It took him minutes before he entered the room. I bet he's really nervous to speak with me. When he came in, he bowed and gave respects.
I was surprised by what he did. Except for official functions that he need to bow to acknowledge me as his future queen, it only means that he wanted to submit defeat.
"What brings you here, Edmund?" I asked him coldly as I sat down on a chair in front of him.
"Her highness' cold voice bothers me. I came here to ask forgiveness."
"You're asking the wrong person." I stood up but and walked towards the door but he managed to stop me by holding my hand.
"Will you please, listen to me first? I need to tell you something." My inner self celebrated. I turned around and walked back to where I was seated.
While I was waiting for him to talk, I observed that he got thin. His eyes were surrounded by black circles and I can see his firm cheek bones. I unknowingly clenched my fist. Guilt started to consume me. My actions gave a negative effect to my brother. I will make sure that I'll take care of him after this.
"I already asked Adelheid to be with me."
"What do you mean by that?"
"We will marry."
I intentionally looked at Auguste who's leaning in the corner. He sighed.
I displayed a soft expression towards him. "Why a change of heart?"
He looked at me in the eye. He smiled bitterly. "I need to pay the price. I violated her and committed a sin... I disappointed you and our parents. I was indeed a selfish man, which is against the teachings of the church. The only way to atone my sin is to face the consequences."
I rose up and proceeded to where he was standing. I hugged him tight.
"We make mistakes, that make us human after all. But to face that mistake and learn from it, you are very brave. I admire you, little brother."
Edmund hugged me tighter. I can feel that there were tears falling in his eyes. I smiled. I accomplished what my mother wished.
"Thank you for making me realize these things, older sister." He gently backed away from me.
"You don't need to thank me. I am just doing what a sister should do... Too bad that you'll get married soon, I will not be the only woman in your life after your wedding." I pouted while wiping away his tears.
"Now I know you're a jealous one..." He seemed relieved that we're back to normal.
"Older sister should not be worried. You can't be replaced by anyone. I promised you. You're always be my greatest love. I will not break my word."
Of course, I am his greatest love. Why? Because I always stand by his side. When he decided to be a priest, mother was not in favor of him entering the sanctuary. Since we were inseparable, I knew that it was his desire. I helped him convince our mother.
We promised that we will never leave and betray each other. He was so serious about it that he even swore that his life is mine. That he will do everything for me whenever I needed him. Because of his brotherly love that he gives me, Edmund is my greatest weakness.
“Would you like to join me for tea? You look so horribly thin. I am the cause of that. I need to feed you.”
He chuckled. "I can't eat lately because of you."
"I know. So let me pamper my little brother." I softly pinched his cheek and ordered my maids to prepare everything.
We spent the whole day together in my room to patch things up. Because his title of being the second prince will be bestowed to him again, a ceremony will be held at the castle. I suggested that he must also let the engagement party happened right after his investiture as the second prince.
“I will announce that I came back as a prince because of marriage. No more, no less.”
“Hmmmm... And why would you do that?”
“Because I don't want them to use me against you, older sister. I don't like it.”
I understood what he said. Bringing back his title as a prince would automatically give him the right for the throne. Once restated, he'll be second-in-line for the succession if I didn't produce any heir soon. I was the last option of father because he joined the congregation before older brother died. Edmund should have been the heir if he did not desire being a priest. Now that he'll be back, it will create two factions, the my faction and the 2nd prince's faction.
“I think you have a point. This will discourage them in forming factions that will fight for the throne.”
“I agree... They know that you are my full sister, so this only mean that I swore my allegiance to you.”
“I know you always do.” I smiled at him.
He chuckled. “Yes, yes... I am.”
I diverted the conversation and asked him about Adelheid.
“Do you visit Adelheid? I'm sure she's pretty lonely today because I wasn't able to check on her.”
“You worry too much, older sister. I always visit her. A while ago, she's not so fine when I went to her chamber. The physician said she was having a morning sickness.”
I was amused by what I heard. He was worried about her. I guess this marriage will work out after all.
“I got quite curious, you were never tempted to any beautiful ladies before. I was surprised that she's the only one who made that impact to you. Why now? ”
There was a moment of silence after I asked him.
“The moment I saw her at the Duke's party, I got this feeling that she seemed familiar to me and got attracted to her. A warm and comfort feeling enveloped my heart. Well, I really don't know exactly why. But that's what I felt.”
“I don't understand what you mean at all. But I'll accept that.”
