Another collaboration with Manic Josei from Hanashi Oba-san (translator of  “The Hero Proposed to Me”), Ainushi Translations brings you “Villainess or Heroine? That is the Question!”.

It’s a one-shot set in the same universe as Tower Girl and Villainess Brother. We hope you enjoy this one-shot.

 

Villainess or Heroine? First and Foremost, That is the Question!

Translator: Manic Josei

TLC: Krrizis

Editor: kiti

QC: LadyBlue

First published on Ainushi

 

Prologue

When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was the bed canopy. It looked like an antique, the likes of which I had only heard about but never seen before, but the faded lace had a familiar hue. I was lying on the bed. And when I looked around, I saw my four cute little sisters, my two younger brothers and my mother shedding tears, while my father was standing, supporting my mother.

 

“Oh, God! Thank you, for not taking Margarete to heaven!”

 

With dishevelled milk-colored hair that closely resembles mine, my mother hugged me.

 

What on earth……

 

Does it have something to do with my painful, throbbing head?

 

“Josephine, look! Margarete is surprised. Margarete, how do you feel? Do you remember what happened?”

“Father…… uhm, that……”

 

Crap.

 

I don’t remember anything.

 

Rather, is it better to say that I remembered something completely different? Should I tell them that I had remembered something different? Father’s face, Mother’s face, my cute little sisters’ faces. Perhaps I was remembering something different from Father’s question.

 

“You know Big Sis… in the bakery… the iron plates fell.”

“And then… and then… you got hit. You were injured and you fell down.”

 

I stroked the heads of my crying younger sisters with one hand.

 

Ah, yeah.

 

I vaguely remembered that. I was busy since morning today at my part-time job in the bakery, as we had received a big request. It is true that it was my day off today, but because the store manager said that the wages will be increased, I went to work. Our family is poor even though we have the title of Earl. So, even if the earnings are small, I have to work for our living.

 

So it seems that I was too busy. I kept on baking and baking as if the bread would not make it in time and kneading dough at full strength.

 

Maybe that’s the reason why.

 

It seems there was a person stacking iron plates on a shelf near me. Accidentally, my coworker had collided with the shelf and the iron plates which had been stacked on it fell with a clatter.

 

In short, I pushed my coworker away from the falling plates. If I had thought better, I would have created a barrier using magic. While I managed to save my coworker by pushing them away… Well, the problem after that was me.

 

My coworker was saved, but the iron plate hit my head quite badly. And this was the result.

 

Probably.

 

Because my memories of this world were interrupted by the pain I felt immediately after I was hit while saving my coworker.

 

From the way my mother looked, I had probably hovered at the border between life and death.

 

And I guess I am experiencing that cliche development.

 

Yes, cliche—Reincarnation into another world. And this is a world that closely resembles an otome game or a web novel.

 

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Check #1: Let’s organize the memories

First of all, I think I will check out the present situation.

 

For me to work this out properly, I’ll pacify my crying mother, and then have the worried family members leave the room first.

 

By the way, there are only two servants because we are poor. They’re an elderly couple who work and live in the house and prepare our meals. Noble families usually hire several servants to serve exclusively per family member but we can’t afford to hire that many people in our house.

 

So after my family left the room, I was finally alone. I needed the time alone just to organize my mind. I got up slowly from the bed and stood in front of the mirror stand. The mirror showed me a girl that closely resembled her mother.

 

The hair with the same milk color as mother’s is arranged in fluffy and soft curls, and extends down to the chest. The big eyes with long eyelashes are indigo-colored, just like my father. I wonder where I got my smooth and fair skin. Both of them have beautiful skin, so it does not matter which of them I resemble.

 

The problem is this appearance and the position of Margarete Fondine.

 

When I woke up just now, I remembered the memories of my previous life. It was probably because I had hovered around the boundary between life and death.

 

In my past life, I was a female high school student in a country called Japan. Back then, I liked otome games and web novels. Among the web novels I read, there was a romance novel called “A Villainess System”.

 

The villainess was a high school student who reincarnated into an alternate world of an otome game she liked in her previous life, who escaped from her destiny of destruction by making full use of the memories from her previous life. It could be called a template web novel, but the destiny of destruction and the means of escaping were diverse. I was fascinated by the different stories of each chapter, and I think that I read up a trifling amount of chapters exceeding three figures.

 

And now I, Margarete, am the heroine who appeared in that otome game.

 

Yes. Not the villainess, but the heroine.

 

But I want to wait. I wonder if I am really the heroine. Perhaps being reborn as the heroine is a sham and the villainess is actually the real main character. Won’t I become a stalking horse? [1] Having the wrong impression that I am the main character, I as the fake heroine approach the capture targets and in the end, I will inevitably suffer the consequences one after another.

 

Even though I was reborn, I don’t want to live such a life. I liked my family from previous life, but I also love my current family very much. I don’t feel like getting my family into trouble. But assuming I am either the true heroine or stalking horse villainess, won’t I be dragged into the problems?

