“Elizabeth has changed… Back when we were children, she used to be cute, but now, she’s nothing but an oh so upright noble lady, the kind which I despised the most. She’s no different from the other noble ladies now.”
Unaware of my presence, His Highness Albert uttered such words in the gazebo. After that, the voices of his entourage—including my brother, also resounded.
They were agreeing with him out of formality’s sake. From the exchange, I thus concluded that His Highness Albert was expressing his dissatisfaction towards me, his fiancée.
Immediately, I felt so angry, blood rushed from all over my body.
Isn’t that only natural…!? After all, I’m going to be the queen…!! The reason I undertook the queen’s education was because you wished for me to be your fiancée…!!
I must always act like the companion of the future king, otherwise I would be deemed unworthy of the title queen!!
—and for whose sake do you think I am doing this!?
I hated studying manners. Because of them, horseback riding became too boring because I must always ride sideways! I wanted to go hunting, fishing, and incognito—you know, those things I loved doing ‘back when we were children’!?
Ever since I was designated the future queen, a maid had always been dispatched from the royal palace to keep an eye on me, basically to prevent me from behaving ‘unladylike’. Also because of said education, my life ended up becoming so cramped—I couldn’t do anything I wanted anymore.
I had to say goodbye to all my previous hobbies and welcome such a suffocating way of life—
—but in your eyes, my sacrifices were nothing but me turning into an ‘oh so upright noble lady’, who was no longer ‘cute’, and was ‘no different from the other noble ladies’!?
I had explained it to him many times!!!
Whenever His Highness Albert asked me to refer to him as ‘Al’ like I used to, or to go on a long-distance horse ride, I always explained it to him—
“—I’m the future queen, such behavior is inexcusable!”
—yet that mouth dares call me ‘not cute’ and basically, ‘boring’?
Your Highness, if you look at your own mother, don’t you realize she also doesn’t have that much freedom? Certainly, we could just go against the rule, no one forbade that—
—but did you know that every time I committed those unladylike behaviors, not only did I get chided, my education time was also extended?
…Therefore, it wasn’t something that I could just treat lightly!
You!!! Turning me into your fiancée!!! This me!!! That’s basically how I became like this!!!
My twin servants whispered to me. Even during such an exchange, Mrs. Evans, the royal maid, was watching my every move.
One more step was all it would have taken to let His Highness Albert and his entourage know that I heard everything.
…Standing my position in a place unbeknownst to them, I calmed my boiling anger.
To tell the truth, I wanted to charge headlong into the gazebo that very second and roar; “—you’re the one who said you wanted to marry me!!!”
I could hear his entourage chiming in.
“—Surely, Eliza of the old days had a richer expression. Indeed, she used to be cute—she also loved to follow me around.”
“—She loved pretending to be a knight.”
“—Nowadays, she only shows a cold smile. That smile truly looks like it’s pasted on her face…”
…His Highness Albert’s entourage, including my own brother, laughed as they talked about how dull I had become.
I love His Highness Albert—I love Al, hence… that’s why I gave my utmost to learn etiquette, and even learn history; the subject I hate the most. Politics, economics, foreign languages—I truly did my best, you know?
I wanted to enlist as an incognito adventure with Al and my brother. I wanted to camp with everyone, surround a bonfire, bleed out the game we had caught, and bite the meat we had just roasted…
During festivals I wanted to blend in with commoner, and visit the stalls… I wanted to jump onto the main stage and join the play…
…Merely opening my mouth and laughing could gave rise to scolding and even punishment; one of the things Al and my brother could easily get away with by using a cheap excuse such as, ‘we’re just feeling a little naughty.’
Even so, even if so, I did my best to endure. Even though I wanted to do all of those things—I wanted them, yearned for them, badly, really, really badly.
After my rage had subsided, I felt that something had vanished from my chest, as if melting away.
…Surely, the best thing I could do as of the moment was to walk out in front of everyone and show how sad I was. Afterwards, when I was alone with His Highness Albert, I could be a little more open to him, although not upfront. Then, I would tell him that I hadn’t changed, that I was just trying to be a suitable queen for His Highness Albert with the weak voice I used to use back when I wanted to be coaxed…
…That would earn me a bit of scolding, but if I consider my relationship with His Highness Albert, it should be permissible.
That way, I could improve my relationship with His Highness Albert through the use of old memories.
But enough was enough.
I turned on my heels and boarded the carriage that was waiting for me, returning to the mansion. My class had ended early that day, but I didn’t want to see his face… I thought that was a good call. I worry that if I went to see him, I would accidentally hear him making a fool out of me again—for trying to be the best queen.
