Completed ― The Former Villainess Who Went Back in Time, She Doesn’t Fix Her Bad Personality but Avoids the Execution Ending!

Completed ― The Former Villainess Who Went Back in Time, She Doesn’t Fix Her Bad Personality but Avoids the Execution Ending!

Chapter 1: My Perfect Life

In this world, the aristocracy reigns supreme. As the granddaughter of a Duke, I knew from the moment I was born that I was a winner.

“Do you even know who you’re talking to, you mere viscount’s daughter?”

Duke’s daughter Aliseteen Quatra was a name known to all in this royal academy.

The Duke family is a prestigious household that has served as close advisors to the royal family for generations. They have four outstanding sons and one daughter. Aliseteen has been pampered and spoiled by her parents and brothers to no end, and she firmly believes that she is the heroine of this world.

With beauty and intelligence to match, she always wears a confident smile on her beautiful face, striding elegantly through the academy with her followers in tow.

If there is one flaw to speak of, it would be——

“Come on, pick it up. Bow your head and crawl on the ground like the pathetic person you are!”

It’s an incredibly twisted personality that Aliseteen has, and that is her only and biggest flaw.

That’s why she was famous in many ways.

Entering this academy at the age of thirteen and spending just over three years here, Aliseteen had become a tyrant who ruled this small society.

“I apologize, Quatra-sama.”

“No, I won’t forgive you. You used flirtatious gestures towards Julian-sama, who is my fiance and that’s unacceptable!”

She bullied the only daughter of a Viscount, accompanied by a few followers. Her behavior was truly that of a “villainess.”

“How despicable of you to approach him asking for advice.”

“No, that’s not it! His Highness Stratis just gave me some advice while I was studying in the classroom. Please believe me, Quatra-sama!”

Covered in mud, the Viscount’s daughter begged for forgiveness, tears streaming down her face.

Oh, how embarrassing. It’s so unsightly that I can’t even imagine doing something like that.

If you were born as a Viscount’s daughter, you should act with awareness of your position.

It’s because you shamelessly went after someone else’s fiancé that this happened.

I stepped on her hand as she desperately tried to gather scattered textbooks and parchment with the heel of my loafers.

“Ouch, it hurts…!”

“My heartache is nothing compared to this! Hurry up and pick them up!”

Even as I laughed, my followers seemed to tremble as they watched me grind her hand underfoot.

Hmph, is this all you’ve got? It’s not like there will be any consequences for me, even if I mess with just one Viscount’s daughter.

As I turned my gaze behind me, my followers also trembled in fear.

Everyone supported me, knowing that if they went against me, they would end up covered in mud tomorrow.

“How dare you try to steal Stratis-sama from Aliseteen-sama? You have no idea of your place!”

“That’s right! You can’t compete with Aliseteen-sama, who has both beauty and pedigree!”

“You should apologize more!”

Surrounded by the scolding of those around her, the Viscount’s daughter eventually burst into tears, rubbing her face against the ground.

How boring. I hate ugly people.

Completely losing interest, I flipped my skirt and glanced briefly at her.

“If you’ve learned your lesson, don’t ever get close to Julian-sama again.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

“Hmph.”

I dismissed her apology with a snort and left the scene.

Oh, I forgot to silence her. Well, even with her lacking intelligence, she should understand that if she tells anyone else, she’ll face even worse consequences.

“What a terrible lady to make Aliseteen-sama sad!”

“Thank you for telling me, Sanna.”

“N-No, it was only natural for me to do so!”

One of my followers, Sanna, with flushed cheeks, speaks out. She was the one who reported to me that that daughter was getting close to my fiancé, Julian-sama.

Whether it was true or false, it didn’t matter.

If I pretend to believe Sanna and praise her, the other daughters will also try to be useful to me like her.

It’s a simple matter that even a monkey can understand, to side with anyone who will benefit me.

As the daughter of the prestigious Quatra family and the fiancé of Julian Da·Stratis, the fourth prince of the Luvalantia Kingdom, no one can disrespect me.

Chapter 2: Let’s be called cruel behind our backs

In the corner of the cafeteria at the Royal Academy, several men and women were whispering to each other. After carefully confirming that the person in question was not present, one of them spoke up.

“Lady Quatra seems to have done it again. She called out the Pinnik Viscount’s daughter from the second year and got her all dirty.”

“She’s really good at playing the villainess every time. In a way, I’m impressed with her acting skills.”

The girls present were outraged by the young men’s words.

“What are you talking about? You should consider the feelings of lower-ranking nobles like me! Just thinking about when the sparks will fly in my direction is terrifying.”

“That’s right! If you’re stared down by those ‘wolf eyes,’ it’s not just scary, it’s downright terrifying!”

The term ‘wolf eyes’ was a mocking reference to Aliseteen’s eye color. Although she has beautiful amber eyes, her personality is such that people often make derogatory comments comparing her to a wolf.

Her long, glossy hair was also the same beautiful amber color as her eyes. This made her even more susceptible to being called a wolf.

“Even His Highness has fallen for her tricks and lets her do as she pleases. He’s also a Prince, after all.”

“Hey, stop it! It’s not appropriate to talk about His Highness in a place like this.”

“But…”

The young man tried to continue, but he was hushed by the others, who were becoming agitated.

“But lately, she’s been particularly cruel. Don’t you think His Highness will notice that his fiancée is a wicked person?”

“I hope so, but Lady Quatra is perfect except for her personality.”

Everyone pictured Aliseteen’s image floating above their heads. Her round amber eyes, long hair, small, puckered lips, and slender, long limbs made her the epitome of a beautiful young girl in the academy.

“In addition, being the Duke’s daughter, she’s spoiled and indulged by her parents and older brothers. It’s no wonder she has such a terrible personality.”

“Let’s stop talking about this. We don’t know if there’s a spy lurking around.”

“Don’t worry. Even though she’s the most beautiful girl in the academy, she’s also the most hated.”

“But there are still those who try to score points with her.”

The young ladies let out a deep sigh and gazed at their coffee cups in front of them.

“I wish karma would come and get her soon.”

In reality, one of her friends had been bullied by Aliseteen to the point of leaving the academy with a troubled heart. She regrets that she couldn’t do anything, but as a lower-ranking noble, she knows that she cannot compete with Aliseteen.

She poured all of her curses into the swirling sea of black coffee in front of her, hoping to at least get some revenge.

But Aliseteen didn’t seem to care. Today, just like any other day, she was bullying another girl she didn’t like.

As she looked down on the crying girl begging for forgiveness, even she let out a deep sigh.

How boring.

It was frustrating when people rebelled against her, but it was even more boring when they didn’t put up a fight.

She was a spoiled girl who couldn’t be touched, but she put on a great act in front of her teacher and fiancé, Julian.

However, even Julian, who couldn’t see through her true nature, had a bad reputation within the academy.

Chapter 3: My most beautiful fiancée

“Julian-sama!”

I ran up to him with a smile on my face, my amber-colored hair fluttering in the warm spring breeze.

“Aliseteen.”

He was Julian Da Stratis, the fourth prince of this country. His grey eyes were not particularly assertive, but they were mysterious and exuded a certain charm. His grey hair was neatly trimmed, and his asymmetrical bangs suited his well-defined face.

He was also my fiancé, but he remained expressionless as he turned to face me. Even I, someone who knew him well, had rarely seen the muscles in his face move.

But that was okay. As a prince of a country, he couldn’t afford to easily let his guard down around others.

As I stared at his profile, mesmerized, he tilted his head.

“What is it?”

“You look beautiful as always, Julian-sama.”

Truly, he seemed otherworldly. He was tall and slender, and the school uniform looked better on him than anyone else. With his pale skin, even his expressionless face was incredibly beautiful.

I eagerly await the day when that face will smile softly while calling out my name.

“Great job with the student council work. Would you like to ride home with the Quatra family’s carriage?”

“No, I’m already waiting for my servants.”

I internally clicked my tongue at Julian-sama’s indifferent tone. It’s something that could be ignored.

“How about having tea on the terrace after school tomorrow?”

“We have another student council meeting tomorrow.”

“Oh, right.”

I let my shoulders droop, but Julian-sama didn’t seem to care. Normally, I wouldn’t tolerate such an attitude towards someone like me, but he’s always been special to me, so I forgive him with a smile.

I have been engaged to Julian-sama for about ten years now. Although the formal princess education begins after graduation, I have worked hard to become his wonderful partner.

What’s most wonderful about Julian-sama is that there’s nothing besides his face. No man in this country can rival this sculpted, well-ordered appearance.

And the only woman that can match him is me.

“Well, look at this. Quatra-sama is being dismissed by His Highness again.”

“You never learn, do you? I wonder if His Highness has realized Quatra-sama’s true nature yet.”

“I hope so.”

Aliseteen didn’t hear the whispers of her fellow students as she gazed dreamily at Julian’s profile with the eyes of a lovestruck maiden.

If they had caught her doing that, they wouldn’t have let it slide.

(I want to graduate from this boring academy as soon as possible and live with Julian-sama.)

Aliseteen could only see herself as the future wife of the fourth prince.

Even if Julian’s attitude towards her was cold, it didn’t matter. He was like that with all women, and once they got married, he would be hers, or so she thought.

Everything was going according to plan.

Until “that woman” appeared.

Chapter 4: Fairy princesses

Today, I’m once again teasing a plain female student out of boredom.

But lately, it’s been getting more and more boring. Julian-sama keeps talking about the student council like a broken record.

I’m getting tired of seeing everyone I bully tremble and beg for forgiveness.

Isn’t there anything fun that can change the current situation?

“Aliseteen-sama!”

One of my followers, Sanna, comes running up to me.

“What’s wrong?”

“I happened to overhear the teachers talking earlier.”

Her pompous tone irritates me, and Sanna notices my frustration and her face stiffens for a moment.

“It seems that the princess of the neighboring country will be transferring to this school today.”

“The princess of the neighboring country?”

“Her name is Chai-sama.”

Upon hearing that name, Princess Chai, I furrowed my eyebrows. She was the fourth princess of the neighboring Slophone Kingdom, known as the land of beauties. Among the four sisters, she was said to be the most fairy-like, a well-known rumor even in this country.

The Slophone Kingdom and our Luvalantia Kingdom were in a friendly relationship. Although our enrollment periods were slightly different, it was probably a sign of our friendship.

Or maybe it was because Princess Chai was searching for a husband.

Either way, it was a very uncomfortable situation for me.

“You can go now. If you’ve learned your lesson, be careful how you speak in the future.”

I looked down at the female student lying at my feet and spoke to her as if I were spitting out the words.

“Now, shall we go? I must personally greet Princess Chai.”

I didn’t want to be too close to her, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to become friends with the neighboring princess.

Moreover, the first impression is crucial in situations like this. If she were to use any flirtatious gestures towards Julian-sama, I must make sure to remind her of my position as the ruler of this academy.

No matter how much of a princess she may be, I am the one who holds the power in this school.

As Sanna had informed me, Princess Chai arrived in the afternoon of that day. The entire student body and even the teachers welcomed her with open arms.

Of course, I too put on a smile on the surface.

“Welcome, Princess Chai, to the Luvalantia Royal Academy. We, the students and teachers alike, warmly welcome your enrollment.”

The headmaster flattered Princess Chai, his mustache twitching as he spoke.

Ugh, you’re getting on my nerves.

“I am truly grateful for such a warm welcome, but I would prefer not to be treated differently. After all, I am here to learn just like everyone else.”

As rumored, Princess Chai was like a fairy. Her platinum blonde hair flowed down to her shoulders, bouncing adorably with every step she took.

Her big, round eyes were surrounded by long lashes that seemed to make a sound every time she blinked.

Her pure white cheeks were slightly tinged with red from nervousness, and her delicate limbs were constantly fidgeting.

“…”

I hate this kind of people in this world. They drive my protective instincts, those delicate and lovely women.

“I’m looking forward to spending time with everyone from now on.”

Princess Chai said with a smile, and in that moment, everyone present except Aliseteen became captivated by her.

Chapter 5: Plump Thread

It had been two months since Princess Chai had arrived at the academy, and I spent every day feeling frustrated.

To monitor and utilize her, I volunteered to be her guide. It was my role to show her around the school facilities and explain the curriculum.

For now, I refrained from making any moves on Princess Chai and observed her behavior. After all, she was probably hiding something sinister.

If I could hold onto one of her weaknesses, it would serve as insurance for the future.

But my plan didn’t go as expected.

“Thank you so much, Aliseteen-san. This is just a small token of my appreciation. Please take it.”

Princess Chai handed me a small bag with a smile on her face. Inside was face powder.

“This is made from the rare embryo part of a flower that can only be found in Slophone. It’s a special face powder that only royalty and some nobles can use in our country.”

“…Well, that’s nice to hear.”

“However, Aliseteen-san is already beautiful enough as she is.”

Is she trying to be sarcastic? She may have an innocent face, but I know she looks down on me.

Her hypocritical behavior is annoying, but what I really can’t stand is…

“Aliseteen, Princess Chai.”

Julian-sama, my fiancé, walked towards us with one hand raised. He’s mine, yet his eyes were fixed on Chai-sama.

He had never approached me like this when I was alone.

I bit down on my molars in frustration, causing the cloth bag in my hand to twist out of shape.

“Good day, Julian-sama.”

Chai-sama smiled like a fairy, so lovely and delicate. It makes me feel sick.

“Have you gotten used to life at this academy?”

“Yes, thanks to Aliseteen-san. She’s really kind.”

Disliking the calm atmosphere between the two, I stepped forward to Princess Chai.

“Julian-sama, you haven’t forgotten about this weekend, have you? The Quatra family is eagerly awaiting your visit.”

“…Ah.”

Was Julian-sama always this easy to read? His grey eyes told me to stop saying unnecessary things.

“Does Princess Chai not have any ‘good gentlemen’ like my Julian-sama?”

“Aliseteen, that’s not appropriate.”

Princess Chai replied with a smile and graciously smiled at me.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t had any such discussions yet. I envy your close relationship.”

“Well, it’s a bit embarrassing.”

I blushed, but Julian-sama’s expression became stiff.

“I hope someday I can meet someone as wonderful as Julian-sama.”

Princess Chai said with a smile.

“A woman like Princess Chai shouldn’t cause any worries.”

“Fufu, even if it’s just a polite remark, I’m happy to hear it.”

…What’s going on? Why does Julian-sama have that expression on his face, even though I exist?

This woman, who just arrived, effortlessly achieved what I have been dreaming of for so long——to have Julian-sama smile at me.

This can’t happen, under any circumstances. I must help my fiancé, who is about to fall under the spell of Princess Chai’s poison.

As I stared blankly at the scene before me, I felt something inside me snap and break with a loud sound.

Chapter 6: The End of the Arrogant Lady

Why, I wonder. Where did I go wrong?

“…I truly admired Aliseteen-san from the bottom of my heart.”

I stared coldly at Princess Chai, who was sobbing in front of me, without trying to hide my disgust.

I could see bandages wrapped around her arms, which were hardly a serious injury. How despicable of her to exaggerate her injuries to gain sympathy.

I wanted to jump at her and tear off her mask right away, but my arms were restrained by the guards.

Julian-sama stood next to Princess Chai, gently comforting her as if they were a loving couple.

“…I didn’t do anything wrong.”

As soon as she said that, Julian-sama’s forehead furrowed deeply. Why did I have to be glared at like that by my fiancé?

It’s all her fault, not mine.

“What did you do to Princess Chai? Don’t you realize that you’ve done something wrong?”

“It was self-defense, Julian-sama.”

“Self-defense?”

He looked at me with eyes as if he were looking at maggots.

“If you don’t understand, let me explain it to you. You and your followers threatened Princess Chai and subjected her to cruel bullying. Not only that, but you also tried to hit her with a vase from upstairs and pushed her down the stairs. You could have sparked a conflict between our countries by injuring the princess of a friendly nation.”

Julian-sama calmly spoke the truth, word for word.

So what?

I was just so angry. This woman, who was treated like a saint just because she was a princess, irritated me to no end.

I wished she was dead.

“Your excuses are useless. You have no allies here.”

“…Julian-sama, you’re also at fault.”

I looked down and muttered to myself, my amber hair falling in front of my face.

“Why do you smile at that woman?”

“…What are you talking about?”

Ignoring Julian-sama’s perplexed tone, I continued.

“Aren’t we engaged to be married? As your future wife, doesn’t it hurt your heart to treat me like this?”

“…You always think only of yourself.”

As I lifted my head, I could see Julian-sama’s face through the gaps in my hair that had fallen out of place.

For a moment, I thought tears would spill from his gray eyes, and I didn’t know why.

“Let’s go, Princess Chai.”

“Julian-sama, please don’t let her suffer. I will do something about it.”

“…You are a kind person.”

Julian-sama looked at Princess Chai with deep affection. She looked worriedly at me before leaving the room at Julian-sama’s urging.

“Why…why did this happen? Why…”

I lost all my strength and hung my head in despair. Will I never be seen in those eyes again?

If that’s the case, then I don’t mind being looked at with eyes that see me as trash.

I pressed my cheek against the cold floor and slowly closed my lifeless eyes.

ーーOne month later, I was quietly executed without being seen by anyone.

Chapter 7: The Impossible

Why is this happening to me? I haven’t done anything wrong.

Everyone else is at fault. It’s because of the behavior of the people around me that I was forced to do such things.

If only they had shown more concern for me, I could have lived obediently.

It’s all their fault.

——That’s not true, Aliseteen.

What? Who? Who is denying me?

——Shall I tell you why you had to die alone without anyone missing you?

Why is that?

It’s because you’re a worthless, shitty human being, Aliseteen.

“No, noo! Get away from me!”

I screamed as I jumped out of bed with a loud bang. I breathed heavily and looked around, my eyes scanning the room.

As a result, sweat dripped down from my temple.

“I, I…”

The room was still dark, and it took me a while for my eyes to adjust. Eventually, I realized that this was my own room.

But this dream feels too real, with my heartbeat pounding in my chest and the sound of my ragged breathing echoing in the room. The sensation of the sheets against my skin is so vivid.

“But I was supposed to have died there…”

Before my seventeenth birthday, my life had come to an end. I died alone in that cold room, devoid of any life.

No, I wasn’t alone. There was an executioner there to carry out my death sentence. And surely, there were others watching from the observation window as witnesses.

That’s all there was to it.

It’s pathetic how someone like me, who was once surrounded by people and loved by her family, died such a pitiful death.

At the time, I was so worn out and didn’t even consider why they didn’t execute me publicly. It was probably out of consideration for Princess Chai.

That woman had pleaded for mercy for me until the end. She was like a pure saint until the very end.

“I was so scared… I was so scared… ahh…”

Tears streamed down my face as my memories slowly began to return. The bone-chilling cold, the overwhelming loneliness, and the indescribable fear from that time. Remembering it all, my body trembled uncontrollably.

Did I really die? Is this heaven? Why do I still feel such intense fear even in death?

“No, no, I can’t take it anymore…”

I had no room in my heart to hate Princess Chai, Julian-sama, the noblewomen who betrayed me, or even my own family.

All I could do was scream and shiver in terror.

“Aliseteen-ojosama! Are you alright?!”

As the door to my room was flung open, several servants and guards rushed in, their footsteps echoing loudly.

“Are you okay, Ojo-sama?!”

Seeing the figure of the maid who hurriedly came to me first, I open my eyes wide in surprise.

It’s because she was Lili, the maid I once dismissed.

Chapter 8: Pretty figure reflected in the mirror

Why is Lili here… Is this not reality after all?

As I became even more confused and began to cry, Lili hugged me in a panic.

“Is there an intruder? Did someone do something to you?”

“I… I…”

“It’s okay now, please calm down, Ojo-sama. Lili is here by your side.”

Interpreting my cries as a distress signal, Lili instructed the guards to search the room. I wanted to tell her it was nothing, but I couldn’t find the words. I could only cry like a child.

Lili peered into my face, trying to calm me down, and looked at me with a gentle expression. Then, she gently wrapped her hands around mine.

“Oh my, your little hands are so cold… You must have been so frightened, poor thing.”

“…Eh?”

“Your little hands.”

It was only then that I looked at my own hands. They didn’t look like those of a 17-year-old woman at all.

They were small, almost childlike, small enough to fit easily in Lili’s hands.

“…!”

As soon as I realized it, I rolled out of bed and rushed to the mirror in my room. The maids’ lamps illuminated my reflection, and I saw myself looking like a child.

“This is…”

I’m just a child.

When people get really confused, their vocabulary seems to disappear in an instant. I stared at myself in the mirror in shock, muttering “I’m a child, just a child…” over and over.

“Ojo-sama, what happened all of a sudden?”

Lili rushed over and supported me. That’s when the difference in our sizes became apparent.

“Lili… how old am I now?”

“What do you mean?”

“How old am I?”

Surprised by my sudden question, Lili answered.

“Didn’t Ojo-sama just turn five recently?”

After that, I explained to Lili that I had a bad dream and sent the maids and guards away. I wanted to sleep again, so I asked her to leave me alone.

In the quiet room once again, I sat on the bed. I hadn’t realized it, but the surroundings had become bright, and the sunlight was shining through the window.

“I feel like I haven’t just regressed into a child, but I’ve become a child for real.”

As time passed, my mind began to clear, and I regained some sense of normalcy. However, I was still confused.

“This seems like it’s real, even though it’s hard to believe.”

Standing in front of the mirror, I looked like a child from head to toe. I was dressed in a light pink negligee, and my hair, a source of pride that reached my waist, was a fine and silky amber color.

My large, round eyes were framed by long, curled eyelashes. My skin was pure white and had a translucent quality, and touching it felt soft and pleasant.

“Ugh, I can’t believe I was perfect even from such a young age.”

I turned around in front of the mirror and showed off. I couldn’t remember anything from when I was five years old, but it seemed that I had always been beautiful.

“But now is not the time to be saying such things, Aliseteen.”

I needed to organize this strange phenomenon where my body was five years old but my mind was sixteen.

With that thought, I looked at the mirror one more time.

“Oh my, but I’m still so cute.”

Chapter 9: Her Savior

For about ten days after that, my emotions were extremely unstable and I could hardly leave my room. When I saw myself as a five-year-old, I took a pose in front of the mirror, thinking how cute I was. But then, I suddenly became afraid and tears started flowing out of my eyes. Even when I tried to sleep, thoughts of my death kept haunting me, attacking my mind like a nightmare.

I would suddenly scream, thrash around, hide under my blanket, and tremble uncontrollably out of fear. Eventually, I didn’t even know what I was afraid of anymore.

My parents and three older brothers were deeply concerned about me, bringing me luxurious bouquets and cute stuffed animals, things that a child like me would enjoy, to my room.

But every time I saw my family’s faces, the memories came flooding back.

Not only at the moment of my death, but even after I was imprisoned, not a single one of them came to see me.

Even their concerned faces looked twisted to me.

The one who helped calm me down was my former nursemaid, Lili. I think she (I) had asked my father to dismiss her when I was around ten years old for some petty reason that I can’t remember.

I had thought of her as a useless nursemaid due to my vague memories, but now I realize how kind she was.

Lili was the one person who was not by my side when I had fallen from grace. That’s why I was able to talk to her without becoming paranoid.

“Ojo-sama, I have brought an apple for you. May I feed it to you?”

Lili took good care of me, tending to my needs. Even if I shouted and cried like a child, she would embrace me with her warm arms and stroke my back for hours.

Why did I dismiss Lili back then?

If it weren’t for this situation, I probably wouldn’t even remember her.

But now, I was saved by Lili’s warmth more than my own family’s.

Thanks to her, I gradually calmed down, and after ten days, I finally felt the need to sort out this situation.

I still can’t completely abandon the thought that maybe it’s all just a dream, but when the time comes, I must face it. The despair of living through that worst-case scenario again is beyond measure.

“In any case, it’s for my own sake to take action to prevent that from happening.”

Enjoying the soft feel of my own skin, I made a vow to myself.

I still don’t know exactly what I should do, but for now, I just have to take a different path than my previous life.

That’s where Lili comes in handy.

Even though I thought I was saved by Lili’s warmth, in the next moment, I was already thinking about using her. My natural villainous mindset was so ingrained that I didn’t realize my mistake at the time.

Chapter 10: What should I do

There is a phrase that I repeated over and over again on my deathbed.

“I am not at fault, it’s everyone else’s fault.”

As someone who was raised to be like a butterfly or a flower, I never even considered the possibility that I might have flaws.

Even when I covered a disliked classmate in mud, I remember saying, “It’s your fault for making me do this.”

At the time, I truly believed that.

But if I were to continue living with the same thought process, I would inevitably be condemned.

I understand my own personality better than anyone else. I am arrogant, selfish, and self-centered.

Since I never faced any problems because of that, I never thought to change. But if it means avoiding a death like that, I will change myself.

Perhaps this is the chance that God has given to my foolish self. A chance to start my life over, the first and last chance.

This time, I will definitely become a “good girl.”

Alone in my room, I raised my small and adorable hand to the sky.

“Lili, Lili!”

I rang the bell in my room repeatedly and called out to Lili in a loud voice. She arrived shortly after.

“Good morning, Ojo-sama. How are you feeling today?”

She smiled warmly, as kind as ever. I can’t help but wonder why I fired Lili back then.

“I’m feeling great today. So I’ll have breakfast in the dining room.”

Is this how a five-year-old behaves? It’s difficult to act my age when my mind is that of a sixteen-year-old.

I need to act more childish and stupid.

“Well, that’s good to hear.”

As I watched Lili smile gently, my small heart reacted with a sudden flutter.

Ever since I got into this body, I’ve been feeling strange. Even though my consciousness is that of sixteen-year-old Aliseteen, my body sometimes reacts on its own.

It must be the real five-year-old Aliseteen’s doing.

It’s an indescribable feeling, like having two personalities mixed in one body.

As a five-year-old, I absolutely adored Lili. It was evident in every inch of my body.

“Ojo-sama, how about this outfit for today?”

