I was ready to eat, probably because I had been walking since morning like it was a forced march.
By the time noon passed, I couldn't stand the hunger and a growling sound resounded from my stomach.
I smiled embarrassingly and took Enoch into a restaurant. The restaurant was crowded with workers, family, and friends who had come for lunch.
After pondering for quite a while on my answer, the waitress pointed to a spot.
Blocked on three sides by pillars and walls, it was a narrow space that seemed uncomfortable in some ways.
“Are you okay with that corner seat over there? All other seats are multi-person seats.”
“Yes, it’s fine.”
Filling my hungry stomach was the priority rather than the comfort of the seating.
As soon as I sat down, I looked at the menu the waitress had brought and then called out to Enoch.
Whenever I called him 'Enoch', he shuddered.
Because he was cute, I deliberately called him Enoch.
Just like now.
“Enoch, what do you want to eat?”
“There is no spell as difficult as anything.”
I thought it would be better for me to decide for myself, so I raised one hand to order.
“Then I’ll help you order.”
“Three servings of beef steak and two drinks, please.”
The waitress was startled and asked me again. Well, it was surprised that two young children ordered three servings.
“Yes? Is it for three people?”
Of course, I didn't order this much to eat it all.
When the waiter took the menu, I spoke to Enoch as if admonishing a disobedient child.
“Enoch, the two servings of meat I ordered are yours. At your age, kids should eat well. Rather, I am the one who has to escort Enoch. How can you protect me with such thin arms?”
In fact, I've been observing him since before.
No matter how robed he was, Enoch's wrists caught my eye every time he moved.
Enoch's wrists were very skinny. To the point where I was worried that he wasn’t eating properly.
Hearing my words, I thought Enoch would either nod or retort by saying that the steak was too much.
But what he said was unexpected.
“I can keep you safe.”
Did I touch Enoch's pride?
I smiled mischievously and put my arms on the table and rested my chin on them.
I looked at him as if he were adorable, like an older sister watching her younger brother's tricks.
“Yes. I only believe in Enoch today.”
We didn't talk much during or after eating, but my heart was happy.
Some might say that it was a boring outing.
It didn't matter though.
Because I, the person in charge, was so happy, peaceful, and comfortable.
Even after I returned to the duchy, I would occasionally think of the outings I had with Enoch.
Strangely, however, I hadn't encountered Enoch since that day.
Once, I was so curious that I asked Heorin.
Then he said to me:
“He was too talented of a child for me to raise. So, I sent him to a good teacher who matched the child's abilities.”
It meant that I would never see Enoch again.
The memories with Enoch, which were at the back of my memory, gradually faded as time passed.
In case I would be late, I hurriedly walked to the carriage.
It's because I could already clearly see the image of her, who would be at a loss for what to do if I was even a minute late, like a dog who needed to poop.
In the midst of such busyness, I heard a breathless voice that kept calling me.
Now it was coming from right behind me.
Because it sounded urgent, I stopped walking and looked back.
Emma was coming towards me, panting. She looked very tired.
“Young Master, huff.”
Holding both of her knees and bending her back, Emma breathed heavily.
I waited by Emma's side until her breathing calmed down.
Emma's breathing soon returned to normal, and she slowly straightened her back.
“You didn’t take care to remember. You should take this too.”
Emma held out a handkerchief to me.
It was a pale pink, silk handkerchief with embroidered flowers that did not suit the Prince of Estella.
I intentionally left it out, pretending to have forgotten… …Emma had noticed it like a spectre and brought it to me.
Since it was a gift, it could not be ignored or discarded.
The problem was that no matter how many times I used them one by one, there was no sign of their numbers shrinking.
What is the number of handkerchiefs now?
Is this the 100th?
There are still 100 left…
I smiled awkwardly and accepted the handkerchief.
This high-quality handkerchief was one of the 200 that Vivian had purchased and sent and I was on my way to see the very Vivian who had given me this handkerchief as a gift.
The meeting place was the residence of Marquis of Marigold.
It wasn't unfamiliar to me as I had been to it several times over the past few weeks.
At first, I didn’t know where to look when I saw Marquis Marigold's house.
It was obviously a mansion, but it was the size of a duke's castle and its splendor was indescribable.
It was almost understandable why Vivian had such a fondness for the high-end and only looked for pretty things.
The door to the mansion burst open and Vivian jumped out from inside.
Then she jumped into my arms, calling me a nickname she had coined herself, 'Rosen'.
I hugged Vivian as I was accustomed to doing.
“Why do you keep running like this? It would be dangerous if you were to fall.”
Vivian kept nodding her head with a bright face as if she was in a good mood despite my scolding.
Something was strange.
Vivian's condition seemed more excited than pleasant.
“Vivian, what happened?”
It seemed she was waiting for my words.
Vivian didn't even want to let me inside first, she stood there and spat out words like a street hawker.
“A guest has arrived! Also for the first time…Cr, Cr…”
[Actually, Vivian repeats “황” which is also the first character in Crown Prince.
