Theo Claflin, illegitimate son of Marquis Alex Claflin.
I’m a paper boat on the high seas, and he is the only man I can trust.
I must keep him by my side at all costs.

This man had some sympathy for Lethenia.

As a child, he sympathized with Lethenia, who was treated like a fool in the Duchy of Bledel.
It was because he thought she was in a similar situation to him, who was treated badly by the marquis.
I thought Theo had a special feeling for Lethenia beyond friendship and compassion.

Although he never directly confessed his love for her in the original story, he did ask her to leave with him on the eve of her wedding.
But obviously she turned him down because she loved Ian.
To make matters worse, she even drove him away from Asha, so his heartbreak was indescribable.

Nevertheless, Theo tried to protect Lethenia until the end.
When I thought of his life, which was falling into the abyss in line with Lethenia’s tragedy, my heart swelled with emotion.
It’s a shame that he had to end up like that.
If I could change Lethenia’s ending, I wondered if his life could also be different.

“Welcome, Marquis Caflin.”

“It’s quite awkward, since we were so close before I left on my journey, and now I have to address you as Her Majesty the Empress.”

When Theo smiled, his charming cheeks became hollow, and my tense heart relaxed a little.
His smile relieved my nervousness a little.
I opened my mouth to tell him that he could be his old self when we were alone, but then closed it.
I remembered the last conversation Theo had with Lethenia before he left on his journey.

Lethenia’s cold words must have felt quite cold on Theo’s part.
It was hard to understand why she had gone that far.
Perhaps this situation could be so awkward that even a seemingly casual conversation could be very stiff.

“I apologize for asking you to come back so suddenly.”

“As soon as I heard you collapse, I came back in a hurry.
How do you feel now? Well from the looks of it, you seem to be in good shape.”

“Don’t worry, I’m just using the excuse that I’m sick because I want to rest.”

“At first, I thought you were grumpy because you couldn’t see me for a while.
I promised not to be fooled this time, but I didn’t expect it to be true.
Do you know how surprised I was?”

Theo sighed quietly and sat down in front of the table and complained.
However, his friendly voice was imbued with worries and affection for Lethenia.
He smiled at me with relieved eyes.
I looked away at it as if I had been bewitched.

As the original expression suggests, it was a smile that captivated people’s hearts.
He was much more to my taste than the male protagonist who seemed like he would bleed if you poked him.
A man with dark brown hair that seem to smell like sweet chocolate.
He was the opposite of the aristocratic and dignified Ian.
His languid smile and free-spirited demeanor were strangely sexy.
Theo spoke again after a long silence, lost in his own thoughts.

“By the way, I heard you had something you wanted to talk to me about.”

“Oh, I have a favor to ask, and I hope you’ll listen.”

“Go ahead and say it.”

Theo waited for my answer, his gaze as tender as ever.
Theo was always kind to Letenia, who was always looking at others.
He stood by her side even when she had lost her mind and people had criticized her.
The only thing I envied about in Lethenia’s life was that such a precious person was always around her.
After thinking about Lethenia and Theo’s relationship for a while, I carefully opened my mouth.

“I’m leaving the palace.”

Theo’s calm expression changed in an instant.
His expressionless eyes became a little sharp.
For some reason, I wanted to avoid his eyes, but I kept my face as nonchalant as possible and spoke again.

“I want to settle down in a good place and live comfortably.
I need your help.”

“I’ve heard that you’ve changed since you collapsed, but did something happen to your Majesty?”

“Let’s just call it a change of heart.”

A little awkward silence ensued.
Theo fiddled with his chin and looked worried about something.

“Duke Bledel won’t stand still.
It seems like he had done a lot to get you to the throne.”

“When I leave, the name Lethenia Bledel will disappear from the world.
If this breaks down the Bledel family, it won’t matter to me.”

Theo’s eyes changed as if he was exploring something strange for the first time.
I gave him a determined look.
Soon, he threw a sensitive question as if he was trying to figure something out.

“His Majesty…… Don’t you love him?”

A somewhat bitter voice that seemed a little sad pierced me like a sharp blade.
Without a moment’s hesitation, I answered.