“Lili, you choose!”

“As you wish.”

Even at that young age, my closet was packed with clothes, dresses, and shoes. Lili chose a cute mint green tulle dress for me.

The moment I saw it, I made a disgusted face.

“I hate that color. I want something more girly.”

“Oh, is that so? I thought it would look great on you.”

Without any complaints, Lili picked out another dress for me, even though it was me who had told her to choose.

But in the end, I kept criticizing everything she picked because none of them seemed right to me. It was all Lili’s fault for not choosing what I wanted.

Wrapped in a bright pink, frilly dress, I nodded along with my thoughts until I suddenly realized something.

“Oh no, what have I done? This doesn’t look good!”

And then I fell onto my knees in disappointment.

Chapter 11: Wrapped in Warm Arms

Deeply ingrained traits are not easily wiped away. As someone who has lived for sixteen years without any consideration for others’ feelings, I lacked the crucial emotion of empathy.

“I hate it…I hate it…what should I do…”

I sat down on the floor and cried like a child. Tears stained my bright pink dress in an instant.

“Aliseteen-ojosama! What happened to you?!”

Lili rushed over to me with a panicked expression. She seemed genuinely worried about me.

“Lili…”

“Don’t cry so much…oh, you poor thing.”

Without hesitation, Lili hugged me tightly. Her apron dress immediately became dirty with my tears and snot.

“What happened, Ojo-sama?”

The warmth of her voice and body slowly melted my tangled-up heart. While still sobbing, I dropped each word one by one.

“I did something terrible to you earlier, Lili.”

“To me?”

“I was the one who told you to choose what to wear, but all I do is complain about everything.”

I cried out loud and hugged Lili, sobbing uncontrollably.

“I hate myself like this! I can’t do anything about it…!”

“Aliseteen-ojosama…”

Lili called my name as if she was deeply moved. I had never cried like this in front of anyone before.

I wanted to do something, but I couldn’t. I realized for the first time how frustrating that feeling can be.

Lili gently stroked my back and rocked me soothingly.

Her heartbeat echoing in my ear somehow calmed my raging emotions.

“It’s okay, Ojo-sama.”

“Lili…”

“Because Ojo-sama is such a kind and gentle person.”

Warmth spread from where we touched each other.

I never realized that Lili’s voice could be so gentle.

“I’m not gentle at all.”

“You’re crying like this because you’re kind.”

“It’s all for my own sake.”

Saying something like this is not very mature for someone my age, but I was desperate.

I never want to feel that way again.

“If only…”

Lili took out a handkerchief from her pocket and gently wiped away my tears.

“If Ojo-sama ever gets lost, Lili will always be there to guide you.”

“…”

“I’m sorry, was that a bit too difficult?”

I pressed my cheek against Lili’s chest and nuzzled her, marking her like a cat. My body was instinctively seeking comfort from her.

“My, my, you’re quite the spoiled one, aren’t you?”

“…I’m not like that.”

“Fufu.”

In my blurry vision from crying too much, I kept staring at Lili’s face for a long time.

Chapter 12: Members of the Duke Quatra Family

“Well, Aliseteen, are you okay now?”

“Yes, Okaa-sama.”

As Lili and I descended to the dining hall, my mother Roberta called out to me. I was wearing a mint green tulle dress and smiled cutely.

“Alise!”

“Aliseteen.”

“Are you okay, Alise?”

My three older brothers approached me one after another. For a moment, I was surprised that they were all so young, but then I remembered that I am only five years old now. And of course, my brothers are all in their eleven-year-old selves.

The eldest, Harry-niisama, was twelve years old, the second, Leorio-niisama, was ten, and the third, Noa-niisama, was nine. Perhaps because they are all so much older than me, they all treated me with great affection.

That’s why I was really surprised when I first met Julian-sama. He was so cold and distant with me, which was something I had never experienced before.

Oh, come to think of it, I’m only five years old now. I remember being around this age when I met him…

“Aliseteen.”

The deep voice of the tenor resonates in the surroundings. My father, Joseph, with his prideful mustache lightly touched, finally appeared in the dining room.

“Otoo-sama.”

“How are you feeling?”

Reflexively running over to him, Otoo-sama lifts me up with a smile.

“I don’t like it, Otoo-sama. I’m not a child anymore.”

“Hahaha, Aliseteen always says interesting things.”

Laughing, Otoo-sama sits me down on a chair and takes his own seat at the table. After we all say our prayers, we start eating at our leisure.

I wonder if my five-year-old self could use a fork properly.

I give up trying to dig up my memories and just use the fork normally to eat the fluffy omelet.

I suddenly feel like drinking milk. Warm milk with lots of honey.

“Hey, Lili, I…”

“Yes, Ojo-sama. Here it is.”

Before I can finish my sentence, Lili places a cup of milk with honey in front of me.

“Alise really likes that milk with honey, doesn’t she?”

“…”

As I stared at the steam rising from the cup in front of me, I couldn’t help but feel strange.

The old me didn’t like milk, considering it a childish drink. But when I was five years old, I loved it.

I held the cup with both hands and blew on it, feeling my cheeks loosen up.

“Hey Alise, what do you want to play today?”

“Noa-niisama.”

Breakfast had come to an end, and as Lili and I were about to return to our room, Noa-niisama grabbed my hand.

Noa-niisama was four years older than me and the third son of the Duke Quatra family. He was a natural charmer. With his adorable looks, even the most refined young ladies would fall for him.

In the past, I would often have Noa-niisama seduce a disliked young lady, only to leave them in despair after playing with them.

… Looking back now, I was truly a terrible woman. I wonder how many people are relieved that I’m dead.

“Alise? You look sad. Is something wrong?”

Noa-niisama looked at my face with a worried expression. I shook my head left and right, trembling a little, and smiled.

“No, it’s nothing. Let’s play, Onii-sama. I want to play hide-and-seek.”

“Alright, then I’ll be the seeker. Alise, you go hide while I count to one hundred.”

I turned around and faced the pillar, and as Onii-sama started counting, “One, two,” I dashed away with all my might.

As a five-year-old, all I wanted to do was play hide-and-seek.

Chapter 13: In the middle of hide-and-seek

I run around the inside of the mansion looking for a hiding place. As I rush up the servant stairs, I collide with a housemaid carrying a pile of laundry baskets. It wasn’t much of an impact, but I puff up my cheeks in anger.

“I’m sorry, Aliseteen-sama! Are you hurt?”

“Pay attention to where you’re going! Who do you think I am…”

As I try to scold the maid, stretching out my small body to its fullest, I suddenly stop.

This is it. This is what’s wrong with me.

Aliseteen, you need to have a broader perspective on things. It’s okay, unlike before, I now have Lili, a good conscience, by my side.

I squat down and begin to gather the scattered laundry and put them in the basket.

“Well, Aliseteen-sama, I will take care of that!”

“It’s fine. I was the one who collided with you. Besides, it’ll be much faster if we do it together.”

“Ojo-sama…”

Perhaps because I am small and nimble, I quickly finish picking up the laundry. As I lift my head, the maid has a very happy expression.

“Ojo-sama is very kind.”

“Huh?”

“It was a great help. Thank you very much.”

The maid bows deeply to me and takes the basket away. I just stare at her as she leaves.

Kind, huh. Come to think of it, did anyone say that to me in my previous life?

I’ve received plenty of compliments like “beautiful,” “lovely,” and “perfect,” but I don’t think I’ve ever been praised for my inner qualities.

That’s right. I bullied anyone I didn’t like, and I thought I was the queen of that school.

Maybe that’s why I ended up dying so alone. Just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine.

“…Well, it’s not bad.”

To be thanked and appreciated with a smile. I remember the expression on the housemaid’s face earlier and loosen my puffy cheeks slightly.

“Oh, Aliseteen? Why are you just standing there spaced out without hiding?”

Noa-niisama, who seems to have already finished counting, tilts his head while pointing at me.

“Oh, I completely forgot about hiding!”

“Hahaha, Alise is such a klutz, it’s cute.”

Onii-sama laughs and pets my head. I want him to do it again and extend my index finger, but he doesn’t make a single unpleasant face and once again puts his face against the wall.

I start running again with a “tata” sound. This time, I have to be careful not to collide with anything.

Chapter 14: Curse of Amber

After playing with Noa-niisama to my hearts’ content, I arrived at the garden. On the lunch table with a parasol, various snacks and tea were prepared.

During our game of hide-and-seek, I had asked Lili to prepare this for me.

The weather is so nice today, eating outside is sure to be delicious.

“Lili, thank you.”

I ran over to her and hugged her tightly. Lili smiled softly and patted my head.

“Alise, it’s rare for you to say that.”

At that moment, Leorio-niisama came briskly from behind and said as he looked at me and Lili.

“You don’t need to say thank you, Alise. You are in a position to be respected naturally.”

“Leorio-niisama.”

“Come over here.”

I slipped out of Lili’s arms and jumped into my big brother’s arms as he reached out to me. He hugged me and gave my amber hair a kiss.

Leorio-niisama, as his name “Leo Lion” suggests, is a strong and sturdy person like a lion. Onii-sama in front of me now is about ten years old, but he’s tall and well-built, and he has the same amber hair as me, making him a handsome man.

If anything happened to me, Leorio-niisama would come flying over and stare down the opponent. He always boasted that when his older brother Harry-niisama inherited the title, he would become a soldier and work hard for the country.

“Alise is so cute. She’s still so small.”

“Just a minute, Onii-sama. I’m already turning seventeen, so don’t treat me like a child.”

After glaring at Leorio-niisama, I suddenly realized something from his surprised expression. I’m not sixteen years old, but only five.

What am I doing?

“Fu, fufu. I wanted to grow up quickly, so I ended up acting like an older sister.”

“Is that so? But you’re still a lovely lady now.”

Onii-sama is so sweet to me, but he’s extremely cold to other women. Every time he compares me to them, he praises me by saying ‘Aliseteen is better.’

I’ve lived with it as the norm since I was little, but it’s not normal.

If I want to change myself, I also have to do something about my brothers’ ‘Aliseteen supremacy.’

I stare at Leorio-niisama’s eyes with an upward glance as I rest in his arms. The Duke Quatra family has a tradition of beautiful amber-colored eyes and hair, and it seems like a curse that cannot be escaped.

“What’s wrong? Why are you staring at me like that?”

Leorio-niisama gently touches my cheek with concern, sensing that something is different from usual.

Even though my brother is so kind to me, he never came to visit me once while I was imprisoned.

I’ve even overheard the guards outside the cell talking about it before.

——Aliseteen Quatra, known throughout the land, was a pitiful woman abandoned even by her own family.

if it’s the case

Even though my brother is kind to me like this, deep down he may be looking down on me.

Thinking that way, I can’t make a convincing smile.

“…It’s nothing, Onii-sama. Let’s hurry and have lunch.”

As I quickly averted my gaze, I slipped out of my brother’s arm with a childish gesture.

Chapter 15: Julian through Aliseteen

ーー

“Aliseteen. Today, we’ve been invited to the royal villa. Why don’t you come with us?”

One afternoon, while playing with dolls with Noa-niisama in the children’s room on the fourth floor, Otoo-sama called out to me.

The royal villa is one of the country houses located in a climate-friendly area not far from the capital city, where you can enjoy horseback riding, hunting, and a beautiful rose garden. I have enjoyed afternoon tea there many times.

Although the Quatra family also owns several country houses, the royal villa is undoubtedly exceptional.

“That’s such a nice place.”

“What? You’ve never been there before.”

“Well!”

I hate it when I can’t behave like a five-year-old and my sixteen-year-old self shows up.

But it can’t be helped. After all, people can’t change that easily.

“That’s not true! I can change!”

I shout at myself in my head. I never want to feel that way again. Even now, I have nightmares and wake up crying several times a week.

Every time that happens, Lili comes to me and gently embraces me. Thanks to her, I am somehow able to live a peaceful life.

If she weren’t here, I would probably spend my days curled up in a corner of my room, covered in a blanket, scared of the future that is yet to come. I need to thank Lili again.

“What’s wrong with you? You’ve been talking nonsense for a while now. Are you feeling unwell?”

Otoo-sama lifted me up as I made various facial expressions and frowned in concern.

“Should I take you to see a doctor right now, or should you rest in a place with clean air?”

“I’m fine, Otoo-sama! There’s nothing wrong with me!”

Even I think I look creepy right now. But it can’t be helped. The five-year-old and sixteen-year-old versions of myself are living in the same body.

I can’t tell anyone about it because if I say something like that, they might think I have a mental illness.

“Are you sure? Are you just trying to endure it?”

“I’m not enduring anything. I’m perfectly fine.”

“However…”

Since Otoo-sama doesn’t seem to be convinced, I resort to my final option.

“I love you, Otoo-sama.”

I hug his neck and kiss his cheek while being lifted up. His faint mustache tickles me, but I have to endure it.

“Oh Aliseteen, you’re such a cute child. You’re like an angel.”

“Don’t call a doctor or anything, Otoo-sama.”

“Of course not, I won’t do anything you dislike.”

As he rubs against me, it tickles even more. I pretend to smile happily and gently move away from Otoo-sama’s face.

Now, let’s get back on topic. I have to go to the royal villa now.

As I switch my focus, memories from the past come flooding back. Come to think of it, I first met Julian-sama at that townhouse.

Even as a child, I was captivated by his beauty. And I was shocked that he wasn’t kind to me.

So I became even more obsessed. I was determined to make him fall for me and become his wife.

Julian-sama’s appearance was surreal. If I stood next to him, I would surely be envied by those around us.

To be honest, the previous me only thought of Julian-sama as a kind of accessory.

After all, he’s not at all kind. Even if he pretends to be meek and submissive, his expression doesn’t change a bit.

I can’t judge others, but aside from his looks, Julian-sama wasn’t particularly charming.

It’s what they call a mutual exchange.

Chapter 16: Now children of each other

After considering various things, I decided to follow Otoo-sama. Perhaps it’s better not to get involved with Julian-sama to avoid a bad ending.

Just because we don’t meet now doesn’t mean we won’t forever, given the Quatra family’s position. So I thought it would be better if I met Julian-sama while we were still young.

If only I could become less arrogant, I’m sure we can avoid that future. It’s a matter of not touching Princess Chai.

“Welcome. Aliseteen, nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, Your Majesty the Queen. I am Aliseteen Quatra, the eldest daughter of the Quatra family.”

Wrapped in the honey-colored evening dress chosen by Lili, I smile and curtsy.

Katrina, the current king’s wife and Julian’s mother. The impression I have of her is that she is a very beautiful person. That’s all, there doesn’t seem to be anything else particularly noteworthy about her.

She’s not particularly strong-willed or decisive, but she’s harmless and inoffensive. As someone who would become a future mother-in-law, she was very good.

“Even though she’s only five years old, she’s very smart.”

“It’s an honor to be praised by Her Majesty the Queen.”

“And your face is as lovely as an angel’s.”

Internally, I nod in agreement. Otoo-sama seems very satisfied that I’m being praised.

“Today, I want to introduce Julian. Can you bring him here?”

“As you wish.”

As expected of a maid from the royal family, her behavior and appearance are flawless. However, I prefer Lili much more. Because she’s not here today, I feel a sense of unease in my chest.

After a while, Julian-sama from his childhood days arrives, accompanied by his nursemaid. I’m surprised for a moment, but I’m also only five years old, so it’s only natural that he’s also young.

Julian-sama’s gray eyes take in the irises and emit a very mysterious light. Even if I knew him, I couldn’t help but be captivated by his gaze, but he quickly averted his eyes.

As I thought, Julian-sama has had a bad feeling about me since then. His face is truly beautiful, though.

“Julian, say hello. This is Aliseteen-san from the Duke Quatra family.”

“Nice to meet you, Your Highness Julian. My name is Aliseteen.”

I lift the hem of my dress and smile. Julian-sama only nodded slightly without even looking at me.

“I’m sorry. It’s embarrassing to compare to Aliseteen-san.”

“Not at all. Both of you look very wise and I look forward to seeing your future.”

“Aliseteen-san, would you like to play with Julian for a while?”

The Queen asks me, and I consider my response.

It would be strange to refuse, so I should respond safely.

“Yes, Your Majesty, I would be happy to.”

“Well, that’s lovely. Good for you, Julian.”

Julian-sama stands just behind Her Majesty the Queen, nodding silently with a blank expression.

Back then, perhaps due to my young age, Julian-sama seemed truly charming to me.

Looking back now, I probably didn’t need to cling to him like I did. After all, he didn’t seem to have any interest in me at all.

Still, I couldn’t go against the Queen. So I ran up to Julian-sama and smiled like a five-year-old child.

Chapter 17: Moments in the Rose Garden

Julian-sama is truly someone who has been favored by the gods. He is the fourth prince of the country and has an impeccable status and power, not to mention his appearance. His captivating gray eyes and hair, and his expressionless face, could also be seen as very mysterious.

I have been waiting for him to break his stoic expression in front of me for over ten years.

In just a few months of meeting Princess Chai, I lost everything to her.

“…”

This rose garden, while not as grand as the palace, is abundant in variety and intricately designed, making it a sight that never grows old. I used to love roses. The luxurious and sweet scent, the grand blooms, and the thorns that protect themselves.

“Oh, it’s a bush rose. How lovely.”

This is one of my favorite varieties of roses among many. It’s truly fitting to call it the “Queen of Flowers,” a symbol of majestic beauty that reaches straight up to the heavens.

If it were the old me, I would have been captivated by Julian-sama’s profile. But now, in a sense, I have grown accustomed to it.

The two of us silently walked around the rose garden, and I gazed at the roses instead of him.

“Do you know a lot about roses?”

After walking for a while, Julian-sama suddenly spoke to me. His gaze remained unchanged and did not shift towards me.

“I wouldn’t say I know a lot about them, but I do like them.”

“Are you really five years old?”

His words surprised me, causing me to stop in my tracks. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was the one to say that, but it was true that I wasn’t really five years old on the inside, so Julian-sama’s remark was accurate.

“Does that mean I look mature?”

“Yes, that’s how you come across.”

“Well, I’m honored. I behave that way on purpose.”

I couldn’t let my pride allow me to behave too childishly, so I covered it up with appropriate words. As long as I smiled and appeared cute, everything should be fine.

“As a Duke Quatra’s daughter, you can have your way with anything. You don’t have to act all grown up to be allowed to have any whims you want.”

“Well, that’s certainly not wrong.”

I was spoiled and allowed to do whatever I pleased, and no one ever scolded me. If anyone did, my family would crush them with their power.

For me, that was just the norm.

“But what lies beyond that? I wonder what awaits us.”

I narrow my eyes as I gaze into the distance.

“I’m sure you think you’ve obtained everything there is to have, but that’s probably only how you see it.”

“…”

Julian-sama doesn’t say anything in response, and it startles me. My words may have been too childish.

“Besides, Your Highness has a much more wonderful life than I do. After all, you come from a legitimate royal bloodline. You can have everything you want.”

That’s why you abandoned me, your fiancée, and chose Princess Chai. The power of the royal family rendered the Quatra family’s power meaningless.

“Are you angry about something?”

I may have spoken with a sharp tongue because of my past resentment. Julian-sama’s grey eyes gaze at me innocently and silently.

I wonder if he has ever looked at me like this before. Or maybe I just don’t remember?

“I’m not angry or anything like that. It’s too humble of you to think that way.”

“…”

“Anyway, would you like to talk about something more fun?”

I thought that if we continued talking, I might reveal too much, so I quickly changed the subject. Being five years old is convenient at times like this. Even if there is no connection between topics, it’s forgiven because I’m a child.

“I don’t really like talking to people. Especially someone like you, who comes from such a prestigious family.”

“Wha…”

I almost retorted, but I clenched my small fist tightly and endured it.

“I see. Shall we continue our walk then?”

I smiled and resumed walking. Julian-sama seemed surprised, but it didn’t matter to me.

Chapter 18: I’ll keep my distance

“Welcome back, Aliseteen. Did you enjoy your walk with his Highness?”

“Yes, very much. The rose garden here is truly beautiful.”

I run over to Otoo-sama and he gently strokes my head. Although his question’s answer is slightly off, Otoo-sama gives me a strange look, but I pretend not to notice and smile.

I am enveloped in a pleasant scent, and it seems like I even smell like roses.

As I sniff my own scent, I catch Julian-sama’s gaze.

Well, this is rare. He hardly ever looks my way.

Resentment from the past wells up inside me, and I confirm that no one is looking before I turn my head away with a huff.

Don’t think that I’ll like you again the second time, Julian-sama. I can’t be disrespectful due to our positions, but I’m no longer interested in you.

But still, your face is so beautiful. I could gaze at it forever.

When I looked back at him again, our eyes met once more. Julian-sama turned his face away from me, just as I did earlier.

What a terrible personality he has.

Trembling with anger, I leaned against Otoo-sama.

“Otoo-sama, I’m tired.”

“Ah, I see. Then let’s say goodbye.”

When I pretended to rub my sleepy eyes, Otoo-sama kindly picked me up in his arms.

Goodbye Julian-sama. I hope we’ll meet again sometime in the far future.

As expected, I am still only five years old. Once I dislike someone, I cannot stand them. From then on, I did not look at him again and left the royal residence in Otoo-sama’s arms.

ーーSeveral days later, Julian-sama seems to be coming here for some reason today. Since morning, I have been sticking close to Lili and not leaving her side.

“Oh my, Oh my, Aliseteen-ojosama.”

Despite looking troubled, Lili does not reject me. As someone who is completely captivated by her, I inhale the sweet scent that emanates from her with my tiny lungs.

“His Highness will be here soon, so let’s get ready.”

“Do I really have to? I don’t want to see him.”

“Well, it can’t be helped.”

I grab the hem of her apron dress and pouts as she bends down to the same eye level as me, smiling gently.

“Everyone has things they’re not good at. But encountering someone is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Everything has meaning.”

“…I’m sure there’s no meaning in spending time with Julian-sama.”

No matter how close we become, in the end, I will be abandoned. What meaning could there be in a road that leads to such a despairing future?

Lili patiently comforts me, despite my stubborn reluctance. She empathizes with my feelings and gently advises me.

Strangely, her words penetrate my heart without any resistance.

“Any experience will surely become an important key that will save Ojo-sama someday. If you ever feel lost, let’s think together with Lili?”

“…Yes, I understand.”

As a devout follower of Lili, I nod vigorously at her words. And I vow once again in my heart that I will never do anything foolish like firing her in this new life, no matter what happens.

“I’ll prepare to welcome Julian-sama!”

“Leave it to this Lili …”

I stand up, put my hands on my hips and spread my chest. Lili giggles and gently strokes my head.

Now, come at me from anywhere, Julian-sama. This Aliseteen won’t run or hide!

Chapter 19: I’m Not Interested Anymore

Julian-sama and a group of people arrived at our mansion on a carriage. I greeted them at the entrance hall while wearing a light pink dress adorned with lots of frills.

My parents, three older brothers, and the mansion’s servants lined up and welcomed Julian-sama’s arrival with smiles.

I am already sixteen years old. It is easy to put on a facade. Although I felt annoyed internally, I put on a childish smile as I welcomed them.

Since it was a little early for afternoon tea, my parents ordered us to entertain Julian-sama.

“Shall we guide you around the mansion?”

“How about the library?”

“Or horseback riding?”

My older brothers made various suggestions, but Julian-sama didn’t seem interested in any of them. His gray eyes, which revealed no emotion, only flickered with boredom.

Come to think of it, Julian-sama was always like this. He was indifferent to anything that did not interest him, and lacked social graces and appearance.

I realized that I only liked his face.

Even with that expressionless face, it shines so brilliantly.

“I’m going over there.”

I got bored of this situation, so I decided to take advantage of my five-year-old nature. Children at this age can’t stand boredom.

“A-Aliseteen?”

“I want to see the lake.”

I said that and ran off. Lili and several other servants hurriedly followed behind me.

This is probably a visit to make the engagement talk clear. Maybe the parents have already decided on everything.

Since it can’t be avoided, I have no intention of resisting. But I’m not going to flatter Julian-sama like I used to just to please him.

“Well, it’s a nice breeze…”

A small hill on the grounds. From here, you can see the lake far away. It’s quite rare to be able to see this view from the townhouse around the capital.

I used to play here a lot with Onii-sama when I was a child, but I stopped going there as I grew up.

But it’s because of the wind that my hair is all messed up.

Under the warm sunlight, the lake sparkles and glitters. If I touch it, it must feel smooth and pleasant.

I rarely used to play in the water, but maybe I’ll ask Otoo-sama to do it this time. It’s the privilege of regression to be able to do things that I couldn’t do before.

As my amber-colored hair is played with by the wind, I hear the sound of shoes stepping on the grass behind me. When I turn around, Julian-sama is standing there, staring at me with his usual unreadable face.

I’m surprised that he followed me, but I smile without showing it on my face.

“Julian-sama.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m looking at the lake.”

I say only that and quickly avert my eyes from Julian-sama. Why did he follow me when I just left?

I’ve never been able to understand what Julian-sama is thinking, even from the past.

“If you don’t mind, would you like to join me?”

This is just a polite invitation. Julian-sama probably won’t accept it.

Despite thinking that way, he comes silently by my side. I can’t help but make a face.

“Why are you making such a face?”

“Huh…?”

“Do you hate me?”

I never expected Julian-sama to ask me such a question.

The way he talks now sounds much younger than the Julian-sama I remember. However, the atmosphere around him doesn’t feel like that of a five-year-old.

“I don’t hate you. Not at all.”

“Then you’re not interested?”

“Why do you ask such a thing?”

In response to my question, Julian-sama turns his gray eyes towards the lake.

“I just wish that were the case.”

At that moment, a strong wind blows and my long hair scatters into the sky again.

Chapter 20: Misunderstood Words

What’s that supposed to mean? Is it a big insult?

I stare at Julian-sama with a stern expression, not understanding his intentions.

Even though we only met recently, does he really hate me that much?

