Chapter 212 Farewell
After I called him to a stop with an almost accusatory voice, he extended his hand.
“I wanted to…”
In the palm of his hand was the pocket watch I had asked Tanya to retrieve for me.
“…So you’re the one who picked it up. Thank you so much.”
Hurriedly putting it away, I looked at his face again.
That’s when I suddenly realized that I had called his name out so casually, just like I used to.
“…Your majesty, I spoke thoughtlessly, please forgive me. Forgive me for trampling upon your good intentions.”
When I said that, there was a confused…and also endlessly sorrowful smile on his face.
“I thought you were expressing to me that you wouldn’t need it any longer…”
His voice sounded so weak when he said those words.
“Are you really planning on saying yes?”
In the beginning, I was completely confused about what he was asking.
Then the thought came to me that I had just been asked the exact same question. I looked straight into his eyes.
His expression, his eyes, were both just as weak as his voice.
It was the first time I’d seen him so vulnerable.
That was why my hand sneaked upwards, stroking his face.
As if the word “disrespect” had been wiped from my mind.
“…Sorry. I asked a weird question…”
Saying this, he put his hands over mine.
“No…it’s not weird at all.”
He had chased after me to confirm my true emotions.
Although he had only made such a small gesture, that was more than enough.
What was expressed in his eyes was far more than I could say in a thousand words.
And the reason he hadn’t been able to say it was most likely because his own heart was also in a state of turmoil.
“I can say nothing to stop you. Although it’s incredibly unfortunate to lose such a bright talent, the Acacia Kingdom is also impressive in its own right. From a national perspective, it’s good to be able to strengthen the bond between us and the Acacia Kingdom.”
He tried so hard to pile word upon word, searching for an excuse to liberate himself.
“Even so, I…you, I…”
Enough. There wasn’t anything else to say. The rational part of my brain wanted to stop him from continuing to speak.
The romance nestled deep inside of my heart would only be a burden for this man.
As he had just said, this marriage would be beneficial not just for my territory…but also for the whole nation.
Right now there was really no reason for us to reject the proposal.
What’s more, what would become of me if I stayed behind?
In the past, I was Prince Edward’s fiance.
I was the fiance of the man who had been accused of treason now.
Although ages had passed since my engagement was broken, an experience like that would follow me my whole life.
Because of that, if I became engaged with the first prince…many nobles would oppose this.
His valued subordinates would also oppose it.
…Of course, Rudy might think through the influence of the duke’s family on my mother’s side and decide to support the engagement.
It was only that to him who was already destined for the throne, choosing me as his partner would only increase his risk needlessly.
Besides, he already had Bern by his side.
Under these circumstances, if he were to pick such a flawed candidate for his fiance…this would probably be viewed like the Maelia family’s outer relatives.
Even if I didn’t intend for that to happen, everyone else would think it anyways.
It was basically the equivalent of nobles trying to control the royalty.
Undoubtedly, this showed how the royal family were the rulers of this kingdom, yet had become so weak in reality.
This was especially true now that the nobles were in such a chaotic situation.
There was nothing good about spreading rumors that might cause further confusion in this chaos.
So there was no need for him to pick someone who was so obviously flawed as me. I believed there were so many other candidates who suited him better…perhaps politically, or in some other way.
…I knew all that. I understood all of it. Even so, I didn’t want to understand any of it.
…No matter what, I didn’t want to understand any of it.
As if to ask him something, I murmured his name.
He had just lowered his head, and his eyes met mine.
“You’ve been mine since the beginning, haven’t you?”
Being asked this by me out of the blue, his eyes widened like he was frightened…but then a smile appeared on his face.
“Yes. I have.”
Those words were all it took to make me shudder with joy.
That was enough. Because his intentions were accompanying me forward from this point on.
“…Right now, you’re an important individual supporting this country. Of course, I am one too. But this doesn’t mean that we’ll never meet again. Even if we choose different paths, we’re still working toward the same direction. Because of that, I’m prepared to travel to the ends of the earth and do whatever I can to this end.”
Saying this, I walked away from him slowly.
“Your majesty’s intentions are never to be forgotten. Now that you have wished me this farewell, I will be able to lay down my life for this nation, and give everything up without regret.”
So this was a true farewell between us. Even though that was just a whim of mine to think this, or even to do any of this.
But even if this was a whim of mine…I didn’t want him to see the expression on my face.
Dean stayed silent.
“Well then, I’ll be taking my leave.”
And that’s how I left him.
When I walked out of the room and returned to the place I had been waiting, Tanya was already there.
Perhaps because she had missed me for a while…she raised her voice, a rare occurrence.
“I’m sorry for leaving the place we promised to meet.”
“As long as you’re safe, I’m happy. I would actually dare ask you to forgive my uselessness in disappointing you. I couldn’t find the item you wished me to find. Please allow me to escort you to the carriage and get you home before returning to search for it once again.”
“It’s fine, Tanya. I searched beneath my clothes after that and realized my clothes had hooked onto it. Sorry for all the trouble.”
“Not at all…as long as you’ve found what you’re looking for, I think there’s nothing for you to apologize for.”
“Thank you…hey, Tanya. No matter where I go, will you always be by my side?”
Perhaps some day I would regret my choice.
I think that’s inevitable.
If I had done this at that point in time, or if I had chosen differently…I will always think back on the choice I didn’t take, and what kind of future it would bring me.
But this was the best course of action I could take right now.
So that was all I could believe in as I walked forward with my head raised high.
Right now, all I was doing was dismissing a sweet dream.
After that, I took the carriage back to the mansion with Tanya.
Incredibly enough, my heart was calm the whole way back.
The moment I stepped into the mansion, for some reason, I felt an odd tension seep through my whole being, like my whole body was being pierced with needles.
Was it because what I was going to report was making me nervous?
Tilting my head to the side in confusion, I walked slowly back to my father’s side.
“Iris, you came back at the right time.”
My mother’s serious tone and the atmosphere, made me take a sharp breath in.
“Has something happened?”
“Just earlier, the Towair Kingdom has raised their troops to invade. War is beginning again.”
My mother’s words left my mind completely blank.