The Empress has countless people, people who would love her without me.
But if Damian disappears from me, I’ll truly be a loner in the world.
Even though he has Siena, it’s still a long way till Siena comes to Damian’s side.
If I leave him, Damian would be all alone until then.
I don’t want to be cruel especially when he’s finally regained his smile.
But most of all…
‘I know how sad it is to be lonely.’
Just as I was saved by the Empress, I want Damian to be saved.
As I tied knots on the bandages, I teased Damian in a mischievous voice.
“Say, your Highness.
I really…do you really want to be a princess of Rochester”
Damian was rattled as he wore a bemused look.
I reached out, clasping his hand.
Damian didn’t pull away his hand but reacted by stiffening his shoulders.
“Your Highness, without me, you’d be crying every night because you’d miss me,” I joked playfully.
When those words reached his ears, Damian slowly raised his head.
Slightly watery scarlet eyes looked at me intently.
W-why are you staring at me like that
I made this awkward.
Just when I was about to change the subject, Damian opened his mouth.
“….I really might.”
What are you saying
You’re not a kid, why cry
I was caught off guard.
Then a whisper tickled my ear.
“Thank you so much, Lize.”
“There’s nothing I can do now but someday I will.”
Before I knew it, Damian’s eyes were shining with determination.
He went on to speak more clearly.
“One day, I’ll raise you up to a higher rank than a princess of Rochester.”
Your Highness, aren’t you making too many promises
I was going to say that but ended up smiling and nodding along.
I mean, there’s no harm, right
As long as Damian can regain his motivation, I’ll be satisfied with that alone.
* * *
After bandaging up all Damian’s fingertips, he and I went out to the living room where the Empress was waiting.
“Prince, you’re done being treated.”
Thank you for your concern.”
When asked by the Empress, Damian answered politely.
Then the Empress smiled as she teased him.
“Well then, how shall I punish you for making Charlize cry”
I could feel an air of uneasiness as Damian tensed up.
Hey, what are you nervous about
Our Empress is like an angel who descended from heaven.
She’s sooo different from the Emperor, all right
The Empress carried on.
“The crown prince will be taking the role of candidate this time so Charlize will be my candidate instead.”
My name popped out of nowhere, leaving me perplexed.
Damian also looked a little surprised.
“I’ve decided to pair you with Charlize.”
“H-Hey, is that true”
That’s his punishment.”
The Empress said so, squinting at Damian.
She proceeded to speak sharply at him.
“Don’t tell me you don’t want to pair up with Charlize because she’s a maid, do you”
“Of course not!” Damian exclaimed hastily.
The Empress crossed her arms as Damian contemplated his words before continuing.
“…thank you for your consideration,” Damian concluded.
“Um, pardon your Majesty.”
I interjected, still confused.
No, why am I the Empress’s candidate
How does a maid start the harvest festival
“How could I be a candidate alongside Damian”
“Why is something wrong”
Unlike when she spoke to Damian, the Empress spoke to me in a gentle tone like a relaxing warm spring breeze.
“It’s just that…my lowly status is unsuitable to be a candidate.”
I answered carefully.
Honestly, how could I
The start of the harvest festival is a role intended for the Emperor and his immediate family.
They can’t have such an important role be given in vain, can they
As proof of that, the successors of the previous generations who were entrusted with the role came from noble families.
Even the ladies who came in as potential candidates for the Empress were from prominent families, weren’t they
It’s absurd for me to go and stand in such a place….
“Aside from the Emperor’s actions earlier….his Highness, the crown prince will help be in charge of the festival, won’t he”
The Emperor’s candidate is the crown prince, meanwhile, the Empress’s candidate is a commoner maid.
It’s an unbecoming combination.
“Well, what’s wrong with that”
With a calm expression, the Empress dismissed my concerns as she shrugged lightly.
“If it’s against tradition, then so be it.
Does the crown prince seem to be bothered by it”