“I’ve never had anyone say anything mean to me before.”

“Yes?”

“That’s what I hate about it.”

A refreshing breeze rustles through Julian-sama’s gray hair. He tickles his forehead with his fingers.

“I can tell when someone’s thoughts and their face don’t match. And you’re particularly easy to read.”

“Well, I am still a child.”

Surely, a real child wouldn’t say something like that. Julian-sama seemed to feel the same, as he slightly relaxed his cheeks at my words.

“If you don’t like me, I wish you would have been honest and told me.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I’m tired of lies.”

Even though he’s only five years old, he’s already tired of lies. He was born into the royal family and raised in the best environment, and on top of that, he looks this beautiful. A little lie here and there is unavoidable.

Maybe Julian-sama is a more selfish person than I am.

“Will you forgive me for what I am about to say?”

“Yeah.”

Originally, I was planning on keeping my distance. If the engagement talk disappears, the probability of my death will be even lower.

If I’m not his fiancée, I won’t envy Princess Chai, and everything will be resolved.

That’s why I didn’t want to make any mistakes in my speech.

In the past and now, I really only like Julian-sama’s appearance.

“That’s a spoiled way of thinking.”

I say this sharply while looking into Julian-sama’s eyes. He briefly widened his eyes in surprise.

“You can get anything you want, so you should be satisfied with what you have.”

“Anything I want…”

“Whether what you’re saying is true or false doesn’t matter, does it?”

Since you’re a prince, no one can oppose you anyway. So why not use that position to live happily?

“Julian-sama has been blessed since the moment he was born into the royal family.”

“…”

I snort and put on a face of superiority.

Compared to me, Julian-sama’s problems are nothing.

“You promised, didn’t you? That you’ll forgive me no matter what I say.”

“Yeah, I did promise.”

“Then please don’t be angry.”

Maybe I wasn’t acting very mature with a five-year-old. I ended up unleashing my past resentment onto Julian-sama in front of me.

He looks at me with unreadable eyes and speaks quietly.

“You have a really bad personality.”

With those words, my body trembles. He dared to say that to me after I told him to be honest.

I’m so angry that…

“…No, that’s not it.”

It’s not anger that’s causing my body to shake. It’s fear.

“I…I haven’t changed at all.”

My face quickly paled. Julian-sama seemed shaken by my sudden change in behavior.

“Lili…Lili…!”

“Ojo-sama.”

Lili, who had been waiting behind us, rushed over to me. I clung onto her as she lifted me up gently.

“I apologize, Your Highness Julian. It seems that Aliseteen-ojosama has fallen ill.”

“What, all of a sudden?”

I couldn’t spare any concern for Julian-sama at the moment.

“No, no…”

I could only tightly close my eyes and tremble in fear as the image of my own death flashed before me like a revolving lantern.

Chapter 21: Yes, I have a personality

“Oh no, I messed up…”

Now in my room, drinking warm milk with honey, I finally calmed down and was tormented by regret.

It was unacceptable for me to lose my composure in front of Julian-sama like that.

No, it was Julian-sama’s fault to begin with. After all, he treated me like that in the past. And then he had the nerve to say “you have a bad personality”?

If he said something like that, it’s not strange for me to have flashbacks. Which one of us is really twisted?

“…No, that’s not it. It’s not him, it’s me.”

The one I was really afraid of was not Julian-sama, but myself.

Thanks to Lili, I thought I had grown into a much “better person” than before, and that’s how it should be.

But when he said that clearly, I reflected on my own words.

——I am me after all.

Looking back now, I think Julian-sama was troubled at the time. It was hard to understand, but he was easier to understand than before.

Adults, filled with lies, are trying to get close to him because of his position as the fourth prince. Most people see Julian-sama as a ‘prince’ and don’t seem to care about who he really is.

I didn’t try to get close to him like that. I cut him off and told him not to be so picky. He’s just a five-year-old boy after all.

“Well, it’s true that I can’t deny having a bad personality…”

Although it annoys me when Julian-sama says that, I honestly reflected on the fact that I didn’t have the mindset of a kind person.

I may be Aliseteen, but I’m not the same as I used to be.

Now, I’m a person who constantly reflects on myself and keeps myself updated.

I can’t keep being afraid of my past memories forever. It’s time to accept it, Aliseteen.

“I have a bad personality! It’s bad!”

First, I have to accept myself.

As I raised my clenched fist high and repeated “I have a bad personality!” several times, Lili, who seemed to have been in the room without me noticing, hugged me tightly with tears in her eyes.

“What should we do, Ojo-sama! Oh, Ojo-sama!”

“Li-Lili, calm down. I’m perfectly fine.”

“Ojo-sama—!”

From now on, let’s use a quieter voice. I don’t want to burden her with unnecessary worries.

“Speaking of which, has Julian-sama already left?”

I slipped out of Lili’s arms and asked her.

“If it’s His Highness, he’s just returning now. That’s why I was going to call for Ojo-sama.”

“Thank you, Lili. I’ll go.”

I flipped my frilly dress and hurried to Julian-sama. It would be embarrassing to part ways like this, as I don’t know when we’ll meet again.

“Julian-sama!”

I ran down the spiral staircase and caught my breath, holding my chest with my small hand.

“Aliseteen, are you feeling well?”

“I apologize for earlier. Sometimes I just lose control.”

Julian-sama’s grey eyes flicker as he stares at me intently.

“Is something wrong?”

“Yes, it’s my personality.”

When I smile, I can tell that everyone except for me in the room holds their breath.

“Aha, haha.”

After a while of staring blankly, Julian-sama bursts out laughing loudly. He laughs like a child, cackling uncontrollably.

“You’re funny. You’re not what I imagined.”

“Oh, um…”

“I’ll see you again.”

His smile disappears immediately, and his usual poker face returns, but his back as he gets into the carriage looks satisfied.

“…”

Come to think of it, that was the first time I ever saw him laugh.

Chapter 22: Betrothal to Him Ordained

A month had passed since then. I was summoned by my parents and told that the engagement with Julian-sama had been arranged.

“From now on, Aliseteen will have to learn to behave like a lady so that she won’t be ashamed as a Duke’s daughter.”

As my mother stroked my head, she spoke in a gentle tone.

“Of course, it’s Aliseteen we’re talking about. It’s no surprise that His Highness has taken a liking to her after only a few meetings.”

“Of course. Our Aliseteen is the cutest in the world.”

While vaguely listening to their conversation, my mind remained calm. Even before, I was engaged to him. It wasn’t just because Julian-sama took a liking to me, but because our social statuses matched.

But, I remember seeing him smile like that for the first time. Maybe I just don’t remember.

“… No, that’s not it.”

I have never once been smiled at by Julian-sama. I longed for it so much that I hated Princess Chai for it.

No other woman should be smiled at by him.

When I reached out to push her off the stairs, I definitely thought to myself that she should just disappear from this world if she’s going to be treated kindly by Julian-sama.

“Hmm? Did you say something just now?”

“No, nothing?”

I put on an angelic smile and jumped off the sofa, looking up at Otoo-sama with a coy expression.

“Is the conversation over? Can I go now?”

“Well, Aliseteen.”

Both of them looked at me with gentle smiles. Despite their kindness, I knew deep down that I would still be abandoned. Every time I thought about it, my heart ached.

“Come to think of it, the maids have been saying that Aliseteen has been very kind lately.”

“Huh, is that true?”

“Yeah, it’s true.”

That’s a very good sign. Julian-sama once said to me ‘you have a bad personality’, but I’m starting to change for the better after all.

Feeling happy, I look towards Lili with shining eyes. She also smiles warmly at me.

You’re doing well, Aliseteen. But in order to avoid a bad ending, you need to become even kinder.

“But Aliseteen, you don’t have to worry about the servants, do you?”

“That’s right, Aliseteen. We’re all part of the Duke family.”

My parents’ smiles as they say this are also warm like Lili’s. But for some reason, I couldn’t nod obediently.

Chapter 23: Favorite Places Ruined

ーー

The strength of my family, the Duke Quatra family, lies in our vast territory. We have a relatively large amount of flat land, and the balance between natural features such as forests and lakes and residential areas where people live is exquisite. We are blessed with a climate where crops and animals can thrive.

Having a large population has many advantages, but it also means that conflicts can easily arise. Otoo-sama skillfully uses his many subordinates to quell problems while they are still small. And he regularly holds events that provide entertainment and stimulate the fighting spirit of the people.

For example, we hold a contest to see who can grow the biggest Luvalantia pumpkin, which is one of our specialty products in the Quatra territory. We also select the person who has produced the highest quality wine that year and present it as a gift to the king.

Otoo-sama is highly skilled in the art of winning hearts and minds.

Thanks to the comfortable living environment and the excitement generated by such events, there is no shortage of commoners who wish to move to Quatra territory. For this reason, the assets of the Duke Quatra family continue to grow year by year.

“Your father is talented at amassing wealth.”

A small hill overlooking a lake within the Duke Quatra estate. I had Otoo-sama build a gazebo here, and I would often play here.

As I grew older, I stopped playing outside, so I didn’t come here anymore.

This is my favorite place now. It’s a great place to be alone and think while being blown by the gentle breeze.

And yet.

“I might inherit this place, so it wouldn’t hurt to study from now on.”

Julian-sama in front of me murmured something like a monologue, completely ignoring my feelings.

It’s been two years since we got engaged. I’m now seven years old and on track to becoming an ordinary young lady.

…Well, not really.

The environment is a scary thing. No matter how hard I try, everyone around me spoils me. It’s no wonder that a child under ten years old would have a distorted view of values.

Occasionally, my past self resurfaces and I cry to Lili about it, but lately, I’ve been feeling like even that has its limits.

“Nevertheless, this is truly a wonderful place. When I look at that lake, I feel like trivial things don’t matter.”

“That Julian-sama.”

I sigh heavily without trying to hide it and glare at him. It’s a behavior that my previous self could not imagine.

And the same can be said for Julian-sama. It’s been almost two years since our engagement, and he has visited my mansion many times on his own accord. I don’t think he likes me, and he mutters things that I can’t understand before leaving, seeming satisfied with his own thoughts.

I find this scarier in a way.

I have no idea what he’s thinking.

“What?”

“Is Julian-sama having fun being here?”

“Uh, somewhat.”

I can’t believe how cheeky he is for a seven-year-old.

Unlike before, I no longer try to flatter Julian-sama and have completely stopped pretending to be someone else around him.

He only smiled at me once, and that was it. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself at all by coming here.

“Aren’t you having fun?”

“Can’t you tell by looking at my face?”

“Well, I wonder.”

Lili! Help me!

I sent an SOS glance to Lili, who was standing behind me with watery eyes, but she just smiled kindly. I somehow felt like I could see through Lili’s thoughts.

——It’s great that Ojo-sama is having fun.

Stop it! I’m not having fun at all!

Disturbed during this elegant moment, I pouted my lips.

“Even if we’re engaged, we can’t kiss in a place like this.”

Who said anything about wanting a kiss!

Chapter 24: Because I got bored

How ironic. I was by his side for over a decade, yet it’s only been these past two years that I’ve become intimately familiar with his character, as I have been so reluctant to be involved with him.

I used to think that Julian-sama was always expressionless, but upon closer observation, that’s not entirely true. Well, he’s still a child, so he may not be able to hide his expressions completely.

Besides, he’s very self-centered and doesn’t listen to what others have to say.

Now that we are engaged, there’s nothing I can do about it. Even if I struggle, breaking off the engagement between our families is not easy. Given my history of taking advantage of such customs, I’m certain there’s no mistake in what I’m saying.

Before worrying about the engagement between him and me, I have to deal with the fact that I’m the one who caused my past self to die. Julian-sama as he is now is only an obstacle to me as I try to better myself.

“Her Majesty the Queen is apparently going to give you around twenty dresses soon.”

“Well, 20 dresses! I wonder if they will fit in my closet. I should probably get rid of some of the dresses I already have…”

No, that’s not good! That kind of thinking is one of the reasons why I can be so selfish.

I calm my glittering eyes with a blink and clear my throat, then turn to Julian-sama sitting next to me.

“Could you please tell the queen for me, Julian-sama? I appreciate it very much, but I can’t accept so many dresses.”

“Why not?”

“Well, it’s because I want to cherish the dresses I already have. And if I could receive just one present from the queen, I would cherish it very much.”

I finish speaking and stand up confidently. Yes, this is the behavior of a good, modest young lady. No matter how much wealth one has, a well-mannered person never indulges in luxuries.

Julian-sama looked at me and blinked his eyes a few times. Then, without any expression, he pointed his slender index finger towards my chest.

“You don’t really think that, do you?”

“I..”

“Why lie? To please her Majesty? Well, don’t worry, she’s more extravagant than you are…”

Gatan!

Before he finished speaking, I stood up from the bench with force. Without hiding my red face, which was flushed with anger, I stared at him with all my might.

“What do you know about my feelings! Don’t speak as if you know everything!”

“Aliseteen.”

“I don’t want to talk to you anymore!”

Facing away from him as if a sound was about to go off, I quickly ran towards Lili and hugged her. Although my big eyes were about to overflow with tears, I gritted my teeth and held them back.

“Ojo-sama, about His Highness…”

“I know! I’ll apologize later, but right now, I just want to go home!”

“Ojo-sama…”

I hold onto Lili’s waist and stubbornly refuse to look at Julian-sama. Amidst the commotion of Lili and the other Quatra servants panicking, only Julian-sama’s calm voice was oddly resonating.

“Don’t worry about me, just take Aliseteen and go home.”

“Your Highness.”

“Come on, hurry up.”

Lili apologized to him several times on my behalf, but I didn’t care and jumped onto the Quatra’s carriage.

I never want to see Julian’s face again.

Chapter 25: Let’s apologize

——So, punishment has finally come. It’s the retribution for being able to do whatever she wanted.

——That’s perfect. Nobody will sympathize with you.

——Those who cannot consider others’ feelings will never be loved by anyone.

“Annoying, irritating, irritating!! I know that…!”

Alone in my room, I claw at my beautiful amber-colored hair in frustration. These are not delusions, but the words spoken to me while I am being judged.

“No…I am not the same person I was back then…”

I repeat these words like a mantra, placing my hand on my heart and consciously taking slow breaths.

Today, I lost my temper without meaning to. I never intended to act that way towards Julian-sama, but I was caught off guard and angry. What was I thinking?

In the past, I had a way of dealing with this anger. I vented it on others. I bullied and scorned those I disliked to relieve my own frustration.

“I truly am the worst…”

Looking back now, I can’t help but feel sorry for myself. Maybe everyone was right, I was never loved by anyone. If I weren’t the Duke’s daughter of the Quatra family and engaged to Julian-sama, nobody would have even given me a second glance.

My appearance was all I had, my inside was empty.

“…If it’s empty, I just have to fill it up from now on.”

I wiped away my tears with my hand and looked up. I’ve regretted it countless times for the past two years. I can’t just live like a weeping child anymore.

“I’ll become a kind lady who can sympathize with people’s hearts!”

I’ve said this to myself so many times since my life was turned upside down. With a snort, I thrust my fist straight up towards the sky.

“But first, I need to apologize. I have to apologize to Julian-sama about today.”

I took out a stationery with a floral pattern from the desk and shook my head as I held the pen. I’ve never written an apology letter in my entire life.

Even if I do something like this, I’m afraid I’ll be told again, “Your actions don’t match your heart.”

But what Julian-sama said is right. I’m just desperately trying to be a good person.

“It’s not always easy to get things right…”

As I murmured those words, my hand trembled and the ink on the paper smeared. I quickly replaced it with a new sheet of paper.

The next day, feeling inspired, I went straight to the villa where Julian-sama lived. He usually lived in a separate villa close to the palace. All of his siblings lived in the palace, but I envied Julian-sama for having such freedom.

Being able to do as you please where your parents can’t see you is the best environment.

“Aliseteen.”

“I apologize for the sudden visit, Julian-sama. I just wanted to apologize for yesterday.”

While I grinned, Julian-sama had his usual poker face. But at least he let me in, so it seemed like he wasn’t angry.

A variety of colorful sweets are lined up one after another in front of me as I am led into the reception room. The simple yet tasteful teacups and saucers also catch my eye.

“That, Julian-sama, is…”

“It’s an apology from yesterday.”

“An apology? But why?”

I am the one who should apologize for my disrespectful attitude towards his Highness the Prince, not him. Besides, Julian-sama would never do such a thing to me.

“Because I hurt you.”

Julian-sama’s gray eyes tremble ever so slightly. I am also shaken and can only manage to express my gratitude with a single word.

Chapter 26: I noticed it for the first time

Twirling my amber-colored, thin hair around my fingers, I think absentmindedly.

Until now, I had always thought that Julian-sama had no strengths other than his appearance and status. I even believed that he should be grateful for being engaged to someone like me.

But that was a big mistake.

The reason I can barely manage to act like a good girl now is because I’ve reversed my life. It’s only because I know about that terrible outcome that I’m trying so hard to be good.

While apologizing for hurting me with his sorrowful eyes, Julian-sama offers me a lot of sweets, even though he’s not on his second life like me.

“Aliseteen, are you okay? Couldn’t you find anything you like?”

Julian-sama is certainly different. He’s expressionless and unreadable, and doesn’t treat me kindly as his fiancee. But that doesn’t prove that he’s not a kind person.

“Well…that’s just how it is…”

I mutter quietly, as sixteen-year-old me.

Julian-sama simply disliked me. I didn’t want to accept it, so I looked down on him. He doesn’t recognize my worth just because he has flaws himself. Eventually, he’ll realize and appreciate me.

“Hey, is everything okay?”

Julian-sama’s eyes now appear concerned. Looking at him like this, he’s not completely expressionless after all. Perhaps it was only towards the previous me that he was like that.

To those around me, I must have appeared ridiculous. I couldn’t admit to being disliked and pretended as though I was the one chosen by Julian-sama.

“…It’s nothing. I’m just lamenting my foolishness.”

“Huh?”

Julian-sama furrows his brow in confusion.

I stare at him and mutter to myself.

“You were good from the start. You are completely different from me.”

“Aliseteen…? What are you talking about?”

“Julian-sama is charming just the way he is, as Julian-sama.”

I am Aliseteen Quatra, the daughter of Duke Quatra. Other than that, I have no value.

…Wait, why am I feeling so down, Aliseteen? It’s not worth it for Julian-sama to maybe turn out to be a good person.

After lowering my head once, I raise it forcefully. The current Aliseteen will never be discouraged. If I am, I would end up dying like that again.

“… Hey, Alisete—” “Julian-sama!”

Cutting off his words, I tightly grabbed his hand with both of mine. Ignoring his confusion, I sparkled my eyes.

“I’m going to live by being a role model to many people from now on!”

“A-A role model?”

“Yes, that’s right!”

I used to blame everything on the environment, but I realized that Julian-sama was different. Even though he could punish me for disrespecting him, given his position, he didn’t. The current Julian-sama doesn’t rely on being a prince.

I should learn from that.

“Everything is for me to become a good girl!”

“Do you want to be a good girl?”

“Yes! This is the truth inside my heart, without any lies!”

I pointed to my chest with my index finger, just as he did to me earlier. Julian-sama looked baffled for a moment, but then chuckled.

“I’ve never met a girl like you before.”

“Is that a compliment?”

“Of course.”

This is the second time I’ve seen Julian-sama smile. Despite his face usually as beautiful as a sculpture, when he smiles, he looks like a child. Actually, he was genuinely a child now.

“I want to know more about you.”

“Huh?”

“Let’s be friends from now on.”

Julian-sama kissed the back of my hand while holding it. Seeing me frozen like a statue, he then gave me a mischievous smile.

昔はよく気に入らない令嬢をNoa-niisamaに誘惑してもらい,その後でただの遊びだとどん底に突き落としたりしていた.

“着るものを選んでと言ったのは私なのに,全部嫌がってばかりで.”

…今思えば私って,本当にとんでもない女だったのよね.死んでせいせいしている人達が一体どのくらいいるのかしら.

頭の中の私を大声で怒鳴りつける.もう絶対にあんな思いは嫌だ.今だって週に何度も,悪夢にうなされては泣きながら目覚める.

In the past, I used to ask Noa-niisama to seduce the young ladies I didn’t like, and then leave them in despair after playing with them.

“I was the one who told you to choose what to wear, but all I do is complain about everything.”

… Looking back now, I was truly a terrible woman. I wonder how many people are relieved that I’m dead.

I shout at myself in my head. I never want to feel that way again. Even now, I have nightmares and wake up crying several times a week.

Chapter 27: Aliseteen, turns eight

“Lili, look! I embroidered this handkerchief really well, didn’t I?”

Fluttering the hem of my dress, I jumped towards Lili’s waist. She stumbled a bit, but firmly hugged me.

“Look, look at this flower!”

“Well, Ojo-sama, it’s very lovely. You’ve improved a lot since last time.”

Seeing Lili’s warm smile, I proudly puffed out my chest.

“I learned it from Laura. She’s really good with her hands, and she’s also good at teaching. She has three younger sisters who are much younger than her.”

Laura is one of the housemaids who works for us. I bumped into her and scattered the laundry once.

At that time, sixteen-year-old Aliseteen was strong and angry, but now it’s different.

After that incident, I remembered her face and started talking to her whenever I saw her. And before I knew it, I had become attached to Laura.

It used to be impossible for me to remember the faces and even the names of my servants, let alone call them and be close to them. I used to look down on them as pitiful beings with no status, but they are all kind and have knowledge that I don’t, which makes talking to them interesting.

It has been three years since my life went into reverse. I am now eight years old and becoming cuter day by day, and my beauty is also growing, making me invincible in terms of looks.

As for my personality, it’s still not great. Well, it’s all because of the environment, after all.

With just a snap of my fingers and a few words, almost all of my wishes can be granted in this environment. In addition, the Quatra family is an ancient Duke family that has served the royal family for generations. Otoo-sama is skilled in the art of socializing and doesn’t show his attitude blatantly, but he has the typical aristocratic supremacy at the core.

That’s why the children of the Quatra family naturally grow up thinking that they are the supreme beings, following the tradition.

I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing.

In my case, it was just too much.

“I’ll give this to Lili as a present.”

“I’m very happy, Ojo-sama. However, wouldn’t it be better to give it to His Highness as a gift?”

“…Ugh.”

As soon as that name was mentioned, I let out a frog-like voice and collapsed. Lili blinked at me.

I pursed my lips and muttered under my breath.

“I’m not good with Julian-sama.”

“You always say that, but isn’t His Highness kind to you, Ojo-sama?”

“Kind? Him? Lili and Laura are much kinder.”

Lili narrowed her eyes slightly as she watched me play with my amber hair.

“Do you remember, Ojo-sama? When you were just five years old, you always cried and said you were scared.”

“Of course I remember. Even now, sometimes I come to you crying.”

When I couldn’t control myself, Lili was my mental stabilizer. Whether it was midnight or during work, she always prioritized me.

“Ojo-sama is growing up very straightforwardly. Lili is extremely happy to be relied upon by Ojo-sama.”

“Lili…”

“Because Ojo-sama is like that, we want to give our loyalty wholeheartedly. If the people around her feel kindness from her, it’s because Ojo-sama’s actions are being repaid.”

Her warm words strike my 16-year-old heart and I feel like crying. When I did that at the age of 8, it seemed unnatural, so I clutched my fists tightly and held back my tears.

Oh? Come to think of it, I’m not always 16 years old. If my old self was still alive, she would be 19 years old now. But my original life ended at 16, so it’s a strange story to say I’m 19.

My head is getting confused, so I decide to conclude that Aliseteen is 8 years old.

“In the same way, if Your Highness treats Ojo-sama as she is, I’m sure you’ll become friends.”

“As I am, huh?”

I died before because of that, but there is no way I can tell Lili about it.

“… Yes, I’ll give this handkerchief to Julian-sama as a present!”

“I’m sure he will be delighted.”

Lili’s warm hand caresses my head, and I close my eyes tightly with a pleasant feeling.

For me, who was a bundle of pride, it would have been impossible in the past to hand over a handkerchief to a nobleman myself.

Well, never mind. As Lili said, there’s nothing I can do about things I’m not good at forever.

Once that’s decided, it’s time for action. I carefully fold the handkerchief.

Chapter 28: Aliseteen, teased

After that, I sent a letter to Julian-sama, stating that I would like to see him whenever he had time. A few days later, instead of a reply, his servant arrived at the Quatra house. I had intended to go to see him, but it seems Julian-sama himself came to the mansion.

“I wonder why. It’s really strange.”

As I waited for Julian-sama in the hall, the eight-year-old me was lost in thought. I sat on the couch, swinging my legs and unconsciously swaying my body.

When I was trying so hard to be liked, I was completely ignored. After meeting Julian-sama three years ago, he started coming to see me more and more.

I don’t really know if I’m liked or not, but for some reason, he comes to see me.

We look each other in the eyes and have conversations, and I even see him smile occasionally. Things that were impossible before are happening now.

I’m not sure if this change is due to my age or my current achievements.

To be honest, I’ve even thought about bringing up the idea of ending the engagement with Julian-sama myself. But I’m sure he’s not interested in that kind of talk.

I think it was the same when he was engaged to the old me. It was a marriage between families, not a matter of preference. That was all that mattered to him. His and his partner’s feelings didn’t matter to him at all.

“But it’s much better than before, and I learn a lot from being with Julian-sama.”

Yes, I learned that the environment is important in order to change myself. The power to learn from other people’s good points and absorb them.

There is something I didn’t have before as Aliseteen, and I have it now. So I’m sure everything will be okay.

“Do your best, Aliseteen!”

“What are you doing your best for?”

I raised my fist towards the sky, making a fuss and shouting loudly, only to shrink and shrivel up as I was called out from behind.

“Hello, Aliseteen.”

“J-Julian-sama… Good afternoon.”

I wonder when he came in. Even though he’s just a child, it’s embarrassing to be caught in such a situation.

“Is something wrong? Your face is red.”

