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I sneaked a peek at Alex, who was sitting next to me. How wonderful it is to drink black tea so gracefully, and even the outline of the tea passing through his throat had an alluring atmosphere.
“You’re quite mature now.”
There were so many stories waiting to be told after finally meeting after a year. I feigned innocence and gave Alex a scolding.
“Your Highness, too, has changed so much that I don’t think I’d recognize you if I run into you on the street.”
“Is it that bad?”
I was joking, but Alex, who’s always serious about everything, looked at himself in wonder. I burst into laughter when I saw it.
It was dizzying to think about what would have happened if he hadn’t come, so I offered snacks with gratitude.
“Just kidding, there’s no way I wouldn’t recognize you.”
Alex accepted the cookies I had handed him and he handed me some in return.
“You deserve to show off.”
By interacting with us sisters, Alex, who had been a loner all his life, learned how to treat people well little by little.
Having a good friend expands one’s world, so I sincerely praised Alex.
“You were out on the battlefield but now you’re a little more honest.”
“It’s going to get harder and harder.”
Now that Alex is back, the Empress will start moving in earnest. So we have to come up with our own strategy.
“As you suggested last time, I’d like to invite Lady Clara as my exclusive pharmacist.”
He finally asked about what I had alluded to in my last letter.
Sister’s rich knowledge of herbs is helpful to Alex. Also, if she becomes the youngest pharmacist in the Royal Palace, her success will be guaranteed.
There is no better option than this to get a job for big sister and solve the male lead’s problems at once.
“If that’s the case, there’s nothing more I’d like. There’s been a lot of trouble these days because my sister has more and more suitors each day.”
That is not a joke. Most of the guys who came almost every other day or two didn’t really care about my sister, but most of the time they came just because of the Valentine name.
My brother Theo is ten, twenty, or a million times better than such poor people. If she had to commute to and from the palace, she wouldn’t be able to date other people especially if she was busy.
It’s absolutely unacceptable unless it’s the Crown Prince or the future Duke at least. I know that the path of the true female lead in a ropan is a long and rough road, but I was willing to enter into a deal with the Crown Prince just for my sister’s future.
“It’s good for her to enter the Palace. Please take care of my sister.”
When I readily agreed, Alex asked, wondering.
“Do you know what it means to be my exclusive pharmacist?”
I’m sad that we’ll be spending less time together. Even if it’s like this, my love for my sister is sincere. I can’t let her miss this great opportunity because of me.
“I can show people all over the world how special my sister is.”
A chance to show off her talent as a full-time pharmacist and not as Valentine’s adopted daughter.
Honestly, I don’t know if it’s good for me or not, but if she isn’t recognized by the world even after improving her skills more day by day, she’d be a fool.
But Alex brought up a completely unexpected story.
“In principle, the pharmacist of the royal family should stay in the Palace. I’m just saying it because you look so happy when she’ll be leaving home.”
“What? What do you mean?”
I know that Clara stayed at the Palace in the original book because she couldn’t stand the harassment of the maids brought on by Ciel.
But if she becomes an Imperial Pharmacist, she has to leave the house?
“That’s why I was wondering. I was wondering if you wanted me to welcome Lady Clara as the Crown Princess.”
There’s no love between the two. Alex was staring at me with a troubled face.
“Are you going to have your sister become the Crown Princess?”
“It’s not something we can’t consider to strengthen your alliance with Valentine.”
If Dad was really a politically greedy person, he might have used Clara that way. As I said that, Alex looked at me.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Stan seems very interested in you.”
Oh, I see. If I get engaged to Stan while Alex is in an alliance with Valentine, Dad might rethink this alliance.
So there’s also a way to maintain his bond with Valentine through raising Clara to the position of Crown Princess. Dad’s a man of character, so even if she’s foster daughter, he wouldn’t betray Clara’s fiance.
The questions I had been holding back began to be solved. Why did Alex start liking Clara in the original novel?
Is it because Alex and Clara weren’t real lovers that they were accused of being ridiculous people that fell in love quickly and none of the kissing scenes appeared?
I had nothing to say when I saw Alex acting like he doesn’t seem to care about her. Clara chose that option in the first place because of Ciel’s misdeeds.
And I almost drove my sister into a loveless political marriage without even realizing it.
No, I can’t do that.
My nice sister should only walk on the flowery path, but I’d rather get cursed at rather than make her suffer. I held Alex’s hand and shook my head.
“If you need someone like that, I’d rather be on your side.”
“You’d be in trouble if I were to marry Prince Stan.”
