Chapter 59 - Gifts
Act 7. Everything Started From That Place
“His highness visited the crafts department where the lower-class citizens sleep to watch over the entire process. Every year, he prepared these gifts, so he could give them to you when you come to see the Academy Festival,” said Ethan, as he looked at the items in the box.
At a loss for words, Ella didn’t know how to respond to this. It must have taken weeks to craft these items. What was on his mind as he prepared these gifts? She had never seen these gifts before, but for some reason, they looked familiar. Cladis, in the original novel, gave these gifts to Ella without telling her that he made them back when he was at the Academy. Instead, he just gave it to her sometimes on her birthday or sometimes on a random day. She never imagined that these gifts had such a backstory behind them. The prince never told her these were handmade gifts while he waited for her.
To think Cladis hid such secrets from her. She never knew. Ella couldn’t find the words to describe her current feelings. Relieving his nervousness, Ethan let out a sigh. He wasn’t sure if he could find the right words to explain this, as talking wasn’t his forte. Not only that, he wasn’t sure if this was going to mend their relationship.
Still, he couldn’t just sit by and pretend he didn’t know anything. It was obvious that Cladis was going to try to hide his actions at the Academy, and his sister was going to misunderstand him. He knew the two of them very well, so he made his decision. Looking at Ella, Ethan said, “His highness was lonely.”
“Pardon?” questioned Ella.
“His highness has no one. His parents aren’t like ours. As you know, they expect a lot from him, so they’re always strict with him.”
Recollecting the contents from the book, Ella remembered that the emperor and empress didn’t marry out of love. As such, they were never affectionate towards Cladis. They did, however, care for him each in their own ways that were very different from ordinary parents.
Because of the unique customs in the Duffspe empire, the emperor and the empress shared ideas and worked together. The current emperor and empress, however, were often competing against each other and did everything for their own profit. As such, the emperor was sick of his marriage and wanted to give Cladis a different life. In order to accomplish this, he removed every girl except for Ella in Cladis’s life.
Ella is your girl. She is the only girl in this entire world who is completely yours. In return, you will give yourself to her.
Just like that, young Cladis accepted Ella as his special someone. She soon realized that the book never mentioned anything about Cladis’s life at the Academy. It only briefly described how hard Ella worked to become the crown princess. When the book talked about them reuniting after three years, it focused on their burning love and longing for each other.
How did Cladis spend his three years away from his beloved one? It was hard to imagine what he had gone through. Ella held up the young Luciella doll from the box.
“His highness made that last year. He asked me countless times if the doll looked like you. You loved dolls, so he-”
Interrupting Ethan, Ella asked, “He wanted to give this doll to fifteen-year-old me?”
“Around that time, I walked around with a book, not a doll. The dolls that filled my bedroom were removed not long after you went to the Academy.”
Aware that Ethan was trying to make her understand Cladis’s loneliness, Ella was busy thinking about what Luciella did in the original story. This was probably happening because she chose to follow a different path than Luciella.
But even then, she couldn’t take her eyes off the doll. The doll was much more beautifully crafted than she imagined when she read about it in the book. Ella couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards Cladis for visiting the crafts department every day for this. It almost felt like she could feel what he must have felt as he anticipated the day he would give this doll to her: excitement, anticipation, and longing.
Thinking about the prince, however, made such thoughts disappear. Why was he treating her like this when he loved Ella so much to prepare these gifts? It reminded her of the debutante’s day and him from today at once. She couldn’t find the words to describe her feelings. Because of the doll and everything she had experienced, she felt conflicted. As a result, she sternly asked, “I was still a young girl to you and his highness. I assume he made this ball during his first year?”
Nodding, Ethan replied, “Yes.”
“At least it’s a pen for his third year. I would have imagined a dollhouse or something based on the previous gifts,” Ella spoke coldly.
Ethan was becoming nervous as he noticed showing Ella these gifts seemed to have made her angrier. He and Cladis never imagined this young girl would have grown this much. It was foolish for them to think that she would still be the same girl while they grew up. Because they were fond of their memories, they couldn’t see reality. That’s why both didn’t pay much attention to the stories about Ella that Clara told them. That young Ella acting like a grown lady? It was hard to believe that.
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