Chapter 1. I like you, Prince
April’s grandfather. Count Campbell, two generations ago, was credited with dramatically saving the king’s life at Dellwood.
Impressed by his loyalty, the king granted him a larger fiefdom and the right to marry into the royal family.
He decided to use this power for the benefit of his one and only granddaughter, April Campbell.
He knew that the little girl had a “crush” on the prince for a long time.
On the days he took his granddaughter to the royal court, little April would always circle around Lochlan, her face red with embarrassment.
It was a way of hoping that maybe he would talk to her.
Then, when April was ten years old.
In accordance with his promise, the king allowed the engagement of the prince to the young daughter of Count Campbell.
And just on that day, the ten-year-old Lochlan, politely dressed with a hat and coat, visited the Campbell’s residence and offered April a rose.
“April, will you be my betrothed?”
He said as above on the porch where all users and her family were lined up, and April, surprised, burst into tears on the spot.
It was the first time that day that she had seen Lochlan look a little embarrassed.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t know April hates roses…”
“Not a rose?”
He lowered his head and took a step back.
“You don’t like me, do you? Do you like Dominic?”
April shook her head quickly at his sullen words.
For April, Dominic was also a special person. But it was only a feeling close to “friend”.
In the world of her heart, only Lochlan was special.
“Um, I…I like you, Prince Lochlan.”
Lochlan’s face brightened as April stepped closer to him and spoke.
“Then, that’s a relief.”
He held out the red rose again. It was the most beautiful flower that he had personally selected while visiting the royal gardens.
“April, will you marry me, please?”
April wiped away her tears with her sleeve and took the rose he gave her.
“Yes, Your Highness!”
When little April replied cheerfully, the family and servants surrounding them applauded.
Embarrassed again, April cried again with a bright red face.
Her grandfather, who had loved April so much, died five months after she was engaged.
When she was twelve years old, a series of unfortunate events occurred at the mansion that changed everything about April’s world.
Before she could shed her black mourning clothes, she began to call her strange uncle “father.”
She had to call some woman “mother” even before she could adapt.
Due to her uncle’s adoption, April thought she would be able to spend her time as the eldest daughter of the Count as before.
But in fact, it was nowhere near like before.
Every time she had to call the strangers “father” and “mother”, which she should feel the warmest, April felt lonely, as if she had fallen into a faraway country alone.
However, she felt differently about her sister, Charlotte, her uncle’s daughter.
“She is my daughter. As it was, she should have been the Count’s eldest daughter, but now that you took her place, she should be treated very well. Do you understand?”
The three-year-old girl seemed terribly frightened by the sudden change of environment like April.
April was concerned with the child who felt the same way she did.
“I’ll take good care of Charlotte.”
April made a promise to her dead mother once.
“I’d be so happy if you and your sister became loving friends. There’s nothing like loving sisters to help each other out.”
“I will, mother, and I will make sure she is protected and loved very much!
April put her ear to her mother’s tummy and made a promise. But she couldn’t keep that promise because that child died with her mother.
“Hello, my name is April. You can call me sister if you like.”
April thought that this little girl, Charlotte, would be as dear to her as her dead little sister.
It was also a way to keep a long standing promise to her mother.
“Do you want to come with me? I’ll show you the toy room.”
April gently took the girl’s hand as she nodded nervously. Such efforts paid off, and Charlotte soon began to follow April’s lead.
When April was playing with the young Charlotte, an old maid from the Campbell family, who had been loyal to her family for a long time, came running in surprise.
“No, Miss! Please let go of that shallow illegitimate child’s hand right now. I’m afraid the dirt will transfer.”
“Charlotte is not dirty.”
“They stayed in the mansion like this makes me angry, but even the young lady is acting like a sister to an illegitimate child. If the dead Count hears it, he will hit the ground and weep.”
The look in the old maid’s eyes was somewhat frightening, so April nodded without asking any further.
But April knew what she said was not quite right.
Her sister Charlotte was cleaner than anyone, and her late parents would be proud of April for being a good big sister.
However, she didn’t understand the term “shallow illegitimate child.”
“It’s weird, isn’t it?”
April pretended to leave the nursery with the old maid, but quickly returned and spoke to Charlotte.
“…What is she talking about shallow illegitimate?”
While pondering, April turned around, startled by the cold stare she could feel from behind her back.
There was her uncle and his wife, April’s new parents, standing there with a bewildered expression on their faces.
The uncle’s voice was very shaky, and April didn’t know why, but he sounded very angry.
“What are you saying to my daughter? You’re lucky I didn’t send you a poor orphanage. You don’t know how much you owe her!”
He ran over and grabbed April by both shoulders.
Where did you get those bad words from?
Surprised by his action, Charlotte began to cry and her mother gave her a quick hug.
While April turned around anxiously, her uncle shook her back and forth vigorously by the shoulders.
“How in the world can you torment a sweet child to the point of crying! Before you came here, she didn’t even know how to cry!”
He questioned so vehemently that April wasn’t even given a chance to explain the situation.
“Oh, no. I…………..”
“What are you talking about? You’re lying! You just said that bad word to Charlotte! “
“No, I didn’t.”
“So you’re saying I heard nonsense? Why is she crying so much if you didn’t do it?”
“Well, Charlotte cries because…”
April thought Charlotte cried because her father was acting horribly. Charlotte talked and smiled when she was alone with April earlier.
“Go back to your room at once! You’re grounded until next Wednesday!”
“Please listen to me…….”
“If you talk back more here, know that you will be grounded longer than Wednesday.”
