After confirming the test site, I returned to my lady.
“Thank you for waiting. My lady, you and I seem to have our exam in the classroom at the back of the first floor.”
“I see, thanks. By the way, Cyril, that girl you were paying attention to earlier…”
She was looking into my eyes.
Looking back, she seems to have been worrying about something for a while now. Although she was still carrying herself with grace, she wasn’t moving like she usually did.
“Please rest assured, it was just a maid that bumped into me.”
“No, that’s not…”
She was making an expression that said she still had something to say.
Apparently, she still seemed to be uneasy about something. Noticing that, I immediately knelt down, looked up towards her and gently grabbed her hand.
“It’s okay. No matter what happens, I’ll be there to protect you, my lady.”
“Is that true? Will you really stay with me forever?”
“Of course, I will always be there for you. The promise I made to you back during our childhood is something I will never forget.”
Her cheeks flushed slightly, and all of the anxiety from her facial expression seemed to disappear. Luckily, it looks like I was able to appease her worries this time.
“Now then, I’ll be your guide, so let’s go to the classroom.”
“Okay, I’ll leave it to you.”
I then led my lady to the exam site.
First, the student applicants will take the written test in the classrooms, after which, there were practical exams that covered etiquette, dance, singing and playing instruments that we’d be divided into groups for.
Even though I had enrolled as a student in the servant course, I had taken the written test in the same classroom as my lady, this was all due to the master’s influence– not, it was probably just because I sent my application in at the same time as her.
One’s status didn’t matter here. Since the school had a policy that all students were to be treated equally regardless of their origins, both the nobility and the commoners took their exams together.
However, the two social castes would be separated into different courses right after enrollment, so it didn’t really make much sense.
At the beginning of the game, there are introductory descriptions of the heroines capture targets that she just barely missed at the examination venue, and among them were even commoners. With that in mind, the rule was probably just part of the setting to make scenarios in the original work more convenient.
But this was reality, so we needed to be cautious.
There were only a limited number of children with status higher than my lady, but whether it was best to treat them as equals, or to ignore school policies and treat them as superiors was difficult to decide.
As for those who were below her… she should be fine.
“Cyril, is this it?”
After my lady entered the classroom and began looking for her seat according to her exam number, she called out to me.
It was impossible for her to fail. I knew that, and yet I still couldn’t help but feel nervous.
But it was a groundless worry.
“…is the school life I dreamed about having together with you about to begin?”
Turning my way, she whispered her hopes to me. In that moment, she wasn’t the daughter of a Marquis house, but a normal girl.
Fascinated by my lady’s charms, sighs spilled from those whose attentions were stolen by her. I also loved this part of her, but she shouldn’t forget that this is a classroom.
“My lady, telling such jokes at this time isn’t appropriate.”
As I lightly scolded her like that, her expression twisted into a pout as she went, “Okayyy~”
However, she immediately smiled again and said, “But Cyril, I don’t make jokes that can be misunderstood. Please remember that, okay?” before breaking out into a small laugh.
My lady wasn’t just cute, but also very strong mentally.
“–Lady Sophia. You’re the Rosenberg Marquis house’s Lady Sophia, right?”
When the boy’s voice called out to her, I moved my lady behind me before examining the newcomer. He had red hair and blue eyes that you could feel a strong will behind.
With how he was dressed like a butler, he seemed to be a fellow servant course student.
In this school, nobility and commoners were supposed to be equal. However, that was a rule in name only. So my correct response here is–
“Identify yourself. You’ve acted rude towards my lady, apologise immediat–”
“–Cyril, it’s fine.”
“But, my lady…”
“In this school, I heard that people are to be treated equal regardless of their status. There should be nothing wrong with his actions, or am I wrong?”
“…as you wish.”
My lady’s answer was correct– so I smiled and moved back diagonally behind her.
Even if the school policy states that nobles and commoners were supposed to be equal, such an ideal was impossible to realise on its own. Since that was the case, it was only true when the person in the superior position accepted it.
Therefore, I manipulated the circumstances so that she could easily make that acknowledgement without losing face. How easily my lady was able to read my intentions and react to the situation was already far beyond the skill of a twelve year old.
“So who are you, and what business do you have with me?”
“I… no, my name is Raymond. Please make me your exclusive butler, my lady.”
He was job hunting.
But this wasn’t something you did during an exam. Even if she wasn’t a noble this would be considered rude. That’s what I thought, but I couldn’t speak out until my lady gave her response first.
Throughout our time here at the school, there’s no doubt similar things will happen in the future. Since my lady was in a different course than I, these situations might occur while I’m not around.
So let’s take this opportunity to see if she can handle this one without me.
“While it may be my exclusive butler, it isn’t something I can designate on my own.”
