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The Hero Proposed to Me
I hadn’t expected Stan to show up, but hadn’t expected Alex to show up either.
It was awkward because of a certain unexpected, unwelcome guest. I could see that Theo, in particular, was on edge because of Stan and I was worried that he might try to start a fight.
“What are you doing here?”
“I was keeping an eye on that guy to make sure he didn’t do anything stupid.”
My guess that Alex would be rather sensitive towards his rival in the royal court was correct. He had narrowly obtained the position of crown prince and he couldn’t afford to lose it.
While my brothers held a meeting about Stan, I gladly showed Alex around our villa.
“This is our bedroom.”
“Are you all sleeping together?”
Traces of our pillow fight remained on the extended bed.
The scene must have been unfamiliar to Alex, who tended to be a loner within the Imperial Palace. I got on my tiptoes, reached out, and patted him on his head.
“Your Highness, would you like to sleep with us?”
“Huh? No, that’s not…”
He was still a kid. When I asked if he wanted to play around with us, Alex’s face turned bright red as he waved off my invitation.
He was cold in front of others, but he was pretty cute when he acted shy in front of me.
“However, I appreciate the offer.”
“It’s a pity. It’s fun to play around together at night. I’m a master of pillow fights, after all.”
“Please show me next time.”
By ‘next time’ did he mean that we should have a match after I entered the Imperial Palace? Anyway, I hadn’t realized that he had been keeping such a close eye on Stan.
“Meryl, some dinner for His Highness. And please take care of the other men who accompanied him.”
Since my sister was busy treating Grand Duke Winterbaum, I pretended to be my mom and acted as the lady of the house.
I took care of everything, ensuring that nothing was lacking. And above all, I prioritized looking after Alex’s bed. After I ordered a bath to be prepared, Alex asked me a somewhat oblique question.
“Have you eaten yet?”
“I’m already ready to sleep… Achoo!”
Even during the summer, it was quite chilly at night and I had been walking around in my nightgown, so I let out a sneeze. Alex told a maid that was standing behind me to quickly bring a shawl.
“It’ll be a problem if you catch a cold while on vacation.”
“Are you worried about me?”
“Because we’re friends…”
Ah, it was just because we were friends. He was truly very kind to his friends. After being handed the shawl, he placed it around my shoulders. Alex’s refreshing lavender scent permeated the cozy shawl.
“Ciel. Did you catch a cold?”
The human radar, Isaac, had heard my sneeze somehow and had come running immediately.
I decided to leave the rest for Theo to deal with. It was time for good kids to go to bed. I gently lifted the skirt of my nightgown and bowed gracefully.
“Well then. Rest well, Your Highness.”
I was happy that I had been able to meet Alex after such a long time, but after seeing him I felt a twinge of pain in the corner of my heart.
He kept saying that we were friends, but it still seemed like Alex was trying to prevent me from getting involved with Stan.
Ah, that must have been it. Rather than coming to see me, he was more worried about Stan expanding his influence. Well, it had been a nice thought while it lasted. I calmly took Isaac’s hand and went to the bedroom. I didn’t want to see his back as he turned away from me, so I steadfastly marched forward without looking back.
I woke up to Isaac’s handsome face right in front of me. With his sharp nose and his brilliant blonde hair gently cascading down around his face, it was more accurate to call him ‘pretty’ rather than ‘manly’. He was an attractive boy that looked just like me. No matter when I looked at him, he was always quite handsome.
“We look very similar.”
I kind of understood why Isaac liked me. Among our siblings, who don’t really resemble each other at all, Isaac and I were exceptionally similar, as if we had been printed from the same stamp.
If I were in my brother’s shoes, I might feel more attached to Ciel than Louis.
Anyway, I had just gone to bed since I was tired, but was Alex really okay? He had come all the way here after following Stan and I was worried that something might have happened last night.
There was no other choice. Since I was already this worried, I’d have to secretly sneak out. Isaac was fast asleep. Pushing him aside, I crawled out of bed.
“You guys sure are sleeping soundly.”
They all looked so cute when they were sleeping. At some point Clara, who had been sleeping next to me, had turned around and nestled inside of Theo’s arms.
Good for you, Theo. Clara was curled up fast asleep, laying on Theo’s arm. They really looked more like a couple than brother and sister.
Seeing them like that, they seemed quite well matched. I hoped that they would start dating soon. I even covered them with a blanket, for the sake of the couple shares that I had purchased. 
I slowly began to wake up. I stretched out as far as I could.
Louis, disturbed by the sound of my movement, jerked awake. Louis had slept in the corner closest to the door. Even here, he couldn’t help but be a borrowed sack of barley. 
Unexpectedly, everyone had followed me to bed and slept together. But, judging by the dark circles under his eyes, it looked like he hadn’t slept well at all.
“Louis, come over here and sleep…”
He might be less sensitive to noise in the middle of the bed. I guided Louis, who was still mostly asleep, to the place that I had slept and laid him down.
Louis must have been exhausted. As he lay down between Isaac and Clara he fell asleep almost instantly. I stealthily slipped out of the room after making sure that everyone was sound asleep.
‘I hope everyone is good.’
I was worried about Stan, who had injured his foot. And I wasn’t able to get Alex, who was often alone, out of my mind. It was still the break of dawn, so the villa was deathly quiet.
I roamed around the villa without Meryl. Fortunately, it seemed that there had been no major issues last night.
“Miss, why are you up so early?”
A servant, who was on his way to prepare breakfast, was startled as he came across me while rushing around.
“Shh. I just woke up a little early. I’m going to go for a walk.”
I covered myself properly with a shawl to avoid catching a cold. Hearing me speak like a mature adult, the servant smiled happily and pointed towards the garden.
