Translated by Mojo of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
During school festivals which were held every year for two days’ time, various people would be invited: the family of students, their friends, influential politicians, important people of the neighborhood, and those who had some kind of connection with the school.
Girls who were usually prohibited from entering the school grounds were specially excused for this one occasion. Mothers and sisters were of course allowed, but a number of students would also be noticeably guiding their fiances around the grounds.
Only one dormitory, which stood in a corner of the school grounds, was operating as usual, with nobody except the residents and the management allowed to enter. However, the campus and buildings were completely open. Since this was a unique opportunity to see inside of the prestigious boys school, every year, the festival was incredibly busy.
On the first day, at exactly 10 o’clock, the chairman of the school festival executive committee would announce the beginning of the festival, then open the main gates. The people waiting impatiently in front of the gates would get their tickets cleared one by one, and then they would enter the school. As this was Masazumi’s third year here, it was a sight he was used to seeing.
At festivals like these, the people who usually trailed after Masazumi were seeing their families and partners, and he was left alone for the first time in a while.
The Nirei Count family couple had happened to be overseas for the festival, but his brother promised to come to the student council room sometime after lunch. While he was in school, Takanori had been head of the student council three years in a row, and even for the current heads of council, he was a respected and legendary figure. He had been invited to come to the room if he made his appearance at school.
Until the time that Masazumi’s class was scheduled to perform, he had been assigned no work and he had a lot of time on his hands. Mainly, he walked around the exhibitions for the cultural clubs which were being held in the west building. The paintings and carvings that the art club had made, the fried food that the industrial arts club were making, and the flower art of the flower arrangement club was a sight worth seeing every year, especially popular with visitors.
There was even a cafe set up by the culinary research club. Once he had gone round to see everything, Masazumi took a break to sit in the cafe drinking tea. Though he had been enjoying chatting with people this was nice. Luckily one of the two-person tables had been open, so he sat and ordered orange pekoe. [efn_note]Orange Pekoe is a classification of black tea based upon the origin of the leaf. To be classified as pekoe, the tea must be composed purely of the new flushes – a flush being the leaf bud plucked with two youngest leaves. https://ladybakerstea.com/blogs/blog/what-exactly-is-orange-pekoe%5B/efn_note%5D
The person in charge of looking after customers looked like a middle school student who had only joined the school this year, but it appeared he knew the third grade Masazumi. Standing next to him, he shrunk back in embarrassment and his face went red.
It seemed like he had heard some rumors about an admired senpai, and was excited as if he were in front of a star. It was cute.
“I’ve heard that the Toudou Marquis family are coming for the first time in a while.” 1
“Yeah, it seems so. The higher ups of the school have been trying to avoid a careless mistake, they’ve all been tense since the morning.”
At a nearby table, three students had arrived and the sound of their conversation reached Masazumi’s ears. From the badges on their lapels he knew they were second years.
“They’re going to travel incognito for the time being, so it won’t be made public. But if they’re walking around the school, it will get spread around instantly, right?”
“Well, it’s because they’re the leading figures of high society. They have those sorts among the graduating students as well.”
“Coming to the school after so long, do they have some kind of purpose?”
“Isn’t it the rumour that… You know?”
“Ah, that there’s an illegitimate child?”
Masazumi knew little about this kind of gossip, so he didn’t know that the Toudou family had come that day and it was the first time he had heard about an illegitimate child. The Toudou Marquis family was on good terms with his father, and during the time when Masazumi had studied at home with a tutor, he saw them a couple of times. He just greeted them but never sat with them. It was a bit hard to believe that the Marquis, with his serious face and intimidating atmosphere, could have an illegitimate child.
“The third year senpais had someone older enroll last year. An alpha.”
“That’s Kase Masamichi. I’ve heard he’s almost twenty now, do you think it’s him…?”
“The senpais said there’s no way he’s the one.”
When Kase’s name had appeared, Masazumi unconsciously listened closer, though he knew it was an improper thing to do. The subject had surprised him but hearing it now he didn’t think it was an impossible idea, so he wanted to hear more detail. After all, the subject of the alphas interested him. He held the teacup to his lips and pretended to be calmly enjoying drinking his tea.
“Ikemori-sensei, who is head of their class, was looking around for Kase. Told him to come to the Dean’s office if I saw him.”
“I see. That does sound like him.”
Always going with the flow, and suddenly disappearing, did indeed sound like Kase. Sensei would have trouble catching even if he did reappear. If the reason Kase was being searched for was to be introduced with the Toudou family, it would give the rumour some credence.
He was an aloof and erratic seeming man, and if he really was in the top spot in the noble family then he might end up succeeding the Toudou family. It would be the first big news in a long time. Currently the Toudou Marquis had no children who could be heir. He had a daughter, but she suffered from an illness due to her gender and had died suddenly a year ago.
Kase had returned from his study abroad and enrolled in the school a couple of months after her death. It was not impossible to think that the Marquis had called him back.
Masazumi started to half believe this rumour.
Kase was an alpha. Though it might be unheard of for the Marquis family, he was smart and had a good personality. Unexpectedly, he might fit into society. So it wasn’t impossible. If Kase succeeded the Marquis, in the future, he might have some connection with Masazumi’s brother who was going to become the Nirei Count. At that time, the possibility that Masazumi would be living abroad was high. He was thankful that he had such a wonderful brother.
If Takanori had not been there, no doubt his father would have found a suitable alpha, paired the alpha with Masazumi, and ordered him to have children. The alpha might even have been a woman. He wasn’t sure how this would be announced to society, but for him it would be an unbearable humiliation. It wasn’t hard to imagine, but he detested the thought of having to become pregnant for the sake of protecting the bloodline. Just considering it made him miserable and frustrated. It made him curse being born.
