Juri smiled softly at me and walked away.
I felt that Juri might help stop the other ladies from shooting their arrows at me to a certain extent.
I hate being in debt, but I think it’s okay to be in debt a little bit to Juri Chartero.

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“What are you thinking? Are you thinking that you don’t like me being your partner?”

“No way.
Did your wounds get better?”

Being with him reminded me that a lot of blood was running down his side when we were in the North.

“I still have the herbs.”

“…There are many better medicines in the Imperial Palace.”

“But that one worked well.
Otherwise, I would have stayed in bed for quite a long time.”

“That’s a relief.”

“By any chance.”

“By any chance?”

He grabbed me by the waist and spun me around.
I widened my eyes in the sense of suffocation.
At the same time, my feet floated for a while and then sank.

He smiled mischievously.

“I thought you were upset that I didn’t say goodbye that morning.”

He spoke as if he wanted me to be upset.

“I wasn’t upset.”

Thanks to Valery, who is good at dancing, I relied on him.
The music has just reached its climax.
Our position was just like when I pulled his collar on the terrace.
No, it was even closer than then.
Our eyes met one another.

“…I was worried.”

“Worried that I would die?”

I nodded before my back was raised and moved away from him again.

“Yes, I thought you were dead.”

He laughed again.
It was a bright smile, just like a boy, so I looked sideways for no reason.

Finally, the first song is over.
You have to dance to the second song with someone else.
Still, my skin stings from the gazes pouring down here and there.

Today, I just planned to attend as Blake Ariandel and figure out what the surrounding atmosphere was like between the princes, but I was too noticeable.
At this point, I thought I should step back, but he got closer to me again.
When I  looked at him with startled eyes, he looked exactly like a lost puppy.

“Please do one more song with me.”

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“I want to live a long life.”

“What…”

“Can’t Your Highness see the young ladies waiting for you over there?”

“No, I don’t see it.”

Of course you can’t see it because you keep looking at me while talking to me!

I frowned.

“You have to turn your head to see them.
Look, they’ve only been waiting for you since before.
Shouldn’t you be a partner to others as well as they’ve been waiting for so long?”

“Is it really necessary?”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

There’s only one of him in this Empire.
Even though he looked at me as if he needed further explanation, Valery seemed unfamiliar with that part.
Or maybe he just pretends not to know about it.

“Come again.”

“Pardon?”

“I don’t think an opportunity like this will ever come again.”

His eyes grew even more gloomy.
He looks like a lost dog being hit by rain.
Looking at his expression made me almost laugh.

Hmm, I can’t help it.

“If you listen to me.”

“Yes.”

“I’ll go on a date with you.”

“What?”

Valery opened his eyes in surprise.

“Ah, if I’m out of line…”

“No.
Is that true? We can meet again?”

I nodded instead of answering.

Is that so surprising? To be honest, it was something he could do by force if he put his mind to it.
But looking at his personality from the original story, it doesn’t seem like he will do that.

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At that moment, Valery’s face bloomed like a bright flower.
The arm that had wrapped around me, as if it was melting away, was released.

“You promise me.”

I took a step backward in the gap.
Then, holding onto my dress, I greeted him and walked away completely from him.

The banquet was a success.
I became Valery’s dancing partner, and from then on, I naturally blended among the people until the banquet ended.
Despite having a hectic time, the last thing I remembered from the banquet was Valery’s dazzling smile.

* * *

The next day, I didn’t leave my room and slept all day.
When I woke up with a pain in my back from repeatedly waking up, it was already time for the sun to set.

For the time being, I had no choice but to wait.
Not even Valery asked me out on a date, nor did my mother give another order.

I asked Ian to report that I would have a casual meeting with the second prince.
Still, seeing that my mother hasn’t said anything so far, it seems my mother thought it was not a bad idea.

But the real person I was waiting for was someone else.
I wish the owner of the key I secretly stole would respond quickly, but it keeps getting delayed.

Do I have to clear another passage?

I know the success rate is high, but I always think the worst when dealing with something.
Therefore, since I have completed my mission, I’m just waiting for the answer to come.
But when I didn’t leave the room, Ian seemed worried about me.

As I heard a knock from outside, I made a move in my room.

