Prologue

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What is a political marriage?

For nobles, a political marriage was a natural task.

If you are a woman from the upper class of the Imperial Capital, a prestigious family with a long history, and the Dupont family who inherited royal blood on your mother’s side, you will be allocated a groom with quite good conditions in the marriage market. Anais also followed the same typical process.

She made her debut in the social world when she was sixteen. At eighteen, she became engaged to an appropriate noble gentleman, and they got married before her twentieth birthday and she became the mistress of a family.

From the engagement ceremony to the wedding, her fiancé, or rather, her husband, Garcia, who kept being by her side without causing any conflict, was a gentle and polite man.

In fact, he was a very attractive husband, quite rare to come by in this day and age.

Even in an age where free court love and mistresses were public, although not natural, during the five years from their engagement to their third year of marriage leading up to Anais’ twenty-fifth birthday, he never once raised his voice at his wife or engaged in a quarrel, whether in public or private, consistently showing her respect. 

In fact, the couple had never had so much as a slight disagreement or fight.

Well, was this a problem that can simply be attributed to mere courtesy? Anais wondered. Shouldn’t there be passion and occasional conflict when dealing with big, passionate emotions?

Between husband and wife, there existed nothing but upright dignity and mutual respect. However, it wasn’t a cold relationship.

Not only was there no passion, but they regularly dined together unless hindered by their respective schedules, and their quiet teatime and walks were not awkward but rather serene. Their relationship was suitable, lacking only in children.

In fact, it is more difficult than you think to maintain such a peaceful and dignified relationship with someone you met through political means. Anais thought she was lucky. Her husband was objectively a man with qualities that other women would envy.

García von Tudor. This man of impeccable lineage, a direct descendant of the honorable Tudor family, had a handsome appearance that anyone would look for at least twice, and a charm that was refreshingly bitter and elegant, like the scent of mint.

As much as he boasted of being a brilliant speaker, he was not very talkative. However, he had a likable aristocratic accent, speaking skills, and culture. You would probably not find anyone in the entire capital who would debate that he was an intelligent and decent man.

Older ladies would whisper happily that there would never be a young man so humble despite his enormous inheritance and power.

In many ways, he was a very nice man. It was just that the feeling that connected the couple was not love. What should I say? Perhaps words like friendship or respect would be appropriate.

Since becoming the wife of a certain man about three years ago, Anais has occasionally, and pointlessly, pondered. There was mutual kindness between them, and he was a faithful and good husband, but why wouldn’t love blossom?

However, it did not mean that Anais was an inferior or unsightly woman. She was also aware of her beauty. Their values and sympathies were not very different.

They were considered a fine gentleman and lady, just as everyone in social circles describes. So why exactly?

She did not know. Perhaps, when she first met him as a girl, she had similar feelings, perhaps excitement. Because Garcia von Tudor was a cool guy. But why didn’t the seed of love sprout properly?

There may be several reasons. Because they were such established and rational aristocrats, it may be due to the tendency among prestigious aristocratic families to secretly view it as foolish to mix emotions with political marriages, and it may also be due to what Garcia said not long after they got engaged.

“Anais.”

She remembered that it was around this time that Garcia, who always called her Lady Dupont, started calling her by her first name after her earnest dissuasion.

In fact, the noble girl, who still had some freshness left in her, felt a slight chill as her fiancé’s soft voice softly entered her ear, saying her name.

A dizzying goosebump that makes the hair around my ears stand up. However, he carefully made eye contact with the girl who looked as elegant as a flowering lily, took a moment to breathe, and then spoke calmly.

“I want our relationship to be stable and supportive of each other. I want to be that kind of husband for you, too. I promise that I will never harm your reputation.”

Guaranteeing her honor meant that he would never engage in any of the ‘vulgar games of gentlemen’, such as taking a mistress or meeting courtesans behind her back. This was very advantageous and pleasant. Sadly, it was also a rare consideration.

