I was still confused by Emperor Alexel’s unexpected reaction when another figure approached us.
“Well! It’s so rare to see older brother laughing in public!”
I turned my gaze towards the direction of the voice as I heard an astonished voice.
Then I saw Princess Victoria, dressed in a crimson dress, standing there with a shocked expression on her face.
And next to her was Kaiser, who was standing next to Princess Victoria with a confused expression, her hand on his arm.
Kaiser looked repeatedly between me and Emperor Alexel, who was standing next to me while holding his mouth with a small smile, and for some reason Kaiser let out a small sigh with a stunned expression.
No, even if he reacted like that…
I returned that look to Kaiser with a troubled expression.
However, Princess Victoria, who hadn’t noticed the situation between Kaiser and I, didn’t take her eyes off of Emperor Alexel, who had finally calmed down.
“Brother? What’s wrong?”
“No, it’s just…I saw something pretty interesting.”
At Emperor Alexel’s words, Princess Victoria tilted her head with a puzzled expression.
But Emperor Alexel did not dare to say anything, and glanced at me.
Princess Victoria followed Emperor Alexel’s gaze and looked at me with a suspicious look, apparently now aware of my existence.
“…And you are?”
“Princess Victoria, I am so sorry for the delay in greeting you. I am Cecilia de Heinz, daughter of Duke Reinhardt. It is my pleasure to meet you.”
I said my name, picked up the hem of my skirt, and bowed to Princess Victoria.
“Cecilia…well! So you’re Prince Kaiser’s ‘ex-fiancée?’”
“Hmm, so you’re the former fiancée…”
Princess Victoria looked at me and muttered to herself, a light wrinkle between her eyebrows.
I smiled wryly as I met her gaze, thinking that it was a reaction to be expected.
But Kaiser, standing next to Princess Victoria, had a look of obvious hurt at the repeated calls of the word ‘ex-fiancée’.
I didn’t dare to look at him and continued to receive Princess Victoria’s gaze in silence.
“I’m sure you have a somewhat well-groomed face, don’t you? But it’s inferior to me. And I’ve heard rumors about you. And that you’ve used your father’s power to become Prince Kaiser’s bride. Oh, poor Prince Kaiser. You’ve been locked into an engagement you didn’t want for a long time…but congratulations on finally being able to end it! I’m sure Prince Kaiser will have someone more suitable on his side!”
Princess Victoria said so emphatically and stared at Kaiser with an appealing look on her face.
But as for Kaiser, I noticed a slight twitch at the edge of his lips while he wore his usual pseudo-smile on his face.
“In the first place, why did Prince Kaiser even stay engaged to this Cecilia for so long? To be honest, it doesn’t seem like she has anything in particular to offer you other than the status of a duke’s daughter.”
Princess Victoria turned her gaze towards me again, snickering and looking down on me.
But she soon realized something and turned a pitying look at Kaiser.
“Prince Kaiser…You had weaknesses that were exposed, didn’t you? So even if you wanted to break off the engagement, you couldn’t quite get it done, could you? I can see that! This person has a very bad personality behind the scenes!”
I was more impressed rather than offended by Princess Victoria’s determination to say this all so blatantly.
Ooh…As expected of a rival villainous character. In the end, I didn’t dare to play the role of a villainous daughter. On the contrary, I find her villainousness refreshing.
I was nodding repeatedly in my mind as I looked at Princess Victoria, who was still belittling me.
However, I could sense a black aura emanating from Kaiser’s back as he stood next to her with a smile on his face.
Ah, this may indeed be bad…
I was about to open my mouth to say that it was time to stop Princess Victoria’s words, but before I could say anything else, a word came from another direction,
“Will you stop speaking ill of Cecilia?”
Princess Victoria looked in surprise at the direction of the voice and saw Prince Alfeld approaching her with a bewitching smile on his face.
Furthermore, behind him, all the usual members of our group were walking together.
“Yeah! Do you think I’ll ever forgive you if you say anything bad about Sister Cecilia?”
“No matter how much you’re the princess of a great nation, there are things you can say and things you can’t say. Anything you say or do that hurts Cecilia, I won’t be silent about it.”
“Princess! Are you okay? Ah, no, I didn’t say that to Princess Victoria, but to my precious Princess Cecilia. Do not misunderstand me.”
“Lady Cecilia! I hope you ignore what this person says! I’m on your side, Cecilia-sama!”
“Me too! I will protect you, Cecilia-sama!”
That’s right, they all stood in front of me and confronted Princess Victoria as if they were protecting me.