“No, I don’t need to serve the Rosenberg house right this instant. For now, I just want you to appoint me to that position while you’re enrolled here.”
“…while I’m enrolled?”
My lady leaned backwards and tilted her head.
This wasn’t explained to her, but there was a system here where servant course students could act as the attendants for the children of the nobles and other rich individuals.
It was a system in place so that the higher-class could learn how to behave as leaders, while the lower-class could learn how to act as followers. Since it wasn’t uncommon for this master-servant relationship to continue past graduation, it was also a chance to secure a job.
As I told her that, my lady immediately understood.
“I’ve heard your story, but I’ve already decided that I’m only going to have one person as my butler.”
“…I see, so is he the one from the rumours then? The one so skilled that he received that position when he was only six?”
“Yes, as my exclusive butler– Cyril is the best there is.”
My lady probably didn’t have any ill intent when she proudly said that with a smile, but she seems to have stirred up Raymond’s pride. He was glaring at me.
“There’s no way I’m inferior to such a man. I’ll show you that I’m even better than him with the entrance examination, so please consider appointing me to that position instead once you see the results.”
“…okay then. If you can prove that you’re better than Cyril, I will hire you as my exclusive butler.”
“Thank you so much!”
Raymond expressed his gratitude to my lady before sending me a challenging gaze.
“You heard her, Cyril. Don’t feel bad, but with this exam I’ll prove that I’m more suitable as Lady Sophia’s attendant.”
With that declaration, Raymond returned to his seat. Turning my line of sight back to my lady… yikes, she was fuming.
However, with the attention of her surroundings gathered on her, she stayed silent. Eventually, their interest waned, and it was only when the classroom returned to its usual bustle that she opened her mouth.
“Yes, my lady?”
“What’s your opinion on what I just said?”
“…well, it was somewhat rash of you.”
“Then, do you understand what I want to say? You were ridiculed right to my face, and now I’m terribly displeased.”
“I understand. I also felt angry when your ability to judge one’s character was belittled.”
My lady had advocated for me as her exclusive butler. Despite this, Raymond went on to denounce my qualifications for that position.
It was no different from denying my lady’s judgement.
“Now then, prove that my eyes weren’t wrong about you.”
“As you wish– is what I’d like to say, but do you understand that both nobles and commoners take the exam at the same time? The top scorer among them being chosen to be the freshman representative?”
Lady Sophia will probably get an evaluation close to a perfect score. However, I wasn’t sure who would be the top scorer if I were to seriously compete against her.
“Oh, I never said I’d lose that easily though? I’m your student after all.”
“Of course I knew that but…”
Considering the level of the exam, it was unlikely for the both of us to receive full marks. However, if there was a tie, then Lady Sophia would be chosen as the representative due to her status.
And if that was the case, her reputation would be damaged.
“I’m not interested in any honour handed to me, so don’t hold back. Show him– no, show everyone that you’re the best butler in the world.”
“If that is what you want, my lady.”
My wish was for my lady to become the representative, but if she wants me to take this seriously, then there’s no helping it. I will prove my abilities as her exclusive butler.
So that I could continue to stay by her side, I tried my best with the exams.
I attended a magic academy in my previous life, and I already had the general subjects memorised. In addition to that, I trained myself to be an official butler and gained knowledge so I could teach my lady everything she needed to know.
As expected, it was impossible for me to lose points in a written test for a junior highschool student’s education.
The written test was to be self-scored, and I received perfect marks.
After that, we were moved to the exam venue and conducted assessments in etiquette and singing. Although there were still imperfections, I was still able to display a clear difference compared to the other children.
Considering the difficulty of the written test, my practical evaluations will probably give almost flawless grades.
That’s how I managed to complete the exams until there were only two subjects left. For me, violin playing would be considered a weak subject, while dance would be considered one of my best.
But first, it was my lady’s turn to play the violin.
The song chosen was a piece said to have been created by a prominent musician hired by a former king. Normally it was a difficult song, but the test used an easier practice version of it.
Having been honing her skills since childhood, my lady played the music without any problems. Drawing the bow, her platinum blonde hair seemed to shimmer. Even a single glance would convey how lovely she was.
It wasn’t just the sound of my lady’s performance, but everything about her was beautiful.
The song wasn’t made to be that hard, but that’s exactly why her talent seemed even more prominent. Even those who were busy preparing lessons stopped to listen to her.
Only the sound created by my lady echoed out in the quiet venue. The test area created for a multitude of people had been transformed into a stage just for her.
The young lady that I had raised was shining far brighter than anyone else. This scene made me well up with pride.
But all good things had to come to an end. The performance finished and silence spread throughout the site. Soon, one person started clapping their hands, an action that was quickly copied by everyone else to a thunderous applause.
