Translated by Mojo of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Masazumi’s family, the Nirei Count family, resided in the middle of the city which the Duke controlled. However, they would spend summers at a villa they owned in the highlands. Masazumi rode the train to the nearest station and then was picked up in a car, where he gazed out the window at the familiar scenery. He felt emotional at the thought that this might be the last time he came here alone.
He usually wouldn’t feel so uneasy about heading towards his family’s villa, but this time he couldn’t calm down. It was because he now had a mate. He would no longer suppress his heats, he had entrusted his body to an alpha. It was difficult to imagine how his family would think of it and he couldn’t help but feel embarrassed.
Of course, he knew already that his family had given their blessing, but this was still their first time meeting face to face since then so he was nervous.
If Yoshihisa had been with him, then he would be reassured but he was currently studying the manners and prerequisite knowledge to succeed the Marquis family. The last time they met had been when he helped Masazumi to suppress his heat, and the next time they were going to meet would be on the day of their private marriage ceremony. Both families were going to attend and exchange gifts, only five days away.
It was embarrassing but that date had been decided to match up with Masazumi’s heat cycle.
Usually he would avoid his heat, so he had winced at the idea and wanted to change the date. However, as long as he had a mate, it wouldn’t be good for his body if he forcefully suppressed his heats with medicine, or so the Count family doctor had said. It couldn’t be helped so it had been decided that way. The ceremony would be just for their families, a private event, so even if something problematic occurred, there would be no need to act with secrecy.
The public announcement ceremony would be a different story, that date had been decided so as not to line up with his heat, but on the night of their marriage, Yoshihisa would finally be beside him, so they should act like a harmonious couple. That’s what Masazumi had been told and he couldn’t really argue with it.
Though that meant he would be relying on Yoshihisa again after the ceremony, naturally he was happy but felt apologetic as well. Being an omega was completely inconvenient. Masazumi had luckily met someone who he could entrust himself to and so within the inconvenience there was joy as well. If that had not been the case, he would have gone on living pessimistically.
As he was turning these things over in his mind, the roof of the villa became visible through the trees.
More than a villa, the building should probably be called a castle, with its three stories and the forest surrounding it on every side. It was completely different to their residence in the densely populated city, where they were restricted by the land available. Every year from the start of June to the end of September, for four months, this was the Count family’s main house. They left maintenance of their house in the city to a limited number of servants, and on a shift system had everyone relocate here.
A zone of the forest was the property of the Count family so there were no other houses, but this region with the highlands at its center was a popular spot for villas, so there were a couple of other famous families with vacation homes. It was known as a societal spot in summer.
He passed through the gate and after a few minutes of driving, his field of vision opened up. The wide front lawns and the whole of the familiar building appeared in front of him. The car curved around the large fountain set up in the driveway and came to a stop outside the entrance hall.
Walking down the stone steps and stopping in front of them, was Takanori. He had come out to meet Masazumi, “Welcome home, Masazumi.”
Takanori was a university student, he had his summer break at the beginning of July so it seemed he had been here for a few days already.
“How’s your body? You’re not tired?”
“No problems. Most of my luggage was sent ahead of time so I was able to travel by myself.”
“Yes. This morning your things arrived, I had them placed in your room. I’ll help you unpack later, first I have to tell father and mother that you’ve arrived. Those two have been waiting impatiently for your arrival”
“… Understood.” At first Masazumi had spoken with hesitance, out of embarrassment.
Takanori raised his eyebrows slightly but then smiled gently to reassure him, “It’s best if you just act like normal. We’re all in a good mood, so, lift your spirits a little bit. Don’t worry too much.”
“That’s what I want to do, but…”
Images of his obscene relations with Yoshihisa floated to his mind, and his cheeks grew hot from shame. He hung his head. Whenever he remembered the wet, sticky contact of his partner, their mutual climax, or the shuddering pleasure he had felt, he wanted to block his ears and eyes and crawl into a hole somewhere. Let alone his brother, who was close in age, he was anxious about facing his parents. He didn’t know how he should act in front of them.
Takanori immediately guessed what Masazumi was blushing about, and patted him comfortingly on the back, “It’s nothing special. Everyone does that kind of stuff.”
Hearing Masazumi’s timid question, Takanori looked at him with amusement, “You thought I haven’t?”
Masazumi realized only now as he was asked that question in return that his brother had done that sort of thing from way before, and despite that, conducted himself naturally in front of Masazumi and their parents without giving anything away. If his brother could do it then he could do it too, he thought, so he felt a little lighter.
