“Spar?”

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“Yes.”

Roseline actually had the urge to have a duel or something.
Besides, didn’t she owe her life anyway? It was cheap if she ended up married in a situation where she had nothing to say even if she were a slave for life.

If he’s a man who can marry through the sole reason that I look like his first love, this marriage won’t last long anyway.

If he’d truly found his first love there will be no need for a stand-in anymore.
Even if he didn’t find her, he wouldn’t want to see Roseline anymore if her presence sways away from the ‘real’ over the years.

In a relationship where they don’t know each other, it wasn’t even like they were making a compromise to achieve some goal, and there was no way that the impromptu marriage would be maintained properly.

Of course, all of the married couples who came out of a political marriage didn’t all have a bad relationship, and people who happen to meet and become sworn siblings cared for each other like their lives depended on it, but wasn’t it a rare probability? Roseline was not optimistic enough to believe her case was an exception.

We won’t even… last ten years.
Let alone five.

It wouldn’t go smoothly, but five years was enough to push through.
Wasn’t it better for someone to get a divorce after maintaining a formal marriage life than to live a single life?

“Roseline.
What’s your reason for requesting a spar?”

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As she couldn’t say “I want to hit you one time,” she quickly found an excuse.

“It has been one week since Your Excellency Lord Postenmeyer has left me here.
During that time I couldn’t once leave this room.
Frankly, I am very limited right now.
I feel antsy.”

The situation wasn’t all that stressful, but Roseline decided to exaggerate the strain.

“…is that so?”

First Heinz and Damian, and now Melchor listened attentively to her exaggeration.
Roseline felt a little amazed.
She had been criticized by her family, telling her not to whine and moan about anything, but now a complete stranger accepted her excuse.

“And Your Excellency doesn’t know my abilities.
Since we’ve become a married couple I want to let you know about me.”

“Is that so?”

His response was doubtful.
His tone let it be known that he clearly did not want to spar with her.
Roseline understood that no matter how much the most seasoned knight in the empire sparred with a puny noblewoman, his pride would not allow it.

“In fact, I have no options.
Even if you deny my suggestion I have no choice but to sign the pledge.
However—”

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“However?”

“If you really want to save me by pushing ahead with this marriage, I want you to respect my opinion, too.”

“…do what it is that you want.”

His response was more unexpected than giving permission itself.

Do what I want… Does he even know what that means?

Wasn’t he the one who’d made a motion for an impromptu wedding without even asking her? Roseline thought he would either dismiss her opinion or give her more ground for persuasion.

“Thank you for accepting, Your Excellency Lord Postenmeyer.”

“It’s Melchor.”

“Excuse me?”

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“How can you call your husband ‘Your Excellency Lord Postenmeyer.’ Isn’t that strange? Call me by my first name.”

That was true.
Roseline had no intention of calling the grand duke, a man of first-class on top of maturity, by his first name, but as long as they’re married, she needed to speak more kindly to him.
Also for the sake of not making a slip of the tongue in front of others later on.

Well, before I knew it he started calling me by my first name, too.

Roseline said his name a bit strangely.

“Well then, Melchor.
Please spar with me.”

“I will.”

* * *

The Postenmeyer villa in the capital did not have a drill hall, so Roseline and Melchor went out to the garden to sword fight.

“Roseline.
Is a fine sword okay?”

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“Yes.”

When the Black Knights are in the capital, they seem to wait not here but in separate accommodations at the Imperial Palace.
It seemed to be to keep the knights from moving while not under the watchful eyes of the emperor.

So, there were no other spectators.
Roseline’s observer, Nicholas, came holding a fine sword.

Roseline held the simply designed practice sword that had no designs or decorations.
It wasn’t hers, but it had been well managed so it wasn’t difficult to wield.

“As this is a sparring match, I thought you would give me an unfinished one, but it’s been sharpened right,” said Roseline.

“You aren’t strong enough to be subjected to the swordsmanship I learned in the academy.
I don’t care if you use a real sword.”

His comment clearly undermined Roseline’s abilities.
As she’d expected, he seemed to be unconvinced of her abilities.

“I didn’t say it because there wasn’t really a reason to explain it, Melchor.” Roseline spread her stride a little wider than the width of her shoulders and lowered her hand holding the sword below her waist, tilting the blade diagonally.
“I never said that what I learned in the academy was all about my swordplay.”

Her stance didn’t suit the fine sword centered for stabbing.
It was not suitable for exploration or defense due to its lack of stability; its tilted, unstable stance.
The heel of one foot was hovering in the air; it was a stance specialized for attacking so that she could keep her speed up at all times.

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