The only way to attend the Meisei Academy cultural festival was with an invitation. The ones who possessed one were all members of the upper class.
Together with the Hongou twins, I showed Lord Takeru Hongou and Lady Youko around. And, I asked them to listen to our class choir.
The performance would start soon. We gathered backstage at the auditorium. This PC DJ device was purchased back when we decided on what to do for our choir. But, when compared to the budget used by the group handling the play, ours was seen as minuscule. I played around with it in a trance. I was too excited! By the way, I had borrowed the computer from Lord Souju.
It was finally showtime!
I could see Lord Takeru Hongou and Lady Youko from the stage.
I, DJ Reiko, pulled up the hood of the hoodie, fixed the large, black mask, and made my stage entrance! Though, in reality, I had simply snuck my way to the back. Fufu.
The piece was Schubert's "Erlkönig". I pumped it up to a house-type, four on the floor. The students in the choir and the audience members began to sing in unison!
This was what the springtime of life meant. I was glad that I could attend this school and meet my friends.
I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. After some time, I settled down and returned to normal. I went over to where the Hongou family members were. It appeared that Lady Youko had been anticipating my piano performance and was dissatisfied that I didn't appear on stage.
"Grandmother, Rei was in the back. She was wearing a hood and mask and waving her arms."
“What did you say? That was Rei?"
Lady Youko's eyes were opened wide, and Lord Takeru Hongou laughed.
"Lord Juuichirou Kujouin also listened and danced to rockabilly near the 1960s. The way his lower half moved was certainly unbecoming! He even mastered the culture of the youngsters of that time. Smart, modest, flexible, and willing to learn new things. Rei is exactly like Lord Juuichirou."
"No, in terms of artistry and beauty, she resembles Lady Mary!"
Unfortunately, my grandfather wasn't an average person either!
I would naturally resemble either of them, but I guess my father's and mother's qualities were skipped. No one ever talked about my parents. They probably couldn't.
As noon approached, a rumor of a princess from a certain foreign country sneaking into the school to observe spread through the air. It had nothing to do with me, but when I went with everyone to the café in the salon, the rumored princess appeared before me. The person accompanying her asked, "Are you the one who played 'Erlkönig' before?" in English.
I faced the princess and performed the deep curtsy Lady Mary had severely hammered into me.
I never imagined the day would come when I would have to perform one. I was also surprised.
The princess smiled before slowly nodding. Afterward, I spoke directly to the princess, so I answered in the English Lady Mary drilled in me. By the time I realized it, we were surrounded by a crowd. However, everyone merely watched us in silence. And, they were all expectedly members of the upper class.
After I bid farewell to the princess, the salon members spoke to me.
"Are you Lord Juuichirou Kujouin's grandchild?!"
"Oh, my! Lady Mary Shirasagi's!"
Every one of them grew excited, but everyone was focused on my grandparent's time. It gave off the feeling that during my parents' time, we were considered that Kujouin family.
I politely greeted them, Lord Takeru Hongou and Lady Youko took me away from there along with Lady Sara and Lord Souju. But, we couldn't get far because of the crowd of people.
Among them, I heard a loud voice. It belonged to the heroine, Ms. Miu Yuuki. And the voice of the one accompanying her was also loud.
"As expected of the young lady for the esteemed Kujouin family. Even I, as a Japanese person, felt proud at that wonderful exchange. And yet, in comparison when it comes to you, you're only the daughter of a lowly woman. You have no class. Why did my son remarry such a woman? He truly lacks a good eye for people."
"My mother worked her hardest to raise me by herself. Please don't say such things about her!"
"Even your words lack refinement. I had a first-class tutor teach you etiquette, and yet you've incorporated none of it."
"No matter how much I polish my appearance, I think it's meaningless if I have a heart as dirty as yours! My mother and stepfather love each other and are together!"
