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Since the Duke of Lillian was one of the Crown Prince’s important hands, if he were to lose the Duke, his power would be greatly shaken.
Not only that, but the Duke of Lillian was supporting him in many ways, including patronage and investment in the projects that the Crown Prince was currently pursuing.
If everything were to be disrupted in an instant, he would suffer enormous losses.
Defeat in the struggle for the throne would mean death. Even if he were to survive, he was bound to lose many things, but the possibility of not surviving was greater from the start.
When he became emperor, keeping a more legitimate royal family alive was tantamount to leaving the bud of rebellion. There was a fine line between rebellion and revolution.
In the struggle for power, prestige was sometimes more important than tens of thousands of military men.
The emperors, therefore, took over the throne and executed their own blood relatives directly.
Even close brothers and sisters often pointed swords at each other’s necks, especially half-brothers who were separated for a long time. As far as I know, the Crown Prince and the second Prince did not get along well, and the Crown Prince’s mother, the Empress, tried to kill the second Prince.
So the two brothers would not be able to get close to each other even if they tried.
Given the situation, the Crown Prince was in a position where he had to look better to me than my nanny and maidservants.
Of course, this may have been overthought.
The Crown Prince in question did not mean anything by it, and he sincerely felt sorry for me, but it was also my oblique way of looking at his behavior and giving it an excessive amount of meaning.
But to look at it without prejudice, except for my own personal feelings, I couldn’t forget that day in my mind. The scream in my ears, the pain in my wrists that were gripped with great force and my ankles that were sore from hitting the floor….
The Crown Prince who looked at me with disdain and Claire who smiled next to him….
“What are you sorry for?”
It was a childish question even for me to consider.
The Crown Prince looked at me with a troubled face.
A hint of confusion scraped across his face. I didn’t mean to torment him, but I knew how embarrassing this question would be to him.
“I’m sorry I didn’t take you side that day. I didn’t think you would be so hurt.”
I know how difficult it was to ask for an apology from these arrogant royals. I’m sure the Crown Prince had never bowed to anyone before, except for the Emperor and Empress.
Such was his apology for what happened that day, but it rather dampened my mood.
To be honest, I didn’t expect him to know his mistake from the beginning.
But I couldn’t help but be disappointed when I actually heard his reply directly from his mouth. The Crown Prince probably thinks it was strange that I was still acting so harshly after all these weeks, just because he didn’t stand up for me. It’s not very often that we make mistakes that we know are wrong in nature.
It is often said that perpetrators cannot remember their mistakes, but it was natural for the victims to feel unfair when they remembered them.
Suddenly my wrist, which still had a blue bruise on it, caught my eye. The Crown Prince didn’t let go of my wrist that day after a long time, and it was sore, but it wasn’t enough to leave traces for this long.
This was afterwards. I was falling from a high place and someone tried to pull me up. But I was the only one here who knew that fact.
“Do you see this?”
I rolled up my sleeves and held out my bruised wrist to the Crown Prince. At first he looked as if he didn’t understand anything, but then he quickly frowned.
“What the hell is this? Who dares to…”
The Crown Prince asked me in a slightly angry voice.
“You really don’t remember, do you?”
I asked with a deliberately cold look on my face.
“What? What do you mean?”
The Crown Prince asked with an incomprehensible look on his face, which quickly hardened. Looking at his expression, it seemed that there was something that just came to his mind.
“Your Highness did this.”
I cut off the Crown Prince’s words and assured him. He looked shocked.
I continued to speak.
“That day, His Highness defended Claire, pulled my wrist, threw me to the floor, and accused me loudly in public. Not anyone else, but your fiancée, Your Highness.”
The Crown Prince opened his eyes wide in surprise.
His blue eyes looking at me turned black with guilt.
Even though the morality and justice he usually pursued was hypocritical, it wouldn’t be easy for him, with his high self-esteem, to face and admit his mistakes.
He opened his mouth with a very painful look on his face.
“What I did was…”
“Whatever Your Highness’ intentions might be, what matters is the fact that His Highness actually did it.”
He tried to explain, but it was a cliché that I didn’t need to hear anyway, so I cut him off mid-sentence and continued.
My words ended and the Crown Prince was speechless for a while. His expression, unlike before, showed a hint of nervousness in his very dark and narrowed brows and tightly closed lips. The Crown Prince needed to face his mistakes properly. Moreover, I needed to make him feel indebted to me. That way, I would have a slight advantage in future relationships.