A warm feeling, huh? Isn't it when you're in love, the heart beats faster? Or having butterflies in the stomach? This is what I felt before... Hmmmm... This is interesting. I guess there are different kinds of how you can feel it.
He mentioned that he wants to be a good father and a partner to Adelheid. I am very pleased by what he really want now. Now that I think about my impending marriage, I am very annoyed. How I wish that I was not born in the royal family, I would find Edmund to be a suitable one. Unlike that useless prince.
My expression turned sour.
"Why is older sister's face like that?"
"Oh. Nothing... I was thinking of something."
He was silent for a while and stared at me seriously. He was concerned.
"Ever since the funeral, I always see hatred written in your eyes. You never displayed that kind of emotion before. You're always composed, no matter how angry you are."
Upon hearing it, I can't help but bit my lower lip. I started to assess myself. He is right. I was never seen to display this kind of emotion.
"Is it because of what happened to Lady Erin? I know you are angry at the kingdom of Lutrania. But I don't think you need to blame everyone because of whta happened."
"What are you implying?" I sharply said.
"You'll going to marry their prince,older sister. It's not okay to have disputes."
"I know it is not good to have disputes, so I will cancel my engagement soon."
"What?! What about the peace treaty? They already threatened us that they will attack... And also, my assessment with the prince turned out nice." I flinched because of his statement. I looked at Auguste, he was confused.
"Nice? To conclude it like that, have you met him?"
"Yes. While it was my duty to burn the incense at the royal cemetery four months ago, I met him there. I got acquainted with him after that."
I clenched my fist tightly. That prince... Entering my country like nothing happened. He really had guts to enter this kingdom.
I stood up where I was sitting and walked around the room. "What lies did he feed your mind?" I gritted my teeth after asking.
"Sister. Why are you talking like that? I am telling you, he's a good person... You are compatible with each other. I'm sure you - - - "
"Edmund. Answer the question. What did he tell you??"
"Tell me what? I don't understand. "
“Tell me everything what he said to you, what things both of you talked about. I need all of it.”
“Why are you so interested about it?”
“It is because it's my business.”
“Older sister, why are you so angry at him? You do not even know him yet. Why on earth are you acting like that? Look, I talked to him a lot and got to know him better. If you just---”
Hearing all the things that he said, I was enraged.
"WILL YOU JUST TELL ME EVERYTHING!!!" He was shocked that I shouted.
Auguste interrupted us. "Princess Elliethyia, calm down. I think he needs to know."
He was baffled. "Know what?"
"Your highness, you'd been keeping this to him for the past year. He should know."
I sighed heavily to calm myself. Ever since I returned, I am the one feeding him with lies. Maybe this is the right time to put an end to it.
"We shouldn't be here. Let's go to my secret chamber. "
When we reached the secret room, we sat down. Auguste was beside me and Edmund to my front.
"So, what exactly do I need to know?"
"Before I answer your question, answer mine first."
“Okay, so what is it?”
"When was the last time you saw him?"
“A month ago. It was on the royal capital and he was with this Lord Maverick. They are always in disguise when they come here.”
"That seemed suspicious to me. Have you went anywhere else with him?"
“He often visits the royal cemetery and burn incense at Erin's grave. That was his routine when I started to be friends with him.”
At the royal cemetery? But that is just kilometers away from the royal castle. To be so near at the seat of power, we need to be cautious.
“He said he will personally apologize to you and do everything that he can so you will forgive him and his country.”
“I doubt that. Aside from that, did he tell you other things?”
“Hmmmm... Nothing more.”
"Edmund. Does he know you're a prince?"
"No. I was an apprentice of the church. So it's useless to tell him my social standing."
He's coming in and out here freely. I need to summon Lord Nicklaus immediately. Security must be heightened because the royal cemetery is near the palace. I can't let him sneak in to gather information.
"Now that I answered all the things you wanted to know, it's my turn, older sister."
I sighed. No matter how I avoid the situation, it can't be helped. I really need to reveal everything to him.
"Wait here." I stood up and left the two.
Instead of telling him directly, I need to show someone to him.
Since early morning, Erin was already inside this household. She probably hid in the annex of this room. I opened the door and saw her sitting in one of the chairs. When she saw me, she stood up and curtsied.
"Erin. I need you to come with me."
“Is something the matter?”
“Edmund found out about our secret. I need to reveal you right now.”
She didn't complain and nodded as a reply.
