Please forget it
Violette and Claudia walked without exchanging any words, and the destination was just as Violette had expected.
The door that was beautifully decorated even though this was still within the school area, too showy to the point that it was a waste. But then, this was the appropriate appearance to convey how the owner of this room’s was both the student council president who reigned at the top of the students, and also a part of the royal family who sat at the top of the county.
When he opened the door, it was a gorgeous room just like what Violette had imagined.
“What do you want to drink?”
“…Black tea, may I have it with some milk?”
After Claudia called the staff with butler’s clothes who was waiting by the wall, the butler immediately bowed and left the room.
This room was the salon owned by the student council. There was a student council room beyond the back door, where only members and teachers were allowed to enter. The number of people who could enter this salon was limited for crime prevention, and there were rumours that only a few butlers who had passed student council’s criteria and people who were approved by the student council could use this room. Actually, the rule was not that strict, but the matter about the official stance was an unspoken agreement between all of the students.
Since the student council members were attracting attention, both for good and bad, this was the place where they could loosen up, even if just a little. There was no point in increasing the people who came in and out, so only people who had bombastic title publicly would enter this room.
The rule was so light to the point that it wouldn’t be a problem even if one student, Violette, entered the room. It was especially true since she came together with Claudia, the student council president.
“…You may also sit down.”
“Then, excuse me.”
Prompted by Claudia to sit on the opposite side, Violette also sat down on the red cushion. The softness that felt like it was wrapping around her gently made Violette feel secure to the point that she might forget that this place was still within the school building.
Violette spread her skirt so that it wouldn’t wrinkle. She was sitting alone on the sofa, which was such a size that even if two people sat on there, there would still be some space left. Claudia who sat in front of her also sat in the center of such a sofa.
After a little silence, there was a slight noise of the service wagon that carried the black tea. It was mixed with the smell of sweet milk and fragrant coffee.
“Step back until I call you in.”
Claudia told the butler who served the drinks on the table tidily to wait outside the room, and the butler exited without saying anything. Despite the fact that his expressionless face gave off a little bit of an unpleasant mood, the employees all over this school responded according to the situation they were in. In places where there were many people such as the canteen, it was important for them to smile as much as possible, and in places with high confidentiality like this salon, it was important for them to erase their humanity as much as possible. Since when someone wanted to exchange their secrets, they had to make sure about how loose the employers’ mouths were, and about whether there would be any problems if someone else asked about it.
There was only the breathing sound of the two people in the room. In other words, the silence continued.
But Violette’s heart was pounding so hard that she could even hear it in her ears. The feeling of pressure made the temperature of her fingertips disappear, and her chest became uncomfortably hot.
Violette was worried that she wouldn’t be able to hold the cup since she couldn’t move her fingertips quite well, so instead she savored the temperature of the steaming milk tea by wrapping the cup with both of her hands. She felt like she could feel a little calmer if she filled her mouth that was dry because of the nervousness with the sweet taste of the milk tea.
It seemed like not only Violette, but Claudia who was confronting her also thought the same thing as her.
Claudia took a sip from his cup of coffee, and returned the cup which still had some coffee left remaining inside to the saucer and stared at Violette.
“I’m sorry for calling you out so suddenly.”
“No, you don’t have to worry. It’s a request from you, Claudia-sama, after all.”
No one could refuse the summon from the prince without good reason. Even if there was a reason, they should still prioritize the prince all the more.
In that regard, it didn’t change no matter what kind of intention Claudia had. Even though he thought that it was not a big deal, but for others, it was a “prince’s requisite” which was the most important thing for them. It was no exception even to Violette, who was a noble.
The previous Violette would’ve been ecstatic just by having Claudia called her out, and probably, she would’ve happily followed him without feeling bewildered and bothered like now.
Even though Violette was talking about herself, now that she looked back, she realized that she had been an outrageous lady. She was reminded once again that having objective point of view was important.
Then Violette suddenly noticed, and remembered her own remarks.
For her, how she acted with Claudia before was something from more than a year ago, but for Claudia, it was something that happened just recently. Even if time went back and she had regretted everything, what had been done so far couldn’t be changed.
