“It has been decided from the beginning!?”
I nearly fell forward, causing the tea I was holding to spill. I was in the living room with Jeremy, father and mother. I was intending to get their permission to marry, but the three of them already knew about the situation.
“Not from the beginning, though. Besides, wasn’t it Iris who loved Jeremy first?”
To father’s answer, I tilted my head to the side, questioning.
“When you were 8 years old, you were invited to the Crown Prince tea party, right? Although we wanted you to get together with the Prince at the tea party, you were not interested at all. When I heard you spent your time alone during the tea party, I asked myself… Why didn’t you play with the others?”
Mother interrupted father and continued.
“I told him it was because of Jeremy. Because he was fun being talked to and attractive, he was your number one. When you said you wanted to quickly go home, I was really troubled.”
Well, he was part of my fear of strangers strategy. But I didn’t think it would have come to this.
Embarrassed, I blushed.
“Besides, you were always together. Whether playing or being taught by the private tutor. Every day, at 3 o’clock, the two of you would take tea together like a little gentleman and lady, it was cute. That is right, when you were little, you used to sleep together too. I wanted to lift you up to take you to your room, but when I saw you were holding hands, I felt sorry and left you like that.”
Mother’s eyes closed, feeling nostalgic.
“Thus, when the four of us were together, Iris was very concerned about Jeremy.”
Father took over, smiling.
Jeez, it is enough, father, mother. What kind of shameful play is it? I can’t believe my actions to crush the key flags were all revealed by my parents.
Though it was not hot, I was sweating. I drank my tea to calm down.
Catching a glimpse sideways, my eyes met with Jeremy who was listening gladfully to the conversation while sitting next to me.
“Because Iris praised me too much during the tea party, his Highness was interested in me. After that, I was also invited to tea parties.”
Jeremy delivering the final blow, I almost spurted out my tea.
While Jeremy also came to participate halfway, I was thinking. I wondered what I said to his Highness. This was too embarrassing.
“If Iris liked him to this extent, I decided to discard any other engagements.”
I understood the reason why I didn’t have a fiancé. Besides, my key flag, destroyed thanks to the inquiry of my parents, because they doted on me, was, as a result, completely crushed. I felt guilty that Jeremy got involved… I averted my eyes.
“Since both of you were still young, I didn’t know when you would realize it, so I thought the marriage matter would take longer.”
“That’s right. Since Iris didn’t seem to be aware of her feelings, I wondered how it would turn out.”
Mother lowered her eyebrows, showing concern.
Yes, I had no awareness at all. Because that was not it.
“If the two of you were in love after becoming adults, I intended to accept this marriage. Because you both are our precious children. If both were to inherit the Duke house, I would be happy.”
To the radiant smiles of my parents, I couldn’t help but laugh.
We were sitting on the couch to relax in Jeremy’s room.
“Jeremy, since when did you know?”
“When I was 11 years old. A short time after you went to the tea party, I heard the story from the Duke. He told me that you really liked me. I was glad and accepted immediately.”
From such a time… I was the only one who didn’t know. Even though I tried so hard to crush the key flag.
“Isn’t it preferable to become a cute girl rather than a diligent one, to be married? And yet, you, Iris, didn’t seem to be interested in cute things, and studied so much instead. You had a fierce spirit. You said you didn’t want to become a Queen, so why did you try so hard? As for me, since I couldn’t do anything, I was feeling useless, and could only hope.”
To think I hurt him. Jeremy asked me many times about his Highness engagement.
I smiled wryly at my efforts that brought a surprising outcome.
“As for me, I intended to live by myself.”
“Eh!? Is that so!?”
The sight of Jeremy being is a panic was funny, I unintentionally laughed. Jeremy sulked and suddenly averted his face.
“Sorry, sorry. I mean, at that time, I was driven by uneasiness. I thought I had to live alone.”
I could not say it was to crush the key flag. If I said I remembered my previous life, he would call a doctor.
I, while being in a real world, was eventually trapped in a game world, and was only thinking of avoiding my fate.
I guess I could say it now.
That I was glad I didn’t remember everything. If I remembered as a child how I met my tragic death, I wouldn’t have been able to withstand it. I didn’t think I could have worked so hard for a decade while being afraid of my end. I would have go crazy.
Feeling a sense of freedom, my whole body grew weak. Jeremy listened quietly next to me. The warmth of his hand on my back, crossing through my clothes, was giving a good feeling.
“As I’m concerned, I intended to work at the Ministry of Magic after school graduation. …To be honest, I passed the Ministry examination. I received the letter yesterday.”
Jeremy looks at me with a surprised face.
“Iris is really amazing. As for me, I wanted you to stay home, but I also know you worked so hard. So, why don’t you give it a try?”
I felt excited to his unexpected words.
“I don’t mind.”
“I am so happy!! I love Jeremy”
I clung to Jeremy with all my mind. ‘We will commute every day to the Royal Palace together’, Jeremy whispered while hugging me.
