“….is there any way to make land greener while reducing costs as much as possible?”
I looked up at Damian, wide-eyed.
I mean, I know I sound like I’m messing with him right now, but if we go with grass, we’ll need money to fall from the sky!
Oh brain, where did you go?!
Damian spoke up, giving a suggestion.
“Then, what if I paid for the expenses with my own money?”
“Don’t. Is there anything the Emperor won’t find fault with?”
I shook my head resolutely.
I can’t give any room for err to the Emperor, who’s always keen on bringing down or slandering Damian in some way.
I searched for ideas in the back of my mind when one of the newspapers scattered on the table caught my eye.
To be precise, a small article on the corner of the newspaper.
It was an article about barley farming.
I inadvertently reached out and picked up the newspaper.
There was nothing special about it, to tell the truth.
It displayed a description pertaining to when barley was sown and when it would sprout.
Since most of their subscribers are commoners, informational articles like these would usually come up.
‘Wait a minute.’
Then it hit me.
Why was I only focusing on grass?
The most important thing was to coat the ground green with grass, but-
“Come to think of it…Your Highness.”
I called Damian out of the blue.
Damian looked back with a surprised visage.
“Well, I might be onto something.”
I paused for a moment.
What if Damian thinks it’s an absurd idea?
But my mouth was way ahead of me, voicing my question with my lips.
“If all we need to do is make the ground green, it doesn’t have to be grass, right?”
With that question, Damian widened his eyes.
There was another article from the press.
This time, the article was about…
‘How the memorial service’s budget was decreasing.’
….I was also a topic of controversy.
‘The Crown Prince’s fiancee is a commoner and a maid.’
‘She isn’t the Crown Princess yet, but she’s in a position to become the future mother of the empire.’
‘What does a mere maid know?’
….harsh criticisms followed one after the other.
They’re so indifferent!
Do you know how repeatedly I asked the Empress and the Empress Dowager, if I had wasted my budget?
Everyone complimented me on my impeccable budget-spending!!
…there shouldn’t be protests, right?
I shed tears on the inside.
‘At least, I have a lead on the solution for the grass problem, so I’ll ignore it for now and take my wins where I get them.’
*Sigh*, that’s the only comfort in this hectic life.
Life is hard.
I let out a deep sigh.
I looked back to see who it was.
With her hands clasped together, the maid bowed politely.
“Pardon, Lady Charlize. You have a guest.”
“Is that so? Where is the guest now?”
“He’s in the reception room.”
“All right, I’ll see him.”
I got up and made my way there.
The door opened.
Seated inside was a middle-aged man who looked rather tense.
‘His name is likely…William, I think.’
He was the representative for the bereaved families of the soldiers killed in the North.
As soon as Mr. William saw me, he sprang up from his chair, so startled he looked like he was on the verge of collapse.
“Greetings, I’m Charlize.”
“Ah, to be able to meet the fiancee of the Crown Prince is an honor!”
“I’m not part of the royal family or a noble, there’s no need to greet me like that.
“Please, have a seat.”
I quickly waved my hand, bowing my head politely.
“I’d rather just be greeted. Please, I’m Charlize.”
“How could she, how could Lady Charlize bow her head to me…”
Mr. William had a dumbstruck expression.
I shook my head.
“Don’t say that. It’s thanks to the countless people who gave their lives in the North, that our people can have peace.”
I answered as warmly as I could.
I was sincere when I said that.
The people of the North, including Damian, have sacrificed so much. It’s why the empire could be at peace until now.
Despite my hectic schedule, I took the time to invite the bereaved families’ representative.
Isn’t that the right to do?
We’re organizing a memorial service to commemorate the veterans. It doesn’t make sense to not meet the official in charge of the memorial service.
Instantly, water began to form around the deeply wrinkled corners of his eyes.
Terrified, I hurriedly approached Mr. William.
“Oh my God, what’s wrong? Did I say something I shouldn’t have?”
“No, no, not at all.”
After shaking his head a few times, Mr. William answered in a teary voice.
“To have someone say that…it’s truly a first for me.”
I was speechless for a moment.
As if an icicle had pierced the deepest parts of my heart, making it momentarily slow down.
