I first met her when I was fourteen.
On that day, eight young noble ladies were invited to a tea party by my mother, the Queen.
Emilia, the daughter of Marquis Birmingham, was only one of the guests.
She was a pretty girl with silky, silver hair and purple eyes like violets, but the other girls were not defeated in terms of appearance as all the invited noble ladies desperately dressed up to appeal to me.
In the midst of this, she wore a relatively modest dress and, to be honest, had a rather plain impression among the eight.
That was a little strange to me.
This was a tea party hosted by the Queen, but in fact, it was mainly arranged for me.
Each family knew this, so they dressed their daughters to the best of their ability.
It seemed that she had no motivation… and although this was rude of me, I couldn’t help but to compare her to the other girls.
However, I immediately remembered that her father was the Prime Minister and was certain that she knew the true intentions of this tea party.
It wasn’t that big of a deal, but this tea party was held to connect me and Miss Alicia, the daughter of Duke Nottenger.
Aside from Miss Alicia, the seven are, sorry to say, bonuses. As it was necessary to choose Miss Alicia from among the high-ranking nobles.
Perhaps that was why Miss Emilia didn’t flock to me, but enjoyed her tea quietly while looking at the flowers in the garden instead.
For some reason, I was very impressed by her smiling face behind the group of girls around me.
“She is only thirteen, but she looks like a grandmother looking at her grandchildren…”
I couldn’t help agreeing with my mother who commented so.
A noble lady with a strangely mature atmosphere.
That was the first impression I had of Miss Emilia.
Miss Alicia was my top candidate. Except for her, the seven other noble ladies were so balanced that whoever I ended up choosing, would cause the other houses to raise a fit.
The Royal Family, struggling with their decision, decided to wait and see for a while.
We took into consideration the possibility of Miss Alicia getting better, but even when she got well, Miss Alicia wouldn’t come back as a candidate.
It was all thanks to her eccentric behavior.
After the day she collapsed, she was quiet at first, but before we realized it, she had started many businesses and repeatedly failed them.
When the Royal Family realized the situation, it had been after the Duke’s house had fallen considerably.
“This is troubling… Well since this is the case, how about I let you decide?”
No matter who you choose, it’s the same. My mother said so and gave me the profiles of the noble ladies.
At this point, about two years have passed since the arranged tea party.
If I don’t decide quickly, the noble ladies will also be troubled for waiting too long.
“If you only choose by the grades of the academy, then she should be Marquis Lotten’s daughter. But the daughter of the Duke of Orst, who excels in socializing, is hard to throw away, and Count Essen’s daughter, who is fluent in multiple languages, is also highly recommended.”
As my mother said, everyone was good enough to be selected as a candidate.
It was getting harder and harder to choose.
“Come to think of it, you don’t have her profile, do you?”
“The Marquis of Birmingham’s daughter.”
“She only came to fill in the numbers. The Prime Minister doesn’t seem to want to marry his daughter into the Royal Family.”
When asked why, it seemed she herself did not want it.
“I’ve heard that she said she can’t handle the pressure of being a queen.”
“In my opinion, I would rather have a girl who understands the pressure than one who doesn’t…”
A queen doesn’t just dress up and smile next to the king.
She is in a position to support the king not only domestically but also internationally by negotiating with foreign countries.
However, there were many young noble ladies who misunderstood that they would only live in luxury.
“Are you curious about her?”
“If I say I don’t care, it’s a lie. But if I make an unwilling person my fiancee, she will be crushed.”
The queen’s education was very difficult.
If she wasn’t motivated, she wouldn’t last long.
“It’s troubling isn’t it…”
I asked her to put it on hold for a while, but I was warned that my decision couldn’t be put on hold afterwards.
Since then, I observed the characters of my six candidates, but none of them stood out and I was unable to choose.
And so days went by without making a decision.
Soon I became sixteen.
I had no choice but to pick my fiance now, but I felt so burdened…
I didn’t think it would be so depressing to choose my future partner.
In the meantime, a turning point came to me, no, for the country.
“Rejoice, Gilbert! Birmingham seems to have succeeded in producing salt!”
When I was summoned to my father’s, the King’s, office, I was informed that Birminham’s salt business succeeded, making them the cornerstone of future trade in our country.
The salt business was started by the daughter of Duke Nottenger, Miss Alicia.
It was a regrettable business to give up so soon, because there was still hope of success.
However, it couldn’t be helped if the business failed, because success for it would be considered pure luck.
It was why Marquis Birmingham left everything to his son, Elysion.
“My father dumped the salt business on me…”
Said Elysion, the son of Marquis Birmingham, who was both my friend and confidant.
It might be rich coming from the one who pushed this hard work on him but… I’m sorry that you were forced to do something unreasonable by the Royal Family.