I put my hand on my forehead and nodded my head in dismay at their behavior.
“What!? Who are you guys!?”
As expected, Princess Victoria was surprised and upset by this situation and shouted loudly, and Kaiser, who was standing next to her, also easily let go of Princess Victoria’s hand and moved to the same place as everyone else.
“Princess Victoria, I believe you have misunderstood something, and I would like to correct you.”
“Yes. In the first place, I never wanted to end my engagement with Cecilia! I would rather not have gotten rid of it!”
“But for various reasons it was decided to dissolve the engagement as a result. So Cecilia did not take advantage of my weakness to force the engagement, and moreover, Cecilia is a very good-natured person!”
When Kaiser said this to Princess Victoria with a serious look on his face, everyone else also looked serious and nodded their heads.
Princess Victoria was stunned by their expressions and froze in place.
Then I heard stifled laughter coming from very close to me, so I glanced at Emperor Alexel, who was standing next to me.
And just as I had expected, Emperor Alexel was once again hiding his mouth with his hand and bursting into laughter.
…What’s so funny?
I looked at Emperor Alexel in confusion, but I pretended not to see him for the time being.
“Even Prince Kaiser…what in the world is going on here?”
Princess Victoria blinked her eyelids repeatedly in disbelief, but soon she became sullen and stared at me from between the others.
All I could do was smile politely at her.
Then Princess Victoria turned her head with a sullen expression and faced Emperor Alexel.
“Brother! I’m not feeling well, so let’s go back to the room together!”
But for some reason, Emperor Alexel did not reply to Princess Victoria.
When I asked him what was wrong, he looked around at me and everyone else and began to think about something.
“I’m sorry, Victoria, but I still have something to do. If you want to go back to your room so badly, I’ll send someone with you and you can head back there first.”
“No! What is more important than me?”
“…I haven’t danced with Miss Cecilia yet.”
I froze for a moment at the unexpected statement and then asked Emperor Alexel back.
And then everyone else did the same thing, and they all turned to Emperor Alexel with stunned expressions.
“Oh, brother…I heard wrong, didn’t I? I can’t believe you would dance with that woman…”
“You didn’t mishear me. Now come on, Miss Cecilia, let’s go to the center.”
“What? No, wait, wait! Emperor Alexel!”
He took my upset hand and put his around my waist, and then I was forcibly led out into the dance circle.
At that time, I glanced at everyone left behind and saw that Kaiser seemed to be surrounded and questioned by everyone.
Furthermore, Princess Victoria, was biting her lip and staring at me with a very sharp glare.
Even if you glare at me like that, I’m the one who’s confused by this situation!!!
I screamed at Princess Victoria in my mind and eventually entered the dancing circle.
Then, without hesitation, Emperor Alexel took my hand and waist and got into a dancing position.
“…You really did want to dance?”
“Of course. And Miss Cecilia is going to keep me company for the duration of my stay in this country, isn’t she?”
“Uh, that’s right…I didn’t expect to be a dance partner, but…”
“It’s okay. It’s about to start.”
As soon as Emperor Alexel said this, he started to move along with the music.
His dancing technique was perfect as expected, and his lead was very good and very easy to dance with.
“Your Majesty Alexel…you are very good at this.”
“Well, I am an emperor, you know. I’ve had my fair share of occasions. And if the head of the state is not a good dancer, then how can he show the others that he’s worth following?”
“That is certainly true too.”
“But…Miss Cecilia is a perfect dancer, too. The best of all the women I’ve danced with.”
“Thank you for the compliment. I was still the fiancée of the crown prince of this country at one point, so I was well-instructed in one way or another.”
“I see…so you had a queen’s education?”
“Yes, just in case…well, it is all for naught now.”
I smiled bitterly at him.
But Emperor Alexel just stared at me and was silent.
“…Hmm, maybe it won’t be in vain.”
I didn’t understand the meaning of the Emperor’s words and asked him about them, but I never got an answer to my question.
After that I had to dance with Emperor Alexel for several songs at the welcoming ball, and the next day I was relaxing in my room after finishing my breakfast and drinking my after-dinner tea when the door suddenly opened with a loud bang.
“Oh, Father! How did you manage to get in without knocking?”
“Knock? Oh, I’m sorry, that was a little too much! But more importantly—Cecilia!!”
“Father, please calm down!”
“This is not a time to be calm! What a surprise, His Majesty Emperor Alexel has sent a marriage proposal to Cecilia!”
“I’m saying—!! It’s from Emperor Alexel to Cecilia!!”
My father’s words made me scream in a loud voice that echoed all over the room.
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