"Onee-chaaan! Wake up, wake up!"
I felt someone's small hands shaking my still-sleepy body.
"Nnn... What is it... Freyja?" I groggily scratched my eyes to force myself to be awake, in response to this little sister of mine.
Yup, I couldn't have mistaken this cute voice I got used to listening. Before, it was a much quieter voice. Within time, I felt like the voice turned more energetic.
"Today is my debut party, remember? You have to prepare as well as my big sister!" Freyja continued to shake my body.
I opened my eyes to glance at the clock, "Oh... Is it time alrea... WAIT, FREYJA! It's way too early!!"
I quickly protested once I saw the time. What time was it? Let’s say, the time when the birds first started chirping. Maybe not too long after the sun rose. Maybe it was the time the house helpers started their work. In other words, yep, way too early for me to be awake.
“No way, it’s morning already! Gotta go prepare, right?” Freyja insistently shook my body to prevent me from going back to my slumber again.
Let me admit, I’m happy to have a little sister now, but there are days or times when I feel annoyed too. It’s only natural to feel this way... right? And this time is one of the examples.
“Freyja, did you even get enough sleep?” I groggily yawned.
“I did, I slept plenty-ly!”
...Plenty-ly? Is that even a word?
"But your big sister here hasn't gotten that plenty-ly sleep, so...," I said as I grabbed my blanket and just when I was about to pull it to cover myself...
"Lyra-nee!! You're my big sister! You should wake up earlier than me, then?" Freyja tried to stop me from covering myself in my one true love, the blanket.
"Well, older people get tired faster, which means I need more rest--," I tried to mimic a grandma.
"Lyra-nee, come on!" Freyja pleaded as she giggled. I giggled as well.
If I have to count my past self's age, I'm totally old then, considerably older than this little fellow here.
I finally got out of my beloved (bed and blanket)'s warm embrace to follow this energetic little sister of mine.
"Lyra? You're up early," Mom commented when she saw me going out of my room.
I moved my sleepy eyes to the little figure who was dragging me by hand.
"Oh, so Freyja's the cause," Mom chuckled.
"Lyra-sama and Freyja-sama are so close, it's cute!" Niina also commented.
Well, sisters bond sure is nice!
"Have Alt-nii and Freyr woken up already?" I asked when I didn't see them here.
I'm concerned they will be late or something... Ah, well, that's obviously a lie. I actually want them to wake up as early as I do!
"Freyr is taking a bath now," Freyja answered with a smile.
I thought so. Freyr and Freyja shared the same room, so Freyja would definitely wake Freyr up first thing in the morning.
"And Alt-nii?" I asked while concealing my *cough* evil *cough* smile. No way he could take his time slowly in the wonderful dreamland, right? When his little siblings were already up like this! An older sibling had to give a good example, right?
...forget what I just said to Freyja this morning, hahaha!
"Don't worry, I've already asked Rurune to wake him up!" Freyja triumphantly smiled.
"So, he should already be up now, right?" I asked.
"Yup!" Freyja nodded.
"But why hasn't he shown himself up?"
"Let's go to his room!" I threw away all my sleepiness to give the same "torture" to the eldest brother.
Upon entering his room, I was left speechless.
Alt-nii actually cast a barrier to prevent Rurune or anyone from waking him up before the time!
"Ruruu!!" Rurune kept consuming the barrier only to have it regenerated back in no time.
I tilted my head in wonder: wouldn't Alt-nii be more fatigued if he consumed his mana like this? What's the point of sleeping then? Could it be that his energy expenditure is equal to his energy regeneration from sleep?
I could only shake my head in disbelief.
"Alt-niichan! You can't be serious! Good grief!" Freyja sulked.
"Ruru~," Rurune seemed to be having fun eating Alt-nii's magic, though...
"Rurune, let's cooperate!" I suddenly had an idea. I whsipered it to Rurune who then looked at me in agreement.
As soon as Rurune damaged Alt-nii's barrier, I quickly cast my signature [Ice] magic and...
We've successfully awakened the devil.
"That was totally hilarious, I tell you!" Freyja couldn't stop laughing as she narrated the scene of me waking up Alt-nii forcefully with my [Ice] magic.
Freyr listened with great interest as he continued to eat his breakfast.
"Freyja, hands," Dad reminded Freyja to continue moving her hands to eat. Freyja took another bite before continuing her story.
"Haha, she's just too enthusiastic in story-telling," Mom laughed at Freyja's adorableness.
"Still, you should be careful especially when you're in front others, Freyja. Especially during the debut party after this," Dad kept warning Freyja.
"Got~ it~," Freyja said as she continued to munch her food.
Dad sighed with an anxious expression on his face.
"Don't worry, Dad. She'll be fine. I'll be there to back her up just in case," I tried to reassure Dad.
"That's relieving to know. I know we can rely on you, Onee-chan," Dad smiled.
Dad's form of oyabaka or doting was different in my and Freyja's case, although we were both his daughters. I guess it was because Freyja was so different from me when I was her age that Dad couldn't help but worry that she would get hurt.
