Chapter 1. I like you, Prince
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He pulled April out of the doorway and pushed her into the carriage. It was an almost rude action, but April was grateful to Dominic who had come at the right time.
Panicked, Countess Campbell rushed out and grabbed the handle of the carriage.
“‘You can’t do that! Your Highness! This is our family. …”
But Dominic snickered and interrupted.
He slammed the carriage door shut and ordered the horseman to leave immediately.
This caused the Countess to fall back and scream, but all Dominic did was smile as if it was fun.
April crouched quietly in a corner of the carriage. The carriage was quiet as she sat alone with him.
Perhaps it felt even more so because the Countess had been very noisy earlier.
“Raise your head.”
After a while, he demanded and April obeyed. Before she knew it, Dominic sat down beside her and pulled her chin up.
It didn’t take long for her to pull herself back in surprise.
April noticed that he was holding a first aid kit.
“That’s quite a reaction.”
Dominic chuckled amusedly.
“I’d never touch you, but even if I did, it wouldn’t be today. Don’t you think so?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know that. So I’m not used to it….”
He answered shortly, then opened the box and took out some medicine.
“I’ll do it.” (April)
“It’s fine.” (Dominic)
He placed the cotton with medicine on her lips. The blue bruise had not yet faded.
“…Thank you.” (April)
“Say thanks to Young Miss Campbell.” (Dominic)
“Charlotte? Did she contact you?” (April)
“Yes, I don’t know why, but she said you’re trapped.” (Dominic)
It seemed that the reason Charlotte hadn’t come in this morning was to find a way to contact Dominic.
She probably used the same method that April used to exchange letters with Lochlan.
“But I still want to thank Your Highness.” (April)
“Well, you can.”
“And also for what I couldn’t tell you the other day………” (April)
That’s when she met him in the corridor at the imperial Palace.
April was too surprised to say the right things to him, and she felt a little bad about that while she was alone in her room.
“I’m glad Your Highness is back safe and sound.”
“Thank you for saying that.”
He replied as he carefully examined April’s face for any other marks. The medicine-laden cotton moved carefully along his gaze.
“Is this what the Count is like?” (Dominic)
“….. I made some mistakes.” (April)
“Still, he hit you in the face?” (Dominic)
When the treatment was over, he organized the tools and moved back to the opposite seat.
April stared at him as he propped his chin at an angle and looked out the window. Then she suddenly remembered that Lochlan never sat like that.
He always sat facing April.
He never leaned back against the backrest, and he would smile at her, leaning his upper body slightly towards her.
‘I’m doing this again….’
How dare she think of Lochlan while staring at his completely different twin brother.
April blamed herself, dropping her gaze.
This time, she felt him looking at her.
She thought it was a gaze that would pass by for a moment.
Dominic didn’t drop his persistent gaze.
She turned, not facing him properly, but gazing incessantly at some obscure part of him that he couldn’t see.
There was a silence long enough to feel awkward.
“I wasn’t going to come.” (Dominic)
After a while he spoke quietly. Dominic’s unique light tone was no longer felt.
“…I just thought you should say goodbye.” (Dominic)
April finally looked at him properly.
He had his hands clasped together and his large body dropped limply. He looked like he was embracing chronic grief.
“You and Lochlan.”
Now it was April who glanced at him, and Dominic avoided it.
Only, his lips continue to persist in their brutal destination.
“You should say your last goodbye.”
April quickly shook her head. She didn’t know what exactly she was denying.
“That’s not true.”
“No, you should be like that. April.”
As if he didn’t think it was enough, he rephrased it with a distinct change in expression.
“I’m saying that you have to let Lochlan go.”
“How can I…! “
“It’s easy. There are many delightful people in the capital. You can pray with women your own age, or you can dance with men.”
He chuckled bitterly.
“Perhaps it’s because they were afraid of Lochlan, many of them actually care about you. As soon as the appropriate mourning period is over, there will be a line of gentlemen with flowers at your house. I guarantee it.”
“Please don’t say anything outrageous.”
“If you don’t know who to choose, just ask me. No, don’t choose without my permission. It’s even better if you ask me first.”
“You’re going too far, Your Highness!”
He smiled at April’s stubborn protest.
“How can I let my brother’s first love be caught by another man?”
“I don’t need anyone.”
“I’m sure you don’t now.”