Now finished playing, my lady had returned.
I walked towards her and gently wiped off the sweat on her forehead with a towel.
“That was an amazing performance, my lady.”
“Thanks Cyril, but you know you don’t need to take care of me even now, right?”
“No, I will always be your exclusive butler, wherever and whenever.”
“…thanks. In that case, I’ll leave the violin’s maintenance to you.”
“As you wish.”
Receiving my lady’s instrument, I wiped off all of the pine resin and hand sweat until it was clean, then I loosened the string on the bow and wiped that down as well.
By the time I returned everything to the case, my turn was just about to arrive.
I didn’t have my own violin like my lady. Therefore, I borrowed the one that was being loaned out for the test, checked its tuning, and then took my stance in front of the examiner.
After giving out my exam number and name, I began playing.
I… didn’t actually have much talent when it came to playing violin, or rather, I only learned to play it so I could teach it to my lady, so I had the technique, but I lacked the charm necessary in order to attract people.
While I had no intention to lose to my lady in technical skills, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to show those off in this practice song. As things were now, my score may be dropped when subconsciously compared to her performance.
Honestly, this was actually good since I wanted her to become the representative.
But my lady ordered me to prove that I was the best butler. In order to respond to that wish of hers, I performed to the best of my abilities.
I could say with confidence that this was the greatest I’ve ever played.
But… that was it. I knew the truth because my senses were heightened. It still couldn’t compare to the gorgeous tone my lady was able to achieve.
If I were a judge, I’d lower the points relatively, considering the difference in ability she displayed. The other judges would do the same, and as a result, I’d lose.
In other words, I’d be disobeying her orders.
While pretending to be calm on the surface, I was desperately thinking about what I could do.
And at that moment, one of the instrument’s strings suddenly broke. Even if a string was new, it was still possible for it to break, so this one had probably reached the end of its life after being used multiple times for the test.
The examiner who noticed it tried to stop the performance.
–but I still kept playing the violin despite that. By pressing down on the next string with my finger to change the scale, it was still possible to play the song normally even with a string broken.
Not many people noticed it, but the examiner who tried to suspend the test definitely did. To their wide-eyed expression, I smiled.
It wasn’t easy.
But even so, I still finished playing the song as if nothing had happened.
Although the surroundings gave their applause, the size of it wasn’t comparable to when my lady played. However, the examiner seemed to be clapping especially hard.
“You displayed the technique and mental strength that didn’t falter even when problems arose. It was by far the best performance I’ve seen.”
“Thank you so much.”
I showed the examiner my gratitude, then when I returned the violin to the person in charge, they noticed the broken string and their eyes went wide.
Apparently, I was able to play it naturally enough that even they didn’t notice.
“I’m sorry, one of the strings broke. I’ll make sure to reimburse you later.”
“N-no, its fine. There’s no problem because those are consumable items anyways.”
“I see. If that’s the case, then I’ll be excusing myself.”
I finished greeting the person in charge and returned to my lady, but she was pouting her lips in displeasure.
“My lady. You know that behavior is improper, correct?”
“It’s not fair. I thought I’d be able to win against you with the practice song…”
“I was just lucky. Your performance was undoubtedly better.”
“That’s not true! You did amazing, Cyril!”
“Thank you, my lady.”
Until recently, I thought that she was just flattering me… but apparently they were all genuine compliments. I felt kind of ticklish when I realised that.
All that remained now was the dance examination.
My lady and I moved to its testing venue.
Dancing was her favourite among the practical skills– or rather, it was the subject she was the most passionate about, her improvement being inevitable with how I served as her practice partner on a daily basis.
Putting that aside– I was currently observing my lady’s dance partner.
The examiner was a teacher, but her dance partner seems to be a female student from the junior high. This was because there was too much of a height difference between a twelve year old child and the male upperclassmen or adults.
However, when a woman takes over the man’s role, the steps change.
I thought Lady Sophia and the female student who wasn’t that much older than us would be anxious, but the results showed my worries were groundless.
The female student was skilled at leading and was able to draw out my lady’s charms. She was her equal– no, if she was this good at dancing the man’s part, she might even be better than her.
I didn’t think it was possible for there to be a student this proficient in the same age group.
With her being a prominent girl of a similar age, she might even serve as a good rival for my lady.
The only thing that worried me though was that the female student was exceptionally skilled, but didn’t make an appearance in the game. With how conspicuous she is, I don’t think I would’ve forgotten her.
As I thought that, their dance continued.
Trying to gauge my lady’s limits, the other party started performing difficult moves, but my lady accepted the change gracefully and matched her with light steps.
The chilly atmosphere of the venue softened, and burning stares poured onto the two of them. Once they finished their dance, excited sighs leaked from all over the venue.
