasant surprise.

“Young Master Kaon, I’ve brought warm water,” came the voice of a maid.

“Give it to me.
Also, where’s the doctor?”

“He’s on his way.”

He felt unease rise within him even though he had asked for one on the walk back, meaning that it wouldn’t take too long.

“I told them to hurry…”

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“Kaon.” A cold touch brushed over his skin.

Kaon hurriedly turned around to face Alessia, who had opened her eyes and was barely holding onto his hand.
“Alessia, are you awake? Are you okay?”

“…I’m fine.
You don’t have to call the doctor.”


“Please, it’s okay.”


If the person concerned didn’t want to receive treatment, he was in no place to force it.
Alessia sighed in relief when he called the maid again to instruct her that the doctor didn’t have to come.

“Can I have some water, please?”

“Ah, here…” Kaon finally realized that Alessia’s hand was still on his.
“It’s a bit warm, so it is better to drink slowly,” he said awkwardly.

She nodded, taking a sip.
“I’m sorry.
You must have been surprised.
Truthfully, I’m a little afraid of dogs.”

Kaon firmly shook his head.
“It’s nothing to apologize for; I should have checked beforehand.
I’m sorry, I wanted to give you a small present because you seemed down.” He avoided meeting her eyes in embarrassment and guilt.


He hesitated.
“…I’m sure you care about that.”

“Ah.” Alessia blinked.

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She looked a little lost, a little broken, but Kaon’s frustration and worry prevented him from noticing it.


As if she had run out of energy, Alessia fell asleep quickly.
Kaon carefully left the room and headed to Leonida’s office.


“Knocking won’t make me disappear, you know.” Leonida didn’t even look up.

“Oh, sorry.
I’m in a bit of a hurry.” Kaon frowned, scratching his nape with a sheepish expression and gaping at the impossibly tall pile of papers stacked on his sister’s desk.
“Wow, I don’t think I’d have eyes left if I had to do that.
Why are you working on them alone?”

“I’m not.
We’re just double-checking.”



Well, to be fair, Kaon did remember how his father always used to be wrestling with a sickening amount papers too.
Still, Leonida was going through the documents at a speed that implied a familiarity with the process.

He was amazed.
As expected, the position of the head of the duchy was not for everyone, but it was definitely suitable for his sister.
His uncle and the rest of his relatives had no idea just how much was involved if they were still insisting on entrusting him with that position.

Kaon had no such qualifications for it, but even if he had, he didn’t want to become the duke.
He imagined it would be torture for someone like him, no matter how much wealth it entailed.

“You probably didn’t come here just to chat.” Leonida pushed aside a bundle of documents that had just been processed.

Recalling his original purpose, Kaon clenched his fists.
“I want to participate in the forest inspection.”

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