Julian-sama’s distinguished face is still beautiful today. He’s eight years old now, and his beauty is only increasing.

“I’m fine! My face isn’t even red!”

“I see. I thought Aliseteen was embarrassed after hearing your loud self-talk earlier.”

“Wha…!”

If he knew that much, why did he bother asking me? He’s so mean!

Looking at me, who is trembling and blushing even more, Julian-sama has a very satisfied expression on his face.

… I have a feeling this person isn’t really a good person.

“Sorry, I’ll stop teasing you now.”

“I don’t care!”

The Quatra family is in a panic as they watch me turn away in anger. Even though I’m just a child, they must be concerned about my attitude towards His Highness.

“Welcome, please come this way.”

“Huh, didn’t you know?”

“Really, do you have to be so mean?”

Lately, I’ve been teased like this all the time and it’s really getting to me. Nobody has ever treated me like this before, so I don’t know how to respond. I can’t get angry either.

“You really have a funny reaction, Aliseteen.”

“I’m honored to receive your compliment, Julian-sama!”

I turned around and, taking advantage of the fact that I couldn’t see Julian-sama’s expression, stuck my tongue out as far as I could.

I started to regret it, wondering if I should have listened to Lili’s advice and not sent the letter after all.

Chapter 29: Mimosa handkerchief

Even at eight years old, he elegantly crossed his legs and enjoyed his tea. I would have been impressed by his sophistication in the past.

In a conservatory full of warm spring sunlight, we were in the middle of enjoying a sophisticated afternoon tea.

“Julian-sama, I have something I want to give you.”

Without delay, I carefully placed a beautifully wrapped handkerchief with embroidery on the table. Julian-sama’s expression remained unchanged as he looked at it with only his eyes, while still holding the teacup with his mouth.

“What is this?”

“It’s a handkerchief. I’ve been studying embroidery lately, and this is the first successful one I’ve made.”

“Why me?”

As he asked that, I tilted my head. If he asked why, the only reason was because Lili told me to give it to him. But if I said that directly, it wouldn’t make him feel good.

After twisting my head for a moment, I put on a bright expression.

“I wanted someone to see it. The results of my hard work.”

“It didn’t have to be me, did it?”

“But Julian-sama never tells lies.”

I said with a casual tone. However, Julian-sama’s eyes widened as if he was surprised.

“I wonder.”

“Well, at least that’s how it seems to me. You’re the only one who doesn’t use flattery on me, Julian-sama.”

My pride is still just a small hill compared to before, so I don’t really think twice about giving him a handkerchief. After all, he’s my fiancé now.

Julian-sama took the handkerchief out of the wrapping paper and just stared at it. Then, he gently traced his finger on the embroidery of a yellow mimosa flower.

“… You’re always so straightforward.”

“It’s rare for Julian-sama to compliment me like that.”

“I’m not complimenting you.”

What a twisted person he is. Maybe I shouldn’t have given him the handkerchief after all.

Puffing out my cheeks without hiding my frustration, I turned away.

After a short silence, I cautiously turned my gaze back to him, and he was still staring at the handkerchief in the same way as before.

“Um, Julian-sama?”

“What is it?”

I’m not good at this kind of thing. Rather, I’ve never done it. I always judged things based on appearances alone and never thought it was a bad thing.

“Are you feeling down about something?”

Again, he widened his eyes and stared at me. What is he so surprised about this time? I don’t understand what children are thinking.

“You surprised me. I didn’t know you were so considerate.”

“No, I’m not. I hate people who try to guess what the other person is feeling.”

Thinking I had gone too far, I covered my mouth with my hand.

Julian-sama didn’t seem angry, and instead eased his cheek slightly.

“You really do have a bad personality.”

“By the way, Julian-sama, you’re just as twisted as I am.”

“I only do it in front of you.”

Julian-sama slowly rises and walks towards me. He gently scoops up my amber hair in his hand.

“Hey, Aliseteen.”

“W-What is it?”

My heart pounds as I see a different side of Julian-sama. I can’t believe I’m affected by the charm of an eight-year-old child. Have I lost my mind?

“Do you remember what you told me a year ago? You said, ‘You’re attractive just the way you are.'”

“…”

Did I say that…?

“That meant a lot to me.”

“Such a small thing?”

“It’s a big thing for me.”

Julian-sama gently closes his eyes and kisses my hair with a delicate motion.

“Thank you for the handkerchief. I’ll cherish it.”

If this expression is a lie, then I think Julian-sama has a worse personality than me.

Chapter 30: Ending up right back where one started

——And then time passed again, and I, Aliseteen Quatra, turned twelve years old.

“Hey, this tea is lukewarm. Why would you serve me something so half-assed? Are you treating me like a child?”

Clang! I make a loud sound as I put the cup on the saucer. Although the tea splattered extravagantly all over the table, it’s not my concern.

“I-I’m terribly sorry, Aliseteen-ojosama. I’ll bring you a new one right away.”

“I don’t need it. I never want to drink tea made by you again.”

I snort and cross my arms. If I signal with my chin to go away, the maid drops her head deeply with a pale face and moves back.

“What’s wrong, Aliseteen? You’re making a fuss since this morning.”

“Okaa-sama.”

My mother appeared in the dining room with elegance. She had the same amber-colored long hair as I did, meticulously curled, and her dress had plenty of frills that elegantly swayed.

“The tea was warm, you see. So I kicked that maid out of the dining room and told her that I never want to see her face again.”

“Oh, I see.”

Mother looked at me with compassionate eyes as I angrily put my hands on my hips.

“You had a terrible morning, poor Aliseteen.”

“I know, right? It’s the worst feeling.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to fire that maid.”

After my three older brothers left for the boarding royal academy, Mother and Father started to dote on me even more than before. I became spoiled and gradually got used to that environment until I realized that I had become selfish Aliseteen once again.

Angry and displeased, I slammed the door to my room after being doused with water during my morning tea. I sat on an antique chair and sighed, slowly calming down.

“Oh…I’ve done it again, haven’t I?”

I twirled my long amber hair around my fingers, wiping away the tears that welled up in my eyes.

Even though I know it’s wrong, I can’t control my emotions when I get angry. Regretting it afterwards is pointless.

“Lili… I miss you so much…”

Lili, who was my stopper and conscience, was fired by Okaa-sama when I was ten years old.

And then I remembered. Why wasn’t Lili beside me before? She was fired just like before.

Lili was the only one who patiently scolded me, but the old me couldn’t stand it. Without her to guide me and tell me what to do, I became even more selfish.

I didn’t have any intention to fire Lili this time, but Okaa-sama, unable to bear seeing me getting too close to the servants, blamed Lili and fired her without my knowledge.

In the beginning, I cried every day and lashed out at those around me, unable to bear the loneliness of losing Lili.

And so, within these two years, I had completely lost control over myself.

“What should I do… even though there are only four years until that awful future.”

I hugged my knees and murmured while twisting all of my hair around my finger, making it curl.

This wasn’t supposed to happen, but it’s all Okaa-sama’s fault. What kind of a horrible parent would just fire Lili without my permission?

I had become accustomed to naturally blaming someone else for my current situation.

Chapter 31: Premonition of the Ball of Tragedy

I haven’t seen Julian-sama’s face for two years. He went to a neighboring country with his uncle, who is also a younger brother of the king, for social studies under the guise of friendship between the two countries. I’m sure Julian-sama didn’t study abroad before. I don’t understand why the world has changed like this.

After Lili disappeared, I became a spoiled Duke’s daughter Aliseteen. But at night, I regretted my actions and cried while trembling with fear of the future that would come someday.

My mental state right now is really messed up.

“Aliseteen, you know tonight is a very important day, right?”

“Um…What was it about again?”

“Well, what are you saying! Tonight is the ball celebrating Julian-dono’s return!”

Come to think of it, that’s right. It was my first official ball as Julian-sama’s fiancée. Okaa-sama had been having dozens of dresses made for a while now. If you add mine and Okaa-sama’s, it was quite a number.

“Now, let’s polish your bodies until they’re shiny. Let’s tie your hair neatly, put on makeup, and wear perfume.”

“… Do I have to go today?”

Okaa-sama didn’t miss my murmured words and opened her already large eyes even wider.

“What’s wrong, Aliseteen! Did something unpleasant happen earlier? Do we need to fire that maid?”

“N-No, that’s not it, Okaa-sama! I’m just nervous because I finally get to meet Julian-sama.”

I hastily wave my hands in front of my chest. I hope I can apologize properly to that maid while I’m still being a good girl. But it’s probably impossible.

Okaa-sama seems to understand my feeble excuse and tickles my cheek with her supple fingers.

“My adorable Aliseteen. I’m sure His Highness Julian is surely looking forward to meeting you. After all, His Highness has been sending letters so frequently.”

“…I see.”

I was too preoccupied with myself to even think about the ball. Even though I had just fired a maid for my bad temper since morning, to be honest, I was only feeling depressed about the ball.

I managed to play it off in the letters, but it wouldn’t be easy to do so in person. Julian-sama seemed to have taken a liking to the current Aliseteen, but that was when Lili was still here.

“Nina, I entrust the preparation of Aliseteen to you. Please make sure everything is perfect.”

“Understood.”

The one who lifted her apron dress and replied obediently was my maid, Nina, who had come to replace Lili. She was very compliant and would follow my orders no matter what, unlike Lili.

Although she was very different from Lili, she was a convenient maid for my selfish self.

“Ojo-sama, please come to your room.”

“Alright, I understand. But don’t come right away. I want to be alone for a little while.”

“Understood.”

Nina answered with an expressionless face and quickly followed behind me.

With a deep sigh, I slowly climbed the stairs to my room.

Although a ball would normally be a thrilling event, it feels like the first stage of condemnation to me now.

The moment I thought that, I remembered the chilly sensation of the prison’s cold floor, and shuddered involuntarily.

No, I must not let that happen. You have to be careful, Aliseteen.

I repeated these words to myself over and over again, stepping on the soft carpet.

However, a few hours later, I found myself yelling and nitpicking over dozens of dresses, unable to make up my mind.

Chapter 32: Fearful footsteps

Come to think of it, this might be the first time I’ve set foot in the palace since my time reverse. Although the several villas owned by the queen and the luxurious mansion where Julian-sama lives are also impressive, the splendor of the palace is exceptional.

“Aliseteen will get used to this soon. Right?”

“Yes. We were the same way.”

Beside Okaa-sama, dressed extravagantly, is her sister and my aunt, Tarna-sama, who is clothed in a similarly gaudy dress. She is accompanying me today.

“Aliseteen is surprisingly cute today.”

“When we meet after a long time, we can really see Alise’s beauty.”

“She can’t be compared to the girls at school.”

Even my three Onii-samas, who usually stay at home, are dressed in formal tailcoats, with multiple shimmering buttons made of jewels.

When the members of the Duke Quatra family, who were known for their beauty, lined up, it was impressive even from my perspective. Of course, I was one of them. My fiery red dress was covered in frills from the waist down. Layers of drapes also adorned the neckline, and my amber-colored thin hair was beautifully curled into vertical rolls.

I didn’t even try to hide the confidence that showed in my expression.

“His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen.”

Blessed by the performance of a well-known orchestra and fanfare that was known throughout the country, the King and Queen appeared. After a long greeting, they loudly called out Julian-sama’s name.

“My son, Julian, is truly brilliant and has blossomed his talents not only within our country but also in other countries. He is the pride of our nation…”

While the King was introducing Julian-sama with great enthusiasm, he (Julian) seemed completely ordinary , as if it was not about himself, just staring straight ahead with his gray eyes.

He looked like he was standing there reluctantly, no matter how you looked at it.

Even after two years, that impudence hasn’t changed. In fact, it seems to have gotten worse.

I keep touching my hair, worried if it’s still in place. To be honest, Julian-sama’s return is the least of my concerns.

“You’re really lovely.”

“You’ll be the most beautiful woman in the country in the future.”

“You’re worthy of becoming the prince’s bride.”

After finishing various greetings to the royal family, my aunt drags me around. I’m praised and complimented wherever we go, and I’m feeling quite pleased with myself, nodding and smiling without any false modesty.

“Aliseteen.”

I turn around as someone calls my name from behind, and there stands Julian-sama. His royal attire only emphasizes his already extraordinary beauty. There are few men who can pull off gold embroidery as well as he does.

He has grown up and lost some of his childlike features, with sharper eyes. His silky hair is neatly groomed, and he’s showing off his face unabashedly.

“Julian-sama.”

“Can we talk over there for a moment?”

“Of course, I’d be happy to.”

Even though I had put on a perfect smile, Julian-sama’s brow furrowed for some reason. He didn’t say anything else and just turned around, as if telling me to follow him.

“Why are we going outside?”

“I don’t feel comfortable here.”

Julian-sama led me out to the balcony. There weren’t many stars out tonight, and it was a little chilly despite it being spring.

I was dissatisfied, thinking that this bright red dress only shines under the chandelier.

“Hey, Aliseteen.”

“What is it, Julian-sama?”

“You seem to have changed a bit.”

At his words, I proudly snorted my nose. Well, of course. I am becoming more and more beautiful as I grow up.

“Julian-sama has also become very charming. No, you have always shone, but even more so now.”

“Can you please stop…”

As I continued to praise him, he suddenly interrupted me coldly.

“You’re no different from any other young lady now. I don’t feel any interest in you anymore.”

“What, what did you say…!”

“In your letter, I didn’t get that impression at all.”

As soon as I was brought outside, I was insulted out of nowhere, and my face turned red like the dress I was wearing.

Still, I hid my true feelings and tilted my head, showing a smile.

“What is the matter with you? I was looking forward to Julian-sama’s return.”

“…Sigh.”

What, why did he sigh at me now?

“You’ve always had a bad personality, but I didn’t dislike you for that.”

“What do you mean?”

“But now, I can’t find any value in you.”

A contemptuous glance was briefly directed at me.

I knew the color of those eyes very well.

Chapter 33: I’m nothing

Tears overflowed from the dress, the tears continued to flow like a flood once they started.

“I wanted to be a good girl…”

The beautiful red dress was now stained with deep crimson tears. The makeup I put on carefully was sure to be a mess.

What a horrible person. Why do I have to hear such things? How cruel.

I don’t want Julian-sama or anything.

“Lili, why did you have to disappear… without you, I…”

Various emotions surfaced and disappeared within me. It felt like there were two of me in one body, and my heart was about to break into pieces.

I want to be a good girl, I don’t want to hurt anyone, and I don’t even want to hurt myself.

Lili, my beloved Lili. Without you, I am nothing.

But, I couldn’t resist. I am a Duke Quatra’s daughter, and I cannot live without that title. No matter how much I am spoiled, there are always things that don’t go my way.

And maybe, somewhere deep down, I was pushing Lili away. Perhaps I thought it was foolish to expect people to be kind, proud, and caring.

So in the end, I went with the easy route, unable to resist my mother’s pressure. I was a useless child.

“…Sorry. I spoke too much.”

Julian-sama said quietly and offered me a handkerchief. I turned my face away and refused it with a flick of my hand.

“If you hate me that much, please end our engagement.”

“Aliseteen.”

“I’m just tired.”

Tears would soak my pillow every night, afraid of the future that awaited me. Feeling guilty after behaving recklessly, tearing my heart apart. Despite being loved so much, I still felt lonely and wished for someone to hold me.

I was just exhausted. If I continued to be Julian-sama’s fiancée and Princess Chai returned to this country as before, I would probably treat her harshly.

And once again, I will die alone, abandoned by everyone. At this point, there’s no way for me to change the future anyway.

So, I might as well enter a convent and live a modest life while devoting myself to God. I’ll try to stay in my room as much as possible and not socialize with anyone, quietly living my life. Although I’ll still be alone, it’s much better than being condemned.

“You’re right, Julian-sama. I’ve completely become a bad child. So please, just leave me alone.”

“Wait, Aliseteen.”

“Goodbye, Julian-sama.”

My tears had dried and my face was twitching. But now, it doesn’t matter anymore. In the end, I couldn’t make use of the chance I was given.

I always blamed the environment, my family or people around me, but in the end, it was just that I myself was an irredeemable fool.

Ignoring Julian-sama’s warning, I lifted my dress and ran away from the scene.

Upon seeing the horrible state that I was in, Okaa-sama and my aunt screamed in terror and became the center of attention in a negative way, but I couldn’t bring myself to put on a façade.

Knowing that there was no reason for me to stay here, I climbed into the carriage before Okaa-sama and the others. Right before that, I made eye contact with Julian-sama, who had followed me while gasping for breath, but I cut off that connection.

Ironically, his cruel words became the trigger that brought me back to my senses.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever be grateful to him.

Chapter 34: At His Mansion

“Ojo-sama, if you don’t eat anything, it will only harm your body more.”

“I don’t want to eat, please leave me alone.”

There was a clinking sound of dishes. Nina faithfully obeyed what I said, so if I said I didn’t want to eat, she wouldn’t force me.

“Madam is also very worried.”

Even though I was told this in a robotic voice, it didn’t resonate at all with me. Besides, Okaa-sama came to check on me from behind the door only once or twice. Normally, she wouldn’t even come close to this floor where my room was located.

“Lili, on the other hand would…”

With my body sunk into the bed, I moved my parched lips slightly. Without a doubt, it was Lili who raised me, not Okaa-sama.

But why did I, the previous me, do such a cruel thing as firing her?

I was swept away by my selfishness, struggling not to become that kind of person. It was so painful and agonizing, that my tears had long dried up.

I had been cooped up in this room for so long, that I couldn’t even bring myself to count the days that had passed.

There was a quiet knock on the door.

I assumed it was Nina and didn’t respond, but the owner of the voice that I heard after the knock was surprisingly someone else.

“Aliseteen, long time no see.”

It was a calm and clear voice without intonation. As soon as I heard it, I knew it was Julian-sama.

I haven’t seen Julian-sama since that terrible ball. I thought he was disgusted with me and had abandoned me because I hadn’t heard from him.

“Can you please open this door?”

For some reason, he came to see me today.

“… No, I don’t want to. Please go back.”

“There’s something I really want to show you today. Come to my mansion.”

“… You said something like that the other day.”

I muttered a resentful comment that he couldn’t hear, but it seemed like Julian-sama had extremely good hearing. He was chuckling for some reason, which made me feel a little uneasy.

“I was the one who was wrong the other day. I was looking forward to seeing you, but I felt a little mean because you were dressed so outrageously.”

“Is that supposed to be an apology…?”

Really, you’re as rude as ever.

“You were talking about the broken engagement the other day.”

My heart responded with a shiver to the phrase “broken engagement.” I shouldn’t care about Julian-sama, yet why do I have to feel this way?

“I hope you’ll come to talk about it. Please, Aliseteen.”

“…You’re a sly person.”

For someone who doesn’t normally speak in that tone, he sure does sound like a cute little bird chirping in these situations.

This feeling is similar to when he kissed my hair before. No matter how sweetly he treat me, I immediately become unsure.

He know this and he do it on purpose.

“…Is it really only today?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

I stand up with a groan and put on some random shoes, then slowly open the door to the room. Julian-sama’s eyes widen for a moment, perhaps surprised by my appearance.

“I’ll take some time to prepare, given my current state.”

“It’s okay if you don’t do it properly. I’ll wait downstairs.”

How ugly I must look reflected in his clear gray eyes. He must be mocking me in his heart as well.

But it doesn’t matter anymore. Whether I’m beautiful or not, the way I will die in the end is so undignified anyway.

After calling Nina and finishing the simple preparations, I got into the carriage prepared by Julian-sama. I had noticed that he had been looking at me the whole time, but I never once met his gaze.

Chapter 35: I never expected to see you here

“Aliseteen-ojosama!”

“Is this real? I can’t believe it… Oh my god!”

With teary eyes, I pounced on the person in front of me. She held me tightly, her cheeks also wet with tears.

I never thought I would be able to see her again.

“Lili… I wanted to see you so badly…”

As I pressed my cheek against her chest, she squirmed slightly, ticklish. Enveloped in her warm embrace and gentle scent, I closed my eyes blissfully.

“I’m also very happy to see Ojo-sama again.”

“I’m sorry, Lili. I didn’t want to fire you.”

“Please don’t apologize. I understand the circumstances.”

Lili hadn’t changed a bit in two years. She was still soft and plump with the same kind and gentle gaze.

“But Lili, why are you at Julian-sama’s mansion?”

As I looked up at her while still hugging, Lili let out a soft laugh.

“It’s Prince Julian-sama’s doing.”

“Julian-sama’s?”

“I received a message that Ojo-sama wants to see me.”

Could it really be true?

I looked at him with a shocked expression, but he seemed completely unfazed. Seeing his carefree face almost breaking into song, I frowned deeply.

“Prince Julian is really kind. He went out of his way to find me and even offered to hire me as a maid for Ojo-sama’s sake.”

“That’s a lie.”

“It’s not a lie, Ojo-sama.”

But he had treated me so terribly before. I couldn’t believe he would do something like this for me right after returning home.

“Julian-sama, is what Lili saying true?”

I moved away from Lili and approached Julian-sama.

“It’s true. If you hired her here, you could see her whenever you wanted.”

“Why? Didn’t you say before that you couldn’t find any value in me?”

“I already apologized for that, didn’t I?”

Do you think a simple apology will make things right?! What a selfish person.

Before he went to study abroad, he was happy with my words, but when he came back, he was disappointed. Julian-sama is truly a strange person.

However, no matter how much I thank him, it won’t be enough for what he did this time.

“Julian-sama.”

I ran over to him and gently touched his smooth fingertips.

“I’m really happy. Thank you, Julian-sama.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I smiled from the bottom of my heart. Whatever Julian-sama’s intentions may be, the fact that I was able to see Lili again thanks to him is undeniable.

Lili, who raised and loved me. We couldn’t even say goodbye because of her sudden dismissal.

But from now on, we can meet anytime again. Because Julian-sama will hire Lili here…

“Oh.”

My emotions were fleeting, and I unconsciously blurted out. Come to think of it, I came here for a discussion about breaking off the engagement.

Despite finally reuniting with Lili, I couldn’t come here anymore if I wasn’t his fiancé anymore.

“Oh, that Julian-sama…”

“Don’t worry, I have no intention of ending our engagement.”

“Is that so.”

I was clearly relieved, but upon further reflection, ending the engagement might have been better. However, in order to see Lili, my connection with Julian-sama was essential.

Besides, right now, I can’t think of anything else other than the happiness of seeing Lili again. For now, it seems that maintaining the current situation is the only option.

“You’re still the Aliseteen I remembered.”

I decided not to dwell too deeply on what he meant by those words, accompanied by a faint smile.

Chapter 36: Premonition that something will start

Thanks to Julian-sama’s intervention, I was able to regain my daily routine. Of course, I couldn’t tell my family that I had reconnected with Lili.

“I’m glad to see Aliseteen is doing better.”

While looking at Okaa-sama, who seemed genuinely happy, I had complicated feelings in my heart that I hid behind my smile.

“Julian-sama, I brewed the tea today.”

“Well, I’m looking forward to it.”

Honestly, I would love to come to this mansion every day, but that’s not possible. Coming here every ten days has become my source of sustenance.

“I’m sure it will be delicious since I learned from Lili.”

After this incident, I found myself trusting Julian-sama more than I ever thought possible. I was genuinely happy that he went to such lengths just because of the one word I whispered.

And Julian-sama, he’s as kind to me as it was a lie during that ball. He would make snarky remarks, inserting sarcastic jokes at key points, but perhaps that’s just the way Julian-sama is.

“… Really, it’s such a difference from the past.”

“Huh? What’s the big difference?”

“N-No, it’s nothing.”

I smiled and brushed it off, then picked up the teapot that had been steeping the tea leaves thoroughly. Using a strainer to ensure the consistency of the taste, I transferred all the tea leaves from the pot to another pot.

Then slowly, I poured it into the tea cup. The dense golden liquid swayed and flowed over the pure white cup.

“By the way, you really do like Lili, don’t you?”

As he stared at me, Julian-sama spoke.

“Of course. Because she’s my…”

At that moment, my thoughts came to a sudden halt. I had forgotten until this very moment.

I was overjoyed to see Lili again, whom I had thought of as a mother figure. There was no ulterior motive that I had thought of before.

I want her by my side because she can stop my rampage. Otherwise, I’ll head straight for the condemnation route.

I thought I had always felt that way, but that thought had slipped from my mind completely.

“Oh, right, I…”

“Alise! The tea!”

“Oh no!”

I was so absent-minded while pouring that the tea overflowed from the cup, and the white tablecloth embroidered with gold became a mess.

“I’m so sorry…”

“It’s okay. Leave it to the maid.”

Julian-sama said, as if scolding me. He didn’t seem angry or frustrated.

“I’m sorry for ruining the afternoon tea, Julian-sama.”

“It’s okay. We’ll clean it up.”

“But…”

Julian-sama peered into my face as I sulked and looked down.

“By the way, it seems like your face is red. Are you okay? Did you perhaps get a burn?”

“N-No, it’s just…”

Startled by the unexpected observation, my shoulders shook.

“Well… Julian-sama called me Alice, so…”

“…”

Julian-sama’s eyes widened as he looked at me murmuring in embarrassment.

And in the next moment, he broke into a wide grin, clearly overjoyed.

Chapter 37: First and Second

“Alise.”

“Y-Yes?”

“Alise.”

I’m sure the old me never made this kind of expression before. I couldn’t put it into words, but I was filled with an unbearable itch and an atmosphere that made me restless.

This is strange. Julian-sama isn’t like this. He used to be more silent and mysterious. When he spoke, he had a blunt way of talking that made him seem like a puppet just moving along without any will.

Especially after entering the academy, he showed it more prominently. He had no interest in me whatsoever, yet he continued the engagement without opposing the queen. At that time, I took advantage of it.

“It’s not fair how you react like that just from being called by a nickname, Alise. It makes me want to see more of you.”

“Who are you, really!”

“Huh? What?”

I won’t be fooled even if he looks at me with those innocent and confused eyes.

