I Slept with the Villain Holding My Hand Chapter 78
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Translated by Niks
“I guess we’re almost there.” Reukis, who felt the noise outside, said.
As soon as he finished speaking, the carriage stopped as he had promised.
When the coachman opened the door first and waited, Reukis stepped out of the carriage.
He immediately turned and reached out to Merria, who was still in the carriage.
Before getting off, Merria checked her dark wine-colored dresses.
The gesture aimed to prevent any indecent behavior in advance, like stumbling on her dress.
“The two of you will shine at the coming-of-age night, please come this way.”
A servant of the Imperial Palace, who was waiting near the carriage, guided the two of them.
Merria’s hand trembled as she passed through the outermost entrance and reached another door.
Reukis held Merria’s hand tightly and fixed his gaze on her.
As Merria looked at him, Reukis slightly raised his brows. He seemed to be saying it was unavoidable.
He may be disappointed if he hears this now, but I’m not doing this because I hate being apart from Reukis.
To be exact, I wanted to turn a blind eye from the reality that was to come.
As the banquet was on the scale of two days, the ‘Coming-of-Age Night‘ had many useless customs.
One of them was that attendees must enter alone.
Even if there’s a partner accompanying them, they won’t be able to stand side by side at the moment they enter.
Because the purpose of this banquet was to make each person the protagonist of the day.
In the end, Merria couldn’t help but let go of Reukis’ hand first and spoke bluntly.
“See you later.”
Merria swallowed a sigh that leaked and turned in the opposite direction from Reukis.
Contrary to the luminous exterior, the long hallway was covered in calm darkness.
Only the light fixtures scattered all over the place illuminated the surroundings.
As I reached the end of the hallway, I could see the young noble ladies gathered around.
I couldn’t believe that many nobles were lining up at the door as if waiting for the Emperor’s invitation.
It was a rare sight to see at any banquet, but it was a common occurrence at Coming-of-Age Night.
‘It’s what I hate the most, really…’
Shutting her mouth tight, Merria walked as slowly as possible.
There was another event that elevated the atmosphere of this needlessly extravagant banquet.
It wasn’t pleasant to enter alone, but even the way it was done was extraordinary.
Inside the Pierre Hall, there was a podium leading to a high staircase.
On either side of the podium there were separate doors leading to the outside.
When the doors on both sides opened alternately and the servant announced the position of the nobleman, the party had to reveal its face and family to everyone in the hall.
In the form of changing the order of both sides every year, this year it was the turn of the young noble ladies to appear from the right door.
‘Perhaps Reukis is standing behind the left door.’
There’s no set order in which they appear, but usually, people from the lower class families filled their seats first, and then high-ranking nobles would appear.
Merria was also a Duke’s daughter, so she was allowed to arrive late, but she didn’t want to do this shameful thing in front of a large number of spectators.
Therefore, she deliberately arrived early, leaving Lilith and Karina behind.
Merria settled behind a young noble lady, who stood at the end of the line.
My throat felt dry, maybe because I was playing the role of a princess that didn’t fit my constitution
‘Whoever has planned such a fuss, I want to make them tired for their proud talent show for the rest of your life.’
Merria bit her lips and criticized the childish event.
Soon as it reached her turn, the servant guided Merria in front of the thick curtain.
“Lady. It’s your turn.”
She nodded lightly with a stiff face.
Whenever the curtain that the servant held in his hand moved with a slight swipe, light was radiating from the inside.
“Reukis, the Grand Duke of Frederick is entering.”
From the other side, a roaring servant’s voice resounded.
Subsequently, the banquet hall became noisy for a while and quickly subsided.
The Grand Duke appeared before the banquet had even started.
It’s quite unusual, so local noblemen with fewer opportunities to meet him would listen carefully and observe Reukis.
‘Why would that guy appear now?’ While thinking about such things.
Reukis seemed so visible, passing by with an expressionless face between those with round eyes.
After her brief imagination, Merria shook her shoulder with a lighter feeling.
“I’ll call you now.”
Merria nodded once, then the servant rolled the curtains and said aloud.
“Merria of Duke Rackester is entering!”
Merria took a deep breath and walked into the light.
When the curtain opened, everyone’s eyes were focused on one place.
Again, and again, and again…
Merria pretended to wear her most noble expression and walked out to the center of the podium.
In my heart, I just wanted to run away, but for the sake of the family’s face, I barely put up with it.
