Author: alyalia

“Last time she fell down the stairs, but this time she went up the roof?”

 

“Yes. How about going to see the princess? It looks like she was very heartbroken when her nanny, Lona, suddenly left.”

 

Duke Marsetta sighed at Charelize’s incomprehensible misbehavior. He frowned his brow as he roughly loosened his cravat.

 

The butler, who had delivered the news of Charelize, trembled and looked at him. Duke Marsetta stood up, banging on the desk, and raised his voice. “She’s the child who will succeed me as the head of Marsetta. How can she become a successor with such a weak mind!”

 

He turned his gaze and stared at Duke Marsetta’s coat of arms on his office desk. Then, with determined eyes, he opened his mouth. “Send an application for admission to the Rosielt Academy. I told Charelize to prepare to leave in spring.”

 

“Your Grace, Rosielt Academy is located in Peschte Empire, so dormitory living is essential. The princess is still young…”

 

“Can you guarantee she won’t do something like this again if she stays here?”

 

The butler, who trailed off his words, bowed down.

 

The quiet and intelligent princess has been acting like a tomboy these past few days. She’s really unusual to fall down the stairs only to get Duke Marsetta’s attention. She even climbed up the roof to skip her class, which she had faithfully taken before.

 

At some point, Charelize began to have various wounds on her body. Those are the struggles of a child hungry for the affection of a heartless father. The butler, who knew it better than anyone else, felt sorry for Charelize.

 

“She’s doing it on purpose to get my attention again in the first place, so if I don’t look at her, it’ll be fixed. I’d rather have her gone as well.”

 

“It’s not easy to decide where she will stay before entering the dormitory. I apologize, but please reconsider, Your Grace.”

 

At the butler’s plea, Duke Marsetta replied indifferently. “Wouldn’t it be okay if you go with the princess?”

 

“My wife, who is sick, is not physically fit to go together.”

 

“…Contact Empress Dowager Lanensia. She’s also a close friend of the royal princess, and Charelize age difference between her and the imperial family children of the Peschte Empire is not that much, so she will be allowed to stay in the imperial palace.”

 

“Princess is only ten years old…! To live in the imperial palace of a foreign country…” When Duke Marsetta seemed to have no intention of taking back his decision, the butler shouted urgently.

 

“I became the little duke at a younger age and took on the duties of the successor. Don’t say it again. Prepare for Charelize’s study abroad.”

 

At that moment, the door burst open. It was Charelize.

 

“Father, I-I was wrong.” Charelize, with tears welling up on her face, suddenly knelt down.

 

“Princess, please get up quickly. The floor is cold.”

 

The bare floor may be cold, but Charelize did not rise to the butler’s dissuasion.

 

“I will never fall down the stairs again. I won’t go up on the roof like I did today. I won’t get hurt intentionally. I won’t miss class, so… don’t send me away.” Charelize recited a series of actions that attempted to attract the attention of Duke Marsetta.

 

“You know your fault. However, once I say something, I have no intention of taking it back of it. Stop doing this. Return to your room and reflect. You’re rounded for one week.”

 

Despite his young daughter’s pleas, Duke Marsetta was extremely adamant.

 

“Father… Why do you hate me so much?” Charelize, with her hands on the floor, bit her lips.

 

“What?”

 

“I didn’t ask for much. I understand that you can’t be a normal father like others.”

 

In the end, Charelize’s tears fell. Once her tears started falling, there was no sign of them stopping. Charelize, who was crying so hard that she choked up her breath, spoke. “Can’t you love me just a little bit…?”

 

There was no reply from Duke Marsetta to Charelize’s question.

 

“I’m F-Father’s only daughter….”

 

Duke Marsetta moved past Charelize.

 

“Father!”

 

Charelize, limping from the aftereffects of her rolling down the stairs, crawled beneath the feet of Duke Marsetta.

 

“There is no way I will ever love you.”

 

“…Father.”

 

* * *

“…!”

 

A cold sweat broke out. Duke Marsetta, out of bed, complained of a migraine. He dreamed of talking to young Charelize.

 

It happened around the time that child was ten years old. He couldn’t picture his child’s face when she heard those words ‘There’s no way I will ever love you.’ What kind of expression did she have? Was she still crying?  After saying that, he left the office. He remembered that he sent Charelize to study in the Peschte Empire the following year.