As a firm expression of my intentions, I purse my lips, but because he has been calling my name so much right beside my ear, my face and body are just red, and the effect was nonexistent.

“What do you want to play today? I’ve been looking forward to this day when I can see you.”

——I don’t have time to spare for you.

Sitting on the garden terrace, I gazed at Julian-sama in front of me with a strange feeling.

His attitude, behavior, and even his tone of voice are all different from before, but this person is undoubtedly our country’s fourth prince, Julian Da Stratis.

As a fellow human being, why did he change so much? Is it because I have changed? If I change myself, my surroundings will naturally change too.

If the second life doesn’t necessarily follow the first life, then there is hope for me too.

As I stared intently at Julian-sama with my amber eyes, he stopped moving, looking happy to chat with me as if he was pulled in.

Surrounded by the lush green of early summer, we just looked into each other’s eyes.

“Julian-sama.”

“Yeah?”

“I will never forget the help you gave me.”

I couldn’t have thanked someone like this before.

Right now, I can’t resist the urge to express my overflowing feelings. When I smiled lightly, Julian-sama’s white cheeks turned slightly pink.

“W-What’s wrong? You suddenly became honest.”

“I just wanted to say it. Feelings won’t be conveyed if you don’t say them.”

Seeing the rare sight of Julian-sama being flustered, I had a satisfied expression on my face.

“You said it, didn’t you, Alise? Well then, from now on, I will also express my feelings without hesitation.”

“Eh…?”

“Because you told me, didn’t you?”

That smile is somehow very unpleasant. My superiority was destroyed in an instant.

“W-Well, I will go drink some cold water!”

Feeling that it’s not good to stay here like this, I hastily jumped off the bench and rushed away.

Chapter 38: Thunder in the Blue Sky

“So, over there, everyone always gathers before bed to have conversations. Both adults and children participate and exchange opinions.”

“Is that so? That sounds wonderful.”

Today, with the wind rustling softly, it was a very pleasant afternoon. We were on Julian-sama’s terrace, gathered around a book.

Listening to Julian-sama’s stories from when he was studying abroad was very interesting. Even within the Luvalantia Kingdom, there are various customs in each village and town. It must feel even more different in other countries, from the atmosphere that you can feel on your skin.

Before, the world within this kingdom was everything to me. But now, I want to see landscapes that I haven’t seen before, with my own two feet.

“Look at this clothing.”

“Well, it’s beautiful. Is this for a wedding?”

I lightly touched my finger to the faded black-and-white illustration that Julian-sama brought back in a document.

“I’ve never seen those flowers before.”

“They don’t bloom in our country, you know. It’s something unique to this warm climate.”

“That’s wonderful… I want to see the real thing someday.”

I approached my nose to the scent as if I were smelling it, and Julian-sama gently narrowed his eyes as he watched me.

“In that country, even foreigners were very friendly, so I’m sure Alise will be welcomed too.”

“Do you really think so?”

“If you’re worried, just go with me.”

Julian-sama fluttered his eyelids, which were lined with long eyelashes. His expression was still kind.

“If you’re with me, you won’t be scared, right?”

“N-No, I won’t.”

“You can go as a honeymoon trip. We can’t exactly travel around the world, but…”

Marriage. The word made my heart flutter in various ways.

Julian-sama now was completely different from before. And so was I. Sometimes when things don’t go the way I want them to, I have a tantrum, but I don’t think about hurting others in my current situation.

But the fear doesn’t disappear. It all started when I entered the school and Princess Chai transferred.

“…Talking about the future like that is wonderful.”

“Alise.”

I wiped my gaze away from the book and looked over to him. He called my name, but I didn’t react.

“It’s impressive that they welcome foreigners. It must be a wealthy and relaxed country.”

To divert the conversation and not seem too unnatural, Julian-sama brought up a topic and answered my question.

“It seems that everything is due to the climate and fertile soil. There are also fewer nobles like in this country who flaunt and fatten themselves in their private clothes.”

“Well.”

I chuckled and covered my mouth, Julian-sama also looked relieved.

“Speaking of which, during the two years I was there, royal families from other countries visited as a sign of friendship.”

“Which country were they from?”

“The princess of the Slophone Kingdom, I think.”

As soon as I heard the name, my chest began to throb and boil like I had just drank freshly-boiled water. I felt a hot sensation in my throat.

For some reason, I have a very bad feeling.

“I, I would like to know her name.”

“What’s her name? Does Alise know anyone in Slophone?”

“Well, um…”

I’m not sure if “know” is the right word, but it’s not entirely wrong. Julian-sama, who couldn’t have known my circumstances, casually mentioned that name without thinking much of it.

“It’s Princess Chai. The fourth princess of the Slophone Kingdom, Chai Slophone.”

No way, this can’t be true. I never expected that Julian-sama and she would meet so soon.

As I faced this unexpected turn of events, I hugged myself tightly, trembling all over.

Chapter 39: Mysterious Chest Pain

I asked Julian-sama about Princess Chai, but he didn’t seem to know much about her. Since Luvalantia and Slophone are friendly countries, it would be impossible for the royalty not to have any conversation with each other.

Actually, Julian-sama mentioned that they had shared a few meals together while studying abroad.

However, he seemed to have a reaction that was as if he had suddenly remembered something while he was chatting with me. At least, that was how it appeared to me.

“Princess Chai must have been such a lovely person. She was like a fairy.”

“Yeah, she was definitely a lovely girl. I think she said she was two years younger than us.”

Despite saying she was lovely, his expression remained ordinary. It seemed more like he was stating a fact, rather than his own thoughts.

This is strange. Previously, Julian-sama clearly seemed to be taken with Princess Chai. Or maybe it’s because he’s still young, and that kind of emotion hasn’t grown in him yet.

I inadvertently place my hand on my chest and let out a deep sigh of relief. Right after that, I pondered to myself why I was feeling so relieved.

If Julian-sama were to fall in love with Princess Chai now, I believe I could accept that. Although my reputation might get slightly damaged, we could break our engagement without any issues.

So why am I feeling so at ease, especially when they met much sooner than I imagined they would?

“Alise? Are you okay? You’re acting weird.”

I suddenly come back to my senses and lift my gaze up. When my eyes meet Julian-sama’s, who is looking at me with concern, my heart thumps audibly in my chest.

“It’s nothing.”

“Is there something wrong, Alise?”

Julian-sama’s words after that caused me to stiffen up.

“Are you jealous?”

“Eh…?”

Despite just seeming worried about me, he suddenly brightened up.

“I see. Feeling jealous actually makes you happy.”

“U-Uh, Julian-sama.”

The atmosphere was not one where it was easy to say that he had made a big misunderstanding. I laughed it off with a “ahaha,” but Julian-sama still smiled happily.

Then, as if being pierced by needles, a prickling pain began to spread throughout my body.

Since becoming (young) Aliseteen, I had seen his smile in my eyes countless times.

You were someone who would easily kick others down, show no regard for their lives, and yet you could not obtain what you wanted so badly.

Why was this so painful, even though he was within easy reach if I just reached out my hand?

“You know, Alise? I’m really glad we didn’t have to talk about breaking off our engagement that one time.”

“Julian, sama.”

“It’s a bit embarrassing when you use that formal language.”

As I watched him shyly utter these words, I couldn’t help but keep my gaze fixed on him.

Julian-sama and Princess Chai had already met. I didn’t know how that would affect my future life.

Chapter 40: School Enrollment

While my heart was restless with the existence of Princess Chai, Julian-sama and I turned thirteen years old and entered the Royal Academy together.

I even considered not going to school…

“Aliseteen. There are many vixens at the Royal Academy who will try to take the position of your fiancée. Always keep a watchful eye. Let them know that you are the chosen one.”

Okaa-sama repeated this to me countless times, and I realized that I never had a choice from the beginning.

As I listened to Okaa-sama’s words, still dressed extravagantly as always, I thought vaguely to myself.

Come to think of it, I was told this before in my previous life.

It’s very strange to think about. There are those like Julian-sama and me who change, and there are those like my family who never change.

I was just me and I never doubted that I would definitely become Julian-sama’s wife, but life offers limitless choices.

“We warmly welcome the entrance of all you of the future.”

While I tuned out the lengthy greeting of the principal, I gently stroked the shiny ribbon on my uniform.

There were many things that happened during the eight years since my regression, but I tried my best in my own way. However, I couldn’t completely change my fundamental personality.

“Duke’s daughter, Quatra! I wanted to meet you! Your uniform looks very beautiful!”

“Well, you know exactly what you’re doing.”

By the time one week had passed since entering the academy, I was saying lines like that while walking around the school confidently.

Let me make it clear that I never intend to belittle anyone. It’s just that behaving like a kind and merciful saint towards everyone is impossible for me. Knowing my previous self, it feels forced and, above all, embarrassing.

Also, it’s not a bad thing to accept compliments gracefully.

“Alise.”

He spotted me and raised an arm lightly.

“Julian-sama.”

His gray hair was cut short and looked neat, emphasizing his clear eyes and beautiful face. He wore a dark green blazer with more elegance than anyone else and his matching tie gave the thirteen-year-old boy a mature look.

“You look very cute in your uniform.”

“T-That’s just natural.”

I said, pursing my lips, and Julian-sama laughed softly.

“Y-You look nice too, Julian-sama.”

“Yes?”

Looking at me, still mumbling and fidgeting with my arms folded, Julian-sama chuckled happily.

“Hey, Alise.”

“Yes?”

The smiling Julian-sama suddenly turned gloomy.

“How do you see me, Alise?”

“How do I see you? You’re the fourth prince of this country, Julian Da Stratis.”

“I see, that’s how it is.”

While tilting my head towards the sudden question, I answered him. Then he looked down for some reason.

“What’s wrong with that? Being a prince will surely help Julian-sama someday.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Before that, Julian-sama is Julian-sama, and I am myself. But I know now that it’s up to me to change the current situation with my own power.”

This persuasiveness is something only I can do. I chestily asserted with confidence, but come to think of it, Julian-sama didn’t know about my circumstances, so it was meaningless.

“Are you still nervous because you’re new to the school? That’s not like Julian-sama.”

“What’s like me?”

“A mischievous devil who teases me with a smile.”

I answered confidently, and Julian-sama suddenly burst out laughing. I didn’t understand what was so funny.

“Alise really does have a bad personality, huh.”

“I take that as a compliment!”

It was a line I had heard before. But now I no longer sob and cry about it.

Chapter 41: Growth

As expected, the Quatra name holds immense power. Without me doing anything in particular, the Aliseteen faction continues to spread. Sanna, the Count’s daughter who was always by my side in my previous life, is sticking to me closely again this time.

“Well… this is just how it is.”

I sit on a bench in the courtyard of the academy and casually observe my surroundings. In this school where proud individuals are crammed together, it would be strange if there were no conflicts. The stress of being confined within the school due to the boarding system, combined with scenes of high-ranking noble students bullying those of lower status, make me depressed.

I feel like I’m being blamed for something.

In these eight years, I have learned the skill of reflecting on myself and considering others’ feelings.

And it was ironically Julian-sama who taught me that. I visited his mansion countless times because Lili was there.

However, I have never met his family even once.

Since he was a child, he had lived alone with servants in a separate mansion of the royal family, as the only one of the four brothers.

In the past, I envied him for being able to do whatever he wanted there, and I told him so many times. I had never even thought about what kind of emotions he would have being alone there.

Julian-sama was the most beautiful and talented among the four brothers, but lacked charisma and friendliness, which made him unloved by the queen. He was resented for being better than his older brothers and was pushed away unfairly.

It was only after my perspective broadened in this life that I finally understood his feelings. Lili’s pity for Julian-sama was also one of the reasons why I tried to understand him.

——He said that I am charming enough just the way I am, and I was very happy with those words.

I didn’t understand the line that Julian-sama said to me back then.

He was disliked by his mother since he was a child and was locked up alone in a vast mansion.

After spending many years, I was finally able to understand even just a little bit how much he had suffered.

When I was younger, I would often say that I was blessed with a favorable environment and that I had won from the moment I was born. Now I realize that it was only natural to be hated for that.

And now, as I watch someone being bullied right before my eyes, I can’t help but think:

How pitiful are noble people.

With that thought in mind, I stood up from where I was dozing off and walked towards the male students. I crossed my arms and puffed my chest as much as I could, trying to make myself look bigger.

“It seems that you’re doing something quite interesting.”

“Hey, it’s Duke’s daughter, Quatra!”

It seems like there’s no one who doesn’t know my face. The three male students who were bullying looked at me with big eyes.

At their feet was a small male student. He was so crouched down that I couldn’t see his face, but his uniform was beautifully covered in dirt.

“I wonder if you really find this kind of thing fun.”

“U-Um, no. We aren’t enjoying this. It’s just that this guy doesn’t understand his position…”

“That’s right. We were just being kind and teaching him.”

There aren’t many students from higher-ranked families than me at this academy. I don’t know their faces, but judging from their attitude, they don’t seem to be sons of particularly important nobles.

“You guys are so kind.”

When I gave them a smile, their cheeks immediately turned red. It’s advantageous to be beautiful in times like this.

“I should learn from you guys and teach him some manners.”

“h, no, he’s not the kind of guy Quatra-sama would want to deal with.”

“Oh, so you guys are good but I’m not?”

I narrowed my eyes ever so slightly, and they trembled in fear.

“Shall we go then? I’ll teach as well. But just so you know, I’m not as kind as they are.”

“You…you can’t be serious?”

When I grabbed the arm of the cowering student, he looked up at me with eyes full of fear.

“Just come with me. And if you resist, who knows what might happen to your family?”

“Y-Yes…”

I could feel the hand that had grabbed me trembling uncontrollably. Am I really that scary?

“Aliseteen-sama, we also want to—”

“I’d prefer if you didn’t come along. I want to enjoy this by myself. Slowly… you know?”

When I gave a nasty smile to Sanna and the male students, no one else dared to say anything more.

Chapter 42: Small Senpai with Round Glasses

As we arrived at an unpopular spot, I quickly released my arm from his grip.

“I’m sorry for touching you without permission.”

“Uh…um, that is…”

As usual, the short male student was trembling. His round glasses had a crack on one side, his hair was covered in grass, and his uniform was covered in mud.

“Are you going to leave now? If anything happens in the future with those people, tell me. Just say you’re just a toy for Aliseteen-sama.”

The male student didn’t move and continued staring at me with his cracked glasses.

He doesn’t seem to be trembling anymore.

“D-Did you help me…?”

He still sounded scared, making it hard to hear him.

“Did you not hear me? You became my exclusive toy.”

“B-But you said I could leave now…”

“Yes, I did say that. I’m not in the mood right now.”

Although I tried to sound strict, this male student seemed unexpectedly stubborn. For some reason, he didn’t seem to want to leave this place.

“Duke’s daughter, Quatra. Thank you so much.”

“Why are you thanking me, weirdo?”

“Well, if it weren’t for you, it would have been thrown away.”

He clutched tightly a worn-out book that he had kept safe all this time. Perhaps he endured being kicked around because he was protecting that book.

“What kind of book is it?”

“It’s an old pharmacology book. It’s very valuable, and I had to beg the librarian at the library many times to finally borrow it.”

“I see.”

Even though I asked, I wasn’t very interested.

It’s more important to him than his own life, so it’s good that he didn’t throw it away.

“Oh, by the way, my name is Wolle. I’m the second son of the Tanatora Viscount family, currently in my fourth year.”

“Well, you seem much older than that.”

“Please don’t mind. I’ve never been seen as my actual age before.”

Wolle, the male student who introduced himself, smiled lightly and lifted the bridge of his glasses with his index finger.

“You’re quite strange. Valuing an old book more than your own body.”

“Ahaha, people often say this to me. What’s so interesting about life when you’re always reading books.”

Tanatora-san’s expression was cheerful, but his fingers holding the book were turning white. It was a sign of how tightly he was gripping it.

Did I just make another thoughtless comment?

“People who achieve things are like that. It’s something that others can’t understand.”

“D-Duke’s daughter, Quatra…”

At that moment, Tanatora-san’s face began to shine. His glasses seemed to fog up.

“Well then, I’ll be going. Goodbye.”

“Ah, yes! Goodbye!”

Since he didn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon, I decided to leave. Despite being called a toy, Tanatora-san kept bowing his head multiple times. You could hear him bobbing.

Grass from his hair was fluttering around as a result of the impact.

I didn’t intend to blame the male students who were bullying him or claim that I was trying to help him. After all, I was okay with doing much worse things.

Even if I pretended as if nothing had happened and put on a show of being a good person with a cloak of justice, my true nature couldn’t be changed in the end. However, I couldn’t just turn a blind eye to it either.

“I should have intervened earlier…”

That small murmur was carried away somewhere by the brisk spring breeze.

Chapter 43: First time…

Once I became interested, it was all over. Before I knew it, my collection of exclusive toys had grown to the point where one hand was not enough, just like what happened with Wolle Tanatora back then.

I’ll say it again, I’m not a fundamentally good person. The reason why I do this is because I hate seeing the joyous expressions of the high-ranking nobles as they bully the lower-ranking ones, as it reminds me of my former self.

That’s why I don’t boldly intervene to help and want to continue with the performance of just frivolously playing around. In reality, most of the people who are called my exclusive toys tremble in fear, except for one person.

“Lady Quatra! Look at this flower. It’s a Belladonna that we were given permission to cultivate in the school flower bed, but it had been withering away for years. However, this year, look how splendid it has bloomed!”

Wolle Tanatora, the fourth-year student, spoke to me with a delighted expression. For some reason, he has been drawn to me since that day and has been approaching me like a puppy that clings to its owner.

He came today as usual, holding a small flower in his hand with white cotton wrapped around the root. For some reason, I gazed at it intently.

“Belladonna has medicinal properties in its root, so we protect it with soaked cotton.”

“I see…”

“The flower is also modest and cute, but actually, it’s so dangerous that it can cause food poisoning if eaten. Lady Quatra, please be careful!”

As if I would even consider eating it.

I wanted to say that without hesitation, but it seemed troublesome so I decided to keep quiet. In fact, it was insane to cultivate such a dangerous flower at school.

Tanatora-san is a known herb enthusiast. Otoo-sama is a doctor and Okaa-sama is a nurse. Tanatora-san himself aspires to become a doctor in the future and wants to help a lot of people, his eyes shining with passion.

His navy blue eyes behind his glasses are perfectly round, and he’s slightly taller than me. He looks thin, and I wonder if he’s eating properly.

“By the way, Lady Quatra, are you free after school today?”

“Why do you ask?”

Without bothering to hide my annoyance, I ask.

“I’m majoring in natural science, and my teacher has given me permission to use an empty classroom as a research facility. I want you to come and visit me, Lady Quatra.”

“Why me?”

“Because you’re the only friend I have other than you.”

His slightly impolite words annoy me, but I wonder when we became friends.

And furthermore, have I ever had someone in my life I could call a friend?

No, I haven’t. Even though I had followers, I had no friends. I always thought that my female peers in school could be a threat to me, so I didn’t trust them.

“Lady Quatra, is my first friend!”

Tanatora-san smiles sweetly, looking younger than his third year.

It’s forceful and presumptuous, but I can’t bring myself to dislike him.

“What a coincidence, me too.”

I reply while laughing, still facing him.

“Alise.”

Suddenly, I’m called by my name.

Alise is a name that only one person calls me in this school.

Chapter 44: Just like he used to be

“Julian-sama.”

“What are you doing, Alise?”

“Just chatting.”

Bathed in the pleasant sunlight, he was shining as usual today. His gray hair looked truly mystical when illuminated by the sun, as did his eyes of the same color.

But today, for some reason, it felt like the atmosphere was different from usual.

“Who is he?”

Standing much closer to me than usual, Julian-sama glanced briefly at Tanatora-san. He shrunk his body like a frog being stared down by a snake.

“This is Wolle Tanatora-san. He’s a third year older than us and a herb maniac.”

“A-A maniac? That’s quite something.”

For some reason, he seemed embarrassed by my introduction. He truly was an enigmatic person.

“Tanatora-san, this is…”

“Of course, I know who you are! His Highness Julian Da Stratis, the fourth prince of our country! It is an honor to meet you!”

Tanatora-san gave a crisp salute, like a soldier. Julian-sama just glanced over and maintained his stern expression.

“Why are Alise and he so friendly?”

“Huh? Quatra-sama is the one who—”

“It’s a coincidence! We happened to hit it off!”

I cut in, laughing and trying to brush it off. For some reason, I felt like Julian-sama shouldn’t know.

He disliked hypocritical behavior, and what I was doing was entirely hypocritical—I was doing it for my own benefit, not for others.

“…Alise, are you hiding something from me?”

“I hiding something from Julian-sama? Of course not!”

I used to lie as easily as breathing, but now I was sweating and desperately trying to cover it up.

“By the way, would Your Highness like to join us? I was just inviting Lady Quatra!”

“Alise…?”

“Yes!”

Ah, Tanatora-san. I hate to say it, but I think I understand why you haven’t had any friends until now.

Despite the beautiful afternoon, only the air around Julian-sama seemed to have chilled.

I thought to myself that he might be the first person I’ve seen change so dramatically since reversing my life.

“I apologize in advance for saying this to someone who is my senior.”

Julian-sama said so as he pulled my waist towards him with a supple movement.

Suddenly, I froze, and for some reason, even Tanatora-san froze.

“It’s not a good idea to casually invite a woman who has a fiance. It won’t benefit either of us if unfounded rumors circulate.”

“Eh…?”

“Anyway, please refrain from inviting her in places where I’m not around.”

Despite his cold attitude, his palms holding onto my waist were warm. I was so busy suppressing my pounding heart that I didn’t have any room to think about Tanatora-san.

“I-I am terribly sorry, Your Highness Stratis!”

“We’ll take our leave now. Let’s go, Alise.”

“Uh, yes. Goodbye, Tanatora-san.”

I blushed and gave a slight bow. Julian-sama didn’t seem intent on letting me go, so I was pulled away by him as we left.

Once we were away from Tanatora-san, we arrived at the end of a deserted hallway. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I was dragged there.

“Julian-sama, what on earth was that? I can’t believe you would treat someone like that.”

“…Well, I just didn’t like him.”

“You didn’t like him? What do you mean?”

Julian-sama bit his lip as if pouting. I couldn’t take my eyes off that expression, as it was the first time I had seen it.

“It’s just that I really hate it when you smile at anyone other than me.”

That was the feeling I used to hold for Julian-sama.

Chapter 45: In the end, the villainess

It’s been a few months since I entered the school. My position had completely turned into “villainess”. I was the worst female student who would lead her entourage and arrogantly call other students “toys”, regardless of whether they were seniors or not, and take them to unpopular places.

My reputation was probably bad before, but I’m sure it’s even worse now.

“Is this really okay? I don’t know the correct answer…”

I never thought it would be so difficult to be liked by everyone. Even Tanatora-san, who said we were friends, has completely disappeared from my sight, probably because he’s scared of Julian-sama.

I thought it was annoying to be entwined with them before, but now that they are gone, it’s lonely.

“…Am I lonely? Am I really lonely?”

I sat on a bench in the courtyard, swinging my legs and staring blankly at the sky. I’ve never thought about that before. I didn’t even trust my own family in a true sense. I had lived my life by simply putting on a front and believing in myself only.

“It’s a strange feeling to have something other than yourself be important…”

“Who is it referring to?”

I jumped in surprise as someone whispered in my ear from behind. When I turned around, Julian-sama’s beautiful face was right next to mine as he bent down. I almost touched his cheeks with mine by accident.

“J-Julian-sama!”

My face suddenly became hot and I pulled away in a panic. He sat down beside me with a cheerful hum.

“You seem down lately, is it because of me?”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“…Because you can’t talk to that senior anymore.”

That senior? Ah, he must mean Tanatora-san.

“Indeed, because Julian-sama threatened him, he stopped approaching me.”

“…I’m sorry.”

“Fufu.”

It was refreshing to see him look down and pout, so I couldn’t help but laugh. His cheeks slightly puffed up as he looked at me.

I didn’t know that this person had such a cute side to him.

“Julian-sama has always been different from others. He’s obsessed with someone like me.”

“You’re a woman who captivates those around you.”

“Do you not know about the rumors about me? I am…”

Just as I began to speak, Julian-sama’s beautiful finger gently touched my lips.

“Other people are irrelevant. You, whom I have come to know over the course of eight years, are the truth that is important to me.”

“…”

My heart aches. I can’t think of how to explain this feeling.

My lips, touched by him, grow hot and seem to move as if enchanted. (TL: Vague description)

“And besides, I’ve become completely addicted to your bad personality.”

“Ugh…”

I pout and turn away. Julian-sama chuckles merrily.

“I’m not letting you win, Julian-sama!”

“Only in front of you.”

“I’m not happy about that at all!”

Even though my face turns bright red as I retort, it seems to have no effect.

“Um, Julian-sama.”

“Hmm? What is it?”

“Thank you… for encouraging me.”

Actually, to an outsider, it might not seem like much of an encouragement, but at least it was enough to reach me.

Julian-sama looked at me with a mixed expression of embarrassment and joy as I said those words, and he smiled kindly.

Even though he wasn’t touching me anymore, the heat remaining on my lips just wouldn’t dissipate.

Chapter 46: New Incident

Not long after that, one day after school, I noticed there was a letter in my shoe locker.

“Oh? What’s this?”

It was just a scrap of paper that wasn’t even inside an envelope. When I opened it, I was greeted with a string of characters that were difficult to read.

This person’s handwriting is really bad. No, it’s not so much that it’s bad as it is not careful. It takes some courage to give me a letter with such shaky handwriting.

No, wait a minute…

“This isn’t addressed to me!”

I didn’t notice it before because it was messy, but the name on it was wrong. And then there was the contents.

——You’re as lovely as a flower blooming in the wild.

It’s obvious that it’s not about me.

It seems like the sender of this letter made a mistake about where to put their love letter. Honestly, how could someone mess up something this important?

