“This is…” I’d checked both the calendar and surrounding scenery multiple times before walking over to the mirror. My appearance greatly surprised me.
“I’m sure I was executed…what happened?” Yes, I’d been executed. The reason was that my daughter had committed crimes against the woman her fiancé – His Highness, the Crown Prince – was cheating on her with, while I had mismanaged my fief’s funds and stolen from the kingdom.
These charges were false, but by the time I’d realized what had happened, it was too late. I’d at least helped my daughter escape before I climbed the steps to the gallows.
Everything had been orchestrated by those who were hostile against our ducal house. I completely fell into their trap. I’d died after becoming too complacent. Even my daughter who had escaped could only resent them without recourse for her entire life.
However, when I’d regained consciousness, I found myself in a young man’s body. I was in a room that was both very familiar and should no longer exist: my childhood bedroom. The date on the calendar told me I had gone back twenty years in time.
…I was now ten years old.
I couldn’t understand what was happening. I was stunned. Then, someone knocked on the door before entering. It was a nostalgic person, our butler from when father had run the house. “Good morning young master.”
“Jiiya…is that you?”
“Yes, it’s jiiya. Is something the matter?”
“…I had a strange dream. Just how old am I now?”
“That’s certainly an odd question. Young master turned ten this year.”
“Ah…I’m sorry, I guess I was still sleepy.” I shook my head to demonstrate to him that nothing was amiss.
Somehow, I had apparently gone back in time. Or, did I just have a premonition of the future? No, even though it seemed unbelievable, I had gone back to the past. My memories of adulthood were too clear for any other explanation.
However, this time…maybe I can save them.
My dear wife and daughter.
I had been married twice.
The first time was to my beloved fiancée. I’d adored her and she felt the same for me. However, one day, on her way home from a tea party, her carriage was attacked by thieves and she was killed.
Though they were soon caught and executed, it didn’t shake me out of my depressive episode, which lasted quite a while.
At the time, our daughter had been four or five years old. I’d wanted someone else to guide her in her mother’s place and stupidly welcomed another woman into our house as my wife.
This was where my mistakes began.
I had no idea at the time, but my new wife began abusing my daughter in the name of education. I didn’t notice because I’d put some distance between her and I. When I saw my daughter, who looked more and more like her mother each day…I couldn’t help but be reminded of my beloved dead wife.
My daughter was always well behaved in front of me and it seems that my second wife threatened the servants, so no one reported the abuse to me.
At that time, I thought all was well and told my daughter about her engagement with the Crown Prince. She lived up to the expectations of those around her and perfectly gained the abilities required to become Queen. Still, I could not be honest with my daughter, whose mother’s death had killed a part of my own heart.
Then, one day, I’d heard a strange rumor.
It was said that the Crown Prince was ignoring his fiancée in favor of a common woman. When I’d first heard about it, I’d laughed to the point I snorted, but then when I looked into it, the rumors had turned out to be true.
What was worse is that the reputation of my daughter, which had previously been good, had seen a sharp decline. When I’d investigated further, I found that people were intentionally spreading rumors that my daughter was bullying that woman.
The investigation revealed many suspicious points.
For example, the career and social relationships that the common woman possessed were just strange. Eventually, I found out – from my more skillful subordinates – that while she was born in this kingdom, she was likely to be from one of the countries that we had conquered earlier.
In fact, that common woman had the coat of arms engraved upon her body; proof that she was a member of that fallen country’s royal family.
What surprised me even more was her connections. All her friendships were with powerful men; the prince and his entourage of young noblemen. Further, that woman had a secret meeting with the head of a family, who was deeply hostile to our ducal house.
Combined, this was all deeply unpleasant. Therefore, I’d tried to deal with it on my own, but it was already too late. My daughter had been abandoned by the Crown Prince at one evening party and was convicted of bullying the common woman favored by the prince. She was arrested, while at the same time I was jailed for misappropriating my fiefdom’s funds.
