I’ve been reincarnated.
I’ve had memories of my previous life from the time I was born.
Memories of how I lived so recklessly, it made those around me worry.
Certainly, an infant carrying that sort of emotional weight was strange as could be.
A baby that was only ever quiet, never crying or carrying on.
I was raised among parents, siblings, and even servants that called me a creepy child as I grew.
Around that time, I got a younger brother. A half-blooded one.
“This is Eury; he’ll be your brother starting today. Get along, you hear me?”
With that lackluster introduction, 5-year-old Eury was dumped with we siblings. He was a bag of bones. It would’ve been obvious to anyone with eyes that he was greatly lacking nutrition.
Lifting his wasted face as much as he could, he attempted to smile.
“Brother, sisters, my name is Eury. I’ll be in your care.”
My elder brother and sister rejected his outreached hand with sharp slaps.
At times, the world of children is infinitely crueler than the world of adults.
My sister abused him with accusations of being dirty and disgraceful, and my brother made a face that said he refused to say anything to Eury at all.
I can’t help but think it. The people of our house all have such twisted personalities. Our mother, especially, since she didn’t even show up for Eury’s introduction.
Well, the parents and the children were just alike. This was the sort of situation that practically put it on display how well they fit each other.
Considering my position, I had absolutely no intention of involving myself with something as troublesome as Eury, so after a brief introduction, I returned to my room.
I’m pretty suited to this family, too.
As expected, our house treated Eury deplorably.
Father sort of treated him as a son — in that he provided tutors and a teacher for swordsmanship — but that was all he gave.
He gave nothing else — not love, not words, not even a glance.
As compared to what Mother gave him — violence that passed under the name of discipline.
My brother never so much as acknowledged him as human, and my sister treated him like an inanimate object. Still, as he matured he grew ever more beautiful, and really, he became recklessly kind.
I did my absolute damndest to not get involved with him.
In the several years we lived in the same estate, you could count the number of times we actually talked.
Though Eury looked to me at every turn, I ran away.
I ran from the gaze of a weak man seeking salvation.
In this house, where our father was no ally and our mother and siblings were blatant enemies, I wasn’t so fearless as to be able to save him.
Even if I managed to distract them for a moment, there was no second chance.
Inside I’m not young and innocent enough to bask in the self-satisfaction of having given a temporary kindness to someone I can’t look after properly.
This whole family should be resented, hated, and served retribution by Eury’s hand.
Because that is my fate as Lilianne Abenstar.
I have memories of my previous life.
Just the same, I know what is going to happen to me in the future.
The evil deeds of the head of the Abenstar family will be brought to light, our court rank stripped, and our family dispersed.
This is one form of revenge that will be brought upon us at Eury’s behest.
I will be among those cornered family members, but well, I don’t think that can be helped.
I’ve sailed through many years while abandoning him, after all.
As in the game’s story, Lilianne’s — my — circumstances after the dispersal of the family were unaddressed and unnecessary. For now, I just don’t want to die. But if asked, “Can a noble lady stripped of her title with only the clothes on her back really survive alone?” the answer would be hell no.
The world just isn’t that kind.
But I am not a normal noble lady. I’ve got my previous life’s experience of nearly 30 years living as a totally normal citizen. For now, I figure out how to manage if it’s just me. It’s something I, as Lilianne, decided as an infant.
Thankfully, neither my family nor the servants involved themselves in my affairs much, so my preparations for living amongst the normal citizens went almost too smoothly.
Then, all that was left to do was await the game’s climax — the condemnation of the villainess.
I watched as, before my eyes, the convicted villainess hung her head listlessly, swirling a sweet wine in my glass.
Presently, the hero — rather, the main capture target — the Crown Prince, is announcing the breaking off of his engagement, saying, “A woman like you has done such unnecessary things to Nanami (our dear heroine), you are no longer fit to be my fiancée.”
Similarly, the other four capture targets, my younger brother included, invalidated their engagements for the same reasons.
Speaking of, I also receive an invalidation of my engagement to the second most popular capture target, the next Duke.
The other young ladies of standing — all but me — collapsed on the spot, unable to keep their feet.
Well, I suppose that’s how it would go.
For these young ladies of such standing, being in a fantastic environment, blessed with a fabulous fiancee, and believing that their lives would always continue without trouble, this must be a real bolt out of the blue.
Even so, never fear; our family is the only one that comes with the option of being deprived of our rank.
It’s only us. We are the only ones whose family will be forcibly dispersed.
As I was the only one still standing, when our eyes met, the Crown Prince spoke to me.