I raised the hem of my dress and slowly went up the stairs to the entrance hall.
Today, I will say goodbye to this school.
3 years ago, I climbed those stairs with my heart full of determination.
Soon afterwards, my engagement with Jeremy would be announced, and the ceremony would be held in half a year.
Our new home will be separated from the Duke house. Thinking of renting somewhere, Jeremy discussed it with my parents and agreed that living in a detached house would be best considering work and security. Although detached, in addition of the living room and a bedroom, there is a dining room, a decent kitchen, a bath too, and enough furniture for the two of us to live together.
3 years later, I was engaged to Jeremy, and I don’t know what will happen after climbing those stairs.
Jeremy who was escorting me, was wearing a chic outfit, with a black jacket embroidered with silver threads, an assorted pant, and a grey vest with a white shirt underneath.
As for myself, I decided to give up on the average look.
The dress was violet, the wavy skirt made of chiffon had the same color, the ribbon at the back, put on top and made of black chiffon, was gently flowing toward the hem. At the center of the chest made of lace, a black ribbon was decorated, with gloves matching the dress.
My hair was loosely curved, consolidated by a hair ornament mounted with pearls and aquamarine, I was also wearing a matching necklace. They were both gifts from Jeremy as a celebration of our engagement.
Jeremy wore a violet tie to match with my dress.
As I was captivating by his appearance, Jeremy who noticed my gaze, smiled at me.
“You are beautiful. Your dress and accessories suit you well. I don’t want to show you to anyone, especially those bugs.”
Jeremy promptly kissed my cheek.
“Huh!! Not here! What if someone saw us”
“You are so cute becoming bright red… No one saw us. We will be engaged so it is fine. So, what if someone saw?”
“I don’t know”
I didn’t want him to look at my red face anymore, so I turned my face away.
The door opened, and we stepped forward. Everybody turned their heads at once, looked at me with interest and admiration, and seemed shocked.
While being exposed to curious eyes, by the time we finished our general greetings, the Crown Prince entered. He was escorted by the Princess, her younger sister. Next, Emilia and Raymond entered too. I escaped a sigh at their impressive and beautiful presence, while looking at the scene.
Looking to the side, I met Jeremy’s eyes who was sulking like a baby.
“Don’t admire them.”
I sent an exasperated stare at Jeremy who misunderstood.
“Emilia is attending today?”
I asked him the question. Although it wasn’t an official decision, because the engagement was cancelled, I though she would not attend.
“Emilia wasn’t planning to go, but his Highness told her to participate. It was necessary to show that the engagement cancellation was not a problem for both of them, and that Emilia being a bride does not bring conflict for both countries.
His Highness declared that the King, the Queen and his Highness’ grandmother, were extremely pained by this political marriage. Watching this situation, if the current King and the others could not bring happiness to a single woman, how could they govern a country? The Queen role is a heavy burden. Even if it is a political marriage, it is important to build a good relationship with each other, so it has been decided he will decide on an official fiancée when he will be old enough to make a judgement.”
“Is that so.”
“In the long run, it will stabilize the political situation. Regarding this case, if his Highness could not overcome the problem with his fiancée, then he will be no different than a vessel.
Above all else, I think his Highness wanted to enjoy the graduation party with Emilia.”
The game had really no influence anymore.
I was deeply moved by the entrance of this pair of couples. They were dignified, not intimidated by the inquiring gazes and the decision made everyone happy.
His Highness, who noticed us, headed our way. Emilia and Raymond too.
“Congratulation on your engagement, Iris.”
“Thank you, your Highness.”
I haven’t met him since his visit to the Duke house. Since the engagement cancellation, because it was the final stage before graduation, we could no longer have lunch at school together.
“It finally reached its conclusion.”
Emilia agreed to his Highness’ words. Don’t tell me these two people too knew about my relationship with Jeremy.
“My goodness, at this time anyone could tell Iris was Jeremy’s favorite. I am glad for you, Jeremy.”
I wonder how much Jeremy praised me. I am so embarrassed I could die.
Beside my bright red face, Jeremy had a nonchalant air as if it was natural.
“Jeremy, I am indebted to you in various ways.”
“That is right. Thank you very much.”
“Please pay it no mind. By the way, you will depart in 3 days, right?”
Emilia was supposed to leave with Raymond for the neighboring country 3 days later. Raymond had already returned to his country after graduation, which ended his study abroad program, and this time, came to pick up Emilia.
In the center of the floor, the orchestra preparation seemed ready, so everybody gathered.
“Now, the dance is about to begin. Let’s dance to celebrate your departure and the graduation”
His Highness invited us to dance.
“Please take my hand, my lady”
I took Jeremy’s hand.
We proceeded to the center of the floor illuminated by gorgeous chandeliers. As if the future to come after this was pure happiness, the gentle light was pouring down there.