It was the day after my devious mischief.
“Hi there, Ilse.” Tristan, my former fiancé, walked up to me wearing a brisk smile. Joshua casually stopped his hand, with which he tried to hold my waist as though it was natural.
Tristan looked miffed for a second before immediately regaining his composure and giving another smile. “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”
“It’s cloudy,” I replied to his off-base greeting with a blank look.
What does he want? Did he come to apologize for the other day?
I’ve received an apology letter from him and his father, but he never tried to see me until now. He was probably waiting for the shame of writing that letter to cool down. I really don’t need a man who can’t even apologize without help from his daddy.
“Can I help you with something?”
“I figured it was about time for your head to have cooled down.”
And… he’s trying to patronize me. I wonder what kind of thought process would lead to thinking this was a good idea right now.
“Listen, if you give me an honest apology, I’m willing to talk to my father for you.”
“He really is an incurable idiot,” Joshua whispered in my ear.
“I’m willing to forgive a single mistake. You know I’ve always had a big heart.”
“Oh, wow, that’s very generous of you. I’m so happy.”
“My lady, neither your mouth nor eyes are smiling.”
Well, the face mirrors the heart. I see no reason to pretend to smile for the likes of you.
“I suppose you must have been hurt by what I said, and that’s why you acted the way you did. I just wanted to be mean to see your reaction. And you’ve certainly lived up to my expectations, so I want to reciprocate your love, this time.”
Is his head packed full of toffee? I’m pretty sure his father would have told him to put me in a good mood, but his efforts so far have been rather counterproductive.
“You know, Tristan. I’ve always wanted to tell you something.”
“What is it?” His face lit up with expectation. Perhaps his skull is made of candy wrap, too?
“I’ve never once felt anything resembling love towards you. You should know your place.”
Perhaps unable to understand my words, Tristan froze with a dumbfounded look on his face.
“Lady, you’re tearing the candy wrap.”
“If it were up to me, it wouldn’t have been wrapped up in the first place. It’s a waste. Wrapping isn’t free.”
“Ilse, You’re awful~!”
I turned to look at the source of the sudden interruption. Naturally, it was Esther, teary-eyed and trembling with her hands clenched over her mouth.
“Wow, she’s here.”
“She has a talent for suddenly appearing out of nowhere.”
“Is there a meaning behind that pose?”
“It’s useful for making her seem like a small animal. Makes men feel more protective of her.”
Esther ran up to Tristan, paying no attention to our openly disgusted faces.
“Tristan, Are you okay~?” She grabbed his sleeve and started comforting him, upturned eyes wide open.
“She and I really are similar, aren’t we?”
“…For a moment there, I thought you were being serious.”
I laughed with Joshua while looking coldly at Esther, who created a world for just her and Tristan. She glared at us with tears in her eyes. Probably didn’t like that.
“Please stop hurting Tristan~! He’s been worried sick for a long time!”
“Like, about what’s for dinner tonight?”
After all, he’s a man with minimal brain capacity. It must have been a shallow problem for him to care about it.
“No~! You’ve been acting cold lately, so Tristan wanted to get you back.”
“Is that what this farce was all about?”
“Calling it a farce… How Awful~!”
“Awful~,” Joshua repeated in a whisper behind me, presumably trying to get the hang of his Esther imitation. Please stop before you make me laugh. And don’t even think about copying that pose.
“Tristan is not the sort of man Ilse can look down on! He’s such a wonderful person!”
“Esther…” Tristan murmured in an emotional tone, apparently impressed with Esther’s unwarranted approval. The only thing that’s wonderful about him is the title and looks. Inside he’s just a bunch of sour toffee.
“Would a wonderful man declare that he’s breaking off our engagement in public?”
“Oh, ugh, that’s…” Tristan flinched, as foolishly honest as ever. His father must have given him plenty of lectures before today, telling him not to do anything conspicuous.
Once again, we were in a school corridor, and curious eyes were pointed at us from everywhere. Esther’s voice was unnecessarily loud, and prying students gathered from all around to gawk.
Of course, Esther was purposefully trying to attract attention. The more eyes looking at her, the more passionate her Tragic Heroine act gets.
“Say, in the first place, isn’t it an act of infidelity for a betrothed man to be alone with another woman, despite having a fiancé to consult with?”
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of…”
“Unlike the sloppy forgeries you call evidence, we have proper witnesses. I heard the atmosphere was quite intimate.”
I smiled, and Esther and Tristan flinched in unison. Ah, I see. So this is what it means to have a villain’s face. I looked at Joshua for confirmation, and he whispered, “it’s wonderful,” giving a deep nod. Apparently, I managed to tug at his heartstrings.
“I was just talking with him as a friend~! Why would you say that?!”
“What kind of friends stare at each other with their fingers intertwined? What were you talking about, with your head lying on his shoulder?”
“W-what? How could you know that?” Tristan seemed clearly upset at my matter-of-fact retelling of events.
He probably thought eyewitness testimonies would be limited to the two of them being alone in an empty classroom or something like that.
Who could have thought that a student heading to a relative’s house would chance upon the two of them having a secret meeting, having gone out of their way to avoid acquaintances’ eyes.
“They must have confused me with another girl! I’ve never even been to the church ruins!”
“T…t-that’s right! Where the hell even is Maetis!?”
Oh my. This pair of morons sure do match each other. That was undoubtedly the most hilarious show of self-incrimination I’ve ever seen.
“Lady, don’t you feel like we’re making fools of ourselves by even trying to talk to these two?”
“Oh, but I do. I want to get out of here as quickly as possible.”
I wonder if it’s really worth it to deal with these guys.
Joshua’s hand patted my shoulder, trying to comfort my waning motivation.
Where I wrote “toffee,” the original text referred to Fugashi, a cheap, traditional Japanese sweet made by coating strips of dough in melted brown sugar by frying. It’s sold in many convenience stores and goes well with tea.
Oh, and “candy wrap” referred to Oblaat (オブラート), which is an edible wrapping used for both medicine and candy.
Also, this chapter had one instance where Joshua seemingly reacted to Ilse’s internal monologue (“Lady, you’re tearing the candy wrap.”). Let us all imagine the two of them have had many a conversation about the contents of Tristan’s skull, during which the candy wrap analogy came up once or twice. Or maybe Joshua is just so good at predicting Ilse’s thoughts he developed telepathy. Who knows?