"Freyr, you're finished already? Want a second?" Mom asked Freyr after she gasped in surprise.
Freyr shifted his gaze at Mom and shook his head after thinking for awhile.
"I'm full already. Thanks for the food!" Freyr said as he clasped his hands in front of him to give thanks for the food. It was apparent from his expression that he really enjoyed his food. After all, the food served were the twins' favorite.
"Well, well, Freyr silently beats us all!" Alt-nii chuckled.
"Alt, eating isn't a competition. Besides, you're on your second serving," Mom reminded Alt-nii.
Alt-nii only winked and stuck out his tongue for a while before he continued eating.
Right. Time had passed by so fast that it was already two years since we took in the twins. The formerly submissive and similar twins now have developed their distinct personalities.
The older sister, Freyja grew up to be a very energetic and cheerful girl especially around those closest to her. Needless to say that she's the boldest of us all. Sometimes I'm worried about her as she's the one having most trouble in etiquette and mannerism, but she's trying her best. At least to the extent that she won't be a laughing stock in the noble society during her debut.
On the other hand, Freyr remained a quiet and calm child--I believed he was one to think things very thoroughly before acting. However, he showed more expressions than before and could get excited or happy at the things he liked.
"Onee-chan... I'm actually feeling nervous now..."
The girl with a strong and energetic voice from this morning suddenly turned timid with a slightly shaking voice. She tucked the hem of my dress as she expressed her concern.
It would be time for the twins' debut party to start soon.
After the breakfast we had, we quickly started preparing everything for the party. As usual, the venue was the old Hartmann family's house. Our house wasn't that luxurious enough to be used as a party place, even after the renovation. No matter, maybe we could slowly build the house until it exceeded the old Hartmann family's house!
Ooh, maybe it is my main quest in this life?
Well, as long as we can accomplish it through good means!
Anyway, Freyja was still quite excited when she was in the middle of her preparation. Her hair was put in a pair of twin low buns with her side hair flowing out in front. She looked really cute and it was way too apparent that she was Freyr's female counterpart. Red ribbons were used to decorate her pretty silver hair.
The dress she was wearing was in match with the outfit Freyr wore. The dress had two layers--the inner one was a green-colored frilly part of the dress while the outer part was a pretty blue-colored part. The blue outer was like a coat that covered the upper half part of the green inner layer. The blue layer was longer than the green layer--to the extent that it created some sort of a "blue feather tail" part for the dress. However, she won't have troubles walking with the tail as it luckily didn't reach the floor.
Meanwhile, Freyr was wearing a formal outfit that made him look like a little gentleman. His bottom was a pair of silky dark blue pants. His inner shirt had long sleeves with the base color of light blue. It was covered with a trendy verdant green vest. Both of them were wearing the Hartmann family's emblem on their chests.
Anyway, the previously excited Freyja and the previously nervous Freyr were now gone. The closer we got to the beginning of the party, the more nervous Freyja got. Meanwhile, Freyr seemed to have overcome his nervousness and looked calm now.
"Don't worry, Freyja. You'll be fine," Freyr tapped on Freyja's back as their positions were reversed.
It was funny to see their occasional role reversals.
It seemed to us that Freyja was now able to loosen up and be more spoiled after her position became the second youngest child in the family, and not the older sister out of the two.
Freyr seemed to be calmer after he felt that he was safe with us, making him less dependent on Freyja. Just like this time, Freyr would occasionally cover his sister whenever she showed her shortcomings.
"Freyr, aren't you nervous?" Freyja asked as she grabbed Freyr's hand.
"A bit. But it will be okay," Freyr said with confidence.
Well, Freyr excelled more than Freyja in etiquette and mannerism due to his calm nature, so it was understandable how confident he was.
"There, there, just consider the others as carrots and you'll be fine," I gave an advice as I patted their backs.
"Uu...," Freyja held on to the hem of my dress tighter.
"Yes, we'll be fine, right, Nee-chan?" Freyr asked with a smile.
"Of course, who's your big sister after all?" I smiled back at him.
"Well, Lyra-nee has been praised from when she was young, so as her little brother and sister, we'll be fine," Freyr answered.
"...but, but, wouldn't I be made fun of if I'm not as good as Nee-chan? Wouldn't I make you ashamed, Nee-chan?" Freyja was still nervous.
I was about to open my mouth to give a long and heartfelt advice when...
"Freyr, Freyja, it's soon your time to shine!"
Alt-nii's voice could be heard. He was in charge of seeing the situation at the stage.
"Uuuuu," Freyja tried to straighten her posture.
With the limited time we had, I patted her back once more as I said, "Don't worry, just do your best. No matter what, you're a little sister I'm proud of. If anything happens, I'll be there for you."
Perhaps my encouragement worked as I saw her little back was straightened even more. Her timid body posture now seemed to be more confident.
"Good luck," I whispered to Freyr who quickly went to walk by his sister's side.
The pair of twins hooked their hands together as they walked to the stage of their debut.
Good luck, you two! ...Time flew by so fast, huh?
I still remember perfectly when they were first brought to the house.