 

I mean, I’m already enrolled into the Royal Academy of the Kingdom of Diak, which was the stage for the otome game.

 

In the Kingdom of Diak,  most of the children of aristocrats and rich people attend this school. If you’re a noble, you are treated as a lower rank unless you graduate from this school. Both the prince and the villainess, as well as the other capture characters, are naturally enrolled there. As of this spring, it’s been two weeks since I entered and I have not encountered anyone yet. I cannot tell if I can stay in the school for the three years remaining till graduation.

 

If this is the story of the villainess, it’s fine. As long as I am the heroine, I will not frame-up various sins on the villainess and the unfortunate future from the web novel will not descend upon me first. In most villainess reincarnation novels, the heroine ends up irresponsibly ruining herself.

 

If this was really not a villainess reincarnation story but instead a story of the heroine of the otome game, it might be a bit more bothersome. After all, the heroine of the otome game is bullied by the villainess while she falls in love with the capture characters.

 

The heroine is not a peerlessly beautiful girl, but it is just that a lot of members of the opposite sex who have status, honor and charm are attracted to her. There are even cases where the characters to be captured have fiancées and it is awkward if I fall in love with an engaged person. I like otome games, but I myself have never experienced romance. I absolutely cannot involve myself with someone with a fiancée, much less a lover. That’s because I am from a destitute Earl family and I only want to earn money to support my important family. Sorry for the extra baggage.

 

I think it is necessary to investigate first whether I am the heroine or not.

 

For the sake of not attracting my future destruction!

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Check #2: Let’s check the villainess and the fiancé

I, Margarete, am hiding in a corner of the corridor of the Royal Academy of Diak.

 

I am in the midst of tailing someone right now. Who is it, you ask? It is of course, the villainess, the daughter of the Duke of Levier.

 

Well, you know it’s that, that.

 

If she really is the villainess, her fiancé is most likely the idiot Crown Prince and that fiancé will fall deeply in love with the heroine. In the end, whatever false accusation it is, he will condemn the villainess in front of everyone at an event like a graduation party.

 

But in the long run, the false accusation will be cleared and the Crown Prince will be disinherited and banished from the kingdom along with the heroine.

 

……Ah, I don’t want to get involved. But for now, I’ll check the situation. For my own safety, okay?

 

As per my investigation, Levier-sama’s fiancé was indeed the Crown Prince. It was the First Prince of the Kingdom of Diak, Bertrut-sama. As of now, they haven’t yet been in contact with me, the heroine.

 

Ah! Levier-sama went into the student council room. Because I can hear a talking voice, I wonder how many people are inside. I sneakily eavesdropped in secret beside the door since I couldn’t conceal myself by the window.

 

The student council members consisted of naturally Levier-sama and Prince Bertrut, the son of the Prime Minister, the son of the commander of the knights, and the sons of dukes and marquesses.

 

Almost all the capture targets.

 

Yes, those very capture targets that I mustn’t be involved with.

 

……I want to join the student council, though.

 

But I’ll encounter the prince if I join. And I’ll come in contact with Levier-sama. If those who join must have excellent grades, then I, who is from an earl family and have excellent grades, could also enter, right? I’d like to join if Prince Bertrut and Levier-sama were not there.

 

Afterall, I’ve repeatedly said this about my family but we are very poor, possessing just the Earl title in name only. Nevertheless, I could enter this royal academy because of my high magical power and exemption from school fees.

 

Maybe this is the heroine’s compensation since magical powers of the light type are in a different league. Because it is a great magical power, I want to be a member of the sorcery division of the kingdom in the future and have the duty of protecting this country. And since the sorcery division is under the direct control of the kingdom, the salary will also be good.

 

There’s also still my four cute younger sisters, and my equally adorable younger brother.All six of us have good appearances and characters. But they are weak in their studies and their magical powers are not very……

 

That’s why I have to earn properly! Whatever happens, I must not get caught up in the condemnation event and strive to become a member of the sorcery division. Although it would be advantageous during the interview for the Sorcery Division if I were a student council officer, I’ll give up.

 

“What are you doing in such a place?”

“Eh—?”

 

I heard a voice by my ear so I jumped aside due to surprise.

 

“Oh, did I startle you? Are you okay?”

“Y-Yes. It’s nothing really, nothing. I’m fine.”

 

It was a tall man. I have seen him in my past life before. He is the second son of a marquess and one of the characters to be captured; his name is Rufen Truffen. He doesn’t have the typical blonde hair, blue eyes combination that is common in this kingdom. Nor is he pink-haired, red-eyed or purple-haired which are all colours that are not uncommon. Instead he is a black-haired, black-eyed Adonis.

 

“You have an interest in the student council, don’t you? Please do not hesitate to enter.”

 

Smiling, Rufen-sama opened the door without warning and urged me inside.

 

Doing unnecessary things~~~~~~~.

 

Aaah, he’s here after all.