Fortunately, the watchmen at the prison were my loyal subordinates, so I hatched a plot to break my daughter out while I acted as a decoy. I had her run away.
“Father!” I still remember her expression at that time; she’d looked extremely frightened.
This girl I’d looked at properly for the first time in a very long time had become a beautiful woman who looked just like her mother. At the very end, I could only say to her: “I’m so sorry about everything until now. I’ll be fine, my dear daughter.”
Seeing my daughter’s heartbroken expression as I said that…I could only smile when she finally ran away.
I was relieved that my subordinates were able to smuggle her out.
Even now, I’m unsatisfied. In the final moments before my death, I could only regret that I hadn’t loved her properly.
After making a calculated fuss for a while, I was caught by some other prison guards and returned to my cell. I was just relieved to hear the rumors that my daughter had escaped.
Then, a while later, I was executed.
Hatred and regret…I could only pray for my daughter’s happiness.
I had returned to the past with memories of my future. Eight years had passed since I’d first woken up.
My wife and I were able to safely get married. This second wedding was burned into my mind more vividly than the first.
My wife in a white dress, the oath, the kiss…everything looked clearer to me.
This time I will protect them.
My wife held my hands as I said my vows. Her eyes were full of compassion. “My dear husband, it will be okay,” she said later. With just those words, it seemed the weight on my shoulders had disappeared.
She might have spotted my unease and therefore comforted me. She’d brought such light and warmth to my heart without even realizing it. My tense heart relaxed at her words and on that day, I fell in love with her all over again.
We had a daughter a little while after we got married. The timing was the same as before, so I was incredibly grateful. I’d wondered if our child would change if there were deviations in the timeline; I’d worried my daughter wouldn’t be born.
Thankfully she was. Just as before, we named her ‘Rosemary.’
Rose grew up quickly. In the last timeline, I was so busy with work that I couldn’t see her much when she was a child. This time, however, I desperately finished work and returned to the mansion to spend time with my wife and Rose.
My wife and I are like eternal newlyweds, by the way. Just the other day, I was delighted when the doctor informed me that we would be having a second child.
Everyone was pleased to have a new family member.
When I told Rose that she would soon become an older sister, she – who had just recently started speaking – said “Yay! Olda sista—!”
My wife and I stroked her head lovingly.
It was around that time that the wheels of fate began turning.
One day, when my wife – who had entered a stable period in her pregnancy – said that she wanted to attend a tea party in the neighborhood, I’d had a bad feeling. So, I gave her permission, but only on the condition that I could follow.
Our daughter also accompanied her. Rose was comparably reliable for her age and therefore in the perfect position to reign in my wife, who was sometimes quite the eccentric.
We increased the number of escorts on the way back and had them lay in wait.
Thankfully, the party had gone off without a hitch. When my wife and daughter decided to return home, I accompanied them in their carriage. It had turned out that my unpleasant premonition proved correct.
The carriage suddenly came to a stop and the outside got quite noisy. I told my family to wait inside and lock the door as I headed out.
As expected, it had been the same ones who had killed my wife in the previous timeline. However, with the escorts that had been secretly deployed, the quality of protection was overwhelmingly different. They were suppressed immediately.
One of the escorts tied up the man who appeared to be the boss of the group. He brought him towards me and I realized that he was the same man who I’d hit in anger during the trial. He had been the first to be executed.
In the previous timeline, my anger had gotten the better of me and I’d had him killed without properly asking…
“Who hired you?”
“Alright, keep silent. I’ll listen to you slowly at a later date. Take them away.” With those words, the thieves were taken away.
When I returned to the carriage, my wife and daughter were anxiously waiting for me. To ease their nerves, I gently smiled at them.
“Dear husband, is everything alright?”
“It’s okay. Everything has been settled. Now, let’s go home.”
“It’s alright Rose, don’t look so uneasy. Father will protect you no matter what.”
She nodded innocently at my declaration – yelling out “Yeah!” – and I wondered if I’d managed to ease her worries.