“I have nothing to do with this, so I can just leave it alone.”

For now, I put it back in my shoe locker and started walking back to the dormitory.

“… Aah, geez!”

With a loud stomp of my foot, I turned on my heel. Sanna and a few other young ladies who seemed to have followed me visibly flinched.

“I have a little something to take care of, so please go ahead without me.”

“Y-Yes.”

“Ah, before you go, there’s something I want to ask you.”

Sanna widened her brown eyes and tilted her head slightly.

The next day, I went alone to the classroom where the author of the letter I had deciphered with Sanna’s help was said to be.

The male student was a year older than me, tall and lanky with relatively handsome features, but his nervous energy and lack of confidence detracted from it all.

The old me would have been impatient and yelling by now.

“U-Um, is there something you need…?”

He must have heard about my reputation. His face was pale and he was shaking. To him, I must have seemed like a sudden, unexplained visitor to his classroom, making him tremble with fear.

“Owen-san, you really messed up by putting your love letter in the wrong place.”

“Huh…?”

“I’m telling you, you’re wrong. It was in my shoe cabinet yesterday.”

I took a crumpled piece of paper from my skirt pocket and shoved it at him. His already guilty expression turned even paler.

“T-That’s…!”

“Lady Creaket’s shoe cabinet is right next to mine.”

“That can’t be…”

In the next moment, he fell to his knees, hanging his head in despair. It seems like he’s the type to wear his emotions on his sleeve.

“Well, better luck next time. Don’t forget to double-check.”

As I looked at him, his eyes filled with tears and on the verge of crying, I felt a surge of anger within me.

Isaac Owen is truly the type of person I dislike.

“Why did you bother delivering it to me? Are you trying to blackmail me…?”

“What do I gain from blackmailing you?”

“W-Well, Quatra-sama has a hobby of possessing his own ‘toys’.”

Well, I can’t deny he’s not wrong. Though being referred to as a ‘toy’ is a bit irritating.

“Certainly, I had thought about putting this letter back into Creaket-san’s shoe locker.”

I sat down on the ground and leaned my face close to Owen-san, who was looking up at me.

“It’s too much! A love letter like this will only end up shattered!”

As I spoke loudly, a tear finally fell from his eyes.

Chapter 47: It’s like seeing your old self

After a while, Owen-san, who seemed to have calmed down a bit, hunched over and bowed his head lower than me.

“I apologize for causing you trouble, Quatra-sama. It was my foolish behavior that caused you inconvenience.”

His hand holding the scrap of paper that I returned to him was trembling. As I stared at it, I crossed my arms and pondered.

“When I found this, I thought that the author of this letter was careless, but perhaps it wasn’t really the case.”

“Eh…?”

“I’m sure they were nervous, too. So much that they didn’t even have time to double-check.”

Owen-san looked up suddenly, his not-so-large eyes widening in surprise.

“What kind of expression is that supposed to be for the emotion you just displayed?”

“A-Ah… I’m sorry! I didn’t expect you to say something like that…”

Like with Tanatora-san, from an outsider’s perspective, it’s unclear who’s the senior.

I realize that I have a haughty attitude towards those older than me, but I’m finding it difficult to change.

“Umm… Quatra-sama.”

Wiping his eyes with his arm, he timidly asks me a question.

“Were my love letter really that bad?”

“If I give you an honest answer, you won’t cry anymore.”

“Yes, I will.”

Owen-san lifts his almond-shaped eyes and tightens his lips. I imagine his love letter in my mind and honestly express what I felt.

“First of all, it’s impossible to give a scrap of paper like that to someone you like. Plus, the handwriting should have been neater to give a good impression. And besides, you’re not even a woman, so it’s not clear why you would leave a love letter in a shoebox. If you don’t have the kind of relationship where you can hand it directly to someone, it should at least be accompanied by a gift or something. If I received a love letter like this, my love for you would cool down in an instant.”

Without pausing to take a breath, I clearly convey my thoughts. He looks as if he has been shot, holding his chest with an expression of surprise.

“You should have wrapped it up in something a little more secure.”

“Uh, no. As Quatra-sama said.”

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. Even though Owen-san had a grief-stricken expression, he seemed to take my words to heart.

“I’ve always been like this. Really uncool. I made up my mind and put it in her shoe locker, but I never thought it could’ve been the wrong one. It’s so bad, it’s beyond pathetic, it’s funny, right?”

He still sat on the ground, with one knee raised, self-mocking himself. Even seeing him like that, I couldn’t sympathize with him at all.

“If you’re aware of that, then you should change yourself.”

“It’s not something that can be easily done.”

“I know that better than anyone.”

I was about to reach out to him, but stopped just in time. Even though I’m Julian-sama’s fiancée, Owen-san has feelings for someone else. It wouldn’t be wise to make careless contact, even if it were to cause something.

“Hey, stand up. Don’t keep moping around like that. If you’re a man, you need to be more decisive. This is your chance. It wasn’t just a mistake that the recipient of the love letter was me, not Creaket-san.”

“Quatra-sama…”

The smell of trouble wafts in again. But Owen-san is just like me not long ago, and I couldn’t just leave him alone like this.

Chapter 48: Guilt

Once I had made up my mind, I immediately tried to take action. However, there was someone I needed to get permission from first. The next day, I called Julian-sama and met him at the gazebo in the garden.

“It’s rare for Alise to talk to me.”

He said with what seemed like a happy expression. Seeing him like this, I couldn’t help but wonder where that emotionless iron mask of his had gone.

“I’d like to ask for your permission today.”

“Permission?”

“I want to interact with a certain man for a while.”

As soon as I said that, all emotions disappeared from Julian-sama’s face.

Yes, that’s right. When it comes to Julian-sama, this is typical.

It felt strangely nostalgic.

I told him everything that happened yesterday, but he still had a stern expression. I had talked to him beforehand so as not to repeat what happened with Tanatora-san, but it seems that he still wasn’t pleased.

Currently, Julian-sama doesn’t seem to dislike me. Rather, I don’t think it’s conceited to say that he likes me more than the other young ladies.

He smiles at me genuinely, just like Aliseteen had always wanted before.

However, every time he does so, something in the depths of my heart stirs restlessly.

“Was Alise always such a pushover?”

“It’s not for his sake, but for mine. It just feels wrong to let things end like this.”

“You should just forget about a guy like that.”

Murmuring something under his breath, Julian-sama approaches me. He grabs a strand of my amber hair and gives me a kiss, as if to show off.

“Don’t forget, you belong to me.”

“Julian-sama.”

“If you can promise me that, I’ll forgive you.”

As I tremble before his gray eyes, I can’t even understand why. To hide my shame, I just nod silently. Julian’s lips curl up in satisfaction.

“I’ll allow you to associate with that man, but of course, I’ll be there too.”

“I apologize. It was my own fault.”

“Just the thought of you being with someone other than me… it’s driving me crazy.”

Julian-sama’s expressionless face can be more terrifying than anything else. He has a ruthless judgmental trait that he can make without showing any expression, so it’s scary to go against him any further.

“I understand. It is unforgivable for me to cause trouble for Julian-sama, but you’re right.”

I myself didn’t really care if we left things as they were. But somehow, Owen-san, who lamented that he couldn’t change anything, seemed to overlap with me.

Although he failed, he took action on his own. He is fundamentally different from me, who was lucky to be able to turn time back just because I died.

I understand that, but…

“Why do you look so sad, what’s wrong Alise?”

“No, it’s nothing.”

I turned my gaze away, indicating that the conversation was over, and headed back to the classroom.

“Alise, someday you’ll… well, forget it.”

I didn’t pursue his unfinished words.

Chapter 49: Surprised Ladies

After finishing the morning classes without incident, I came to the cafeteria with my entourage.

“Hey, Sanna.”

“Y-Yes?”

“What kind of expression of love from a man would make you happy?”

It was just a casual question, but Sanna opened her mouth in surprise and dropped the sandwich she was holding.

“What are you doing? Are you okay?”

“I-I’m sorry!”

“You don’t need to apologize.”

Not just Sanna, but other young ladies around me had the same expression on their faces. Was my question that strange?

After a gulp, Sanna nervously spoke up.

“Well, it’s just my personal feeling, so I don’t know about others.”

“That’s fine.”

“I would be happy not only with words, but also with things like flowers.”

Flowers. Certainly, I would be happy to receive them as well.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever received anything from a man other than my brothers. Even my birthday gifts were from the royal family, not just from Julian-sama individually.

“…”

“…I really am a disliked noble lady.”

“A-Aliseteen-sama.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. There’s no woman who wouldn’t be happy to receive a bouquet, right?”

I nodded in agreement with Sanna’s opinion and turned to the Viscount’s daughter who was sitting across from her.

Just like Sanna, she stiffened her body and replied.

“I-Is a love letter not good enough?”

“Well…it’s not that it’s not good enough. But it would be nice if you could give it to me directly while looking into my eyes.”

“That actually makes sense.”

I agreed with her opinion as well. Next, I turned to the Count’s daughter next to her. Needless to say, she had a look as if she was being put on trial.

“Um…I want to hear your honest feelings.”

“Honest feelings? Not a sweet confession of love?”

“Well, that’s not what I mean, but… I’m attracted to someone who is sincere.”

While their opinions may not be everything, one thing was clear: Owen-san’s approach was not appropriate at all.

“Um, excuse me.”

After hearing all their opinions, Sanna asked me hesitantly as I brought a muffin to my mouth.

She had a sandwich in her hand, as she had accidentally dropped the previous one.

“H-How about Aliseteen-sama?”

“Me? I want people to kneel before me. To swear on their lives that they will prioritize me above anything else in the world.”

As soon as I said it, they fell silent. It seemed like my response was not what they were expecting.

“W-Well, of course, it’s only natural for someone like Aliseteen-sama!”

“Y-Yes, that’s right!”

“Absolutely!”

Their dry laughter as they agreed with me made me feel a little uncomfortable. Is this what it takes to make me happy?

Should I just reject everything and live as a lone wolf instead? No, being connected to the name of Quatra is nothing but beneficial only for them.

That’s why they endure and stay by my side like this.

“…I appreciate all your input. Thank you.”

When I suddenly blurt out those words, everyone would open their mouths wide in surprise.

Once again, Sanna had dropped her sandwich with a plop.

Chapter 50: He has a shaggy head

“A-Ah, Julian-sama.”

“What’s wrong, Alise?”

When he tilted his head with such a refreshing expression, I couldn’t say anything more.

Julian-sama was getting too close to me, making it incredibly uncomfortable to walk. Actually, it was more than just uncomfortable.

It was because I said I was going to see Tanatora-san. Now that we were in school, I couldn’t easily prepare a bouquet of flowers.

I remembered how he once said he was favored by the biology teacher and decided to ask him about it.

I got his permission because I didn’t want Tanatora-san to be glared at by Julian-sama again because of me. And this is the result.

“I have to show clearly that you belong to me.”

“…Um, is that so?”

Since entering school, his attitude has only become stranger. I don’t understand why he keeps saying things like this, and as we are technically engaged, I can’t just tell him to stop.

Finally arrived at the classroom while feeling extremely uncomfortable walking. I knocked on the door twice, thinking that this was definitely the right place.

“Wolle Tanatora-san, are you in?”

Since there was no response after knocking, I called out to him. Then, I heard some loud noises from inside the room.

Immediately, the door opened with a creak.

“Lady Quatra! Long time no see!”

He seemed to be in a hurry, with his glasses half-sliding down from his face. With an airy expression, he opened his eyes wide and twinkled brightly.

“Good day, Tanatora-san.”

“I’m so glad to be asked by you! What a coincidence.”

“Ahem!”

With a fake cough, he finally seemed to notice something other than me. He should have noticed it immediately since he was sticking so close to me.

“T-This is His Highness Stratis! I’m terribly sorry!”

Tanatora-san panicked skillfully, and his glasses rattled to the floor with a clatter.

“Sorry for asking so abruptly. Do you have a moment now?”

“Huh, m-me?”

“Who else could I be referring to?”

As always, he’s an oddball. I know he’s not a bad person, but the previous me would have never associated with him. I probably would have insulted him to his face.

“If it’s too difficult, we can reschedule.”

“N-No, it’s okay… but, um…”

Tanatora-san looks uneasy and his gaze flickers towards Julian-sama. I see, he must be scared of this expressionless face.

I pick up his fallen glasses and smile as I hand it back to Tanatora-san. Then, I glared at Julian-sama.

“If you’re going to make that kind of face, I’ll talk to him alone from here on out.”

“Alise…”

“If you don’t like that, then please soften your expression a bit more.”

Julian-sama reluctantly averts his gaze from me. Then, he stares fixedly at the glasses in Tanatora-san’s hand.

Chapter 51: Tanatora’s change

After explaining the situation to Tanatora-san, he kindly showed me around the flower bed.

“I’m not sure if you’ll find anything you like… after all, my area of interest is in medicinal herbs.”

Despite that introduction, the flower bed was blooming beautifully with various types of flowers during this time of year.

“Well, it’s lovely. Is this all your work, Tanatora-san?”

“It’s not just me, though. In exchange for being allowed to grow medicinal herbs freely, I’m in charge of watering the flower bed.”

Despite the cracked glasses he was wearing from earlier, Tanatora-san had a proud expression that contradicted his words. He’s one of those people who often end up with cracked glasses.

Small roses were planted in the flower bed, each in a variety of colors such as red, yellow, and peach, looking cute and lovely.

“Rose buds and petals can be dried to make tea. It improves blood circulation, making it effective for treating colds. Rose tea is recommended for women.”

“Personally, I am interested, but I did not come here to look for tea roses. Besides, roses have thorns and they are dangerous.”

Tanatora-san began explaining to me as I gazed at the roses in front of me. I gently restrained him and picked out several flowers that could make a bouquet.

“Well, this one is also adorable.”

I said as I squatted down and selected flowers. While I was selecting the flowers, a conversation was being held between the two of them that only I could hear.

“As I mentioned before, Alise is my fiancée.”

“Y-Yes, I know that very well!”

“If you understand the situation, please support her as a good friend from now on. Only as a friend.”

As I stood up and let out a sigh, Tanatora-san had tears in his big round eyes and was looking at Julian-sama next to him.

He was like an innocent child staring at a hero with adoration.

I wonder what’s going on with him, especially since he was so afraid earlier.

“Your Highness Julian! Thank you very much for your kind words!”

“…What is going on, really?”

“Don’t worry, it’s not something Alise needs to concern herself with.”

As Julian-sama smiled kindly, he somehow looked very prince-like. At the same time, the hallucination of Tanatora-san danced around on his palm.

“Thank you, you’ve been a great help.”

“It’s an honor to be of service.”

Tanatora-san smiled with a grin. His smile was truly charming, but his cracked glasses ruined the effect.

As a reward, I decided to give him something new.

“Alise, shall we go soon?”

“Yes, let’s.”

When I was picking flowers, Julian-sama had probably refrained from getting too close to me, but he now drew near again.

With a completely different expression from when we first arrived, Tanatora-san watched us with a passionate gaze.

“…”

…Why is it that I feel so uneasy about this?

“Lady Quatra, I will treat you to rose tea next time.”

“Oh, that sounds delightful.”

After I meekly spoke my mind, I covered my mouth and stole a glance at Julian-sama. I thought for sure he would activate his poker face, but instead, he just gently squinted his eyes without saying a word.

Chapter 52: Send him out

Isaac Owen and Wolle Tanatora’s physical characteristics are completely different, but for some reason, they all show the same expression when facing Julian-sama.

It seems like Tanatora-san has overcome it, but Owen-san, who is probably standing in front of Julian-sama for the first time, shakes his tall body and trembles.

“First of all, I’ll warn you that Alise is mine.”

“That’s enough, Julian-sama!”

Does this person intend to give this preface to every man I have dealings with? Besides, I’ve explained many times that I’m just interfering on my own.

“Owen-san, please take a look at this. I just collected some flowers earlier. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s better than coming empty-handed.”

It was an impromptu present, a bouquet of flowers made from the flowers in the flower bed that Tanatora-san had guided me to, wrapped in a piece of cloth and ribbon.

“Did you come all the way here for this…”

Julian-sama murmurs complaints next to me, seemingly displeased as if he doesn’t like that I’ve used his personal belongings. And because he’s so close to me, I react to his every movement.

“Quatra-sama, your face looks red for some reason…”

“It’s probably nothing, don’t worry about it.”

While we’re not particularly close, I noticed that he has a tendency to speak his mind, unlike Isaac Owen.

It’s a shame, really, with his tall stature and cool, sharp eyes, he could have been a catch.

“Please don’t tell Creaket-san that I prepared this bouquet.”

“Why not?”

“It should be obvious…”

I let out a big sigh and then hand him the bouquet again. Then I lightly fix his hair and advise him to stand up straight.

He had a look of determination on his face when we parted yesterday, but today he just seems pitiful. His appearance is beginning to test my patience.

“Do you really like Lady Creaket? I don’t see it.”

“I do, I really do! I have always found her to be kind and…”

As soon as he mentioned Lady Creaket’s name, his gaze lifted upwards.

“Well then, you should gather your courage. Don’t be overconfident that you alone love Lady Creaket.”

“Quatra-sama always has a way of speaking harshly…”

I couldn’t catch Owen-san’s muttered words, but judging from Julian-sama’s expression that was like shooting someone, he probably said something bad.

Unlike before, I have acquired the skill of considering the other person’s feelings. Even if I were Owen-san, I would probably go on a rampage if someone spoke to me like this.

I also have a bad habit of raising my voice when I get angry, and it’s about time I changed that.

“Isaac Owen.”

“Y-Yes!”

When Julian-sama, who had been silently sulking all along, finally opened his mouth, Owen-san immediately became as straight as a wooden stick stuck in the ground.

“Alise’s words and actions are sincere. She told me that you, too, can surely achieve it.”

“Julian-sama…”

There he goes again. It was like déjà vu, the same expression as Isaac Owen earlier and Wolle and Tanatora just now.

Staring at Julian-sama with sparkling eyes, I feel like his complexion has improved.

What is with men… They really are incomprehensible.

“Your Highness Stratis, and Quatra-sama. Thank you so much for taking your valuable time for me! This Isaac Owen will definitely achieve it, even staking his family name!”

After showing a sharp salute that could make a sound, Owen-san tightened his grip on the bouquet and ran away.

As I watched his back disappearing quickly, I asked without looking at Julian-sama next to me.

“Did I really say that to Julian-sama? Like, ‘If it’s Owen-san…?'”

“Well, how was it?”

Without any remorse, he answered coolly and cleared his throat with satisfaction.

Chapter 53: She is bitter and sweet honey

ーー

After yet another uneventful day of classes, Julian-sama naturally comes to me after school.

“You two look great together!”

“What a handsome couple!”

“Quatra-sama is the only one befitting of His Highness’s fiancee!”

I exchange these kind of compliments with a smile, as I have grown used to hearing them countless times.

I recently came to realize that, apart from his interactions with me, Julian-sama still retains some of his previous cold demeanor. When he finds me, he lightly smiles and raises one hand with joy.

The other day, I happened to overhear some unfamiliar girls whispering about how they can’t understand why I’m so good, even though I’m feared in various ways by those around me.

While I find these insults annoying, I don’t feel the need to approach and shout at them. Rather, it makes me feel much worse seeing the rampant bullying between different classes at this school.

Ironically, I was the one who instigated it before. In the end, my own nature brought me down to a miserable death, so even I find it hypocritical to say that I’ll now live honestly.

So I couldn’t bring myself to face it directly, and as a result, I wanted to break the vicious cycle of my personal “toys” increasing.

“That Julian-sama. Hasn’t he been getting a little closer to me lately?”

In the past, I died without even knowing what a man was. My pride was as high as a mountain, so I never even thought about any other men besides Julian-sama, and as a result, I ended up living my life without even holding hands with anyone.

That’s why every time I have this kind of “interactions” with Julian-sama, my heart beats faster and I can’t calm down.

Regardless of likes and dislikes, he is the very embodiment of my ideal appearance. In addition, the current Julian-sama becomes sweeter to me as he gets older.

I can’t accept it honestly, but at the same time, it’s difficult to reject him. As a result, I can only blush and avert my gaze.

“In order to maintain the order of the academy, you must have more restraint…”

“If I obediently follow that kind of thing, Alise will be snatched away from me in no time.”

Together with a sigh of melancholy, I felt like sighing myself at the words that had been uttered.

“Only Julian-sama likes that kind of thing.”

“It’s not good. Recently you’ve been too defenseless. Especially since entering the school.”

“That’s not true.”

I protested with a snort, Julian-sama kindly narrowed his eyes.

“You’re spreading the charm hidden behind your bad personality too much. If possible, I don’t want you to be kind to anyone else but me.”

“Kind? Where am I kind?”

“Do you want me to show you?”

As always, he scooped up my amber-colored hair with his long fingers. Captured by the mysterious gray light, my body was immediately enchanted.

“Hehe, even you blushing is cute.”

“G-Geez!”

To his provocative smile, all I could do was pout.

Chapter 54: Lady Creaket and the Pillar

“What are you going to do now, Alise?”

“I was thinking of studying in the auditorium.”

“I’ll come with you.”

I keep the lines like “You don’t have to, do you?” in my mind. I know that if I say something unnecessary, I will receive some humiliation again.

In general, this place should be a sacred ground for cultivating gentlemen and ladies. I am worried that even if he is engaged, the prince of the country who should be a model might not care about his reputation in public by being overly affectionate.

Well, the actual situation of this school is a hotbed of arrogant nobles who believe that the more money they pay, the better treatment they receive.

By the way, my concern is just a general one. It is not that I am concerned about him personally. No, it’s definitely not the case.

As we keep repeating the whimsical cycle of moving closer and then moving away, I am suddenly called out.

“I apologize for calling you, Quatra-sama.”

In a delicate, bell-like voice, Viscount Creaket’s daughter, Lirena Creaket, proclaimed the following. —She was Isaac Owen’s beloved.

To be honest, we had never properly spoken face to face before. She had dim hair and eyes, and a sweet, unassuming charm.

She didn’t seem like the type to approach a Duke’s daughter on her own, but I could guess what she was going to say.

“Um… I heard from him that we caused a lot of trouble for Quatra-sama.”

“I see. You’re not mistaken.”

“I also apologize. I’m truly sorry for what happened.”

Like most other students, she trembled nervously before me, but she squeezed her little hands together in front of her chest and her eyes locked onto mine.

“Thanks to Quatra-sama… erm, well…”

Her cheeks, dotted with faint freckles, turned rose-colored. It seemed like her shaking wasn’t just due to nervousness and fear.

I crossed my arms and maintained a haughty attitude. If I didn’t, my inner thoughts might show on my face.

——So you’ve succeeded! How wonderful!

“I just did it to pass the time. There’s no need to thank me.”

“O-Oh… I’m sorry…”

Looking at her clearly deflated demeanor, something inside of me was stimulated.

“But from now on, it will be tough for you. As a noble’s daughter, you cannot decide your own engagement.”

“Y-Yes. I understand.”

“But, you don’t have to carry that burden alone. It’s a relief, isn’t it?”

I glance briefly towards the pillar’s shadow. As Owen-san notices my gaze, he turns toward me and bows deeply.

I don’t understand the meaning of his bow, but let’s leave it alone.

This must surely be Lady Creaket’s consideration. Meeting and talking frequently with a certain man outside of the classroom would not work in my favor as someone who has a fiancé.

So, that’s why he stands there, slender and watching over her. Lady Creaket might be a much stronger woman than she looks.

“If the conversation is over, then I shall take my leave.”

“Ah, yes. Thank you so much for sparing your valuable time, Your Highness Stratis and Quatra-sama. “He” also expressed his gratitude!”

“I see.”

I swished my skirt and turned my back to her and the pillar. After walking a little way, Julian-sama whispered in my ear.

“Alise looks cute when she’s happy.”

“Order! Please maintain the order of the Academy!”

Even with my face turning bright red as I refuted him, I couldn’t deliver a single blow to him.

Chapter 55: Spring of fifteen

As two years had passed since entering the academy, our relationship had remained unchanged as we turned fifteen.

On a quiet afternoon after finishing classes, the refreshing spring sunlight shone on my amber hair.

I absentmindedly watched Julian-sama, who was participating in a sports exchange with the male students, from the bench.

I spent my time reading the letter I had received from Lili because I had nothing else to do. By the way, I had received many letters from her since enrolling in this school, but not a single one from Okaa-sama.

“Alise.”

“Good job, Julian-sama.”

“What are you looking at?”

“A letter from Lili.”

He had become even more refined and beautiful, while I stood beside him as a comparably beautiful young lady.

As usual, I was feared within the academy, and although I had many followers, I couldn’t make any friends with whom I could talk freely.

However, strangely enough, what had changed was that I now had a certain number of “followers” who believed in me.

Perhaps it’s because I tirelessly make “toys” at every opportunity. They look at me with eyes full of ecstasy, saying that they and others have suffered less unreasonable violence thanks to the name Quatra.

It’s like a mysterious guilt that comes from knowing the strategy of a game before starting it. And because of my original personality, I refuse any gratitude without needing it.

Julian-sama always stays by my side and adds a few words of comfort. Although he’s not exactly friendly with anyone except me, the words of the Fourth Prince seem to hold considerable weight.

The majority of people view me as arrogant and snobbish, and some even think of me as a mysterious goddess.

By the way, several students kindly inform me that “so-and-so said that Quatra-sama is arrogant and snobbish!” so I am well-aware of my bad reputation.

But what sets my current life apart from before in this world is not that “Lady Quatra is pursuing Julian-sama” but rather that “Julian-sama is pursuing Lady Quatra.”

“Lady Quatra, it’s been a while!”

Wolle Tanatora, a male student with round glasses that were slightly taller than before, came running towards me. He had just enrolled in the adjacent Royal University and seemed to come over here for everything.

By the way, the gold-framed round glasses he was wearing were a gift from me, or rather, from me and Julian-sama.

