“Anastasia, I made you wait.”
“No, I haven’t waited for long, so don’t mind me.”
A few hours later after talking to Lloyd, I was waiting for my brother in the dining hall where the Duke of Strauss’s main family ate. I think I came here a little early. After waiting for about five minutes, my brother finally arrived. He was dressed more roughly than before, probably because he had just finished his work as duke.
As I watched my brother enter the dining hall, the maids brought out our meals. The food, which looked grander than the meals served at the royal palace, could be seen as a sign of the Duke of Strauss’s power, who was also currently more financially prosperous than the royal family.
“So Anastasia, I know most of this is in your letter… But the fact that you took the trouble to come back suggests that you have something to say to me, don’t you?”
Looking straight at my eyes, my brother said this. Nothing has changed with my brother since then… With that in mind, I took a breath. It’s been a while since I became Anastasia, so I had to act like I knew what was coming and read her thought process… Anastasia liked her brother, but she wasn’t very good at that part, was she?
“Yes, well… everything’s pretty much in the letter I wrote. I would like to learn the art of territory management from you, brother. William-sama has already agreed to this.”
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“R pll. Elzz, R esd’v xkde. R’x bsdlpvzu byrru vs cl yczl vs blzr Gdypvypky. Jwv… es usw alyzzu dlle vs ts vbyv qya?”
“…E, obyv es usw xlyd?”
“Rv’p pkxrzl. Fkdnl usw olal y cakel yde olald’v csad kdvs vbl asuyz qyxkzu, obu pbswze Gdypvypky ts vbyv qya?”
Yu casvbla pyke, vbld eakdjkdt oyvla qasx vbl okdl tzypp dlyacu. Eyp… oyp kv alyzzu yzaktbv vs es vbkp? Jwv… Fbl tsv y zkvvzl lxcyaaypple lhlau vkxl pbl vakle vs ydpola zkjl Gdypvypky. Rq R ewt psxl sq bla xlxsaklp wr, R oswze pll obyv R pbswze es yp Gdypvypky dso, cwv R oyp cltkddkdt vs osdela kq vbyv oyp yzaktbv.
“Zswa bswpl kp vbl Pwjlesx sq Fvaywpp. Zsw byhl ds sczktyvksd vs ts vbyv qya qsa vbl asuyz qyxkzu. R’x nlavykdzu sd tsse vlaxp okvb vbl nasod rakdnl, yde vbyv’p obu R’x tkhkdt bkx y qyka yxswdv sq pwrrsav, cwv… Gdypvypky eslpd’v dlle vs ts vbyv qya, eslp pbl?”
“Zsw’al kd y rszkvknyz xyaakytl. Ps usw vbkdj vbyv… usw’zz lhldvwyzzu cl nwv sqq?”
“…R esd’v vbkdj vbyv vbl asuyz qyxkzu yal vbspl jkdep sq rlsrzl.”
“That’s just your imagination. You never when people can change, right? Especially, the more money a man has, the more he changes.”
He said this as if he was testing me, playing with the wine glass that still had some water in it. I think he was testing my resolve. I’m sure he knew what he was doing… The current royal family was too friendly, which led to their current situation. In the past, if the royal family was truly a group of foolish and unworthy people to serve, my brother wouldn’t have married me off.
I also picked up a wine glass filled with water with my hand. Several dishes were steadily brought in. They were all deliciously presented and were extremely different from what I had eaten in my previous life.
“…won’t be cut off.”
I let out a small sigh as I stared at all the food. I neared the glass of water to my mouth and gulped the cool, thirst-quenching water, then stared at my brother.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
Ah, that’s right. Anastasia was this ‘kind of person.’ The pieces of a puzzle that had been scattered in my brain finally fit together perfectly, that’s why my mouth naturally started sputtering these words. It didn’t matter who I was talking to, I would just keep laughing, fiercely and fearlessly. That’s who I was, and that’s… who Anastasia was.
“It’s the other way around you know. If anyone was going to be cut off, it wouldn’t be me… but him.”
Laughing fearlessly, behaving fiercely, and oppressing others. In the end, even if I’ve changed on the inside, the essence remained the same. Even if it was me inside… I still have Anastasia’s memories in my head.
“…If William-sama and I were to be divorced, being cut off would not come from William-sama.”
And, I was really hoping for that ending.
“I… will not be cut off. I will not be simply thrown away. Throwing people aside… will be done by me. Isn’t that right―― brother?”
This was Anastasia. As I thought about it, it kind of blew me away. This was the way I had lived. This was one of the answers that Anastasia, who was I right now, has come up with.
“I’ll always be the winner… This greed is what brother likes about me, right?”
Anastasia was greedy. She wanted to have it all. Our basic essences were one and the same… in my previous life and now.
Because―― I was greedy.
Author: I’ve been rethinking the title lately… It’s too far off from the plot, so I might try to make a more fitting title…