Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
I took out the expensive outfits arranged in the closet and packed them into a large box one after another.
This way of folding might leave the clothes wrinkled, so it was probably not a good idea, but that didn’t matter since I wouldn’t be wearing them regardless. They were being returned in any case. There was no need to worry about wrinkles.
The last outfit I took out was a pure white suit with pale golden embroidery — formal wear for men — mainly worn during engagements and weddings. It looked more flamboyant and frivolous than most because the one wearing it was going to do so as the bride’s side of the family.
“This has become the most unnecessary item.”
What will happen after such a flashy and unwearable item is sent back?
…Well, that no longer mattered to me.
Finally, I stuffed the formal wear into the box, making sure that I didn’t forget anything, and closed the lid. All I had to do was to give it to the royal palace’s messenger arriving in the afternoon. Then it would all be over.
Two days ago, His Highness the Second Prince came to the mansion, as usual, drinking a sip of the tea brought as a souvenir and said this as he sat looking in front of me
“I have decided to break my engagement with you.”
My father, the butler, and the maids at the corner were surprised and panicked. The culprit who made such fuss continued calmly, “Today’s tea leaves are quite satisfactory.”
“And that’s why today is the last time I’ll come here.”
“Ah, Your Highness. Was there any problem with my son to lead you to annul your engagement?” My father’s voice trembled.
This engagement with the one year older second prince had been announced grandly. It would be too awkward if the engagement was broken just before the wedding ceremony. It was for the royal family’s convenience that they waited until His Royal Highness reached the age of eighteen, so they must have thought of a reason at least.
“The woman I was close to is having a child. I would like to take responsibility as a man.”
“My unmarried older brother has no children. My older sister, who became the princess of the neighboring country, has many. However, to His Majesty, they are outsiders. To have a direct descendant to continue the royal family, we need a woman. This child is needed. Hence I decided to abandon my engagement with Sir Ernis.”
My father looked at His Highness with a pale face. Both my hands on my lap tightened into fists, but fortunately, they were hidden under the table, unseen by His Highness.
I wasn’t surprised or upset, as I had already been preparing for this to happen in the future.
Because once His Highness Hartward had a weakness for beautiful people, he was quick to put his hands on them.
The only people he wouldn’t touch even if they were beautiful were children.
I’ve been told directly that the reason he got engaged to me in the first place was that I was incredibly beautiful. Even though I was not sure of it myself, I seemed to be a living copy of my late mother.
My mother had had pale chestnut-colored hair and blue eyes. I was said to have the same black hair and gray-blue eyes as my father, but even though the colors were completely different, my mother and I were said to be two peas in a pod. In addition, my mother had been a radiant lady who had gained the title “White lily of the Royal Palace”. She was the past conversation partner of Her Royal Highness, who became the neighboring country’s Crown Princess.
I thought that was right. When my mother died, I was still a five-year-old child so I had few, vague memories.
No, wait. I was sure I had a lot of memories. But because of that accident, I can hardly remember.
“Your Highness, what should I do with the attire I received?”
“Attire? Ah, that. Sir Ernis, you can just use it. If you don’t need it, someone will pick it up from you.”
“Then, please pick it up. It’s too much for me to use.”
“I see. I’ll send a messenger from the castle to collect it.”
”Thank you very much.”
The outfits I’d received from His Royal Highness were all too gorgeous. But I no longer had any need for them.
It might have been necessary if I married His Highness, but aristocrats of my level had no place or opportunity to wear that type of clothing. Nor did it mean I could easily have sold it anywhere. It was best to just have His Highness pick it up.
“Well, then, please excuse me. I hope that a good partner will appear soon for you, Sir Ernis.”
“Thank you for your thoughts.”
After drinking his tea, His Highness gave a final greeting in the same tone as usual and returned to the castle with his guards.
After that, my house was like a beehive.
