I stared at my father with an astonished expression on my face and whirled around, thinking about what he had just told me.
Why? Why!? Emperor Alexel is going to ask me to marry him? Eh? Not to Nina, the heroine!?
With that in mind, I dreadfully opened my mouth to check with my father again.
“Uh, father…let me check again…are you sure it was for me? Is there any chance that I might have been mistaken for Nina?”
“…I don’t know why Nina’s name was mentioned there, but there was a proper formal marriage proposal application for Cecilia.”
Apparently it wasn’t my father’s misunderstanding and as I muttered to myself in a daze, and he looked at me with a troubled look on his face.
“…Actually, you weren’t the only one who received a marriage proposal from them.”
“A marriage proposal was made in the name of His Majesty Emperor Alexel for his sister, Princess Victoria, to wed Prince Kaiser.”
“I mean, that’s…”
“Yes, it’s essentially a political marriage proposal.”
I listened to it and said, “Oh, I see.” This situation finally was making sense.
I knew it was odd. I wondered why he asked me to marry him, even though he is the capture target of the heroine, Nina. Bt if it’s a political marriage, it makes a lot of sense. Well, maybe Princess Victoria’s side of the equation doesn’t have a political meaning, but she probably applied for it asking her brother to let her marry Kaiser, whom she has a crush on. And conversely, if he takes a queen from a woman from this country, it means that the connection between our countries will be stronger…Certainly, there are no princesses in this country, so I, a duke’s daughter, would have been chosen inevitably.
I nodded to myself with a bitter smile.
But then I suddenly remembered the words of Emperor Alexel from yesterday.
…Huh? As I recall, didn’t Emperor Alexel say something about women being nothing more than childbearing vessels? I told him to correct that idea in the meantime, but there’s no guarantee he’s changed that way of thinking…what? Which means I was chosen to be the one to have that child!?
That realization made me wrinkle my brow as I pulled my lips together and clenched my fists.
A sickening feeling rose up from the pit of my stomach.
“Ce-Cecilia? What’s wrong?”
Seeing me in such a state, father called out to me with a puzzled expression, but my eyes were already looking in another direction.
“…Father, I’ve got a few things to do, so I’m going to go!”
“What? Cecilia, what’s going on all of a sudden? And where in the world—”
Ignoring my father, who was upset by my unusual behavior, I walked quickly to the door and out of the room, and without hesitation started walking down the corridor to the room I had heard about in advance.
When I arrived in front of the room, I took a deep breath and knocked on the door in front of me.
The door opened slightly and a young man with light blue hair and yellow eyes came out.
He looked at me intently, then seemed to have noticed something, smiled, and opened the door wide.
“Welcome! Please come inside.”
“…Sorry for the intrusion.”
I was puzzled by the man’s appearance, but I greeted him and went into the room.
Inside is a guest room prepared for noble people, and in the room there is a large work desk that was set up at the request of the guests staying in this room.
And there at the desk, sat Emperor Alexel, who was writing something with a serious expression on his face.
He stopped moving his hand, glanced at me, and grinned,, the corners of his mouth raised in a smile!
“Huh, so you’re here.”
“…By the looks of it, you know why I am.”
“Yes. But I’m sorry, I’ve got some business to attend to first. Sit there and wait for me a moment. Noel, serve Miss Cecilia a cup of tea.”
The man who had just let me into the room bowed to Emperor Alexel and then went into the next room and returned with a tray of steaming hot tea.
“I apologize for the delay in greeting you,” he said. “I am Noel Pentos, the personal attendant to Emperor Alexel. Please call me Noel. Now, Cecilia, please take a seat over here and make yourself comfortable.”
“…Thank you, Noel. My name is Cecilia de Heinz. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
I hadn’t really intended to stay too long, but being told that he was working, I couldn’t interrupt that, and furthermore, they had prepared tea for me before I got to come back out again, so I gave up and sat down on the couch that I was prompted to sit on and drank that tea, because I had no choice.
I’m glad that it tastes good. The tea is made from our country’s speciality tea leaves, and is a favorite of Emperor Alexel.
“Is that so?”
“…Noel, I think it’s time to get back to work.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Now, Lady Cecilia, please make yourself at home.”
Noel bowed his head to me with a smirk on his face and then walked over to Emperor Alexel.
Then Emperor Alexel saw the expression on Noel’s face and wrinkled his brows.
“…What’s with that face?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
Having said that, Noel received a number of documents from Emperor Alexel with a very happy expression on his face.
Emperor Alexel made a stern look at Noel’s manner, but in the end he did not pursue further and began to work silently.
I was drinking tea and waiting for Emperor Alexel’s time to finish, when I noticed that for some reason they were both staring at the same document with difficult expressions on their faces and not moving.
Hmm? What happened?
Even Noel, who was in a good mood until a few minutes ago, seemed to have changed his expression and was thinking about it.
Then, when I peeked at the document they were staring at from an unobstructed distance, I saw that there were some numbers and letters written on it.
“… After all, no matter how many times I’ve calculated it, it just doesn’t match here.”
“It’s the same for me. Is there something wrong?”
“I don’t know, but whoever made this document is in the country, so it will take a few days to verify it.”
