Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 36: Shackles of Blood.
I knew he’d come to speak with me.
I smiled at prince Douglas, who had suddenly approached, and began to observe him.
To tell the truth, I had only spoken to him a handful of times, so I didn’t know much about the man himself. With Side Consort Bianca’s influence, any kind of information on him was few and far between.
Besides, Prince Edward was so capable that prince Douglas was often overshadowed.
Despite his position as the elder, he ranked lower in the line of succession to the throne than his younger brother. Moreover, that younger brother was considered to be one of the most brilliant royals in their lifetime, even if he was such a sly person…
It was difficult to know how he must have felt to be compared to his superior younger brother. In the first place, it was impossible to fully understand the feelings of others, so I neither despised nor sympathized with him.
But if he were to get in our way, I would not be merciful.
Now that he was engaged to Isabella, His Highness Prince Douglas was second to Duke Macmillan in my list of people to be wary of.
Prince Douglas’ approach was surprising – but I managed to plaster a ladylike smile on my face.
“Oh my, if it isn’t Prince Douglas. What can I do for you?”
“It is a confidential matter. Do you mind if we move somewhere more private?”
“I apologize, but I must decline. Your Highness is betrothed to Lady Isabella, and I am an unmarried woman without a fiancé. I am afraid we will give people the wrong impression, and I don’t want to do anything that might cause trouble for you, Your Highness.”
“But the engagement was arranged between the Duke and my mother without my agreement…”
“It may be. Regardless of our intentions, however, people will see things the way they want to see.”
As the one who held the title of the ‘Flower of High Society’, it is of the utmost importance to be able to articulate myself clearly, especially to a prince. How would I be able to call myself that otherwise?
Countless are those who would try to forcefully snap the flower. After all, the Flower of High Society was not a title given to just any woman who only had beauty as their asset.
Prince Douglas, I assume, understood and relented with great reluctance.
“In that case, how about the terrace? It’s less crowded, so we could talk in peace.”
Just because my family was one of the three pillars of the royal family, didn’t mean I could ignore a request from royalty.
I suppose this was the best compromise.
“I understand. But may we please do so in a position where we can be seen from the hall?”
“I will not do anything that will bring you dishonor.”
After saying this, I followed His Highness Prince Douglas, with about a two meter distance between us.
When we arrived at the terrace, there were several couples already seated. Each of them were off in their own worlds…
I couldn’t stand feeling so out of place.
Inwardly, I regretted the error of my judgment.
“So, Your Highness, what did you wish to speak about?”
I had to finish this quickly and get back to the hall. If I stayed for too long, Isabella would intentionally make a scene, cause a misunderstanding, and cry about how she had her fiancé stolen from her…
Of course, all the while she rejoiced inwardly.
“As I said earlier, I’m not happy about my engagement. Neither is Isabella.”
What was the point of telling me? With the engagement already in place, there was nothing else to be discussed. Royal and noble marriages were not for the romantics – they were for politics. Not for lovers who want to live together forever.
It was all political, a contract between houses or countries.
For someone like me, whose marriage had long been decided to start and end with politics, love was a luxury and a terrible emotion.
Even if the most favored of my own list of fiance candidates confessed his love to me, there was still a good chance that I would marry another man.
The more I’d hope, the deeper the heartbreak when betrayed. If that were the case, it would be better if I didn’t fall for anyone at all.
Well, now that I’d sworn to have revenge, it was impossible for me to fall in love.
I erased the image of the barbaric, cunning man who had come to mind and took my eyes off His Highness Douglas, a sad expression in place.
“I see. I didn’t know…”
A lie. I had thoroughly researched Isabella’s engagement with prince Douglas, and I had Cheryl stay vigilant for any new information about it.
“Your eyes, your conduct as a noblewoman, your occasional smile. Everything about you is beautiful. I… I like you, Julianna. I wish to marry you.”
I was shaken up for a moment by his forthrightness, but I regained my composure.
I was instantly reminded of the conversation I had with Prince Edward when we had our fake date in an inn.
“I don’t know if you know this, Julianna, but my brother likes you, you know? Especially with the added value of your lineage and your reputation as a socialite.”
My purple eyes were a trait that appeared in the royalty of the neighboring Samerta Kingdom, where they were revered as living deities. In recent years, purple-eyed royalty had become less common. Even my grandmother, a princess, had not been blessed with them.
However, her child – my mother – was born with purple eyes. And her child – me – also inherited purple eyes.
As such, one of my prospective fiancés aside from Prince Edward, was a prince of Samerta. I assumed the Samerta Kingdom would want to reclaim their royal lineage that currently belonged to another nation’s nobility.
They were quite persistent about the marriage offer, Grace said.
The passion in prince Douglas’ eyes burned, but I was sure that it was not me he was looking at.
He loved the blood of two royal families. He loved the idea of House Olcott and House Lewis, and the manufactured image of the perfect lady of society I created.
He did not love me.
Prince Douglas’ words did not sway my heart at all.
“I am honored… but it’s already decided that I will marry the man my father has chosen for me.”
“Is it because I am the son of the ‘Haughty Favored Side Consort’? That I am the first prince with no winning qualities over his younger brother?”
Prince Douglas looked like he was about to cry.