“That was beautiful, my lady.”
I walked towards Lady Sophia– who was currently receiving the gazes of her surroundings, and handed her a handkerchief wet with cold water.
“Thanks, but that was only because of my partner. It was easy to dance with her because her habits and the way she moved were really similar to you.”
“…she’s like me?”
I didn’t know for myself, but this was being said by my lady who was used to dancing with me. Putting that aside though, it was fortunate that she was able to dance to her fullest.
Although she was extremely mature for her age, she still had her childish sides. Whenever she danced with a partner she wasn’t fond of, she’d begin oozing with attitude.
“More importantly– Cyril, isn’t it your turn next? If things continue on like this, maybe I’ll actually win this time?”
My lady’s eyes had the laughing glint of a mischievous girl.
“But I want you to win.”
“You can’t, there’s no point in victory if you’re holding back!”
“Of course I won’t. I made a promise to you after all. I will prove to everyone here that I’m the best butler there is to serve you, my lady.”
After giving her a small laugh, I headed towards the examiner. Along the way, I couldn’t help but notice the bad complexion of one of the young ladies I passed by.
But my name was called while I was worrying about whether she was okay.
I pondered that thought as I got up onto the stage, before pushing it aside. There were several examiners and dance partners, but the one I was paired up with was the one who was with my lady.
“I’m Fol. It’s nice to meet you.”
“I’m Cyril. Thank you for your support.”
Probably because the examinations were starting to fall behind schedule, the music started almost immediately after only a short pause. Taking hold of her, I began leading the female student named Fol in triple time.
Her blue eyes started to sparkle, and she began dancing lightly to my lead.
I already knew that she was skilled, so I started implementing more and more difficult steps into our dance, and as expected, she easily responded to all of them.
“I was amazed by the rumoured Sophia, but you’re quite something yourself. Maybe you’re her teacher?”
“…why would you think so?”
While it might be unusual for a twelve-year-old like myself to be an exclusive butler, that was nothing in comparison to how unusual it was for the daughter of a Marquis to be educated by a child of the same age. I’ve even held back in my lady’s education a little bit because of that.
Questions like this would’ve never come out normally.
“Why? Well… I was wondering if she was the same as me.”
“The same as you? Then you’re…”
Some possibilities popped into my mind, but I didn’t get an answer.
Flipping her blonde hair and pulling at my arms, in between the steps– not me, but Fol had taken the lead.
Unlike the lead that I showed, hers was full of rough movements that broke the standard. I didn’t fight against it though, and tried to take steps that would help her shine.
“Usually a boy would take the lead, so are you really okay with giving me that role? Aren’t you afraid of losing points with the examiner?”
Fol asked such a question even though she was the one who forcibly took the initiative. As I took a step, I pondered her query for a moment before answering.
“Sure, men usually take the lead in dances, but what is leading anyway?”
“Isn’t that obvious? It means to guide your partner towards what steps to take next.”
“Your answer is correct, but my idea of it is different.”
“…what’s your idea then?”
Wanting to know my intentions, curiosity began welling up in Fol’s blue eyes.
“It’s to make your partner shine.”
“Yes. To make your partner shine. Even if… they begin moving against reason.”
I wanted to change my lady’s fate of execution and lead her towards a joyful future. To that end, it wasn’t necessary to force her to act as the daughter of a Marquis.
As long as it was of her will, I would aid her every effort for happiness.
Dancing was the same.
Suppressing a girl who wanted to take the lead wasn’t the way I did things. If she wanted the initiative, I would pass her the right to decide the next steps, and begin moving to support her.
That is my lead.
“…I’m surprised. To think that there’s a child with that kind of determination and mindset.”
“That’s what I wanted to say.”
It was only natural that I– a person who had the memories of my previous life, to have a mentality older than how I may appear. However, Fol seemed to have the same mature perspective as me.
She was somehow similar to Lady Sophia– I couldn’t help but feel that way.
“Haha~ I’m sorry for forcibly taking control earlier. I’ll give you the lead back, so could you help me shine even further?”
“If that’s what you want.”
The second song was already about to start.
If that was my dance partner’s desire, it was only natural to meet them. In order to prove that Lady Sophia’s butler was the best, I needed the greatest results.
I had already grasped her habits, and began to lead her so that she could shine more.
At that time however, the figure of the young lady I passed by earlier entered my line of sight. Her complexion was getting worse, and she was shaking despite the fact that she was just standing there.
Looking at the people around her, there were only those who were practicing for their turn, or those who were watching the dances while unaware of her current state.
The moment I realised that, the young lady’s upper body began to fall forwards.
Written by Scarlet Rain (緋色の雨)
Translated by KuroInfinity at slothtranslationsblog.com