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After Charlotte left the drawing room with the words ‘I am disappointed,’ there was a long silence between Edward and Ian.

Finally, Ian stood up slowly.

“I’m going to go see Charlotte.”


At the weak voice at his back, Ian slowly turned around. Edward buried his face in one hand. He looked guilty.

Succession to the Grand Batten’s throne was by lineal descent, male first.

This meant that Ian was higher in line of succession than his sister Charlotte. If Edward were to abdicate, Ian would become crown prince.

‘So does that mean he’s sorry he left the throne to me, or does it mean he’s sorry he let me down?’

Probably both, but Ian hoped it wasn’t the latter.

“I’m most sorry for you, and I know it was a selfish choice, but….”

“I know.”

Ian cut Edward off. He didn’t want to hear about his brother struggling to speak.

“I know.”


Ian knew Edward’s old love.

Eris was a princess of the duchy, but she grew up with the queen mother at Malik House because the queen mother found her particularly beautiful. Eris has a kind yet assertive personality, disliking being treated as a burden. Ian was very close to Eris, who was two years his senior.

Eris also enjoyed the privilege of beating the crown prince because she was a relative of the same age as Edward.

The two clashed at every turn, and people generally remembered them as being on bad terms. But the shrewd Ian knew that they were each other’s first love, and that their love had never cooled.

But as they say, first loves don’t come true, and as is the fate of many princesses, Eris married abroad and became a duchess of the Duchy of Hainsnover.

The problem was that her husband, Heinrich III, was a bastard. It took less than five years for the strong Eris to break down.

Edward wept tears of blood as he watched her go, and he regretted it bitterly. He seemed determined not to let go of his first love, who had returned with dishonor after a long absence.

‘There’s no way Charlotte doesn’t know about Edward’s situation.’

Ian thought as he walked through the cool night air.

‘I wonder why she’s so angry.’

All three siblings of the Astius royal family loved Eris. Charlotte shared her extraordinary friendship with her Eris, and when she learned of her troubles, she was more resentful than anyone else.

There was something odd about Charlotte’s reaction.


It wasn’t hard to spot Charlotte in the corner of the garden, hiding in the damp grass. When she was upset, she would seek out her private garden, with its old swing, even in the dark of dawn.

“Where’s Edward?”

Charlotte asked as she sat on the swing, folding and unfolding her legs repeatedly.

“It was unfair of you to say you were disappointed. You know Edward has a compulsion for his duty.”

“We don’t have any?”

“Big sister.”

“…I know, I know. It’s wrong even though I know it all. Please don’t call me that.”

Judging by the lack of strength in her voice, she was regretting her snide remark.

They sat side by side on the swing and stared at the night sky in silence.

Although Ian didn’t show it in front of Edward, he couldn’t help but feel like sinking into a swamp slowly.

The throne. Nothing had been decided yet, but it was more frustrating than he could have imagined.

How long had it been like that? Charlotte suddenly spoke up.

“I know how much Edward loved Eris and how much he regretted leaving her like that, and I know how sad he was when he found out that crazy bastard was abusing her, because I almost lost it myself back then.”


“But how could he give up so easily like that?”

“It was never an easy decision for Edward, considering his personality.”

“I mean, if it were me… If it were me, I wouldn’t have made such a choice. I would rather…”

Charlotte tightened her grip on the rope, suppressing the impulse to say something she might regret. After a moment lost in thought, she spoke up.

“If Edward really does marry Eris.”


“You’ll be King of the Grand Batten, and I’ll be a queen or princess somewhere.”

“…Perhaps, I suppose.”

“But Ian.”

Charlotte, who had been muttering mesmerisedly, stopped. Ian glanced back at her reflexively.

At the same moment, a chill breeze separated them.

“I sometimes dream of making different choices.”

Ian’s eyes lit up at the sight of the white moon, clearer than ever, the tranquil garden scene, the long blonde hair blowing in the wind, and the face that looked so much like his own.

“I know it sounds strange, but I envy you and Edward.”

There was a darkness in Charlotte’s eyes, too, and for a moment Ian couldn’t read her expression.

Charlotte is his mirror. She was the person who most closely resembled him, inside and out, which is why he thought he knew her best.

But right now, Charlotte was wearing a face he didn’t recognise. Ian felt like he was dreaming.

“I’m sorry. Forget it. It must have been distressing for you, and I was crying and holding onto you like a baby.”

As if to say that it had really been a dream, Charlotte was now smiling in her usual way.

“I’ll have to apologise when we get in.”

