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In the original novel Ciel almost offered up the Valentine family to Alex because she liked him, but this time around, the Crown Prince and the Valentine family have established a fairly stable alliance.
My entrance into the palace has been confirmed. And thanks to that, the Emperor has been able to create a friendly base of power for the Crown Prince called ‘Valentine’, while Princess Lotte has become unable to scheme recklessly.
In addition, there’s a chance for Clara to be acknowledged as a pharmacist of such outstanding skill that she was granted entry to the palace accompanied by her younger sister. Truthfully, that last part is just something I hope for. For now I’m just grateful to avoid those involved in the drug case.
But Princess Lotte and Stan, who was quietly watching me from afar, weighed on my mind.
“No, it’s nothing.”
From the beginning, Stan had been continuously staring at my face. His eyes followed me when I greeted Alex, and later when I scolded Louis for stepping on my skirt.
It might be due to everything I’ve been going through recently, but his overt gaze was making me uncomfortable. Please. Don’t act like that in front of everyone.
“Ciel, come here.”
Fortunately, I have reliable knights. Isaac stood in front of me while Theo and Clara drew around me like a curtain. And when Stan approached Alex on the pretext of talking about work, he wasn’t able to come close to me.
It’s a relief to have them. It’s truly a relief… so why am I so uneasy?
We’re entering the palace in order to guard against the Princess’ bullsh*t, but Stan’s presence will probably be the biggest variable. With that thought in mind, I looked back from within my dad’s arms.
He was still staring. Up until the moment my family said our goodbyes and left, Stan continued to watch me closely with a somewhat sad expression.
Alex sat in a chair with a serious expression on his face and asked the head maid a question.
“Isn’t the wallpaper too bright?”
They had decorated it to match Ciel’s room as closely as possible. It would be difficult to redo everything again because it was too similar.
“Your Highness, have you forgotten that you changed it just three days ago saying that the color of the wallpaper was too dull?”
“It was, though.”
The head maid Burnett, who rarely lost her temper, gave a deep sigh at the flood of orders from the Crown Prince, who had gotten all worked up on his own.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s enough for Ciel.”
It wasn’t that the head maid didn’t understand how he felt. Especially since they were talking about that person in particular. She was a precious ducal princess, the first to be born in 100 years to the prestigious Valentine family that rivaled the Imperial family.
The head maid was also working diligently since such a precious lady was entering the palace.
“We’ve given her the Crown Princess’ room, the nicest room save for Your Highness’ room. Our sincerity will be properly conveyed.”
“No, I’m sure Ciel will insist on sharing a room with her older sister.”
As a pharmacist, her older sister was required to stay in the Imperial Palace, so naturally a separate accommodation was being prepared for her.
Isaac, the second son of the Valentine family, had been reassigned to the Crown Prince’s palace and would be put up in the private quarters used by the Crown Prince’s royal guard.
In principle, as a ‘esteemed guest’, Ciel should be put up in a room for guests rather than in private lodgings.
The head maid had heard stories about how devoted Ciel was to her adopted sister.
“Then, is Lady Ciel the reason that Your Highness accepted Lady Clara as a pharmacist?”
“No, that’s not the reason. Lady Clara is truly remarkable. She is especially good with poison, drugs, and rare herbs.”
Poison and drugs. The Princess’ schemes were becoming more cunning by the day. Clara had also made a significant contribution in solving the recent drug case. If she was left outside the palace, there was no chance that the Princess’ side would leave her alone.
The move was primarily aimed at protecting Clara. Ciel following her was merely an added bonus, but Alex was quite pleased with the current situation.
“Lady Clara is also a good friend of mine. There’s no romantic interest, just a true friendship.”
“It’s somewhat unexpected that friendship can be established between a man and a woman.”
“Because we have a common interest.”
He had only realized after meeting her again… On the heartless battlefield, it was the hope of meeting Ciel again that had allowed him to endure.
Following the night of the ball, with the Emperor’s approval, Clara had become a good friend. Most of their conversations revolved around Ciel.
Although she was a bit naive, she also lacked the savvy to stab someone in the back. Judging that she was trustworthy, Alex had secretly hinted to Clara about his intentions before leaving for the frontier.
He had said that he wanted to know more about Ciel and that he wanted to get closer to her, but didn’t know how.
Clara just smiled quietly at his words.
– She’s a kind child.
At first glance, it seemed that Ciel liked Clara too much, but Clara liked her just as much. He could tell just by reading her letters full of affection for Ciel.
He was a little envious of how close the sisters were.
Superficially, Clara’s situation looked a lot like his own. But unlike the lonely Alex, Clara spent her days happily, receiving an abundance of love from her family.
He would be lying if he said that he wasn’t envious of her.
“Maybe it’s a bit of my own selfishness too.”
Despite seeming gloomy a moment before, the corners of Alex’s mouth rose slightly. It was extremely rare for the Crown Prince, who was generally serious about everything, to show this side of himself, so Burnett stealthy tried to sound him out a bit more.
“Your Highness, you seem quite fond of that young lady.”
“I don’t think ‘fond’ is the appropriate word.”
“Then, do you like her?”
Alex’s expression stiffened at her straightforward question.
“It’s not like that.”
“I won’t ask any more questions if it troubles you.”
Alex, who wanted to retort back, decided to save his words. It wasn’t a bad idea to just leave Burnett’s pointless misunderstanding about Ciel’s entrance into the palace as a ‘esteemed guest’ alone anyway.