 

Prince Bertrut.

 

The Duke of Dargrim is also here. Ugh, is it just because all the capture characters aren’t gathered together yet? But now that I’ve met Rufen-sama, I have encountered three capture characters.

 

Please give me a break.

 

“This person is?”

“Ah, Levier. She seems to want to join the student council.”

“Well, is that true?”

 

Levier-sama looked at me with a gentle expression. Oh, this . . . is this the domain of the villainess and not of the main character? If she is the real, malicious villainess, I think an ordinary girl like me will be disregarded with a grunt of dismissal. The Levier-sama in the otome game is served upon by her followers like a queen. I, the heroine from a poor earl family, was picked on every time an event occurs.

 

But this is different from that. I don’t know when I’ll be caught up in trouble, so it’s best to escape from the student council.

 

“Uhm, I stopped because I heard a pleasant voice. I never wanted to join the student council……”

“Huh? Is that so? It seems like you have been standing outside the student council room for a very long time.”

 

Wait a moment, Rufen-sama. Since when have you been watching me?

 

“If I’m not mistaken, you are Margarete Fondine, an earl’s daughter, right?”

“Yes. Bertrut-sama, are you familiar with my name?”

“Of course. You are an important student in this school. Also in your case, you are often talked about because of the strength of your magical powers.”

 

Wow, I became a hot topic? Noo! I don’t want to stand out.

 

“I see… You are the rumored Margarete. There could be nothing more reassuring than if a person with excellent grades like you enters the student council.”

 

Ah, Levier-sama. Please do not smile so delightedly. Am I not unconsciously being charmed by her? Although her stern looks are like that of a villainess, her almond-shaped eyes narrowed as she smiled and the atmosphere became lighter right away. The smile of the beautiful Levier-sama is such a feast to my eyes that I’d like to instantly join the student council… but I can’t. I just can’t! Because Levier-sama, her fiancé Bertrut-sama and also the other capture characters are there. Because I would like to live as much as possible.

 

“N-No, I don’t think that someone like me can do that……”

 

I don’t want to say anything that will erase Levier-sama’s smile, but it can’t be helped, you know? I don’t want to be ruined.

 

“I see…………”

 

At my words, Levier-sama’s shoulders drooped dejectedly. She had a cat-like look usually, but now she somehow resembled a puppy. Ah, I’m sorry.

 

“Then how about this? We’ll let Margarete enter the student council as a trainee.”

 

Huh?

 

What is the son of the duke saying all of a sudden? What is a trainee? Is it similar to a probationary employee?

 

“Dargrim’s suggestion is good. You must be nervous to be an officer right away. So get used to it as a trainee.”

 

Wai—Rufen-sama, what are you talking about!? If I become a trainee instead of becoming a student council officer, isn’t it just the same as joining? Encountering the villainess, the Crown Prince and the capture characters… I don’t want to recklessly throw away my life. Give me a break!

 

I threw a gaze at Bertrut-sama, searching for help. The only one who can stop these two here is Bertrut-sama.

 

“What will you do, Margarete? Even if it’s just training, will you join the student council? To be honest, there is a lot of work. And it would help us greatly if there are even just a few extra hands……”

 

If you say it that way, I cannot refuse. In terms of both hierarchy and emotional appeal.

 

Because the sons (of nobles) that come to this school will be involved in managing their territories as well as the nation in the future, the students partially operate the school. Like running the country and the territory, the school may be smaller in scale but provides very important learnings about the world.

 

Many papers are still stacked in front of the prince. Looking at it, I can see that Levier-sama, the prince and the others were handling them themselves and not pushing the work onto the employees.

 

Everyone here has a higher position than me so they should have more pressing matters to attend to compared to me. Even if it’s just the odd jobs, I would like to help if I could.

 

Ah, really!

 

“Uhm, then if I could help you with anything.”

“Oh, Margarete! Are you sure?”

 

Levier-sama grabbed my hand, her face shining suddenly. Eeh, are you that pleased?

 

“Aren’t you glad, Levier?”

 

Ah, Prince Bertrut directed his best smile towards Levier-sama. So he asked me in order to please Levier-sama, didn’t he?

 

Then it is already confirmed that I am not the true heroine and I am definitely the spoiler [2] in the villainess story. No matter how I look at it, the prince is not a fool. He loves Levier-sama without a doubt.

 

I felt somewhat relieved. If I am the spoiler, then it is absurd for the capture characters to fall in love with me. As long as I don’t abuse my knowledge of my previous life and force situations, I should be safe.

 

When I made my decision, I spoke quickly.

 

“Will you please instruct me about my work? I will learn it as best as I can.”

“How dependable.”

 

Dargrim-sama nodded and brought some documents to me. Ah, these are the test papers of the surprise mini test from the other day.

 

“The teachers are also busy. So, we will have to check these.”

“…………Yes.”

 

Are you kidding me, teacher? Whatever the circumstances may be, aren’t you depending too much on the students?

