Chapter 21 : Unknown Second Cousin

“Good morning, Trice.
I see you’re with a lovely person this morning.”

“Good morning, Vivian.
Um, this is, uh… my…”

Seeing Beatrice hesitant to speak, the “lovely person” took over and opened his mouth.

“Good morning.
I am Trice’s second cousin, Marquez Selm.
I enrolled this year, but since our territory is far away, I have to go from Trice’s house.”

“Well, that’s why you were in the same carriage.”

“Yes.
I’ll be going in the same carriage with Trice for the entire year until she graduates.”

“That’s right.
Ah, I haven’t introduced myself yet.
My name is Vivian Bertland.
Nice to meet you, Marquez-sama.”

“I am very pleased to meet you too, Lady Bertrand.
I am relieved to know that Trice has such a wonderful friend.
I was worried that she might be timid about socializing, perhaps because of her frail health.”

“…”

That’s amazing, this guy.
I can’t believe he can talk like that.

Beatrice watched with half admiration as Beatrie’s self-proclaimed second cousin, whom she had just met for the first time last time, prattle on and on.

“Escort… for me, brother?”

“Oh.
His name is Marquez.
I’ve decided to keep him by your side under the guise of being your second cousin.”

“I’m Marquez.
Pleased to meet you!”

“Se, second cousin…”

It was the night before the third school year at the academy would begin.

Beatrice was invited by Rembrandt to visit his personal room, where she was introduced to a brown-haired boy with a pretty face— as her second cousin.

Of course, there was no such thing as Beatrice’s second cousin.

But Rembrandt told her to go to the academy with this self-proclaimed second cousin (as he claimed?1) with the same carriage from tomorrow onwards.

“He’s going to be a new student at the academy.”

“New student…”

“Yes.
Starting tomorrow, I will be attending the same school as Beatrice-sama as a first-year student.
Nice to meet you!”

“E, eh.
Nice to meet you…”

Beatrice nodded her head with a tight-lipped smile as Marquez greeted her cheerfully with a sparkling evil smile.

“Marquez’s job is to escort you to and from school and around the campus.”

“That, but, brother.
The carriage is already accompanied by an escort apart from the coachman, right?”

“One person may not always be enough.
Besides, that escort is not allowed inside the academy.”

“In the academy… yes, indeed.”

A few weeks after Beatrice confided in him about her life before her rebirth, her brother put Marquez on her as soon as she advanced to the next grade.

A beautiful boy with fluffy curly hair, Marquez does not look like much, but according to her brother, he is a master swordsman.

“Some of the freshmen this time are related to the Reyes Chamber of Commerce.
I asked Marquez not only to escort you around the school, but also to do some investigation there.”

“Indeed.”

Apparently, he has many roles to play, but she wondered if he was asking too much from such a young boy.

“You’re a bit rough around the edges, Rembrandt-sama.
I’ve come all the way here to spend a second time at school, but if I have to do so much work, I won’t be able to enjoy it.”

“···second time?”

Beatrice reacted to these unexpected words.

It can’t be helped, no matter how she looked at the man in front of her, she could only see a boy not older than 14 or 15 years old.

Rembrandt snickered at that.

“Is there any need for someone who graduated long ago to enjoy school life again?”

“But it’s been nine years.
I was really looking forward to it.
What a pity.”

“I didn’t call you here to give you another chance at school.
You’re here because you’re the right person to protect Trice.
Now shut your annoying mouth.”

“Ye~s, I understand.
Rembrandt-sama is really stingy.
I took this job because I thought it would be fun.”

“You’re a shadow guard of the Marquise, and you don’t get to pick and choose your jobs, fool.”

“Oh, I’m scared.”

Beatrice was stunned by the content of the conversation going on in front of her.

Her head can’t keep up with all the information.

The beautiful, neutral-looking boy in front of her, who gives the impression of being very young, actually graduated from the academy nine years ago.

Eh? Wait a minute.

Then how old is Marquez really?

Graduation in the academy is at seventeen, so…

She was pondering about something completely different.

Therefore, from then on, Beatrice heard nothing about the conversation between her brother and Marquez.

Then, this morning, she found Marquez standing there in his uniform.

He was actually an escort, but introduced under the guise of her second cousin, and was chatting with Vivian smiling right next to Beatrice.

…escort, I guess.

He was now a student, so it was not surprising that he didn’t have a sword.

He doesn’t look muscular.
Rather, he was slender and skinny.
He was taller than the average freshman, but that was also expected.
After all, he graduated nine years ago and was now a grown man.

Beatrice couldn’t help but wonder how he could not feel out of place among the students with his age.

She never really thought of anything happening to her, but if something really happened to her, would this person who looked like a 15 year old really be able to protect her?

…but why does she have to have an escort now?

Beatrice is concerned about that first and foremost.

But her brother never does anything in vain.
After all, he is the ultimate realist.

Beatrice couldn’t help but recall the word “shadow” she had heard in a conversation involving her brother, and came to the conclusion that Rembrandt must have been the one who had initiated this.

And yes, she was sure that it was related to Alejandro.

“I’ll see you later, Trice.
I’m going over there for the entrance ceremony.”

He definitely had brown hair last night, but this morning it was now a bright reddish purple.

Beatrice wondered if he had dyed it in a close color to give credence to the setting of a distant relative, which was a very careful thing to do.

Beatrice also waves back at Marquez, who in turn waves back at her.
Then she remembered her brother who saw Beatrice and Marques off this morning.

He was sending a secret message to Beatrice by puckering his mouth and saying, ‘Good luck’.

Ah yes.
That’s right.
My brother has made a move.

Alejandro was really doing something, is what I mean.

Even now, somewhere in the back of her mind, she still wished, regretfully, that maybe things would be different.
She wished that Alejandro’s blunt kindness was true.
She hoped that her guess was wrong.
But as she thought, it didn’t turn out that way.

In this life, she did not have much to do with Alejandro.
In her previous life, however, they were quite close, though not as close as Natalia.

If that Alejandro was really an enemy as assumed…

Really… truly, the struggle to avoid that future has begun, and Beatrice finally realized it.

Surely, she can no longer be so naive.

Alejandro.

I can’t believe that the time I spent with you and Natalia was so precious in my life at that time.

But that’s not the case anymore.

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