「Um… It’s difficult to explain but… When it comes to tea, Edi is… uh… considerably…」
If I used the word ‘gourmet’, he would probably understand me easily. But actually it was not that as lovely as it sounded. Truthfully, he was just being annoying. And he wasn’t annoying on an ordinary level. He was so bothersome. It’s not only that he’s picky and he just points out「That’s wrong」over and over again, but if something’s not going according to his wishes, he doesn’t say anything, nor does he move a single finger to fix it. I don’t think Lucius would be able to understand that.
Not only does he have merely 2 weeks to master the brewing method, which would require a lot of effort, but also even if he managed to learn it at a decent level, it is still not the same as the level that would satisfy that man. Truthfully, I wouldn’t recommend it.
I hesitated to speak. I don’t know if he understood from my attitude what I was thinking about, but he slightly bowed his head and concealed his face full of a fighting spirit.
「When something is difficult it’s so much more worth trying. I want to prove myself to my brother. I am aware that I need to show extra strength to achieve it.」
……….I think it’s not the herbal tea brewing practice that he needs to work on most… But maybe I was wrong to think so. I knew his will to work hard was hugely misdirected but I couldn’t say anything to his serious face. I couldn’t bluntly refuse him when he bowed his head with such an earnest「Please」. If there was a person who could have refused him I’d like to meet them very much… but of course, I knew him. My own husband, his half-brother. His older brother of a different mother. I thought about how convoluted a person’s life can be. And then I slowly bowed my head to his 「Please」trying not to think about the future meals and how they could turn out the same as the one the previous night.
From that day the hard struggle of not only Lucius, but also myself, has begun. Even though it was only the second day since he moved in with us in the residence, he already had to make a lot of calls. He had been invited by a lot of nobles. In addition to that, whenever he found a moment of leisure, he came back to the Lancent villa and practiced the tea brewing with me. He was quite cute to look at, when he tried to brew the tea with his hands that were not used to such movements. However, no matter how many times he tried it, every time the finished tea was… Well… Terrible.
Was it wrong of me to think so? Perhaps I wasn’t explaining it right or forgetting to say somehing? After all, I was preparing it every day myself. Looking from my perspective, everything was obvious and simple, so I might have not mentioned something important. I thought that we shall try again next time as I was standing in the kitchen and raised a teacup to my mouth while Lucius looked at me full of anticipation.
「How is it?」
「……….I would say fifteen points.」
I dare say both my face expression and the sound of my voice became quite grave. To my evaluation Lucius dropped his shoulders once more, as he has done a number of times during the last 2 days.
With his head down, Lucius miserably took a cup of the mixture he brewed and put it to his mouth. He drank a little bit and instantly made a grimace. Coughing he murmured 「It is bad」.
His voice was full of disappointment. I panicked a little bit and took a plate full of baked sweets and presented them to him, while patting him on the shoulder with my free hand.
「U-uhm… but it did become a little bit better. Enough to be able to drink some of it.」
It looked better too and the scent got less intense than before. It wasn’t utterly undrinkable anymore, like his first attempt had been. Like he said himself, it wasn’t good, but still…
「But when it comes to giving it to my brother, it’s very bad, isn’t it…」
I answered it with a bitter smile. That was the problem. Even though he tried and tried again, that man’s taste for herbal tea was not like other people’s. It was very hard to meet his expectations. The fifteen points I mentioned were not only my own evaluation. I also took into account what the man with his tastes would think about it. Personally I thought it was very tough rating, but it wouldn’t make any sense if I rated it according to my own standards. Actually, his brewing technique got slightly better, especially in comparison to the first attempt. However, it was far from a passing mark, that’s for sure. The fact that the man didn’t touch it even once during the two days was proof enough.
Lucius dropped his shoulders and little by little ate the sweets while drinking the failed herbal tea. He looked at me.
「Does my brother brew his herbal tea as tasty as yours, Filmina-onee sama?」
「Well, yes… It was actually Edi that thought me how to brew it in the first place. Sometimes he also baked sweets.」
I thought fondly of those days when I was still just engaged to Edi and he used to come to Adina estate. I would serve him tea and he would judge it strictly. We were so young then.
Now this man has great timing and prepares the tea for us right when I feel like drinking it. Sometimes he also prepares simple baked sweets along with it. While I can do more things, when it comes to baked sweets, his are always more delicious. Quite frankly, it’s annoying.
「As expected, brother is amazing, isn’t he. He can do anything, whereas I…」
His voice suddenly got very quiet and I couldn’t hear him. I looked at him inquiringly but he just shook his head and laughed. It was a sweet and beautiful smile that would charm anybody. I was no exception and didn’t ask any more.
「No, it’s nothing. Anyways, how is it? 」
He spoke before I could say anything. He poured another cup and offered it to me. I raised it and tried one more time. ….it didn’t taste any different from the previous one. Was I a bad teacher? Or was it Lucius and his lack of sense? It must have been one of those two. Otherwise, it was just that the method of brewing this herbal tea was difficult.
It was only two days, but how many cups of herbal tea had it been since last night? I’d had more than enough and my stomach was on the verge of bursting. I needed a break soon.
「Uhm… Master Lucius. I know it’s insolent of me, but if you want to move Edi’s heart, perhaps I should teach you something else?」
Lucius’s hand stopped abruptly. How would he respond to my words?
If I was for Lucius’s sake, I would have to change and improve my course of action. He had been staying in our residence for only two days. There was still time to change it. Even if he would ask me「Why didn’t you say this from the start?」, I will fully accept it. It was my fault indeed, that I didn’t correct our couse of action at the very beginning.
Even if this young boy would still work as hard, I’m sorry to say, it wouldn’t end up with that man drinking even a little bit of the herbal tea. If that man could have been won over this easily, I wouldn’t have suffered so much until now and the world as we knew it today – wouldn’t exist. To attract his attention, rather than killing oneself trying to make good herbal tea, it’s easier to – say – take a book that he likes and ask 「Could you explain this to me?」. Constantly making bad herbal tea is far from a good way to be in that man’s favor.
However, contrary to my predictions, the question of why I hadn’t said anything sooner did not come.
His thin lips trembled. I listened carefully to his quiet whisper. He shook his head as if trying to let go of a bad thought.
「I had not dreamt about making the herbal tea for my brother. But when two days ago he drank the tea you had prepared for him sister, for the first time his hard countenance softened. 」