The Crown Prince, who was walking a short distance away, turned and looked at my head several times. He seemed to have something to say, but held it in.
I walked forward, ignoring his gaze.
We entered the banquet hall.
The banquet hall was decorated very splendidly, as the imperial family paid extra attention to it.
“The Crown Prince, Duke Lillian, and Princess Lillian are entering!”
The loud voice of the servant drew the attention of those who had already entered the room.
It was a banquet for the future Crown Princess held at the Crystal Palace, so there were a considerable number of people.
I walked under the escort of the Duke, and the Crown Prince also entered with us from the side.
People were puzzled by the fact that I was escorted by the Duke rather than the Crown Prince.
But no one dared to ask, and they were just chattering from the side.
“Why did the Princess enter the palace with the Duke instead of the Crown Prince?”
“Until a while ago, I thought the two had a good relationship.”
“A lot has happened in the meantime. But it’s strange that this engagement has continued until now.”
“It’s true. Honestly, it wasn’t strange if they broke up. At the last banquet, the relationship between the two of you didn’t seem too bad, but maybe really soon…”
A lady sighed in surprise.
Then one of the older gentlemen sitting next to her immediately shook his head.
“Then there is no reason for the three of them to enter together. His Excellency must have made concessions for his daughter he hasn’t seen in a long time.”
“The Viscount is correct. His Majesty made the Crystal Palace a banquet venue because of the Duke’s service. He must take into consideration the recent closeness between the Duke and his daughter.”
People whispered, but I could hear their conversation clearly in my ears.
Perhaps the Crown Prince also heard it.
I glanced at the Crown Prince.
He still had a casual face.
However, if I looked closely, his earlobes were a little red.
His lips, which had a beautiful smile, were awkwardly stiff.
I looked straight ahead again.
Soon after, the royal family appeared one after another.
The Emperor and the Empress, the second Prince, and the Crown Prince standing next to me.
After all the royal family entered, the banquet began.
A soft music flowed through the luxurious hall.
”Let’s dance to a song. Everyone is waiting.”
The Crown Prince held out his hand to me.
Today’s banquet’s main character was me.
And the only person who could dance with me for the first time was my fiancé, the Crown Prince.
Eventually I took his hand and went out to the center.
One hand held his hand and the other was placed on his shoulder.
Since we had to be close together to dance, I felt his gaze over my head.
“Was the gift delivered properly?”
“Do you happen to not like the gift?”
The Crown Prince asked in a dismayed voice.
“Then, why aren’t you wearing the tiara I sent? You wear other things. It was quite difficult to get that tiara.”
“It was too much of a gift, so it didn’t seem right for me.”
“It’s not too much. I prepared it for you.”
The Crown Prince narrowed his eyes and looked at me.
I faced him.
Our eyes met for a few seconds.
The Crown Prince said helplessly.
“That’s too bad. I was expecting you to wear it. Next time, I’ll prepare a bigger present that you’ll like.”
The Crown Prince today was the most beautiful I had ever seen.
He was kind to me and I really liked the gift he sent me.
But thinking that he was still seeing Claire behind my back, I wasn’t pleased.
It was terrifying to see his face after learning that he had ordered to kill Roxana’s nanny for Claire.
Finally, the song stopped and our duty ended.
“Roxana, wait a minute.”
As I was about to return to my seat, the Crown Prince caught me.
As I looked at him with a puzzled expression, he looked at me with deep eyes.
In the next moment, his lips lightly touched my forehead and then fell.
I heard people cheer.
As I looked at him with amazement, the Crown Prince smiled with a complicated face.
“Roxana, happy birthday. Enjoy your day.”
“Oh my God… His Highness is really romantic. I envy the Princess.”
“They’re a really good pair.”
The moment the Crown Prince kissed Roxana’s forehead, people were amazed and admired at the same time.
Claire watched the scene and quietly bit her lip.
After staying in prison for a while, her weak body had not yet recovered.
She lost more weight and her complexion was pale, arousing compassion in the viewers.
Today, Claire stood quietly in a corner, in an unobtrusive, modest outfit.
Because she didn’t want to stand out.
But the moment she saw the Princess enter in her dazzlingly glamorous dress, an unknown emotion swelled from the depths of her heart.
Today the Princess was beautiful, and she had a strong father and a dazzling fiancé by her side.
Claire stared at Roxana and the Crown Prince for a while. Then she couldn’t watch anymore and moved to another place.
“Happy birthday, Princess.”
“You’re so beautiful today.”
