“I’ll walk you to your room, it’s the usual one, right?”
“You really don’t hold back, considering what you said to His Majesty.”
After the audience, with plenty of time and no specific plans for the day, I responded with surprise to Diark’s offer. Knowing him, I thought he would excuse himself if Theodore was present.
In fact, Theodore casually hugged my waist as if claiming ownership. Come to think of it, I was a bit drunk, so my memory is hazy, but I remember saying something like, “I can’t stand seeing you talking to Diark, I get jealous…” or something along those lines. Now I’m wondering if I should refuse his company for the sake of Theodore’s peace of mind.
“It’s fine, we haven’t seen each other in a while.”
‘’I don’t want to interfere with the two of them, but… Father told me to keep an eye on that idiot as much as possible while they’re here.’’
“. . .It’s certainly been a while.”
Diark sighed with a weary expression, and his Kol, who mentioned “that idiot,” was probably referring to Princess Dorothea. I appreciated the concern of His Majesty the Emperor and Diark, but I also felt sorry for them. In fact, it hasn’t been that long since the National Foundation Day party, so Theodore saying it’s been a while…? I tilted my head in confusion. Your question is valid, but for now, please let it go.
“But you guys reconciled during the time I haven’t seen you, huh?”
“W-Well… I do want to make efforts to reconcile.”
“Then, you don’t need it anymore, right? The list of those particular young ladies.”
“Wait, it’s not like I’ve decided that I don’t need it yet. . .”
“. . .Ester, what are you talking about?”
I wanted him to change the subject, but why did he bring up such a pointless conversation?
“. . .It’s just a list, that’s all.”
“To be precise, it’s a list of exceptional young ladies who exceed the high demand of having good family background, beautiful appearance, good conduct, and the ability to handle politics.”
The pressure was intense, especially from the arm that was holding me.
“. . .When we broke off our engagement. . .I thought I should prepare a good marriage proposal as an apology. . .But I can’t send someone as talented as you to another country, so I thought of having you marry someone who can manage the territory in Acardi. . .”
Diark had been discussing with me about Theodore for a long time, while hiding his abilities. Although I had considered several candidates among the daughters of Acardi, I had asked Verde if there was a better match. I couldn’t honestly bless the marriage if the person wasn’t exceptional. . .but that’s a secret.
Feeling guilty for talking about something I didn’t intend to until the engagement was dissolved, he stopped and stood in front of me, peering into my face.
“Ester. . .if I can’t marry you──.”
His words were spoken in a gentle, yet admonishing tone, but were drowned out by a louder voice that reached my ears.
“Theodore-samaaa!! Have you arrived already? I wanted to greet you!”
“Y-Your Highness, the Third Princess. . .”
“Please, call me Dorothea as always.”
With a voice so loud that one would wonder what the etiquette instructor was doing and a speed that would make you marvel at how she could move so quickly in such a heavy-looking dress, she tackled Theodore with an embrace. Needless to say, it was Princess Dorothea herself. We were walking through the corridor – or rather, Theodore was probably the only one she could see – and she spotted us from the garden, dashing in for an ambush.
“. . .Good day, Your Highness, the Third Princess.”
“Oh, you’re here too.”
I greeted her casually, even though she probably didn’t hear me. After all, I was the one who was invited, right? Her response made me want to say that. Theodore was trying to pry the princess’s arms off him, but her determination was incredible. No matter how many times he tried to remove her hand, she would cling back tightly. Of course, it would be easy for Theodore to forcibly remove her, but she was a princess from another country, so he couldn’t do anything rash.
“Hey, Dorothea. Don’t touch someone else’s fiancé so casually.”
“I don’t want to hear that from you, Onii-sama. You’re quite close with her, aren’t you?”
“We’re just friends. What you’re doing is called unrequited love.”
“Oh, come on! It won’t be unrequited for long!”
I tried to focus on the voice of the emperor, who said that the princess was likely to cause trouble, but I couldn’t help but feel irritated that the princess was touching Theodore. Until now, Theodore’s closeness with the princess was much better than with me, so I had endured it. But if Theodore liked me…
“Theodore believes that he would rather die than not be able to marry me, so he will not be yours.”
I pulled Theodore’s arm and hugged him tightly, claiming him as mine. Theodore, surprised at first, looked at me with a smile and kissed my forehead, saying, “That’s right.”
What does he mean by “that’s right”? I made up something quite dangerous, taking advantage of not hearing him properly. I thought he would deny it while going along with the conversation, but I never expected him to affirm it so firmly.
“. . .Hmph. You can only say that for now.”
‘’That annoying Veil woman. I’ll make her fall from grace soon! And once we have established a fact, he will be mine.’’
Huh? I coughed to cover up my urge to exclaim. Bring me down? How? And establishing a fact? Even in Acardi, which is relatively tolerant of premarital relationships, it is assumed that you will marry that person. Moreover, in Verda, where premarital relationships are practically forbidden, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for the next queen to even try to arrange a marriage by taking the fiancé from the future queen and doing whatever it takes. In that case, Theodore would probably be the one who would be approached and made to bear the blame, saying that he made a move on her.
However, whether an established fact can be created is another matter. Theodore, who was chosen as my fiancé, excels in everything. Even if it’s by force, it’s not easy for him to give in to physical desires.