Before he realized it, the three who were talking had left the table, and in their place what looked like a father and daughter had sat down in their place.
It was almost noon so Masazumi also left the culinary club’s cafe. He was supposed to have lunch with his brother at twelve. During the school festival, the uppermost floor of the student’s hall with its viewing deck, became a full-blown restaurant with a multiple course menu. Every year, Masazumi managed to receive one of the usually hard to obtain tickets from someone. He didn’t ask, but they would go to great efforts to give it to him. If he didn’t take it, they would be disappointed, so he allowed them to buy it for him.
Maybe this was one part of the reason he felt so much aversion towards them, because if he wasn’t pleased then he would be hated.
His brother should already be waiting in the club’s meeting room.
To get from the west building to the meeting room, passing through the botanical gardens would be the fastest. The gardening club had raised various sorts of plants, also cultivating them in rows in the greenhouse. Usually it would be a quiet place, but today was a unique day where there were people no matter where one went. In the gardens, there were quite a number of people gathered, though it was still emptier than other places.
With a glance, he saw that the greenhouse had people in it too.
Shouldn’t the greenhouse be locked? He thought doubtfully. Wondering who the two people were he drew closer. The plants that were raised here would be shown in a competition, so they had to be strictly managed.
He could see the backs of two men, while walking through the greenhouse. It looked as though they were inspecting the rows of flower pots. He immediately recognised one of them.
One was Miyake who wore his work uniform as usual. The other man walking ahead of Miyake, a gentleman with a good build and a three piece suit, was to Masazumi’s surprise the Toudou Marquis. It was the first time he had seen him in years, but he hadn’t changed much so there could be no mistake.
It was bizarre seeing Miyake and the Marquis together. What connection did they have?
As far as he could see, the two didn’t look close. Rather, they seemed formal, like Miyake was restraining himself, trying to maintain the distance between the two as much as possible.
The Marquis was walking, and saying something to Miyake who walked behind. Miyake was listening with his head bent forward slightly. The cap of his hat was as usual lowered over his face so his expression was unreadable. The Marquis had a firm attitude though it didn’t look like he was in a bad mood.
“It’s improper for the son of the count family to be spying on others.”
Suddenly from behind Masazumi heard a teasing voice, causing him to jump. This situation reminded him of yesterday when he had been caught at a bad time by Nashiba, and he broke out in a cold sweat again.
This time it was Kase.
“Not really, I wasn’t trying to–!”
The effect of the word ‘spying’ was too great, and it sent him into confusion. From what Masazumi had been doing, he had no way of denying it, but at least he wanted to explain that he had a proper reason for looking into the greenhouse. Though he felt too shaken and his words wouldn’t come out smoothly.
“Ahh, no need for excuses. You were wondering why there were people in the greenhouse, which is off limits, right?” Kase saw Masazumi’s reddening face and an evil smile came to his face.
Masazumi pouted, but pulled himself together at Kase’s words. He tried to leave with a cold expression.
“Does Yoshihisa-san interest you?”
By throwing out a name he had not heard before, Kase was able to stop Masazumi in his tracks.
“That’s the name of that worker. Miyake Yoshihisa. You didn’t know it, so I guess you can’t have been that interested.” As if insinuating something, Kase gazed at him meaningfully. Masazumi glared at Kase without responding. “Oh, don’t make such a scary expression! You’ll warp that precious face. I’m just someone who sometimes talks to that worker, and I was wondering how he would react if I told him you were interested in him.”
“Sorry to disappoint, but I am not interested enough to make him happy.” Masazumi hid his true intentions and took on a haughty way of speaking. However, he accidentally brushed his fringe aside with his finger, which was a bad habit he had whenever he lied. He combed it aside, playing with the strands that had unconsciously passed over his fingers.
Kase said “Hm,” a strangely nuanced sound which made it sound as if he both believed and did not believe the statement. 2 The original word used to describe this sound was “aizuchi” which is a word in Japanese, for the noises of assent/understanding you make while someone is talking. So Kase is not really making a response here. [/enf_note]
Masazumi remembered the gossip he had heard earlier, and changed the subject, “More importantly, I heard the Dean is looking for you. It seems word is getting around. I suppose you came to meet the Toudou Marquis here? I applaud you. This all makes sense, for the most prodigious student in the year.”
“…What do you mean, the Marquis…? Oh, maybe you are curious about me?”
“No, not particularly.” If he said it didn’t interest him at all then that would be a lie, but when spoken to like that it was hard to just affirm his question. Masazumi answered coldly and abruptly, and unnaturally pulled up his uniform sleeve to look at his watch, “Excuse me. I have promised to meet my brother.”
“Ah, wait.” When he tried to walk away, his arm was grabbed in a rather forced way. Masazumi turned around, his eyebrows raised questioningly. Kase brought their faces so close together that it would be considered rude.
“Don’t let your guard down around Nashiba Takashi.” He whispered in a low voice, and Masazumi’s entire body stiffened. It seemed his pheromone suppressing medicine was working very effectively. Though they were this close, he showed no signs of any changes.
“…Huh?” What had he meant, and what was Masazumi supposed to be guarding against? He wanted to ask more details but Kase let go of his arm and turned his back, heading towards the greenhouse.
“Hurry up and go, honors student. The Marquis and Yoshihisa will see you standing here and figure out that you were watching them.”
Masazumi had no choice but to withdraw. He hated the way he had been controlled so easily, as if Kase were taking candy from a baby, but he left anyway without looking back. He had wasted unnecessary time so it looked like he would be a few minutes late for his appointment with Takanori.
Nevertheless the thing that was occupying Masazumi’s brain was the Toudou Marquis and Kase Masamichi, and even more so was the strange connection they had to Miyake Yoshihisa.