the comb to the maid waiting patiently on the side.
“Rose should sit next to me at the tea party, don't forget that I've already sent an invite to you earlier.”
“Ah, yes, I will remember.”
Rose's complexion darkened.
A tea party with not just one or two, but close to ten strangers.
Allison turned to Rose.
“You don't have to go if you feel uncomfortable.”
Alison would take care of it if Rose truly did not want to attend.
Rose wanted to accept and say she would not go.
However, she shook her head because she could not refuse the invitation of Alison, who, above all, was willing to think of her and help her in many ways.
“No! It's the first tea party Alison invited me to.
I will attend! Tea party etiquette…
ah, mine is a bit clumsy.”
“Don't worry about that.
It's just to get together to have a casual chat.”
Rose sat down next to Alison.
Her hair was already set well in advance as she was coming to the Imperial Palace, but the maids still demanded to add a few finishing touches.
Rose, who had entrusted her appearance to the trusty maids, cast her eyes on Alison.
The marquise had finished her make-up and was getting her hair styled.
Alison sat serenely, the sunlight shining down on her through the window.
Tinted glass mobiles hung from the windows, and the variegated colors painted Alison's silver hair.
Russell's hair did the same in the light when we were in the Imperial Library.
Russell's silver hair, which had been colored by stained glass windows, was as mysterious as Alison's hair now.
Rose stared at the silver hair, which was dyed in a variety of colors, and perhaps feeling her gaze, Alison turned her head towards Rose.
“Why are you staring at me like that?”
“You're sorry? If I were a man, I might have mistaken the intentions of Rose's intense gaze.”
Rose replied with a laugh.
She took Allison's words as a joke, unaware that Alison meant what she said.
…Haha she hasn't interacted well with other nobles so far, only looking at Duke Proud.
I don't even know how many men are in love with Honeywell's Rose.
Allison shrugged and changed the subject.
“So why were you staring at me like that?”
“Alison's hair looks amazing!”
Turning her head towards the mirror, Alison took in the beauty reflected in the mirror.
Is this person really me?
It was just a few days ago that I put all my effort into dressing up to attend the debut concert, so it's not like it's been a long time since I've seen myself dressed up.
Alison turned her head slightly to look at her hair in the mirror, tilting her head to get a better angle.
“Is it strange, Rose?”
When she was asked, Rose stared in awe at the hairstyle consisting of strands of hair separated into two and plated into an updo, and Rose denied it at once.
[TL/N: Imagine a milkmaid braid.]
“Alison, it's beautiful, I pointed it out because I thought the color of Alison's hair, which was touched by the shadow of that glass mobile, was mysterious and pretty.”
Only when mentioned did Allison notice that her hair reflected in the mirror was dyed by the colors of light.
Whenever the glass mobile on the window swayed, the color dyed in her silver hair also swayed back and forth.
“It seems that the silver hair of the royal family is particularly good at taking different colors.
Maybe that's why, when delegations from other countries came, they often mistook our hair lit by the chandelier for blonde?”
“It must be so.”
That's why His Majesty's hair color was like that.
They were interrupted by the butler, who requested an audience.
The butler in charge of the annex approached and announced that the ladies were arriving one by one, so Alison and Rose prepared to leave the room.
Shall we go? Oh, did you come directly from Honeywell Manor?”
Rose, who was putting on her coat with the help of a maid, hesitated for a moment at Alison's question and nodded.
I'll introduce you at the tea party to Ilya Titonsser, the daughter of Baron Titonsser.
My older brother helped Miss Ilya attend the imperial debut in return for being indebted to Baron Titonsser.”
“I remember her face.
I've seen all the young girls and lords who made their debut.”
When everything was ready, the butler guided the two of them.
Rose trailed behind Alison.
This is the first tea party for noble ladies with Alison.
Although Alison and Ilya are here, I feel my heart beat abnormally with this tension.
…When the invitations came to the mansion a few times, my older brother probably sent a letter of refusal along with a gift.
I don't want everyone to feel uncomfortable because I'm suddenly attending today.
Rose imagined sitting at a table in the conservatory and enjoying a tea party.
[TL/N: She is beginning to panic as she doesn't have much experience interacting with ladies of society, so her mind is wandering to a possible outcome of how the tea party would play out.]
The imaginary ladies Rose thought of were kind; they talked about fashion that was popular among nobles these days, and their husbands, who had traveled abroad, shared their experiences with them.
Then, suddenly, their eyes would turn to Rose.
Their faces, full of smiles just a moment ago, do not contain any expressions now.
Rose was well aware of the meaning behind those nonchalant expressions.
It was the expressions of the people from the time when she asked for help to heal Wells, who had been struck down by Elliot's sword in the hall of the Imperial Palace, but no one came forward.
All the noble ladies in her imagination were looking at her with the same faces as back then.
The terrible memory broke Rose's defenses and snapped her back to reality.
Taking a deep breath, Rose stopped walking and covered her mouth.
My heart is pounding, and I have a bad feeling that something is going to come pouring out from the inside at any moment.
No! Now is not the time.
This time is different from when everyone turned away.
She forced those traumatic memories away, but the nightmare that haunted her memory came to mind like a flood.
Rose crumpled, shouting for help, but no one came forward.
Wells, who was bleeding non-stop.
The knights who led him away from her.
The butler and Alison, who had been walking ahead, look back at Rose.
The marquess found Rose standing in place and covered her mouth with both hands.
Her slender body swayed to and fro like a flower in the midst of a typhoon, eventually collapsing.
The last sound Rose heard was Alison's voice urgently calling her name.
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