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“Last time the young lady was injured, there were rumors of him running to help. It calmed down quickly, though.”
“Come to think of it…… .”
Joan nodded as if she understood.
“It’s nonsense. If you’re only going to say such useless nonsense, you’d be better off not saying anything at all.”
Unable to listen any more, I alerted the maids and walked away. What would Elvin think if he had heard that? I wonder if he would laugh at me saying that I overestimated myself. Just imagining it made me embarrassed.
“Lady, aren’t you going back to the banquet hall?”
“If I go back, I’ll just stand there, so I’ll walk a little longer.”
“Should I bring your comfortable shoes?”
“It’s okay. I won’t be walking long.”
I walked slowly along the road with my eyes fixed on the floor.
Roxana was beautiful.
She was a beautiful woman with gorgeous features.
However, in terms of appearance alone, she was not as special as Elvin.
I’ve never seen anyone more beautiful than Elvin.
It was a little difficult to understand that such Elvin fell for Roxana’s appearance. It didn’t make sense to fall in love with one’s identity, family, or sexual orientation. I too wondered why he helped me, but now I couldn’t ask. At that moment, the footsteps of the maids suddenly stopped.
“Lady, in front of you… … … … … ”
I stopped walking with a puzzled face and raised my head.
The Crown Prince was there.
From the look on his face, he seemed to already know what had happened a while ago.
Meeting the Crown Prince was not in my plan.
But there was no reason to be surprised.
This was the Imperial Palace, the Crown Prince’s territory.
There had been such a big commotion earlier, so there was no way it wouldn’t have gone into his ears.
“Speak with me for a moment.”
Although I didn’t want to, I couldn’t avoid it. And didn’t do anything wrong, so there’s no reason to avoid him.
When I nodded, the Crown Prince took the lead and stepped forward.
As I walked, I found the garden where I took a walk when I came to the imperial palace last time.
it was a place only the royal family could go in and out.
That was why no one was around.
I left the maids at the entrance and the Crown Prince stopped a little further inside.
“Why did you call me?”
I asked calmly.
“Why did I call you? Are you asking because you don’t know?”
The Crown Prince’s voice was low and cold.
I stared at him coldly and silently.
The Crown Prince, who met my eyes, burst out laughing.
He seemed to be trying to contain his anger.
But I was not in the mood to accept the Crown Prince’s anger now. I knew he was angry about Claire’s being caught, but it was his own business. Shouldn’t it be me who should be angry about it?
But seeing the Crown Prince who seemed to have come to accuse me…I thought that people really don’t change.
“If you don’t have anything to say, I’ll go now.”
I finished speaking and turned around without waiting for his reaction. I tried to go back to the banquet hall, but the Crown Prince grabbed me by the shoulder and turned me around.
The maids who were watching had faces that looked like they were about to start screaming at any moment. I stopped and looked at the hand on my shoulder and frowned. The Crown Prince controlled his power, so it wasn’t painful, but it was unpleasant.
“Let go of me.”
At my words, the Crown Prince gently withdrew his hand.
“If you have something to say, do it. But if not, I’ll just go back. If I’m away for too long, people will think it’s weird. My father will be concerned, too.”
My words did not work for the Crown Prince. So I brought up the Duke. It may seem childish and frivolous, but it couldn’t be helped. The Prince, who saw me as an easy person and acted recklessly, still had to watch out for the Duke.
“Is it so difficult to talk for a moment?” (CP)
The Crown Prince distorted his expression as if displeased.
“Or do you not want to talk to me anymore?” (CP)
I looked at him silently.
“You have changed so much.” (CP)
During the conversation, the prince’s complexion changed several times. He seemed angry, then he seemed puzzled, and now he looked a little sad.
“You can’t even imagine how surprised I was when I heard that there was an accident in the break room earlier. I was worried. I’m afraid you’ll get hurt again like last time.” (CP)
I couldn’t understand.
‘Didn’t he come to ask about Claire? If not, what is he here for?’
I couldn’t understand more and more why he was holding on to me or what he was trying to say.
“Your Highness was worried about me? Why?”
I was stunned for a moment and asked, genuinely puzzled.
“Why…?” The Crown Prince asked me back with a look of incomprehension.
“Am I really the one you were worried about?” (Roxana)
“What? What do you mean?” (CP)
The Crown Prince frowned.
“You’re being strange. Is it so suspicious that I care about my fiancée?” (CP)
I soon realized what he was saying and was convinced.
My existence was essential for the Crown Prince to ascend to the throne. So, it was only natural for the Crown Prince to worry about me.
The Crown Prince sighed. He faced me and grabbed my shoulders.
It was a much softer and more careful touch than before.
“I can see what you are thinking. Don’t think of useless things. The only person I love is you.”
I looked at the Crown Prince with surprised eyes.
However, the Crown Prince’s face was serious.
It didn’t seem like he was lying. However, I could not believe everything he had said.
“You don’t seem to believe me.” (CP)
The Crown Prince lowered his hand. He looked disappointed.
“I’ve been thinking a lot these days. So I try to do better, but it’s not easy.” (CP)
While I was contemplating what to say, the Crown Prince continued with a bitter face.