“Lilianne Abenstar. For the sins you bear, this won’t end with the breaking of your engagement to the ducal house. … Your house is possessed of too much pus. A verdict shall be delivered at a later date, but…”
I wonder if it’s so difficult to say, the way his words cut off there.
Even though it’s totally fine.
How kind are ye, our dear Crown Prince.
I slowly take the wine into my mouth, savor it, and swallow.
I’m sure today will be the last time I ever savor wine of such superior quality.
“No matter the punishment, it will be no less than an honor to me; I am resolved to accept it with my whole heart.”
Perhaps it was just that rare, seeing the typically emotionless me smile, but the capture targets and our precious Crown Prince were understandably frozen in shock and awe.
After all was said and done, troublesome things all tidied up, for the time being, I was able to jump into the life in town.
So much happened, but now they seem like they’ll make for good memories.
There are plenty of places to find employment in the capital, and so long as it wasn’t a place frequented by nobles most places didn’t inquire very deep into one’s circumstances.
Our former butlers were quite skilled; thanks to them turning the majority of our assets into money, we had no debt and no need to prostitute ourselves, and thus our statuses were better starting out than I predicted.
And today, I’ve come to a stand-alone home to interview for a position as a live-in housekeeper. What awaited me there was……
“It’s been some time, elder sister.”
With a bang, I shut the door and immediately turned back the way I’d come.
“Elder sister?! What ever is the matter?!”
“Nononononono, why are you here, little brother.”
In the meanwhile, I was veritably dragged into the house, and before me lay the most delicious sweets— wait, no, before me was my lovely younger step-brother, sitting and smiling cheerfully.
Why on earth in a place like this…
“Well, the Abenstar’s peerage was stripped after all. I’ve finally been able to return to my life as a commoner.”
“This is my new home.”
“But I can’t do chores to save my life.”
“That’s why I was recruiting for a housekeeper, and you showed up.”
That seemed to explain everything, but it was so overly fluent that, just the opposite, I had the distinct feeling it had been rehearsed.
But this was probably the first time I’d ever talked with Eury for so long.
That just goes to show how weak our relationship was.
“Umm, elder sister? What has you looking so unmotivated?”
“Mm—? But it’s not like you’ll pass me, right? Don’t you hate me, Eury?”
More than hate, he probably detests me, I suppose.
Well, I was the one who set it up that way to begin with.
Before me, Eury pressed a palm to his forehead and heaved a huge sigh.
What on earth?
“…… Just why is it that you think I hate you, sister?”
“It’s fated? Something like that?”
It’s not because it’s too troublesome to explain. Not at all.
It’s just that it’s troublesome— no no, it’s just better not to talk about the sort of treatment he suffered at the hands of our dear family until now.
“Honestly, I’ve never been able to get a fix on you.”
“I hear that often!”
“I didn’t realize you’d be such an amusing person when I finally got you to talk.”
“Yup, since I was keeping it under wraps.”
“Does that mean there’s no more need to hide it?”
“None at all!”
It can only be considered a weakness for someone to realize that the graceful young noblewoman is so unfortunate on the inside. That’s why I kept it secret. But that’s no longer necessary.
Right now I’m a completely normal citizen, and I feel so much more comfortable now.
…… though, in the uproar over our peerage being stripped and such, there was one thing I’d forgotten to say to Eury.
“I’m praying for your happiness from the bottom of my heart.”
He completely spaced out.
Though I guess that can’t be helped.
“Well, I’ve said all I need to, so I’ll excuse myself now.”
I lifted myself up… only to end up sitting back down.
Eury pinned me back into the chair.
The so-called straddling position. I couldn’t move an inch.
Mmm… is it that you won’t be satisfied if I don’t let you punch me at least once? Is that it, Eury?
Near my ear, he whispered, “You don’t hate me?”
Me, hate Eury? … yeah no, I don’t get it.
When I met the gaze in question, a bitter smile floated to his lips.
“You know, don’t you? That the petty things father did weren’t nearly bad enough to have his peerage removed.”
Yeah, I knew that.
Our father was honestly too much of a coward to pull off anything all that bad.
In other words…
“You framed him, didn’t you, Eury?”
That was his retribution to our family.
For a split second, his face showed such suffering. It quickly became a smile again.
“Yeah, I framed him~.”
“That’s what I thought… hahaha.”
Well, nothing to be done about it.
Because our family did such horrible things to him.
We scarred his small body.
We gouged at his delicate heart.
We repudiated his unique character.
This was just the realization of years of sublimated hatred.
That’s why it’s impossible for me to hate him.