“Not anymore.”

Theo leaned back in his chair with a serious face.
There was a slight soreness in the following silence.
It was hard to believe because it wasn’t very Letenian-like.
Examining his complexion, I cautiously continued the topic in a careful tone.

“I want you to find a place that’s sparsely populated, but not in the Asha Empire.
A place where I can start anew once I’m free.”

“Speaking of being free, I suppose the Empress’s Palace has become suffocating for you.”

“It was never meant for me.”

“A place that was too insignificant for someone as noble as you.”

The warm words from Theo warmed my heart.
The sensations, which were sensitized by tension unknowingly, seemed to be loosening a little.

“Is there anything else you’re looking for? If this is really where you’re going to spend the rest of your life, you might want to choose a little more carefully.”

“I don’t have any specific conditions, so I’ll take whatever is available for now…”

“Once you settle down, it will be difficult to move.
Perhaps… it could be the most important decision of your life.”

A place to spend the rest of my life.
His words made me think for a moment.
I remembered a beautiful beach I’d been to as a child with my mom.
It was so long ago that I don’t really remember where it was.
But the sea was so clear and beautiful that it stuck in my mind like a scene from a beautiful movie.
It was such an enchanting place that I thought I must live there when I grew up.
I couldn’t go back there until I died.

“……the sea.”


“I hope it’s a place surrounded by the sea.
An island with a mild climate and an emerald coral sea would be nice.”

As I finished, Theo’s eyes narrowed a little.
He watched me carefully, a smile still tugging at the corners of his mouth.
There was a hint of doubt in his eyes as he continued.
Did I…… say something wrong?

“Are you serious?”

“What’s wrong?”

“I thought you hated the water.”

His clear green eyes seemed to see right through me.
His words left me speechless for a moment.
Did Lethenia hate water in the original story? I thought back to the anecdote from Lethenia’s childhood that was described in the book.
Now that I think about it, she certainly had reason to hate water.
She may have even had strong trauma related to it, perhaps because her father had once punished her by throwing her into a deep lake, despite her inability to swim.

But Theo would never know about it.
Not just Theo, but no one.
Lethenia, who was proud and had a strong sense of dignity, felt ashamed of being mistreated at the duchy.
At the same time, she would rather die than be pitied, especially by her husband, Ian.
She’d rather be seen as arrogant and spiteful than pitiful.
Unfortunately, that stiff disposition only isolated her further from the world.

“That’s no longer the case.
As you live, it’s common for your thoughts and preferences to change.”

“You’ve become a completely different person.
I’m glad you’ve changed your mind.….”

“And one more thing.”

Aside from the matter of the settlement, there were other things that needed to be taken care of in order to prepare for an uneventful escape, and that would be easier with Theo’s help.

“Be my lover.”

As soon as I finished speaking, a slight glint of bewilderment appeared on his otherwise serene face.
This seemed even more shocking than his earlier announcement that he was leaving Asha.
This was a somewhat important matter.
Lethenia had been burned at the stake because she had incurred the Emperor’s wrath by harassing his lover, Rosetine.
Even after Rosetin appeared, I needed something to divert Ian’s attention in order not to provoke him.
If Ian confirms that Lethenia doesn’t love him anymore, he won’t clash with her to protect Rosettin.
In that sense, Theo was someone I could pretend to be in love with and get constant support from.

“To be exact, I’m asking you to act like my lover until I leave.”


Theo looked me in the eye as if observing.
If I was being honest, the ultimate reason was to avoid getting involved with the protagonists.
But if I said it out loud, I’d be labeled crazy.

“Anyway, if we’re going to discuss the settlement issues, you’re going to be in and out of the Empress’s palace a lot, and people won’t see things as purely between us.”

“Is that the only reason?”

Theo asked meaningfully, as if he wanted to hear a more convincing explanation..

“You don’t seem to believe me.”

“I just want to know what Her Majesty thinks.”

Theo pulled the corners of his mouth up.
I opened my mouth reflecting on the words I had prepared before meeting him.

“I’m sure you’ve heard rumors that Duke Bledel is suffering from an illness.”

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