When he threatened her severely, April had no choice but to be silent.
The Count turned to April, who was now obedient, warned her in a rough voice.
“This is your punishment for your wrongdoing. You know that, don’t you? It was your fault!”
April nodded helplessly.
“…… Yes, I was wrong. It did it. Father….”
Knowing it would take a long time, the Count’s wife grabbed his arm.
“Stop it, honey. April doesn’t like to be family with people who suddenly appeared. I can understand.”
“Tsk, she doesn’t even know how much grace she has been given.”
Watching them, April seemed to have a strange crack in her heart.
Since then, the atmosphere of the mansion has become increasingly strange.
After working for the mansion for so long, the servants were frustrated that they couldn’t separate April and Charlotte, and whenever that happened, the Count would scold April for being a bad kid. It wasn’t long before the place where she felt most secure became the most uncomfortable place in the world.
Still, April was fine.
Because she had Lochlan.
He listened to everything that happened in the mansion, and each time he absolutely took April’s side.
He wouldn’t say much and accept everything with a smile.
Sometimes April felt bad that he was being so generous.
“It’s okay, just tell me everything, I like April, I won’t judge anything.”
Lochlan was her father, mother, brother, fiancé, and….
He was the last thing left in her world.
She was happy.
After the news of Locklan’s death, April only cried alone in a dark room under the covers.
It was said that he was caught up in the debacle at the rear infirmary.
The enemy knights, ignoring orders to surrender, had ordered a merciless bombing raid on the kingdom’s infirmary, and it was destroyed without a trace.
April closed her eyes and recalled.
The roar in her ears, the collapsing building and the screams of the people.
Just by imagining it, her whole body trembled with fear. Whenever she had hard times, he was always there for her. But now….
There were no more tears flowing, only heavy breaths.
In that hour of his suffering, April was of no help or comfort.
He brought April out of the muck and into the warm world, but now he was alone in the cold ground….
April desperately wanted the loneliness and despair he felt to come through her so she could feel the same way he felt.
No, rather she wished to follow him.
April has now understood her father’s death. How he suffered after her death and followed her.
There were other things that bothered April.
Staggering to her feet, April glared at today’s newspaper, which she had dropped on the floor nearby.
[Tragic words from a cowardly prince.]
The morning paper with this provocative headline was suspended from distribution in the afternoon with a formal apology, but only after the paper and rumors had already spread.
The reporters expressed their regret that Prince Lochlan had abandoned his soldiers and left the garrison on his own.
He was in stark contrast to the brave Prince Dominic, who led the knights in the front, and who also said, “In effect, this is something that must be shot by military law.”
But the article concluded with the words that he was involved in a tragedy after he fled, and that he reserved judgment on his actions, even though it had already tarnished his reputation with scathing accusations.
April knew Lochlan. He was kinder and more responsible than anyone. He wasn’t someone who would abandon his soldiers and run on his own for any reason.
It was clear that the article was false.
As proof of that, she couldn’t even find the name of the reporter who wrote it.
It must have been left maliciously by someone who was dissatisfied with the royal family.
Otherwise, who would dare to discuss the disgrace of such a disaster with Lochlan’s name prominently featured in it?
However, people would find this provocative article interesting. They would talk without considering the facts.
It was then that a small knock was heard. April didn’t have to look to know it was Charlotte.
Her sweet little sister, who turned eleven this year.
The child visited April almost every day since Lochlan’s death.
She was a kind girl who always worried about her sister.
“…I’m sorry, Charlotte.”
April apologized slowly as she walked to the door and the crumbled newspaper fell from her hand to the floor.
“I don’t want to see anyone.”
The child’s voice was filled with worries.
“Can I hug you?”
‘What should I do?’ April worried for a while. But she didn’t want anyone’s comfort right now.
Because that act would surely be an admission that Lochlan was dead.
“Charlotte, I’m really sorry. Hey, I’ll see you later………”
Before she could finish, she heard the Countess’ voice cutting through the door.
“What on earth is this fuss? Must you make your sister, who came to visit you out of concern, stand outside your door for days and suffer?”
April was about to say no, but the door swung open without her permission.
“Charlotte, you can go in now.”
At her mother’s suggestion, Charlotte looked at April’s expression and immediately bowed her head.
“Yes, it’s okay. Just this one for you…”
Charlotte quickly placed the bread and soup she had brought by the door.
“If you’re done then go.”
The Countess waved her hand and Charlotte stared at April and her mother alternately with a pale face.
She knew better than anyone that her mother was hard on her sister.
“But, Mother, sister….”
“You’re not going?”
Charlotte grabbed her arm, and the Countess quickly pushed Charlotte out of the way in a cumbersome manner.
Afraid Charlotte would get in trouble, April signaled with her eyes for Charlotte to hurry back to her room.
“…I’m sorry, sister.”
Charlotte stepped away, at a loss. From a distant hallway came the sound of a child sobbing softly.
“Why are you making her cry again?”
“What brings you here?”
April asked the Countess, her expression hardened. She didn’t want to talk to her at a time like this.
“You are a woman but you don’t have any charm. Who would want you?”
The Countess clicked her tongue and handed out an invitation addressed to April.
April just stared down at it, and the Countess tapped her on the shoulder from the corner of the envelope.
“Here’s your invitation. Go ahead.”
“What kind of invitation is it?”
“Oh, look at you. Well, since we’ve won the war……….”
The Countess spoke in a very happy tone.
“Isn’t it time to celebrate with a good dance?”