I couldn’t care less about the shock and guilt he had. It must be very embarrassing to talk to me in such a violent way again.
“My pride was crushed and my reputation fell to the ground that day.”
The Crown Prince’s face contorted.
I thought I was being too hard on him, but I knew very well that if I didn’t settle it clearly this time, it would happen again next time.
“I think you are ………”
The Crown Prince slurred his words with a confused expression. He was silent for a moment before opening his mouth again.
“I did not think you would go to such extreme choices. What can I do to relieve your anger?”
“I don’t want to receive an apology like a bow. His Highness will have to figure out for himself what he must do.”
The Crown Prince nodded with an indifferent look on his face.
“What do you mean I made extreme choices. I’m afraid you misunderstood something, but the fall that day was an accident.”
The Crown Prince looked at me as if to say what I was talking about.
“I was drunk and went out onto the terrace to cool my head, but I lost my balance and crashed. I leaned against the parapet and fell from the force of the alcohol.”
It was a poor excuse I came up with.
From the expression on the Crown Prince’s face, it was clear that he didn’t believe a word I said. I should have thought of a more plausible excuse beforehand, but the Crown Prince came earlier than I expected….
He came too soon, but even a transparent lie couldn’t help.
I bullied Claire, and the Crown Prince beat me, and I attempted suicide out of pity for my situation.
It was better than letting such a ridiculous misunderstanding take place.
“Yes. If you say so, then be it.”
The Crown Prince said.
He didn’t believe me, but he seemed to let it slide. Satisfied with my reasonable concern, I changed the subject.
“I also felt like I was making a fuss about something I had no reason to be angry about that day.
I kept my smile as innocent as possible. Once you are involved with the royal family, it would be nearly impossible to break the engagement. Then there was no need to make it bad for the Crown Prince any longer. I had already received an apology, so at least for the time being, he would keep quiet and I could retreat.
“Your Highness sent a gift to your lover, and showed it off in front of me, but I shouldn’t be so angry since I was just only a nominal fiancee.”
“What? What do you mean?”
I said in a sense of reassurance, but the Crown Prince’s complexion turned pale. He gulped with a puzzled look on his face.
“Claire……is just a friend …….”
“Your Highness, are you trying to deceive me with such nonsense that even a child would not believe?”
In my own way, I meant to ask for reconciliation and hinted at my intention not to interfere with their relationship from now on.
However, I was offended when the Crown Prince tried to deceive me again with lies.
But I spoke in a calm voice on purpose to show that I was neither angry nor agitated, but in a quiet state.
While I waited for his response, I drank tea. While I was drinking the tea, my gaze was looking in another direction, but I could feel the Crown Prince’s eyes on me. Having decided not to fight with him anymore, I focused my mind on drinking the tea in silence and waited for his reply with a relaxed feeling.
After a while, I heard a sigh that made the ground cave in.
“Claire and I are not….We’re not as close as you think.”
‘Do you really think I’m going to believe that?’ My lips twisted spontaneously.
I stopped drinking my tea and faced him again. The Crown Prince’s complexion was much more depressed than before, but his gaze was fixed on me, and his straight eyes did not waver in the slightest.
Looking at his expression alone, he looked so truthful that I thought perhaps I was deceived by it. However, I knew that the Crown Prince’s current words were lies, and he knew it too.
“You and her are always together, exchanging friendly words, sending expensive gifts, and even kissing, but not lovers?”
It had been a year now that the Crown Prince and Claire had been together like that.
Although they hadn’t officially announced it, there was probably no one among the nobles in the capital who didn’t know that Claire was favored by the Crown Prince. That the relationship between the Crown Prince and Claire was not just a simple matter was such an open fact that even the youngest of the young ladies who had just debuted knew about it.
‘I’m sorry, but…You expect me to believe a lie that is so obvious?’
As for me, I was appalled. It was not that I didn’t know why the Crown Prince denied the truth to the end with such an outrageous lie.
Even if the customs of the empire were more open than in other countries, it was not enough to condone blatant wrongdoing.
Furthermore, the Crown Prince was now in dire need of the support of the Duke of Lillian.
Even if I were to stand in his shoes, it would have been difficult for me to admit the fact that I had committed the crime recklessly.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know about the Crown Prince’s situation, but I didn’t need to understand his situation.
I locked eyes with the Crown Prince with a cold expression. The Crown Prince’s blue eyes wavered like candles before the wind.