Apparently, our engagement was going to remain.
Afterward, Rufus began to visit my home more frequently than ever before. Despite being much higher in terms of status, Rufus’ parents were surprisingly friendly. As such, I no longer doubted the fact that their successor was a man of character.
I was also invited to the marquis’ house, where I once again greeted Rufus’ parents. They were so influential, a single word from them could probably change the world. The entire time, I was too busy being anxious to muster a proper response.
I came to visit because Rufus had agreed to teach me the basic tips for running the marquis’ household. Once we were done, I was allowed to read the vast amount of literature in the marquis’ collection and spend quality time studying with Rufus’ tutor.
While I was in the vast garden with Rufus, picking flowers for the entranceway, I suddenly got tackled by dogs of all sizes and fell flat on my back! For some reason, they were on the loose. Unable to shake off the marquis’ dogs, I had to play dead in hope that they’d leave me alone. As a result, I had to put up with being sniffed all over my body…
“Fufu, the dogs seem to have taken quite a liking to Pia, as well. They can tell that Pia doesn’t wear awful-smelling perfume. Not only that, you decided to put up with them. Don’t worry, our dogs are trained. They’re just playing with you. Pia, the huge one is Brad, while the smaller one is called Dagger. I hope you guys get along.”
“O, of course, Mother-in-Law! Kyaa! Brad, don’t lick my face! Hey, Dagger, don’t pull!”
By any chance, was I appointed as the dogs’ playmate?
“…She’s so adorable. No wonder Rufus is serious about her. Nevertheless, I’m quite worried. After all, my son is quite straightforward. I’ll spare no efforts in protecting her, no matter what…!”
The marquess was the personification of both dignified beauty and a glamorous atmosphere combined. But eventually, I discovered that she was a very friendly and patient person. Due to her dislike towards the formality, the marquess told me to call her ‘mother.’
Even when I rolled around with the dogs and got covered in grass, she smiled and forgave me. Thus, I saw a glimpse of what a wonderful person truly was.
Summer was the best season to visit Rufus’ house.
In the summer, I stayed in Stan’s territory, the northern territory of Rufus, with the dogs in tow.
After I had put on Rufus’s hand-me-down, we finally made it into the mountain!
“Lord Rufus, look—! Over there! Did you see that fern!? This stratum, it’s probably Carboniferous! Amazing! I found it in just a week!”
“…Is it that amazing?”
Although truth to be told, Rufus’ territory wasn’t entirely safe. Bandits and the like prowled around the area. Therefore, unless accompanied by Rufus, I was advised against excavating. Moreover, the dogs were hounds—! I was glad that they didn’t recognize me as an enemy—! Although, they thought of me as a toy…
While staying in the territory, I soon discovered that as the future lord, Rufus had an infinite number of works to do.
As he worked on the study, I poured him some tea, read some books, and embroidered beside him.
“…Pia, what are you embroidering? What’s the ochre-colored motif supposed to be?”
“Shouldn’t it be obvious? From the curliness of the shell, it’s a fossil called an ammonite!”
“I, is that so? Well, if you say that, then it might be true…”
“Do you like it? Then I’ll embroider Lord Rufus’ name next to the pattern of this handkerchief!”
“There’s no need—!”
…Albeit sometimes, I’d get kicked out of the study.
In that case, I’d evacuate to the large dining room and write a map of the excavation site. Afterward, I’d write down the situation in detail.
As the head butler, Thomas, and the other servants passed by, they’d provide me with information. Such as where they had last spotted a bear, or that a certain road was blocked due to a landslide, and the spot where they had seen a rare mineral (which later turned out to be marble.) In short, they were very helpful.
However, when Rufus saw it, he made me and all the servants stand in line. Then, he proceeded to make us swear to not tell anyone about the map. As a matter of course, we obliged.
“Pia, what a wonderful map this is. I haven’t had a chance to work on the mountain ranges. I’d appreciate it if you could complete it in your spare time.”
“But didn’t you say that we aren’t allowed to say anything…”
“Yes, no one else is allowed to say a thing. Besides, Pia will only use this map for mining, right? Then that’s fine. The servants are very tight-lipped.”
“I agree, Lady Pia. Your map will be of great use to the people. Moreover, the map is drawn from a bird’s point of view. It’s quite uncommon. Master Rufus, hurry up and patent it for the young lady’s sake!”
“…I know, Thomas.”
I wondered if the map could be used as a safety hazard. Well, since Thomas patted me on the head, I guess I did a great job.
The map was later displayed in the study of the marquis, who was Rufus’ father and also the chancellor. I was too embarrassed, I could only laugh.
In the meantime, before I knew it, I was moved from the guest room to the family area and was given a rustic wood-grained room. Moreover, in both the lord’s house and the marquis’ residence of the royal capital! They had so many expectations of me! I felt scared! Even Sarah, the maid who was always with me, was now assimilated with all the servants of the Marquis’ house.
By the way, because we were highly trusted by the adults, we were often left alone.
Rufus would come to wake me up in the morning with a beautiful flower he had picked in the garden.
In my previous life, I had never received a single bouquet. As such, every time I received it, joyful feelings sprang up in my chest…
…I’m sure this is what they call ‘happiness.’
“Good morning, Pia.”
I smelled the flower. That morning, he gave me a small white rose. The rose was still fresh, as evidenced by the fact that it sparkled with dew.
“…It’s very beautiful. Thank you as always, Lord Rufus.”
“Now, get ready. Let’s have breakfast together.”
I was sure that today would be a great day—all thanks to Rufus.
Afterward, I basked in many flowers and their scents and then practiced writing with Rufus. Although I was supposed to be busy, for some reason, I was enjoying myself.
By the way, I was sitting on top of Rufus’ lap the whole time.
“Lord Rufus, I’m sure that I’m heavy, so let’s stop…”
“Hee? Are you saying that you’ve perfected your handwriting?”
“I, I never said anything like that…”
After spending a lot of time together, we discovered each other’s strengths and weaknesses, deepened our bond, and basically grew up together.