Thanks to us, he stayed and worked on the development of salt until it was finally completed.
“But I’m glad everyone, including my sister, cooperated…”
“She said she didn’t do anything, but she greatly helped mediate with the commoners. I was really saved.”
The commoner employees, who had been abandoned by Miss Alicia, had became quite skeptical of the aristocracy.
When Elysion and Miss Emilia first came, the relationship seemed to be quite strained. However, it seemed that the commoners gradually became cooperative after seeing the two of them working hard until the night.
“If I were alone, I would’ve drowned in despair…”
“Emilia is such an angel.”
Since then, he had been endlessly bragging about his sister’s accomplishments in the salt business.
It was a little surprising to hear that she ate with the commoners and willingly helped with the work, but perhaps she was doing her best to support her brother, Elysion.
He had such a supportive family.
I became very envious of it.
Perhaps it was about this time that I began to be conscious of Miss Emilia.
With the ability to support her brother, especially in the salt business, she was Elysion’s treasured sister.
He said that having her be by his side and listen to him would help clear his mind.
He was able to sort his thoughts out by explaining things to her. Moreover, her advice was always accurate, and he said it was reassuring that she would worry with him whenever he was stuck.
Hearing such a story, I envied him very much.
Unlike him, I have no one close enough to confide in. Although both my parents and close aides take good care of me, the pressure to shoulder this country in the future could not be borne by anyone, and I dare not complain carelessly.
A person who can softly listen to my troubles.
A person who not only listens, but also cuddles with me and shares my worries.
I couldn’t help but envy Elysion, who had such a person.
If I had someone like that…
I found myself thinking like that these days.
Since then, whenever I saw him, I would ask him about her. As a sis-con, he was always happy to talk about her.
“Is Emilia a fiance candidate by any chance?”
It seems that I finally asked about her so much that Elysion became suspicious.
I shook my head in a hurry.
“Unfortunately, she is not a candidate. I’ve heard from the Marquis of Birmingham that she’s not willing to be one.”
“I see. I’m a little relieved.”
“Why? Isn’t it good for Birmingham to have the future queen come from their family?”
“I don’t think Emilia will make a good queen…”
From my impression, she had a very mature image, but apparently her family’s perception was different.
“My sister is so calm that it’s misleading for her age, but she’s a little troublesome.”
“Yes, she’s abnormally close with commoners.”
Miss Emilia was supposed to be a born and bred aristocrat, but for some reason, he said that her guard against the common people was strangely low.
“I believe Miss Alicia is the same way…”
“Is it by any chance popular among ladies?”
“No, I never heard of it, and regular noble ladies don’t even get close to the common people.”
Barons and viscounts, maybe, but the both of them belonged to high-ranking aristocrats.
For some reason, however, both Emilia and Alicia were very friendly to the common people and did not care much about the difference in social status.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Actually, the salt business went well thanks to Emilia, and I think it’s definitely better than having a high sense of discrimination…”
Elysion said that when it came to being a queen, it was a different story. After all, dignity was important.
“…To be honest with you, my father and I don’t want her to be queen because it’ll be harder to come visit her. Emilia doesn’t want it either.”
He made a lame excuse, but in short, the last reason was probably the most important for the Marquis of Birmingham.
I thought with her by my side, she would do her best to support me, but that was all a pipe dream.
Then I’ll have to choose my fiancee from the other six.
My father, His Majesty, also told me to decide by the time I turn 17.
I don’t have much time left.
“Gilbert, have you eaten Birmingham bread yet?”
“Yes, I had it for breakfast.”
“I’m so happy for them! They were able to make a safe comeback.”
Miss Alicia started the fluffy bread business, and thanks to Birmingham’s hard work, it seemed that we were finally able to eat fluffy bread again.
“The Birmingham brother and sister are really great.”
“I think Elysion is a great man.”
“Oh, not only him, but his sister Emilia deserves praise.”
I’ve heard she was the one who figured out how to sterilize the jars. It was even rumored that medical scholars were now asking her to teach them.
The yeast development seemed to have been led by Elysion, but if the sterilization method had not been established, they would’ve followed Miss Alicia’s path.
“Miss Emilia… I heard she hasn’t decided on her fiancee yet.”
It was obvious why.
The Marquis of Birmingham and Elysion were both very active in selecting her fiance.
It was rumored that a half-hearted person wouldn’t even make it past the door.
“…Listen, Gilbert. Isn’t it about time you steeled your determination?”
“Yes, or another man will steal her away, right?”
My heart leaped in spite of myself, and I felt my face show some agitation.
“…By any chance, has she found her partner?”
“I heard a few talks from a neighboring country…”
With her beauty and intelligence, that was only natural, but if my mother was mentioning this, then the proposal may be difficult for a marquis to refuse.