 

“Margarete, can you check these against the answer sheet?”

“If it’s her, she knows all the answers.”

 

Why does Rufen-sama immediately answer Levier-sama’s proposal? Well, I know the answers, though.

 

I stopped thinking too much, moved to a small table in the student council room and focused on checking the answers. By the time I finished checking, the sun had already sunk in the western horizon.

 

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“Thank you for your time. Please come to the student council room when you have time. Next time, I will prepare delicious sweets.”

 

Levier-sama smiled softly, glad that the number of girls has increased. Ah, mm. The student council officers are all male except for Levier-sama.

 

“Margarete, is this time all right?”

“Time…? Ah—!”

 

I remembered something when I heard Rufen-sama. My part-time job at the bakery!!!!

 

Today was supposed to be my first day back at work after having slept for three days as I wandered around the border between life and death.

 

“I-I’m sorry. I remembered an urgent task. Please excuse me, I will leave first.”

“Do you have plans? I’m sorry that I troubled you to assist us with these.”

“No, Levier-sama. If I run, I will make it in time. Well then, goodbye.”

 

Casting any semblance of a lady’s elegance aside, I left the student council room and ran out of the school building with all my might.

 

The bakery is located in the royal capital. Fortunately, it is close to the school. Yes, I can make it in time if I run at full speed.

 

Good enough!!

 

“Wait for me. I’ll send you in a carriage.”

 

Rufen-sama, who approached me suddenly from behind, took my arm. The unexpected pull on my arm made me lose my balance and fall forward.

 

“Oh, my apologies.”

 

Rufen-sama caught me in his arms as I was about to fall.

 

But, wait. Send me in a carriage?

 

Give me a break. I am not going home, I’m headed to my part-time job.

 

“Uhm, about the words you said……”

“Let’s go.”

“Huh—?!”

 

Rufen-sama passed through the school gates, forcibly dragging me, and pushed me inside the waiting high-speed, magical carriage of the marquess family.

 

No, no, no, no, please wait.

 

I won’t make it in time if he sends me home. If I am absent without notice, my salary will be deducted. Or worse, I’ll be fired?!

 

I don’t know how to enrich our territory and our Earl family is poor, all right? Also, our tenants are seriously suffering and the tax we collect is the lowest in the kingdom. So even though I am the daughter of an earl, the dresses and uniform that I use are second hand articles.

 

If I get fired from my part-time job, then even the salary we need to pay the old servant couple is at stake!

 

“Please go to the Louver Bakery in the east district.”

 

Rufen-sama instructed the destination to the driver, and somewhere in my heart, I became confused. Eh, why does he know about the bakery?

 

“We will make it in time, so don’t worry.”

 

I nodded repeatedly at Rufen-sama’s declaration. I want to ask him how he knew but it is true that there is no time. Since this is a high-speed magical carriage, we will arrive soon.

 

Rufen-sama and I both remained silent. When I stole a glance at him, our eyes met. I avoided looking at him outright and secretly averted my gaze.

 

The high speed magical carriage arrived at the bakery. As expected from a high-speed carriage, though it would take me twenty minutes to run to this place. It didn’t even take ten minutes.

 

“Thank you for sending me.”

“If that’s how you feel, won’t you show me your sincerity?”

 

Huh?

 

For a moment, I didn’t know what he meant. He stopped after he escorted me when I alighted from the carriage.

 

In the first place, I was delayed due to Rufen-sama. Ah, no, I guess that’s wrong. It was I, who volunteered to work in the student council today. I also lost track of time while working. Moreover, if I was not reminded by Rufen-sama, I might have forgotten about it completely.

 

“What kind of sincerity should I show you?”

“Hmm, let’s see. You like bread, right?”

“Yes, I do.”

 

There is an employee discount here in the bakery. It also applies to part-timers. Besides, they also distribute excess breads and trial products occasionally. The bread that I receive will become my family’s breakfast and everyone will eat it with relish.

 

“Then, this talk is over. Starting tomorrow, please make my lunch.”

“With the bread?”

“Correct.”

 

Rufen-sama, you say it with a serious expression, but are you really serious? It is rumored that the meals at the school cafeteria of the Royal Academy of Diak, made by the best chefs are quite delicious, so it’s better for you to eat there.

 

Ah, I always take a lunch box though. Although the school meal seems delicious, the three-silver coin meal is too extravagant for my family’s financial status.

 

……Perhaps, Rufen-sama’s Marquess of Truffen family is actually poor?

 

“Are you thinking very rude thoughts right now?”

“Nooo, I’m not thinking about anything at all.”

“Are you sure?”

“It’s true, I was only thinking about what kind of lunch I would make, yes.”

 

Can he read my mind?! No, I guess there’s no such kind of magic.

 

“Then that’s good. I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

 

Suddenly smiling, Rufen-sama got on the high-speed magical carriage and left. Aaahhh, what should I do about tomorrow’s lunch box?

 

“Margarete-chan?”

