※The chapter is in Georg zu Eicher’s POV.
With a hand placed on the windowpane, my gaze went outward.
Even when it disappeared from sight, I remained standing by the window.
“Isn’t that great?”
My shoulders jumped. Suddenly being spoken to from behind did not startle me—the trembles came from having something I did not want seen witnessed.
Though I pushed her away, I watched from behind like a maiden as she left. I hadn’t wanted anyone to see me in that state.
“What is?” I replied coldly.
Slowly, my hand dropped. I tried to be nonchalant, but the impression of my palm was a sore reminder of my embarrassment and was in no rush to disappear. I turned around and glared at Julius, my uncle. The pointed look I gave him brooked no arguments, but it had no effect and seemed like merely a breeze blowing over him. He jumped straight into the subject I didn’t want him to.
“I’m talking about Miss Marie, of course.”
My brows furrowed, momentarily at a loss for words. Expression stony, I brushed aside his question. “I am afraid I do not understand what you speak of.”
However, the sickly sweet grin did not wipe itself off my uncle’s face. His head was tilted to the side.
“Oh? I didn’t think I’d need to carefully break down something so simple. I wonder if my nephew is a little slow on the uptake? Or is he behaving spoiled so that I won’t touch on an awkward topic?”
How handsome he looked as venom spewed from his smiling mouth.
I was quiet. My uncle looked kind, but he wasn’t all kindness. When I tried to play dumb, he flat out told me stop acting like a brat.
Reluctantly, I said, “I gave her a report of our progress.” I didn’t feel like answering him, so I stubbornly feigned ignorance. Of course, my uncle was having none of that.
“That’s strange. If it was just a report on our progress, why did Miss Marie look so sad?”
I didn’t answer him.
“I’m positive some pig-headed fool somewhere was pushing his own agenda without even listening to her opinion.”
Trying to keep my face free of twitching, I said, “You say that as if you were watching.” On the surface, I smiled, but inwardly I called him an old fart.
“I wouldn’t stoop so low as spying on you. But I don’t need to see your face to know what you’re trying to say.”
The sarcastic smile he had on his face this entire time had become wry. I looked at him, slightly guilty, as if a mistake I was hiding had been revealed.
“I told her I didn’t want her to be involved in the site investigation.”
I don’t believe I made the wrong decision. We shouldn’t be sending a princess like Miss Marie to a place filled with who knows what sort of danger. The only ones who should be on the move was us. All she should do was st
ay in the palace where it was safe and wait for our reports.
Yes, even though I believe that…
The look of surprise on her face was scorched in my mind and wouldn’t disappear.
After I asked her to leave the investigation to us, her face darkened and crumpled in sorrow.
I never wanted to make her look like that, so how did it go so wrong?
“I see,” he said in a low voice.
My face burst into flames. Though he was hardly criticizing me, the reason I was moved to such terrible shame was probably because I felt guilt. The next words that came out of my mouth sounded like an excuse.
“I think it’s only obvious we can’t take Her Royal Highness to dangerous places.”
“I’m not saying your opinion is wrong.”
“But, you’re not saying it’s correct either, are you?” I retorted immediately.
“That hardly earns belligerence, my boy,” came my uncle’s immediate reply. He rolled his eyes at me. “Well, I suppose we see things differently here.”
“I take it that means?” I glared pointedly, but he didn’t even notice.
“Exactly what it sounds like. Besides, wasn’t it rather hasty of you to decide that Flamme is a dangerous place?”
“I beg to differ. At present, Flamme is governed by a queen, and her interim rule has been unstable. Do you find anything wrong with calling that dangerous?”
“The current situation is stable.”
“For now, yes, but we don’t know about the future.”
“If we follow that theory, she’ll never be able to go anywhere.” He sighed. “Nowhere on this earth is safe. No one knows when and where anything may happen. Who’s to say an enemy won’t force their way through this estate right as we’re having this conversation? I wouldn’t put it past a meteorite falling through the sky to crush us either.”
“A trick argument.”
“You’re right. They’re fallacies. However, if we throw them all together, what you’re saying is no different. What you’re doing is a far-cry from being protective—you don’t even want to let her walk outside. I’m sure you wanted to protect Miss Marie,” he continued coolly, “but let me make it clear: you do this for your own self-satisfaction. Locking up someone you care for is no more than a plan to give peace of mind for yourself.”
“I’ve never had those intentions!” I denied immediately. “A princess’s position is very different from ours. If there’s even the slightest chance she may be placed in danger, she should not go. Moreover, even if Miss Marie does nothing, isn’t it fine if ultimately the medicine falls into her hands? The end is more important than the means.”
“Georg,” he began reprovingly.
“I have no intention of repeating myself.” I threw the words over my shoulder as I briskly walked past my uncle. I didn’t want to let him shake my resolve any further. “If this is all you have to say, I’ll have to excuse myself.”
“Your first love, do you really think she’ll be happy to be locked in a cage?”
I didn’t answer as I closed the doors with my hands behind my back.
His words echoed in my head as I ran away.