The ruins of old Maetis Church were converted to a café, preserving the historical building while utilizing the beauty of the stained glass windows. It is said to be a popular dating spot among lovers in the area.
The place was filled with so many flirting couples that the two of them must have gotten a little carried away themselves. They were witnessed feeding each other and sipping from one glass with two straws, so the atmosphere may have caused a few screws to come loose.
They’ve had a few other activities of the same vein, apparently all prepared in advance by Esther. Tristan was initially hesitant, sensibly worried about being seen in such a public location, but he eventually gave in to Esther’s demands and ended up enjoying himself too.
It was probably a fresh experience for him, since nobles would normally never do this sort of thing with each other. Personally, I would never have even considered doing something like that, even had I not been a noblewoman.
Standing at the receiving end of my silent stare, Tristan and Esther seemed to have finally recognized their latest blunder. They started making all sorts of excuses—Not a single one of which could be considered anywhere near reasonable, which was downright astonishing.
Honestly, I quite enjoy seeing their panic, but it doesn’t seem like it would end anytime soon, so I’d better cut it short.
“…Oh, well, it’s not like this is any of my business anymore,” I said.
“Huh?!” they shouted, both making the same goofy noise.
“We’ve already terminated our engagement. What do you have to worry about? Feel free to love each other to your heart’s content; nobody would think twice about it.”
Well, their date actually happened while the two of us were still engaged, but I genuinely couldn’t give a damn. Even when I first heard about it, I was more exasperated than angry, thinking, “You could have done better than that, you dimwits.”
“Nonsense! Didn’t I just tell you I was only testing you? I never agreed to cancel our engagement!”
“Your agreement was unnecessary. I’m sure you remember this was originally a contract between your father and me,” I smiled, and Tristan looked like he was about to cry. He knows very well he has no authority to gainsay his father.
“B-but, you haven’t even talked to my father yet, have you?”
“No, we’ve already discussed it. You sent me a letter of apology, didn’t you? I went straight to your father with the messenger who delivered it, and we’ve dealt with all the paperwork to annul the engagement.”
When you set your mind on doing something, it’s best to get it done as soon as you can. It’s an ironclad rule of business that contracts should be signed as early as possible.
“I’ve never heard of this!”
“Did I not tell you? Well, whatever. You would have forgotten it anyway.”
Of course, Tristan’s father was surprised at my sudden appearance. It’s unusual for such meetings to be held without prior appointments. Nevertheless, he must have sensed my seriousness from the urgency in my behavior, and we managed to finish everything on the spot. Initially, he tried to desperately implore me to reconsider the annulment, but I naturally refused—After all, it was his own son’s idea.
After that, he tried to use my refusal as pretext to improve the terms of his loan from us. Betrothal aside, he had taken good care of my family for several years before I managed to rebuild our business, so I was willing to offer him good terms to repay the favor.
“Your son has given me nothing but trouble, and I feel no obligation to do anything for him, but I do intend to repay your kindness,” I said.
Tristan’s father read the annulment contract carefully, thought for a while, and finally agreed to sign. I suppose he thought it would be more worthwhile to settle things there than to cause any more strife after what his foolish son did.
Unlike his son, Tristan’s father is a reasonable man.
And thanks to that, my rotten relationship with Tristan was cleanly severed, without his knowledge or formal consent.
“Anyway, I’m no longer your fiancé or anything like that. I’m a stranger. If you’d like to go out with Miss Jones—be my guest.”
“Just like that?! How could you throw away our relationship so easily? What about all the feelings we’ve accumulated over the past ten years?”
“You mean patience? Or maybe resignation…”
Well, it’s really just me who’s been accumulating all those feelings. And now the time has finally come for me to throw them all away. It’s very refreshing. Decluttering is incredible.
“You’re such a coldhearted woman!” Tristan screamed with tears in his eyes. Even seeing that, my heart wasn’t moved at all. I can confidently say that love and affection were not among the feelings I’ve accumulated.
“Oh~ It’s alright, Tristan. As Ilse said, it’s finally time for you to be freed from your chains!”
Please don’t treat people like restraints. Who’d waste a perfectly good chain on this guy?
I watched Esther’s solo theater performance, suppressing the urge to click my tongue.
“You’ve always said that, didn’t you? That Ilse was the reason you couldn’t shine. That Ilse always got in the way of our true love.”
What the hell? Did he really say that? It’s entirely your fault that you “couldn’t shine,” isn’t it? Stop blaming other people. I silently stared at Tritan, and he awkwardly looked away.
“It’s finally time for the two of us to grow our true love without any distractions getting in our way! I’m so happy!” Esther squealed, entwining her fingers with Tristan’s with sparkling eyes.
I feel like I may have just been casually labeled a distraction, but whatever. I was so impressed by her quick turnaround and over-the-top theatrics that I wasn’t even angry anymore.
She’s quite the actress.
“Congratulations, both of you. I’m happy too.”
Very much so. I am sincerely happy.
“I never thought we would get blessed by your ex-fiancé. Our encounter really was fate!”
“That’s not what I meant… Ilse, you…”
Tristan finally seemed to realize he had been discarded in earnest. He stood there dumbfounded, Esther’s words barely even registering.
He must have thought I was willing to keep my contracted vow of obedience because, deep down, I truly loved him.
But who would love such an arrogant person who, year after year for over a decade, keeps getting carried away, belittles me, gets intimate with other women, and would even declare the end of our betrothal in public, only to claim it was a jest?
Getting cut off so easily must have been a blow to his self-confidence. But his self-esteem has always been unreasonably high, so this should be good for him.
An unrelated note:
I’ve been listening to Star Traveler, the first ending song of Kageki Shoujo! on repeat for about an hour now (really), and I’m positively convinced it’s the best shoujo anime song this side of the nineties. The show itself is also very good, dealing with some serious themes that anime tends to shy away from. You should give it a try if you haven’t already.