When news of Wells and his group residing at Baron Titonsser's estate for the night reached her ears, Rose had an inkling as to who he would bring back.
Even if she had been reborn into her past, Ilya Titonsser had, once more, returned to the Honeywell Manor.
Like in the past, the reason for Ilya invading their home was because of Wells, who was indebted to Baron Titonsser.
The price for staying a night on their estate was to support the baron's daughter as she blossomed in high society.
Rose intended to run into the arms of her beloved, unharmed brother, but the sight of the baron's daughter brought her to a screeching halt.
That did not stop her brother from striding forward to embrace his sister.
“Dear Rose, have you slept late? Why are you still in your nightwear? Are you not cold?”
It was early in the morning, so Wells' voice held the concern of an overprotective brother.
Her brother was warm and friendly, and his infinite affection for his sister was obvious.
Rose, finally confirming the life flowing through her brother, burst into tears and hugged him tightly.
Stay alive, brother.
I've missed you so much.
On the other hand, Wells could not hide his embarrassment at his sister's sudden, tearful welcome.
“Rose! Why are you crying? Don't cry, sister.”
Wells bent his knees and matched his sister's height, gently wiping away the tears that ran down her cheeks.
I thought I would never be able to feel my brother's kindness again.
Rose cried harder.
“Are you sick, Rose?”
More concerned over his sister's dilemma and wiping away her tears, Wells was unaware of the figures approaching them.
A thick, warm coat draped her trembling shoulders, distracting Wells, who found that he was surrounded.
“We may be inside the manor, but you'll still catch a cold if you're dressed like this.”
His attention drawn to the hand holding onto the furry object covering his sibling, Wells felt his mind go mute before he slowly turned to the owner of the limb.
Elliot Proud stood beside Rose.
Wells felt his face distort at the sight of him.
Why is Your Grace at my residence?”
Tilting his head, the Duke of Proud pretended he did not understand the meaning of Wells' question.
“Isn't it perfectly normal for a fiancé to visit his fiancée?”
“You aren't engaged yet.”
Duke Proud laughed loudly.
“But there will be an engagement soon.
This Duke will take it.”
The exchange of conversation between them was harmonious, but the look in their eyes was sharper than blades in battle.
Rose, caught in the middle of both mighty powers, couldn't move as her body stiffened.
What the h*ll is this, Elliot? Please just leave.
It was the butler who bravely intervened, disrupting the cold air that formed around them.
“Master, these guests…”
Wells snapped out of his argument with the other duke and turned to Ilya.
Rose and Elliot followed his motion.
Looking at Ilya, who was only a few steps away, Rose hurriedly glanced at Elliot's expression.
I never knew what happened between the two or what kind of relationship developed when they met, but it's true that Elliot invited Ilya to the banquet and not me.
How did it relate to the events of the past?
She had questions that needed to be answered.
When did he become interested in Ilya? Was it during their first meeting?
Rose knew what a person in love looked like.
After meeting Elliot, love was the look she saw every time she faced a mirror.
If—If Elliot fell in love with Ilya at first sight, then…!
Slowly, she raised her head and gazed at him.
The man stood comfortably beside her with a neatly set tie, a wrinkle-free collared shirt, a long neck, tightly shut lips, and carelessly cold eyes.
She forcefully held back a gasp.
He has no response.
Elliot never wore his emotions on his sleeve, so Rose generally had a difficult time getting a read on him.
Assuming that she wasn't reading his expressions properly and that she had missed the change in him, Rose tried again.
There wasn't any change in his eyes—neither love nor desire.
Was it a case where they kept in touch secretly and then fell in love?
Rose lost herself in her thoughts, and the fact that she remained staring at Elliot was forgotten.
Elliot, having felt a gaze focused on him, lowered his head toward the girl beside him, causing Rose to snap out of her thoughts and withdraw her gaze.
I almost made eye contact with that man.
Rose pretended not to notice the pair of eyes now trained on her and watched her brother make his way to Ilya.
This is Ilya Titonsser, the daughter of Baron Titonsser.
I've decided to help her attend the debutante ball hosted by the Imperial Family.
Yesterday, when we were caught in the downfall, I was taken in by the Baron of Titonsser.”
Wells' announcement repeated exactly the same as in their past lives.
His speech was a confirmation for Rose.
She nodded slightly in acknowledgement.
“Yes, I see.”
“Miss Titonsser, this is my one and only family member, my sister, Rose Honeywell.
You are a year younger than my sister.”
As Wells approached his sister, Ilya trailed behind him.
Rose tilted her head, unable to meet the face of Ilya, who drew closer.
In Rose's lowered vision, a pair of shoes and the hem of a skirt came into view.
“Hello, Rose! I am Ilya Titonsser.
It is a pleasure to meet you.
Please take good care of me as I stay at the manor.”
Her voice was bright and sweet, naturally stirring a person's instinct to look into her eyes.
The smile Ilya wore was as bright as her greeting.
Ilya, why did you respond to Elliot's advances when you knew he was my fiancé?
Rose hesitated before she made up her mind to behave politely.
“Yes, it's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Titonsser.”
No matter how kind she tried to be, the word “welcome” did not leave her lips.
That word was like inviting a friend over for a cup of tea; Rose greeted her formally instead.
This time, she took everything—Ilya and her character.
She wondered if Ilya would be the same as her.
