The day after that, I started to return to work.
Tanya expressed a great deal of concern for me with tears in her eyes, and Merida was much the same.
Although other people close to me didn’t know the details, they assumed I had fallen ill from overwork, so they were also caring and warm.
The officials were overjoyed by my return.
Even though I felt incredibly indebted to them, I still tried to do my best work every day.
My heart still ached. I couldn’t forget him.
No matter how much I immersed myself in work…no, that’s precisely why I threw myself into work.
How much time had I spent with him in this house?
There was always so much work, but we still spoke of the future.
When we came up with a new strategy, we celebrated together.
When we encountered an obstacle, we confronted it together.
Even if I wanted to treat him as part of the past and abandon him, there were too many parts of this mansion that retained his memory.
So, it couldn’t be helped.
And so, I couldn’t fix things.
After all, even now…I was certain that I loved him.
These thoughts flashed through the corner of my mind while I dealt with the piles of work.
And then time passed while I tried to refind the feeling of working from beforehand.
The big project was finally here. The day of negotiation with the Acacia Kingdom had arrived.
Tanya stood behind me, while my mother sat beside me.
While both of them looked completely normal in what they wore, they were armed to the teeth.
Whatever the other side did, they said, they’d be able to react immediately.
Ryle and Dida hadn’t assigned any other guards indoors because of them, handing the protection of the mansion over to them.
Since it was a negotiation for peace, if we marched out the troops for this discussion it would give others a reason to gossip.
When I felt just about ready, Tanya approached me quietly.
“Milady, I think they’re here.”
I forced myself into a state of heightened awareness.
“Welcome, Prince Majid.”
I smiled to welcome the man who walked in.
Prince Majid, who was dressed in full royal garb, responded with a smile too.
He looked quite suspicious to me, but I’m sure he regarded me the same too.
“I am genuinely happy to be able to see you again.”
Saying this, he kissed the back of my hand.
I couldn’t help but grimace a smile at his antics.
“Pleasure to meet you, Prince Majid.”
He made the same grimacing expression as I did.
The first time he was here, it was his ideas leading the way. So this time it was our turn…he seemed to understand what I was saying.
I’m sure he wanted to pretend as if the previous visitation hadn’t happened.
Considering this, I emphasized it as if we were meeting for the first time.
“Please, Prince Majid. Be seated.”
Waiting for him to sit, I sat across from him and stared at him.
What a fearless smile. The noble, serious aura was quite a fit for his handsome, rugged face.
Everything about him gave off the impression of a king.
“What a good territory. The people live with wealth, and the rulers and politics are stable.”
How false. I felt a shred of anger burn through my heart. Not that I’d let it show on my face.
“But recently we’ve encountered our share of fearful matters.”
I purposefully said this with a sad tone.
A concerning light shone in his eyes.
“Other countries have attacked us.”
“Indeed. I didn’t expect the nation who asked for my hand to attack us.”
In that moment the room turned dead silent.
I was already testing his attitude in my own way. He must be considering his next words now too.
“What I wanted to explain was…this was the intent of the Towair Kingdom and our previous king. I had nothing to do with the schemes. It was not my intention.”
His straightforward admission made me breathe out.
“Not your intention…even so, the fact that the Acacia Kingdom invaded my nation’s territory is an indisputable fact. How does your country plan on taking responsibility for this?”
He smiled. While I was questioning him.
It was enough to rouse goosebumps on my skin.
“Excuse me. Trying to explain myself to you is due to my personal feelings…after all, I do not want you to dislike me. Although I have my own thoughts, I have to explain on behalf of my country first. This whole incident was due to the previous king and a portion of his followers. Our nation had no intent of attacking your territory.”
“You’re saying it in a different way, but the contents of your statement remain the same.”
“What a pointed comment.” Prince Majid said with an exasperated smile.
“I’m getting emotional because my citizens were attacked.”
“Hm, was my expression really so scary?”
“No, not the case. It’s precisely because your expression didn’t change, that’s why you are frightening. You wouldn’t act on your emotions. When people like that are disappointed, they tend to be easily led by their noses.”
I didn’t react visibly to what he said, but internally I didn’t know what to feel.
How difficult it was to deal with him.
“So, we’ve prepared reparations for the victims of this riot. The contents are in this document…all you have to do is sign.”
The middle-aged man waiting behind the prince retrieved the document respectfully.
Accepting it, I began to read.
“This is not enough.”
I said in a soft voice, skimming through it.
Prince Majid’s gaze turned sharp.
The whole atmosphere of the room tensed.
“Prince Majid…as a matter of fact, the first prince of your nation has sought our protection and is currently staying here.”
His countenance seemed more stressed after this statement.