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My family’s carriage made its way through a huge door. Looking through the window, I saw an eagle crest, which represents the Imperial family.
The Imperial Palace looked majestic in broad daylight. But as I looked at the massive wall that preserved the Empire’s history, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable.
Of course, there’s no need for me to be worried.
Since the Duchy of Valentine is one of the Empire’s pillars, the soldiers opened the gate without inspecting the carriage.
“It’s been a long time since you’ve been to the Palace, hasn’t it?”
Actually, I came a few days ago, but it was a secret from my dad, so I nodded fervently. Ciel seemed to have been in and out of the Palace a lot before she was five years old but had no recollection of it, and she has only entered a few times since then.
“I don’t remember anything from my childhood.”
The Palace is a scary place. I’m not sure who specifically summoned Clara, and I’m not sure what would happen if she showed up on her own.
There is nothing I can do. I have no choice but to step up. Instead of my sister who was so scared and nervous, I climbed up on my father’s legs and grumbled.
“I want to see inside the Palace.”
“Okay. Let’s meet His Majesty together.”
Meeting the Emperor is both a dilemma and a blessing.
It would be much easier to move on to the next phase if Clara, who lacks support, catches the Emperor’s eye.
On the other hand, my timid sister was looking at her hands with a very gloomy face.
“Maybe I made a mistake on the day of the ball?”
What is she so anxious about? I stared at Clara while sitting on Father’s thighs.
I get frustrated when I see good people, like Clara, who blame themselves for all that has happened to them, as opposed to me, who blames others even when the wind blows.
This is so infuriating. If this continues, I have no choice but to intervene.
So I said firmly,
“No! You didn’t make any mistakes.”
“How does Ciel know that?”
“Cause I’ve been watching from beginning to end…!”
I shouldn’t be proud to say that I’ve watched it. Father tilted his head for a moment during my outburst; then he picked me up and had me sit in front of him.
Damn it, I got caught. Father, who had been staring at me suspiciously, looked me in the eyes and began questioning.
“Your mother told me that you were at home with Louis that day. What’s going on?”
It’s easier to deceive Mother than it is to deceive Father. But he didn’t seem surprised, and he responded naturally.
Since I’ve already been caught, I might as well confess.
“I really wanted to see my sister’s debut. I’m sorry.”
“Father, His Majesty the Prince also showed up and helped them enter without any problems.”
No, don’t do this to me. Sister has been steadily exposing me.
“His Highness helped you?”
It’s a good thing we didn’t tell her that we’d met Count Ruben while he was searching for the documents.
Clara had no knowledge of the documents; all she knew was that the Prince had found Louis and me, who had gotten lost.
Fortunately, my alibi worked. It would be suspicious if I were the one who said it, but Father easily trusted Sister’s words.
“I owe His Highness a great favor.”
“Are you not angry?”
“If it was dangerous, I might’ve been. But it was safe, so it’s not a big deal.”
That means if I told the truth, I’d be in big trouble. The carriage stopped at a good time. I debated whether or not to talk about what happened with Count Ruben, but I decided to shut my mouth.
Father was the first to step out of the carriage and he then assisted Clara.
“Duke Valentine, your daughters are with you today.”
“Yes, this is my eldest daughter, Clara, who debuted a few days ago, and the younger one is Ciel. Both of you, say ‘hello’ to Marquis Norton.”
Since Father was unable to attend Clara’s debut due to the heavy rain on that day, it was speculated that the Duke purposely skipped her debut ball.
Perhaps that’s why Father was so careful with his word. But humans are very short-sighted.
“I’ve heard the rumor. You are the lovely daughter who resembles Eve.”
Marquis Norton immediately approached me and pretended to be close, ignoring Clara, who was standing next to me.
Clara is merely a foster daughter, while I am a biological daughter.
The Duke even adores his youngest daughter, who resembles the Duchess of Valentine. Rumor has spread throughout the Empire.
Still, it is impolite to treat people as though they are invisible, even though they are right in front of them.
I’m still young, but I can’t believe Clara, who was expected to make her social debut and attract everyone’s attention, was overlooked.
It’s the worst.
“Sister, I’m scared of this guy.”
With a frightened look on my face, I hid behind Clara.
Father spoke to the Marquis with a distressed face as I seemed to be about to break into tears.
“Please understand that our youngest daughter closely follows her older sister”
“Well, I see. You did say her name is Lady Clara?”
Father was completely appalled when Marquis Norton pretended that he had just seen Clara.
After experiencing countless issues I didn’t appreciate, I stuck out my head and questioned my sister.
“Isn’t that a suspicious man?”
For a brief moment, Marquis Norton was taken aback by my words, which made him appear to be like a kidnapper.
Clara pushed me back behind her and patted my head.
“That’s weird. He said a lot of nice things about me. He’s a good man.”
“Really? If sister likes him, then Ciel likes him too. I’m sorry, mister.”
When I smiled and reached out my hand, all the adults around me smiled at my father and were pleased.
Marquis Norton thanked Clara and held my hand tightly when I changed my attitude thanks to my sister’s words, who had been very cautious since earlier.
“Hmm, don’t you think you’ve been holding my hand for too long?”
“Oh, I’m sorry Lady Ciel.”
Father was annoyed by what he saw and became envious.
After Marquis Norton drew back his hand, Father took me in his arms as if to show off.
He held me with one arm and held Clara’s hand with the other.
“Let’s go, Clara.”
I always knew my mother was stunning, so it was difficult to notice, but seeing him like this made me realize it.
Father in a red cape and a Duke’s uniform is also particularly impressive.
