33. Idle Talk: The Loneliness of a Former Fiancé (4)
Shortly after she enrolled into the academy, I wasn’t able to meet her properly. Then, while I was making various arrangements to escort Lelouche every morning, Zafield said something to me—
“—Why don’t you let her take a break from the royal family and her role as a princess at the academy? If she were to see your face, wouldn’t she inadvertently be reminded of them?”
I decided that what he said was true. After all, the academy was a good opportunity for Lelouche to obtain new friends. As Zafield was in the same class as Lelouche, he was able to see her. But as far as I could see, they were good friends. If anything were to happen to her, Zafield would surely do something. Zafield had been such an attentive person for a long time.
Besides, my mother repeatedly said, “In the world of a woman, don’t impose yourself as a man.” Hence, I tried to keep an eye on them from a distance. Across the different grades, I often heard rumors about her.
Lelouche Elcage was undoubtedly an unattainable flower. She was more noble and beautiful than anyone else. No one doubted that she’d be the next queen.
“Lady Lelouche is truly beautiful! I envy Your Highness for being able to marry such a woman!”
I was showered with such compliments every day, but I never tired of them.
Indeed, everyone—look at Lelouche Elcage! She’s the fiancée I’m proud of!
However, only I knew. She was only beautiful due to her own hard work. I knew how clumsy she was during her childhood days. Only I knew. At that place where she’d return, I’d wait for her.
Then, I broke the stuffed animal to which I had made my vow. Her childhood. Her efforts. I felt as though I had shattered those memories where she’d conceal the tears she was about to shed. Without that doll, the Lelouche that only I knew—someone who was neither a duke’s daughter nor the candidate for the future queen, would disappear.
Would Lelouche be willing to fix it?
No, she still believed she had thrown that doll away. If she were to know I had kept it all this time, she might be freaked out…
“S, should I fix it for you…?”
At that time, a student who chanced upon the broken doll offered to fix it.
Should I receive her favor? She said that she was good at sewing. At first glance, she didn’t seem to hold any malicious intents As such, I didn’t think it’d be a bad decision—…
“—Then, I shall—”
—No, shouldn’t I instead be good at what she wasn’t in order to become closer to her? Lelouche had become an excellent lady. If I were to be able to go through such adversary, would I be able to become a suitable man for her?
“—No, if it’s alright, could you teach me how to sew?”
Then, our battle began.
Lelouche… you’re truly amazing.
Did you work hard because you felt that you weren’t good enough? The next time we meet, that doll shall be fixed. It might be a good idea to show her—
“—I did my best to fix it!”
After all, ever since she was little, she had been working hard to make that doll.
After seeing it, would she laugh at me with an innocent expression like she used to and call me weird?
However, while I was dreaming about that, the days passed in a blink of an eye. Since it had been so long, I tried talking to Lelouche many times along the way.
However, we couldn’t meet at the academy. Starting from them, on our breaks, my public affairs duties increased, and I couldn’t make time for her. When I asked Zafield about when I would be able meet Lelouche, his response wasn’t positive. I also sent her a letter, but had received no reply.
As expected, she had confided in Zafield.
“Should I force Lelouche to talk with me once? What are these strange rumors that I’ve randomly found a mistress in the streets? I hope Lelouche doesn’t misunderstand…”
Zafield chuckled at misery.
“Rumors are rumors—there are even those that claim that I want to wage war on a foreign country. Lelouche even laughed at them. Everything’ll be fine, I’ve handed over your letter. Lelouche is also enjoying her student life. You shouldn’t disturb her.”
“Is that true?”
“What? You don’t trust me?”
“There’s no such thing! Even if everyone in the world gives up on you, I believe in you! You’re my one and only brother!”
Involuntarily, I spoke with passion.
The world was tough. I wasn’t just the world of women, I also had to participate in the social circles and accompany my father on his official duties. I had seen a glimpse behind the veiled side of the world. It didn’t just revolve around the competition between ladies, but also the ministers’ conflicts of interest and the imposition of responsibilities—all of which were heart-wrenching.