As soon as I got home, I sent a maid to invite my unfamiliar half-sister to the salon. Mrs. Evans, whom was standing in a blind spot, gazed at me anxiously.
In front of her, I couldn’t talk about my plan. Therefore, I would talk about it tonight. That evening, I would first take a bath. I also had to apologize to Mrs. Evans for worrying her.
Although Mrs. Evans was staying in our Marquis house as a tutor, she didn’t have enough authority to join a family talk involving my… sister.
All I had to do was place Mrs. Evans in a room where she couldn’t eavesdrop. Of course, I also had to assure her that there was no opposite sex in the family talk.
I took a seat with my half-sister… as I welcomed Alice, through my smile I conveyed to her—
‘—Don’t change your expression. Keep smiling.’
“Hey, Alice, shall I teach you how to get close to His Highness Albert?”
Just like stepmother, my stepsister then showed a fox-like smile. Under that expression of hers was astonishment.
In response, I kept talking with a ladylike smile and maintained my façade. At first glance, I appeared like a dignified older sister whom was trying to advise her sibling.
It had been almost a year since I heard His Highness Albert complaining behind my back in the gazebo. Ever since then, my reputation had rose even more, I was renown as a lady befitting of the title queen.
Some said I was a little too strict and came off as a cold person, but the praises from the aristocratic ladies resounded louder.
On the other hand, my half-sister, Alice, pretended to be boy by dressing in a knight’s attire. She would follow His Highness Albert around to hunt monster.
The talks which followed Alice were similar to words that were spoken about me back in the day—
“—she’s a noble lady, but her actions are so unladylike.”
“—she’s acting just like a commoner!”
However, His Highness Albert didn’t seem to mind them. Alice, who looked innocent and acted like a tomboy, expresses her emotions using her entire body. She acted freely, without a care. Therefore, His Highness Albert’s affection towards her, too, came in full swing.
But I was still his fiancée—Alice only got more excited.
Even today, after escorting me and dutifully performed the first dance with me, His Highness Albert hugged Alice who jumped like a puppy. Afterwards, they both appeared on the floor, dancing happily.
Many aristocrats frowned, but they couldn’t speak out loud due to the excuses of His Highness Albert and Alice—“She’s my future sister-in-law.” “Older Brother Al is my future brother-in-law.”
By the way, His Royal Highness Albert’s entourage was also seen in social scenes with Alice. All of them were called ‘Brother’ by her, and were experiencing physical contact with her under the guise of innocence.
They once claimed, “His sister-in-law is like a sister for us!”
Well, that was unexpected.
I felt that I had done something bad to their fiancées.
According to the information from the two most trusted servants in my house, last week Alice had met my stepmother in her home country. “It’s a top secret.” Alice had received her package.
At the earliest, things should happen today.
When I cautiously looked around the venue, I could find neither Alice nor His Highness Albert.
As I endured the joy, His Highness Albert’s servant gently approached me. I was informed that he was going to take a break because he was drunk and wasn’t feeling well.
I pretended to not know anything and passed the time.
Of course, as a pitiful girl left by her fiancée, the prince, I acted my part.
As a lady and the next queen, without my fiancé’s consent, I couldn’t dance with other lords. As such, I could only stand alone.
After a while, suddenly, the aristocrats whom were the organizer of that evening ball began showing signs of panic.
I wondered what happened and approached a lady I knew. Then, the end of the evening ball was abruptly announced.
The social venue, which would usually stay open throughout the night, was suddenly washed away by the buzzing of other aristocrats.
Like a level-headed lady, I inquired with my brother about the origin of the turmoil. My older brother answered with an embarrassed face—“—you don’t need to know.” Afterwards, he went silent.
When the time came, I rode a carriage with my brother to return home. Even though when I went to the venue, I rode in His Higness Albert’s carriage.
On the way home, our carriage passed another carriage. At the very first glance, I immediately knew it was my house’s carriage—perhaps my father, the Marquis, was on board.
My brother, who seemed to know everything, glanced at my face as he noticed my father’s carriage heading to the venue of the evening ball.
As if I hadn’t noticed anything amiss, I uttered out loud, “I wonder if something happened to His Highness Albert.”
My brother tensed up immediately, like a child whose hand was caught in the cookie jar.
I had to bite the inside of my cheek to prevent myself from laughing.
“—Therefore, the engagement between Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth is hereby annulled.”
***T/N: So Eli basically realized the hard way that making her own life all about someone else doesn’t always (most of the time, actually) yield good result… and feed the prince to the wolf. This is some pretty grey stuff, however I can sympathize with Elizabeth. Sounds like the prince’s remark became the tipping point for all that accumulated stress to reduce El’s love to zero.