“Just as expected, nee-sama, you’re as pretty as a picture no matter what you wear.”
Having finished dressing her, Rem looked over her older sister standing before her, and let out a sigh of admiration.
Hearing those words, the older sister – Ram – ran her hands lightly over her peach-colored hair.
“Do you think so? If you say so, Rem, then it must be true.”
“Yes. There’s no doubt whatsoever. Rem is proud to have a sister like you, nee-sama.”
“Naturally. Even without meaning to be, Ram is the sort of nee-sama one would want to be proud of.”
Smiling, Ram twirled in place in response to her younger sister’s praise. She made the skirt of her brand new purple-red evening gown flutter, and Rem clapped her hands at such loveliness that one couldn’t help but think it exceeded any other beautiful maiden.
Ram’s pale red eyes, and the dignity infused into every part of every gesture, charmed Rem to the bottom of her heart.
She felt like she wanted to let the entire world know how wonderful her older twin was.
“But, it’s just the same for Ram, you know.”
“Rem, too, is a cute little sister that Ram can’t help but want to boast about. Indeed, you’re wonderful.”
For a moment, her eyes went wide as she couldn’t believe what she was being told, and then Rem’s cheeks went red.
Even as she hung her head down, Rem’s clothing, too, was a brand-new evening gown, the same as Ram’s. It used colors that made it a matching pair with Ram’s gown, and honestly, Rem felt very unworthy of it.
“Silly. We’re always wearing the same style of maid outfits, aren’t we?”
“But, those are nothing more than servant uniforms. I’m embarrassed to be wearing the same thing as nee-sama, but I can endure it. However, the situation this evening is different, and……”
As Ram crossed her arms and softened her expression in understanding, Rem lowered her gaze.
Forced to confront head-on the problem she’d avoided thinking about until the last minute by focusing on dressing Ram entirely too perfectly, Rem wrung her hands as her embarrassment returned.
Removing her maid uniform, and putting on the same evening gown as her sister, tonight the two of them would stand as part of society.
And the reason behind that was…
“…Are the two of you going to be ready soon, perha~ps?”
At the sound of knocking on the door, and the low voice that continued after it, Ram raised her head. A faint sparkle could be seen in her pale red eyes, and Rem broke into a little smile. At times like this, her older sister was cute.
Rem nodded in response to Ram’s meaningful glance, and the older sister hurried to open the door. Upon doing so, a man set foot in the room, one with the white-painted face of a clown – Roswaal.
Wearing his formal outfit for the evening party (having said that, it was still in Roswaal’s own particular eccentric style), he looked around the room, and upon seeing the sisters standing side by side, his lips gave in to a smile.
“Mhmm, mhmm. The two of you look lovely, do~n’t you. Your use of color is such an amazing display I can’t stand it.”
“Thank you very much. Your outfit looks very good on you as well, Roswaal-sama.”
“It’s a hue that will be quite tiring for the other guests’ eyes, isn’t it? I’m quite taken wi~th it.”
Wearing a hat, and making the sleeves on his cloak flutter, Roswaal was in quite high spirits. Narrowing her eyes at her lord’s appearance, Ram grasped the skirt of her own evening gown.
“Incidentally, is this clothing something that you chose, Roswaal-sama?”
“Indeed, it would be a tempting and luxurious idea to worry over that choice, but I’ve been a bit busy recently, you see. I assigned the selection of your outfits for the evening to Clind.”
“To Clind…… No, I don’t really mind, but it’s a bit unfortunate. But I don’t really mind.”
“You really aren’t fond of him, are you. Even I’ll admit that he is the problem, thou~gh.”
Seeing Ram’s stiff-faced response, Roswaal gave a wry smile. Then, he turned to the wordless Rem and closed one eye, directing the gaze of his blue eye towards her.
“Oh my, Rem, why are you trying so hard to avoid drawing attention? You finally have a chance to wear lovely clothing. It would be a shame for it to go to waste.”
“Ah, um, Rem’s apologies, Roswaal-sama. That wasn’t her intention. It’s just that Rem is very overwhelmed.”
“……Rem and nee-sama are servants. Nee-sama is one thing, but Rem is entirely unable to leave behind that disposition. With things going like this, Rem is afraid that she will be an embarrassment to Roswaal-sama or nee-sama……”
Falteringly, Rem revealed her fears about being in a position she was unsuited to. However, in response to her words, Roswaal replied with “That’s not true.” as he shrugged.
“There’s no need to worry. The one who ordered the two of you to participate in the evening party was myself. No matter what kind of inappropriate display you put on at the party, the responsibility is one that I should bear, and it’s not something you need to wo~rry about.”
“Or do you intend to take away my authority as a margrave, perha~ps?”
With Roswaal smiling at her mischievously, Rem could say nothing more. And, when she turned her troubled eyes to where Ram stood, Ram responded “Silly”, and laughed gently.
“Didn’t Ram tell you before? You are Ram’s pride and joy of a younger sister, Rem. There’s no need to worry that you’ll turn into a disadvantage for Roswaal-sama. Ram will stay by your side, after all.”
