Chapter 65 – Why Are You Being Like This To Me?
“…I’m sorry?” Petronilla said with a stunned look, but Rothesay didn’t look even the slightest bit embarrassed.
“I asked if you would like to dance with me, My Lady,” he repeated.
Petronilla hesitated and avoided answering. Rothesay showcased overwhelming patience as he waited for her response.
“I… have no interest in that,” she said finally.
But it was a roundabout rejection, and Rothesay was persistent.
“Can’t you give me one chance?”
“Why are you being like this to me?”
“I…” Rothesay’s face flushed slightly. “I think I have fallen in love with you, My Lady.”
Petronilla’s face stiffened at his words.
Patrizia’s sufferings unfortunately did not end.
“Oh my, is it not Her Majesty, the Queen?” a distinctive voice said.
Patrizia’s brow furrowed involuntarily, but she managed to control her expressions, and turned to look at Rosemond with a blank face.
“Princess Ephreney,” Patrizia said flatly.
“Greetings to the Great Moon of the Empire. Glory to Her Majesty, the Empress.”
“It seems that you’re enjoying your new family. Your face looks plumper than before.”
“…Thank you.” Rosemond forced a smile on her face as she bowed, and Patrizia grinned.
Nothing has changed between them just because she became a princess. Of course, Rosemond is now a higher rank than that of a baroness, but even so, Patrizia was still the one and only queen of Mavinous. That fact wouldn’t change even if Rosemond became a duchess.
“If I may, a word, Your Majesty.”
“When I went out last time, I heard an absolutely scandalous rumor.”
What was she planning to do this time? Let’s hear it, Patrizia thought as she lazily raised a brow.
“A shocking rumor?”
“I’ve heard that you and His Majesty haven’t shared a bed together yet.”
Patrizia’s face contorted in a smile. So that was what the concubine was planning to do. Patrizia expected this to some extent, but there was nothing she could do about this problem.
“You’re right. That is quite the shocking rumor,” Patrizia coolly lied. “However, even if it were true, that’s no business a princess should concern herself over. The only two people who were in the bridal chamber of our first night was His Majesty and myself. That’s a truth that you can’t dare to argue against.”
“If that’s true, then I’m quite curious as to why there has been no announcement of a child.”
“Princess, you have known His Majesty for a year longer than I have. Everyone knows that.” Patrizia drew a nonchalant smile on her face, and Rosemond stared at her.
“If that’s the case, then do you have a baby in you? After all, you have had His Majesty’s seed.”
Even if it was a small matter, this wasn’t something that Rosemond should have brought up. Nevertheless, Rosemond persisted.
“Then isn’t there the best solution to this problem, Your Majesty?”
“It is the Queen’s duty to bear a crown prince. However, since neither of us have gotten pregnant despite having slept with His Majesty… wouldn’t a fertility test solve this conundrum?”
“You’re…in love with me?”
“Why?” Petronilla found this situation entirely absurd. “Have you forgotten, sir? We have only met twice, including today. On top of that, our first meeting only lasted a moment.”
“The length of time doesn’t matter when it comes to love. What’s important is fate and heart. Don’t you think so?”
He was a man who seemed to enjoy the idea of fate very much.
Petronilla inwardly snorted. “I regret to inform you that I don’t believe in those things…”
“But I fell in love with you at first sight, My Lady,” he declared.
With Rothesay coming on so strongly, Petronilla became only more flustered than before. She looked him in the eyes, but she didn’t share an ounce of his belief.
“What, how on earth…?”
“It seems that you don’t believe in love at first sight, My Lady.”
“I’m more inclined to think of it as ridiculous.”
“I have witnessed it. That’s how my parents came to marry.”
If that was the case, then there was no doubt that this man was the son of Count Bradington.
“I deeply apologize, but I do not fancy such things,” Petronilla said firmly. “I’d much prefer to meet someone over a long period of time in order to learn about their heart and mind…”
“Oh, dear,” Rothesay murmured, looking embarrassed. “I apologize, My Lady.”
Petronilla thought that he was finally starting to understand her, only to be disappointed when she found out that that wasn’t the case.
“It was careless of me to not consider that was how you thought. I apologize.”
“No, you don’t need to go so far as to apologize…”
“If that’s the case,” Rothesay continued with a sweet smile, “Would you be willing to meet me for ‘a long period of time’?”
“…I’m sorry? What was that?”
“I—what is this all of a sudde—” she stammered.
“I would like to formally court you, My Lady.”
All this happened in less than an hour after they met. Petronilla nearly fainted when she realized it, but she held herself together.
“I’m sorry, sir, but I do not like you back.”
Rothesay’s voice turned pleading. “I ask that you give us a chance to get to know each other.”
“I don’t understand why you’re being so annoyingly persistent, but I specifically said that I am not interested in you,” Petronilla said shortly.
At the harshness of her tone, Rothesay stopped. Petronilla flinched at his reaction, but she couldn’t have ever anticipated his next words.
“…It’s because I love you,” he said breathlessly.
“I have fallen in love with you the moment I laid my eyes on you.”
“And I don’t take the matters of the heart lightly.” A unique, sweet smile glimmered on his face. “Therefore, My Lady, please…”
“Will you at least let me have a dance with you?”