And the affable fiancé said this, one after another, to his fiancée, who was somewhat embarrassed and touched by his straightforward assurance.

“I’m not going to force anything on you,” he said. “Also, despite my rudeness, I earnestly hope that you will treat me in the same way.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means not tying each other down emotionally.”

In other words, one should promise maximum consideration and companionship for the other person, but affection is not an obligation. He was certainly a man who would faithfully adhere to all the requirements of a typical marriage. There was only respect among them.

The sunlight shining on this elegant and cold-hearted, yet polite and kind person, was that of spring, filled with the scent of flowers. She could still clearly see the garden full of spring colors that would be suitable for a love serenade, the pumpkin bolo tie he was wearing, and his golden eyes that shined brightly.

She just couldn’t remember how she felt when she had that conversation with him at the time.

Was she disappointed? Was she sad? Or was it because it was reasonable?

Anyway, Anais nodded her head and she agreed to his proposal. She seemed to think it made sense. She was already quite satisfied.

She was still like that now, but she knew that she was far from being overly greedy from the beginning and was content as long as she was at the right level. She had enough sense to realize that she had succeeded in the upper-class marriage market.

Although she was young enough to feel a slight attraction to her handsome fiancé, she was also a noblewoman, after all. Because of this, she was unimpressed when, after her marriage, Garcia started calling her by her nickname, Ana.

They were great, decent partners. The gold and connections of the Dupont family were great allies in the Tudor family’s new ship and railroad business, and Anais’ internal affairs were perfect.

As her husband, Garcia also actively supported her social activities and paid attention to even the smallest things that she did not ask for first, putting them in her hands.

He never allowed her wife to compromise her dignity and self-respect as the Mistress of the Great Gate, the Marchioness of Tudor, and his lady. The most shining trophy in the battle of noble ladies was her husband’s absolute support, consideration, and respect.

So, it was a satisfactory marriage. Even without clear stimulation or passion, it was gentle and sufficient. One fine, sunny day, she had time to relax and enjoy the peace, drinking her tea at her leisure.

But how did it become so different?

She took a step back from a man who shined with the same enthusiasm that she had lost, so long ago on a midsummer day. Fortunately or unfortunately, the man she looked at so affectionately was not her husband.

Ah. Ana realized it a bit late. Maybe the reason Garcia couldn’t love her was because she had suffered from an excessively tragic heat before.

The name of that incurable heat was first love.

The passionate affection that once swept away the calm, book-loving girl, now faintly resurfaced, bewildering her mind. Just as dry, dormant fragrant flowers shake to release scent into the air. Her heart fluttered; it was truly like an illness.

However, this was a fervor accepted in her youth, something she neither wished nor could tolerate now. She was a woman who valued stability and faith more than romantic innocence.

She turned around, catching a glimpse of him, whose persistent regret and sorrowful heart were dripping beneath his most calm face.

“Ana. Anais!”

She didn’t respond. Despite her pounding heart and the slightest hint of pain, her pale face was like an elegant lady whose expression was difficult to read, as if she knew something or not. Hastening her pace, she eventually slowed down. Home, she wanted to hurry to her place and to the mansion where her husband was.

If she changed her clothes and drank tea as usual… While she had a formal and trivial conversation with her husband, who was returning home from work, her upset stomach seemed to return to its original state.

Or so, she hoped.

But when she arrived impatiently and ran into her husband, who had somehow been waiting for her at the mansion, she knew intuitively that something was wrong with her.

“Ana.”

The gentle face and thoughtful eyes that always had a faint smile were different today. No, right now there was no time for him to be home in the first place. His expressionless eyes slowly stop and look at his wife.

Anais almost bit her tongue when his usually calm gaze peered through her stained dress, perhaps from mud splashes due to her hurried steps.

“Where are you coming from in such a hurry?”

‘My husband noticed.’

***

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