“Tanatora-san, how’s your university life?”

“It’s much easier since there’s less nobility consciousness and they judge based on ability. Plus, my favorite professor whom I admired is at the university, and it makes me so happy to be able to attend his lectures.”

“That’s good to hear.”

With a thin smile, Tanatora-san hesitated and mumbled something.

“But, you’re not there, so I…”

“Oh my, Tanatora-san. You seem to be doing well.”

Suddenly, Julian-sama appeared behind me and as usual, hugged my waist and greeted him. His expression seemed perfectly normal, but Tanatora-san had a reaction as if he jumped.

“Ah, ahaha! As always, the two of you make a very handsome couple!”

“Thank you.”

While watching the flustered Tanatora-san, I narrowed my eyes coldly.

Really, he moves around so dramatically that he’ll break his glasses soon.

Chapter 56: Can’t accept

Even after two years, he’s still noisy. It feels like his voice is still lingering even though he’s already left.

“Alise seems to like him.”

“That’s a misunderstanding. We’re just having a regular conversation.”

“I don’t know about that.”

Saying so with a pout, Julian-sama rests his chin on top of my head.

“It’s heavy! Please stop!”

“Are you referring to my feelings for you?”

“No, I’m not!”

As our conversation reaches a dead end, I twist my body and resist him with force, causing him to pout like a child.

“Alise told me once, you know? That thoughts won’t be conveyed unless you say them out loud.”

“Julian-sama, we’re too close!”

“I’m already holding back quite a bit, you know.”

As I look at him casually saying this, I can’t help but feel foolish for being so angry with a red face.

I let out a big sigh and unconsciously my expression darkens.

“You don’t really know the real me, Julian-sama. If you did, you wouldn’t say those same words.”

“Alise.”

“I’m cheating, so…”

Unexpectedly, I blurted out something I never intended to say and quickly looked at Julian-sama’s face. Unable to bear the sadness in his eyes, I lowered my gaze.

“Alise.”

“I’m sorry, please don’t mind it.”

“Listen, Alise.”

His finger gently touches my weakly hanging hand, and I unconsciously flinch.

“I know you’ve been troubled about something for a long time, and I also know it’s not easy to talk about it.”

“Julian-sama…”

“I like you.”

His touching finger suddenly feels warm to me, and I feel like my heart is going to burn with sadness.

I just couldn’t bring myself to accept his feelings honestly. After all, he will eventually fall in love with Princess Chai, who came to this country.

After all, a fake can never beat the real thing.

“Don’t cry, Alise.”

“I’m not crying.”

I couldn’t bear his touch anymore, so I quietly turned away.

Even though I realize that I am hurting him, there’s nothing I can do. Because I am scared.

I already know it. Julian-sama’s appeal is not limited to his appearance. If I acknowledge the reason for this pain in my heart, I’m afraid there will be no turning back. I don’t want to be taken away.

I don’t want to die. I don’t want to experience such a miserable end again. If I fall in love with Julian-sama now, then…

“I like you, Alise.”

As he confesses his feelings again from behind me, I hold back my voice and shed a single tear.

Chapter 57: Prelude to War

For several days since that day, Julian-sama and I had an uncomfortable atmosphere between us. Actually, it was just me who felt that way, and his attitude was perfectly normal. No, it would be more accurate to say that he was treating me normally.

It has already been ten years since that day when I reversed time. Have I really changed? I have been plagued by worries, suffering, struggling, and being swept away. In the end, maybe the essence of Aliseteen Quatra as a human being has not changed at all.

In order to protect myself from what will happen in the future, I am hurting Julian-sama. Is it really the right thing to do?

“If there’s any meaning to this time that God has given us…”

I murmured under my breath and one of my attendants by my side tilted their head.

“Aliseteen-sama.”

At that moment, Sanna, who always acts with me, ran over looking worried. I called out to her as she gasped for breath.

“Are you okay? What happened for you to be in such a rush?”

“Just earlier, I accidentally overheard the teachers talking.”

In an instant, I felt a sensation like all the blood vessels in my body were boiling. Seeing me go pale, Sanna put her hand on my chest and helped me regulate my breathing.

“Aliseteen-sama, do you already know about it?”

“No, what are you talking about?”

I tried to play it cool, but had no confidence in my ability to do so.

“It seems that the princess from the neighboring country will be transferring to this school today.”

“… The princess from the neighboring country?”

“Her name is Chai-sama.”

The moment I heard her name, I felt like my knees were about to give out. For some reason, she was going to appear in front of me a year earlier than I had expected.

It was the same when Julian-sama was studying abroad in the neighboring country during his childhood. He had said that he had already met Princess Chai there, but that was supposed to be before the reversal.

He had also said that he didn’t have much to do with Princess Chai, but the fact that she was coming a year early probably meant that something had changed within her.

“Aliseteen-sama, Aliseteen-sama!”

“…I’m sorry. I was lost in thought for a moment.”

Seeing my clearly changed demeanor, Sanna made a gesture of concern. It was something that would have been unthinkable before, but it seems that her evaluation of me is gradually changing.

“It seems that there will be a welcome ceremony in the main hall later today.”

“Yes.”

I murmured just one word and fell silent again. Sanna and the other noble ladies seemed puzzled, but I didn’t have the time to worry about them.

Calm down, Aliseteen. Even though I’ll meet her a year earlier, I’ve already made up my mind about what to do.

Avoid getting too involved with her if possible.

And absolutely, do not get involved romantically.

Even if the distance between her and Julian-sama becomes closer, I must never feel jealous.

——I like you.

His hoarse voice and pained eyes. His feelings flowed into my fingertips when he touched me.

“…Don’t, Aliseteen.”

If I let my guard down, my body might run towards that person’s place any moment, so I desperately tried to suppress it.

“Well then, shall we go?”

I smiled at Sanna and the others.

Chapter 58: Fairies are alive and well

“Welcome, Princess Chai, to the Royal Luvalantia Academy. All students and teachers warmly welcome your enrollment.”

The principal moved his mustache up and down while giving a beaming smile to Princess Chai.

“I am very happy to receive such a warm welcome. However, I would be troubled by any special treatment. I am here to learn just like everyone else.”

When I was sixteen, I was in this space before. It was like a fairy tale had come to life, with a flower fairy-like girl. Her platinum blonde hair, which reached her shoulders, fluttered adorably as she walked.

Her big round eyes were framed by long lashes that seemed to make a sound every time she blinked. Her white cheeks blushed faintly from nervousness, and her delicate limbs were constantly moving.

From the top of her head to the tips of her toes, everything about her was the same as before.

But her actions in the next moment were something that did not exist in my memory.

“Your Highness Stratis!”

On the stage of the auditorium, Princess Chai was beaming with joy as she found Julian-sama among the crowd of students, and even went down from the stage to run towards him.

“Long time no see, Your Highness Stratis! I was greatly indebted to you in the Timberth Kingdom.”

“Princess Slophone.”

“I’m really glad to be able to attend this school where you are!”

Compared to Julian-sama, who showed almost no change in his expression despite being somewhat surprised, Princess Chai expressed her joy cutely.

I was surprised by this behavior, which was not like her before. At that moment, I felt that Princess Chai glanced at me, but her gaze quickly returned to Julian-sama.

Not only me, but everyone in this place was surprised by this situation. The students who were making noise were forcibly admonished by the principal, who chose appropriate words.

Sanna and a few other young ladies by my side kept glancing over here, seemingly concerned for me. Although my heart was trembling with unrest, I kept my chin up and remained composed.

As I had my lunch on the terrace, I gazed absentmindedly at the fluffy clouds in the sky. The surrounding students perhaps saw me as quietly furious about Princess Chai’s actions this morning.

However, my real emotions were a bit different. I wasn’t furious, but simply had questions.

I didn’t know much about Chai Slophone, but I could safely say that the previous her wouldn’t have done such a thing.

The previous her was kind to everyone without any discrimination. She didn’t seem to be particularly close to Julian-sama, and appeared to be focused on caring for me as his fiancée.

Despite that, I had acted in a way that could have taken a life due to ugly jealousy.

As I gazed at the clouds that had changed shape in accordance with the direction of the wind, I couldn’t help but wonder if Princess Chai’s personality had also changed from what it used to be, just like how Julian-sama and I had changed.

The wind can alter the form of clouds, after all.

“Ah, um, Aliseteen-sama…”

Sanna spoke hesitantly to me as I held onto my bread without trying to eat it.

“Are you… Are you okay?”

“What…are you talking about?”

“This morning, Slophone Princess’s…”

Ah, so they all think I’m angry.

“Don’t worry about me, Sanna. Thank you.”

“…”

Just like in that scene from a while ago, she once again dropped the sandwich from her hand with her mouth gaping open.

It seems that nowadays, she often drops her sandwiches.

Chapter 59: Strong Allies

“Julian-sama, would you please guide me around the campus again today?”

“Julian-sama, I brought some valuable tea from my home country. Please enjoy it with me.”

“Julian-sama, could you teach me more about this country?”

Princess Chai’s advances towards him were quite impressive. With adorable, fairy-like gestures, she clung closely to Julian-sama.

It took less than half a day for her to change her address from “Your Highness Stratis” to “Julian-sama,” and her behavior was so polite and friendly that even though she behaved so unorthodoxly, most people viewed her favorably.

Even though no one knew if the lie about “touching someone’s body in Slophone being a sign of friendship regardless of gender” was true, everyone accepted it. Especially the male students and male teachers.

The position I had gained in this school over the course of more than two years was nothing special and could easily be taken away by her.

Instead of sympathy for the Duke Quatra’s daughter, I was being pierced by the gazes that said, “But if it’s Princess Chai as the other party…”

However, it seems that not everyone thinks the same way.

“His Highness Stratis has a formal fiancee, Aliseteen-sama, so Princess Slophone’s actions are too much!”

“That’s right! She’s using Aliseteen-sama’s generosity as an excuse to escalate the situation even more!”

“Aliseteen-sama, please tell us anything you need!”

Seeing the young ladies who are always by my side, led by Sanna, getting angry as if it were their own problem, even I was surprised.

“Why are you so angry about it?”

“Isn’t it obvious? Aliseteen-sama has always protected us.”

Expressed in that way, I started to reminisce about the past in my head. I had responded to the insults from the other young ladies and warned them not to lay a hand on my followers, but never could I have imagined… it was about that?

When did they stop having fearful expressions? Well, Sanna still drops her sandwich out of surprise every now and then.

“We will always stand by Aliseteen-sama, no matter what.”

As they nodded firmly, I looked up to conceal the rising emotions within me. If I hadn’t done so, I would have probably burst into tears with a pitiful look.

“…That’s very reassuring.”

With a casual voice, that was all. However, I heard their happy laughter and desperately tried to hold back my overflowing emotions.

Thanks to them, the small spark that was within me vanished without igniting. I never thought that feeling like I’m not alone could warm my chest so much.

I am not alone anymore. I promised once again, as I was moved by their smiles, that I would never again destroy myself with jealousy.

Chapter 60: Just a Little More

He clearly confessed his feelings to me, but I couldn’t answer him. Due to Princess Chai’s appearance, we haven’t been able to exchange words properly for the past few days.

I feel relieved yet restless at the same time. It’s also because of her behavior, which is different from before, that I feel confused.

While watching him guide Princess Chai around the school, I struggled to come up with a name for this emotion that’s boiling inside of me.

“Alise.”

As I walked under the atrium of the school building, someone suddenly pulled me by the hand. I was momentarily surprised but soon understood who it was.

“Julian-sama.”

“I can finally touch you.”

He let out a sigh of relief and leaned his head on my shoulder. I squirmed in embarrassment, but my back was against the wall and I couldn’t move easily.

“I missed you.”

“We see each other every day though.”

“That’s not the same as actually meeting you.”

It was refreshing to hear him sound like he was pouting for once, and I couldn’t help but smile.

“We’re too close. Please, step back a little.”

“I don’t want to.”

“It seems like Julian-sama is acting like a child today.”

Feeling embarrassed, I could only speak words that weren’t cute. When I thought about how if it were “her”, she could say and do things that would make a man happy, my heart twinged with pain.

“Being with Princess Slophone is tiring.”

“You shouldn’t say things like that.”

“Because the queen herself told me to treat her with respect, it’s even more demanding.”

The line about “the queen herself” bothered me a little. I realized later, but Her Majesty didn’t seem to have a very favorable impression of Julian-sama.

Princess Chai is also the fourth princess, so it is hard to say for sure, but one can only speculate that the Queen may be trying to drive him out of Slophone if given the opportunity.

And it seemed like I wasn’t the only one thinking that.

Julian-sama rested his forehead against my shoulder and intertwined his fingers together.

“U-Um, Julian-sama…”

“I won’t be swayed by that person anymore.”

A flat, hushed voice. But his fingertips were warm, and the warmth spread to me.

“Currently, I am engaged to you of my own will. I have no intention of overturning that.”

“…Princess Chai is a charming person.”

Unconsciously, words that even sounded like resentment spilled from my lips. Julian-sama lifted his head, his eyes trembling with a poignant expression.

At the same time, my shimmering gray body swayed in his eyes.

“You know how I feel, yet you are cruel, Alise.”

“It’s just my personality, I’ve always been like this.”

I pouted and looked away, and Julian-sama chuckled softly.

“Alise is cute.”

His voice was sweet, and for a moment, I felt like crying.

I couldn’t help but think about how many more times he would say things like that.

Chapter 61: First experience

“Lady Quatra.”

“…”

“Lady Quatra.”

Resting my cheek on my hand on the desk, I gazed absentmindedly outside the window. My mind was filled with thoughts of Julian-sama, and I had even forgotten that class was still in session.

“Lady Quatra.”

My shoulder was lightly tapped, and it was then that I finally realized the teacher was calling on me.

“I asked you a question, did you hear it?”

“I-I’m sorry. I was a bit distracted.”

“If you’re feeling unwell, you can leave early, you know.”

In response to the gentle voice of the middle-aged teacher, I quietly shook my head. After apologizing again, he nodded and resumed the lesson.

At noon, I came to the courtyard with Sanna and the others as usual. I sat on the bench and took out the bread I had bought earlier from the paper bag.

However, without even taking a bite, I once again gazed absentmindedly at something in the distance.

“Oh, um, Aliseteen-sama.”

“…”

“A-Aliseteen-sama!”

Sanna looked at me with concern in her eyes when she heard my slightly forceful voice.

“Are you not feeling well?”

“No, it’s nothing like that.”

“Then… do you have any worries?”

Her eyes used to always have a look of fear and subservience, but her current expression seemed genuinely worried about me.

And I was different from my past self who only saw her as a pawn.

It’s scary to reveal your true feelings to someone, but I clenched my fist and met Sanna’s gaze.

“I… am very scared right now.”

She blinked repeatedly in shock.

“What is it that you’re scared of?”

“The future. I’m so scared of what will happen to me from now on.”

It’s true that the current me may be different from the me that was condemned on that fateful day. However, I’m not confident. If I were to acknowledge these feelings, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to suppress the desire to have Julian-sama.

If that were to happen, I wouldn’t even be able to imagine what I might do.

“I don’t want to hurt anyone anymore. Not myself, not anyone else.”

“Aliseteen-sama…”

“I’m sorry. I suddenly started saying things that don’t make sense.”

Although i tried to cover it up by raising the corners of my mouth, she remained serious.

With a compassionate expression and furrowed eyebrows, she said,

“I may not be able to understand all of Aliseteen-sama’s troubles… but isn’t it a feeling that everyone has to some extent, being scared of the future? Of course, including myself.”

“Yeah, that’s right…”

“I apologize, Aliseteen-sama. You confided in me so earnestly, but I…”

As tears began to well up in Sanna’s eyes, I gently stroked her head with narrowed eyes.

“It’s enough. Thank you for listening, Sanna.”

“Aliseteen-sama…”

“Come on, if you keep crying, you’ll drop the sandwich again.”

Really, it’s enough.

Rather than being surrounded by expensive jewels, or wearing trendy dresses every day, my heart was much more fulfilled.

Chapter 62: Princess Chai now

I need to talk to Princess Chai. She naturally doesn’t have any memories of before we went back in time, so I don’t even know if she recognizes me.

I do have the desire to restrain her actions as his fiancée, but that’s not what I really need to do.

It’s just speculation, but perhaps the Queen’s intention to drive Julian-sama to Slophone may also be an advantage.

Although Julian-sama has no intention of participating in the succession to the throne, maybe he would be happier living peacefully in Slophone than spending his whole life under the suspicious gaze of everyone due to his outstanding abilities.

If Princess Chai shares these feelings, I am prepared to withdraw, and I must show her that.

“Do it, Aliseteen. In this life, I’ll definitely show that I can be of use to someone.”

It doesn’t matter even if it means suppressing my own emotions.

At that moment, for the first time in my life, I sincerely wished for someone else’s happiness besides my own.

After school that day, I approached Princess Chai, who was still snuggled up against Julian-sama as usual. It was the first time I had intervened while they were together.

“Alise.”

“Oh, Quatra-sama! I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while now.”

Before Julian-sama could make a move, Princess Chai came running to me. Her smooth fingers took hold of my hand, and she smiled sweetly at me.

“My name is Chai Slophone. I apologize for the late introduction, Quatra-sama.”

“No, it’s fine. I am Aliseteen Quatra, the eldest daughter of the Duke Quatra household.”

“I have heard rumors that you are engaged to Julian-sama. You two look great together.”

In the past, this kind of confrontation was a piece of cake for me. But when I see her face, I can’t help but think of that day of condemnation, and I can’t speak well.

“Alise, you look pale.”

“I’m fine, Your Highness Julian.”

In an instant, the pain in my chest was like a knife as I saw Julian-sama’s hurt expression. I know I’m really the worst for intentionally using the title he hates.

“I thought I should apologize to Quatra-sama. I’ve been borrowing Julian-sama for the past few days.”

“…No.”

She has definitely changed since we last met. Princess Chai is not supposed to speak like this.

If it was the old her, she would have been the woman who could lead Julian-sama to happiness. If my life had continued after my death, they would have been engaged for sure.

Because Julian-sama had looked at Princess Chai with such love.

“Your Highness Julian, Princess Chai and I would like to talk for a while.”

“It’s no good.”

“Why not?”

I persist, as he responds sternly.

“Your complexion doesn’t look good. Let’s go to the infirmary together.”

“There’s no need for that. I’m with her.”

“Alise.”

Julian-sama grabs my wrist and I struggle to shake it off. He must have sensed what I was trying to tell Princess Chai.

That I was trying to step back.

“Please both of you, calm down.”

At the moment a soft and sweet scent tickles my nose, Princess Chai gently touches the hand he was using to touch me.

Seeing him let go of her hand in surprise, she smiles as if a flower has just bloomed.

“Quatra-sama. Today, let’s do as Julian-sama says and take good care of our health. We’ll speak again at a later time.”

“…Princess Chai.”

“I’ll take my leave. Julian-sama, I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

Showing perfect courtesy, she turned around gracefully and left with her guards.

In front of me, confused by her intention, a butterfly fluttered as if it was lured by her lingering fragrance.

Chapter 63: Julian’s heart

“If you don’t mind, I’ll go back to my room.”

“No, I can’t let you go in alone.”

As Julian-sama had said, he led me to the sickbay room. He guided me to one of the beds lined up and sat down on the chair placed next to it.

The school nurse had kindly closed the curtains around the bed, making it convenient for the two of us to be alone in the space.

Clearly, this school is a world that favors high-ranking nobles.

“Are you okay? Do you want me to bring you some water?”

Julian-sama kindly took care of me as I lay down on the bed. I shook my head and unconsciously reached out my hand toward him.

“Alise…?”

“I wish for Julian-sama to be happy.”

I just said that and quickly averted my eyes. I tried to pull my hand back, but he caught it with his fingers.

“Ju…Julian-sama.”

“Please, Alise, don’t leave me. If you’re gone, I…”

The hoarse voice stimulated my tear ducts. Lately, this is all we’ve been doing. It’s unlike us, and a dark, sad feeling envelopes my heart.

“Julian-sama is very charming, even without the name Stratis. Surely, I’m not the only one who thinks so.”

“I don’t care what anyone else thinks besides you.”

“Princess Chai will surely give you what you desire.”

“I don’t want that kind of thing!”

I heard him raise his voice for the first time. However, the gray eyes that stared back at me were not filled with anger, but rather sadness.

Julian-sama tightened his grip on my hand and pulled me closer. His body temperature flowed into me and melted with mine.

“What are you so afraid of? It’s as though you’re seeing something that I can’t see.”

“I, I…”

Julian-sama noticed that I had started to tremble slightly and he slowly, gently stroked my head. His hair, illuminated by the sunlight streaming through the window, looked very mystical.

“I’m sorry. I told you not to get anxious.”

“…Please don’t apologize.”

“I don’t want to let go of you. So, I’ll do what I can for that. It’s pathetic to just cling to you like a child forever.”

Surprised by his unexpected words, I sat up and Julian-sama smiled softly, as if telling me that everything is okay.

“Alise, I’m sorry for making you feel bad. I can’t be by your side even though I have you as my fiancee.”

“It’s okay, I…”

“Please trust me and wait, Alise.”

It’s just that I wanted their relationship to deepen. Even if he cancels our engagement and chooses her, I have decided never to hold a grudge.

If he goes to Slophone, I will never have anything to do with him again. That way, I won’t have to fear that ending anymore.

I’m sure Julian-sama will be able to be happy too——

“I, I…”

I just couldn’t answer. He continued to gently stroke my head.

Chapter 64: Shocking Facts

ーー

The guards lined up in a row, making me feel as though they were on high alert, ready to protect Princess Chai from any harm I might cause her.

“Good day, Quatra-sama. I’ve been wanting to speak with you for quite some time.”

Princess Chai said elegantly, sipping her tea on the café’s terrace inside the school.

As usual, she was as charming as a flower with her long lashes curled around her glistening blue eyes, which were being gently swayed by the early summer breeze. Her golden hair also made me want to reach out and touch it.

But I knew.

She was definitely different from her predecessor.

“Why do you look at me with such a fearful expression? It ruins your beautiful face.”

“I apologize, Princess Chai. It’s just how I was designed.”

“Well.”

She said with a high-pitched, adorable voice, playfully teasing me. I couldn’t tell if it was intentional or not, but she seemed to enjoy getting on my nerves.

Taking deep breaths to avoid being noticed, I quietly placed my teacup on its saucer.

“Have you adapted to life at the academy?”

“Thanks to Julian-sama teaching me various things, I haven’t encountered any problems.”

“That’s good to hear. Luvalantia is a wonderful country, but of course, it can’t compare to Slophone, the beautiful female-led nation.”

As she smiled brightly, the tea in Princess Chai’s teacup swayed and made big ripples.

“Come to think of it, I’ve heard rumors that Slophone has something really nice. All the women in the country must be using it, right?”

“What are you talking about?”

Princess Chai furrowed her eyebrows in confusion at my sudden comment.

“That’s why Slophone is called the beautiful female-led nation. It seems a bit sneaky to me.”

“What are you saying? Being called a beautiful nation just because they wear makeup? Besides, only the royalty…”

Princess Chai blushed and became indignant, noticing her own slip of the tongue only after seeing my expression.

To fall for such a cheap provocation, I am sure that Princess Chai is not the same as before.

“Did I say anything about powder?”

“You… fooled me?!”

“That line is also strange. If you really knew nothing, wouldn’t you be angry and feel insulted? You think you were deceived because you understand the intention behind my words? You remember that you gave me the powder.”

I gracefully turned my amber eyes towards her, and she responded with a loud scoff, like a textbook villain towards me.

“You realized it. That I also have memories from before the regression.”

“No, I wasn’t sure. That’s why I set the trap. I didn’t think you would fall for it so easily though.”

“You…!”

I calmed her trembling fists and tried to maintain a calm demeanor.

“Don’t get so excited. The guards will become suspicious.”

“…You really are someone who won’t change even if given a chance, aren’t you?”

With Princess Chai gnawing on her words with hatred, I opened my eyes in surprise for the first time.

She twisted her mouth triumphantly and snorted through her nose.

“It was me who turned back time. I was the one who saved you, remember?”

She smiled softly, and it was truly charming.

Chapter 65: Slophone queens

ーーJulian-sama, please don’t let anything bad happen to her. I will definitely find a way.

Princess Chai said this to me with teary eyes until the end. The memories of that time come flooding back to me, and my body unconsciously starts trembling.

Seeing me like that, Princess Chai in front of me laughed joyfully.

“In the long history of the Slophone Kingdom, there has only been one queen. Do you know why that is, Quatra-san?”

“…I have no idea.”

Somehow, even her way of addressing me had changed, and her eyes were clearly filled with a disdainful look towards me.

“That’s because there’s a special power that only direct female descendants of the royal family can use, and only once in their lifetime.”

“A special power…”

Slophone is still shrouded in mystery, despite being a friendly country. It is known as a country of beauties where women hold more power than men, but to think that such a thing…

“I’ll tell you this, it’s the truth. You think God gave you a chance? You, who weren’t even a good child.”

“… Indeed, Princess Chai is correct. I did die once, and then went back in time.”

“To be precise, you hadn’t completely died yet. I used my power before that happened.”

I don’t think everything she’s saying is a lie. If it were, it wouldn’t make sense that she and I both have memories from before the reversal. Surely, Slophone’s past queens had made their way to power by doing the same.

However, even if I were to believe her, there’s still something I can’t understand.

“I don’t understand… why did you use your power and go back in time? I was the one who was condemned, there shouldn’t have been any fault on your part.”

Contrary to before, Princess Chai was now very calm. Her guards didn’t seem to move at all, not even a flinch.

“This power is very convenient, but it’s not all-powerful. It cannot be used for personal gain or vague wishes like ‘make our country prosperous!’ And also, this power can only be used once.”

“But even so, why me?”

“Admittedly, at that time I wanted to help you. But it’s also true that I had my own motives.”

