“Ah, how can you compare? Chloe is my person1.”
At those words, Count Chamberlain, who was walking ahead of us, looked back at me with his eyes wide open. Huh, why?
“What about me?”
Felix then asked with a look of sadness.
If you ask such a question so openly and suddenly, it’d be quite embarrassing for me to answer.
Why are you asking me the obvious? Did you really want to hear it from my mouth? Was that it?
In order to hide my embarrassment, I deliberately scratched my cheek and frowned.
I formed a gun with my fingers2 and blew a bullet towards him before I spoke.
“Of course, Felix is also my person.”
At the same time, the eyes of everyone around me focused on me. I only noticed it after I did it. This was even more embarrassing.
Ha, please respond. There was a surge of shame.
Felix, who had stiffened, regained his composure and advised me earnestly.
“Don’t do that in front of others.”
…….I already did it in front of Erica once. It was a finger heart back then.
You didn’t want me to look like that. How sweet of you.
“Please kiss me, too.”
I’d never kissed anyone before.
Claudia looked at me and scratched her head. It was so out of the blue3.
“The shape of your mouth that just babbled about was so cute.”
So cute enough to be kissed. Claudia, who couldn’t figure out her train of thought4, began to make ridiculous claims.
“Can’t you? What if Rin’s one and only Chloe is the one asking you to do this?”
The way she referred to herself in third-person narration was so adorable.
But, rather than being burdensome, she was so lovely.
I couldn’t resist Claudia’s charms and her cute request. I sighed and kissed her puffed-up cheek.
At that moment, Hugo, who had been observing us, muttered quietly.
“I’m sure the word ‘baby5’ is appropriate.”
It was a conclusion he decided to settle on after a long time of confused pondering over the relationship between his daughter and Irene.
I barely managed to escape from Claudia and approached Felix. Felix pinched my cheeks from both sides and then responded to Hugo.
“Can you say it, again?”
“Why can’t you say it if you have a mouth?”
“Hmm, is that it?”
As if saying, ‘You don’t think I can do it?’ Hugo raised his eyebrows with a strained expression. Then he took a big breath and opened his mouth.
“Ah, ah, ahhh…….”
“Ah, anyway, walk faster! It’s been a while since the banquet started!”
I rubbed my tingling cheeks and looked at Hugo, who couldn’t say the two syllables of the word “baby,” and had a temper for nothing.
He kept rushing us and exclaiming that we were late like the character in Alice in Wonderland7. He then left us and disappeared into the banquet hall.
* * *
I faced Erica again on the last day of the banquet. This time she approached me first, not me.
As I was laughing with Claudia, I looked up at her with genuine surprise.
On the first day of the banquet, it was dawn when I spoke with her, so most of the nobles passed by. However, now the celebration had started, so people were steadily filling up the hall.
Even if it wasn’t, everyone was listening to us.
It was a face-to-face meeting with the prince’s fiancée, his crush, and his opponent.
It was like a crazy drama. Who on earth wouldn’t want to pay attention to it? It would be fun to see if anyone’s hair was pulled.
If this was a novel, the narration would have been, ‘The villain has approached the heroine!’ and I’d be ready to chew on her8.
Of course, even though I was called directly by Erica, I wasn’t included in the drama due to my oxygen-like presence.
It was because everyone thought of me as just a way to talk to Claudia directly.
Claudia showed signs of outright vigilance against Erica.
No matter how much she had helped me, she was the prince’s fiancée, and Claudia was worried that she would harm me.
That was when Erica broke the overwhelming tension and opened her mouth.
She stared at me steadily.
“Don’t you have any plans to stay with me?”
It was so noisy. The room was buzzing.
In a dull drama between the crown prince and me, in an instant, it transformed into a strange square relationship surrounding me.
Everyone was amazed by Erica’s shocking remarks and exclaimed, “Hoo, isn’t that crazy?” and “What, I’ve never seen such a thing at a ceremony like this before.”
This situation was phenomenal for me too.
I turned from oxygen to the center of the controversy. I just blinked with a dumbfounded expression.
‘This felt like déjà vu. Didn’t something like this happen before?’
Maybe it was a trend to make shocking declarations in a banquet hall.
I received a proposal outside my calculations. It was a pretty big deal for Erica.
I had expected her to acknowledge me but was that enough to make her want to take me and put me by her side?
I didn’t expect it as I was deceived by her cold appearance, but she was warmer than I thought.
It took me a year to seduce Claudia, so I couldn’t believe that it only took a few days. In fact, I might be more magical than I thought.
‘That couldn’t be true.’
Maybe it was because of how desperate Erica was for someone like me.
Claudia had at least a family that cared for and loved her.
But Erica was isolated with no place to rely on, so what I said might have caused a more significant impact.
At that moment, Claudia threw me a look of ‘I knew this would happen!’ and firmly interrupted.
“That’s a shame.”
Erica then gently withdrew as if she had anticipated that Claudia would not let me go.
For some reason, I felt like I did something terrible.
“I still don’t know what the will of the flower smells like. So I just wanted to ask.”
Then Claudia, who seemed to have a question mark over her head, looked back at me curiously.
