Author: alyalia

“…Huh?”

 

Surprised by my sudden declaration, Frinel turned his head towards me.

 

“Being the empress would surely stop Endimion from throwing a fit, wouldn’t it?”

 

“Wait, that means…” His eyes fluttered with uncertainty.

 

“Yes, I’ll be honest.”

 

I continued with a slight smile.

 

“I like you too. No…”

 

My voice firmed up with a resolution. “I love you.”

 

Finally, I fully expressed my feelings towards Frinel. His eyes widened in shock at my words.

 

* * *

“…Ha.” Frinel chuckled dryly, circling once near the window before returning with a flushed face.

 

“I knew it. I knew you were attracted to me. But…” He swallowed hard before continuing. “I didn’t expect you to confess like this. You already have so many burdens. In fact, I’ve been worrying every night. Afraid that I would become an even bigger burden to you.”

 

Truth be told, he had been sleepless for many nights, not just because of his love for Lobelia. She had enough troubles other than him. That’s why he declared that he would seduce her. Even though he tried to express his feelings minimally, he worried if even that was too much for her. So, he pretended to be lighthearted and ignored her discomfort.

 

Today was no exception. When he was poisoned, he vaguely remembered everything else, but the words Lobelia said to him remained clear.

 

“You will hear the words I love you when you come back alive.”

 

Normally, he would’ve made a joke about it as soon as he woke up. But he didn’t because there was one reason. It was because those words she threw at him were filled with the deepest emotions. He didn’t want to dilute such words with mere jokes. Yet, he never expected her to confess her love to him, especially like this. And moreover,

 

“My father, I don’t want to call him that… but the emperor killed your clan. So, I really…”

 

His father was the one who killed her clan, essentially her enemy. Though he never mentioned it aloud, Frinel was tormented by this thought.

 

“Can I really accept your love…? Huh?” His gaze sought hers desperately.

 

“You didn’t do it. The emperor’s sins are separate from you.” Lobelia lightly answered, thinking of Roseni.

 

The emperor’s actions were unforgivable, and naturally, she harbored hatred. But it would be too pitiful to hate Frinel for the past, especially considering his own unhappy childhood.

 

Ha…” It felt like a dream, so he sighed deeply. “Pinch my cheek. It feels like a dream.”

 

“It’s not a dream.”

 

With the corners of her mouth lifted Lobelia pinched Frinel’s cheeks on both sides.

 

Ouch.”

 

“It’s not a dream, right?”

 

Ha, it’s real. I always thought what I wanted never happened.”

 

Ironically, ever since he met her, everything started going well. He looked at Lobelia with a slightly reddened face.

 

“It happened. You made it happen.”

 

Today, he even secured a promise for the throne, all thanks to her. His voice unwittingly rose, buoyant as a balloon.

 

“With you seducing me like that, how could I not fall?”

 

Lobelia glanced at him teasingly and chuckled. “I was so anxious, afraid you’d hear my heart pounding.”

 

“I heard it.”

 

“…Really?”

 

“It’s a lie.”

 

“Frinel!”

 

“I like it. It’s good that you call me that.”

 

Satisfied with her calling his name, he firmly grasped her hand. “I need to work harder. To make you the crown princess, no…”

 

He then slowly kissed her hand. “To make you the Empress.”

 

“Keep that promise.”

 

“Of course. I always keep my word.”

 

Tsk.”

 

“Then, once I become emperor, there will be no problems.”

 

“Say that after you become one.”

 

Lobelia playfully pouted her lips. Frinel seemed to have a brilliant idea at that moment, his lips curling into a playful smile. She still didn’t know he was soon to be named crown prince.

 

He cleared his throat and slyly asked. “So, what will you do for me once I become the emperor?”

 

“What do you want?”

 

“Can I ask for something big?”

 

“No.” She decisively shook her head.

 

Hmm… Then I won’t be greedy.”

 

Pretending to ponder, Frinel then parted his lips slightly. “A kiss. How about that?”

 

Pfft, we’re not children. What kind of kiss?” Surprised by his rather timid suggestion, Lobelia burst out laughing.

