It was the last day of the year.
On this day, the Imperial Family was holding a grand celebration.

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It was a celebration to mark the safe passing of the current year and to welcome the year to come.

This elaborate event was the ideal setting for the nobles of the capital to build connections.

It was also an important event for the younger sister of the duke, as she had only recently entered the social world after her coming-of-age ceremony.

“Lady Rose needs to attend the party too! The last party Lady Rose attended was the Imperial Family's coming-of-age celebration last spring.”

Behind her stood her personal maid, Anne, holding a comb as she begged.
Rose didn't respond.

She didn't enjoy crowded places.

Unfortunately, she was not just an ordinary noble girl.
She was the only sister of the Duke of Honeywell.
An unimaginable number of eyes would follow her if she only appeared now.

The girl shook her head.

“I don't want to go.”

Her voice was firm as she readily hid herself within the duvet on the bed.
She was worried her maid would pull her up and dress her.

Long, soft blonde hair spilt messily across her pillow, and Rose peeped out of her duvet to look out of the window.

The evening hours had passed.
Whenever night came, the winter sky would turn pitch black.

Brother must have been at the imperial palace by now.
If nothing else occurs, he'll be there past midnight.

On such a day, it was customary for everyone to celebrate the New Year together in the Imperial Palace.

Rose shut her eyes as she thought.

Her maid left the room with a small sigh.

I won't be able to welcome the New Year with my brother.”

Rose trailed off as a glint on her clasped fingertips caught her attention.

Looking closely, it was the ruby ring on the fourth finger of her left hand.

Rose's lips arched.

The ruby was an engagement ring given to her by her fiancé, Duke Elliot Proud, who claimed that he handcrafted it to resemble Rose's red eyes.

Her giggle echoed as she wrapped her right hand around her left, covering the engagement ring.

“Elliot must have attended the party too.
Should I have followed my brother?”

Longing settled across her features.

Thirteen years ago, Rose was lost in the Capital City during a festival when she met a boy who helped her.

His blue hair, the color of the sky and sea, and his complaints about being tired from walking were her only memories of him.

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It was just two years ago, at a party held for Duke Honeywell's coming of age, that she met the boy again.
She finally met the boy whose whereabouts had been so hard to find.

Elliot Proud—heir to the Duke of Proud

Gazing upon the blue-haired man at the Honeywell family event, Rose was convinced that the boy from before had to be Elliot.

She couldn't remember his face very well, but she could clearly see his sea blue hair from that day.

Even with her eyes shut, Rose could still picture his blue hair and eyes, which were a darker shade of blue.

If I continue to daydream like this, I might end up running to the Imperial Palace.

Rose got up from the bed.

“If Elliot had asked to escort me to this celebration, I would have attended.”

She smirked as she thought of her ferocious fiancé, who hadn't said a word to her about attending together, then rolled up her quilt and got off the bed.

I should have a chat with her while I drink hot tea.

The girl made her way to the room where she stayed.

The people in the manor were busy cleaning up for the end of the year, so the hallway Rose walked by was very quiet.

“But Ilya is so quiet.
What am I going to do in her room?”

As she made her way down the hallway, Rose's thoughts drifted to the person she was going to visit.

Ilya Titonsser.

Ilya Titonsser was one year younger than Rose, and she was the Baron's pot of gold who was due to come of age in the new year.

A month ago, Duke Honeywell was indebted to Baron Titonsser.

After the Duke promised to repay his debt, the Baron Titonsser didn't hesitate to ask the Duke to support his daughter in the name of the Duke of Honeywell.

The Baron said it was the only way for his daughter, who had no affiliation with the Imperial Capital, to make her debut at the Imperial Court and enter the social gatherings of high-ranking noblemen.

Born and raised in such a small barony, the maiden of the Baron Titonsser family followed the Duke of Honeywell to the Imperial City.

The reason why the shy Rose took to Ilya so quickly was also due to the young lady's open-minded sociability.

Although the young ladies were one year apart in age, to Rose, Ilya was nothing less than an innocent, younger sister.

“Today, Ilya and I will celebrate the New Year alone.”

Rose muttered with a smile on her lips as she stopped outside Ilya's room.


She knocked a few times but received no reply.

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The girl tilted her head.

If it was as usual, like a puppy waiting for its owner, Ilya would have opened the door and run out as soon as she heard Rose's footsteps.

“Ilya? Are you sleeping already?”

She knocked on the door again, but there was no reply.
Carefully, she opened the door.

The unlocked door gently swung open, revealing a silent bedroom.

“It doesn't look like she is inside.
Did she go out to the garden at this time? Without saying a word to me…
That's strange.”

The cold bedroom was an indicator that the owner had been away for quite some time.

Rose spotted the desk as she was about to leave in search of her missing friend.

Ilya's desk, which was always kept neat, was cluttered with something.

The bedroom was shrouded in darkness, making it all the harder for Ros

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