Chapter 11: Worldly appearance is a disease
As they continued their peaceful life, a sprout emerged in a corner of the wilderness.
While Diana was watering it as usual, she heard footsteps approaching from a distance.
It was Fritz. Diana stood up and greeted him.
“Hey, bride. How are you doing?”
“. . .Um, what brings you here today?”
“Is Leon here? I have something to discuss with him.”
“. . .A discussion?”
“Yeah. Since it’s something related to you as well, I’ll tell you first. It’s about the wedding.”
He had brought another topic that would likely upset Leon.
“. . .The wedding.”
A shadow appeared on Diana’s face, and Fritz quickly tried to smooth things over.
“I feel really bad for showing you the unpleasant side of our family. But, we also have to consider our reputation.”
Diana tilted her head. It was a word she hadn’t heard in a long time.
From the back, Leon came down from the hillside with wisteria flowers and lemons. This syrup had been a nice addition to their life together.
When Leon recognized his older brother, he furrowed his brow.
“Well, come on in, bride. There have been some things happening since then.”
Even if they were told that various things had happened without their knowledge, they couldn’t grasp the reality.
Since the fourth son had brought Diana into the shed, Leon had no choice but to enter as well.
Fritz took a seat and, as if seeking redemption, handed a basket filled with eggs to the two of them.
“It’s about the wedding.”
Tension filled the shed.
“It’s going to be held in the village square in a week.”
Leon pushed the basket away. Diana watched the conversation unfold between the two of them.
“Well, um. . .I know it might feel like none of my business to Leon, but George is the eldest son, so he has to attend the weddings of his other siblings. Now that your marriage has become known in the village, we have to do it for appearances’ sake.”
“Oh. . .After beating up little Leon so much, now you’re suddenly concerned about appearances. . .”
“Well, I understand what you’re trying to say. It’s pretty low to bully someone when they’re small and then act like nothing happened when they grow up and become stronger, right?”
“I never want to see you again.”
“D-Don’t say things like that. . .I want you to reconsider. If we don’t have a wedding ceremony, do you know what kind of rumors will spread in the village?”
Leon’s momentum was slightly diminished by those words.
“. . .Rumors. . .about me?”
“That’s right. Diana-san has a very good reputation in this village. If we don’t have a ceremony for such a kind-hearted bride, people might start digging into why and speculate about things that have nothing to do with reality.”
“. . .”
“For example, you might be treated as the worst husband imaginable. Or there might be suspicions about Diana-san having some strange circumstances, creating unnecessary smoke where there is none.”
Leon turned pale in an instant.
Rumors and the ability of country folks to investigate one’s personal life sometimes exceeded one’s imagination. Once a rumor started, no matter how ridiculous and unfounded it was, it would spread like wildfire.
Diana crossed her arms and contemplated.
Regarding reputation, Diana was also a daughter of a trading family. She understood well the difficulty and danger of handling it.
And she was also well-versed in finding a compromise.
After all, she was still a young lady.
She raised her head.
“Um. . .”
“Yes? What is it, Diana-san?”
“Maybe Leon doesn’t see any benefit in having this wedding?”
Fritz’s eyes widened.
“. . .Huh?”
“Considering that Leon doesn’t gain anything from caring about appearances. So, he’s saying that he can’t find a reason to have the wedding.”
Fritz looked up diagonally and nodded a few times.
“I see, that makes sense.”
“George-san and Fritz-san have something to gain from caring about appearances. They’ll be seen as good people. But for Leon, being forced into it brings back unpleasant memories and causes emotional damage.”
“I see, I see.”
“So, if there are benefits that outweigh that discomfort, he might consider getting married, right?”
“Hey, Diana. . .”
Leon interrupted their conversation nervously.
“What are you thinking. . .”
“Well, in other words, if George wants a formal request, send something over!”
Leon held his temple, suppressing a headache, while Fritz burst into laughter.
“This is unbelievable! Hey, Leon. Your bride-to-be is quite clever, huh?”
“. . .What on earth are you talking about, Diana?”
“But Leon, you mentioned it before, didn’t you? You were dissatisfied with your share of the inheritance, right?”
“Ugh. . .”
“Unlike your other siblings, you were only given this remote place. That’s what’s always been frustrating you, Leon. If you could get something, wouldn’t it distract you a little?”
“That’s a foolish idea. . .”
“But you also have a chip on your shoulder, don’t you? You’re fixated on your wedding as a way to make up for something. So why not make up for it here, Leon? Let me make it clear, this is not a fight. It’s a negotiation. A negotiation that stakes their reputation. Let’s win this negotiation. And let Leon have a slightly more prosperous life. It will be a small revenge against your Onii-sama. We should use the wedding as leverage to gain some profit. You have the right to do that!”
Leon looked up at Diana, who was passionately speaking.
While delivering her speech, Diana was also thinking like this.
(I can’t let go of this perfect opportunity to have a wedding with the person I love, Leon!!)
No one in this cabin could stop Diana, who was fueled by both revenge and maiden’s heart.
She gazed at Leon, whose expression gradually changed, and was exhilarated by the looming reality of the wedding.