We walked back. I was the first one to appear in the room. When Erin followed, I saw my brother's shocked expression.
"You... What??... Oh god...E-Erin's alive?" He looked at me with fear.
"Long time no see, your highness, prince Edmund." Erin gave respects.
"What's the meaning of this?" He still have this disbelief expression on his face.
I was about to speak when Erin talked.
"Let me explain, your highness." She looked at the two of us and we nodded.
She told him everything what happened a year ago,starting the day that we switched places.
"Sister. Why? You should have told me."
"I don't want you to be involved with this one, Edmund."
"But this matter also concerns me, as your brother. How can I protect you if you're not telling this to me?"
I was in awe when I heard those words. I smiled bitterly.
“Edmund... As much as possible, I don't want to bring this up.”
"I am sorry." He apologized.
“It's fine. Just ask Auguste and he will answer it. I just don't want to remember that painful past.”
I already buried the pain a few months ago, I don't want wounds to be reopened again.
"That fiance of yours... He is a scheming wolf. If I only knew these things, I should have killed him in the first place."
Oh my... Instead of agreeing with what he said, I got nervous. Even though he's gentle towards his loved ones, he is ruthless to his enemies. This is also the reason why I didn't tell him. Because he cherishes me, there could have been tendencies that he will show no mercy to the persons who will harm and hurt his beloved sister. I don't want that his hands be tainted with blood because of my foolishness.
"I think it will be enough if I annul my engagement and cut our ties with Lutrania, Edmund."
"Are you really sure? They wanted your life. They can send assassins here and kill you."
"Don't you worry. My guards came from the recommendation of Lord Nicklaus. They're selected for this matter."
"I will stay here too."
"Edmund. What about the preparations for your marriage? There are many things you should do in the house of your bride. You can't just stay here."
"Hmmm. Since that's the case, I will let that lover boy do the job."
Auguste coughed upon hearing what he said. I just rolled my eyes.
"My little brother... -" I sighed. He is really persistent.
"Fine, fine. I won't talk now."
"I think we need to retire for tonight." I suggested. I was really tired today and I want to rest already.
One by one they got out of my secret chamber. As I got out, I saw Auguste in front of me.
"Yes? Are you not going to your room?"
"I was out yesterday because I was summoned by his majesty. He gave me this letter to you."
He stretched his hand and a letter with a royal seal was embarked in the envelope.
A royal seal?? This only means one thing, it is an order that I cannot refuse.
I opened the letter and read its contents. After reading, my face darkened.
"Princess, what's the matter?"
"Let's go to my study."
Upon arriving, I immediately told him the contents of what I read.
"The prince of Lutrania, or rather, the new King will be coming here a few days from now."
He does not seem convinced. I gave the letter to him.
He read aloud. "Her grace, Princess Elliethyia Celeste, the crown princess of the state is hereby ordered by his majesty, king Edgar II to accompany the newly crowned king, King Freidhelm I of Lutrania in his diplomatic stay in Sierra. "
"This... Do you think it is about your impending marriage?"
"Hmmm... That's what it looks for me. But I am getting worried about this. He might be gathering information and kill me." I seriously told him.
"If that's the case, are you going to tell this matter to the king?"
"Of course not. Father is physically weak. If he finds out that her beloved and precious daughter has been treated like a trash in other kingdom, it will greatly affect his health."
He and Edmund shared the same character. I feared their temper because I know they will fight him just to get even.
I heavily sighed. This is no good. To think that I don't want to see his face for awhile and still not ready to face him, this will be an absolute torture. The man who destroyed my hopes of being a happy married individual will definitely come here again to bring chaos to my whole being.
As much as I don't want to show my emotions, I think I won't be able to hide it now. Fear started to crawl up my system. Pain filled my heart.
I tried to suppress it. But before I burst out, someone held my arms tightly.
“A Queen never shows her weakness to anyone. Please remember that. But if you can't hold it any longer, I am here. Seeing my master like this, also pains this servant.”
I let out my tears quietly as he hugged me tighter. We stayed like that for a while. When I calmed down, I gently moved away and looked at him. His eyes reflected mine. He's telling the truth. He is also pained by what's happening to me. I gently cupped his face and he closed his eyes to feel my hand caressing his cheek.
When I stopped, he opened his eyes and he looked at me with his gentle eyes.
"Accept this as my thanks." Without thinking any further, I moved my head and sealed his lips with a kiss.