 

While I was in front of the store, holding my head, a voice called out to me. It was my colleague, Polm-chan.

 

“Thank goodness! Because you were late, I was wondering if you still didn’t feel well.”

 

Hugs~!

 

Polm-chan hugged me with teary eyes. Hey, hey, what’s the matter? She has always been an affectionate kid but is she hugging me all of a sudden because…

 

“Are there too many advanced orders today?”

“No. It’s because of me, you got hurt……”

 

Looking at Polm-chan’s big tears spilling, I remembered. Oh, that’s right. She was the one who was supposed to get hit by the iron plates instead of me. I guess she was concerned since I couldn’t go to work and was bedridden for a while.

 

“I’m sorry for making you worry. But look, I’m fine. So let’s also do our best today at work!”

“Don’t push yourself, okay? Please let me know if you feel sick?”

“I’m okay, I’m okay. I may look like this but I am strong. It was just by chance I got into an accident the other day. Okay?”

 

Polm-chan finally laughed when I jokingly showed off my biceps. While I suddenly felt a sense of déjà vu at that smile, I hurriedly changed into my uniform and started working.

 

 

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“It’s delicious.”

 

In the rear garden of the Royal Academy of Diak, Rufen-sama ate the lunch that I had made for him with relish.

 

Although the lunch that I had made was just a sandwich filled with lettuce, cheese, crunchy bacon and scrambled egg. Putting those together was simply easy.

 

“Is it that delicious?”

“Mm. I think that the reasonable softness of bread, the fragrance of cheese, and the umami of the bacon are condensed.”

“Hah. I see”

 

I don’t think he is flattering me based on the way he is enjoyably eating, so I am a little happy. Maybe, it’s because the marquess’s household has extravagant meals. So, the taste of a simple sandwich probably felt novel.

 

“Ah, that was delicious. Please, make me one again tomorrow.”

“Eh?”

 

My smile stiffened. What did he say? Make him another tomorrow? He’s joking, right?

 

I can’t afford to continue making other people’s meals in our house. Today, I had to go without lunch in order to make his lunch.

 

“Are you reluctant to?”

 

Rufen-sama frowned when he noticed my expression.

 

Crap. I don’t want to earn the displeasure of the Marquess’ family.

 

“No, absolutely not. I will certainly make another one tomorrow.”

“Mm. Yes, please.”

 

Rufen-sama suddenly smiled.

 

I wonder what that was. It felt like I saw that smile somewhere. Maybe in the CG of the otome game?

 

When I was seeing off Rufen-sama as he left the rear garden, my stomach rumbled. Ah hah~ Looks like it’s been decided that I’m not having lunch tomorrow.

 

I’m hungry……

 

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Check #3) Investigate whether there is a reincarnated person around the villainess.

 

Several weeks passed quickly while I managed my studies, the student council, and my part-time job.

 

I decided to quietly, secretly investigate Ivan-sama, Levier-sama’s elder brother. Why? After all, the story gets boring if it’s too much like the normal template, right?

 

Time and again, I have seen the template of the reincarnated villainess but there are also other interesting versions. So, if it is not the villainess who was reincarnated based on the template, there are also works wherein the people close to the villainess were the reincarnators. So the reincarnated side character will rectify the villainess character or will try to quietly escape from the situation because, as per the story, she is also involved and becomes ruined, along with the villainess.

 

I still haven’t seen such a person yet. However, just because I’m trying my best not to ruin the villainess doesn’t mean that the reincarnated side character will be unlikely to harm me. The story will become different if I do something malicious towards Levier-sama, but I wouldn’t do such a thing. The worst case is one where the reincarnated person is the type who tries to replace the villainess or the heroine. This reincarnated person may frame up the villainess and install herself as the Prince’s fiancée, or on the other hand, she might deceive the heroine and aim for a reverse harem.

 

The people who could be such a reincarnated person are already abundant. It could be the older brother or younger sister of the villainess, one of her followers or even her aunt. There are a lot of choices. That’s why I cannot check everyone. I could meet them if they attended a tea ceremony or party, but I don’t think I can judge them during that moment.

 

The only thing that I could do is to investigate the students of this school.

 

The capture targets who were members of the student councils have already been checked. I don’t think that anyone there is the reincarnated person since everyone is a male. But rarely, there are works where the reincarnators are male, so I think that I can’t afford to become careless.

 

That’s why I decided to also investigate the people around Levier-sama other than the capture targets. It seems that in Levier-sama’s family, she has two older brothers and two younger sisters. Both her younger sisters are still ten years old and so they don’t go to school yet. Even if either of them were to be the reincarnated person, a ten-year old child who doesn’t attend school probably can’t do anything. Even if she were able to break the engagement between Levier-sama and the Prince, I think it would be more appropriate for the Prince to select a daughter of a duke or a marquess as his next fiancee candidate rather than Levier-sama’s younger sisters, since he is much older that her sisters. Therefore, I think that the two sisters can be excluded from suspicion.