Dominic rummaged in his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, and April finally realized that she had been crying.
“…there is an unavoidable distance between the living and the dead.”
He wiped April’s tears away as slowly as he had that night.
“And people change minds. It’s a very natural thing.”
April shook her head.
“Prince Lochlan has been in my heart since I was young, and it’s not going to change. No matter how far he is…”
“You must also consider the feelings of Lochlan, who watches from afar.”
April, her lashes flickering with faint tears, turned to face him.
He tried to tell her something more, but she softly interrupted him.
April looked at him for a long time, and struggled to move her lips.
“I like Prince Lochlan.”
“I really like him.”
It was a word April practiced while he was away at war. When he came back, she wanted to tell him as naturally as possible.
“I love him.”
Immediately, Dominic’s hand grasped at his handkerchief, and he quickly spun his body around.
But April still stared at him. With an unwavering gaze.
“As you say, if Prince Lochlan will watch over me….”
April barely managed a smile. Tears fell down her cheek, wetting the back of her hand.
“I hope that he’ll see me liking him forever.”
Dominic did not answer further. He didn’t even look at her.
Just then the carriage stopped in front of the Great Chapel and the carriage door opened.
“…Go in first.”
April did not give any other opinion to his proposal which he gave in his tired voice.
“Thank you for bringing me here.”
He greeted her with a moderate wave of his fingers, and once she was off the carriage, he set off immediately.
“Make a moderate turn around.”
After giving the order to the attendant, he closed all the windows of the carriage and drooped his body.
Once he was in the perfect shadow, he released what he had wrapped deep in his left sleeve. It was a hasty hand movement, as if he was searching for his breath.
A blue hair ribbon.
He pulled it out of April’s hair sometime before he went into battle.
He put his lips on the bright blue hair ribbon again, as he had done so many times on the battlefield. Doing so sometimes reminded him of the first time he held it.
He could see April’s long silver hair falling below her shoulders.
Every time he remembered her beauty, he would make up his mind that he had to come back alive. Placing his lips on the hair ribbon for a long moment, Lochlan quickly lifted his head in emptiness.
When he closed his eyes, he remembered the words and expressions that stuck hot inside April’s eyes.
“I like Prince Lochlan.”
Lochlan poked his head into the window and gritted his teeth.
On the battlefield, Lochlan pretended to be Dominic on several occasions, leading the soldiers.
It wasn’t that he did so to take his brother’s seat. Lochlan just felt that he had to put all the credit and glory in the name of “Dominic”.
Even on the day he heard the news of the bombing, Lochlan took over for Dominic, who was not feeling well.
This was also his father’s order. He said it was very important for the prince to show a firm appearance at this critical moment when the war was about to end.
Lochlan gladly took his brother’s place.
It was quite the right decision, considering how highly trusted Dominic was by his people.
When he impersonated Dominic and stood in front of all the soldiers.
An incident occurred.
The temporary treatment center that was built outside of Ackleton, Marquis Grey’s domain, collapsed in total destruction.
Most of the patients in the treatment center were severely injured, unable to move properly, and there were so many victims of the tragedy.
The King sent a team of investigators to investigate, and they reported two facts.
The cause of the incident and the sighting of the “prince”.
The servants and the professionals naturally assumed that the prince seen at the treatment center was “Lochlan”.
In response, Lochlan said he must announce the truth as soon as possible before the confusion deepened.
But the King shook his head.
“You can’t do that.”
The King tapped Lochlan on the shoulder as Lochlan stared at him with a puzzled look on his face.
“You have to be the real Dominic now.”
“That’s not possible. It’s out of the question.”
Shaking his head, Lochlan stepped back, and the King asked as if he reprimanded him.
“So you want me to admit and announce that a great heir who should be a role model ran away from the battlefield on his own?” (King)
“There’s no way that my older brother, who wasn’t feeling well, would leave without a reason, right? There’s definitely something wrong! Someone……!” (Lochlan)
“Yes, there must be a reason. The problem is …….” (king)
The King sighed and slumped back in his chair.
“Dominic can’t explain it anymore, so he has to bear the terrible disgrace.”
“Maybe that’s what those who targeted Dominic wanted.”
“That’s… no, brother…”
To people, Dominic was a man who put the Prince’s duty before his own desires.
He never did anything cowardly to abandon the post he was given and run away.
However, if the facts were revealed as they were….