“Well, we can’t wait that long, can we?”
Then they both started to grumble at the same time.
I see. There seems to be something incomplete in the paperwork, but I was having trouble figuring out what it was. Well, as expected, it seems to be a political job and I’d better stay away…hmm? Huh? That part’s a bit odd…
I was about to go back to my original place when my eyes caught sight of a disturbing part of the document they were looking at.
I just stared at the document, forgetting to go back.
Then Emperor Alexel noticed me and gave me a questioning look.
“…It’s not very impressive that you’re looking at documents from another country.”
“Oh! Sorry! But…I couldn’t help but find something that bothered me…”
“A part that bothers you?”
“Yes…Isn’t there something wrong with the numbers there?”
“Hmm? Where is it?”
“Well…based on the text and the number written, I think the number here should be a 9 instead of a 5?”
At my suggestion, they hurriedly reviewed the document again and their expressions changed to one of surprise.
“If it’s as Lady Cecilia said, then it fits perfectly!”
“…I’m glad to hear that the problem has been resolved.”
Then he looked up and showed me a smile.
No…When I was working as an office worker in my past life, I saw these kinds of mistakes in paperwork many times. That’s why I somehow came to understand what was wrong and what wasn’t. I didn’t think the experience would be useful here though…
I watched the two of them with a slightly morose smile, as they quickly corrected and re-wrote and checked their documents.
“Cecilia-sama! Thank you so much!”
“No, I just said something that I was a little worried about…”
“Still, it really helped! Now, Emperor Alexel, I’d like to leave with this bundle of papers as I begin the process of sending it to the home country. Cecilia, please go ahead and spend some time with Emperor Alexel!”
Noel said in a good mood as he hugged the bundle of papers to his chest and left the room as it was.
And so it was just me and Emperor Alexel alone in the room.
I had suddenly realized that I lost all the momentum I had when I first came, and it made me feel very uncomfortable.
“Well…for now, I can just come back another time.”
“No, as Noel said. We should spend some time.”
“No, I’m sorry, but even if you say that…”
“For now, instead of just standing here, why don’t we sit down over there and talk?”
With these words, Emperor Alexel stood up and approached me, put his arms around my waist, and then moved me to the couch I had just been sitting on.
Then, as I was urged to sit on the couch, Emperor Alexel also sat down comfortably on the couch across from me and crossed his legs.
I gave up and decided to listen to what he had to say.
“…And so, how did you notice the mistake in that document?”
“It’s just a coincidence.”
“Well, by coincidence…but it’s impressive that you noticed parts of it that we didn’t even notice.”
“It’s impressive for a queen.”
“You’re here to talk to me about the marriage application, aren’t you?”
“All right. We have plenty of time. Let’s hear what Miss Cecilia has to say.”
Emperor Alexel said this and crossed his fingers with a relaxed expression as he stared at me intently.
I let out a small sigh when I saw him like that and decided to fulfill my original purpose.
“Then, I would like to say something. In the first place, we only knew each other yesterday and today, so why did you ask me to marry you? We’ve only just met, and I’m sure there are others who deserve it more than me and others, right?”
“…Well, I suppose you’re right to wonder. But I applied because I thought Miss Cecilia was worthy as my queen. And furthermore, the status of a duke’s daughter is also well-suited.”
“It may be true that I’m the right person considering my status, but there is a duke’s daughter in Emperor Alexel’s country as well, isn’t there? Or it could even be a princess from another country, couldn’t it?”
“I never planned to marry a woman from my own country. If I take a woman in for marriage, her family will gain too much power, and it could upset the balance of the country which has finally just settled down. I’m sure there are also many princesses from other countries who are too proud. But this is not the case with Miss Cecilia. You’re very interesting and not like any other woman I’ve ever met.”
Then Emperor Alexel grinned as he looked at me.
“I told you at the ball, didn’t I?”
“Huh! That was serious?”
“Of course. Miss Cecilia is the first person I’ve ever heard say something like that.”
“So I decided to take immediate action and asked for a marriage proposal. Because it seems that there are many others who wish to have Miss Cecilia.”
“Well, that’s…but I don’t want to be a tool for having children!”
“Emperor Alexel told me yesterday! That women are only there to bear children! Honestly, I don’t want to marry Emperor Alexel when I’ve been told that story!”
“So…then you mean to refuse my offer of marriage?”
“Uh! As one might expect, if I refused, it might lead to an international incident, wouldn’t it?”
“Well, I suppose that’s normal. It’s an application for a marriage proposal from the head of a major country of power like this one, after all.”
“Uh…so if you could, I would be grateful if Emperor Alexel would withdraw this application…”
“I have no intention of doing so!”
I asked for a favor, but was flatly refused.
“In the first place, I think you’ve been mistaken. I don’t consider Miss Cecilia as anything like a simple child-bearer.”
“I thought that Mistress Cecilia would be able to stand side-by-side with me as my queen. Moreover, I am convinced of this after what I have just seen with those documents. So I will not withdraw my offer of marriage.”
“That’s what I’m saying, so I’ll bring you back with me when I return to my country. You can keep that in mind.”
When I saw Emperor Alexel laughing at that, I was immensely disappointed.
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