“It’s Ian.”

“I know.
Come on in.”

I got out of bed, brushed my hair roughly, and watched him come in.
there was something in his hand.

“What did you bring?”

When he opened the silver lid, there were small cakes on the plate.

“Ah…”

There was a cake that looked like the one I gave him after ordering at the dessert shop, and the other cake had a different shape.
But when I asked if he ate it back then, Ian already said he ate it…

“I passed by a dessert shop while I went out for a while.”

That means Ian bought this.
No, why did he do that?

“Ah… thank you.
I will eat it well.”

I took it by surprise.

“Then take a rest.”

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After saying that, Ian left immediately.
It seems he came in to deliver this, not because he had other business.

A cake with such a simple and indifferent look.
I looked down at the cake that had been given out.

“Did it bother him that I didn’t eat it and instead gave it to him?”

After staring at the cake for a while, I picked up the fork, plucked it, and then put it in my mouth.
My mouth was dry and gritty not long after waking up.

“… It’s delicious.”

However, once I put it in my mouth, it melts again.
I finished off the cake without saying a word.
I even touched the other cake.

“What a funny guy.
He’s really a strange person.”

He acted stiffly like a person whose lives surpassed his emotions, but this appearance of him was fresh.

In fact, I couldn’t eat the cake because I felt abandoned like back in the past.
If my mother had abandoned me that day and hadn’t returned, I would have lived a different life.
That’s why I decided to erase my feelings about the dessert shop for the last time with this cake.

 

Chapter 3.
Feelings Don’t Have to Be Time-Related

I really got a message from Valery, directly given to my home too.

“Ian, send the news to Sir Shubart.
The next meeting has been scheduled.”

I read the letter he had personally written and delivered it to Ian.
Ian bowed his back and disappeared without a sound like a shadow.

* * *

Coincidentally, the next day was my birthday.

As soon as I woke up in the morning, I went down to the first floor in my pajamas, and there was a gift from Sir Shubart.
He asked me for my coming-of-age present the other day, right? I had forgotten about it as I was rushing to the capital.

“Why is the box so big?”

I found a large bear-shaped stuffed doll and dress when I opened it.
It’s a gift for my coming-of-age day, but this gift was something a child will receive for Christmas.

“It’s so childish.”

The big stuffed doll was quite soft, so I pulled out the dress with the teddy bear on one side.
Unlike the cute teddy bear, the dress was black, and anyone could see it belonged to an adult.
There was also a letter inside, which was literally a happy birthday card.

The big cotton doll was quite soft, so I took out my dress with a teddy bear on one side.
Unlike the cute teddy bear, the dress was black, which was obviously an adult’s.
There was also a letter inside, literally a birthday card.

[Happy 20th birthday]

It was a short and simple congratulations.

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“I should wear this when I meet the prince.”

Maybe that’s why they sent it.
They’re not the kind of people who would put their arms around such a useless thing to really congratulate me on my birthday.

Well, whatever.

I took out the dress and hung it on a hanger in the dressing room.
And the teddy bear was still stuck on my side.

I was just coming out of the hallway when I ran into Ian.

“Ian, good morning.”

“Good morning, Lady.
By the way…”

“Ah.
It’s a gift from Sir Shubart.”

“What day is it today?”

He was unusually talkative.

“It’s my birthday present.”

“Today is the Lady’s birthday?”

He seemed quite surprised.

“Yes, it is my birthday.”

I pulled the doll out of my side and showed it to him.

“Ah, I didn’t know.”

Seeing him being bewildered, I burst into laughter without realizing it.
It’s not even my real birthday anyway.

“Yes, of course, that could happen.
Because I didn’t tell you.
It’s not even an important day.”

Ian had a stupid expression on his face as if he couldn’t find what to say.
I decided to say something that is not more than three sentences.

“Then I’ll go upstairs.
Don’t call me unless something special happens.”

“Ah, yes.
I understand.”

I waved to him and came right up to the second floor.

There was no particular reason.
I’m just going to sleep.
Even though it seems like a useless thing, sleep is the only refuge for me now and a reward for finishing a job well.
Then, I didn’t wake up until the next day while hugging the teddy bear I received as a gift.

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