Although it was unpleasant, an ugly image crossed my mind.
It was of her standing beside another man. Emilia, who always spoke to me with a gentle smile, will marry another man. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like my head was boiling.
My mother laughed happily at me.
“I wonder if you finally realized it…?”
“I seem to have…”
It seemed that I liked her so much that I didn’t want to give her away to another man.
I was able to admit it with surprising ease, but I still hesitated to make her my fiancee.
“She won’t like it, will she?”
“So you’ll give up?”
In other words, watch in silence as she becomes another man’s wife.
That was the last thing I’d ever want.
Even if she didn’t like me, I couldn’t think of anyone but her anymore.
“She… I want Miss Emilia, daughter of Marquis of Birmingham, as my wife.”
“I understand. Let’s do as you wish…”
Later I learned that her delayed engagement had been the work of the Royal Family.
It seemed that my thoughts were obvious to everyone around me.
However, it was a pity that Emilia was not privy to it at all.
‘Your Highness, I am always willing to withdraw the engagement for you, so please let me know immediately if you have anyone you’re interested in.’
‘I have no discrimination against commoners. So I sincerely support you even if Your Highness falls in love with a commoner or the daughter of a baron.’
She had no idea how I felt about her. My heart ached everytime she recommended someone else to me.
Why do you care so much about a daughter of a baron?
Why does every time I see a commoner woman, you appeal that you have no intention of getting in the way?
Are you so reluctant to be engaged to me?
I couldn’t help having these thoughts. Besides that…
‘Lady Saliot might be your fated person.’
I became so depressed that I couldn’t sleep when she started saying that, but she immediately retracted her words later. Miss Saliot as a queen was more preposterous than any other noble lady or commoner.
‘She’s not it…’
I was relieved that Emilia never recommended Miss Saliot again.
Rather, it was fortunate that Emilia and I became closer after having to deal with the problems caused by her.
However, Emilia sometimes seemed to be thinking about her engagement to me with a heavy sigh.
I heard that the queen’s education was also very difficult. I felt sorry for her, but I still couldn’t imagine having anyone else but her.
The longer we spent together, the more I began to think so.
“Um, Your Highness, I’d like to ask you a few questions…”
One day Elysion asked me out of the blue.
“What’s the matter?”
“My sister, for some reason, asked what would happen if she and Your Highness had broken off your engagement and asked if our house would get hit… and so on.”
“Yes, every time I was asked, I told her that we couldn’t break an engagement to the Royal Family, but for some reason Emilia said that Your Highness might break it at the graduation party.………… I’ll ask you just in case, but what are your intentions?”
“There’s absolutely no way…”
Why do I have to go out of my way to do such a thing at a graduation party anyway?
If anyone wanted to break off their engagement, they needed proper documents and arrangements.
In the first place, I have no intention of breaking off my engagement with Emilia.
I’ve been dying to get married to her even now.
“I guess Emilia hasn’t given up yet…”
“I apologize in her stead.”
I don’t think Emilia hates me, but she still doesn’t want to be queen. But as long as I’m a prince, she can’t escape from it.
“These days the Duke of Nottenger is noisy, so should I hasten our marriage?”
“Hasn’t the Duke given up on Lady Alicia’s engagement?”
“You might think that way because Miss Alicia has been quiet lately……. maybe they’ll bother you through your family, instead of the Royal Family.”
Then suddenly I had a bad feeling.
Perhaps Emilia suspects Miss Alicia and me.
“I’ll tell Emilia I’ll never break up our engagement.”
“…Thank you, I’ll leave that to you. Emilia is usually very mature, but sometimes her thoughts turn in an unexpected direction, so I’m worried if she’s thinking too much.”
Elysion’s hunch was right in a way.
When I talked about my engagement to Miss Alicia, she was surprised, but calm. She smiled wryly and told me she was willing to break our engagement if I gave her compensation.
How can I describe my feelings at that time?
I didn’t expect such a reply from her, so I was stunned for a moment.
For the second time in my life, the intense emotion I felt was anger, not jealousy like before.
Anger at Emilia, who didn’t notice my feelings at all, and an unbearable, hunger-like desire for her.
These two feelings clashed my heart with despair.
I don’t remember much about how I left the room after that.
However, I heard that Emilia had returned in a haggard manner, so I was sure I behaved rather badly.
I hurriedly sent a letter and a bouquet, and Emilia immediately sent me a letter of apology.
It was then I decided to change my attitude toward her.
It was wrong of me to force her to be my fiance, but I realized I couldn’t endure any longer.
Playing the role of a gentleman doesn’t sway her at all.
I was forced to realize it to the point where I hated it.
That is why I’ll be true to my desires next.
So — be prepared, Emilia.
I’ll never let you go.