Claudia must’ve suspected at how Violette’s attitude had changed, and there’s no way he would be relieved.
The only thing that had changed was Violette’s soul, and Claudia didn’t know anything about that. For him, Violette was still an annoying woman who had run out of his favor.
And for Claudia to request talking with such person, it was already scary just by thinking what kind of bad direction this would spin into.
Even though Violette had such ill feelings towards Claudia even under normal circumstances, she had the mind to think of her current whereabouts now, and even if she was feeling greatly perplexed inside, her face was still her usual nonchalant look.
“As I thought, you are different.”
Even though Violette had been wondering what kind of expression and tone of voice Claudia would have when he shot her with insults, his voice was unexpectedly likeable, a bitter smile on his face.
It was different from the sharp eyes and voice full of discomfort he had always directed towards Violette until now.
As if he was feeling troubled, but not only that… he sounded relieved, like he had understood something.
“The you now… doesn’t have any feelings towards me.”
In the past, all of Violette’s words pointed towards Claudia were coated with a thousand different intentions.
They were not only favors, but also selfishness, jealousy, and slight hope. All of it was wrapped in love, but her transparent mixed feelings weren’t pretty by any standards.
To be honest, Violette was fed up with it. She felt so disgusted to the point of wanting to vomit.
While she acted like she was expressing her love, she herself wasn’t reflected in those eyes at all. In Claudia’s eyes, Violette who was satisfying her own emotions with only the vessel of love in her hands was ridiculous and uncanny. The Violette who was wilful and egotistically frank was only like a strange monster to Claudia.
Even when Claudia didn’t see Violette, he was suspicious of her to the point that he couldn’t feel safe as a rule of thumb, a kind of prejudice. For Claudia, Violette was an opponent that he had no choice but to be vigilant with.
She was his opponent, and yet.
“I didn’t see your figure and you didn’t come to talk to me, so I thought you were planning something. After that… I learned of the Vahan family’s matter.”
After Violette lost her mother, the Duke’s second wife and her half-sister appeared in no time.
Claudia understood that Violette was affected with those event, and she didn’t have any time to mind him. And although this was imprudent, Claudia was wondering if she would lose interest in him as it was.
Meanwhile, that day, Claudia was disappointed in an instant after looking only at that scene. He thought that in the end, Violette’s nature hadn’t changed at all.
What happened as a result was… he didn’t even need to say it.
“I was interpreting the situation to my own convenience. I decided that such were the facts… and I blamed you.”
Claudia could justify what he did as rule of thumb, but it was something that he shouldn’t have done on the spot. He was free to have whatever impression he had from the sidelines, but once he decided to get involved, he should have been fair. At the very least, he should have looked at the condition objectively, not subjectively.
Even if Claudia wanted to protect the victim with his power as a prince, he must understand the reason why the perpetrator was being convicted.
“In the end, I acted with prejudice, framed you, and even got arrogant with it… The me at that time wasn’t qualified to talk about justice.”
Claudia stood up, and Violette’s line of sight naturally rose. What she should see was Claudia’s white skin and golden eyes.
Not the whirl of golden hair hanging down on the back of his head.
“I’m sorry… I really feel apologetic for that.”
“W-what are you…”
Violette couldn’t understand what was happening for a moment, and it was too late when she returned to her senses. The first thing she felt when she saw the person in front of her bowing down his head to her was tremendous panic.
Violette believed that a prince should hold his head high, to the point that they shouldn’t say a word of apology.
“Please lift your head… If somebody saw you do this at this kind of place, I…!”
Originally, royal family wasn’t allowed to apologize to the people with lower social status than them. People who were full of benevolence and equality would frown on this theory, but in fact, the apology of the royal family member in question had a lot of hidden value.
To think that the existence that should be at the top was admitting their wrong to the people they guided…
Not admitting their fault was kind of their pride, and it was a very important principle of political power. The king’s legitimacy must be preserved so that everyone would comply with the law.
If, for example, the prince’s apology right now was known to the public… The one who would be punished was “the side who made him express” the apology. In other words, Violette.