 

Then, seemingly motivated, he raised his voice a bit more. “Not on the cheeks, but on the lips.” He smiled contentedly, proud of himself.

 

He’s so cute.

 

As much as it was regretful for Frinel, Lobelia was no naïve woman. Having been through much, including motherhood, it was natural. Regardless of what he thought of her, she wasn’t just a simple, innocent lady.

 

With an alluring look, she spoke, “Try to be bolder.”

 

“…Can I really be bolder?”

 

His ears perked up like a wolf spotting prey. He involuntarily swallowed his saliva. Honestly, what couldn’t he say? But for Frinel, his love for the woman he cherished outweighed his desires. He could suppress any desire for her sake, no matter how strong.

 

After months of worrying beside her, this was the moment he received her confession of love. He didn’t want to risk losing everything over a momentary lapse.

 

“How bold?”

 

Huh?”

 

“How bold can I be?”

 

Hmm, just say it. I’ll decide after hearing.”

 

“You won’t regret it, right?”

 

“I won’t regret it.” She teased him in response. Seeing his naïve side at such a critical moment proved he really hadn’t experienced love before.

 

“…Then…” Frinel hesitated, then finally voiced the word swirling in his mouth. “Kiss—?” At the same time, one of his eyebrows slowly rose.

 

“Okay,” Lobelia answered even before he finished speaking.

 

At the too-quickly reply, he asked back as if he was puzzled.

 

“…Really?”

 

“Yes. Because I love you, Frinel.” She added teasingly.

 

That endearing sight almost drove him mad with love, making it impossible to stand still. Frinel embraced her tightly.

 

“Then I should give it to you now.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“The emperor has promised the throne to me.”

 

“What?” She pushed his chest slightly in surprise. “Really?”

 

“Yes. He apologized.” Frinel smiled bitterly.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Lobelia looked at him with concern. Although Frinel was smiling, he must have been hurt.

 

When harmed, some people desperately wish for remorse and reflection from those who wronged them, while others simply wish not to be apologized to or forgiven anymore. He belonged to the latter category.

 

“I felt guilty for hating the emperor.”

 

“…Frinel…”

 

“Still, I felt relieved to receive the apology. That man with such pride.”

 

Frinel chuckled as if making a joke, and then Lobelia embraced him comfortingly.

 

“Don’t blame yourself. Just… accept your resentment as it is.” She whispered softly, not quite comforting but offering solace, gently patting Frinel’s back.

 

“There’s no need to resist. It’s their fault.”

 

“Yes. Now I know. It was hard…”

 

He stroked Lobelia’s hair gently, smiling contentedly.

 

“But it feels like I’ve received compensation.”

 

“Compensation…”

 

“Of course, it’s nothing compared to my dreadful past. But still… it’s a significant change in my life.”

 

What he had dreamt of but given up on. The wall called the empress, tormenting him since childhood, seemed insurmountable. No, it seemed so, but it was actually trivial.

 

“All this is thanks to you.”

 

“Why is it thanks to me? It’s your merit.”

 

“Lady Lobelia lit a fire in my heart.”

 

“Is that so?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Hmm, anyway… Then I should keep my promise too.”

 

With a mysterious smile, she whispered quietly. “Come closer, Frinel.”

 

He leaned closer as if hypnotized, though tilting his head slightly. She wrapped her arms around Frinel’s neck. He swallowed hard, taken aback. With Frinel’s eyes fixed on her, Lobelia brought her lips close to his ear.

 

“You don’t have to hold back anymore. I won’t either.”

 

An outright temptation. His laughter was dizzy in response to the provocative, sweet voice intertwining around him.

 

Ha, can you handle it, Lady Lobelia?”

 

“I’m not that innocent.”

 

“…It’s driving me crazy.”

 

He pushed his hair back, slowly rolling his eyes.

 

“Should I wait longer?” Teasingly, Lobelia lifted the end of her sentence.

 

“No.”

 

He suddenly came to his senses.  Lifting one corner of his lips lazily, he firmly wrapped his arms around her waist.

 

“Of course not.”

 

As the words ended, their lips sought each other. Releasing the desires they had suppressed, they fell onto the bed. Thus, after openly sharing their hearts, the first night flowed deeply for them both.

 

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