 

But he didn’t know what that child said at her end. Charelize is already dead. She was imprisoned in Helsen Prison for attempting to poison Lillian and then committed suicide. Her funeral wasn’t held, so words came out from various places. It wasn’t that she hated Charelize so much that he didn’t hold her funeral. It was simply because of the traumatic memory of the funeral of the previous duchess who hanged herself. In fact, he had no idea that Charelize would die, so that event still didn’t feel real to him.

 

Duke Marsetta, who changed his shirt and came to his office, looked at the place where the child had kneeled in his dream. Soon, he took his eyes off and focused on looking at the overdue documents. After a while, his vassals came.

 

“Your Grace, it has already been several days since the little duchess passed away.”

 

“Please forgive her.”

 

Despite the requests of the vassals, Duke Marsetta remained silent. He was distracted by the flies that came and made noise every day.

 

“No matter how much she was expelled from the family register, she’s still his child… His Grace is very cold-hearted.

 

Tsk! That’s what I said. He ordered silence to everyone even after the little duchess passed away because he was afraid that Princess Lillian would be shocked.”

 

He heard footsteps as if they were going back.

 

“I feel terrible just thinking about that child becoming like that.”

 

At the vassal’s words, the movement of the quill pen that Duke Marsetta held in his hand slowed. He returned to his senses and looked at the document, but he couldn’t see the writing.

 

“Your Grace, this is Hailey.”

 

“Come in.”

 

Duke Marsetta, who was forced to look at the documents, stopped at the visit of Hailey, Charelize’s exclusive maid. Once inside, Hailey held out a letter with her trembling hands.

 

“What is this?”

 

“This is a letter that the little duchess wrote for Your Grace before she was imprisoned in Helsen Prison. I hope that Your Grace will read it.”

 

“…Letter?” Duke Marsetta squinted his eyes.

 

“Your grace asked me. Did she poison Princess Lillian’s teacup?”

 

Hailey could barely control her voice from crying.

 

“To the extent that you doubted her, she truly cared for Princess Lillian, who had been with her since childhood.”

 

At Hailey’s words, Duke Marsetta rubbed his dark eyes.

 

“I will now return to the Count Kabe family. It doesn’t make sense for me to stay in a place where I have no master to serve.”

 

Hailey, who smiled bitterly, left shortly after leaving her resignation letter. It was as if she didn’t want to talk to Duke Marsetta, even for a moment.

 

Duke Marsetta clutched his throbbing head. Once his headache had somewhat subsided, he opened the letter slowly.

 

[Father.

When Father reads this letter, I will probably be riding in a carriage heading down the estate. I will learn and practice more in the future, and I will definitely be of help to you, so can you please take back your decision not to see me anymore?

When I heard what father said, I felt like my world was falling apart. Because I have lived all this time to gain father’s approval. If that were the case, I would have lived happily ever after with that memory. That was all I wanted.

I was hungry for father’s affection. I wondered what the eyes of father, who loved me would look like.

Father, why didn’t you give me love? Couldn’t you just love me as father’s daughter?]

 

There were clear tear marks in the traces of writing and erasing. Duke Marsetta fumbled what Charelize had erased.

 

Why couldn’t he give her love? Couldn’t he love her? Charelize couldn’t even convey the resentment that she had expressed for the first time.

 

He smacked his chest a couple of times and captured the following words.

 

[Do you know that when I first saw Lillian, I was actually jealous? It wasn’t because you met her the day after my mother died, but because she was the only daughter who could put a smile on father’s face. No matter what I did, I couldn’t be like Lillian because I knew she was a daughter loved by father, unlike me.

It’s true that I accepted that child to get attention from father. But, father… even for a moment, you doubted my people. You suspected if I had poisoned the tea Lillian had drunk. She was truly a precious sister to me. She was the only one in this mansion, where I always lived under constant threats to my life, who called my name.

I don’t think father really knows this. It’s just that you were so worried about Lillian that you said it out of frustration. I can understand that. I will try harder next time.

Father… I’m having a baby. I want to name the baby Lino. Please take care of my child, who will live under my grandmother’s childhood name.

I hope you don’t tell Delphir about the baby. It’s enough for him to suffer the pain caused by his parents. If that’s the case, it’s better for him not knowing it in the first place.

Father, for me, I wanted to make father proud, even just for a moment. I’ll end this now… Please stay healthy until I see you again.

-Father’s daughter, Charelize.]

 

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