Chapter 12 – Let Us Dance
Why a dance all of a sudden?
I gave a stunned blink at his sudden offer.
Is there…a need for us to converse, Your Highness?
I finally nodded. “Now that I know who you are, Your Highness, I will compensate for the stained blazer jacket and see that it gets delivered to the palace through my father.” Even as I spoke, I was quite worried. Wouldn’t a jacket worn by the Crown Prince be super expensive?
That’s not enough to bankrupt my family, right? We’re still a noble family… it should be fine, right?
“No, Lady Maristella. It seems like you are misunderstanding something.” He smiled a noble’s smile and continued. “I would like to talk to you regarding a different topic, My Lady.”
“Did I do something to offend you, Your Highness?”
“Not at all, Lady Maristella. Nothing of that nature, so you needn’t be so terrified,” Xavier replied softly as he gazed into my eyes. I felt as if I should avert my gaze this time, so I went with my instincts and pulled my gaze away.
Until I heard what came next, that is.
“Why did you not recognize me?” he asked.
“I’m quite curious to know, Lady Maristella.”
Oh, Lord. I am majorly screwed.
I was in such great panic that I stared straight into Xavier’s eyes out of reflex. Not long after, I once again slowly lowered my eyes.
I admit that I have no excuse, trust me.
But you said so yourself that it’s fine to not know you!
“I, um…” I mumbled.
That’s it, Oh Mari. Just give up. Let’s be honest—what excuse do you have in this situation? I guess the best option is for you to claim that you’re prosopagnosic. Wait, do the people here even know what that is?
I was almost about to say those words, but I stopped myself when I figured that I’d just be treated like a crazy woman.
“I suppose you have no excuse for yourself,” Xavier said, halting my thoughts.
“…I’m sorry.” When there was no excuse, a quick apology is the next best thing to offer. However, my suffering did not end there.
“But Lady Maristella, I fail to understand. It’s not like I’m the Emperor’s hidden child. I was named the Crown Prince as soon as I was born and entered the high society when I was merely five years old,” Xavier said as he looked at me curiously.
When you put it like that… I really have nothing to say, Your Highness.
I just continued to keep my eyes towards the floor.
Suddenly, Xavier’s face popped into my sight.
Wait a second…Why did he shrink all of a sudden?
“I see you have taken a liking to the floor, Lady Maristella.”
He had kindly bent his knees just for me.
Thanks a lot. I sighed deeply with an helpless expression. Handsome Prince, why in the world are you subjecting me to this?
“Let us dance together and talk deeply, Lady Maristella.”
“Perhaps then I will come to understand why you didn’t know who I was.”
“…Yes, Your Highness,” I said in defeat.
In other words, I had no choice from the very beginning.
“Who is she?”
“I don’t know. She doesn’t look familiar.”
“No, I know her! We saw her at Trakos Family’s tea party last time!”
“But who is she?”
“Give me a second. Where was she from again…?”
“Not from a family of significance, I guess.”
“I remember it not being terrible, but also not outstanding. Just normal, I guess?”
“Wait, I remember.”
“The Bellafleur Family, I think.”
“That’s unexpected. I thought that she’d at least be the daughter of a duke if the Crown Prince himself chose her. Isn’t the Bellafleur Family a little…lacking in connections with the Imperial Family?”
As I overheard the muttered whisperings of the crowd, I grew uneasy.
The Crown Prince, who was well within the age of marriage, had chosen someone as his dance partner. The curious eyes were expected. The thought of Dorothea watching us made me feel absolutely fantastic, but I felt troubled when my thought reached Odeletta.
Lady Odeletta had been so happy to have become friends with me. She had already openly announced to the high society that she fancied the Crown Prince.
Ah, should I find her later and explain myself?
“What are you thinking about?” Xavier’s low voice pulled me away from my thoughts again.
The fact that his unchanging handsome face was staring at me all along was worse for my heart than ever imagined. However, I had no time to indulge in such emotions, as I was worrying deeply about something else.
“Just this and that, Your Highness,” I sighed in reply.
“I already know two people who fancy you.”
If it were just Dorothea, I wouldn’t be so concerned. I chuckled and shook my head. “Two people, though I am not sure whether you’re aware of it or not.”
The confidence in his voice dumbfounded me a little. I squinted my eyes at him. “It’s surprising that you do not have a single lady in mind, considering that you’re of marrying age.”
“If I did, would I not already be married?”
That strangely made a lot of sense, which made it difficult for me to refute.
Since the dance hadn’t begun yet and my hands were free, I took my right fist up towards my lips and mulled over this information
Still, wouldn’t he at least know Odeletta? She was his wife in the original story, after all. Now that I think, how did this man get married to her again?
Right. The central nobility were against having Dorothea as the Princess Consort.
Although the Trakos Family, to which Odeletta was born, was not overwhelmingly wealthy, they had a deep history as one of the country’s founding families. On the other hand, Dorothea’s Cornohen Family had received their noble status fairly recently. It must have been 150 years at most.
Hence, it would have been difficult for Xavier—who was still just a Crown Prince—to bring Dorothea in as the Princess Consort.
I didn’t understand why the author even bothered making such a background story when she was so biased towards Dorothea anyway. Perhaps they just needed a fancy tool to serve as an obstacle between their love.
I blinked. “Pardon?”
Ah. I was so lost in thought over something so trivial that I had completely forgotten about this handsome man in front of me. I gave an awkward smile.
“Oh…I’m sorry, Your Highness. I was just lost in thought…” I apologized.
“What were you thinking about?”
“Pardon me?” Was this man trying to censor my thoughts now? I blinked a few times and asked again. “What…do you mean?”
“Like I said, I would like to know what kind of thoughts distracted you from me.”
“It’s not much. It’s just…” I quickly squeezed out my brain for a suitable answer. Before I even realized what I was doing, I smiled and replied, “I was wondering why you asked me for a dance.”
“Right, you asked me why I didn’t recognise you,” I said.
“That is correct, My Lady.”
“It was actually a… p-personality.”
“Yes. A social personality.” I quickly nodded. “So like… something like… ‘You’re the first woman who didn’t recognize me!’… is what I was aiming for… or something…”
Ah, this isn’t going great. I was truly embarrassed. What the hell am I doing right now?
I unknowingly bit my lip in embarrassment, desperately trying to think of what I should say next. Just then, I felt an unfamiliar sensation on my lips. Wild-eyed, I flinched and faced the front.
Xavier was gently touching my lips with a serious expression on his face.
“This isn’t a very good habit.”
I unintentionally swallowed a dry gulp.
Um, my heart is in a fair bit of risk right now. Could you lift off your finger…?
“I used to have the same habit when I was young. It ruined my lips,” he said.
“Oh, you don’t bite your lips anymore?”
“I fixed that habit.”
“I think you’d be very sexy if you bit your li—”
When I got there, my consciousness snapped to alertness. I shook my head. You’re insane, Oh Mari. You’ve lost all fear just because the Crown Prince is being so nice to you.