Claudia also should be aware of that. No matter how narrow-minded his justice was, did he understand the worth of his own head? If he didn’t even know that, he shouldn’t be the king.
“You can rest assured. What happened here will never leak outside.”
“That… might be the case, but…”
This place was a part of school where nobles mostly enrolled to, and only the ones who were standing on the top could use this place. The simplicity of its utilization and the security of its inside wouldn’t be proportional. The butler who was the only outsider worthy to step on this place was already outside, and the soundproofing of this room should work accordingly.
Now, only Violette knew Claudia’s conduct.
“When we leave this room, you can forget my speech and conduct… In the first place, I didn’t do it because I wanted to be forgiven. If you want to leave this matter as it is, I will also comply.”
What was the meaning of his action if he let her forget it? What was the value of his apology if he didn’t ask for forgiveness?
Even though they were contradictory, and had similar reasons as child’s excuse, Claudia was serious with all of his heart.
Violette didn’t have to forgive him. She could just forget it. They could just leave things as they were.
What he wanted to convey was neither reflection, regret, or guilt.
“But, I just… know that I can solve the misunderstandings at that day.”
Claudia couldn’t erase what had happened, or apologize publicly. Even if he could make use of the lesson taught by Yulan’s anger in the future, this would make no difference to Violette’s situation.
When Yulan pointed out that Claudia couldn’t do anything, and he realized that he made an unforgivable mistake… Claudia started to think of a way to make Violette’s mind lighter, even if just a little bit.
Claudia thought about not doing anything and waiting for some time to pass. Perhaps that might have been the best choice, but it didn’t make his hesitation disappear completely.
The reason why he still apologized was surely because the misunderstanding engulfed Claudia’s heart more than what others thought.
Even if Violette was someone who was accused, her innocence became her shield for a moment. Even so, when the masses had reached their own conclusions they wouldn’t hold back, regardless of the light and shade of the cause. In truth, her innocence could serve as a sin as well.
“Please only know that I knew that I was wrong that day.”
Perhaps, he was doing something stupid. Perhaps, he would rouse Yulan’s anger again.
Still, there was a result that Claudia wouldn’t yield to. There was a belief that Claudia never submitted to.
He had to make sure that he wouldn’t hurt Violette by accident again.
(Even though the person who wasn’t looking at all was me…)
Violette didn’t try to know. She also didn’t try to understand.
She just kept pushing herself to Claudia, and didn’t try to share. She just wished to heal her pain, and didn’t bother to look at his discomfort.
Compared those many noble ladies who desired for Claudia’s appearance and title, Violette who forced herself at Claudia in reality just because it was convenient was much more vicious.
A dreaming maiden could be considered adorable, but she was just rampaging if she crossed over the border of dreams. She had gone beyond escaping from reality.
It started with Violette.
Violette planted her impression to Claudia from her dream and fanaticism. That made him see Violette as an evil person. It was true that he falsely accused Violette, but it didn’t mean that she was innocent.
Still, Claudia bowed his head. He apologized.
He admitted his own error from the bottom of his heart, and was worried about Violette’s pain more than receiving forgiveness.
Claudia was a sincere person, no matter how you looked at it. He was serious, sincere, and perhaps stupid. He was the perfect prince in every dream, despite, or maybe because of his countless deficiencies and excesses.
The person who was called Claudia was a very frank person. There would surely be a day when his heart would be broken. Even though Claudia would resist, his tactless belief would only hurt him and the country as the one who stood on the top of the country.
Violette could no longer see the perfect future she had pushed on him.
Her feelings were impure, calculating, and full of lies. She wanted the happiness that surrounded Claudia, and tried to use that love as her stepping stone.
It was all just as Claudia said. What he was seeing was exactly the true nature of Violette, and there was only one meaning to it.
It was a love too ugly to call passion. A love too impure to call admiration.
Yet, even though this feeling didn’t have a tint of purity in it,
(I… used to like that kind of you.)
The ridiculous, foolish, and crude prince who was gentle, honest, straightforward, and carried out justice.
This feeling was not admiration. It was also not passion.
Still, Claudia was certainly the first person Violette had come to like.