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Unexpectedly, the Crown Prince was waiting for me in the central hall on the first floor instead of in front of the main gate. I gave him a quick look over.
“I knew it.”
As expected, the Crown Prince was wearing a banquet suit that seemed to match the dress I wore now. Seeing the same embroidery of gold thread engraved on the collar, it seemed that mine and his suit were originally made as a set.
Whether it was the Crown Prince’s own idea or the Empress’ instructions, it was a good thing for me.
In any case, if he and I were to appear matching like this, I am sure we would attract a lot of attention.
My future would be determined by the direction in which people’s attention would be directed today.
Will I continue to be the laughing stock of all, mocked and ridiculed by the people, or will I consolidate my position as the Crown Prince’s fiancée?
Today’s banquet was Roxana’s return to the society and my debutante stage.
So I wasn’t going to let today be a disaster.
Of course, it wasn’t something I could do on my own.
People’s perception of the Crown Prince depends on how he acts in the banquet hall.
He played a pivotal role.
It was terribly complicated to think that my future rested in the hands of the Crown Prince. I hesitated a bit and continued down the stairs.
I called, and the Crown Prince turned around.
He looked nervous, but as soon as he faced me, his face bloomed as brightly as a blossoming bud.
He looked a little surprised and smiled gently.
“It suits you much better than I thought.”
“Thank you for the compliment, I really like the dress too.”
I thanked him absent-mindedly, then glanced at him. The Crown Prince wasn’t dazed like before, but he still couldn’t take his eyes off me.
His eyes, which were a little bigger than usual, and his mouth, which was slightly open, really showed that his words were not empty words. When the Crown Prince met my eyes, he seemed a little embarrassed, coughed and held out his hand to me.
“Shall we go now?”
I nodded, awkwardly raised both ends of my lips and placed my hand on his.
I was escorted to the carriage by the Crown Prince.
The carriage was very luxurious and the interior was comfortable, but it was suffocating to be alone with the Crown Prince in an enclosed space.
I turned my head to the window and watched the scenery outside. It was uncomfortable at first, but perhaps because of the tension brought on by the two words, “return to the social scene” and “imperial banquet,” his presence beside me was surprisingly easy to forget.
However, about thirty minutes into the carriage ride, the Crown Prince spoke with a nervous look on his face.
“Roxana, are you still thinking about that day?”
His voice gradually became quieter and quieter, until finally it was inaudible.
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t hear you because your highness spoke too quietly. Can you say it again?”
The Crown Prince sighed and opened his mouth when I asked him plainly.
“You are still mad at me?”
When the Crown Prince finished speaking, he looked at me anxiously.
I stared at him, wondering what he was talking about, and he spoke with an embarrassed look on his face.
“You used to call me by my first name. But these days…….”
His words reminded me of how Roxana had previously called the Crown Prince. She used to call him by his name.
Both in public and in private, and the Crown Prince would ignore her every time.
It was the same when he defended Claire.
People could only call the name of someone of higher status than themselves in intimate relationships such as family or lovers.
Since Roxana was his fiancé, she was fully qualified to call him by his name, and the Crown Prince had allowed her to call him by his name sometime before.
Since then she had called him by his first name in private as well as occasionally in public. This was especially true in front of Claire.
Claire was of low status and had a relationship with the Crown Prince that was not officially recognized.
As such, Roxana seemed to be a little obsessed with calling him by his first name.
The fact that the Crown Prince, who had always been indifferent, noticed this minor change was astonishing.
However, I thought it was not surprising that the Crown Prince would find it strange, since someone who had been overly stubborn on this issue had suddenly changed.
Looking at the Crown Prince’s current reaction, he seemed to think that my current attitude was a sign of dissatisfaction with him.
‘Why is he suddenly bring this up?’
After thinking about it for a while, I found the answer.
Unlike me, the silence in the carriage seemed to be very uncomfortable for the Crown Prince.
“Last time we met, you were angry that I couldn’t answer your questions properly, weren’t you?”
The Crown Prince asked while I was choosing my answer. I quickly replied,
He looked at me with suspicion.
I was surprised that the Crown Prince, who had been so arrogant in front of Roxana, had changed so much. However, looking at him now, the only thing that changed was the attitude seen from the front. If he had really changed and was feeling sorry for me, he was the first one to say it now.
There was no question of whether I was still angry. Perhaps what he wanted from me now was an answer that it was okay.