As Father walked proudly with us, his two daughters, I could hear the voices of the countless vassals around the palace.
“Father, I still don’t like the guy from before.”
“Yes, I don’t like him either.”
If I hadn’t properly heard it, I would have simply ignored it.
Even if he risked being noticed by an innocent child, Father couldn’t help but admit that he disliked the Marquis as well.
People would have certainly discriminated against Clara and me if I hadn’t solved this little by little.
It goes against my aesthetics.
“The Duke of Valentine and his two daughters have arrived.”
“Let them in.”
Thankfully, the Emperor was unconcerned about my presence. As Father put me down, we stood side by side in the middle of the aisle, looking at the Emperor.
“Christopher Valentine meets His Majesty Gregory III, Lord of the Empire.”
“Clara Valentine meets His Majesty Gregory III, the Lord of the Empire.”
“Ciel Valentine meets the Lord of the Empire, uh, I mean, His Majesty III.”
I was doing well until my pronunciation got twisted in the middle. The Emperor frowned and looked at me.
“Aren’t you Ciel? What brings you to the Palace?”
“It’s been a long time, Your Majesty.”
Oh, no. This is awkward.
As I was rolling my baby hairs with my fingertips, the Emperor himself came down from his throne and walked right up to me…
Then he held me in his arms.
I knew this would happen. That’s why I wasn’t happy.
“Oh, my God. You’ve grown up.”
His Majesty has a bad habit of behaving roughly with children.
Unlike her father, who is lean, His Majesty the Emperor is muscular. It was already frightening enough when a bandit-like man picked up her tiny body without warning.
“We’re going to play ‘High’ for the first time in a long time.”
The Emperor even threw me into the air as high as he could.
When Clara saw me being tossed into the air, she was terrified, but Dad simply sighed and reassured her.
For the Emperor, Ciel is a special girl. He even remembers her birthday every year.
I, who usually never leaves Valentine’s mansion, and was not even summoned today, came on my own. The Emperor was overjoyed and started throwing me as hard as he could.
“How long has it been?”
Is this a favor or revenge? Yeah, it must be revenge.
When my body flies through the air, my survival instinct kicks in, and I’m not having fun.
I wanted to scream at the Emperor and puke on him.
“I didn’t even call you today but you showed up all by yourself!”
I got motion sickness, and my eyes were spinning. His Majesty, as a former Swordmaster, should be able to catch me easily.
But I don’t want this anymore.
What should I do to stop him?
“His Majesty the Emperor is so nice.”
Of course, there is a reason why the Emperor is so nice.
This is a big secret, but the Emperor actually has a crush on Eve, the current Duchess of Valentine, and my mother.
The Emperor’s real feelings, which were revealed just a day before Ciel’s death, have been the most significant catalyst for the Prince and the Emperor to face each other head-on.
“Cute one. You look just like your mother when she was a kid.”
I could see why the Emperor was fond of me. He’s reminiscing about the time when he was looking at my mother, whom he used to adore.
But I’m not happy at all. I don’t want to be a substitute for my mother.
To be honest, I am fortunate that this kind of person is not my father. First of all, he is not considerate.
My father doesn’t even grow his beard in case I get hurt. The insensitive Emperor decided to “bubibubi” with his rough bearded cheeks.
I’d like for this to end, but both Father and Sister looked very proud at the Emperor’s affection towards me. They shouldn’t empathize with this.
“Your Majesty. Lady Valentine looks very troubled. How about letting her go?”
I really want to cry because my tingling cheek hurts, thankfully my salvation arrived.
It was Prince Alex. Only after he was scolded by his son did the Emperor realize that I was getting annoyed.
“Troubled? Oh, I forgot to shave my beard today. Does it hurt a lot?”
It really hurts. The Emperor’s beard scratched my cheek. As soon as the Emperor lowered me to the floor, I quickly hid behind my sister’s skirt.
“Huh, it really did hurt.”
The embarrassed Emperor finally stared at Clara. Given that he called Clara in the first place, he should give her his attention.
“Why did you call my sister?”
“Yeah. I called you because I had a few questions.”
Even when the flags are removed, the story still follows a predetermined order. When Clara first got into trouble in the original story, the Emperor summoned her and interrogated her like this.
The Emperor began to look closely at Clara as if he was looking at his future daughter-in-law.
Of course, there is no need to be concerned with what the Emperor says. I’ll be there for my sister. I am confident in my ability to protect her.
“While the adults are talking, I would like to give Lady Ciel a tour of the palace.”
This male lead suddenly struck a candle. 
He unexpectedly suggested a tour while glancing at me, who was clinging to my sister like chewing gum.
I’m already a distraction from their love. I wanted to refuse because I didn’t like it, but Father already agreed.
“That’s great; Ciel had been looking forward to seeing the Palace. Please do.”
I was about to seriously refuse but it seemed difficult to do so.
Even if Father was right there with me, I couldn’t be too sure; I couldn’t refuse without a good reason.
“But I’d like to be next to Clara…”
“Lady, let’s go.”
Alex started talking without waiting for me to open my mouth. He then took my hand in his and squeezed it tightly. It seems like we’re in the same situation as last time.
But if I leave like this, what will happen to Clara?
“Have fun. Ciel.”
Why are you sending me away so easily?
Maybe it was my punishment for going to the ball without my parents’ knowledge and my father, who I thought was a good man, excluded me on purpose.
I didn’t expect to get hit in the back of the head like this. I had no choice but to hold Alex’s hand and leave the room.
 at the slightest hint of inconvenience
 when fathers/male relatives rubbed their cheeks on little children
 give an unwanted proposal