Damian’s voice heightened as if reinvigorated.
Although he now has to entrust her protection to the Empress, he wanted to protect Charlize himself one day.
Perhaps picking up on the smallest of details, the Empress’s mind seemed to be occupied elsewhere.
“So please, take care of Charlize while I’m away from the imperial palace.”
“Don’t worry about that.
His Highness doesn’t even need to ask, I’ll take good care of Charlize.”
The Empress who gave a sharp reply glanced sideways at the clock.
She waved her hand as if telling him to go.
“Oh, I’ve taken up too much time.
Go ahead, Charlize is waiting.”
“Well, excuse me, your Majesty.”
Damian got up.
He gave a final nod and left the room.
The Empress stared at the closed door for a long, long time before gazing elsewhere.
Beyond the window, in the distance lies ahead the garden of the Empress dowager.
Waiting for the conversation between the Empress and Damian to finish, I stood in the garden.
The moonlight shined on everything down below, causing fallen red and yellow autumn leaves to gleam.
The surrounding landscape was serene but my mind was a complete mess.
‘Damian will leave after today.’
That thought made me tear up.
I blinked repeatedly to get the tears out.
No, today’s the last time I can see Damian.
So I have to send him off with a smile.
At the same time, I heard the sound of grass being stepped upon.
I took a deep breath.
A friendly voice called me.
“….your Highness, the crown prince.”
I smiled and looked back at Damian.
Damian looked like he was observing me when he suddenly blurted out.
“Why do you look like that”
“Huh Look like what”
“You look like you’re about to cry.”
The moment I heard that my breathing became rapid and shallow.
I bit my lip until it bled.
I made a decision not to cry.
But the sadness kept creeping in.
Did you really have to read me like a book, Damian
“Your Highness, it’s really bAD…”
My voice abruptly cracked up at the end.
Damian with a bewildered face rushed over to me.
I didn’t mean to make fun of you…”
“When you go…I want to send you off with a smile.”
The sadness in me shot up.
“…do you know how hard I’m trying”
I inadvertently raised my voice.
“Your Highness, are you really okay”
Am I the only one who’s upset
Damian, are you all right with going
I can’t imagine how rough and dangerous Antes’s lands will be.
I’m also certain the Emperor will emplace all sorts of obstructions to prevent Damian from returning to the palace.
If he leaves, I don’t know when he’ll be back…
I was so lost in thought, that I forgot the person I was worried about was right in front of me.
I snapped back immediately, saying what came to mind.
“There’s no guarantee that we’ll ever meet each other again!”
“Why can’t we meet each other”
Damian responded back with a resolute tone.
Wow, that’s a surprise.
I blinked my eyes at his unexpected answer.
“I said I’ll come back.”
“You believe in me, don’t you”
….well, not really.
Damian’s expression became complicated.
After a while.
Damian opened his mouth with unflinching determination.
‘Well, you don’t have to think that way.”
“I don’t have the strength yet so I can’t keep you completely safe…”
W-Why are you blaming yourself all of a sudden
I was puzzled.
Damian continued with determination.
“But, when I come back…that won’t be the case.”
“What do you mean”
“I’m going to be someone who you can trust and depend on.”
I looked up at Damian, enchanted and lost in the moment.
Perhaps being older by three years was a blessing in disguise, Damian’s a little taller than me.
Damian has always been a little boy to me.
‘Right now though…he’s like an older brother.’
The moment I thought that my face lit up.
What am I thinking
This is ridiculous, really!
“T-This is a gift.”
Trying to dispel those useless thoughts, I handed a gift box to Damian.
Damian’s eyes widened.
“Open it,” I said after I shrugged.
I shrugged my shoulders
Damian with a puzzled expression unwrapped the ribbon around the gift box.
Damian looked at the handkerchief tucked in the box.
The corners of the handkerchief were embroidered with light purple lilacs.
“You’ll be far away, what if you leave without a gift”
“….Lize,” muttered Damian who was touched.