On an elegant drop-shoulder, a ball gown dress.
At the center of the chest, there was a small ribbon with only two palm-sized loops, adorned with a pendant resembling a rainbow-colored opal for added emphasis.


Stella looked at me again.

“Do you want that?”

“….”

“Shall I buy it for you?”

If you want it, I’ll buy it.
I have plenty of money.
Stella’s affectionate voice reached my ears.

“No… I can’t.”

Not a ‘no,’ but ‘I can’t.’ Stella knew why I gave such an answer.

“Is it because you’re living as a man?”

“Who would know? Shh.”

After giving me a knowing look, Stella sealed her lips with a snap.

I calmly spoke.

“As a son, I should fulfill my duties.”

That’s what I promised Persis.
Perhaps it’s thanks to that promise that I’ve managed to survive until now.

It would be unfair if the role I’ve built up for five years crumbled over just one dress.
Even if it’s a role I’ll eventually discard.

I’ll wear the dress when I become a real May.
I’ll buy it with my own money, no strings attached.
For now, I’ll endure.

Despite making such a determination, even after stepping out of the shop with Stella, I found it difficult to take my eyes off the dress.

Beside me, Stella, who was less composed, sighed while crossing her arms.

“If it bothers you because of His Grace, just buy it.
If he scolds you for wearing a dress as a man, blame it on me.
Say it was forced on you by me.”

Stella, unlike the original, had no connection to Persis, so it didn’t matter whether she looked down on him or not.

“….”

I couldn’t bring myself to speak.

“May.”

In response to the familiar voice, my head reflexively turned, and a man walking towards me entered my field of view.

It was Persis Flotina.

As he approached, Stella awkwardly but politely greeted him with her chubby face, and I just watched him.

“Why is Your Grace here…?”


Persis stopped in front of me after leaving Yohan behind.

“I’m on my way to the Upper District.”

Come to think of it, this fashion street was connected to Koutos Sangdan, which had dealings with Persis.
Since it was the prime time for hunting monsters, Persis occasionally had business to attend to in the Upper District.

“What were you doing here?”

What was I doing? I…

As my gaze was about to turn back to the dress, I stopped halfway and dropped my gaze to the ground.

“….”

I couldn’t answer.
I couldn’t say that as his son, I was looking at a dress I wanted…

Imagine how pathetic it would be to think that a boy who will become an adult in three months is outside, just looking at dresses because of his own selfishness.
And on top of that, playing the role of a son.

How pitiful it would be.

“….I followed Young lady Stella to shopping.”

***

Persis looked down at May, who simply said he had followed Stella for shopping.

Her voice sounded lifeless.
It wasn’t the voice Persis wanted to hear.

He never wanted to intimidate May.
He just wanted to have a conversation, and in this situation, this phrase seemed appropriate and meaningless.

“….Okay.”

Since he didn’t make an effort to find out why his child was disheartened, there was no significant response from him either.

May held hands with her friend of the same age and bowed her head.

“We’ll go now.
See you at home for dinner, Father.”

“….Sure.”

His own child didn’t even look back and went on his way.
Persis felt bitter as he watched his son’s receding figure.

He wanted to have a more meaningful conversation.

To ask if there was anything he wanted to buy, any food he wanted to eat.

He thought it was a level of conversation they could have, and they had plenty of time for it.
But still.

‘Why can’t we have a proper conversation?’

Why did he and his child become so distant?


He looked at the dress that had caught his child’s gaze for so long.

“I guess Young Master wanted that dress.”

He knew it too.
He saw where May was staring before he called him.

Even though he knew, an indifferent voice escaped him.

“I have to be patient.”

Even if there’s something she want, she have to endure.
Because she’s my child.
Because she’s the heir to the Flotina family.

“… You have to be patient.” 〈Not sure what he means but double checked it still got the same〉

As he said that, the image of his child, unable to take her eyes off the dress, flashed before his eyes.

May’s expression as she looked at the dress.Persis’s mouth closed straight, remembering the expression.

“…”

It wasn’t the expression of someone looking at something they wanted.