One of her older brothers has already graduated from this school, and the one left is Ivan-sama. Ivan-sama is one year older than us; he is 16 years old. That’s why I quietly, sneakily checked on Ivan-sama from the hallway where the second year classroom can be seen. Ivan-sama is not a capture target, and like Levier-sama, he too has silver hair and purple eyes. His bangs are always waving sleekly in the breeze.

 

Ivan-sama is popular in this school. Despite being an heir to a marquessate, he was never haughty and was kind and gallant to everyone. It is said that he is adored by the daughters of nobles as well as commoners. Perhaps, that is because of his appearance, character and social status. He’s a cheat, isn’t he? But from this distance, I can’t tell if he is the reincarnated person. But since he’s a man, maybe he’s not someone I need to watch out for.

 

“……What are you doing?”

“Hya—!”

 

I stepped back when I heard a low voice in my ear. Turning around, I saw that Rufen-sama is in a really bad mood. Uh, did I do anything wrong to him? I handed his lunch to him first thing in the morning and there isn’t any student council meetings, right? So why do I feel an aura of displeasure radiating from his body?

 

“What are you doing in this place? Isn’t your classroom on a different floor?”

 

Ah, probably, he is in a bad mood because a first year student is hanging around the second years’ corridor. Unlike the high schools of Japan in my past life, the hierarchal relationship in the Royal Academy of Diak is ambiguous. One is respected based on the social standing of their family instead of their year level. The students are more or less expected to be impartial with everyone though.

 

“……I was thinking of going to the library.”

 

It is difficult to say that I came to check on Ivan-sama. So I said something safe. The library is located in an annex which is reached through a passage connected to this corridor.

 

I thought that was the best excuse. However, Rufen-sama frowned when he heard my reply.

 

“But you’ve been standing here the whole time.”

 

What? You saw?! Or rather, since when have you been watching?

 

I tried to dodge his questions with a vague smile and escape…… but he caught me by the hand.

 

“I was just thinking about something. Would you please let go of my hand?”

“It seems that you’ve been watching Ivan all this time.”

 

He saw that much? But I did not think that Rufen-sama would get angry for this.

 

“He has a fiancée. It is his childhood friend who is the daughter of a duke. Just give up.”

“Huh?”

 

No, no, no.

 

It’s because I am a daughter of a poor earl. I’m sorry for not being the heir of a marquess. Doing my best in my studies and working as a part-timer, I will earn money through the Royal Sorcery Division after graduation.

 

“Quickly, go back.”

 

Spitting the words out in irritation, Rufen-sama left. What on earth was that?

 

Ah, before I knew it, Ivan-sama had exited his classroom and had gone off somewhere. I wasn’t able to find out if he was the reincarnated person or not. Well, I don’t think I will be able to identify that just by watching him.

 

Huff. (Annoyed)

 

◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆

 

Check #4) Confirm the condemnation event.

 

After my investigation on Ivan-sama was interrupted by Rufen-sama, I checked on Levier-sama’s friends. Yeah, everyone is unaware. No one seems to be suspicious about Levier-sama having a wicked heart. From what I heard from Levier-sama, all her friends are kind and gentle. They gave me cookies from a popular confectionary shop in the royal capital that I rarely get to eat. And in large quantities too! I shared it with my family and we ate it together. I feel so blessed!

 

So even though I always receive sweets, nothing peculiar has happened. Whether it is to frame Levier-sama or me, generally a bullying event should have occurred. But I have never encountered bullying since I entered the school. I have put myself on guard a lot but it’s been such a letdown. I don’t want to be tormented, so it is a good thing. If that is the case, then perhaps the condemnation event won’t happen? It’ll be nice if there isn’t any.

In the otome game, there is a condemnation event in the villainess’ story. If this is story of the villainess in the otome game, at first the villainess will be condemned but the heroine and her friends will be convicted of framing her in the end.

 

Because no bullying event has occurred, now there is no guilty person to be condemned at the condemnation event. I think that this world is probably the parallel universe of the villainess’ story but if I am the heroine in the otome game, the condemnation event has slightly changed. Correct me if I’m wrong but there was an additional twist in the otome game template. The pattern is to push the heroine off the stairs in addition to the big or small bullying happening everyday, but I think the game makers got tired of this overused pattern. Even if they push the heroine off the stairs, isn’t it unlikely for her to be left unhurt?

 

So adding a twist, instead of being pushed down from the stairs, they created a scenario where flames from the villainess’ magical power ran out of control and came down upon the heroine.

 

The enormous magical power of the villainess, Levier-sama, ran out of control and fell from the sky in the form of a fireball, towards the heroine. Of course it was a lie that it ran out of control because in truth, the villainess was driven by jealousy and deliberately directed the fireball towards the heroine. This malice was finally exposed during the birthday party of the Prince and the villainess was condemned.

 

If I remember it correctly, it will fall in summer. That is because the Prince’s birthday is at the end of the summer. In other words, it is almost time for the fireball to fall.  