“The guards, who were rude to your maid, I ordered them to be demoted and punished. Measures were also taken to prevent the spread of rumors. Let me know if you want more.” (CP)
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be by your side when things happen like before.” (CP)
I looked at the Crown Prince with a more startled face than before. The white moonlight fell on his head.
The arrogant atmosphere surrounding him was no longer visible. He looked pitiful. The night air and the scent of flowers all around made people’s minds dizzy. Perhaps because of that, the Crown Prince looked a little different.
Somehow it felt unfamiliar and strange.
“I was relieved when I heard that you were okay, and I was offended when I heard that you were with Elvin. I was upset when I heard Elvin helped you again.”
“Don’t be close to him. I’m not saying I don’t trust you. You can’t trust Elvin. Next time, if you run into trouble, ask me for help.”
I bit my lips. But in the end, I couldn’t find anything to say, so I kept quiet.
‘Is the man in front of me really the prince I knew?’
It was really surprising.
‘If a person suddenly changes, you wonder if it’s time to die, is it possible that he has an incurable disease?’
I observed the Crown Prince with suspicious eyes.
But apparently he was fine. He held out his arm to me.
“Let’s go back. If you are late, you may not be able to see the award ceremony.”
The Crown Prince seldom said the right thing.
I nodded and placed my hand on his arm.
We left the garden and entered the corridor again.
I could feel the maids looking at us with happy eyes. It was uncomfortable, but I walked with the Crown Prince without showing any expression.
It didn’t take long to get back to the banquet hall. The hall was peaceful as if the commotion had not yet spread. I don’t know if it was the Crown Prince’s skill, but it seemed that the situation was controlled better than I expected. After he took me to my seat, he went back to his seat. He talked to people with an indifferent face as if nothing had happened.
As he was doing that, the Duke came up to me and asked.
“You are late. Did something happen?”
It seemed that what had happened in the break room had not yet reached his ears.
“But I definitely remember going out alone, but how did you come back with the Crown Prince?”
“It just happened.”
“Are you not going to tell me?”
“I just ran into him while walking alone. He was on his way back to the banquet hall, so we just walked together.”
I looked around.
Elvin was nowhere to be seen in the banquet hall.
Perhaps he was somewhere else or returned earlier.
I was surprised at myself as I unconsciously looked for him. Embarrassed, I picked up a drink glass.
Drinking something cold seemed to calm my mind. The cocktail I picked up was fruity and sweet without bitterness. It certainly calmed me down if I drank something cold.
At that moment, the imperial attendant approached the Duke and whispered softly. The Duke nodded quietly, looked at me and said,
“It looks like it is about to begin. I’ll be back.”
Soon after, the award ceremony began.
The Duke climbed onto the podium in the attention of the people. The emperor and empress were standing there. The emperor spoke to the people with a gentle face.
“Everyone knows that Duke Lillian made a great contribution to this war, right? I would like to take this opportunity to praise and reward him for his work.”
The emperor awarded the Duke a medal.
There were also several close associates who contributed to this achievement.
“Duke Lillian, you did a great job. Because of you, I and the people can feel at ease. I hope that you will continue to work hard for the Empire.”
“Of course. Your Majesty.”
The emperor personally placed the medal on the Duke’s chest with a satisfied face.
After that, several attendants came from somewhere with several large boxes. Inside one of the boxes was a brilliant gold and silver treasure. It was a gift from the emperor. Soon after, the Duke came down from the platform.
The gold coins in the box shimmered in the light of the chandelier. People looked at the Duke and the treasure alternately with envy. The Duke returned to his majestic appearance, receiving glances that alternate between envy and jealousy.
“Here you go. This is a gift I prepared for you. I chose it after a lot of thought, but I don’t know if you’ll like it.”
I handed the sword that I had prepared in advance to the Duke.
It was very luxurious with large and small gems lavishly embedded in the sheath. The Duke accepted my gift with a bewildered face. Soon after, a look of satisfaction spread across his face.
“Your eyes are truly outstanding. This is the first time I have ever seen such a beautiful and colorful treasured sword.”
“Isn’t the jewel embedded in here jade? This is the first time I’ve seen jade like this. Jade symbolizes health and good luck. The princess is very filial.”
“The Duke must be very proud of having such a beautiful and profound daughter.”
At the flattery of the people, the corners of the Duke’s lips slowly rose.
“Thank you. I love it.”
“I am glad to hear that you like it. I was worried that it won’t be to your liking.”
“How is that possible? You gave it to me. I’ll cherish it.”
The gift was prepared compulsorily without any intention. But seeing the Duke happier than I expected, I felt guilty.
“The Princess’s eyes are excellent.”
The emperor, who was approaching me in no time, said:
I was very surprised on the inside, but instead of expressing it, I bowed my head and showed a normal face.
“Raise your head. Princess, have you thought about what you would like to receive for your birthday present?”
“Yes. There is one thing I want, but..… Can I think about it a little bit more?”
“Yes. But don’t make me wait too long.”
“Yes. Do not worry. Your Majesty, it won’t take long.”
I looked at the Crown Prince talking to people from a distance. Feeling his gaze, he turned his head towards me. I looked away
before my eyes met his.
Then the second Prince, who was standing next to the emperor, met my eyes.
‘Come to think of it…’
While the emperor had a conversation with the Duke, I left, unable to participate in their conversation.
At that moment, a large shadow fell in front of me.
“Why are you alone on a day like this?”