As Mary reached the end of the podium, nobles who stared at her with curious gazes came into view.
Young noblemen, who came from the provinces, smiled shyly and blushed at the sight of Merria.
While everyone was looking at her as if time had stopped, a young nobleman wearing dark clothes moved along from her side.
As if to soothe the regret of not being able to enter together, it was Reukis who came to meet her at the front of the stairs.
As he reached out his hand, Merria responded with a bright smile.
Reukis, who was happily looking at Merria, who naturally gave her hand to him, slowly looked around.
It was due to the disrespectful gaze he felt behind Merria.
Even the simple love of a young man from the countryside, who had just moved to the capital, only seemed insidious and persistent in his eyes.
Those who were startled by Reukis’ ice-cold gaze, immediately curled their tails.
Merria, who had lost sight of that situation because she was nervous, looked straight and spoke.
“I hope the next big thing comes after this.”
At Merria’s sudden words, Reukis’ head tilted.
“I want their attention to be distracted somewhere…”
Reukis said, looking cutely at Merria, who was smiling on the surface and complaining a little.
“Would you like some champagne? There are also refreshments that are good to eat in one bite over there.”
It was a sufficient suggestion to please Merria, who had been starving to be reborn from Lexie’s touch all day.
Merria took the bait at once and lightly nodded.
“Okay. Let’s go over there.”
With the unexpected appearance of a high-ranking noble, young noblemen and young noble ladies hesitated and wandered around the two.
Reukis didn’t even look at them, and carried chocolates and cookies like Merria’s servant.
Around the time I was eating dark chocolate, Karina and Lilith arrived at the banquet hall.
Karina smiled meaningfully as she walked towards the two people who were close together.
Lilith whispered something to Karina and then walked quickly with sparkling eyes.
“Your Highness the Grand Duke, nice to meet you. My name’s Lilith Lawrence.”
‘She’s Merria’s cousin with a cheerful personality.’ ᴿᵉᵘᵏᶦˢ
It was Reukis’ background knowledge of Lilith.
Since Altheon was his only cousin, Merria and Lilith, who often met each other, made him curious about her.
As her name often appears in his conversation with Merria, it would be better to form a friendly relationship with her.
Reukis, who concluded so, nodded favorably.
“This is Reukis Frederick.”
While Lilith and Reukis were greeting each other, Merria whispered to Karina, who was approaching her side.
“There are a lot of people I haven’t seen here.”
“Well, I feel the same.”
An unexpected answer came from Karina, who actively engaged in social activities.
“Really?” Merria asked in a puzzled voice.
“Among the nobles in the capital, I usually only meet people I have close acquaintances with. If it’s not for this opportunity, it would be difficult to see local nobles, because they don’t usually come up to the capital.” Karina replied with a small nod.
As transportation was not developed, there were many nobles who didn’t leave their territory for the rest of their lives.
Because most people were born in the capital and stayed in the capital.
In particular, local aristocrats were revered like the kings there, so there were many cases where they couldn’t adapt to the capital aristocratic society.
Just in time, Reukis, who finished his conversation with Lilith, returned.
But before he could reach Merria, a servant suddenly appeared between the two of them.
It was to give a congratulatory speech to mark the beginning of the banquet.
Reukis looked sadly toward Merria as if he was disappointed and soon moved forward.
As he walked to the podium, the attention in the hall began to focus one by one on him.
Finally, Reukis stood alone on the podium.
When Reukis, who had a blunt face, looked through the banquet hall once, even the low murmurs subsided.
Reukis, who always smiled brightly in front of me, felt somewhat unfamiliar standing at such a high place.
Merria clasped her hands tightly at her pounding heart.
Some looked at him with eyes full of anticipation, while others looked at him with soft gazes.
As if he didn’t care about those gazes at all, Reukis slowly blinked, then opened his mouth.
“Everyone who is present here right now is here to celebrate and gather to commemorate each other’s beginning.”
A low voice echoed through the space and resonated.
Young noble ladies, who were blushing seeing Reukis, tilted their heads to a strange sense of incompatibility.
It was because of the sharp atmosphere felt in the soft voice.
“…I hope you all enjoy this meaningful night.”
After the congratulatory speech, Reukis held up a glass of champagne.
Others followed him and lifted their glasses.
They toast to each other’s glasses and start to converse.
The orchestra, which was preparing accordingly, began to play lively.
It was the beginning of the real banquet.
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