“Actually, the freshly planted flower beds are rather pretty right now. This area is safe, so please feel free to wander around as much as you’d like.”
Following the lead of the friendly servant, I looked out of the window at the scenery beyond.
I pretended to look over the garden before sneaking off towards the room that Alex was sleeping in.
Some knights, who had come with Alex to our mansion a few times, recognized me.
“Shhhh. Is His Highness still sleeping?”
I waved my hand, gesturing for them to be quiet. The knights welcomed me wholeheartedly.
“He is still asleep. Would you like to go in?”
Was that okay? Originally no one was allowed in a room where someone from the Imperial Family was sleeping. But they were readily allowing me to enter. I looked around to see if anyone was looking and then crept into Alex’s room.
Just as my dad checked in on me every morning to make sure I was sleeping well, I was worried that that kid might have kicked his blanket off in his sleep.
Fortunately, Alex was sleeping soundly with a relaxed expression on his face. Unlike the sharp impression he usually gave off, the sleeping Crown Prince looked quite gentle.
“I shouldn’t be doing this.”
It would be embarrassing if I was caught peeing at him for no reason while he slept, so I decided to leave for the time being. All of a sudden I heard the sound of someone moving around behind me.
I thought my presence might have woken him up, but it seemed that he was having a nightmare.
“Why is he doing that?”
Alex groaned and bit his lip. To avoid making any noise, I had to stop myself from speaking aloud several times.
The corners of his eyes became wet with tears as he slept. This terribly lonely boy was suffering alone, still haunted by the guilt of failing to protect his mother.
Sadly, Alex’s mother had already passed away by the time I had possessed Ciel, so I hadn’t been able to do anything about it.
He must have been really lonely. There was no one on his side in the Imperial Palace. He had been holding on, protecting his life all alone this entire time.
I tried to look the other way and leave, but sympathy brought me back to Alex’s side. He was my first favorite character, so it was difficult to ignore him and pretend that I hadn’t read all about his heart-wrenching backstory.
As I held Alex’s rough hand tightly, his breathing steadied. He seemed to have calmed down somewhat.
“Your Highness, I will help you safely get whatever you want.”
If Alex found a girl that he liked, I might end up being a little nosy, but I’d still do everything I could to help him.
After all, it was my fault that this kid’s fate became twisted. Tossing and turning in bed again, Alex’s face drew closer to mine. He had an angular nose, beautiful lips, and beautifully arched eyebrows. Unlike Isaac, who had a delicate appearance, Alex was handsome and gave off a manly vibe.
I was in awe of his outward appearance, which could make people happy just by seeing it. I held his hand tightly and wiped away his tears. He seemed to have calmed down now. I started to get up, but then I heard some strange noises outside of the door.
“You can’t go in there!”
“Where the hell did you take Ciel, you perverted bastard?”
From the stench of moldy rags that wafted all the way over here, it was obvious who had come. I panicked thinking that I might cause a misunderstanding if I was caught here like this, but I couldn’t find anywhere to hide.
The door was about to burst open. Without thinking, I lifted up Alex’s blanket and hid underneath.
I hid, frightened under the wide blanket as Stan limped into the room. Alex’s eyes shot open at the sudden commotion.
Beneath the wrinkled blanket, I peeped out through an open gap. The Crown Prince, who had been roused from slumber, looked at his uninvited visitor as if he had a screw loose.
“What do you want?”
“Where the hell did you hide Ciel?”
Oh no. Had I been caught hiding in the room? Alex, who had just awoken, pushed aside the blanket lump (me hidden underneath) and frowned.
“What the hell are you doing at this hour?”
I couldn’t see his face because I was hiding under the blanket, but his voice sounded fierce. Just hearing his voice was scary enough, so I couldn’t imagine how it was for someone who had to face him in person.
Stan was frightened. Even though he could clearly see that I was hiding next to Alex, he was kicked out without being able to say another word.
The room was engulfed in silence once more. Still tired, Alex rubbed his eyes and pulled the blanket back.
Momentarily stunned at having the blanket snatched away, I made eye contact with Alex. This is utterly absurd, isn’t it? I’m sorry. Embarrassed, I just gave him a soft smile.
Secretly sneaking in while someone was sleeping was pretty bad, wasn’t it? But Alex, who still wasn’t fully awake, had a dazed look on his face as he gently cupped my cheek with his hand.
“Why are you here?”
I didn’t know how to answer, so I didn’t say anything. After a moment of silence, Alex frowned and lay down on the bed.
“I must be dreaming.”
I was shocked to hear him mumble to himself. Was he an idiot? Based on his vacant stare it was obvious that he was still half asleep. Well since he was like this, I thought I might be able to overcome this situation somehow.
I didn’t want to get scolded for peeping at him, so it was better to just say it was a dream.
“Yeah. This is all a dream.”
I whispered softly into Alex’s ear. He was still somewhere between waking and sleeping. This dream would be completely forgotten once the dawn passed and he woke up later in the morning.
He fell back to sleep as I patted the back of his hand. The sound of his breathing gradually steadied. I slipped out from beneath the blanket after making sure that Alex was sound asleep.
I know I shouldn’t get caught, so why am I doing this?
Since it seemed like I really would get caught if I stayed, I closed my eyes and carefully snuck out of Alex’s room.
“Please don’t tell anyone that I was here.”
“I would be happy to, Lady.”
It might have been because their master had to go through a lot of hardships, but his men were very tight-lipped. Believing that they would keep my secret, I beat a hasty retreat.
 Buying shares/stocks refers to hoping for a couple to get together. Essentially, someone invests in a relationship that they want to happen. This is often seen in reference to characters in romance novels. Readers will buy stocks in their favorite pairing of main characters.
 A person who does not talk or get along with others and sits in the corner at a gathering. It is similar to being the odd one out.
 Sounds of groaning