My wife still looked concerned, but relaxed visibly when I held her hand and smiled.
In that way, the first tragedy was avoided. That said, it was probably a planned attack. Let’s sniff out the organization responsible. With this in mind, I returned to our house with my precious family.
After just a bit of violence, the thieves became more honest. Apparently, the request was made by a house that harbored hostilities towards our family.
However, I was aware that a group of thugs would not be believed in a court of law. There just wasn’t enough proof. So, for the time being, I handed them over to the kingdom’s troops, asking for both their punishments and a thorough investigation.
Then, I ordered my subordinates to find out the weaknesses of that house. Thanks to these excellent individuals, information was gathered quickly. Honestly, I was amazed at the degree of information that they had been able to gather.
At first, I’d thought to take away one of their beloved family members as revenge. Then I realized that it would make me the same as the other person so I abandoned this route. Instead, I’d decided to destroy their standing by accusing them of fraud, but I delay their punishment for just a little while.
The reason for this was because my daughter had just been selected as the Crown Prince’s consort candidate. This was because – at least at present – there was only one family that balanced out the royal family’s power and had a daughter that was the correct age.
It goes without saying that I refused at first, but eventually I had no choice but to accept because the King was so persistent. However, I’d added some conditions.
First, the relationship between Rose and the Prince would remain that of fiancée ‘candidates’ and their engagement would only proceed if neither party found someone they loved before graduating from the academy.
Second, if either person found someone that they liked but tried to break the engagement via unreasonable methods then appropriate measures would be taken.
Surprisingly, the King agreed to this.
Honestly, I didn’t want to give my beloved Rose to that stupid Prince. But it can’t be helped, because I need this timeline to be at least somewhat similar to my memories so as to exact appropriate revenge.
However, I was firm in telling Rose that she was simply a consort ‘candidate’ and that if she had someone whom she liked then she could tell me.
The Prince seemed to believe Rose was his official fiancée, but I don’t really care about his misunderstandings. I left it alone for the time being because it would be convenient for my plans.
Well, it would still be most ideal if the Prince decided not to do anything, but as it turned out, his fate was unavoidable.
It had been a while since Rose started attending the academy. As a parent, I was lonely, but I still had my younger son and daughter. (Though I still wondered when Rose would come home.)
One day, I received a message from the subordinate I had secretly made Rose’s escort. He reported to me that the Prince was spending time with a common woman.
When I heard this, I immediately requested an audience with the King and reported the matter. He was in a cold sweat and tried to stop me, but a promise was a promise.
Rose didn’t particularly like the Prince either, so it was fine.
In the end, the King said he would put the matter on hold, so that day ended up a wash. Afterwards, I requested audiences several times without receiving a response. Then, the day of the abominable evening party had arrived.
When we’d entered the venue – I was escorting Rose – all eyes were on us at once. Well, her fiancé, the Prince, had left her alone and escorted another woman, so of course people would be curious.
After a while, the Prince made the same declaration as the previous timeline.
“Rose, I am breaking my engagement with you! You have always bullied Marie! I will expose this wickedness!”
The venue was abuzz at the Prince’s words.
When I discreetly looked at a certain individual – one of the people who were hostile towards my family and perpetrators of tonight – they were smiling at the situation. Seeing that, I inwardly smirked.
Now, let’s settle this!
“Your Highness, please wait a moment. I would like to hear more of that story.”
After I’d said this, the Prince glared at me, openly hostile. “What?! I won’t revoke this cancellation or your daughter’s punishment!”
“Your Highness, it seems that you are operating under a mistaken premise.”
“In the first place, my daughter and you were not even officially engaged.”
The venue is once again set abuzz. Well, that’s natural, after all, everyone had been treating her as his fiancée up until this point, therefore, they were surprised at the sudden turn of events. Some people even seemed to think that I was lying so as to avoid punishment…
Like this Prince in front of me. “Don’t mess with me! Where’s the evidence of that—?”
“Right here.” I took out the pledge, which His Majesty, the King, had signed.