 

I really get along with Levier-sama and I don’t believe that she will ever direct a fireball towards me. Just in case, maybe I should be on my guard?

 

I looked up at the sky as I thought about such things.

 

……Somehow, isn’t  . . . the sky red . . . ?

 

The sky I looked up to was red. Eh?

 

It’s fire! Several hundred fireballs were aimed at me!

 

I instantly set up a barrier with my light magic to quickly stop the magical flames. The fireballs that were repelled by my barrier disappeared.

 

In the far distance, I can see a silhouette of a fallen person. That silver hair… could it be Levier-sama?

 

Levier-sama, who had fallen down, was not even twitching. She had completely lost consciousness. From her body, I can see her magical powers overflowing. And from the sky, the fireballs that her magical powers created fell towards her.

 

Why did her magical powers run amok? The fireballs are falling towards her . . . are you kidding?!

 

Using the magical power of the wind, I tried to blow away the fireballs descending towards the barrier of light and the fireballs aimed towards Levier-sama. I ran over quickly and kneeled beside Levier-sama.

 

Ah! Damn it, this is really bad.

 

As Levier-sama loss consciousness, the rampage from the excess of her magical powers won’t cease. I continuously made barriers of light to protect both of us.

 

This is bad!

 

My magical power is enormous but it is impossible keep up with the full momentum of Levier-sama’s magical powers without harming my body. If Levier-sama continues to release magical powers at this rate, her life could be in danger. I can suppress her magical powers, but it will take all my strength to do so and it would be impossible to maintain the barrier that protected us from the flames.

 

My vision gradually blurred. Cold sweat dripped from my temple and fell.

 

Ah………?

 

In the corner of my receding consciousness, I noticed a black-haired man confronting the flames.

 

◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆

 

Epilogue

 

In the distance, I heard a voice. Are you alive? Are you okay? Such a desperate voice.

 

I was going to say that I’m fine but I couldn’t open my mouth. Something dropped on my cheeks.

 

Opening my heavy eyelids, Rufen-sama’s face was close to mine. His obsidian eyes are wet with tears.

 

Err, what on earth……

 

Slowly looking around me, the Prince and Levier-sama, as well as the members of the student council surrounded me.

 

“Levier-sama, are you safe—ugh!”

 

The moment I sat up, a sharp pain coursed through my whole body.

 

“Don’t move. It’s a miracle that you were saved!”

 

With unconcealed irritation, Rufen-sama pushed me back onto the bed.

 

Fine, I’m not going to get up already, so please stop grasping both of my hands and pinning it on the bed. It is dangerous if your actions were to be mistaken.

 

“Rufen, I understand that you are worried, but Margarete is troubled.”

“Huh? Oh, I’m sorry.”

 

Bitterly smiling at Prince Bertrut, Rufen-sama reluctantly let go of me. It seems that he was worried about me.

 

“I’m . . . sorry. It’s my . . . fault……”

 

Tears flowed from Levier-sama’s amethyst eyes which were staring at me. Prince Bertrut was holding her shoulders firmly and supporting her. It’s good that they are in love.

 

It’s fine, I understand. It’s not something that Levier-sama did deliberately. At that time, Levier-sama had completely lost consciousness.

 

Levier-sama, who calmed down after the prince rubbed her back, told us the reason why her magical powers went out of control.

 

“Perhaps I was tired, that’s why it happened.”

 

Dargrim, who was also listening, nodded with an agonized expression.

 

At that time, Levier-sama, who saw me in the backyard, wanted to call out to me so that we could go to the student council together.

 

However, she suddenly lost consciousness and when she recovered, I was lying next to her, and the Prince and Dargrim-sama were looking after her. To suppress the out of control magical powers, it was impossible without the help of the Prince and Dargrim-sama.

 

By the way . . .

 

“Rufen-sama, isn’t it time for you to let go of my hand?”

 

He had moved away from my body, but he has been holding onto one of my hands this whole time.

 

“I refuse.”

“Uhm, may I ask for the reason?”

“It’s because your magic circuit is broken.”

 

Oh. What? My magic circuit broke down?

 

Eh……

 

Hurriedly, I tried gathering magical powers in the palm of my hand. But the feeling is different from usual. There is no splashing like forcibly turning a faucet to the maximum. Even if I desperately gather it up, it only flows slightly.

 

Huh, this is a joke, right? This . . . If I practically can’t use my magical powers, then……

 

“Margerete, it will be fine. It won’t be for your entire life. Rufen has been constantly healing your magic circuit so it’s not destroyed.”

 

Now that he mentioned it, I saw something like Rufen-sama’s figure as I was on the verge of losing consciousness……

 

“You see, Rufen destroyed all the fireballs my rampaging magical powers had made and restored your magic circuit.”

 

Finally coming to help me, he used recovery magic on me and repaired my magic circuit just before the collapse……

 

Why did he do something so reckless? Did he want to court death that much? If he had made one wrong move, Rufen-sama would surely never be able to use magic for his entire life.

