44. An Embrace
“…That was my first time meeting Alisa.”
Despite what Alex-sama had said, I couldn’t remember anything. I thought our first meeting occurred when I officially greeted him after our engagement.
“Incidentally, Elena seems to have been fond of Mikhail since then.”
“That’s right. Elena spoke with Mikhail the entire time during the party. Moreover, she never stopped smiling…”
Alex-sama must had felt complicated. His fiancée candidate clearly demonstrated her preference towards his younger brother. Even if Alex-sama was a 12-year-old boy at that time, he probably felt concerned.
Even more so because Alex-sama inherently had an inferiority complex towards His Highness Mikhail.
“…Therefore, upon seeing Elena’s disposition, you decided to choose me?”
“My reason was not so negative. At that time, I decided that I didn’t want to see Elena and Mikhail, so I quietly left. Of course, I was still within the escort’s reach. I went out to the garden of the royal castle. That was when I met you.”
The memory revived slightly. Certainly, I was much more withdrawn at that time.
I wasn’t the crown prince’s fiancée. Despite being the duke’s daughter, I wasn’t the focus of much attention.
Unlike Elena, who had a lot of friends, I could barely interact with boys and girls of the same age…
…Hence, I spent my time alone in the courtyard of the royal palace. It was a beautiful and quiet place. Although surrounded by castle walls on all sides, it was still a magnificent garden…
The solitude calmed my heart.
I had been such a person for a long time. I preferred my own company. As long as I had a book, I didn’t mind being alone.
The gorgeous Elena and my influential father—upon looking at them, I decided that I much more preferred being alone.
…At that time, a certain boy visited me.
Indeed. I thought the situation unusual. If I remembered correctly, I then spoke to that boy.
That boy must had been Alex-sama.
“On our first meeting, I didn’t introduce my name… I merely told you that I was escaping from the party. Then, do you remember how you respond?”
Alex-sama smirked as he laughed in amusement.
I desperately searched through my memories.
When I couldn’t remember, Alex-sama replied on my behalf.
“—Then, you said to me, ‘I’m the same. We’re similar.’”
“W, what? Was I that disrespectful towards His Highness the First Prince!?”
Even if I was merely a child at that time, I still got cold sweat. After all, that in itself could already be considered an offense to the royal family.
However, Alex-sama was nonchalant about it.
“I hadn’t introduced myself, so it couldn’t be helped, right?”
“T, that may be so…”
“To be honest, I was truly happy. Because I’m a prince, everyone hesitates to speak to me. But Alisa was different. You told me that, “we’re similar” and spoke to me on equal footing.”
At the end, Alex-sama sounded truly happy. While I had trouble recalling that event, it seemed to have been quite impactful for Alex-sama.
I felt regretful at not being able to recall it properly. It was my first encounter with Alex-sama, making it important.
…But I was glad that from that point on, Alex-sama had a favorable impression of me.
“Thus, I persuaded my surroundings to make Alisa my fiancée instead of Elena. As it wouldn’t inconvenient either the royal family or the Duke of Tchaikovsky, I passed this rumor around—’Be it in terms of beauty or intelligence, Alisa is far more superior to Elena.’”
By all means, I believed that Elena was a better child. Surely, everyone would speak the same.
However, His Excellency Knut of the Republic of Ninorsk said that he thought of me as an ‘Unattainable Flower’ and also a ‘Closeted Princess.’ He also said that many young aristocrats in Ninorks shared the same opinion.
To an extent, His Excellency Knut was seriously proposing to me. Considering the circumstances, considering his gestures as mere flattery was difficult.
…Perhaps, I received more attention than I had expected.
“…But at the academy, I didn’t have many friends.”
“The fact that Alisa was isolated, that was my fault.”
“No, being alone was my own fault…”
“Everyone was reluctant to approach Alisa because I chose you as my fiancée. They thought that it was only natural, since you’re a duke’s daughter.”
I don’t think so…?
I was alone in the academy because of my gloomy personality. Although I may had been ostracized due to being the crown prince’s fiancée, I didn’t think that was the main reason.
“…Perhaps, you felt concerned about that? Is that why you feel ‘indebted’ to me?”
“I, isn’t that obvious? If it’s someone as attractive as Alisa, you could’ve made as many friends as you wanted… and even found a better lover than me.”
The more Alex-sama explained, the crazier I felt.
It couldn’t be.
“…Then, why didn’t you try to approach me at the academy?”
“I was worried that if I were to do so, Alisa would be shunned even more. No, that’s not it. Being utterly honest, I didn’t have the courage to approach you because I was afraid of getting rejected.”
As of the present, Alex-sama’s worries were nothing more than melancholy.
Just as I was scared that my engagement would be annulled by Alex-sama at that time, Alex-sama seemed to have been worrying about what I thought of him.
…But we had already been banished. At the same time, we were also a couple who thought about each other.
“Did you say that you were indebted to me?”
“T, that’s right…”
“If so, please repay the debt now.”
After taking a deep breath, I embraced Alex-sama.
***T/N: When will Alex take the lead…
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