Elliot was handsome, and any girl that laid eyes on him fell in love.
But Ilya was different.
She had a look of admiration rather than love when facing Elliot.
“Miss Titonsser, this is—“
Wells introduced Ilya to Elliot, and it was most likely not out of free will.
As Elliot stood beside Rose, it forced Wells to introduce him unwillingly.
I can see the sparks flying between the dukes.
“Duke Proud, are you not leaving? With only a month left in this year, you must be quite relaxed.”
With their brief introductions complete, Wells continued their thorny exchange.
Towards Wells' barbed retort, Elliot smiled cynically and laughed.
“No, the busiest person in this empire should be the Duke of Honeywell.
Are you not the one who should be reporting to His Majesty?”
Her brother's shoulders trembled as he suppressed his emotions.
When given a task by His Majesty, as one of his dukes, it was mandatory to report directly to the emperor as soon as they entered the capital.
Brother should have met with the Emperor yesterday but was held back by the bad weather.
Their emperor was not an idle man.
He was a man who lived his life on a schedule.
With the heavy rains, even if it was unintentional, the emperor's schedule was disrupted.
If Wells made his way to the Imperial Palace right now, it was uncertain if he would be granted a chance to meet the emperor.
Wells pressed his fingers against his temples.
“I have an appointment for it tomorrow, so it's no concern of yours.
Are you still wasting your time here? That's not like the great Elliot Proud.”
“Ah, yes, I am also a busy man.
Elliot, who pulled out a pocket watch, was surprised.
As if she had been lying in wait for the opportune moment, Rose had thrown his coat over his shoulder forcefully.
Leisurely, Elliot wore the coat and glanced at Rose.
“I'd have liked to enjoy lunch with you later today, but I do not have time.”
That's our answer in advance.”
Wells' refusal cut through the air like a well-honed blade.
Rose did not say her farewell to the Duke of Proud as he left.
If it were in the past, Rose would have rushed at the chance and would have followed him at his side until he climbed into his carriage and left.
But she was a changed woman now.
Unconcerned, she engrossed herself in a colorful painting on the wall.
She was certain Elliot would not care to speak further, as she had blatantly avoided eye contact.
When have I ever received a warm greeting from that man?
“Then go carefully.”
That sounded empty, brother.
Instead of waiting for Rose to respond, Wells sent him off as a courtesy.
Rose waited for Elliot to leave, but the man in question had other plans.
“My rose does not pay attention to me.”
I heard wrong.
The young lady peered at Duke Proud.
You didn't say a word, yes?
The Rose of Honeywell.
There were many who referred to her by that name.
Rose was aware that even her brother would sometimes teasingly call her his “rose” in that context rather than her first name.
Why would Elliot call me so affectionately?
She frowned at Elliot, clearly bewildered.
Before she died, he called her a rose.
“Innocent and foolish, my lovely rose.”
The memory of that night would never go away, especially that mocking tone, as it took away all she held precious.
His voice was different from that night.
To the ears of others, he was a playful fiancé, whispering sweet nothings to his bashful lover.
Rose and Wells knew differently.
Elliot always had and always would be neglectful when it came to Rose.
Truly, his tone is as sweet as honey; even my brother is shocked.
She struggled to keep her expression from twisting.
“That, what are you—“
A soft warmth lightly brushed Rose's cheek and fell away.
Knowing what happened was not the same as understanding it, and Rose was troubled with why she was kissed.
“Let's have a meal together.
I'm going to make time for my rose anyway.”
He sounded pleased.
“You're making time for what?! What the h*ll did you do to my dear rose?”
The anger in Wells burst out, making a sharp contrast to his usual gentle temperament.
Honeywell's young lady glanced around.
The attendants lingering about were astonished; some stood frozen with their mouths covered and faces red.
The same could be said of Ilya.
She stood, mouth agape, with a charming blush dusting her cheeks.
He kissed me.
She looked for the man who kissed her cheek, only to find he had already left the manor.
Her brother glared at the empty spot beside her, walked up to her, and wiped her cheek with a handkerchief.
“How dare you, Proud.
How dare you put your lips on our Rose's cheek?!”
Wells' touch was cautious and gentle.
Rose was uncertain if he was scrubbing her cheek or lightly sweeping it.
She smiled at her brother and softly pushed his hand away.
“Now, now, brother.
That's enough, it's clean.”
“Ha! Did that Proud get struck by lightning while I was stuck in the rain? He's not acting like the young Lord Elliot I know.”
Indeed, Elliot's behavior was out of character.
Why are you pretending to be kind to me? Did the impact of the breakup affect you more than I originally thought?
No, first I need to talk to my brother about breaking off the engagement.
Rose was about to ask her brother for a moment of his time before the butler drew closer and spoke.
In his hand was an envelope with a luxurious design, even at first glance.
“Your Grace, a letter has come from the Imperial Family.”
“Ah, I sent a request around the time I arrived in the capital.
It appears a reply has arrived quickly.”
After receiving the envelope, Wells opened it on the spot and unfolded its contents.
He read through it, sealed it, and met his beloved sister's eyes.
“My rose, I have to leave for the Imperial Palace.”
The emperor snatched her brother.
Rose had no choice but to send him to the Imperial Palace and wait for his return.
[TL/N: Kinda loving this older brother, rn.
I really hope Elliot's not reborn, too.]
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