Having been told that by both her lord and her older sister, Rem’s pale blue eyes widened slightly. Then, nodding deeply, she smiled.
“Yes. I’ll put in my very best effort.”
Swaying the sleeves of her brand-new evening gown, she stood up straighter.
The two of Ram and Rem being ordered to participate in the evening party is something that goes back to only a few days earlier.
It was fairly common for Roswaal, the pair’s lord, to suddenly come up with new ideas. He was in the habit of waiting until the very last moment to pass on something he had already decided to the party in question.
This time around, it was the sisters Ram and Rem who were caught up in their lord’s whim. Having said that, Ram seemed to be enjoying it, and Rem was satisfied with being able to see her sister’s evening gown.
Despite that, her position was that of a servant. Something overwhelming remained overwhelming, but still…
“…Oho. Just as I thought, the two of you do look good in those outfits.”
Placing a hand on her abundant chest, and letting out a sigh of relief, was a woman with long, beautiful, blond hair. Both their senior as a maid, and the one who had trained them, she was Frederica.
With her clear green eyes, she looked over the two carefully, and seemed satisfied.
“The master gave instructions to hurry, so Clind and I prepared your outfits. Clind drew up the rough general design, and I took care of the accessories.”
“If you had only said something, Rem would have gladly lent assistance……”
“Don’t say such silly things. Making someone sew up their own clothing on the event of their grand debut; it’s something that, as a maid to the Mathers family, I could never permit.”
After Rem’s nervous offer, Frederica displayed her sharp fangs while speaking of the philosophy of a maid.
“I’ll accept the feeling behind that consideration. ……It would be nice to see something of that from Ram as well.”
“Oh? After stringing together so much high-minded thinking, you would treat only Ram as an exception?”
In response to Frederica’s stare, Ram thrust out her thin chest, the very image of confidence. Her bold form made one question if this figure in an evening gown wasn’t her true nature, and the maid uniform she normally wore only a temporary standing. She truly wore it well enough that one might fall prey to such an illusion.
“Honestly…… that’s not even a little bit adorable. Don’t you agree, Rem?”
“Immovable and fearless. That calm and collected part of her is another bit of nee-sama’s charm.”
Rem giving her full approval, and Ram looking satisfied with the praise. Seeing the way the sisters were, Frederica placed a hand on her forehead and sighed “I was foolish to expect otherwise.”. And then…
“Is this where you were? It will soon be time to be ready for the evening party. Imminent.”
The voice that found its way into the waiting room was familiar, but nonetheless Rem’s shoulders jumped at the suddenness of it. No matter how many times she heard it, it was something she could never get used to. Ram and Frederica calmly held their composure, and that led to Rem feeling that she was that much more inferior as a servant.
Completely unaware of Rem’s inner feelings, a tall, thin man had appeared in the waiting room. Politely smoothing back his thick, blue hair, wearing a butler outfit and a monocle on his left eye – it was the steward, Clind.
“Just like always, the way you show up is bad for our hearts, Clind.”
“Not changing is something we have in common. However, the outfits you are wearing differ from your usual attire, and suit you well. Beauteous.”
Although Ram’s tone was unfriendly, Clind’s face was composed as he gave a relaxed reply. However, after those words of praise, he continued on with a “However,”.
“A little while ago it would have been even better. At that time, your troubles would still have been childlike, as well. Anguish.”
“In that sense, Rem is still likable. Whether or not that is a good thing is another matter. Off course.”
With the flow of the conversation suddenly directed at her, Rem tilted her head in surprise and puzzlement. There was no change in his expression, and with his voice lacking in warmth, Rem couldn’t read Clind’s emotions. He would often add in a joke without pausing, and Rem’s poor head felt like it was going to spin.
To clear away Rem’s tribulations, Ram stood to block Clind’s line of sight.
“Don’t direct your filthy gaze towards Rem; that’s disgusting. Kindly pick someone better suited to your perversions…… Focus on Annerose-sama.”
“That’s a problematic thing to say as well, you know!?”
Frederica’s face reacted drastically to Ram’s words, but then she coughed as though embarrassed at having raised her voice. Then, grasping the shoulder of the unwelcomed Clind, she turned him about and pushed him out of the doorway.
“Come now, you shouldn’t be spending so long in a lady’s room. We will be along to the meeting room right away. You should hurry, too, and…”
“Ah! Clind and Frederica, this is where you’ve been, then.”
As she opened the door, and attempted to drive the butler from the room, she encountered someone coming thumping down the hallway. It was a very young girl, dressed in a lovely gown.
Her thick indigo hair was braided and wrapped about her head. This was, under Roswaal’s guardianship, the child at the head of the Miload family, Annerose Miload.
Annerose (who was six years old), peeked into the waiting room. Seeing the four people inside, her eyes lit up upon seeing the sisters Ram and Rem specially dressed up.
“Oh my, the two of you look very wonderful! I’m sure that uncle must be proud, as well!”
“Ah, thank you, Annerose-sama. Your dress also suits you very well, Annerose-sama. It’s wonderful.”
