1.2 Until the Day I Lose Her—upper part of memoirs~
I preferred books over anything else.
The wisdom accumulated in them by our predecessors taught and inspired me to embrace many things.
This inclination of mine, which preceded my interest towards diplomacy, often frustrated my father. The only one willing to try and accept this part of me was my brother.
“It’s okay if you aren’t able to do it. In exchange, you can invest yourself in doing more profound research.” He would say while laughing. He took over my role in diplomacy, so I could focus on doing research.
Thus, by performing the workload of two people, my brother became the common ground between my father and I.
Naturally, I tried to meet my brother’s expectations.
Through the improvement of selective breeding, plague resistant crops were developed. Furthermore, herbs with new medicinal properties were discovered.
‘Those were all possible because the second prince had ample funds, materials, and time’—father easily dismissed my achievements with those words as through they were to be expected. ‘Succeeding is only natural since all the conditions were met.’
Only my brother praised me with a wide, clear smile. “As expected of our Gilbert! This will surely make the people’s lives easier!”
As soon as I started getting results, people who were of the same age as me felt foolish and insignificant in comparison.
However, Maria was different.
Albeit a woman, she read a lot, was brilliant, and could follow along with my conversations.
I respected her a lot for that.
…Yes, this feeling was respect and not something born out of love.
I wasn’t longing for anyone’s wife, especially my brother’s.
“I thought that instead of marrying His Majesty, Maria-sama would be married to Gilbert-sama.”
Although I stopped Anne Marie from uttering anymore words, I didn’t refute any of them either.
Two weeks after that, my engagement was officially announced.
Even though we often shared exchanges about it during our childhood, the opposite happened between us after we became adults.
In spite of my brother deeming political marriage as unnecessary and my lack of motivation towards anything political, it was only a matter of time before the rumors of a politically motivated marriage started circulating among the noble society—especially the side filled with the lower aristocracy.
What a foolish rumor.
Those nobles who flocked to me didn’t even have a trace of the redeeming value required for said political marriage to happen in the first place.
Until my older brother’s child was born, they were meant to be nothing more than spares for when we’re in a pinch.
Yet, they were oblivious to this fact.
Still, I never dared to deny them.
At the same time, I also didn’t have to worry about rumors related to me spreading amongst the lower aristocrats.
Even though my engagement with Anne Marie couldn’t be considered as political, it wasn’t a romantic one either.
Anne Marie too, was aware of that.
She must have consented to it do to the prospect of marrying someone she knew well in childhood being more appealing than marrying someone she had never met.
“Mr. Husband-To-Be, now that you are engaged, have you been planning the gifts you’ll send?”
The obligation to show the other party my affection didn’t stop just because the engagement had been declared.
Arranging presents was proper conduct, especially when I didn’t have any time to meet her.
The problem was, I didn’t know what was it that she liked.
The Anne Marie that I had met the other day while on a visit to Earl Brent’s house, needless to say, looked like a proper noble lady with a good upbringing.
That little girl whose emotions were written all over her face; whom loved to convey her favorite things—she couldn’t be seen anywhere anymore.
If I wasn’t wrong, what she once used to like—
…Certainly, it was some kind of flower.
I recalled how bright her eyes would shine when gerberas in full-bloom reflected off her field of view.
But, how about the current Anne Marie?
“Deliver roses every week.”
Maria loved roses.
If you use the preference of the woman who bore the face of this kingdom, the top of the country, as your guideline; your chance of being mistaken would be low.
The engagement period went for about half a year.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about the prerequisite of it. I knew nothing more than the basics.
I felt like I was missing something by only sending her flowers and escorting her to balls, hence I inquired my brother. Having heard that he gifted Maria a dress, I did the same, leaving the dress’ color and style unchanged.
Therefore, when it was finally the wedding day, I was surprised.
For the ceremony, Earl Brent presented Anne Marie in a light blue dress with a neat but refreshing design.
The ceremonial plaza too was decorated with gerberas of various colors.
The little girl I had known in childhood might still exist inside her.
Or so I thought, but I considered myself mistaken after seeing how calm she looked despite being surrounded by her cherished ones—unlike the lively her from before.
So, she had changed after all…
As I looked toward the royal couple whom were smiling at me, I felt miserable.
It was just like my brother had said.
At that time, I really shouldn’t have been so prompt in deciding my betrothal…
After the wedding ceremony came the first night.
It was honestly depressing.
Inside of me, the image of the innocent yet genuine Anne Marie from those youthful days still remained.
I couldn’t find it in me to lay a hand upon that delicate girl and forcing her into such a painful act.
However, no matter how much I detested it, if I didn’t spend a night with her, the one who would lose face is Anne Marie.
Even if I felt no love towards her, there was affection.
I should not be narrow-minded, as such, I decided to shoulder and carry out this burden for the sake of her honor.
Even I was surprised. It was unexpected of myself, for that to slip out of my mouth, in bed even.
‘Even if I felt no love, there was affection, I do not want to be narrow-minded’—or so had I thought, but what did I blurted out just now?
Hoping that Anne Marie had not hear what I just said, I glossed over my mistreatment by kissing her and then holding her tight.
I’m glad she married my older brother. That much was certain.
But, if you asked whether I was sad or not, answering no would be a lie.
There was no use of denying it;
—Maria indeed was my first love.
And even now, I still couldn’t completely erase that feeling.
—To the extent of hurting my childhood friend over it.
I scorned the very moment I spat out that name. Committing such a blunder, how am I supposed to stay beside Anne Marie until morning? As I thought, it was impossible to do so.
That was an outrageous blunder.
Truly, Anne Marie would never, ever forgive me.
I’m shackled by heavy feelings of regret —…yet at the same time, a strange expectation welled up in my heart.
Would she get angry to the point of brimming with tears like when we were still kids?
I must have been insane, but the expectation tempted me like sweet nectar. I grasped it without any intention of letting it go.
If what I had done the other night had enraged her, I would fervently apologized. Then, I would offer her a proposal, one for the sake of our marriage.
We did not have to love each other, but I would promise her a fulfilling time together as a family.
I was only thinking about my own convenience.
Contrary to my foreboding expectations; the following morning, Anne Marie greeted me with a calm and collected manner. It was as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
As if that blunder was just a dream.
That moment when I lost my opportunity to beg her for forgiveness was also the moment I lost my chance to correct my twisted, ugly desires.
**T/N : Lolol, Gilbert, do you even bother trying to get to know your wife at all??? Sorry for the delay and as always, thanks for my editor’s fab work~!