Now I understand why Ciel remained single in the original novel. Since there were secret marriage talks concerning Stan and Ciel, the popular Ciel stirred up the social world but in the end, didn’t even know who her formal fiance was.
If I don’t distance myself from Stan at this point, Alex’s goal, the demise of the Empress, will naturally fall apart. Since I’m in the same boat anyway, I’ve decided to cooperate fully with Alex.
“So, you don’t want me engaged to Lady Clara?”
“It’s more difficult than that. You said that you don’t like her, that you don’t have any romantic feelings for her at all.”
“That’s right. But Valentine is my biggest supporter.”
He’s not interested in my sister but needs the power of the Valentine’s family. It sounds reasonable so there’s nothing I can say.
There was an implication in Alex’s careful words. Today, I checked the subtle atmosphere between Stan and me with my own eyes, so I have to somehow separate the two of us if I want to live.
“You want to make sure that I’m not in a relationship with Prince Stan?”
Alex did not deny what I said. Now that the Empress’s faction has become more powerful, it is time to start preparing to face them in earnest.
“In that sense, everything will become more simple once you enter my Palace.”
While contemplating how to solve this problem, I tilted my head at Alex’s suggestion.
“I’m going into the Palace?”
“You won’t be safe as long as Stan is alive.”
Yes, this proposal was actually for me, too. If Stan came around like this again, surely the kids’ fight would turn into a fight between the adults and chaos would ensue.
“I’m sure Stan will offer you marriage. Your father will consider it at least once because the position of a Grand Duke is not something to scoff at.”
Grand Duke Stan Winterbaum, second in line to the throne, the only son of Empress Lotte, who now holds the greatest power over the Empire’s largest fief.
Perhaps it’s a more stable and better option than the endangered Crown Prince. But even so, I never thought I’d enter the Palace.
Like a well-intentioned human being, Alex seemed ready to take full advantage of me. If I go to Stan, my position will be dangerous, so even if I get misunderstood, I will have to take care of it myself.
“Your Highness, you’re not doubting me by any chance, are you?
“I thought you were worried that I might go to Stan instead.”
Looking at his sullen expression, it’s not that. At first, I thought he was just trying to use me.
Now it seems Alex is trying to protect Clara as well as me.
How should I do this? If I send my sister alone, Clara will end up crying every night over the mistreatment of Empress Lotte and her minions.
I’d rather jump in and remove all the death flags myself than send my sister alone and see her suffer.
“I’m going into the Palace.”
Maybe if I go in there myself, I’ll get mixed up with Empress Lotte or Stan. What if they think I have something with Alex?
Although there are some risks, Alex’s position will become more solid if I stay at the Crown Prince’s Palace myself.
“In the Imperial Palace, aristocrats often enter the Palace under the pretext of education.”
“I’ve heard about it.”
“You still haven’t had your social debut, so if you act as a valued guest, people around you will misunderstand.”
It’s enough to let people misunderstand as much as they want, and later make an excuse that I begged the Crown Prince because I wanted to be with my sister.
There is a risk of encountering Stan, but there is no other way to protect my sister.
“Wouldn’t His Majesty oppose it?”
“I asked the Emperor in advance. Fortunately, he was very pleased.”
“Really? Can I live with my sister in the Palace?”
“If you want to. As for a justification, that we can make later.”
I mean, it’s a go-stop game that we’re weaving anyway, so let’s make an excuse later.
I can’t accept the sudden offer, so let’s think about it first. Then I heard someone running outside the door.
“Ciel! What do you mean, are you okay?”
Louis, who returned home late, ran into the room without knocking.
“Long time no see, Louis Valentine.”
“Louis Valentine greets the Crown Prince!”
My youngest brother hurried to greet the unexpected guest. Using the power of His Highness, I sneakily started reprimanding Louis.
“My brother is bad. So where did you go without me?”
If today’s accident is known, the first person to be scolded is none other than Louis. He didn’t even reveal his destination and disappeared whenever he had time, so my dad was already determined to catch him.
In addition, Louis would have been afraid of what would happen if Isaac found out that I had met Stan in person without anyone to intervene and stop him.
“I heard that you protected my sister. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The truth is that I’m thankful that I’m safe and I didn’t get cursed at, but in front of the polite Louis, Alex replied with sincerity.
“I just did what I had to do. It’s also a disgrace to the Imperial family, so I want you to cover up what happened quietly.”
“Of course. There is no question, I will take care of it.”
 Romantic fantasy
 This is said sarcastically
 Basically, they don’t care if people misunderstand, they just need to get her in the Palace
 A set-up