The dress was dazzlingly bright and beautifully adorned, whiter than the snow piled up on the ground.
May’s expression, unable to tear her eyes away from the dress, was the expression of longing for something she couldn’t have.

***

After meeting Persis in front of the dress shop, Stella and I walked aimlessly without a destination.
Stella clicked her tongue as if she were frustrated.

“It’s so gloomy, even though it’s gloomy.
Well, it’s strange for a household where a daughter lives as a son to be harmonious, I guess.”

“……”

“Ugh, frustrating!”

Stella pounded her chest as if she had choked while eating a sweet potato.
〈expression〉

But I, the person involved, didn’t have any particular emotions, so I couldn’t even react.
No, to be precise, my focus was elsewhere.

‘…What is this feeling?’

Somewhere, I felt a sense of unease, and I stopped in the middle of the street.
Stella also stopped walking and called out to me.

“May?”

“……”

“Why are you like that?”

I quietly replied, trying to calm my racing heart.

“I feel like we’re being watched.”


“Huh?”

Stella gave me a puzzled look as if to say, “What nonsense is that?”

“I feel like someone is watching us.”

“….What?”

When I spoke seriously, Stella spoke quietly, as if afraid someone might overhear.

“R-Really? Someone is watching us? No, why?”

Stella’s face turned pale with fear.

“Could it be… kidnapping?”

Unlike in South Korea, where public safety was good, kidnappings and trafficking were frequent occurrences in this world.

“I don’t know.”

The fact that someone was watching us made even the breeze touching our skin feel strange, and the tension in the surroundings heightened.

Thinking that someone could attack us at any moment, I scanned the surroundings and entered a state of alertness.

“I think I know where they’re watching us from.”

“Where?”

Stella swallowed hard.

“They seem to be on your side.
Look around.
I feel like they’ll notice if I turn my head and try to run.”

Stella rolled her eyes around as I had suggested, trying to find the watcher.

“How is it? Is someone watching us?”

“There… is.”

“How is it? Do they seem dangerous?”

“They’re hiding in the corner, so I can’t see much except for their hair because of the shade.”

“Hair?”

“It’s platinum blonde.”

…Platinum blonde?

There was a fleeting face in my mind.
A man with a heterochromatic eye that I had encountered five years ago beyond the train entrance platform.

I had only told him the hair color, but why does that man come to mind?


I had only seen his face for a few seconds, but his impression was so strong that I remembered him even now, fifteen years later.

Stella blinked her eyes and spoke.

“That person… seems to be coming towards us.”

“Toward us?”

At her words, I quickly turned my head to look for the platinum-haired man.
However, there was no man, only a platinum-haired woman in her forties.

Judging by her appearance, she didn’t seem like the person trying to kidnap us, which relieved me.
I found it slightly absurd that I had thought of the heterochromatic-eyed man I had seen before.

“Why did she keep an eye on us?”

The woman approached us step by step.
As she got closer, her appearance became clearer, and Stella and I were slightly surprised.

The hair color…

Even though Stella and I both had platinum blonde hair, there was a difference in shade.
If my hair was the epitome of platinum blonde, Stella’s had a rare pinkish hue, enhancing her protagonist charm.

Anyway, while platinum blonde like mine was common, platinum blonde like Stella’s was rare.
No, to be precise, Stella was the only one.

However, the woman approaching us had the exact same hair color as Stella.

Tears streamed down the woman’s face as she stood in front of Stella.

“My daughter… I wanted to see you…”

As the woman tried to embrace Stella without warning, I stepped forward to block her before the escort knight could react.

“Who are you, trying to hold Young Lady?”

Stella, hidden behind me, leaned her head to the side to observe the woman, then came forward with a twisted expression.

“You… could it be…”

“Stella, do you recognize me?”

As they seemed to recognize each other, I took a few steps back and gave them space.

Once again, I carefully examined the unfamiliar woman’s face.
Platinum blonde hair with a pinkish hue, purple eyes, distinctive features… Then suddenly, a thought flashed through my mind.

Could it be…

The “could it be” from Stella and me hit the target.

“I am your mother, daughter.”

Oh my.

Although I had anticipated it based on the hair color, hearing it directly was shocking.
I was dumbfounded, and my mouth hung open.

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