I recognised that face. It was the same face I made whenever I despised the blood that flowed through my veins and cursed myself for it…
“Your Highness, being born with lineages as ours, if we decide to act selfishly, it is not us alone who will suffer the consequences. If you still wish to act according to your desires, then you should escape from the blood that flows through you.”
“But that means…”
I smiled at prince Douglas, who looked puzzled, and elaborated.
“If you want to continue being a royal of this nation and have someone to protect, then I advise you to remain shackled by this bloodline’s fate. I wish that you can cherish that person, especially since you will not be able to meet otherwise if not for the blood that runs through your veins.”
“You are the same as me, Julianna, yet so different, I see. Have you… accepted the blood that flows in your body?”
“How I truly feel is a secret.”
I put my index finger to my mouth and smiled playfully. His Highness Douglas just smiled bitterly, and nodded.
“Alright. I, too, will try to face my own lineage.”
“I pray that it will lead to Your Highness’ good fortune.”
Just when I thought that was the end of the conversation, Prince Douglas then put his hand on my cheek.
Wait a second… Why are you giving me such a heated look after the way this conversation went?!
We were visible from the hall, and if he kept approaching me like this…
As I was trying to work out a way to avoid it, someone grabbed my arm from behind. When I turned to see what was going on, there was Prince Edward, a sinister smile on his face.
“Brother, it is not good to recklessly touch another lady when you have a fiancée. Do you want to feed the old foxes?”1, Prince Edward said as he pulled me close to him.
Do you even hear yourself?! What do you intend to do with all that said as you also held a woman who was not your fiancée?!
Wait, did he just cast away his ‘Ideal Prince’ mask?
When I turned my gaze to prince Douglas, he didn’t hide the way he looked at prince Edward like he saw something annoying. I see, so these brothers don’t put up pretenses when they’re facing each other.
“Your Highness Prince Edward… I-it’s all right.”
I feigned embarrassment and urged him to let me go. Instead, he held on even tighter, caging me in.
This guy!! He knows what’s going on and he’s playing with us!!
“It’s as you say, Edward. But why don’t you release Julianna yourself?”
“I don’t want to. It’s a rare chance to be able to touch Julianna when she’s calm. I have to enjoy it.”
Prince Edward sarcastically replied with a face worthy of being called the Barbarian Demon King. Meanwhile, Prince Douglas was starting to get very annoyed. Prince Edward seemed to be making fun of both me and prince Douglas.
Such a hopeless case…
“Your Highness, please stop fooling around.”
I aimed for the moment when his arms loosened their restraint, and I pulled away from Prince Edward. As I did so, I forced my eyes to water and began to act bashful. Curse him! How dare he appear when I had no need of him!
“Julianna, who only danced with her younger brother and Duke Macmillan, is speaking privately with you, Brother. Even if it’s done within view of the crowd, if this continues, she might be targeted by the nobles of the religious faction. So, to keep the balance, I will go and dance with Julianna now.”
Reluctantly, Prince Douglas left us and returned to the hall, leaving Prince Edward and I alone on the terrace.
“Well, I have a lot to say, but… Julianna, did you get anything out when dancing with Duke Macmillan?”
Just how much did Prince Edward know about House Lewis?
“There was nothing remarkable.”
I tried to intimidate him with a smile, warning him to stop prying any further. Instead of backing down, Prince Edward smiled, pleased. Just what on earth was he thinking?
Prince Edward then knelt and offered me his hand.
“Julianna, will you dance with me?”
“….Alright. I know you won’t accept a ‘no’. I will dance with you.”
I took Prince Edward’s hand and stepped out into the dance hall. The nobles’ stares were so painful…
That was expected, though, because the second prince and the young lady of House Lewis had never danced together in public before.
The song that was being played was of high difficulty. While some of the nobles decided to take a break, Prince Edward and I just smiled and danced perfectly.
I know I’m quite eccentric, but personally, I think Prince Edward was eccentric as well.
Everyone looked at us with various feelings, some filled with awe, some with envy. Being the center of attention…. it didn’t feel good.
I looked up at Prince Edward after a spin and immediately saw a purple scarf on him. I’m sure that he wore a different color when we met in the garden, so….
Wait, the scarf was the same color as my dress. It’s – it’s like we had matching outfits!
Realizing that I had noticed the wardrobe change, Prince Edward smiled charmingly.
“You’re so stubborn. I’ve decided: it would be much easier if I cleared the path to you first, lest I see any more weeds2.”
The words said, only loud enough for my ears, were nothing but devious, in contrast to the enchanting smile on his face.
Instinctively, I decided that this man was dangerous and tried to retreat from the dance floor. However, he held my hand and gripped my waist even tighter.
The next song began to play –
“I just thought I’d warn you to be prepared to be showered by my affection.”
“I remember! I also remember that I said that our arrangement was good enough for now!”
“I changed my mind. It’s your fault for showing your smile towards my brother.”
“You are being unreasonable!”
In the end, it was only after the third song that I was released from the dance floor.
Later, rumors about the second prince that had rejected Marquess Lewis’ daughter disappeared and a new one about them being in love started to spread.
Just how did this happen?
QC/N: Wish y’all a Happy Diwali!