A conversation I didn't want to hear reached my ears. They were probably Ms. Miu Yuuki and her step-grandmother. It appeared that Ms. Miu Yuuki's mother was chastised by her mother-in-law. And, this girl loved her mother. Yeah, anyone would be upset if their beloved mother was being chastised. I would also be furious if someone chastised Ms. Fuki!
The play happened in the afternoon. The group doing the play began to move around in a hurry. On the other side, the Hongou twins and I were supposed to see off Lord Takeru Hongou and Lady Youko, but I held back. My presence there would prevent Lady Sara and Lord Souju from being pampered by their grandparents. And, Lady Youko wouldn't be able to spoil her grandchildren.
I said that I would go to the bathroom and bid Lord Takeru Hongou and Lady Youko farewell. Lord Takeru Hongou must have sensed my intention and quietly thanked me. As expected of the man.
When I returned to the school grounds by myself, my costumed classmates were there. Lord Ryou Takanashi playing Romeo wasn't wearing puffy breeches. I was a bit let down.
As I thought that, I heard a nostalgic voice from behind.
"Ryou, I've come to see you."
Lord Ryou Takanashi smiled and waved his hand.
I slowly turned around.
It was Ms. Fuki. The Ms. Fuki I've wanted to see again. When I attempted to extend my hand out, Ms. Fuki pretended not to notice.
"Ms. Fuki! Ms. Fuki! Ms. Fuki!"
I screamed on the spot, but Ms. Fuki didn't even look at me and left. When I tried to chase after her, Lord Ryou Takanashi firmly grabbed my shoulder.
"Hey, Kujouin. I had a feeling, but are you the one who pushed around Grandma Fuki?!"
I turned around. I didn't know why Ms. Fuki left without saying anything. Did she truly hate me? After Lady Mary passed away, did she no longer care about me who was just on the side?
Those thoughts circled around my head.
"It is you, isn't it?! I heard from Grandpa! You spent Grandma Fuki's money to indulge in luxury. Moreover, you pushed her around even though she was so kind!"
That was true. I couldn't object.
"Don't you dare appear in front of her again! She can't get her life back. You guys are the worst!"
That was right. Ms. Fuki was now free to live her life. She had adored Lady Mary, but she wasn't obligated to raise me. I was a freeloader.
Lord Takanashi glared at me and chased after Ms. Fuki. I couldn't put my thoughts into words and just stood there. The classmates who were in the group for the play watched the whole charade play out and looked at me while whispering something.
I was the granddaughter of the arrogant and unpleasant Lady Mary.
I was garbage.
I was the emperor's new clothes.
Why did I exist?
In my daze, I felt someone grab my arm.
"Rei, are you okay?"
I returned to my senses. And, when I looked at who called out to me, the childish prince, Lord Katsuragi was there.
"Y-yes. Thank you for your concern. I'm fine now, so please let go."
I wanted to get away from here. I no longer wished to be here.
"You don't look fine at all. Do you need to go to the infirmary?"
"No, it's fine. So, please let go."
"Alright! I'll bring you to the infirmary!"
Just as he was about to hold me like he had during the entrance exam, Lord Madenokouji called me.
"Ms. Kujouin, my grandmother— Hey, Kaoru, what are you doing?!"
Lord Madenokouji stopped Lord Katsuragi.
"Ms. Kujouin, are you okay?"
"There is no problem. I'm fine. I made a prior agreement with Lady Sara and Lord Souju, so I'll excuse myself."
I needed to get away from here. I turned on my heel and headed to the salon where the Hongou twins were.
It hurt so much that I couldn't breathe.
Colors faded from my world.
My mind was empty.
I focused solely on walking to the salon.
When I only needed a few more steps to reach it, I encountered Lady Sara and Lord Souju. I talked to them as if nothing had happened, and after we sat down for a meal, we decided to leave early without watching the play.
At that time, I didn't at all remember what we talked about or how I acted.
I responded as I usually did, but I had no memory.
I couldn't think of anything. I couldn't cry. I couldn't believe anything.
I simply wanted to go home. I only remembered that I didn't want to be there.
By the time I realized it, I was being driven home by Mr. Suzuki.