I could tell from his expression. Not only now, but also in the future he would not be able to give me the answer I wanted. I looked at him again, knowing what it was that he wanted, and my mouth twisted spontaneously.
“To be precise, I gave up.”
“I’ve already decided to accept it. His Highness will not be able to give me the answer I want anyway, so I have decided to make some concessions and adapt.”
“What do you mean?”
The Crown Prince looked at me with a worried expression.
“I won’t ask for any affection from Your Highness in the future, so I ask you to keep what you have to keep in moderation.”
My words startled him.
He frowned as if he had just heard a story he had never heard before.
“What does that mean?”
“I hope that His Highness understands your role of my fiancé properly, at least in public, because nothing good will come from us to show our bad relationship publicly.”
Before entering the banquet hall, I warned him again just in case.
The Crown Prince’s lips moved and he gritted his teeth, not knowing what to say.
“If you’re uncomfortable with the title issue, I’ll try again.”
I added, pretending to be considerate.
But this was entirely for my benefit. It would only be to my detriment if the theory of my disagreement with the Crown Prince were to recur.
It would be the same for him anyway, so it wasn’t a bad offer for him.
“I know you’re angry with me, and I know you want to hurt me. But that doesn’t mean you have to say all those things.”
The Crown Prince struggled to continue.
Somehow his voice seemed to tremble a little. I looked at him oddly.
The Crown Prince seemed to be shocked by my words and had a sad look on his face. He looked at me with that face, and he looked so desperate that I felt an instant urge to reach out and pat his head to comfort him. I couldn’t understand it.
If I recalled the Crown Prince’s attitude toward Roxana in the past, I thought he would be pleased with my suggestion…
What can I say about this reaction now? ……
Doesn’t it feel like holding onto a lover who notifies you of a breakup?
I was troubled, but I could not comfort the Crown Prince, nor could I respond to his words, so I remained still.
What could I say at a time like this?
I had no idea.
I pondered for a while in the heavy and somber atmosphere, and finally decided to answer frankly.
“If you’re offended by what I said, I apologize. So please relax. I never meant to hurt Your Highness.”
This was true.
I didn’t expect him to be so hurt in the first place.
I still wondered if his reaction was real or fake.
The Crown Prince still seemed to be in disbelief at my words, and I sighed before continuing.
Despite my repeated requests for reconciliation, the Crown Prince still looked grim.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t understand. I thought you would be rather pleased with what I said.”
“You thought I would be pleased to hear that?”
The Crown Prince’s face twisted even more at my answer. He looked at me with a look of incomprehension and sighed deeply.
“It’s not that I don’t understand why you thought of that……”
When I looked at him, the Crown Prince seemed uncomfortable and avoided my gaze.
“Anyway… Let’s pretend we didn’t hear everything you just said.”
The carriage came to a stop while I was thinking what to answer.
The Crown Prince got out of the carriage first and held out his hand to me.
I was escorted by him as I entered.
With each step I took, I could feel people’s eyes following us.
I took a quick glance to the side and saw that the Crown Prince, unlike the one in the carriage, his appearance as he walked with dignity was truly picturesque.
It was beautiful. I took his hand and walked inside, and in no time a large crowd gathered around us.
Their gazes at me were definitely different from the last time.
Most of them tilted their heads or looked surprised, but the rest…It was just like last time. They stared at me, as if they were exploring my change in appearance. I was uncomfortable, but I tried my best not to show it.
Still, the stares and whispered voices were getting on my nerves.
It was still before the banquet began, and it was already this bad.
I felt a little complicated as I went back to the place where it all began. Just then, from somewhere, I heard a woman’s voice.
“I heard His Highness made up with the Princess. Is that true?”
It was really strange.
In a place with so many people, and so much noise, my story seemed to be particularly catchy.
Was my request for Hermes carried out well?
What was all the fuss about again this time? I stood still and listened
“Reconciliation? Didn’t His Highness prevent the princess from tormenting an innocent person? Isn’t the word reconciliation outrageous when the two of them did not fight in the first place?”
“Exactly. It’s not that they made up, it’s just that His Highness forgave her.”
“Isn’t the Princess amazing, too? Even after going through such a situation, she’s stuck next to His Highness again.”
“It must be that she has no self-respect or pride. How can she be so obedient if she’s not like that. The Duke has done a really good job with his daughter’s education. *A loach overflows all the water. I think it’s true. The future of the Duke’s family is really bleak because his only daughter is like that.”
*It must be some kind of saying. I don’t really know.