As Claire walked, she heard people in the distance flattering the Princess.
It was very annoying.
Claire grabbed the hem of her dress. Then, someone grabbed her shoulder.
Claire turned her head, and there was a young man with a familiar face standing there.
It was Count Frein’s son.
Although not comparable to the duke, Frein was an influential family.
Count Frein was a close associate of the emperor, and the Countess Frein had a great influence in the social world. The second son of such a family, Young Master Frein, was of those who had a crush on Claire.
“Are you all right?”
At the sincere concern of the young man, Claire’s stiff expression was released.
After the last incident, many people have left her side.
The Crown Prince also neglected her.
She wasn’t able to see the Crown Prince because he said he was busy every time.
In such a situation, someone’s unchanging kindness warmed her heart.
“Your complexion isn’t very good, do you need a doctor?”
“I’ve been taking the medicine, so it’s good. I’d like to walk a little, but can you help me to the garden? I think I’ll get a little better if I get some air…”
Claire said weakly with her hand on her forehead.
The young man’s expression was full of compassion.
“Don’t worry. I’ll help you.”
Claire leaned slightly against him.
The young man’s face turned a little red.
He made an effort to pretend that nothing happened.
He walked very slowly in consideration of Claire, but they arrived quickly because the garden was close.
The garden was quiet because of the crowds in the banquet hall.
“Thank you for taking me.”
Claire sat down on the bench.
Except for the sound of running water from the fountain in the distance, the surroundings were quiet.
The young man asked, hesitatingly.
“How about when you come back?”
“I can go back alone.”
“Anyway, I’m frustrated too, so I wanted to go for a walk, but it’s good. We’ll sit down a little longer and go back together.”
“You don’t have to do that because of me. Before… I was just dizzy for a while. It’s okay because I can go back alone.”
Claire drew a line.
The young man pondered a little, then nodded his head.
“Then, I’ll leave you to it.”
It was also not what he wanted to be framed for flirting with the Crown Prince’s woman.
Although he was concerned about Claire, the role of comforting her was not his.
Young Master Frein eventually left the garden.
But he couldn’t go far and wandered around.
It was dangerous for a woman to be alone in a deserted place at a late hour.
In the distance from the banquet hall, there were bright lights and noises.
There was a clear contrast between the banquet hall, which had a friendly and lively atmosphere, and the deserted garden where darkness fell.
Eventually, he went back to Claire’s place.
Fortunately or unfortunately, she was still there.
Claire was sitting on the bench with her head in his lap.
Her slender shoulders were shaking slightly.
Young Master Frein stiffened in surprise.
Claire lifted her head at his voice.
Tears filled her pretty face.
“I’m afraid to go back to the banquet hall. I was forced to come because of my father, but I didn’t want to come at all.”
Claire cried and said in a trembling voice.
She barely endured in front of others, and then collapsed when she was left alone.
Young Master Frein, who watched Claire as she revealed her weakness, contorted his face in bewilderment.
“Does the Young Master really think I conspired with Viscountess Willis to harm the Princess?”
“No. I believe in Young Lady’s words. It’s not what the Young Lady did. Right?”
“Right. I didn’t. Investigation revealed that I had nothing to do with it, so I was released. But people don’t seem to believe it. They still look at me suspiciously.”
The eyes of the young master who looked at Claire were filled with compassion.
The world was cruel, and the aristocratic society was constantly plagued with conspiracies, incidents, and accidents every day.
It was not a day or two for a powerless person to get caught up in such incidents and accidents.
He took a deep breath and gave his sincere advice.
“Young Lady, just being kind in everything is not a good thing. Sometimes you have to think of yourself first. You almost got framed for trying to protect your maid.”
“I know. But she would have died if I turned away. I know that but how can I pretend not to know.”
Claire wiped her tears with a handkerchief as if she had calmed down a bit.
The corners of her eyes and nose, which had turned red, were very pitiful.
Her long, watery golden lashes and her green eyes, as clear as glass beads, made her look like a fragile herbivore.
Young Master Frein, unconsciously reached out his hand to wipe Claire’s eyes, withdrew his hand right away.
“I understand the Young Lady’s innocence. Don’t worry too much. The truth always prevails.”
“It’s reassuring. Thank you for the words. But you saw it in the banquet hall earlier. Who will listen to me? Sometimes I really envy the Princess.”
Claire lowered her gaze with a sad face.
It would have been better if she was angry or jealous.
The Young Master was even more heartbroken at Claire’s reaction, which seemed to have given up.