The plot is now moving once again. Enjoy!
“Milady, a letter from His Highness Prince Alan has arrived.”
“A letter from Al?”
Luke brought a letter while I was enjoying my afternoon tea. The envelope was one I was all too familiar with now. It was addressed to me. And from the countless letters we had already exchanged I knew it was his handwriting.
I checked that the First Prince’s seal was on it after receiving it, then opened it.
In the letter, he wrote asking if I wanted to go hang out with him in the castle. He also said he would invite me to his room like he had promised before.
I felt my cheeks warming up as I read the invitation.
Being invited to his own private room felt so special my happiness knew no bounds.
The corners of my lips started lifting by themselves, and Luke noticing that decided to ask.
“What did His Highness tell you in the letter?”
“H-he asked if I wanted to go hang out with him in the castle! And that he would show me his room. I remember we spoke about doing something like that before, but I didn’t think he would actually invite me.”
I had been to the castle multiple times, but I had never visited his room. So that he was inviting me like this now felt like a way for him to prove how close we were.
I quickly stood up.
“W-what should I do? And what should I wear? What dress should I choose…ahh if he bothered to invite me like this, I should just get a brand new one! I have to go there looking like the best lady out there!”
I was so happy I didn’t know what I was even saying now. My mind was a mess so Luke spoke calm and curtly to stop me.
“Milady, please calm down.”
And I finally came back to my senses.
“When is he expecting you? There might not be enough time to make a new dress if it’s too soon. Also, if you act too quickly out of excitement you might regret it later, so take a deep breath and then think about everything when you’ve calmed down.”
I nodded to what he said, and hurriedly tried to take deep breaths.
It didn’t seem like I was able to calm down at all, but at least I was able to think more clearly.
“So? Will you order a new dress?”
Luke asked with well-paced words. Then I slowly replied while I felt embarrassed.
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“…No. I had just recently decided I wouldn’t overspend on useless things. And what you said is true too. He invited me for three days from now. Thinking about it more calmly, there really isn’t enough time to make a new one.”
“I see. I thought you said you wanted to look like the best lady out there though.”
While it’s true my mind was a mess, I still felt ashamed I had said something like that.
I glared at Luke for pointing it out just to tease me.
“Please don’t tease me. I only got a bit carried away. I think…Al will like me if I’m just the same as always. So I’ll try to calm down my excitement.”
“That’s a good idea.”
He smiled almost as if trying to say I had just chosen the right answer.
Though having said that, I still thought I needed to put some effort on other things.
I would take better care of my skin until then, and since I didn’t want to get pimples, I also wanted to ask the cooks to only serve me food made with vegetables. I’d also hate to meet Al while having bags under my eyes, so I would also strive to sleep early.
I didn’t have to polish what I was going to wear, but my own body. That way Al would probably be happy too, and might even compliment me.
“Now that that’s settled, I should go consult with Lotte!”
Lotte was the maid I always asked to choose a dress for me whenever I was going to meet Al. She would always choose the perfect dress. But just when I was about to call for her, I remembered I decided I would do my best to do things on my own.
“…Right… And it’s a special occasion after all.”
I was going to visit his room for the first time. I want to choose a dress by myself, and that he calls me cute for it.
But I still would hate to fail at it, so I decided I would see what Lotte’s opinion was.
I didn’t have the confidence to choose something he would like on my own.
I still had three days until I would meet with him. I had until then to consult with Lotte and find, by myself, the dress he would like the most.
“Will he praise me… No, I have to do my best so he praises me.”
I was talking cheerfully again, and while I knew I was acting too hasty, I still hurried to prepare everything so nothing would be out of place in three days.
I had been to the castle many times, but I still felt really nervous.
It was the appointed day, the carriage had dropped me off at the appointed place, and Al should be coming to pick me up soon.
“Lily, thanks for coming.”
Al was wearing a mainly white long jacket today. Normally black suited him well since his hair is black too, but white also had something to it, somehow increasing the royal nature of his figure, or increasing his elegance to put it somehow which really caught all my attention.
On his left breast, he was wearing the butterfly brooch that matched the one I had, and my eyes were drawn there as well.
It was the proof we were engaged.
The dress I was wearing was one that didn’t accentuate my body line that much, and had a rather subdued design, but in exchange it was really frilly, which really served to show off the work of the workers that made it. When I found it on my dressing room, I wanted to hang my head down thinking why I even had a dress like it since I didn’t remember getting it, but with time my impression of it started to change and now I liked it. Lotte also gave it a green light for this occasion.
“That dress fits you really well. You look cute.”
“Th-thank you very much.”
In the end I hadn’t chosen it entirely on my own, but I still felt happy getting complimented.
I didn’t know how long I was going to constantly have Lotte helping me, but I wanted to eventually be able to do it on my own. And reaffirming that decision in my mind, I spoke to Al.
“Umm… You look really wonderful too Al.”
“Hehe, thanks. I’m nothing compared to you though”
He kept staring at my clothes, squinting a bit as if he was looking at something really bright. His appearance as he did that showed so much affection even though he was completely silent, which made me feel confused on whether to feel embarrassed or happy once I noticed it.
—Al is…Al is really wonderful again today.
Without noticing, I had brought my hands to my cheeks. On my left wrist, the bracelet I got as a present from Al for my birthday started shining. When Al noticed it, he smiled satisfied.
“So you’re also wearing that all the time. I’m happy.”
—I’m glad I’m wearing it.
I felt like his smile was getting carved into my heart. As I was still staring speechless at him, he grasped my hand and walked on as he showed me the way. Feeling how he grasped my hand like it was second nature, my heartbeat accelerated even more.
