Part 1 of the novel is now fully translated on on Patreon!
Clarisse, who was visiting for the first time, was taken aback by the magnificent architecture of the historic National Theater, which had been designated as a historic-cultural landmark.
Jean, who looked expressionless as usual, took her to the terrace seating on the second floor. There was a curtain dividing the room, making it look like a private room.
He sat Clarisse on the sofa and went out into the hallway to get some snacks and water from a vendor before returning to the terrace.
Those who purchased the expensive terrace tickets were permitted to consume food and beverages throughout the performance.
"This is really your first time coming here."
He said in a relatively soft voice, and Clarisse, who was busy admiring the entire theater as it slowly filled up with people, couldn't help but laugh at his remark.
"I'm sorry, I got carried away. I must've acted like a child."
"I didn't say that."
A soft light flashed in Jean's eyes as he reached out and gently stroked Clarisse's cheek with his thumb.
"You ought to laugh more."
'Perhaps he chose a comedy musical... to make me laugh?'
However, before she could reply, Jean offered her snacks and some water, which he followed by suggesting that she eat them before the play started, which was the end of the conversation.
The first comedy musical she ever saw in her life was wonderful.
Clarisse, who had never seen a comedy or a musical, to begin with, was fascinated by even the slightest movement of the stage set during a scene change.
The audience laughed as the performers humoured them. Everyone was intoxicated by the dazzling way the performers sang, which transformed the theater into one ample space and generated a unique heat.
Although the play was a comedy, there was a sad story in the midst, and Clarisse was busy laughing and crying. Jean was entirely unresponsive to the play from beginning to end. Occasionally, he would steal glances of her face with amusement as he watched her eyes twinkling happily and her fascination with the stage; she was unaware of this until the end.
'Wow, it was wonderful...!'
The three-hour comedy musical was over, and Clarisse, still in a state of excitement, held onto Jean's arm as they walked through the crowded theater passageways.
"I see you enjoyed it."
"Yes, it was wonderful. Thank you, Jean-sama, for bringing me here."
As she walked through the stream of people, feeling all fluffy, heading out of the theater, she noticed the aristocrats' gaze around them and realized that they didn't seem to recognise Jean.
Most of the aristocratic men looked at Jean, who was obviously dressed in a high-quality tuxedo and carried himself nobly: wondering who he was. In contrast, the women were enchanted by his manly appearance and impressive physique and looked enviously at his companion, Clarisse.
After all, as he said himself, he has rarely been to the capital, so the people were unaware that Jean was the famous 'Man-Eating Margrave.'
"Oh, the Man-Eating Margrave things?"
In the carriage on the way back, Clarisse asked Jean this - quite boldly of her. But he didn't seem particularly bothered by it and simply nodded that he had heard of it, which was a bit of a surprise. The way he spoke about it made it seem to be a trivial matter to him, even though it was a very unsettling name, which was very much like him in a sense.
"I think it all started when the newspapers made fun of my relentless fighting style on the battlefield, I recall Sid or Marius saying something like that."
"Is that so..."
The calm and simple man in front of her was so gentle that it was easy to forget that he was a man with a history of tremendous war achievements. Since he was so proud of his territory, he must have been ready to devote his time, passion, and all of his energy to his duties as a Margrave in case of a war.
"The last time I was in the capital was when the king summoned me after signing a peace treaty with a neighboring country, so it's already been a year."
After Clarisse told him about the feud with her family before the play, Jean began to act closer to her, as if another wall between them had been broken down. In fact, on the carriage ride home, he sat next to her instead of across from her, though he probably did so unconsciously. But of course, it was never uncomfortable, and Clarisse felt relieved to have Jean's large, warm body next to hers, giving her an overwhelming sense of safety.
"Did you know that my sister was known as the 'Jewel of Farenheit'?"
A feeling of discomfort spread like a stain in Clarisse's heart as if a drop of ink had been dropped on it. After all, when they met for the first time, the first thing he did was to ask if she was the Jewel of Farenheit.
"Is that so... then as I thought... did you ask the King for the 'Jewel of Farenheit' as a reward for your battle, Jean-sama..?"
Her words grew fainter as she asked him.
She had been wondering if she should ask him since she had mentioned being the substitute earlier.
However, he had never denied or confirmed the story that he had asked the king to grant him the Jewel of Farenheit as his wife. So she wanted to ask him if he really wanted her sister and if he just went with her as a substitute bride since she was not so bad after spending time with her?
She wanted to live her life with dignity as much as possible. Still, the feeling of inferiority to her sister, which had been imprinted on her since an early age, suddenly welled up from the depths of her heart, and Clarisse felt as if she were being overwhelmed by dark thoughts. After all, her sister is better than she is, right?
Jean took Clarisse's hand in his and squeezed it gently.
"Clarisse... after we go to your parents' house, I'll tell you something. But right now, all I can say is that you have to trust me."
Jean becomes silent when necessary, but over the past few months, she has learned that he is not a man who would lie.
The temperature of his skin, the gentle touch of his hand holding hers, and those few words were enough to lift her out of the darkness she was starting to drown into.
The appointment with the Farenheit family was scheduled for the end of their two-week stay. In the meantime, he would occasionally leave Clarisse with his aunt and go into town alone, but in the afternoons, he always spent time with her enjoying the capital.
He took Clarisse to the theater twice after that since she loved it so much, and he took her to a candy store to eat trending sweets, even though he himself did not like them.
When the weather was sunny, they walked together in the park with the capital’s famous fountain, and he took Clarisse, who loved reading, to a large bookstore, where they became absorbed in the books and stayed for a very long time; resulting in Lotte looking for them when they didn't make it in time for dinner.
Although Clarisse was secretly worried that she might run into her sister or her parents when she was in the capital, the capital was so big, and they must have been so busy with their tea parties and soirées that they didn't cross paths at all.
She felt that by spending time with Jean like this at first, he was trying to make many good memories in the capital with her. He might have imagined various things that could happen at her parents' house, so he made arrangements for them to leave the capital as soon as the visit to the Farenheit family was over.
Clarisse's expression became more cheerful and brighter day by day; her smile became more sincere, and she even laughed out loud while talking to Jean.
She doesn't even think about her family when she is with him. It seemed as if the flower bud that had been held back until now was finally given sunshine and water, and she became more beautiful as if she were slowly blooming.
On the day before she visited the Farenheit family, Sid visited the Ainsworth residence for tea for the first time in many days. When he saw Clarisse, his eyes rolled unreservedly.
"Clarisse! You look like a different person!"
"What do you mean?"
When she looked at Sid with a puzzled look, Jean spoke to her from the side with a snort.
"Clarisse, you don't have to worry about it. ---So, Sid, what about that thing?"
"Yeah, yeah, I understand; I'll shut up. Here it is."
Sid handed Jean a small blue velvet case.
"It took a lot of work to make it exactly the way you described; you should be grateful."
"I appreciate it."
"Waah! That wasn't sincere at all."
Ignoring Sid's grumbling, Jean opened the case towards Clarisse. Inside, there was a ring with a sparkling violet stone the size of her thumbnail. It was so beautiful that it took her breath away.
"Oh my... so beautiful..."
'Is this the same color as my eyes...?'
"It looks like a real gem, but it's an imitation." Sid remarked with a smirk.
When she looked up at Jean, he nodded towards her.
"I think we need to have a strategy meeting for tomorrow."
The manga for the substitute bride is now out!!! will announce again when it has an English translation~
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