“I hadn’t really considered those things before, but it doesn’t make sense for you not to…”
“Sorry to say it but I never had such good morals as you do. Apparently, I was even quite the early bloomer, compared to my current classmates.” Their conversation had become quite revealing, so Takanori urged Masazumi inside, “Let’s go in.”
Apparently, the wife of the Count family was on the terrace which looked out over the central gardens, enjoying her afternoon tea. From the living room they passed through the french windows and approached their parents who smiled from ear to ear at Masazumi.
“You came, Masazumi, now the whole family is here. Sorry we couldn’t make an appearance at the school festival.”
“Welcome home. You look healthy, I’m relieved.”
They took turns embracing him and kissing his cheeks. His mother patted his head like she had done when he was younger. He felt reassured that they could face each other in the same way as always, it had just been him who was preparing himself for things to be different.
All four of them sat down at the table, and celebrated about Yoshihisa naturally while having their tea.
They congratulated him exactly the same as when he had passed the entrance exam to his prestigious school, when his enrollment had been finally decided, or when he had won first place in a violin competition. He didn’t feel embarassed by the atmosphere at all.
“Now, the fact that an official Marquis heir has been decided is the talk of the town. When he was younger, there were many rumours about the Marquis and his love affairs, but now thirty years later, he married his wife and they were a couple of lovebirds. They had a daughter I believe but she passed away a year ago from an illness, now even the wife is unfortunately hospitalised. Their distant relatives had an alpha son, so the rumor was widely spread that he would be adopted. But to think it would be exposed that he had a real son from before his marriage and that he would also be an alpha, and pair with you!”
“He is probably the perfect candidate for a marriage with this family, but are you sure you’re not pushing yourself?” Masazumi’s mother, who looked much younger than her true age, asked him anxiously. It wasn’t a question that Masazumi had considered, so finding out that she had worried about something like that surprised him.
“You thought I might have been forced? No, nothing like that… it was completely mutual.” He didn’t want Yoshihisa to be thought of badly at all so he endured his embarrassment and answered clearly.
“So you like him?” His father also questioned him, concerned.
Masazumi blinked and then answered, “Yes.”
Both of his parents had respected what he wanted above anything else. He felt a little emotional, the omega gender was so often treated lightly, and he felt that he was the most blessed among omegas for having such strong connections with the people around him. Instead of choosing an alpha and forcing him to marry, even though they knew that he had found the perfect alpha they were still making sure it was what he wanted and not choosing for him based on family ties.
“I see. So you have no problems with taking part in the Marquis’ announcement ceremony next month, as we planned?”
This meant he would be revealing that he was not a beta, he was an omega and marrying the alpha Toudou Yoshihisa. In society, maybe even around the world, it would become known.
Honestly, the reactions of others bothered him. There would be people who looked at him coldly, and with envy. He had deceived so many people until now that they might think badly of him, this thought made him uneasy. However, this was a wall that Masazumi would have to overcome.
If he didn’t amend public views of his gender now, who knew how long the lies about being a beta would be accepted before they became suspicious. Plus there was also the possibility that he would end up living completely terrified. Rather than being revealed as an omega by somebody else, there was no better timing than this. SInce Yoshihisa had made Masazumi his mate, nobody could lay a hand on him.
What’s more, Yoshihisa was the successor to the Marquis family, who were extremely influential even among the families that supported the Duke. There was nobody who could compete with him in terms of family status. He had been born into an ordinary family, and worked as a groundsman at the school, but now he was intending to respond to his father’s requests and enter the Marquis family. It was all for the sake of protecting Masazumi. When he had first heard about this intention from Yoshihisa, tears had spilled from Masazumi’s eyes.
He might be asking for too much, but it would be reassuring to have an omega for a friend. They were just so rare. In terms of the population, only around three percent were omegas, and even then they were said to be mostly part of the lower classes. An example like Masazumi was almost unheard of, it would be difficult for him to find anyone to be as open as him. Because of that, he always lived in isolation, acting stiffly in front of all but a select few friends of the family who knew of his situation.
There would be people who criticized him, saying he was pretentious and disgusting, but having his identity revealed by someone else was far more terrifying.
This announcement would be an opportunity for him to get rid of his secrets, but omegas were so rare he would probably be looked at curiously every hour of his day. Plus if Yoshihisa continued to embrace him to suppress his heats, it was inevitable that he would get pregnant. Pregnancy, and birth even, were things he was completely ignorant about. So when he thought about it he became scared. The people he could talk to about it were probably only the family doctor and his mother. But his mother was a female beta and the doctor a male beta. He had no idea how much their advice would apply to a male omega. It would probably be unreliable advice unless it were someone who had the same experiences as him.