That’s why I needed to tell him properly.
“I don’t hate you at all, Eury—”
“I wanted you, that’s why I destroyed the Abenstars.”
…… eh? Our words unfortunately overlapped, and I didn’t catch the beginning, right?
“Because as long as you were an Abenstar, I wouldn’t be able to obtain you.”
…… excuse?? No seriously, who are…
“And you were engaged to that annoying duke’s family.”
“Once we became normal citizens, those troublesome bonds of social position would no longer be a wall between us.”
…… come again? What was it that this younger brother of mine was saying? For now, “Wake up, stupid brother. Even if it’s just a half, we’re siblings bound by blood aren’t we?”
“That was just my birth mother’s plan.”
“…… Come again?”
“No matter how smashed he was, there’s no way your father would have made his way down to the lower city and had his way with a middle-aged woman. Moreover, we’re talking about a purebred noble here, aren’t we? Lovers aside, there’s no way he’d let himself knock up a woman he’d just met.”
“Gross! That’s gross! The contents of this conversation are too gross!”
In other words, Eury was a complete and utter stranger.
“At first, my mother threatened to tell the duke’s wife about ‘me’ in order to shake him down for money. Once she got tired of it, she straight up dumped me on him. Put bluntly, your father had something very troublesome that had nothing to do with him dropped in his lap.”
And the dumped Eury was neither thrown out nor killed, but brought into the house. Father never once doubted Eury was his son.
“Like… how to say this… my condolences, father dear.”
“Honestly. Your father is much too kind a person. ……… same as you.”
Eh? What’s this about?
“You were always looking at me so worriedly.”
No no, Eury was the one always looking at me, right?
“Whenever Mother and our elder sister would come near me, you would constantly find reasons to help me escape.”
… Did I do such a thing? Damn, my subconscious is scary!
“You would leave meals outside my room whenever I was forced to miss one.”
But—! That—! It’s not healthy for a child in their growth period to go without! In my previous life, I—!
“In order to get me out of the house, you talked me up to the young master of the duke’s family in order to get him interested in me, and arranged for me to enter the Academy.”
I was at the point where I just couldn’t stand it anymore.
I hid my face in freed hands, but I’m sure from where he was perched it was easy to see my burning red ears.
So embarrassing… god, having someone realize how much you favor them is so ungodly embarrassing…
“There’s no way I wouldn’t fall for you, the one and only person to ever care for me ever since I was a child.”
What the hell is this. Where’d the otome game setting go? Come back, our lady heroine.
“What about your feelings for Nanami-sama?”
“But I don’t have a need for a fiancee.”
So you’re telling me he just used Nanami-sama to break off the engagement?
Eury! Seriously, what a scary kid!!
“Sister… no, Lilianne, I’m sorry. It looks like I’ve taken after that detestable birth mother of mine.”
Eh, that means…
“In that ‘spares no effort to gain what I want’ way.”
Yeaaaah, I can see it. After all, he had no qualms about destroying a whole noble family just because he wanted me, didn’t he…
Hearing all this, I couldn’t help but think… doesn’t that mean that the fall of our family was my fault?
Even if the main culprit was Father or Eury.
“Lilianne, what are you thinking right now?”
“Eh—? Um—? Well… Maybe that I’m glad my elder sister married into a relatively upright family…? Or something like that.”
Brother was quite smart, so he was able to get an introduction to good employment, and I was able to persuade my parents to purchase a small home out in the country where it was peaceful. Though we were stripped of our peerage, we are still receiving fine treatment.
As the apparent cause of our fall, I was thinking I was glad I was able to prepare favorable circumstances for them to the point where my conscience didn’t hurt too badly.
“That’s what you’re thinking of in a situation like this?”
A situation like this, indicating how he was so blatantly straddling me, but what of it?
“Yeaaaah, well, even if you say that, for someone as powerless as myself, breaking out of this situation would be quite a feat, you see.”
“Eh? Then what? Does that mean it’s fine for me to keep doing as I please with you?”
I’m sure a normal, classy lady would get scared or embarrassed.
But that’s just not me.
We’ve just established that the gorgeous guy parked on my lap is of no actual relation to my family and that he arbors feelings of great affection for me. His gorgeous skin is calling me.
Not eating the meal set before them is an embarrassment to both men and women alike, isn’t it?
But for now, I’ll just say this. Since it’s the first time, I can come out with those famous, boldly seductive words.
“It’s my first time, so be gentle, won’t you?”
The moment I looked up at him with teary eyes, Eury was a goner.
You know what I think? It’ll still be a good, long while before Eury passes up his mother.