“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Your Highness Esterize, the first princess.”
I first met Theodore when I was eight years old and he was ten.
It is not widely known because only a very small number of people know about this magic, but the ability to read hearts, which only the eldest daughter can obtain, is essentially a qualification for the next queen in Acardi, and as the first princess, it was almost certain from the moment I was born that I would become the next queen. Therefore, the selection of my fiancé, who would become the next king consort, was also very careful. The king consort, who is the guardian of the queen with valuable powers, requires strength to protect the queen more than anything else, rather than family background, appearance, or personality. Therefore, it was supposed to be decided around the time of the coming-of-age ceremony at the age of 16, but…
“So, you are Sir Theodore of the Kieza family.”
“Yes. I am extremely honored that someone like me was chosen as the princess’s fiancé.”
But this boy, Theodore Kieza… no, this prodigy. At the age of only ten, he was said to be the most superior partner not only among his peers but also among adults who were a generation apart. As a result, the engagement was decided at an unprecedented speed before he could be engaged to other young ladies.
“Please don’t speak so formally. I’m younger than you… and besides, you’re my fiancé. You can call me Ester.”
“…Thank you, Ester. Please call me Theodore as well.”
Although I spoke words that seemed like a step towards closeness, inwardly, my feelings were complicated.
He had beautiful platinum hair that reminded me of the light shining through the clouds, and slightly greenish-blue eyes that looked like they were embedded with paraiba tourmaline. His perfectly shaped and arranged facial features were undoubtedly adjusted by God over a long period of time. When I saw the beautiful boy who looked like he had jumped out of a mural depicting an angel, the feeling that arose within me was not just excitement but also a sense of inferiority.
My once-prideful, inherited claret hair, inherited from my mother, appeared dull and pale pink compared to his platinum blond hair. My eyes seemed like mere weeds in comparison. Even my facial features, which should have been a combination of the best aspects of my beautiful parents, paled in comparison before him.I was grateful for the tradition of wearing a face veil for the queen and the future queen. The face veil was made with magic by the queen herself, and it provided a clear view as if nothing was covering my face, but from the outside, it was so faint that you couldn’t see inside, and it never fluttered in the wind or was lifted by others.
By the way, the reason for concealing our faces is outwardly attributed to the queen being the descendant of a saint and a sacred being. However, the stronger reason is that even if someone were to read our lips, it would be undetectable due to the movements of our Kol. In some cases, it’s better for the queen to be able to conceal her mouth when it comes to reading lips. Therefore, the veil only covers up to the area around the nose.
“We will discuss the details of the engagement contract, so lets go to the garden together.”
“Yes. Ester, I will guide you.”
Now, the fact that I had to live with such an unbelievably beautiful boy, who was also a genius who had significantly advanced our engagement, made me feel even more pressure at the age of eight.
Simply being born as the first daughter of the Queen is enough to determine that I will become the next queen. It doesn’t matter how dull-witted, unpleasant, or lacking in queen-like qualities I may be. That’s why I want to be a good queen, but unfortunately, I’m not particularly outstanding. While I have a solid foundation, I’m terrible at applying it. I always come up with solutions that are around 60 points out of 100.
Because of my incompetence, I should be grateful to have obtained a capable fiancé. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed by the clear imbalance, making it difficult for me to genuinely rejoice.
“Hmm? Um…wait a minute.”
After walking in the garden for a while, Theodore suddenly started making a flower crown on the bench where we took a break. He said he learned it recently from Lady Kieza to make me happy, but his movements were so awkward that it brought back a hazy memory from a long time ago, and his ears turned slightly red, which was cute despite being two years older than me.
“I’m sorry…it’s not very good…”
He said in a shy manner, but when it was finished, it wasn’t exactly skillfully done, but for some reason, it felt incredibly precious.
“I’m happy. Will you put it on me?”
“If you’re okay with something like this.”
I had assumed that he, being exceptional, could do anything, but surprisingly, he was clumsy with his hands, roughly handling the stems and leaves like a typical 10-year-old boy. It brought me great relief.
A smile unconsciously spread across my face as a flower crown was gently placed on my head.
“Hehe, thank you… Oh?”
As I glanced at his hand, I noticed that his fingertips were bleeding, probably from cutting them on the leaves while picking the flowers. Although I had not yet awakened to the magic of reading minds at that time, I had already acquired healing magic, so I took his hand.