Until now, there hadn’t been a single person who understood the pain felt by the people of the North, moreover, supported them.
If others were indifferent, let’s change that.
‘Without a doubt, this is something the Emperor should have taken care of in advance.’
He’s the father of the empire.
Is he not in the greatest position to care for everyone?
What kind of emperor only enjoys the privileges he has but disregards his duties?
I bit my lip.
Then I bowed my head deeply once again.
“I’m sorry. And…thank you.”
“No, no, don’t. Why is Lady Charlize…”
Mr. William tried to dissuade me from bowing.
I looked up at his confused face, feeling uncomfortable.
….I’m not sure if I can say this.
But, if I don’t tell them, no one else will.
“On behalf of the country that has been apathetic, I express my apologies.”
With those words, Mr. William bit his lips till they turned bright red.
Sometimes, all it takes is one teardrop to unleash a flood of tears.
Tears streamed continuously as they wet the table below.
Mr. William wept silently, for a long, long time.
After much sniffling, Mr. William at last seemed like he was ready to talk again.
He did look discomfited by what he had done though.
“I’m sorry. I’m not the type of person to cry so much…”
“Don’t mention it.”
I shook my head.
I completely understood how difficult and saddening it must have been until now.
A knock interrupted our exchange.
‘Is it a maid bringing refreshments?’
I calmly opened my mouth.
“Come on in.”
The door snapped open.
A man strode into the room.
The person who appeared with a tray with tea and refreshments on it….
“Goodness, Your Highness?!”
It was Damian!
No, what’s Damian doing here?
Upon hearing his title, ‘Your Highness,’ Mr. William raised his head in amazement.
“Greetings, your Highness!”
“Oh, please sit down. It’s all right.”
Damian quickly gestured with his chin for Mr. William to remain seated.
Damian, with a puzzled expression, alternated his gaze between me and Mr. William.
Damian placed the tray on the table, fixing his gaze on me with a now straight-faced expression.
He’s looking at me so seriously….
“Don’t tell me you made him cry…”
“How could you, what does His Highness take me for…”
No, how can his Highness think I’m the type of person to do something like that?
I raised my voice, angry at him.
At the same time, an unnerving silence descended upon the room’s atmosphere.
I gently bit the soft inner part of my cheek.
Before I knew it, Mr. William was staring my way with his eyes wide open.
I spoke as gently as possible.
“I’m sorry, I’ve been rude to you despite that you’re a guest.”
“Oh, not one bit. It’s all right.”
Fortunately, Mr. William responded in the way he did, albeit with a surprised face.
I narrowed my eyes and stared at Damian.
“Your Highness, what are you doing here?”
“I heard that my one and only fiancée, was receiving the representative of the bereaved families, so of course I should accompany her, no?”
Normally I would have been touched by those words but…
‘You’ve made me lose face. What was the point of Damian coming here and talking nonsense?!’
That’s all I felt at the moment.
But right then.
Damian looked at me with his shimmering eyes.
“Say, Lize. Aren’t I admirable?”
Did he, did he really say that just now?
I wanted to shoot back at him, but a quick glance at Mr. William made me quickly control myself.
I don’t want to lose any more face!
I coughed a couple of times to clear my throat before speaking.
“The reason why we have Mr. William here today is what I briefly said earlier…”
While we were speaking, I unknowingly narrowed my eyebrows slightly.
It was because Damian’s hand was gradually sliding over mine.
No, why is he doing this sort of stuff?
He’s turning everything upside down!
I withdrew my hand coldly.
In vain, Damian held nothing but thin air.
Ha! Not my concern!
Turning away from Damian, I smiled at Mr. William.
“As the organizer of the memorial service, I want to express my gratitude to the bereaved families.”
“Huh? Your gratitude? What did we do…” questioned Mr. William with a puzzled look.
“To protect the stability of the empire, you sent your precious family members.”
I spoke with a soft voice.
“It’s likely the whole empire is indebted to you.”
“Also, I’d like to make some suggestions.”
“You, you have some suggestions?”
Mr. William had a confused expression.
Looking at him, I nodded repeatedly.
“Yes. It’s about the memorial.”