As I sent off their backs like this, I thought to myself, 'Is this how a parent feels when they send off their child to school or to a new stage in life?'
Not wanting to skip the twins' introduction, I quickly went to the front of the stage, where Alt-nii and Rurune were waiting.
"Thank you for coming to my... our debut party. I'm Freyr Arcturus Hartmann, pleased to meet you. Please guide me and my twin sister well," Freyr seemed to have turned timid as he stood there looking at the eyes of the nobles which were on them.
As someone who had spent roughly 2 years with the twins, I could tell. I could see the subtle signs of their nervousness. Freyr’s speech was so fluid (just one mistake was made) yet his eyes sometimes wavered. But still, he did a great job!
Next, Freyja stepped forward.
“I’m Freyja Artemyscha Hartmann... Pleased to make your acquaintances. And thank you for coming!” Freyja timidly said. Even her gesture was quite reserved and shy. When she was talking, she tried to take a glance at the nobles, but she couldn’t help herself from casting her eyes downward for a while.
Even so, I could tell from the others’ comments that they did well.
“Whoa, the twins of the Hartmann family are so cute!”
“Look how shy the girl is!”
“Even so, she still managed to introduce herself properly without crying or trembling! As expected of a duke’s daughter!”
“The boy is so cute as well! The Hartmann family sure is blessed.”
“Which one is the older one, I wonder?”
Yep, it seemed that their performance was still good in the eyes of the public. It seemed that some of the children couldn’t hide their nervousness in their debut. From my experience as Reinst, I remembered seeing some haughty children as well, that it gave off bad first impression.
And ah... I tried to hold my laughter when they commented about how bashful Freyja was!
Right~! In public, she's usually quieter and shy--to put it simply, she's still retaining her former personality when she first arrived. Thankfully, she's less submissive and more of a hardy person instead. She is loud around those close to her but still a quiet girl otherwise.
This makes me and my family, and also those close to her feel quite special.
After the twins’ introduction, I quickly went to their side in order to accompany them receiving the nobles’ greetings. Freyja especially asked for my company, so I should accompany them—at least for this debut party~
For Freyr, Alt-nii promised that he would teach Freyr all the necessary stuff that a duke’s son should remember.
I was a bit worried leaving Freyr in Alt-nii’s care because Alt-nii was kinda mischievous even to other nobles, but since he never had any problem so far... I guess it should be fine. Besides, I feel like Alt-nii's changed and he's becoming less mischievous as time passes by.
Moreover, I couldn’t guide Freyr well because I believed there would be differences in guiding a male noble and a female noble. I only learned a female noble’s rules and etiquette so far and imposing them to Freyr... I’m afraid he’d seem like a girl instead.
In the middle of accompanying the twins receiving the nobles’ greetings, I met my past self’s family once more.
My former mother only took a short glance at me—with eyes that seemed to be assessing me.
“Well well, such cute twins we have here. They still have a lot to learn, so be sure to give them good example as a big sister, okay?” She advised me.
“...Of course, thanks for your advice, Dahlia-sama,” I bowed a bit to her.
“My youngest child—although he was only with his big sister for a short while, he had such an exemplary example that he could look up on. I believe that he was able to do better with his well-mannered and sensible big sister as an example,” she said as she put her fan in front of her mouth. A gesture that she liked doing, to add to her elegance.
I was surprised to hear that—so I reflexively turned to see Domi who was standing behind Mother. He grew up to be a fine young man—still with his straight face.
I became an example that Domi could look up to?
Did that mean... he grew up in my shadow?
Being compared to his big sister and had to live up to others’ expectations... I guess he wasn’t leading such a pampered and easy life, after all...
I swallowed my saliva when I imagined how he might have felt growing up.
“Oh, he is Reinst’s little brother? I’m sure he has amazing etiquette!”
“Is that all you can do? Your big sister can do well, so you must be able to do it as well.”
I imagined such sentences being thrown out to young Domi.
In the past, little Domi was so timid and he liked tailing Mother the best. He was so different from me when I was around his age, doing my best since I was little—to make Mother happy.
Now I’m quite curious about what Domi feels towards the big sister he never had the chance of getting close to. Did he resent me? Did he hate me because I set some standards he had to chase?
But seeing how Domi grew up to be similar to me—I mean, Reinst... I guess he really did his best, but... I didn’t want him to lose himself like I lost myself.
“Anyway, I’d love to see how well you’ve trained in your upcoming birthday. Little Freyr and Freyja, once again, congratulations on your debut and happy birthday.”
Mother Dahlia’s voice brought me back to reality.
Domi and Father didn’t talk too much as usual, and I lost my chance to ask Domi about what Mother said before. Not like this was the best place and time to do it... right? The stars of the show were the twins. Let’s not bother about myself for now!
“Happy birthday and congrats, Freyja and... Freyr, my rival! Don’t you think that your debut party marks the official start to our rivalry?”
The voice full of confident was so familiar.
As I looked to the front, there came... three familiar figures on the way to me and the twins!!
Can you guess who they are?
Noble parties were always the perfect occasions for family reunions.