His family sat at the table amiably, making friendly small talk, but their happiness did nothing to dispel his worries. Somewhere deep in his heart, an isolated feeling smoldered. There was no family warmer and more reliable than this one, and he knew he was blessed to have them, but Masazumi couldn’t shake the feeling that he was a different species to them. They weren’t alienating him but he felt like an alien anyway.
“First we will make sure you are able to finish the wedding ceremony on the 25th in good health. Before your heat, you’ll feel anxious about your body and mind. Don’t worry too much, just try not to overstrain yourself. It’s no trouble to any of us, so don’t think about holding back.”
“It’s as Takanori says. We’ll make all the arrangements so you just make sure you’re relaxed and look after your body. Just in case, I want you to refrain from horse riding, but you can swim in the pool or play tennis or read, there are plenty of things for you to do.”
“We have to get your measurements taken tomorrow for the wedding outfit. You remember that coat you wore to the spring garden party, you must have grown taller since we had that made.”
“No, I haven’t grown.”
He shook his head at his mother’s question, but Takanori looked carefully over his upper body and interjected, “Then maybe you’ve gotten a little skinnier,” and continued to say that he seemed to have dropped a few kilos since they met at the school festival in June, enough for Takanori to have noticed.
Masazumi was amazed at his observational skills as usual. He could never hide anything from Takanori, and he could never trick him or overpower him. That’s how it had always been. He was reassured to think he had a brother like that to protect him, but it made him feel embarrassed because he was treated like a baby all the time.
A strong wind blew and his fringe swayed. It was getting in his eyes so he pushed it back with his fingers. His mother smiled beautifully and said, “It might be better if we cut it a little.”
She never used a strong tone of voice, no matter the situation.
“Yes, probably.” He felt calmer when his fringe was long, but he listened to his mother because she was just being thoughtful, he didn’t just want to have his own way. He had grown up freely in this caring and understanding household, and now the spouse he was trusting himself to was earnest and faithful, and had good judgement and bravery. Not a single part of him warranted any criticism.
Masazumi wasn’t hesitating, there was no reason for him to. But still he couldn’t help but think that he wanted to meet an omega, just once, and talk to them. It was because he knew nothing about that part of himself. Currently he was preparing for the important ceremony to be held in only a few days time, and he was carrying quite the mental burden, so he might end up getting emotional.
When he thought about how he would be able to meet Yoshihisa again on the day of the ceremony, he recognised that keeping his body in an optimal state was part of his duty. He would relax these next few days just as his parents and brother had recommended.
“By the way…” A thought randomly crossed Masazumi’s mind so he asked Takanori, “Usually you meet up with some school friends this time of year, right? When are you going to see them?”
“Oh, about that. I thought I might turn them down this year, but it’s an annual thing we do so there were some people who had been planning it since spring. I decided it would be best to let them stay here for about ten days, beginning in August. I’m going to bring this new friend, I think you would like him. He’s got a relaxed atmosphere, he’s a quiet guy.”
“Is that so? Of course I don’t mind at all if you bring your friends over, so please act as you always do.”
“I thought you would say that.”
The ceremony was an event that was being held only between the two families, so if it was before the Marquis’ announcement then the truth of his gender would still not be made public at that time. So it was better if everyone acted like they did every year. Saying that nobody except the four family members and various servants were allowed in this large house, would be overly strict. Since Takanori was inviting them, they must be all people whose personalities were approved by his brother, and this would take a burden off Masazumi’s back because he didn’t have to worry about whether it was okay to get close to them.
This happened every year, so he was used to it. If it was those guys, then even on the off chance that they found out about Masazumi they would pretend not to know and wouldn’t mention the subject. He wasn’t worried.
After eating a few slices of sandwich, a scone, and two cups of tea, Masazumi left the table, “I’m going to clean up the luggage in my room, and then rest until dinner.”
“Sounds good. Let’s meet again at eight.”
If they spent a lot of time having afternoon tea, then dinner would run late, this was a Nirei family custom.
Takanori interjected after their father, and already showed signs of getting out of his chair, “Shall I help you?”
“It’s fine,” said Masazumi without delay. “I’ll be fine by myself, there’s not that much to unpack.”
He used unpacking as a guise, but his real feeling was that he wanted to be alone for a while. Signs of fatigue from travelling were starting to show, he didn’t really feel like chatting to his brother either. He felt sorry because they were finally able to spend time together after all this time.
Guessing at Masazumi’s feelings, Takanori said “I see,” and gently withdrew his offer. It was a clever move which didn’t make Masazumi feel bad about declining his kind offer. “See you later, Masazumi.”
He looked at the three of them still sitting by the table, then bowed. Then he left the terrace, returning to the house, and headed up the stairs towards his room on the third floor.