—It’s like we’re lovers.
We were truly lovers, but somehow I still wasn’t used to it, so I just kept thinking that way.
We walked along shiny and clean corridor without a single speck of dust, lined with guards, but they all bowed respectfully as soon as they saw us. Though it was obvious they were bowing because of Al, the First Prince, and not because of me. The thing that stood out the most to me, was how every guard along the long corridor bowed as we passed along. It almost gave the impression that I had suddenly become important.
—If I was the way I was a while ago, I probably would’ve misunderstood everything here.
I probably would’ve thought it was obvious they would bow to me since I was Al’s betrothed, but now I thought completely differently.
It’s true I might be engaged to Al, but I was still only a duke’s daughter. There’s no one who would feel so much respect for a girl that had no true power. But I also felt relieved I could think this way now.
I really didn’t want to go back to that time when I thought I was the best, and that if I was okay with something, then it had to be okay. If I was prideful and arrogant, Al wouldn’t love me. So I had to do my best from now on and keep changing that old me.
We went deep into the castle with Al while holding hands, then went up some stairs.
Then walked along a corridor again until we stopped at a dead end with a door on it.
“This is my room, you can enter.”
He opened the door a bit and urged me inside. I let go of his hand, and walked in as he kept hurrying me.
I gasped seeing the beautiful interior.
A single picture spread throughout the ceiling and walls of his room. It was in the same style as the patterns and designs on the corridors of the castles, and it was easy to tell it was very old but also really well conserved. The colors hadn’t faded either and looked bright and clear.
The base color of the wall was gold. On top of it there were depictions of angels and spirits with their kings.
The drawings were so well made and realistic it almost felt like the spirits were alive, I let out a cry of admiration.
“Did it surprise you? Most of the rooms for royalty are like this. It’s a bit crazy, but well, with time you’ll get used to it.”
From Al’s personality, I thought it would be a more subdued room, so seeing this was rather surprising for me. Though once I took a better look around, I noticed that all the furniture had softer colors and looked more in line with him, nothing else really seemed to stand out, so overall it was nicely balanced.
“You can sit there.”
He nodded while pointing to a long couch close to the fireplace. After I sat obediently, a court lady appeared and started to make preparations for tea. Then she bowed and left the room. Right after, a noise rang and I noticed it was the door being closed.
Even if we were engaged, I felt like it might be a bit inappropriate to be alone in a closed room. If the door was going to be closed, the court lady or someone should’ve stayed in the room too, but Al spoke to me with a calm voice.
“Ah, it’s just for a bit. It’s just that there was something I wanted to show you and only you. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on doing anything indecent.”
I felt stiff after hearing what he said smiling like that.
—Did…did he meant something like…kissing? When he said…indecent…
I recalled the kiss we had when we became lovers and started to one sidedly turn red. Al only spoke with a really serious tone.
“Lily, do you know the reason why you failed at the spirit contract?”
I hurriedly tried to disperse my weird fantasies.
Al looked like he wanted to talk about something serious. So I fixed my sitting posture and replied seriously.
“I tried to research into it myself…but I still can’t find the reason.”
He seemed to be honestly unhappy with himself, unable to do anything.
“I tried to look into all the different reasons why you could’ve failed, but nothing seemed to fit into the situation. And that’s when I thought of something.”
I wonder what it is. I leant my body forward pressing him to continue, and he said with a serious face.
“…I’ve made a contract with spirits before. Though I did it with both one of fire and one of wind. If you’re okay with it, I could try summoning them here.”
Al’s suggestion surprised me.
He was the First Prince and eventually the next king, so it was obvious he would’ve made a contract with a spirit.
But to have one of fire and one of wind. Normally a single one was enough, but seeing Al talk about two like it was nothing really strengthened his impression as the First Prince.
“I only plan on summoning one, but I figured it was best to ask a spirit about things relating to spirits. I thought of summoning them on my own before, but then thought it would be faster if you were present and they could look at you directly. And well, if you don’t want to do that I’m okay with stopping, I won’t force you…but what do you think?”
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He stared intently at me.
His eyes showed his determination, and I could tell he was honestly thinking of me while making that suggestion.
—To directly ask a spirit about it.
I hadn’t thought of that before, it definitely was a good idea, though it might not be the best either.
There were no other options for me at the moment, so I could only be grateful for Al’s help.
“…Please, do it.”
I don’t know what the spirit would tell me. It might even say things that will shock me. But I couldn’t just sit back and cower anymore.
If I knew the source of the problem, I would be able to find a solution for it and then I could move on to my second try at making the contract.
If I didn’t do this, I would just continue being scared and insecure for who knows how long, wondering if I would be unable to marry Al. And I wanted to avoid that as much as I could.
So I steeled my resolve and asked him. He nodded slightly, then called the name of the spirit he had contracted.
『Did you call me, Alan.』
In response to his call, a deep red spirit appeared. I could tell it was a fire spirit at first glance. His hair was bristled up, and his red eyes looked like gems. Contrary to the spirit I had summoned before, this one was wearing a leather armor and looked really brave.
It was a little bit larger than the palm of a hand. And he, though I was still unsure if that was the correct way to address, the summoned spirit looked first at Alan, then at me.
『? Who’s this woman?』
“That’s my fiancee Lily. She’s cute right?”
『I don’t really get human beauty or ugliness, but she looks like someone a dark spirit would like. She hasn’t made a contract yet?』
I gasped when I heard what he said.
Al carefully began to talk to the spirit.
“She does have an affinity for darkness…but hey, Ignis. Can I ask something? Is there anything on her that would make a spirit not want to make a contract?”