Author: alyalia

“Every time you force yourself to smile and hide your emotions, I feel sorry that I couldn’t say a warm word to you. I’m sorry I couldn’t take care of you with the excuse that I have no face to see you…”

 

“Older Sister… I’ve never hated you.”

 

“You’ve never… hated me…?”

 

“You’re my one and only sister.”

 

Royal Princess Casilla’s eyes turned red as she was moved by Arensis’s answer.

 

“…Ioella, and you… are all siblings to me. Maybe since I met you first, you will become my first sibling.”

 

“…”

 

“Now… you know how to smile comfortably. How many years has it been since I’ve seen you smile like this…”

 

Royal Princes Casilla cautiously raised her hand and stroked Arensis’s hair. When he was a boy, his height was about the height of her waist, but now she barely reached him when she lifted her heels, making her feel awkward.

 

“Yes. Just abandon Peschte. Still, it doesn’t mean you’re not my brother, so come and see me anytime. Don’t worry about this place. Go wherever you want… live your life with a smile. Get… it?”

 

“…Yes.”

 

“As always, you have… to be happy. Brother, I’m sorry… and I love you.”

 

Royal Princess Casilla hugged Arensis as tightly as she could.

 

“Thank you for thinking of me as a family.”

 

His back was too wide. She thought he would always be a child, but it wasn’t like that. After talking with Royal Princess Casilla, Arensis got on the carriage to the Duchy Marsetta.

 

“Lize.”

 

“You’re here.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Charelize, who came first, was inside. Arensis, who sat across from her, stared at her.

 

“…Why?”

 

“You’re so cool. You, really… I didn’t expect you to come.”

 

“But you sent me Shishi?”

 

Charelize, who closed the book she was reading, turned to Arensis.

 

“It’s just… it was so hard… Strangely, I only thought of you, so I sent Shishi.”

 

Arensis scratched his cheek with his index finger as if he was embarrassed to say it.

 

“…Aren.”

 

“Yes..?”

 

“Even if the wedding vows are made right away… let’s do it around the year after the ceremony. Maybe it could be delayed further.”

 

“That’s… It doesn’t matter. The reason you haven’t succeeded in the title yet… May I ask?”

 

“If I succeed in the title now… I have to swear an oath of loyalty to the emperor. Even if it’s a lie, I never want to make an oath as the family head.”

 

Arensis sighed in relief, knowing that it wasn’t because of him that their wedding would be delayed. He also wanted to see Charelize to become his bride, but he didn’t mind as long as she would end up with him.

 

Upon arriving at the Marsetta Duchy, Charelize called the butler. When she was about to tell him to prepare a ring for a gift, Arensis took out a small box from his pocket and held it out.

 

“What’s this?”

 

“Once upon a time, my mother gave it to me. A transaction that symbolizes happiness. She said to give it to someone I love. I wanted to give it to her long ago… Finally, I can give it to you.”

 

The box contained two pairs of emerald rings. The heart of the gemstones twinkled with a deep green glow.

 

That evening, with the high priest as a witness, they modestly professed their marriage vows.

 

“Does the groom, Arensis Kabel Yuan ron Peschte, vow to always love and respect the bride and do your duty truly as her husband?”

 

“The moment my love for Lize becomes untrue, I will die.”

 

“Pardon?”

 

“I will always cherish and love her more than my own life.”

 

If he did something wrong, he could receive the wrath of the goddess for telling a lie. However, the high priest stared at Arensis with intriguing eyes.

 

“…Does the bride, Charelize Elze Roxana von Marsetta, vow to always love and respect the groom and to do your duty as his wife under any circumstances?”

 

“We will live… depend on each other… and cherish each other.”

 

“The first servant of Goddess Resina, Lucio, announces that the couple was married on December 5, 1517, Rosenta in the winter of the Elioter Empire.”

 

The high priest drew the cross sign on his chest and delivered the words of blessing.

 

“May Goddess Resina’s blessing reach and protect the two of you, who will lead the Marsetta.”

 

After signing the wedding vows, Charelize and Arensis exchanged emerald rings. They fit perfectly on their fingers. They were neither small nor big.

 

Charelize finally found someone to walk holding hands with her. And Arensis now has someone to make him feel the family’s affection.

 

* * *

It had already been a month since Arensis and Charelize became a couple. In the meantime, there were some changes in Duchy Marsetta. Charelize, who shares the same bedroom with Arensis, was able to sleep comfortably. Her appetite improved as she began having breakfast, which she often skipped every time. The head chef, who had felt a burden from receiving his salary regularly, no longer felt a burden regarding his work.

 

Hailey couldn’t adapt at first and still called Arensis ‘His Royal Highness.’ But from the moment she saw Arensis open the window for Charelize, who got a fever, she called Arensis ‘Master’.  