“I beg of you, My Lady.”
Petronilla had no choice but to comply.
A buzz of gossip started to grow when the people around them heard Rosemond’s comment. This was no longer a matter between Rosemond and Patrizia. If anything, Rosemond probably wanted this attention. Her shallow tricks were quite bemusing.
“Princess Ephreney,” Patrizia said in a low voice.
“Yes, Your Majesty?”
“This is an insult on both me and His Majesty. Is a mere princess trying to confirm whether the queen is infertile or not?” Patrizia’s voice grew in tone and anger. “This is a matter of the royal family’s privacy and dignity. Yet a mere princess that means nothing to the emperor dares to question my fertility? You were talking about the duty of the queen, yes? Just what kind of blasphemous act is this? Did Duke Ephreney teach you to behave like that? To disrespect the Moon of the empire?”
Rosemond scoffed. “There’s a misunderstanding. I don’t know why you’re acting so defensive, Your Majesty.”
“So you consider an attack on my dignity to be of no concern, Princess. Do you understand that it is an insult to the royal family?”
As the atmosphere grew tense, the other guests began to pay attention to Patrizia and Rosemond. In the midst of this explosive situation, Petronilla, who had been roaming around the banquet hall after having escaped Rothesay, finally noticed the commotion and rushed towards them. It was then that she noticed it was Rosemond who was insulting her little sister.
Petronilla tried to speak up angrily, but someone else beat her to it. Everyone looked shocked upon seeing the unexpected figure.
It was the Emperor, the man at the center of the controversy. With a deep voice, Lucio called the situation into order. Patrizia glared at Lucio, while Rosemond looked at him like he was her savior.
“Greetings to His Majesty,” she said in a coquettish voice.
“…Greetings to the Great Sun of the Empire,” Patrizia echoed, feeling like she had swallowed feces. Lucio turned to her.
“What is going on, Queen? Even moreso, on the holy National Founding Day.”
“I deeply apologize, Your Majesty, but Princess Ephreney dared to insult me and the royal family.”
“Princess Ephreney, is this true?” Lucio said in an angered tone.
Taken aback by his uncharacteristically displeased expression, Rosemond flinched.
“The queen is exaggerating. It is not true,” she defended.
A conflicted Lucio inwardly sighed. “Patrizia, what did the princess say that so insulted you?”
Rosemond blanched at Lucio. Not even once had he ever called Patrizia by her name in front of Rosemond—or in front of anyone. He had only referred to Patrizia as “Queen.” Nothing more, nothing less! Rosemond glowered at the two in fury.
Patrizia looked at Lucio and explained. “She spoke of how Your Majesty and I have never shared a bed together, and she asked that I have a fertility test under the excuse that I’m not yet pregnant.”
“Princess, those are very misleading things to say. Do you not understand what you are saying?”
“But Your Majesty, isn’t this an important issue?” Rosemond said coldly.
“You are not getting any younger, Your Majesty. You are almost 30 years old. It is important to establish a direct line of inheritance to the throne by having a child. Even putting that aside, the duty of the queen is to give birth to a crown prince. I was merely worried that the queen had forgotten such an important matter, but to twist my intentions like this is unfair. Can you really do this to me?”
Though her final words didn’t match what preceded it, it was something that Rosemond wanted to ask Lucio the most.
How could you do this to me? You dare to do this to me?!
“Even if you say that, to challenge the queen’s fertility is impertinent behavior. That also applies to the fertility check. It is quite insulting,” Lucio said.
“It is not just Her Majesty the Queen who would be checked. I would be checked as well. If she reacts this way despite that…” Rosemond furtively twisted the corners of her lips up into a smile. “Then perhaps it’s because she has something to hide?”
As soon as the words left Rosemond’s mouth, her head spun. With a terrifying face that had been shown to no one up until now, Patrizia raised her hand once again.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?!” Rosemond screeched.
“I’m only doing the right thing, Princess. As the lady of the house, I’m disciplining you.” A crooked smile formed on Patrizia’s lips. “Of course, I do apologize disciplining you in public, but there was nothing I could have done about that.”
Patrizia turned her head, and soon spotted Duke Ephreney. A familiar woman was beside him, and upon closer inspection, Patrizia realized that it was the young woman that Rosemond met with. Ah, just as I thought. So that’s what it was. Patrizia started to speak.
“Duke Ephreney? Where are you?”
“Your Majesty.” Duke Ephreney quietly stepped forward, and Patrizia smiled.
“I congratulate you on your adoption of a daughter, Duke.”
“I’m indebted, Your Majesty.”
“But if she were to join your family, shouldn’t you have properly taught her manners?” Keeping the smile on her face, Patrizia continued. “No matter how pristine something looks on the outside, if it’s rotten on the inside, it’s doomed to perish, isn’t that right, Duke? But that isn’t the fate that you would want your one and only daughter to have, is it?”
“Of course not, Your Majesty,” Duke Ephreney quietly apologized. “My negligence is to blame, Your Majesty. Please forgive the sins my daughter has committed.”
“However, Your Majesty. Is this not a problem that should be considered?”
“It is of the utmost importance to secure a royal heir, so I ask that you take care to…”
Patrizia, who couldn’t hold herself back, interrupted his words.