So many words were swirling in my mouth ready to burst out.
The fact that Damian agreed to become the Emperor’s candidate is enough to be viewed by others as him ‘being subservient to the Emperor.’
And then to have the one being paired up with him is a mere maid of honor.
Putting that aside, is it appropriate for me to start the festival
No matter how much the Empress cares for me, a maid and an Empress are incompatible…
Then a voice spoke.
The calmness in that voice made me raise my head.
Damian was looking straight at me.
“If you don’t want to, I won’t force you to take the role of candidate.”
“…your Highness, the crown prince.”
“But just because you have a lower status than mine or that it’s improper to stand with me…”
I clenched my fists, it was as if his words were peering into me.
Damian ended with a final note.
“I hope you don’t turn down this offer.”
I bit my lip.
I know, I know.
It’s a great opportunity to stand as a candidate for the harvest festival.
The Empress’s candidate was a position that even the ladies from noble families were anxious for.
Everyone that gathers at the harvest will know that I am favored by the Empress.
And those gazes that subtly ignored me will also disappear.
So the Empress and Damian are both…
‘…..they’re deliberating trying to make go as a candidate, even though I’m not worthy of them.’
The affection they were giving made me feel I was going to cry.
Damian interrupted with a line straight from the heart.
“If I have to say, Lize, if you were Her Majesty’s candidate…I think I’ll be a little more relieved.”
“Since everyone’s gossips about me being the crown prince, wouldn’t it be nice to have at least one person who knows so at my side
Damian gave a playful smile after saying that.
The Empress also reassured me.
“I obviously hate seeing the Emperor’s face, what would I do without my Charlize if she’s not by my side”
“We might just end up getting into a fight during the harvest festival.
Shouldn’t that be avoided”
At the Empress’s joke, I laughed contentedly.
The Empress stroked my hair as she waited for me to finish laughing.
“What do you say Will you be my candidate, Lize”
“…yes, I will.”
I nodded my head lightly.
The Empress closed her eyes, embracing me.
I voiced my resolve.
So as to not let anyone make fun of Her Majesty…I will work very hard.”
“It’s good to work hard but don’t overdo it.
The Empress spoke kindly.
*Sigh* How is our Empress so angelic
I gave a big smile before answering.
A few days pass.
I wrote to the Duke, saying with the utmost respect, ‘I politely decline your adoption offer.’
Later that same night.
The Empress suddenly came to see me.
Hey, why does the Empress look so blue
I was lying in bed and about to fall asleep when I jumped up at the sight of the Empress.
“Your Majesty, what’s going on”
Sitting at the end of my bed, the Empress repeatedly smacked her lips.
After an awkward silence, the Empress spoke in a hoarse voice.
“My brother offered to adopt you but you turned down his offer…”
I slipped up my words unintentionally.
I sent the letter of refusal today but didn’t expect word to reach the Empress so soon.
The Empress asked me a question, mindful of her approach.
“…it wasn’t what you wanted, was it”
“You gave me a good opportunity, Empress.
Bowing my head, I glanced at Her Majesty’s expression.
The Empress looked like she wanted to stomp her feet in anguish.
I’m sorry about this.
After a while, the Empress spoke again, doing her best to remain composed.
“No, it’s okay.
You didn’t want to be adopted.
I tilted my head.
The Empress bit her lips, mustering the courage to ask me.
“Can you tell me what made you refuse and why”
There was a sad desperate look in the Empress’s eyes that made me worry.
It was a look that said ‘if I somehow can find out what made her refuse in the first place, I can fix it and try again…’
I smiled nervously.
The Empress can try but the reason I refused isn’t something that is fixed in an instant.
“If I become a princess of Rochester, I’ll have to leave the Imperial palace right”
I’m also not a royal official so I won’t be able to stay at the palace.
I shrugged and continued.
“Then I wouldn’t be able to see your Majesty as often as I do now.”
“But Charlize, you would be my sister if you were adopted by the Duke.”
The Empress strengthened her voice.
“If you want to, you come to the palace every day.
I’ll make it happen.”
The Empress clenched her fists as she said that last part.