“But that’s so much trouble to put yourself through.
Even if you’re being watched, it would be wiser to have the help of high-ranking aristocrats….”
Damian interrupted me, shaking his head.
“Come on, did you think I would get engaged to you just to lower the Emperor’s guard”
Damian’s intonation suggested a hint of sadness when he asked me.
“I mean, I….”
I haven’t the faintest idea about Damian’s reasons for doing this, so I just tilted my head.
Damian looked at me for a long while and then sighed deeply.
“….haaa, you’re clueless.”
“Well, out with it.
Why did you do it”
He’ll explain it to me, won’t he
But Damian turned the other way with a sulky face.
He’s treating me like a fool!
I’m feeling so embarrassed for not knowing.
“No, it’s nothing,” said Damian, less irked now.
Hey, does that look like it was ‘nothing’
However, I didn’t get a chance to plead my case to Damian.
It was because Damian had made up his mind to pour out his words.
“Back to what we were previously discussing, there are two upsides to this engagement.”
“I understand wanting to avoid the Emperor’s watchful gaze.
But what comes after”
“The support of the Imperial people.”
Surprised, I swallowed my breath.
Damian casually followed up with an explanation.
“The biggest ace I have up my sleeve right now is neither legitimacy nor divine power.”
“It’s the people’s support.”
Hearing those words, I suddenly remembered what I had seen during the triumphant return.
People voluntarily running out into the streets and chanting Damian’s title over and over again.
‘Hero of the Empire’ they proclaimed.
The envious eyes of the Emperor staring at the ‘Hero of the Empire.’
And Damian who stood there in their adoration.
Driving a wedge into that thought, Damian gave me a question.
“In this situation, what would it be like if I formed a relationship with someone who represents the people”
“Think about it.
The vast majority of the denizens of the Empire are common folk.”
Damian concluded his speech on that.
I pondered about it.
Damian had a point.
The reason Damian was enjoying unrivaled popularity now was that he had taken a completely different course from the current aristocracy.
As the crown prince, who would inherit the throne, he spent eight grueling years isolated in the northern parts of the empire.
And after battling numerous beasts, he dramatically reduced their numbers.
‘The overwhelming trust placed in Damian had not been placed in vain.’
Someone who had performed the hardest of tasks in the most treacherous of places.
Someone who had dedicated himself to protecting the people of the empire with all his might.
That was the public perception.
‘In that situation, if Damian chose a commoner maid instead of someone from a more sedentary background…’
It would lead to a setting where the people of the empire will have a greater more favorable impression of Damian.
I swallowed my saliva.
Damian softly added.
“This engagement is also for me.”
“And…most of all.”
I stared at Damian as if entranced.
His unwavering scarlet eyes had a clear and jewel-like luster to them which contained a mirror image of me.
“Didn’t I promise you”
Damian said that in such a soothing voice, it was as if his words became as sweet as honey.
“That I would place you in a more honorable position than a princess of Rochester.”
At that moment, I froze up on the spot.
Memories of the past came rushing in an instant.
It was a promise from eight years ago.
Maybe it was after I turned down the adoption offer to become a Rochester.
‘There’s nothing I can do for you now, but one day surely I will…’
I can clearly remember the look on Damian’s face.
The determined glint he had in his eyes.
His bleeding lips on the account of him biting them, trying to hold back from crying.
How he spoke to me in a hushed voice…
I remembered everything.
‘I’ll raise you to a higher rank than a princess of Rochester.’
I asked Damian in a moved voice.
“….that promise, you remembered it”
I’ve been meaning to fulfill that promise ever since I was in the North.”
Damian smiled mischievously.
Then he asked softly.
“So, are you less angry now”