The Prince, who had been shouting until now, was confused when he saw that the document was genuine. “But! My father—”
“I understood Rose properly, didn’t I?”
“Then why didn’t you deny it?!”
“I didn’t feel the need to as I was not engaged to Your Highness to begin with.”
“But, you’re in love with me, right?”
“Huh? Why? What would I like about you, Your Highness?”
“But you’ve been bullying Marie because of that burning jealousy!”
“No, I wasn’t jealous. Whether as a member of the opposite sex or as a human being, I’ve never liked Your Highness. My type has always been someone cool, like my father.” Rose smiled as she said that and I was involuntarily pleased.
Her type is like me, huh…?
The Prince, who refused to give up, was still trying to push the events in his favor. Well, it can’t be helped…
“Your Highness, my daughter never bullied anyone in the first place.”
“That’s not true! Marie said—”
“That girl named Marie is deceiving you to frame our family. Is that not right, Duke Montest and Count Heidert?” When they were suddenly accused, the two heads of their families, denied is resolutely, as though in righteous fury.
“What is with this story?”
“It’s totally false.”
“That’s alright, I’ve already proven that it was your work. There’s evidence. I’ve recorded your secret conversations and submitted it to the King, so please speak with him instead. I’ve also made your wrongdoings public…well, please do your best.”
“W-wha?!” They both exclaimed in unison.
“Guards, arrest them.”
The guards, who had been awaiting my words, took the two of them in. The entire venue became quite noisy afterwards. However, it seems that the Prince has yet to give up.
“Your Highness, I don’t have too much free time, so I’ll state this in brief. That young woman is the former Princess of Arubahelm, a country that our kingdom previously conquered. She’s here for revenge on this country. Isn’t that right, Marie-san? Oh, you don’t have to bother making an excuse. Why don’t you just show us that emblem on your arm instead?”
When I said that, she turned her gaze towards me and laughed. “My, I’m quite surprised. How did you find out?”
“Ah, Your Highness—I’m sorry. It seems that I’ve been exposed. To be perfectly honest, it’s exactly as that man has said.”
“No, it must be a lie…”
“I got closer to you to avenge my homeland. I wanted to become Queen and throw this country into economic collapse…well, it’s impossible now that I’ve been exposed. It was so easy to trick you. We had a good time, didn’t we?”
“Even though I did such a good job…well, it can’t be helped now. Oh, and Rose-sama, I never had a chance to tell you, but I like you quite a bit. If your personality was just a little bit more distorted, I’d like you even more.” She said as she was taken away by the guards, leaving the absentminded Prince.
Only the poor, deceived Prince was left onstage.
“Rose, for the time being, let’s go back home…”
I held hands with my daughter as we returned to our home. I’d finally protected the family that I loved…
After that, the Prince was put under house arrest and deprived of his right to inherit. Though, the truth seemed to be that he was mentally scarred after being betrayed by that woman and could not leave his room.
The aides who had been unable to stop the Prince were punished by their own houses.
It seemed that the (former) Crown Prince’s younger brother would become the next King, but regardless, I didn’t want Rose to marry into that kind of family.
Rose fell in love with a classmate – the son of a Count – and they eventually got married. When I was sad about giving my daughter away, my wife comforted me.
Even so, Rose’s partner was a good man, so I couldn’t help but like him.
When our two younger children grew up, I retired and leisurely spent the rest of my life with my dear wife.
I still sometimes wonder why I got the chance to start over.
There were so many pieces that I’d never grasped, but in the end, when I looked at my laughing wife next to me, all the need for answers melted away. Next to my children, lively grandchildren and wife, I passed away.
My last words had been decided a long time ago.
“It was…a happy life…”
I protected that which I could not in my previous life. My dear daughter from the first timeline, I will greedily pray for your happiness.
Please give her happiness…
With that, I finally closed my eyes.
 An affectionate term for an older male servant.
 Meant to be baby talk/babble for “older sister.” Sorry, I’m not great at this.