That was why I realized that I absolutely needed someone I could trus, my family and also Lelouche. Lumiere wasn’t too bad, either. True, she had many shortcomings—at the same time, as a person, she was wise. She could also empathize with the weak. She was many times better than those who could only oppress people.
After listening to me for a while, Zafield laughed briefly.
“I absolutely love you, older brother?”
“Hmm? Ah, me too!”
I thought that Zafield was a truly filial younger brother.
I had finally mended the stuffed animal. I enthusiastically went to see Lelouche. It was already late. Perhaps due to exhaustion, she fell down the stairs.
Afterwards, Lelouche went mad—
“Your Highness, may I borrow Ms. Lumiere?”
She referred to my new friend by name.
My unpleasant premonition came true—why…
…Why did you start educating her!?
The next day, the more I listened to the story I heard from Lumiere, the more I remembered my mother’s education. Recalling the young Lelouche, who struggled not to cry, I began to ponder. The lady who sat next to me was already 15-years-old. Why was she making such a big deal of it when Lelouche was able to endure it just fine despite being five years old at the time?
Rather, when I heard of what Lelouche had done to Lumiere, I thought that she was being kind.
Thus, the story of Lumiere being bullied spread across the students of the same grade. I was but a man and Lelouche a woman. What if Lelouche, who was familiar with the battle of the women inherited from the queen, had set out to solve the problem using her queen’s education?
…It might be wise for both sides to observe quietly for the time being.
However, I grew concerned because Lumiere cried every day for more than a week. After all, Lelouche’s behavior wasn’t subsiding. More than that, she began treating me coldly.
“…Zafield, don’t you think Lelouche is being too cold towards me?”
“Isn’t she just nervous because it’s been a while?”
“Have you ever seen Lelouche nervous?”
“I mean, it’s still possible? She might be nervous because my brother is too kind. Why don’t you show her some dignity once in a while?”
I tried to behave like a man, but Lelouche only grew colder.
Why are you learning swordsmanship from Zafield?
Even if I asked—even if I were to chase her—the harder she’s run away.
Her smiling face was an iron wall. At the same time, I felt that her stubbornness was due to being cornered by something.
The reason she went that far was because I was away for a while… Or, was it because of pride?
Anyway, I had to talk to her soon. She might be anxious.
Mother, I’m sorry for not following your advice—but I can’t just let Lelouche be!
However, the more impatient I acted, the wider the distance between us grew. When she had a cold and we finally had an opportunity to speak—
“—I have someone else I love.”
The dusk seemed truly beautiful that day.
The time when light was about to be exhausted from the sky. I left her mansion and was greeted by the setting sun. As I did, tears flowed from my eyes.
Her words still echoed within my ears.
“—Please annul your engagement with me.”
Apologizing might not help.
If only I did this at that time. If only I did that at that time. There were times when putting on a front, vainness, and morals destroyed everything.
Oh, God—if I may, can I go back to that time again?
At least to that moment, just to that moment when Lelouche requested me to break our engagement.
At that time, she seemed about to cry. Tears almost overflowed from her eyes.
I didn’t want to make her cry.
I could’ve listened to her complaints, grudges, sarcasm—anything, as long as she would be honest with me.
But instead, at that time, I ran away.
I was aware.
In the world, miracles didn’t exist. As such, there was no way my wish would come true.
Therefore, I just walked, wearing a cloak and wearing a crown while listening to the cheers of my surrounding. Beside a woman who was nothing more than a forgotten memento, I looked down upon the people from the balcony while laughing and waving.
‘I shall never fail to see this through!’
‘As long as you follow me, everyone can be happy!’
I said such things with an expression of false confident.
—Lelouche, at this time, are you truly happy and laughing?
***T/N: The foreshadowing is heavy in this one…
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