 

After Charelize broke up with Delphir, the vassals, who had been matchmaking Charelize with their son, embraced Arensis with tears in their eyes. Arensis’s dedication to giving up his surname of Peschte and authority as an imperial family moved their hearts. Of course, while Charelize’s stern warning about it was the master who acknowledges their servants, not the servants who acknowledge the master, carried the most weight. In any case, Arensis became a true member of Duke Marsetta.

 

In the meantime, Harbert IV proposed a succession ceremony to Charelize. He realized that his health wasn’t like what it used to be and struggled a lot. Whenever that happened, Charelize refused that, saying that she hadn’t been a little duchess for a long time and was still immature.

 

Charelize handled various tasks as the head of the family, and now she had been called as ‘Master’ even by the servants. However, her title was still a little duchess. She officially delayed her succession ceremony, announcing that she would remain a little duchess for the time being.

 

It was only a few days before Charelize’s birthday. As usual, she ran into the chief chamberlain on her way to teach Royal Princess Veloche. The chief chamberlain bowed his head, saying that Harbert IV called for her. Charelize sent the servant to Ramiere Palace, asking them to tell Royal Princess Veloche that she would be late.

 

“Greetings to Your Majesty the Emperor. May Goddess Resina’s blessing reach you.”

 

“Charelize, does it make sense that the seat of the head of Duke Marsetta, the center of the three-duke family, is vacant? Many nobles keep mentioning it… so…”

 

Meeting Harbert IV first, she wanted to ask how he was doing, but then he first started talking about her succession again.

 

“I apologize, Your Majesty. There are still many things I lack to become a matriarch.”

 

No matter how much he persuaded her, the continued refusal made Harbert IV tremble. He seemed to be holding back his anger.

 

“Did you forget the promise to help Veloche?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“If you become a duchess and support Veloche to become the emperor, wouldn’t the senate agree? Isn’t that why you refuse every time you have no intention of keeping that promise?”

 

“I’m refusing because I don’t have the experience yet to become the head of the family. To assume such a thing—”

 

“So, didn’t I offer to hold your succession ceremony at the Erharak Hall?”

 

Harbert IV rose abruptly from the throne, exhaling an exasperated breath through his dry lips.

 

“I apologize, Your Majesty. My answer is the same.”

 

“What!”

 

Harbert IV finally couldn’t contain his anger and collapsed. Even after coming to consciousness, Harbert IV became extremely sensitive, perhaps due to the accumulated poison on his body. There were only a handful of days he didn’t consume alcohol. His judgment became clouded, and one day, he suddenly decided to bring in a new concubine, some of them were even younger than Royal Princess Veloche.

 

The father of the final candidate, Viscount Latine, knelt down on his knees to refuse it, but Harbert IV took his daughter away.  Gradually, the people of the empire grew weary of the tyranny of Harbert IV, and dissatisfaction among the nobles grew.

 

A few months passed like that, and it was the day of Harbert IV’s birthday banquet. It was held for the first time to commemorate the restoration of Crown Princess Elizabeth’s reputation. An awkward atmosphere hover around the banquet hall because of the nobles who remembered the bloody tragedy.

 

“Everyone, thank you for coming to celebrate my birthday.”

 

At the end of Harbert IV’s congratulatory speech, which had begun ceremoniously, he raised his wine glass high. Under the dazzling chandelier’s light, he expressed his dizziness.

 

“Your Majesty! Are you okay!”

 

He waved his hands, saying it was nothing. But the moment he opened his mouth again, he collapsed. Unlike last time, Harbert IV only came to consciousness late at night. Charelize received confirmation from the imperial doctor that today was his critical moment.

 

“Your Royal Highness.”

 

“…Please speak.”

 

“There is a will that my mother left for His Majesty. May I go in and tell him?”

 

“…Of course. His Majesty Father is the only maternal uncle of the little Duchess.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

As everything was already planned, there was an exchange of subtle glances between Royal Princess Veloche and Charelize. Leaving behind those who were forcing out tears that wouldn’t come out, Charelize walked towards Harbert IV’s bedroom.

 

“You’re here, little Duchess.”

 

“Chief Chamberlain.”

 

Charelize sat on a chair prepared by the chief chamberlain.

 

“I’m going to leave now.”

 

The chief chamberlain, who bowed deeply, stepped outside.

 

“Eli…zabeth?”

 

After waiting for a long time, Harbert IV opened his eyes strugglingly. His eyes became poor, and he seemed unable to distinguish who the person in front of him was. He even sees Charelize as Royal Princess Elizabeht. He, who had mercilessly gotten rid of anyone for his own future, had now become very old.

 

“This is Charelize, Your Majesty.”

 

“…Vel, oche… Where did she go?”

 

“…”

 

“C-call the princess. F-for… t-the last time… there is something I need to say… Hurry… Hurry… Veloche.”

 

Even talking seemed difficult for Harbert IV. He took a small irregular breath. He even frowned as if he was in pain with each word he uttered. 

 

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