 

I concentrated my senses on my left hand that was connected to Rufen-sama. Uh, mm. I felt a different magical power within me. It is warm, gentle and throbbing.

 

“You will recover in about half a year. That is if you are by my side.”

“Half a year……”

 

If that’s the case, I wonder if I can somehow manage to enter into the Royal Sorcery Division. Even if I have good grades in the academy and my magic powers cannot be used temporarily, I will not be immediately dropped out. But……

 

“Does that mean I won’t be healed if I am not by Rufen-sama’s side?”

“That’s right.”

 

Then, is my recovery impossible? There is no way I can keep on accepting things.

 

“Let’s get engaged, Margarete.”

“Huh? What are you suddenly saying, Rufen-sama?”

“It’s not sudden. You have a debt to me this time. Right?”

“Y-Yes.”

“Then do not refuse.”

 

No, no, no, no. Rufen-sama, why are you so serious? Whether it is a debt or not, my poor earl family has no right to veto should Rufen-sama of the marquess’s household wishes for it. But—

 

“I think there is no reason for it.”

 

Speaking of doing something for him, it was only supplying him lunch. I may be helping the Student Council, but that is not only for him. There is no reason why he would desire for something bigger such as being his fiancée.

 

“Rufen, she’s confused. Just explain it properly from the beginning. We’ll wait outside the room.”

 

Encouraged by the prince, everyone left the room.

 

Huh, no, uhm . . . that . . .

 

Only the two of us were left alone in this situation. I averted my eyes away from Rufen-sama’s gaze.

 

“Are you joking……?”

“I’m serious.”

 

The hand holding me gripped me hard.

 

“I have no memory of doing things for you to like me. Could you please explain?”

 

He can’t refuse. I have the right to hear his explanation. I guess.

 

“……I’ve always heard about it from my little sister. About a girl that works as a part-timer at a bakery even though she is an earl’s daughter.”

“Little sister?”

“Yeah. She’s working at the same bakery as you. You know Polm, right? It’s the girl that you saved.”

 

Polm-chan is your sister?! Then that means, Polm-chan is the daughter of a marquess?

 

“I thought she was just an ordinary girl……”

“She is a commoner…… Our mothers are different. When she was a child, she lived with my mother’s maid outside the mansion as the daughter of a servant and not of a marquess. Even so, the marchioness became more severe on her and she left the mansion when she was seven years old. After that, we interacted through letters. Occasionally when we could meet up, I would only hear stories about you. Even though my sister does ask about me, but because she spoke so much about you, somehow I felt like my sister was stolen from me. ”

“That……”

 

How do I put it? I’m sorry? Ah, but . . . I knew now why I felt a sense of déjà vu at Rufen-sama’s smile. It looked like Polm-chan’s smile. Both of them have different hair and eyes, but somehow their faces have a resemblance. Especially the expression in the eyes. Even more so in the smile.

 

“And so, it frustrated me. I went to the bakery and the Earl of Fondine’s estate to see you. You were always trying hard and everyone loves you, and when I realized it, I couldn’t take my eyes off you.”

“Then, in front of the student council room the other day……”

“I thought it was my chance. Even in school, our grade levels are different while after school, you would focus all your energy to head to your part-time job. I never had the opportunity to talk to you.”

“If that was the case, you should have talked to me normally.”

“Nonsense. I’m a poor talker.”

 

I quickly turned my face sideways to avert my eyes. My ears were red.

 

I wonder how long he looked at me. Somehow, my face became hot. I felt shy that he held my hand.

 

“What now?”

“Huh?”

“I’ve told you everything. Are you willing to accept the engagement?”

 

Oh, so we’re going back to that topic?

 

“I don’t have the right to choose…?”

“If I forcibly make you my fiancée, won’t I be hated?”

“Is it alright if I refuse?”

“……Yeah. However in order to restore your magic circuit, I will need to treat you once a day.”

“But I’m a daughter of an impoverished earl.”

“I know.”

“I’m not good at cooking, either.”

“There’s a chef. Don’t worry.”

“I have a lot of siblings.”

“Won’t it be lively and fun?”

“In the future, I want to join the Royal Sorcery Division to support my family.”

“My elder brother will inherit the marquessate. I had planned to accept a viscountcy, but there’s no problem with me receiving the earldom. We could then join the sorcery division together. In that way, the income will be doubled.”

“Am I enough for you?”

“That’s what I said.”

 

Rufen-sama answered me without hesitation. His black eyes pierced straight to me. I grasped his hand in return.

 

“For me too, you are enough.”

“That…….”

 

To Rufen-sama whose eyes became wide with astonishment, I repeatedly nodded.

 


Translation Note:

[1]Stalking horse – a false pretext concealing someone’s real intentions.

[2] Spoiler – a person who obstructs or prevents an opponent’s success while having no chance of winning a contest themselves.

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