Elena was relaxing in her room as she waited for her brother. She was worried that if she spoke to him anywhere else, he would make a fuss about Carlisle’s trust regardless of anyone else’s eyes around them. She showed Derek to his room and instructed him to take a bath then come to her room and make sure no one followed. She prepared warm tea in advance for him, knowing he had traveled from the warm southern part of the country to the northern cold.
Some time passed before Derek showed up at her door, divested of his rain-soaked clothes. She stood up from her seat and greeted him.
Derek sat down across from Elena, his face still stern. Elena pushed the warm tea towards him, and he furrowed his brow.
“Are you treating me like this because you’re afraid that I will oppose your relationship to the Crown Prince?”
“No, brother. I’m just sorry that you traveled all this way because of me.”
“Don’t misunderstand. I didn’t come just because of you. There’s a sword fighting competition to be held in the capital city soon, and I came here partly because of that.”
“Yes, I know.”
Elena gave a faint smile. It seemed a weak excuse, but because Derek said it, she had to believe him. He continued in a serious tone.
“Is it true that you’re even thinking about marrying him?”
“But why… If he is set on you, ask to be his second marriage.”
“That’s not possible.”
“I will be his crown princess.”
Elena expressed her intent calmly and clearly. Derek’s eyes couldn’t help but tremble. He never thought his sister was this power hungry.
“Do you really desire to be crown princess?”
“It’s better than being a concubine. And I don’t have the time to watch someone else take the position. Brother.”
Accounting for the time she spent after returning to the past, there was a little less than a year before Paveluc would become emperor. Time was short for her to stop him and protect her family.
“I don’t understand. What if you become unhappy as the prophecy says?”
“It will never happen.”
“How can you be sure?”
Derek’s frustration was building, but Elena continued on with a kindly smile that did not suit the mood. The sight of it was so unusual that even he was forced to hesitate.
“Brother, Mirabelle, Father…How can I be unhappy when I have you all? Unhappiness to me would be to not have my family.”
Although they were hurt by her father’s coldness not long ago, they were all a family nonetheless. And even when her father couldn’t recognize her feelings, in her previous life she still spent countless nights in tears remembering him. Elena’s family was hers, whether they liked it or not. There was no knowing what power had turned time back, but it must be a sign from God for her to protect them.
“What the hell does marriage to the Crown Prince have to do with the family…?”
Derek muttered as if he still couldn’t understand it, but it was still important to Elena somehow. His stiff expression gradually softened.
“You may not like him. But I’ve chosen this man, and I’ve chosen this marriage. I want your blessing more than anyone else’s.”
“…Will you regret it?”
Derek was still reluctant, but he did not protest any further upon seeing Elena’s determined expression. He quietly looked into her face and spoke softly.
“I want you to be happy.”
Elena’s throat clenched at her brother’s words. Suddenly, she remembered seeing his broad back, blocking the enemies who had invaded Blaise Castle. It was as if Derek had given this message to Elena. I want you to be happy.
Elena replied with a sincere smile.
“I am happy now, brother.”
Derek hadn’t said anything about Carlisle after his first day at the capital. She was afraid he would bring up the prophecy again , but fortunately he didn’t.
A few days passed. Carlisle sent a royal carriage to bring them to the palace just as he had promised. The exterior of the carriage was decorated with pure gold, and Mirabelle could hardly keep her mouth closed.
The two young ladies were now at the palace and walking through a maze of gardens, guided by the royal attendants just like at the ball.
“Look at the pink flowers over there, sister. It’s incredible. They must only bloom in the imperial palace.”
“Yes. I’ve never seen flowers like those before.”
As she was walking around, something suddenly came to mind.
“Oh, I forgot.”
“I was going to return his coat.”
Elena still had the coat Carlisle had given to her when they rode on horseback. On the day Carlisle visited Blaise Mansion, had she tried to return it to him before.
— Your Highness. If you could wait here for a moment, I’ll give you back the coat you gave me.
— No. I’ll come back for it next time. Keep it safe until then.
— Ah…Yes, I see.
Strangely, Carlisle’s words seem to gnaw at her mind. It was like…like she heard it somewhere before. She was lost in thought before she realized it.
‘Where did I hear something like this?’
She puzzled over her memory, but it was as if it was obscured by a deep mist. Mirabelle, who was walking by her side, suddenly spoke up and pointed her finger at something.
“Sister, that statue is incredible.”
Elena’s gaze lifted towards the statue Mirabelle was pointing to. It was of a figure a large dragon with an orb, looking as if were about to ascend into the heavens. The work seemed so alive that one couldn’t easily forget it once they saw it.
Suddenly, a flash of light passed through her head. It was a very old, faded memory. Elena hurriedly turned her head and looked around. In the distance she could see Freesia Palace, where the ball was held. Now she knew why this place was so familiar. Elena stood rooted to the spot as if she were struck by lightning.
She remembered the boy who gave her the blue bead ring.
— Keep it. I’ll come back for it for sure.
She didn’t know how she could have forgotten those blue eyes that looked just like that bead. Those strange, heated eyes stared at her.