This was about maintaining a friendly alliance with the Valentine family. Nothing more, nothing less. With deliberate nonchalance, he didn’t bother to deny what she had said.
“Considering that they’ve been faithfully writing me letters, even when I was on the battlefield, they seem to like me quite a lot.”
“Is that so? I was rather worried, but I’m thankful to them.”
Burnett showed some goodwill towards them when she heard that they had taken care of him while he was away from the palace. It would be a problem if Ciel hated the Imperial Palace and wanted to return home, so Burnett’s help was crucial.
“Take care to ensure that nothing is lacking.”
“I will obey your words, Your Highness.”
Alex continued to stare absentmindedly at Ciel’s room even after the head maid had left. Using her room in the Valentine’s mansion as reference, brightly colored wallpaper had been hung and everything had been arranged charmingly.
From a framed painting of a landscape to a cozy sofa where she could comfortably relax…
Knowing that the Duke and Duchess provided the most precious things in the world for their beloved daughter, Alex had decorated the room with the best things that he could prepare as well.
Like a gentle breeze, the Valentine’s mansion seemed to be overflowing with warmth, unlike his own desolate palace. If Ciel came, perhaps even the achingly bleak atmosphere of his palace might change a little.
Come to think of it, Ciel had been constantly trying to pair Alex and Clara up since they had first met. But because the two of them had never shown any interest in each other, she had seemingly given up.
He was just thankful that Ciel, who wanted for nothing, had a hole in her defense that he could exploit called her older sister.
Moreover, since they had a common enemy in the Princess, Ciel’s presence would probably cause a great stir within the Imperial Palace.
He was already looking forward to it. Alex silently glanced in the Valentine family’s direction.
“You mean the Grand Duke of Winterbaum?”
My brother Theo adjusted his glasses while he listened carefully to me. We weren’t that close originally, but we’ve quickly grown closer following the recent drug case.
I wonder if that’s because we have Clara as our common denominator.
“He’s been weighing on my mind.”
Actually, I’ve been wondering about it for a while. No matter how villainous Ciel was, Alex didn’t have to kill her. So why had he made an enemy out of the Valentine family by executing her?
Among the readers, the opinions on the topic differed wildly. I hadn’t really thought about the issue very deeply, and I had only formed a vague idea after entering the novel.
This is absolutely just a guess, but perhaps Ciel’s love line had been connected to Stan. Even though the glamorous queen of high society, Ciel, had never had a fiancé, no one questioned her. And Alex had been strangely wary of Ciel.
The two had been childhood friends and as a grand duke, who was the son of the Princess, and a ducal princess, who was a direct descendant of the Valentine family, they were well matched. It was extremely natural for them to come together.
And if his proposal of marriage had been successful, Stan would have been given wings named ‘Ciel’, becoming a rival that threatened Alex’s position as crown prince.
Because Ciel herself had become deeply infatuated with Alex, her romantic connection with Stan had fizzled out. But from Alex’s point of view, had he thought about the future, it would have seemed easier to deal with Ciel, who had committed various evil deeds rather than Stan, who was relatively quiet.
“What would happen if I got married to Stan?”
“Then the crown prince would change and our family would be out of danger.”
I knew this would happen. Since he was only tangentially related to the issue, Theo spoke freely without even batting an eye.
If I want to save my life, the wisest thing to do is to join hands with Stan. The Princess is currently the one with the most power.
But if I join hands with Stan, who is backed by the Princess’ power, and he takes the position of crown prince from Alex…
My neck… THWACK! The same thing might happen. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. I rubbed the back of my neck. The scene from my dream was so vivid that I feel horrible every time I remember it.
“Politically speaking, it would be better. If you chose Grand Duke Winterbaum, then there would be no reason for our father to oppose the Princess.”
It seems that Theo has known about this possible option from the start. However, considering the unpleasant incident with Stan in the past and the fact that I dislike him, Theo hadn’t brought it up.
My brother is pretty smart, isn’t he? The eldest son of the Valentine family is dependable indeed.
“That’s how it is, huh?”
“Of course. Our father cooperated with the Crown Prince solely because of you, Ciel.”
If I hadn’t shown any favor towards Alex, then neither my dad nor my family would have gotten involved in the troublesome issue of the crown prince’s succession.
“Did I do something wrong?”
I was hit hard by Theo’s brutal honesty. With a grave expression on my face, I fell into deep thought.
“No, that’s not what I meant.”
At first I thought he was condemning me, but Theo flatly denied even the slightest possibility that I was to blame and said that the Princess and her faction were entirely at fault.
Then, for some reason, he patted me on the head.
If I look carefully, I can tell that Theo cares about me a lot, but I don’t really understand why he pretends not to.
Does he act like that because he’s shy? It’s really cute, but since he’s that kind of guy, I can look the other way and pretend I don’t know.
“And thanks to you, Clara has been given a great opportunity.”
“Do you really think so?”
“Isaac is full of anticipation as well.”
Even though Theo is probably disappointed that he won’t be able to meet with Clara for quite a while, he is still rooting for her sincerely.
As expected of a poor sub-male lead… Awake or asleep, your heart that only wishes for the happiness of the one you love has profoundly touched this sister of yours.
 The phrase ‘give wing(s) to’ refers to enabling someone to do something freely. Essentially, allowing them to metaphorically fly…
 She would be beheaded (executed by Alex as in the original novel).