The wedding with His Highness Hartward had been scheduled for less than once a month from now, and various preparations had been made quietly, so it was no wonder that there was a lot of fuss. All of these preparations would have to be stopped, and this change alone would be a headache for Father.
Even if these circumstances would not cause any financial problems, it was true that annulling an engagement with royalty in aristocratic society was considered ugly. Inevitably, bad rumors would spread.
At the very least, salvation would be caused by the unfaithfulness of His Highness, and he was known to be a person who was likely to do something like that.
My father had fumed for the past two days. “What do you think my son is! It was His Royal Highness who forced the engagement to begin with!”
“Are you not finding it regrettable!”
“I don’t feel like that. I’m just relieved that I don’t have to marry into the royal family.”
“Runa!!! Even though he is from a royal family, you were looked down on and abandoned. Despite having a fiancé, he reached out to another woman to have a child! Are you not angry at all!”
“I was indeed his fiancé, but it was just a role I had to play. Even if we were married, I believe something similar might have happened. Therefore, I’m glad that my engagement was abandoned before I became “Her Imperial Highness.”
“Father, you’ll get sick if you get too worked up. I’ll just return the outfits today, so please leave the rest to me. Gilberton, take my father to the bedroom.”
“I understand, young master.”
Gilberton, a butler who had served our family for many years, still called me by the same title as when I was a child. I gave a sad smile to those sentences, more fitted for a little child than to me.
“Runa, you are the most important to me. You have become my most important person after I lost your mother in that accident. There’s no future in my house. That’s why I wanted you to live a life without worry about your future. I was reluctant to accept his proposal at the start, but it was all for you. I’m so sorry..”
“Father, I’m okay. If I had longed for His Highness, I would be hurt, but I didn’t have time to develop that feeling, and I’m fortunate.”
“His Highness… he wasn’t the one who held your heart after all…”
My father, with his sad eyes, left the room with the support of Gilberton.
My heart, huh…
I knew what my father’s words meant.
Since the age of five, when I lost my mother, my father had frequently said the same thing. Sometimes, the maids and servants of the mansion also looked at me with sad eyes.
I thought it was a blessing in disguise this time. If I’d held feelings for him, I would have been quite pitiful.
As I told my father, I had no feelings for His Royal Highness Hartward at all. I accepted the engagement because I couldn’t bear seeing my father desperately refusing the persistent offers from His Royal Highness.
Even I, a naïve person, knew what it meant for aristocrats at the bottom to keep refusing an offer from the royal family. Besides, it wasn’t difficult to negotiate with my father who was heartbroken from losing my mother.
Furthermore, since I was soon to reach eighteen years old, it was time to consider the future. I wasn’t set on the idea of marrying a man, neither could I imagine a future with a wife. Hence, I had no reason to decline an enthusiastic offer from His Royal Highness Hartward.
However, in the end, it ended up making my father sad.
After all, His Highness might have noticed that I was a boring person. “His appearance, though amazingly beautiful …” had been said many times by his peers.
I was not sure if I could be considered a beautiful person, but I was often told I was boring to talk to. To be a boring fiancé was definitely worse than being a boring friend.
Alternatively, was it because His Highness did not want to touch even a finger of his fiancé?
It was possible that His Highness didn’t want to touch me in the first place because I had a masculine kind of presence. No matter how he blinded his sight, I was still a man. Perhaps that was why he disliked it.
In any case, it might have been my whole self that had invited this outcome.
Still, I could not control it at all.
I became this way after that accident when I was 5. Thinking whether or not I could do anything to change myself was no longer my priority.
A large box had been placed on the table in front of me. Today, I would give this back to His Highness Hartward.
It wasn’t sentimentality that had me trembling when I touched it. Instead, it was because of the small irresistible feeling that all had gone to waste — all the time and effort spent preparing for my role as Her Imperial Highness.
“…Well, should I forget it all when I hand these things over?”
Optimistically, I couldn’t even fathom being at the mercy of the castle’s messenger once more.