“Is it valuable if flowers are not beautiful?”
Erica’s question was referring to her as an individual, not as the Crown Princess, and whether she was worthy of being outside the greenhouse that was her family.
It was because aristocrats had a preference to use metaphors to communicate with each other.
That was why I compared Erica to flowers in order to make my own code so that other people wouldn’t understand our conversation even if they heard.
If everyone was listening, just like now, it was all the more necessary.
“It’s okay if it’s not beautiful.”
It was awkward to bring it up, but I said it immediately without hesitation.
It was words that anyone could say, but no one was willing to say them.
Do whatever you want. Don’t get involved in junk and go live your life.
I wanted her to know that what I hoped for wouldn’t always bring the best results, but at least she wouldn’t have to push herself to the extreme. If it was really hard, there were appropriate ways to compromise.
“As expected, I want it.”
Why was she talking like this?
Erica smiled lightly at that moment. This time, it was not mockery.
Her eyes were raised slightly and showed a gentle curve, and her originally glittery and gorgeous appearance was even more radiant.
I, who was infinitely weak against beauty, instantly hardened at what I saw.
‘Oh, my God…’
Neighboring people! Erica smiled! Let’s cheer for her first smile in public like she’s the queen of the palace!
This must be how a clown felt if they made a princess who had lost her laugh, laugh. Her smile was as transparent as snowflakes. No one would think she was a wicked woman.
I felt very proud when I saw her clear and pretty smile.
‘I’m glad to be alive.’
Yes, I have lived all this time to send a happy smile to the beauties of the world.
“I’m sorry to ask you this, but can I call you Irene?”
“Isn’t this how it should be? Why don’t we get to know each other, and then we can call each other’s name naturally?”
Claudia, who had been standing like a rock during our conversation, seemed very upset.
Hang on. In novels, the wicked woman harasses the prince’s lover because she loves the prince so much.
She’s not going all this way just to bring about the development of a wicked woman bullying the heroine, was she?
No way. I shook my head after imagining something ridiculous. Even if she wanted me so badly, Erica wouldn’t make such an extreme choice unless she was upset.
And now Claudia’s personality wouldn’t be as easy as the original. She’d treat bullying as harassment.
…… It seemed that there was no need to worry.
“Is Irene staying at the Chamberlain residence? Then can I come to visit sometime?”
“Don’t come! I’m going to kick you out.”
Then Claudia hugged me and growled.
Oh, Chloe, come on! You’ll get in trouble if you’re rude to her!
Erica seemed to want to smile again, but instead, she blinked and returned to her blank expression.
“I asked Irene.”
Erica, you shouldn’t speak too strongly. You might get bitten by Chloe.
Then Claudia hugged me so tightly and buried her face in my chest. I was struggling to breathe.
…… Help me.
“I’m speaking with the authority of the landlord.”
“Oh, then I can just invite her to my mansion.”
“Not at all!”
Was this situation all right?
I seriously wondered whether, or not, I should bring up the phrase, ‘Both of you, don’t fight over me!’ Wasn’t such a line always featured in romance dramas?
“Do you think I’ll let her go?”
“There are plenty of ways to take her without you letting her go.”
How did this happen?
Off in the distance, the sound of bells that marked the end of the empire’s foundation day celebrations filled the banquet hall.
* * *
T/N: I actually got excited when I saw the line “Please kiss me, too” cause I thought Felix said it, but it was actually Claudia ahahah. (Why authorrrr, why are you doing this to us…!)
Anyway, hope you all enjoyed this chapter! I found Hugo really funny because he was hesitating over a word he whispered (you already said it once so just say it again) XD Please have a lovely weekend and see you on Tuesday! 💖
1. To be declared as ‘my person’ means that you are someone that person can count on no matter what i.e. their closest, most trusted, and/or favorite.↩
2. You can imagine her forming a ‘finger gun’ gesture where her hand imitates a handgun. In this situation, she makes a gun gesture and ‘blows’ the bullet (aka like a kiss. This is why Claudia says “Please kiss me, too” a few lines later). In pop culture, this is used as a greeting or to acknowledge something as funny, clever, or insightful (especially when said by yourself).↩
3. Out of the blue = without warning; unexpectedly/suddenly.↩
4. ‘Train of thought’ = series of ideas/thoughts someone is having.↩
5. So the author uses the word ‘‘아가’ which means ‘baby’. In this context, the word ‘baby’ is used as an endearment (i.e. a pet name equivalent to sweetheart, honey, etc.). ↩
6. Ahem. If you’re a Studio Ghibli fan you might get this reference. The author is referring to the character, No Face, in the film “Spirited Away” where No Face is seen to converse by saying ‘Ah’ a lot. Here’s a video in case anyone was interested in what I’m trying to describe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTUxMa07tLM. Additionally, he is saying “Ah” because the first syllable of ‘아가’ is pronounced as ‘Ah’.↩
7. In the novel and movie, “Alice in Wonderland” the White Rabbit always exclaims that he is ‘late’. The author likens Hugo to that character.↩
8. To ‘chew on someone’ means to criticize someone angrily/speak ill of someone.↩
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