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Prologue: At a Royal Ball, being held in the royal castle of the Kingdom of Berghausen, many guests were gathered. Among this glittering throng, a voice rang out, ‘Lady Iris Reinfeldt, daughter of the Marquis Reinfeldt, will you marry me Ernest Berghausen?’ In the luxurious salon, the young man, Ernest Berghausen, knelt before a young woman, Iris. Ernest was a young man of twenty-nine years, who ruled over the Kingdom of Berghausen wisely. The kingdom prospered under his rule. He was very handsome, with golden brown that had a mysterious twinkle in them, and glossy silver hair that was trimmed short. He had a well built frame from training with the Royal knights from a young age. He attracted and fascinated everyone regardless of age or gender. But he had not worn a wedding band yet, hence, the seat of the Queen was vacant. This was because he wasn’t very comfortable in the presence of women, so he kept refusing invitations from beautiful young ladies. (Zuben: There was something about autumn and cherry trees…) Well, that was until tonight. ‘Iris?’ The impromptu marriage proposal caught everyone by surprise. Everyone held their breath waiting for the lady to answer. Amongst them, Ernest, kneeling on the marble floor with his hand held up to Iris, his golden eyes were filled with deep affection. Before his heated gaze, Iris became more and more pale. ‘Yo-your Majesty, um...that...well…’ ‘What is the matter, Iris? Ah, have I shocked you? I am sorry.’ He, the ruler of their land, apologised whole-heartedly to the lovely Iris, the mere daughter of a Marquis. At that moment, Iris’ violet eyes widened in fright. She shook her head, shaking her long prettily decorated hair. ‘N-no, please, don’t you mind…’ she said nervously In truth, she wasn’t surprised, the issue was that this person was the ruler of their country. There was a certain reason Iris was mortified by this. Ernest breathed a sigh of relief and his expression relaxed at her reply, ‘Good...that is good. I really wanted to have your hand tonight, so I had a great sense of impatience. I’m sure you can forgive m e.’ he said with a self-mocking laugh. At the sight of his beautiful smile, Iris’ heart rang like a tokuri[1]. If this were under different circumstances, Iris would probably have gladly accepted this beautiful proposal with a great deal of blushing, but alas, she really could not accept. Because His Majesty’s declaration of love was borne from an amazing thing… Ernest had mistakenly drank a powerful love potion that put his mind under it's effects. Iris had wanted to give it to another. Even if he was curiously unmarried till now, even though his proposal was ardent, the truth was that he never had a fragment of love for Iris before this day. It would be impossible to accept the proposal and be crown princess. For Iris did not have the strength or dexterity to carry on in falsehood without a prickling conscience. But what should she do? This was a ball hosted by His Majesty the King once a month. The enormous ballroom was filled with most of the country’s nobility. Before them, King Ernest had proposed to Iris. She, a Marquis’ daughter, had no ground to refuse. (Zuben: What if he’s not her type?) But she did not know how she would explain the circumstances. Even if it was unintentional, if it got out that she had given the King a love potion, her life would be over. Even her family home and name would be crushed. She was really in deep trouble. It was her own fault, but it had been a desperate situation. This situation may be a punishment from God against Iris who tried to use a love potion for selfish reasons. That being said, even if she was self reflecting, it would not get her out of her situation now. She bit her lip, her face pale, trying to think of a way out. She tried to gently decline, but Ernest rose quickly and held her slender waist with his strong hands and pulled her close to him, ‘…’ ‘Iris, please say yes. I swear I will make you happy.’ ‘But, but I…’ ‘No matter what you say, the only woman I want is you.’ he said to her. ‘Your Majesty, um...I am very honoured by this, but…’ His current love for her was o nly an illusion created by the love potion. There was no such thing as a genuine love for her. ‘I love you, and I want you to be by my side for the rest of my life.’ But to the fearful Iris, the deep affection in Ernest’s eyes were from the love potion. He hugged her closer and pressed his lips against her forehead, ‘So Iris, be my bride.’ She wondered if there were other ladies who could have held up against such allure and still refuse. Iris was in a bind, but could not say words or refusal, her deep purple eyes were troubled. Ernest shifted to whisper in her ear; though it was a whisper it resounded in her mind like a loud echo, ‘How troubling, I love you so much I feel heated…’ ‘!’ ‘Iris, I am bad but take responsibility for me, and help me calm down.'  She had not married; this dialogue was too stimulating for her. She was a maiden who had no experience, her cheeks flushed. She also knew that Ernest’s heat was due to the love potion he had mistakenly drunk, but she really didn’t know how to reply. Ernest smiled and held her closer, he leaned over her ear, his hot breath tickling her, ‘Answer me, Iris. Please say yes before I lose reason. Otherwise, I will hold you right here…’ His lustrous voice penetrated her ears and sent sweet shivers down her spine. It seemed that the love potion had a really strong effect. She trembled at the sultry threat, she nodded to avoid the worst. ‘Thank you, my Iris. I promise to cherish you for always, my only love.’ Ernest grinned broadly and gave her a kiss on her cheek. The guest who had been waiting for Iris’ reply breathed a sigh of relief. An applause rose celebrating the spring that had arrived for his Majesty the King. In an instant the ballroom was filled with delight. But Iris could not celebrate. What had she done? Iris must keep the secret hidden for the rest of her life. In the circle of Ernest’s arms, she thought back to how she had come to this juncture.   Three days before the ball…
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