When Elena entered her room, she found Mirabelle waiting for her inside.
“Mirabelle, were you worried about me, too?”
“Huh? Why would I be worried? Did something happen?”
At Mirabelle’s confused tone, Elena guessed that Derek had yet to say anything to the rest of the family. That was a relief. She didn’t want all of them to worry.
“No, nothing. I was only wondering because I was a little late.”
“Well, it’s late, but it’s not that late. And what else is there to do stuck at home? Sometimes you need to go out into the air to relieve stress. Though it would have been better if you had brought me with you.”
Mirabelle said the last part with some sadness. Mirabelle’s weak constitution prevented her from leaving the castle much, while Elena had been slipping out on her own and making various excuses to meet Carlisle, from Glenn’s wedding to today’s outing.
In their previous lives the two had never been far away for long, but after returning to the past Mirabelle had been left alone more often. Elena dearly cherished her sister. Her heart longed to be with her, but now Elena was forced to be away in the shadows. Then after her wedding with Carlisle, she wouldn’t have much time to be with her anymore…
She spoke to Mirabelle, her voice heavy with regret.
“Shall we go out together next time?”
Mirabelle clapped her hands at Elena’s sudden depressed mood.
“Sister, you took the joke too seriously. Of course I love being with you, but that doesn’t mean we have to be joined at the hip. You know what I mean?”
“…Yes, I know.”
Elena went straight up to where Mirabelle was sitting and gathered her tightly in her arms. Mirabelle’s tiny figure was smothered in Elena’s embrace.
“Have I ever told you how much I love you Mirabelle?”
“Oh, that’s enough. This is embarrassing…”
Elena felt a warmth spread though her at having her family by her side. She didn’t know how grateful she would be to have Mirabelle here. Elena gave her sister another tight squeeze and spoke again.
“So what were you waiting for me for?”
“I was wondering if we could buy some jewelry this time. If we buy it now, you can wear it to the ball in the capital city…everything you have is too old.”
Only then did Elena notice her opened jewelry box next to Mirabelle. In the past, she had not been too fond of such trinkets and had less than a dozen accessories during her previous time as a noblewoman.
The small jewelry box was bare enough to almost seem empty, until something inside caught Elena’s eye. It was a ring with a blue gemstone bead. Most nobles loved to bedeck themselves in fine jewelry; the bigger the gemstone, the bigger the self-importance. However, this ring was a plain, slim band of silver with no fancy ornamentation other than a blue bead set in the middle. It was a very simple and inexpensive.
As soon as Elena saw the ring, she approached it as if she were possessed.
‘…Here it is.’
In her last life, she had never taken this ring off her body even for a moment. After her family died she fled from Blaise Castle, and for a long time from Ruford Empire. She had to hide her noble identity and had wandered around in desperate need of money. She sold the dress she wore and the few accessories she had at that time.
It was this ring that she was unable to sell because it had little value. She remembered a conversation she had with a jewelry store owner at the time.
‘I don’t know what gem is set in this ring. I’d buy it if it were a cheap sapphire, but I’ve never seen or heard of something like this before.’
Her need was desperate, and she had tried to sell it somewhere where it had more value. Eventually, however, the ring was the only memento she had to remember the time spent with her family by. Ironically enough, the cheapest item was the thing she kept.
“How long has this ring been here?”
Elena murmured to herself.
“That ring is very old. It must have been ten years ago when I saw it.”
She was sure of was that the ring was not from her mother. Other than that, she did not know how it ended up in her jewelry box.
‘Come to think of it, since when have I kept this?’
She couldn’t remember at all how she obtained it. In her last life, she simply used it to remember her family by, and did not think where it came from.
There was a voice that suddenly came to her mind.
— Keep it. I’ll come back for it for sure.
She knew the voice belonged to a beautiful young boy, and his tone was grave with seriousness. Who on earth was it? No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t remember anything else. She wondered who had given it to her when she was young.
She stared silently at the blue bead, and with familiar ease, slipped it back onto her finger. In the past, it had became rough and scratched with use, but now the smooth surface was as unblemished as Elena’s heart. She had missed it sorely.
She didn’t know how she got the ring, but now it would be used to remind her of the days she was the lonely female knight.
“You’re going to wear the ring, sister?”
“Yes. It’s been a long time.”
“But isn’t it a bit plain? If you like rings, you can wear something prettier.”
“No, it’s alright. I kept it for a long time, so it must be dear to me.”
Remembering the difficult past would help motivate her in the future. Mirabelle seemed concerned that Elena would be satisfied with the ordinary ring.
“But that’s one thing, and buying new jewelry is another. There’s a new jewelry store that says they have a lot of excellent pieces.”
“Where did you hear that?”
“The maids told me.”
“Yes, I see. I’ll think about it. “
Mirabelle was beside herself. Elena lived a life of austerity and somehow saved even more money than she did in the past. However, there was one important lesson she knew. You should spend money when you have it. Money couldn’t be brought to the afterlife, so enjoy it when you can.
More importantly, Elena had to create a first meeting with Carlisle at the ball, and she would need to pay special attention to her appearance. Fortunately, the dress had already been ordered, and buying jewelry would be enough to complete the preparations.
“When will we go the jeweler’s? Can we go tomorrow?”
Mirabelle jabbered on eagerly, and a small smile formed on Elena’s face.
“It’s late now, so I need to get ready for bed.”
“I see, I see. So, we’re definitely going? See you tomorrow, sister!”
Mirabelle gave a quick hug to Elena and said goodbye, and then made a sharp turn towards her room. Elena gazed happily behind her, then she lifted up a golden bell sitting on the table to prepare for bed.
The bell was used by the nobles to call to the maids waiting outside. Elena was used to doing everything herself, but it might seem unusual to others, so she tried to use the maids whenever possible. It was crucial habit if she became a princess later on.
However, the usually prompt maid was late today.
‘…What’s going on?’
Finally the door swung open and Mary hurried into the room.
“D-did you call me, My Lady?”
Mary was stammering, unable to make eye contact. Elena sensed something was wrong, so she spoke in a casual tone.
“What’s the matter?”
“N-nothing! It’s nothing!”
Her strong denial aroused Elena’s suspicion, but Elena’s fatigue had been gathering from working on the contract with Carlisle during the day. As was routine, Elena turned her back to Mary so she could take off her dress. Mary hurried to untie the sash on Elena’s waist, then ventured carefully.
“My Lady, do you…do you have any more plans to go out tonight?”
“What does that mean?”
Elena turned her head sharply, and Mary shook her head in surprise.
“I’m sorry. I just don’t know how to prepare you for your midnight outing…”
Elena’s eyes narrowed.
“This is the last question. What happened today?”