< — Ever After — > (5)
Edited by: ShadowDog
“Are you returning back to the capital now? If so, I will be able to see you often again.” (Anita)
“Rather than that…”
The intoxicated David began to mumble and make a racket. Most of David’s words were typical. He resented his father, he felt sorrow for his mother, and a hostility towards the Duke of Taran that was more like obstinacy. David’s insides were quite twisted unlike what one would expect from the precious son of a Duke. And that was why Anita liked David. People like him were easier to use.
Anita steadily built up David’s confidence in her so that David could open his heart to her. She sincerely agreed to everything he said and sometimes, she didn’t even charge him for his drink. She said she wanted to be his friend and comfort him. When David touched her while he was drunk, she pushed him away and made a saddened expression.
[I believed I could be true friends with your Lordship. Was I foolish to believe so?]
David, who had treated her as a bar hostess at first, began to show decorum to her as a Countess.
[You are better than a hot-blooded man. I have never thought that I could be friends with a woman, but I think it can be possible with Countess.]
Deep in Anita’s heart, her resentment towards the Duchess had grown bigger and it was swallowing her like a pitch-black abyss. She constantly denied her terribly declining position, but she couldn’t stop working as the hostess of the bar. When she sold her smile to numerous men and received their reverent gazes, she felt like she was alive.
But she could not admit that it was her nature. And she blamed the Duchess for pulling her down to this level and harbored hatred in her heart. Her power was too weak to threaten to the Duchess. But isn’t it said that even a cornered mouse would bite the cat.
Anita searched for an opportunity. And the person she had set her eyes on as an excellent tool, was David. She didn’t plan to rush anything, but looking back on the situation, things seemed to be progressing smoothly. David’s anger and jealousy was growing bigger and bigger.
“Why would my father even get someone to follow me! There is definitely someone slandering me. That Taran guy is driving a wedge between us. He is lingering around like a thorn in my side!”
Even if he was the heir to a Duke, he was merely just a Count, yet he says the Duke of Taran was scheming against him and slandering him?
‘There is no way.’
While ridiculing David in her heart, Anita comforted him.
“Then Your Lordship shouldn’t just endure but make a counterattack. If it is to the extent of humiliating the Duke of Taran, I can also manage.”
Anita hid her satisfied smile and continued speaking in an unimportant tone.
“Spreading a rumor that you are in a deep heart-to-heart relationship with the Duchess. Even if such a rumor spread, the Duke of Taran cannot come to dispute it with Your Lordship. And if he does, that is humiliating in its own way.”
David was hesitant. He was uncomfortable with doing something that would smear the reputation of the Duchess. Despite his negative feelings towards the Duke of Taran, the Duchess remained as fluttering puppy love in David’s heart.
“And sometimes rumors become real. A man and a woman who meet because of a rumor, grow close, and then dependent on each other.”
David was confident that the Duchess would be charmed by him as long as he had the opportunity to properly talk with her. If there was a rumor about them, he could use that as an excuse to talk with her. Anita who was well aware of David’s cunning heart, took hold of the opportunity.
“Mm…but if we make a fake rumor, it will be revealed quickly…” (David)
“Fake? No. We should make the real thing.” (Anita)
“What do you mean?”
“When it comes to rumors, all you have to do is provide a clue. If there is a scene where two people meet secretly, and people see it, the rumors will spread in no time.”
The Duchess mostly participated in quiet social activities and only attended tea parties. And it was a wide-spread rumor that the ducal couple’s marital relationship was good. It was human nature to feel awe towards an unattainable target, but the ugly human heart also feels delight at the fall of that unattainable target.
If they created a scene where David who was known to have gone down to the fief, and the Duchess, were found to be secretly meeting, the scandalous rumors would spread in a flash like fire on a dry leaf.
The number of scandals circulating in the social circle were so many that it was ridiculous, but the impact of adding a scandal to noblewoman with a very clean reputation was completely different from adding one more rumor to someone with many rumors about them.
Authenticity did not matter. Even if the rumor was later revealed to be untrue, there would still definitely be someone who will voice out that such rumors turned up in the first place because there were grounds for it. Once a rumor spreads, it could settle down, but it could not be eradicated.
“In a few days, it will be the founding day.”
It was the first founding day since the ascension of the new King. The Duchess rarely went to balls, but she would not miss the founding party.
“There will be an extensive party and opportunely, the Duke of Taran is not in the capital. There is no better chance than this.”
“The biggest problem with this is how can the Duchess and I, be together alone without being seen?”
“I will make that opportunity for you.”
“Hmm…But why is Madame Juel helping me so actively?”
Anita teared up and confessed that she had once been a lover of the Taran Duke but was cruelly abandoned. And that if she had the chance, she wanted to exert a small revenge on the Duke of Taran.
David was thrilled and exclaimed that as expected, the Duke was a wicked and disrespectful man.
“Your Lordship only needs to help me with one thing.”
“And what is that?”
Anita visibly worried over whether to talk or not and only when David promised that he would help her in any way possible, did she open her mouth.
“I heard that the Ramis House had a magical tool that can change one’s appearance. Please lend that to me for a while. That’s all you need to do.”
*Rumors can’t be completely eradicated? Hmm, I wonder what Hugo has to say about that; you know what they say, dead men tell no tales.