With her hands clasped in front of her chest, and smiling with reddened cheeks, Annerose raised an approving voice. In response to the honest appraisal of a child, even Rem could not brush it off with a meaningless objection.
Hearing Rem’s words, she asked “Truly?”, and, grasping the sleeves of her dress, continued “If Rem says so, then maybe it’s alright to believe it. Clind praises me no matter what I wear, so I can’t rely on him at all. Do you think uncle will praise me too, perhaps?”
“Yes, I’m sure Roswaal-sama will be overjoyed as well. Seeing Annerose-sama growing up in good health is something that both Ram and Rem feel proud of.
“Haha, thanks, Ram. But I still won’t give up my place at uncle’s side for you, you know?”
Displaying the rebellious heart of a little child, Annerose wore a fairly strong-willed smile, and Ram smiled in return.
This exchange between the two of them, with Roswaal caught in-between, was entirely expected by now. As both her guardian, and a friend to her deceased parents, Annerose was captivated by him. On the other hand, there was no need to explain Ram’s feelings. It put Rem in a very complicated position.
On top of that, Rem was there to witness the moment of Annerose’s birth. It would be audacious to say it, but she couldn’t help but hold a familial feeling in regards to her growth. This, too, was overwhelming.
Regardless of that…
“It’s almost time for the evening party. Shall we call a temporary truce, and head to the meeting room? Ram, and Rem, too, please take my hands.”
“You do like to have things your way, Annerose-sama, don’t you?”
“It’s only natural for the privilege of escorting the guest of honor to belong to a noble!”
Countering Ram’s teasing tone, Annerose raised her voice. However, Rem tilted her head at the content of what was said. ‘Guest of honor’ was an odd thing to be referred to as.
“Now that you mention it, Rem’s mind was entirely focused on joining in the evening party…… What on earth is the reason for the party being held tonight?”
“Oh goodness, Rem…… Clind, Frederica! And Ram, too, didn’t you speak to her about it?”
As Annerose was surprised by Rem’s question, the three she looked to for confirmation all shook their heads in unison. However, their expressions were soft, and while Rem was surprised at being the only one who didn’t know, she couldn’t help but be worried about that.
Annerose’s little hand gave Rem’s hand a gentle squeeze. Then she smiled, and said,
“Wearing those cute evening gowns, you two are the guests of honor, you see? It’s uncle’s …slightly pompous, lovely gift to his retainers, of course.”
“Those are Rem’s memories about this evening gown. Rem apologizes for bothering you with this silly story.”
“Nah, nah, nah, it wasn’t silly at all; it was a really good story, wasn’t it? In the end, that evening party was a roundabout way of throwing a birthday celebration for the two of you, wasn’t it?”
As the boy with black hair grinned cheerfully, and spoke that way to her, Rem nodded and replied “Yes” to Subaru.
The setting was the Roswaal manor, in Rem’s personal room. When Subaru dropped by to tell her good night, he had found her arranging her closet, and the evening gown caught his eye.
It was stored carefully, as a reminder of the blessing that had visited Rem and the others years earlier.
“Roswaal can be pretty sharp, too. If it’s like that, I can’t just sit back and lose, either.”
“You can’t lose, you say?”
“Oh, just talking to myself, just talking to myself. Anyways, it’s something to think about, and I’m glad I could hear about it. Thanks for telling me, Rem. I’m looking forward to someday meeting up with the weird people in the story, too.”
“Indeed. ……Subaru-kun, please at least be careful of Clind. He’s someone with, um, odd habits, so Rem would be worried about Subaru-kun.”
“When you live around here, people without odd habits are pretty rare.”
With Subaru scratching his head, and smiling as though he thought she was exaggerating, Rem clenched her fist. She felt anew that she would need to be well-prepared for the time of trials that would someday come.
“So then, it’s gotten a bit late, what will you do? If it would be difficult for you to return to your room, Rem wouldn’t mind if you were to rest on her bed……”
“C’mon, you’d mind, right? I’ll go back to my room just like usual. Seriously, if I did that, what would you do, Rem?”
“Rem would rest on your bed in exchange, Subaru-kun. …! This is even more of a forbidden temptation than Rem had thought…… Let’s put a stop to it, Rem can’t believe herself.”
“What on earth kind of internal conflict did you have in that short time……”
Smiling wryly at Rem’s words as she struggled valiantly with her impulse, Subaru headed towards the room’s door. As she reluctantly watched him go, he suddenly turned around and pointed at the evening gown on the bed.
“It might be a little too small now, but I’d have liked to see you wearing it.”
“Indeed. Rem’s chest might not fit into it anymore.”
“That’s a reply that it’s difficult for a boy to respond to! But, if you don’t mind, please give it some thought. Maybe there’ll even be a chance for it at this year’s little celebration.”
Widening her eyes at Subaru’s words, Rem saw Subaru off with a “Yes, understood.”.
This year’s celebration – Rem was no longer so childish as to not understand what that referred to.
So, respectfully following Subaru’s instruction, she began making plans to re-tailor the evening gown.
Thinking that the evening gown that matched her sister’s, if it were worn now, would turn out like this, wouldn’t it.