In response, Rosenta says “sulfur” which is another way the character can be interpreted.
I’ve taken the liberty of translating into an equivalent exchange for flow and context]
After gaping her lips, Vivian pressed her cheeks tightly.
I felt like I didn't have to listen anymore.
Because there was only one person who started with 'Cr-' that would lead to such a reaction.
Above all, since the person in question opened the door of the mansion and came out of the house, there was nothing to check.
“Your Highness the Crown Prince.”
He slightly bowed his head and greeted Theodore.
“I was waiting for Prince Estella.”
Waiting for me?
Did Vivian tell him I was coming here?
“Why don't we go inside and talk?”
He didn't even give me time to answer.
He quickly opened the door behind him and guided us naturally.
For a moment, I thought that this place was the imperial palace.
It was so natural that even Vivian was idly chasing after him.
I carefully lifted the teacup that was in front of me.
The warm and savory aroma of chrysanthemum filled my mouth. I returned the teacup to the saucer with a satisfied smile.
And then I looked ahead.
I saw two eyes staring at me.
“Why is everyone looking for me…”
At my words, Vivian pretended not to know anything and drank the hot tea while lowering her head.
Then, as if she had burned the roof of her mouth, she trembled and dropped the cup.
The teacup fell to the floor with a sharp sound and shards spread around the area.
The hot tea water even burned the back of Vivian's hand.
Reflexively, I jumped up from my seat.
After asking if I could touch the back of her hand, I brought Vivian into my arms and I held her tight.
It was the hand of an aristocratic lady who had never done any strenuous work. Maybe that's why the back of her hand turned red even though she had only lightly grazed it.
It was a signal.
I pulled Vivian closer. I hugged her crying face to my chest.
Again. Vivian burst into tears.
Having heard these cries, her maid ran into the drawing room.
It was a sequence I naturally became familiar with after meeting with Vivian a few times.
In place of Vivian, who had burst into tears, I sorted out this situation I had become accustomed to.
“Hot tea splashed on the back of her hand. You need to give her first aid and move her to another room. As you can see, the floor here is a mess.”
As I finished speaking, I pointed to the floor with my finger.
Seeing the sharp shards of pottery that had fallen everywhere, Donna stepped back in surprise.
“Sorry. Please wait. First of all…Helena!”
Donna left the room for a while to call for another lady-in-waiting.
We couldn't move because of the pieces on the floor.
I patted Vivian, waiting for Donna to return quickly.
“Ugh, uhhhh. It hurts so much.”
“Yes. Of course it hurts. Let's be patient. Donna will be back soon.”
Vivian seemed a little settled but was still in my arms.
But I didn't stop holding her.
As I continued to soothe Vivian, her eyes met Theodore's.
I did it like I always do.
For a moment, I forgot that the prince would be watching us.
While I blinked and panicked, the door opened again.
It was Donna's reappearance.
“Vivian-sama, I will help you with treatment from here on.”
The lady-in-waiting, who came in after her, bowed her head to us.
“I will guide you both.”
A new maid took us to another location.
In fact, there was not even a need for a guide because it was right next door.
“Then I will excuse myself.”
The maid left the room after finishing her work, leaving only the two of them in the new room.
When the two of them were left, Theodore spoke to me as if he had been waiting.
“Isn’t it too much to accept? It would be hard to accept constant behavior like that.”
“…We are friends.”
Theodore grinned as if my answer was amusing.
I didn't have anything to say, so I stayed silent. Waiting for Vivian to come back.
All I could do in this silence was to secretly peek at the person facing me.
Is that why?
As I continued to look at him, it seemed that Vivian's feelings for Theodore's kindness and beauty could be understood a little.
Even at the age of 16, Theodore had a graceful beauty, as if drawn with a brush.
When he grows up, he will be the epitome of an elegant and aristocratic handsome man.
“You’re a really curious kid. I told you to avoid leeches like that…instead you tame leeches. What the hell did you do?”
Did you just call me a kid?
I was furious, but there was nothing to refute.
After all, it's true that I'm younger than Theodore.
Instead, I answered bluntly.
“How do you tame a friend? We just got to know each other.”
“Hmm. That can’t be it. There's no way that Lady Vivian would come to apologize to me just because you became friends.”
Did I hear correctly? It was a completely unexpected story.
Vivian apologized to Theodore?
Perhaps reading my confusion, the smile on Theodore's lips grew thicker.
Theodore leaned slightly toward me and whispered.
“She came to me a while ago and said “It must have been hard for you because I chased after you even though you didn't like it. I'm sorry…..”
I stopped talking. I tensed up.
I gulped. I had no idea what Vivian could have said next.
And soon, Theodore began to speak carefully about what he had not been able to say.
“'Please be my friend.'”
A strange feeling of déjà vu passed through my head.
It must definitely have been that day.
The day I became friends with Vivian. I did nag her a little bit.
About how that kind of behavior is stalking and how hard it will be for the person who suffers it.
And I asked her to be friends from now on…
Oh my God. That's why you went ahead and said it. And to Theodore too!
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