Perhaps it was Charlotte, not Edward, who did not express himself.




While the political and economic center of recent times was Grand Batten, the cultural center was Fossa, which still borders Grand Batten.

Due to the popularity of waltz in Fossa, the social community of Grand Batten is also in full swing.

It’s a sight to behold as men and women move across the floor to the beat of three-quarters. The conservative ladies were busy sighing heavily when the waltz began. as men and women held each other’s hands tightly and pressed their upper bodies close together.

Natalie was one of the sighers. A waltz with no breaks was hard on her petite frame.

Normally, as soon as the waltz began, she would have run to the wall and taken a punch, but not today.

Mrs Heaton appeared before Natalie and Emily with a determined look, dragging a gentleman along with her. It seemed like she would not stop until they had danced with every gentleman in Duan. It was a moment that made her miss Lady Maureen, who was easy to outrun.

“Natalie, this is Lord Fisher Heather. My lord, this is my niece, Miss Natalie Dowse, eldest daughter of the Baron of Warfield.”

Well, there are names like fish heads. Natalie was genuinely surprised.

The next thing she knew, she was bouncing around the floor, holding the hand of a fish head or something.

“If it’s Warfield, it’s the North, as far as I remember.”

The fish head said the wrong answer proudly.

“South, by the waterfront.”

“Aha…. That’s a long way from Duan, by the way.”

“Well, the railway came through a few years ago, so it’s still only a short train ride. Well, then, my lord….”

“By the way, how many children do you like?”

I was momentarily surprised by the skillful interruption, and the question that came in abruptly was quite disorienting. Wasn’t it a question that skipped too many steps?

“…Suddenly a child?”

“I’d like a son for the first, since I need a successor, and having a son as my second child would also be good. It would be nice to have a few daughters after that.”

God, I didn’t care at all. Have you ever seen a man like this fishhead?

“I can’t believe you’re asking that question on our first dance, it’s so….”

Natalie tried to be patient, though, and politely protest her partner’s rudeness.

“So, Miss Dowse, what is your relationship with your siblings?”

But the gentleman in front of her was having none of it, and the purpose of his casual probing was all too transparent.

“…If you knew my sibling relationship, would it help you predict my future?”

Natalie summoned her patience once more, giving the fishhead a chance to make amends.

Lord Heather opened his mouth to speak, smiling broadly.

“Of course. For a daughter’s ability to give birth is a reflection of her mother.”

No doubt a fish head. He neatly seized the opportunity.

Natalie gently lowered her eyelids and shyly raised the corners of her mouth. It was her ladylike smile that she had honed so hard.

“My household is….”

Then, she lifted her knee naturally in a thumping rhythm, and stomped on the unfortunate fish-head’s foot with all her might.

“Rich with daughters.”


The gentleman was even too meek to scream.

It had been two hours since the ball began, and already five gentlemen had been caught under Natalie’s high heels.


Natalie scurried back to the wall as Mrs Heaton focused on Emily.

“Any harvest, Miss Dowse?”

Christina asked her, fanning her gently.

“Will there be, Miss Dowie?”

Christina burst out laughing, unable to contain herself after watching Natalie’s behavior against the wall throughout the party. Although the people around her glanced at her, the noble Marquise did not care.

When she stopped laughing, Christina handed Natalie an ice cream cone to cool her down. She was a master in teasing and appeasement.

Natalie stared blankly at the floor and scooped up the ice cream in silence for a while, until she mumbled something to herself.

“I don’t really want much, do I?”

Apart from being dissatisfied with her life as a lady, Natalie was a woman with a certain sense of reality.

There are no princes in real life.

No woman living in the harsh realities of life can afford to forget this simple truth for the sake of a hopeful fantasy.

So while she was waiting for her ‘prince charming’, she might as well move quickly and pre-empt a better suitor.

Christina said, fumbling with her memory.

“Hmm. Your conditions were, a man within five years of you in age and whose breath didn’t smell when you talked to him?”

“Exactly, just add to that that he has to be able to carry on a couple of conversations on at least one topic. Am I expecting too much, Christina?”

“Still simple, well.”

“That’s realistic, isn’t it? That’s what I want, and yet I don’t think I’ll ever get married.”

Natalie shook her head in exasperation.

“Oh, well. That’s great. Keep playing with me.”

“I’m serious now, Christina.”

Natalie replied in a tired voice.

Christina remained silent and followed Natalie’s gaze across the floor. Everywhere she looked, it was filled with men and women intently searching for each other.

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