Prince Alan led her towards the place where the King was waiting while holding her hands, to the point he almost dragged her.
Looking furtively at the profile of Prince Alan who was in good mood, I let out a sigh.
I wonder why this is happening.
Although I said that it was fine even if we don't proceed with the engagement and such things, before I knew it, I have accepted my engagement with Prince Alan.
Before I knew the story about the 'villainess', I would have felt honestly pleased with the current situation. I was able to get engaged with the prince. My future life will be rose-colored, and I don't doubt that this is not that different from becoming the Crown Princess impetuously. I would have pushed my way through as it is.
However, right now is not the time to think about such things.
"What's wrong? You've been silent for a while."
While I was brooding silently, I guess he thought that my state was peculiar. Prince Alan asked me with a tone of voice as if he was worried. I shook my head.
"N-no, it's nothing."
"It doesn't seem like nothing."
"It's really nothing, Your Highness."
When I laughed to gloss over it, Prince Alan furrowed his eyebrows.
I stared fixedly at the prince who suddenly said his own name. He opened his mouth again as if irritated.
"I said, it's Al. We are going to get engaged. I don't want to be called 'Your Highness', I'd like you to call me by my name, preferably my nickname. I think it's important to act intimately with each other."
"It's better than appearing to be on bad terms with each other, right?"
Being told so as if it was only natural, I opened my mouth hesitatingly.
"Don't be so formal with me. Because the intimacy is halved. Call me Al, and drop the honorifics. Then, what about you? Should I call you Liz? Does your family call you by your nickname?"
"……um, my family calls me Lily."
I hesitated, but I still answered him honestly. Lily is my favorite nickname. My father, my mother, and my older brothers1 also call me Lily.
When I said so, Al nodded.
"Well then, is it okay if I also call you Lily?"
"Yes. Please feel free to call me that."
"You're too formal."
"Even if you said so……"
This is troubling.
Right now, I'm in a state where I still cannot entirely believe my actions so far. From Prince Wilfred's words, I at least understood that I was thought as the worst. And while vexing, I decided that I should admit it. It's very frustrating, but I cannot move forward unless I admit it. In any case, in order to sneer at Prince Wilfred saying "Who did you say the worst again?", it's important to admit it to myself now.
That's why it was fine.
But then, how should I act?
To be honest, I'm at a loss.
Because I cannot see the way to move forward for me who knows the incorrect answer but doesn't know the correct answer. Even now, for example, even if Al told me that I was 'too formal', I don't know how to answer him correctly. Even if just now he told me out loud to 'drop the honorifics', he probably doesn't really mean it that way.
I understood that it wasn't like that. So, someone, please tell me the correct answer.
In the end, I chose to be silent, but I could acutely feel Al's gaze.
"Lily, I don't mind it, you know?"
A single word came out of my mouth as a response in my confusion. My gaze matched with Al's.
"You are going to change yourself from now on, right? I can feel your determination. So, even if you take up an unusual behavior, speech, or conduct right now, you don't need to worry because I won't be disappointed in you. Rather, if Lily says strange things, I'll point them out for you. That way, it will be easier for you to understand."
"……Is that okay?"
"Of course. Because I said we are going to cooperate, right? This is also part of the cooperation."
"Thank you very much……"
That would help me immensely.
When I felt relieved, Al grabbed my hand and pulled me towards himself.
"You don't have to keep up appearances in front of me. That's why, I want you to stop being silent."
He was peering into my eyes and my cheeks became hot. When I frantically tried to hide it, Al chuckled.
It was apparent that he noticed it.
"P-please don't laugh."
Despite apologizing, his voice still contains laughter. But, I felt like I got a bit of mental strength thanks to him.
Al kept walking while still pulling my hand.
He stopped in front of the door at the back of the third floor.
"Here, this is it. —Father. It's Alan."
There was a low voice responding from inside. The two soldiers by the door received the King's permission and opened the door that seems to be heavy.
When I was dragged in by Al, I heard the sound of the door closing behind me. While feeling distracted by that sound, I entered the room. The person who was writing on the table at the back of the room, which appears to be the King's Office, looked up.
This is someone I knew of, even if I haven't debuted in the society yet.
The King of this country, father of Prince Alan and Prince Wilfred.
Dune the Third.
He is a young King who is still in his thirties and has been reigning for 20 years.
—It's become clear when they lined up like this, but their colors are exactly the same.
He has nice features, but his red eyes and black hair are the same color as the twin princes.
He put the quill in his hand down and slowly looked at Al.
1 I know in chapter 2 I wrote 'brother' as in singular, and now I wrote it as 'brothers' as in plural. But it wasn't a typo. This is a hint for her family situation.
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