Night has fallen.
I’m sitting alone on a bench in the courtyard of the Academy.
Most of the students are attending the party held in the auditorium.
I can see the light shining through the windows, and hear just a little noise and music from the party. The prince should be heading towards the royal palace as the student representative, so the other student council members should be managing the party right now.
I probably should have acted like a villainess and stolen their thunder.
In fact, that’s what I did last year. I played pranks on the prince, and conspired with Rona to let Catalina host the party.
But I’m not in the mood this time.
My attention is focused on the other party beyond this auditorium, but there’s no way I can see it from here. However, I know that something should be happening there.
I wonder if Michelie is suffering there, at the royal palace. I’m beginning to feel frustrated because I’m the cause of her suffering right now.
I look up at the night sky.
The moon isn’t shining its light in the dark sky. I stretch my hand out towards the stars, even though they’re out of reach. I mumble to myself in disappointment.
“The moon… isn’t here.”
The light from the stars are providing insufficient consolation. I may be feeling sentimental right now, but I’m still a girl. I’m feeling hurt just thinking about the harm I’m causing to me beloved sister.
I’m going to go all out in being a villainess from this point on. I won’t be praised for it, nor will my reputation rise from the ashes. In order to allow my sister to bask in the light, I have to fall into darkness in her place. And for that to happen, I need to continue hurting Michelie. I can’t help but feel sad.
I wish I could calmly and coolly ignore fate and be loved by everyone, just like her. But I’m helpless.
I have to fulfill my destiny as the villainess.
My future is dark, just like the twinkling stars without the moon shining at their side.
Perhaps because no one is looking at me, I begin to mock myself.
Maybe I should seize this chance and laugh to my heart’s content.
That’s what came to my mind.
I don’t know when I stopped laughing, even though it was a habit when I was a child.
No one’s looking right now anyway. I stand up and begin laughing loudly at myself.
“Heheh, hahaha! Hahahaha–”
“What are you doing?”
It’s a familiar voice.
It stimulates my memory, but I can’t remember who exactly it belongs to.
I turn to look at the person who spoke.
This person shouldn’t be here right now.
The voice belongs to someone with soft golden hair and blue eyes.
“That’s right, Chris.”
He’s grown a lot in two years.
He’s gotten taller and more muscular. He still looks a little childish, but that’s probably due to his youthfulness. His voice has also changed. He’s no longer the same cute boy.
But why is he here?
He should be attending the party at the Royal Palace as a new student.
I decide to ask him.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came here to read a book.”
What is this guy saying?
I’m beginning to relax thanks to his nonchalant attitude.
Most of all, I feel no persistence coming from Charles. Even if I ran away now, he probably wouldn’t chase after me. He’s just smiling there naturally.
I see how it is.
I gave it some thought, and came to a conclusion.
Charles must have stopped liking me now.
Two years of adolescence is enough to change a person’s feelings. Charles is simply calling out to an acquaintance he bumped into.
In that case, I can feel at ease without being foolishly on guard. I begin to relax and chat.
“Can you really read here?”
No, it’s too dark here.
I asked him teasingly while mocking myself for expecting such a response from him.
It’s darker than before since the moon isn’t out, but I have a lamp with me.
I was about to lend it to him, but his response was unexpected.
“Books aren’t just for reading, you know?”
He puts the thick book on my head.
He seems taken aback from my response.
It’s been almost ten years since we’ve had this sort of interaction, but I still don’t feel like giving him a street performance.
I sigh and remove the book from my head.
“An entertainment novel? That’s the kind of book Surfania likes.”
“Yeah. I borrowed it from Surfania, the third daughter of the Calibrachoas.”
Have Charles and Surfania become friends?
I flip through some pages, then return it to him.
“Here you go.”
I pretended not to notice the word ‘IDIOT’ I wrote on the last page when I hung out with Surfania.
He takes the book without hesitation, taking my hand in the process.
“Since it’s a good time, shall we dance, Chris?”
Does he still have feelings for me?
I’m not replying to his suggestion with a nod.
“No. I don’t feel like it.”
“Hmm. It’s been two years since we saw each other. Are you sure?”
Not just these two years.
I haven’t danced at all since that time.
“I see. I won’t force you.”
He backs down like a gentleman, which is very much unlike him.
I feel stupid, but disappointed at the same time.
I still have feelings for him too. I try to shake it off with a smile.
“You should go–”
“How about this?”
He gets on one knee.
He wants to kiss my hand as a simple greeting to a lady.
But I won’t allow it.
“Such a pretentious greeting. I told you before, ask me for permission first.”
I shake off his hand a little violently. Charles casts an upward glance at me.
“……Is that a no, too?”
“It’s a no.”
He backs off again.
I don’t know if this straightforwardness is like him or not. Maybe he’s just grown up.
I’m a fool to feel sad about it. Maybe I just want the attention, or maybe I want him to press further. I’m disgusted with myself for being so whimsical.
He looks like he’s about to leave.
He stands up slowly.
“Then this will do.”
Smiling broadly, he takes a step forward and pushes back my hair from my forehead.
I’m looking up at him while making eye contact.
It’s the first time I’ve looked up at him. I couldn’t react.
He draws closer to my face.
He kissed my forehead.
All my thoughts come to a stop.
“That’s fine, right? You didn’t ask for permission last time either.”
I spoke plainly, not wavering even in the slightest.
I’m retorting with a plain face.
“It’s late, you should go soon.”
“Yeah. I’m satisfied. Bye, Chris. I won’t forget, and neither should you. I’m the third prince, and your fiancé.”
He leaves without turning back.
When he disappears from my sight around the corner, I crumble onto the floor.
What just happened? What exactly did he come here for?
Was he trying to say something? Was it by chance, or did he come here on purpose? Was his natural seeming behavior simply a bluff? Is he still in love with me?
There’s so much I want to ask and tell him.
But I only have one thing to say for now.
“You’re embarrassing me, Charles.”
I don’t have to look into a mirror to tell how red my face is.
Meanwhile, at the Royal Palace:
Freesia: (Spill a drink onto her clothes and laugh at her, spill a drink onto her clothes and laugh at her…… Alright, now’s the time!)
Freesia: “Oh, my apologies. I did not see…… Why are you grabbing my arm? Wait, M-Michelie?! Your eyes are–”
Michelie: “I’m not taking it out on you this has nothing to do with Charles getting ahead in the game you understand right Freesia hehehehehehe…”