“. . .There, all done. Does it hurt?”
“Ester, you’re amazing… Thank you.”
I focused my thoughts on healing as I held his hand, and the small wound quickly closed up. As I absentmindedly stared at his hand, I noticed that there were many old scars that were too old for my healing magic to fix, scars that I couldn’t imagine from his beautiful yet still youthful face. There were calluses and hardened skin… his hands were in such a worn-out state that you wouldn’t expect from his lovely, young appearance.
“Oh… I’m sorry. I let you touch my dirty hand…”
As he tried to pull his hand back apologetically, I instinctively grabbed it tightly. I could sense Theodore’s expression outside of my field of vision, looking flustered.
“It’s not dirty at all…”
Certainly, his beautiful face was something he was born with. However, I had assumed that he was a genius who was born with everything, including talent in swordsmanship and magic.
“I’m sorry, I… When I heard Theodore, I had this preconceived notion that you were a genius and had never known the concept of hard work.”
It’s embarrassing. Just by looking at these hands, you can tell that feeling inferior was trivial. Have I ever made an effort to achieve something until I ended up in such a worn-out state?
“Theodore has worked so hard. . . These hands are not dirty, they are cool.”
“Ester. . .”
It was painful to be compared to my talented fiancé. . . I wanted to punch myself for thinking that way.
“I will work hard too, so that I am worthy of being protected by these hands. . . and so that I won’t be ashamed to be by your side. . . Will you cheer me on?”
As I asked him, Theodore gently took my hand with the hand that had been obediently following his commands until then.
“Of course. . . I’m really glad to be your fiancé, Ester.”
I fell in love with him at that moment, with his beaming smile as he answered me.
From then on, whenever our days off coincided, we always spent them together. We read books together, talked about trivial things, and sometimes vented our frustrations and weaknesses to each other.
As we spent those days together, my feelings for Theodore grew stronger. Although it was a so-called political marriage, I wanted to insist that it was a love marriage because I had fallen in love with him, and I felt that Theodore also liked me.
At the very least, he cherished me like a treasure, so much so that it was clear that I wasn’t being overly self-conscious.
I never even considered the possibility of being disliked, not even for a moment.
One day, when I awakened to the magic of reading minds at the age of twelve, I had to go through days where I couldn’t see Theodore to train myself to behave in a way that wouldn’t let him realize it. At first, I was bewildered by hearing the voices of others’ minds, and the magic was constantly active regardless of my will, so it was sometimes tough to hear things I didn’t want to know. However, as the proof of being the next queen, I somehow managed to discipline myself.
On the day I finally received my approval and was able to see him, I headed to Count Kieza’s mansion without any anxiety about knowing Theodore’s inner thoughts. I thought he was someone who didn’t have any hidden intentions and expressed his heart as it was.
“Theodore! Long time no see.”
“It has been a while. It’s the first time we’ve been apart like this since our engagement… I’ve been thinking about wanting to see Ester, and that’s all I could think about.”
As he spoke such sweet words, I tried to run towards him but stopped abruptly.
‘’I wish we could go without seeing each other for a while longer…sigh…this is such a hassle.’’
Did I mishear him? Please, let it be a misunderstanding.
“Ester? Is something wrong?”
“. . .Ah, no…”
‘’I wonder how long she plans to stay today. I wish she would leave soon.’’
All I could hear were words of disdain, as if he found me repulsive. As I cautiously looked into his eyes, his gaze was cold and filled with disgust.
“. . .Um…well…I’ve been busy, so my health is a bit…”
“Are you okay? Shall I call a doctor? I can do it from here if you want…”
“No, it’s okay. I’m sorry, but I’m going home now.”
As Theodore looked disappointed, his kol seemed relieved.
I had trained myself to not show any signs of distress no matter what voice I heard or what I saw. I had practiced for a month, but it all seemed in vain as I blatantly panicked.
“Ester, can I see you again soon?”
“. . .Sure, I’ll come back.”
Thank goodness for the face veil. I was able to avoid showing my teary eyes. No matter how much I complained or vented, I had decided as the next queen to never show my tears to anyone.
Oh, how embarrassing. It was a misunderstanding to think that he liked me. For Theodore, our engagement was something that the adults had decided, and he reluctantly went along with it because he couldn’t go against it.
What’s even more embarrassing is that my foolish heart still can’t get rid of my feelings for him.