Princess Chai, while swirling the dwindling contents of her tea cup, gazed into the amber waves.

“I didn’t want to marry Julian-sama. There was someone I loved in Slophone.”

It was clear from the look in her eyes that she was not lying.

“I was terribly afraid that you would end up being killed if you kept causing trouble like that. But for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to hate you. You were burning with unrequited love and destroying yourself.”

The beautiful hair of Princess Chai swayed gently in the breeze. I thought her distressed expression was exceedingly beautiful.

“However, that was a mistake. Lady Quatra, you haven’t grown at all. All of the compassion I showed to you was pointless.”

I wonder why. It feels like there’s deep hatred harbored in her eyes.

Chapter 66: Mutual change

When Princess Chai holds her teacup with her slender fingers, she sips on her tea elegantly. Perhaps my earlier impression was just my misunderstanding.

She looked at me with a calm expression.

“At that time, Julian-sama’s and my parents, the kings and queens of our respective countries, wanted to arrange our marriage. Although I didn’t have a formal fiancé, he already had you as his intended partner. Parents are so selfish, aren’t they?”

I was never informed about any cancellation of our engagement. It’s ridiculous that they would even put Princess Chai in a difficult position behind my back.

However, it’s obvious which marriage would be more beneficial when comparing the Quatra family to the Slophone princess, regardless of them being from the Duke family.

The engagement under the guise of studying abroad was a way to connect the interests of both countries. This surely means that Their Majesties the King and Queen were secretly pleased with my downfall.

Even though I did nothing wrong, it weighs heavily on me that they proposed to cancel the engagement. They must be rejoicing that they can skip the trouble of doing it themselves.

Perhaps they didn’t even think twice about me dying, just seeing it as an easy way to get rid of me.

I know it’s my own fault. But the negative emotions continue to dominate my heart. Do they know how much I suffered from the unbearable loneliness and fear at that time?

“Oh dear, it seems like it was quite a shock for you. However, you are the one who caused it, so blaming others won’t do any good.”

“…I understand. It’s all because of my childish jealousy. There’s no one else, including you, to blame.”

My body is burning, yet my core is surprisingly cold. Even though I know I have to stay calm, I am easily overwhelmed.

“To me, who knew such intentions, you seemed too miserable and pitiful. That’s why I wanted to save you and rewound time. The reason you have memories from before the reversal is because I made it so. I can’t interfere with the formation of someone else’s personality, so I thought that if you remembered your mistake, you wouldn’t repeat it.”

I closed my eyes once to calm down. The current me is living as Aliseteen properly. It’s different from the time when I was only valued as a Duke’s daughter, trapped by appearances and pride.

Even if I can’t become a perfect good child, I have decided never to unjustly hurt someone again.

“Thank you, Princess Chai. Thanks to you, I have the chance to walk through life as a new person.”

“It seems like you haven’t changed much from before.”

“No. I am different from who I was back then.”

When I looked straight at her, she returned a small click of her tongue.

“Princess Chai, you’ve changed quite a bit. Back then, you were truly lovely and kind, like a fairy of flowers.”

“Yeah, I think so myself. I’ve become a bad girl.”

Her lips curved into a smirk, and there was no trace of the fairy of flowers left in her.

“Are you ready, Aliseteen Quatra?”

Chapter 67: Darkness is never sad

After returning to the dormitory, I gazed at the cloudy night sky from the small balcony. Tonight, not a single moon or star shone, just darkness.

“I wonder if it will rain tomorrow…”

As I murmured to myself, I felt someone’s presence behind me and turned around.

“…Sanna.”

“Are you feeling unwell?”

Sanna, dressed in a simple negligee, looked at me with worried eyes.

“If it’s okay with you, please let everything out.”

As she smiled and patted her own chest, my heart began to ache.

“…Why are you so kind? You used to be afraid of me, right?”

I suddenly looked up at the sky. A miserable image of my own death floated and disappeared on the pitch-black screen.

Sanna quietly stood next to me and looked up at the sky, just like me.

“To be honest, I was afraid of Aliseteen-sama. It was partly because of your family name, but also because you always seemed so confident and treated everyone as if they were beneath you.”

“…Yes, that’s true.”

“However, as I got to know Aliseteen-sama over time, I realized that the person I saw on the surface wasn’t everything.”

Her expression was gentle as she spoke in a soft tone.

“Aliseteen-sama is someone who is very clumsy. But I like you that way. The reason why I want to be by your side now is not because you are the daughter of Duke Quatra, but because you are Aliseteen-sama.”

“Sanna…”

“Not everyone is as open-minded as God. In the end, we tend to reflect back what has been done to us like a mirror. If Aliseteen-sama feels that I am kind, it may be because you treat me that way.”

Tears overflowed from my eyes without my being able to hold them back. I never thought that she felt this way in her heart.

In my first life, I indulged in my environment, lost myself, despised others, and died alone as a result.

Even in my second life, I have made countless mistakes. Saved by Lili, saved by Julian-sama, saved by kind people, and just now, saved by Sanna.

Being born into the Duke Quatra family was not my own doing. And yet, I had always been under the misconception that I was standing alone.

Surely, in my previous life, I must have lived thanks to the help of various people as well.

“What should I do? I don’t have a handkerchief with me.”

Seeing me crying, Sanna panicked and eventually offered me her own Negligee. I smiled softly.

“Thank you, Sanna. Thanks to you, I feel really brave.”

Everyone is saved by someone. And wanting to save someone in return, just as we were saved.

“I won’t run away forever. I’ll fight myself.”

Looking up at the sky again, there is still nothing shining in it.

But I thought that deep black darkness was so beautiful.

Chapter 68: Never to be outdone

“In this life, I love Julian-sama with all my heart. So please don’t interfere. If you do, you’ll end up miserably dying again.”

That was the conclusion of that day. Princess Chai, with her guards, left in triumph and a smile in front of me.

I cannot believe that her story of time travel is a lie. I don’t know if everything is true, but I think it is mostly factual.

She saved me. If she is seeking Julian-sama, I should yield to her.

Perhaps Julian-sama’s happiness lies with her.

However, I have made up my mind.

“Don’t hesitate, Aliseteen. You’ve already decided to reveal everything.”

I finished my morning preparations in front of the mirror and stared intently at my amber eyes, questioning myself about what actions I should take.

I haven’t been myself lately. Aliseteen Quatra is not this kind of person.

After taking a deep breath, I raked my hair back with a rustling sound. The amber color scattered and sparkled in the sunlight.

“Julian-sama.”

It had been since that time in the infirmary when we last spoke. He apologized to me, calling his own actions “reckless.”

Today as well, he calmly endured Princess Chai’s sticky skinship.

“Alise.”

“Good day, Quatra-sama. You look lovely as always.”

Before Julian-sama could speak, Princess Chai stepped forward. My temple twitched, but I clenched my fist and endured.

“Hello, Princess Chai. I apologize for being rude, but could I please speak with Julian-sama alone?”

“Can’t we talk as a group of three? I become anxious without Julian-sama by my side…”

Showing me those watery eyes won’t work. After making a fool out of me before, it’s just an act.

While cursing in my mind, I kept a calm expression. I won’t lose in the art of pretending to be a cat.

“I am sorry but I wish to speak with Julian-sama alone.”

“I beg your pardon? Julian-sama, I leave it up to your judgment.”

Perhaps I was getting annoyed, as I was starting to lose my composure as a cat. As expected, she is the winner in this purebred cat-covering genre.

“I cannot disrespect the princess. If you have something to say, say it now.”

“…Julian-sama, I…”

“I said, say it now.”

His cold eyes and motionless cheeks indicate his refusal of my presence.

It’s not a behavior I remember from him before.

But it’s an expression that I had seen many times before when I was in a different state of mind.

“…I understand. I apologize for being selfish.”

I struggled to hide my broken heart and couldn’t keep a proper tone as a lady. I quickly looked away and focused on staring at his feet.

“Please rest assured, Quatra-sama. I am simply learning about this country and academy from Julian-sama. There is nothing suspicious going on.”

“…Is that so. Very well.”

My broken heart couldn’t be mended right away. I could hear the echoing laughter of Princess Chai, so I thought I couldn’t fight anymore.

Above all, it was a shock to be rejected by Julian-sama. I tried my best to not look like a loser, held my head high, and left the place with a slow pace.

Chapter 69: In the early summer breeze

After finishing the classes packed mainly in the morning and completing the bridal training-like courses for female students in the afternoon, there was nothing else to do until dinner.

I could go to the library or study on my own in the auditorium, but I didn’t feel like doing anything like that after what happened earlier.

Without feeling like going back to Sanna and the others, I walked towards a small hill inside the campus. The smell of early summer greenery carried by a slightly warm breeze tickled my nose.

At this moment, I didn’t hate immersing myself in nature like this. Shiny jewels and trendy dresses were charming too, but for now, I just wanted to let myself go with the flow.

“Hey, Lady Quatra?”

Unexpectedly, someone called out to me. Surprised that someone was there, I turned around.

“I can’t believe we meet here like this!”

“Tanatora-san.”

Wolle Tanatora, with his pretty face and round glasses, beamed upon seeing me. He graduated from this academy and went on to the adjacent Royal University. He still comes here occasionally, just like he said before.

I didn’t expect to meet him in a place like this, but it was a good opportunity. I turned to face him and pulled back the gloomy expression within me.

“Thank you for your help the other day. I haven’t properly thanked you, and I’m sorry for that.”

Thanks to him, I was able to make a bouquet even within the school in the Isaac Owen incident. I had once thought to properly reward him, but it was put on hold due to the commotion with Princess Chai.

“Don’t worry about it! I simply received permission from the teacher to pick flowers.”

“It was a great help.”

“It’s embarrassing to be called by Lady Quatra.”

While ruffling his fluffy hair, he shyly smiled. But then, as if looking for an assassin, he suddenly began to glance around.

“Are you alone today?”

“Yes, I am.”

“That’s unusual. His Highness Stratis isn’t with you.”

Upon hearing the name uttered from his mouth, my mood sank once again. I turned my body downwind, trying to send it away with the breeze.

“That person doesn’t have time to concern themselves with me right now.”

“By any chance… is it Princess Slophone?”

Even though Tanatora-san seemed ignorant of rumors and was a pharmacy maniac, he returned my gaze with a sad expression.

“There is a son of a minister who serves as a close aide to His Majesty the King at the university. I am somewhat familiar with him, and I heard the rumors from him.”

“I see. Well, I suppose it’s easy to imagine that many within the royal family would also hope for Princess Slophone and Julian-sama to marry.”

“Um… to be honest, I was worried about you. That’s why I was looking around here to see if I could find you.”

He seemed genuinely worried about me. Both him and Sanna, why are so many good people gathering around me?

Sanna said that what goes around comes around, but I can’t believe that’s really the case.

“It’s really a coincidence that we met here. I’m just lucky! But Lady Quatra seems sad, so…”

“It’s kind of you to worry about me.”

“If I can repay the favor I received from you, I’ll do anything!”

Favor, that’s really overdramatic. I only did it to escape from my guilt at that time, not because I was worried about him.

Being thanked like this is just burdensome.

“You said we were friends, didn’t you? Favors like that don’t matter between friends.”

“Lady Quatra…”

“Besides, I’m not feeling down. I’ve decided to do everything I can.”

When I smiled at him, his expression twisted even more painfully.

“I’m just a Viscount’s son. I can’t win against you, a noble Duke, or Prince Stratis no matter how hard I try. But if it will make you smile, I’ll help you with anything. This has nothing to do with favors.”

“Fufu, thank you, Tanatora-san.”

I came here thinking that I wanted to be alone, but thanks to his kindness, I was saved once again.

As I looked at his hair swaying in the wind, the frayed edges of my heart began to gradually calm down.

Chapter 70: Cooperation of friends

Human beings are mysterious, aren’t they? To think that living alone is nothing but arrogance.

Even if I feel like I’ve been pushed down to rock bottom and can’t crawl back up, just one word from someone can give me the strength to do so.

For Julian-sama, I want to be that kind of existence.

I finally admitted to myself that I love him.

“…This is the first time for me. Adding my previous life, I’ve been alive for almost 27 years.”

Muttering to myself while leaning against the school building, I gazed at Julian-sama and Princess Chai who were a little further away.

She sticks to him like glue outside of class. He still has that blank smile on his face and seems to quickly avoid being touched.

If it really is under the guise of entertaining a princess, what kind of attitude is that?

——Alise

That sweet voice calling me by a nickname and that soft smile. I have to see when his face, which is only shown to me now, will one day turn to Princess Chai.

As I thought this, my heart sharpens with pain as if a sword had been thrust into it.

“…My wish is not my own happiness.”

If Julian-sama is happy, then I don’t mind.

I gripped my skirt tightly and took deep breaths.

“Princess Slophone, I apologize for interrupting you at such a busy time.”

“We have always wanted to speak with the princess, and have been hoping for an opportunity to do so someday.”

“We know that we are interrupting your time with Prince Stratis, but could we also have a chance to speak with you?”

The young ladies who are always by my side, including Sanna, appear in front of the two of them. Even from here, I can feel their nervousness, and I regret the request I made.

I really have to thank these girls who have helped me cooperate to have some alone time with Julian-sama.

“Thank you everyone. I would love to chat with all of you as well, but…”

“We admire Slophone women so much! We would love for you to please teach us the secret of your beauty, as your country is known as a nation of stunning women!”

“The culture that values women is also wonderful! We are interested in how Slophone gentlemen treat women!”

“We are also very knowledgeable about what is currently popular among the young ladies of Luvalantia!”

While wearing a smile, Sanna and the others persistently pressured Princess Chai, who gently refused.

“Prince Julian, would it be okay with you?”

Sanna asked him nervously. For them, speaking to these two individuals on their own was like putting their lives on the line. Nevertheless, they were doing their best for me and not for their own sake.

“I don’t mind.”

“Julian-sama.”

“But I’ll be accompanying you.”

Nobody could object to his sharp response. Why did Julian-sama not want to leave her side? Perhaps his heart was already…

I firmly stepped on the ground and appeared from the shadow of the building. I stood in front of the two of them, as if protecting Sanna.

“I apologize. I asked these young ladies to arrange an opportunity for me to speak with Princess Chai.”

“A, Aliseteen-sama.”

“We just want to purely learn about Slophone’s culture.”

If I were to speak the truth, they would also be blamed. I put on a ladylike smile, and respectfully curtsied to them.

Chapter 71: Duke’s daughter and the princess

When Julian-sama saw me, he briefly showed a surprised expression but quickly reverted to his usual stoic face. His expression in this moment made me feel like I was back in the world before the reversal, and my emotions were strongly shaken.

“However, it was a somewhat sudden invitation. I did not take enough consideration. Please forgive my rudeness, Princess Chai.”

“No, I won’t forgive you. Quatra-sama just doesn’t like me, so this is all just a harassment.”

“That’s not true! Aliseteen-sama did nothing wrong! We did it on our own because we wanted to become closer to the princess!”

Sanna and the others, who were hiding behind me, now stepped forward to protect me.

“Sanna, please stop. This is not your place.”

“But Aliseteen-sama shouldn’t have to bear all the blame alone. I can’t stand for that!”

The other young ladies also nodded vigorously in agreement with Sanna’s words. Although I didn’t change my expression, inside, I felt like shouting with joy.

“The young ladies here just wanted to listen to Slophone’s story. There’s no need to blame them, including Alise.”

Julian-sama spoke emotionlessly.

Princess Chai glared at me with a face that seemed like she might even click her tongue. However, she seemed to remember that she was trying to act innocent and put on a sad expression, looking up at Julian-sama with upturned eyes.

“I was suddenly cornered by everyone here and was very scared. If it was Quatra-sama’s fault, I won’t be satisfied until she takes responsibility.”

Certainly, it wasn’t a commendable action to suddenly approach a princess like this, even if we were fellow students in the same academy.

But the previous her would never blame someone like this, hiding behind her position.

“Princess Slophone, Alise did nothing wrong. It is wrong to hold her responsible.”

“Julian-sama, are you protecting Quatra-sama instead of me? That’s not fair!”

“I am only saying that it is unwise to make a fuss over such a trivial matter.”

Watching him maintain his calm tone, Princess Chai’s large eyes filled with clear, beautiful tears.

“It’s terrible. Nobody is on my side. The people of Luvalantia are ignoring me, a princess.”

“Princess Chai, it’s okay if I go on suspension for a while.”

“Alise.”

I held up a hand to stop Julian-sama, who was about to argue, and looked straight at Princess Chai. I didn’t avert my gaze or hunch my back.

“Considering that I am the daughter of the Duke Quatra, I humbly request that you have a broad heart and do not punish anyone other than me, Princess Chai.”

“I understand what you mean without you having to say it.”

“Thank you for your kindness.”

She snorted before lowering her eyes to show respect. It seemed that she wouldn’t inquire any further.

“Alise, you don’t need to go on suspension.”

“Julian-sama.”

He went silent when I called his name as if reproving him. He still seemed like he wanted to say something, but I pretended not to notice and gracefully turned my skirt before leaving the place.

Chapter 72: I don’t understand

In the end, was it because I am Duke’s daughter or because Julian-sama protested that I was only given a five-day suspension? Surely he understood what I didn’t want at that time. The punishment of a mere lady is different from a quarrel between royalty of different countries.

Throughout the long history of the world, there are countless examples of wars that began with trivial things that couldn’t even be remembered why.

No matter the era, it’s just the way people are.

Thanks to the bribe that my parents donated to the school under the guise of a large amount of aid, I have no roommate. Although it’s a comfortable and cozy room for a dormitory, at times like this, it can be seen as a disadvantage of regression to suddenly become lonely.

As I sit on the sofa in cactoire(?) staring out the window absentmindedly, I hear a faint knock on the door. When I opened the door, there stood the dormitory mother.

“Lady Quatra, I have come to deliver a message from His Highness Stratis. He wishes for you to come to the common recreation room after noon.”

“But I am currently under suspension.”

“There is no one else at that time except for me. Rest assured that I will never disclose anything due to His Highness’s command.”

It’s not like that, but there’s no point in pressing the dorm mother further. She was just asked by Julian-sama, and if I were to refuse, she would be caught in the middle.

When I nodded, she visibly breathed a sigh of relief and left.

Although the dormitory is separated by gender, there are several shared spaces. This entertainment room is one of them and is supposedly designed as a wholesome place for students to interact with each other.

“Alise.”

Julian-sama rushes towards me as soon as he sees me. My heart sways complicatedly as I look into his narrowed gray eyes, filled with relief.

“You came.”

“So as not to cause trouble for the dorm mother who entrusted me with a message.”

“I’m sorry for making you do something like this.”

I haven’t seen his soft smile in a while. I try to hold back my tears from falling just by seeing it.

I used to cry easily, but when did I become so good at enduring things?

“Julian-sama is so good at acting, isn’t he?”

“Alise…? What do you mean by that…?”

“Between the cold expression you directed at me in front of Princess Chai and the one you’re showing me now, which one is your true feelings?”

Now that I’ve realized I have feelings for Julian-sama, I find myself comically dancing to his every move.

My wish, to never have a miserable death again, has changed.

I want to do everything I can for his happiness.

He smiled at me, whispered that he loves me, and gently rubbed my head.

Just from that, I have already forgotten the feel of the cold floor from back then.

“I’m sorry to have made things hard for you. But I…”

“You don’t need to apologize. Please act as you wish. If you decide to engage Princess Chai, I will leave gracefully.”

“… Please don’t say that, Alise.”

He has a childish side to him. He looks at me with sad eyes, as if begging me not to abandon him.

Even though it’s me, not you, who’s in danger of being abandoned.

“I don’t intend to blame Julian-sama. I just want him to stop giving me mixed signals like this.”

“There’s only Alise for me. I don’t care about anyone else. I can’t imagine and don’t want to think about a future without you.”

His fingertips, which were extended towards me, hesitated and wandered through the air without touching me. I can’t help but be happy that his always calm expression easily crumbles in front of me.

“I don’t mind dying for you.”

The words that were muttered were spoken in a voice that sounded like it was full of madness.

Chapter 73: What hasn’t changed, that is

Suddenly averting his gaze from me, Julian-sama smiled wryly.

“To be honest, I shouldn’t be meeting with you like this. Even though I knew that, I couldn’t suppress my desire.”

“Julian-sama…”

“In the end, I’m the one getting in the way of your happiness.”

I didn’t let Julian-sama, who had taken a few steps back, escape. As I approached him again, he opened his eyes slightly.

“What is it that Julian-sama is carrying on his shoulders?”

“I am a foolish person who only thinks about myself.”

As Wolle Tanatora had also mentioned, he must be under pressure from the king and queen to cancel the engagement with me and get along with Princess Chai.

The Julian-sama in front of me doesn’t seem to have shifted his affection towards Princess Chai.

He might be torn between his position as the fourth prince and his feelings for me.

I regretted prioritizing my own loneliness and pushing him like this.

“It’s really difficult to prioritize other people’s feelings over my own…”

“Alise?”

“Julian-sama. I really like you.”

With a bright face, I made my sudden confession, and Julian-sama blinked several times with a shocked expression. From an outsider’s perspective, our appearance must look too different, perhaps even comical.

“So, if it means that Julian-sama can be happy, I will do anything. Really, I’m not lying.”

“A-Alise…um…”

“I would even die for you, if it’s for your sake.”

I don’t want to die a miserable death alone. I have lived this life just for that one outcome.

But maybe, my heart had already made the decision at that time.

——You’re interesting. You’re not what I imagined.

Since the day when you, at the age of five, smiled at me for the first time, I haven’t changed my mind.

“…That’s right. When I think about it, I haven’t looked for anything else.”

I want him to smile at me.

Something that I desperately wanted and would resort to any cowardly means to obtain, but couldn’t no matter what.

My wish had already been granted a long time ago.

“Alise, what’s going on?”

Julian-sama looked puzzled at my sudden change in attitude. Well, that’s to be expected.

But when I saw his porcelain-smooth cheeks slightly flush with red, I smiled softly.

“I’m fine. I just became honest.”

“…I give up. What should I do?”

“Fufu.”

While frantically shifting his gaze, Julian-sama was unusually flustered.

I couldn’t help but laugh at how cute he looked trying to hide his embarrassment behind a sulky face.

Although none of my problems had been solved, my heart was finally set. It’s surprising how such a simple decision can make me feel so relieved.

As he kept stealing glances at me and blushing more and more, I couldn’t help but find him incredibly cute from the bottom of my heart.

Chapter 74: Chai Slophone

ーー

“Julian-sama.”

I called out his name with my sweetest voice, but his facial muscles revealed his lack of interest.

“Is it okay for you to behave towards me like this? Do you not care what might happen to your beloved Lady Quatra?”

“…”

“Don’t make that scary face. If you just listen to what I say, I won’t cause any harm to her.”

No matter how much I whispered, his expression remained the same. What a boring man he was. I hate men like him.

I used to be a very good girl. As the fourth princess, I didn’t have much freedom, but I never gave up.

That was because Mian was by my side. He was my precious childhood friend. I cherished him from the bottom of my heart. Mian was the son of Count family, but his mother and the Queen, my mother, were also childhood friends, so he often came to the palace to play. That’s where I met him and fell in love.

We probably cannot be together. He is the third son and I have no way to marry into another family. I will either have to become a bride to a more powerful family in the country or be married off to a prince in some other country.

“This power is useless.”

A special ability possessed only by direct female descendants of the Slophone family. However, the conditions for manifestation are limited, and it cannot be used for selfish gain.

All I can do is watch Mian marry someone and have children, living a happy life. No matter how many times I cry myself to sleep, that fact never changes.

“Why… Why you and not me!”

Her beautiful face contorted with jealousy, and she glared at me while shaking her amber-colored hair. She was just like me. If Mian were to have a lover, I wouldn’t have the confidence to not become like her.

Aliseteen Quatra, blessed with beauty, talent, and a prestigious family, still couldn’t achieve the one thing she desired the most.

I’m sure I will be forced to marry Julian Da Stratis, the fourth prince of the Luvalantia Kingdom. His perfectly sculpted appearance was unnerving, like a lifeless doll.

Lady Quatra often cursed me, accusing me of stealing something from her, but I didn’t understand why she thought that. It was Lady Quatra who used underhanded tactics and even tried to take my life. She brought about her own ruin, and yet I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.

“Why do you smile at that woman?”

She has never received a smile from him. He has never been kind to her, let alone told her he loves her.

Perhaps it only appeared that way to her eyes, clouded with jealousy.

…Truly, what a pitiful woman.

Chapter 75: Her nightmares

It was a gamble whether the power would really activate or not. After all, since the power can only be used once, there was no way to test it.

“I will definitely find a way to do it.”

As I looked at Lady Quatra, who was being sunk into the blood by the hands of the guards, I appealed to her. No matter how many times I said that I was not her enemy, Lady Quatra did not understand.

Maybe I was strange wanting to save the person who tried to kill me. But at that moment, I wanted to do it.

The dead cannot be saved, and I cannot interfere with her personality. Even if I release her from the prison, the situation will not be resolved.

So I thought, why not turn back time? If I use my power as an executor and reverse it while leaving our memories intact, we should not follow the same path.

If she could safely marry His Highness Julian, then I wouldn’t have to become his wife. It doesn’t mean I would end up with Mian, but that is fine for now.

“Lady Quatra. Next time, may you have a peaceful life without envying others——.”

I never thought it would actually work. I was skeptical about the idea that only women of Slophone descent possessed this power.

I hope Lady Quatra is doing well. I prayed that she would be able to retain her memories, but there was no way to confirm if that was actually the case.

From here on out, I had no choice but to entrust it all to her.

Afterwards, I went through my life a second time, following the same path as before. I was happy that I could build memories with Mian again, and I cherished our ordinary days while watching his every move.

And then, an unexpected event occurred in my life, which had been going smoothly up until then. It happened when I was ten years old.

“Chai. Go and find out what kind of person Stratis’ fourth prince is.”

Even among the nations renowned for their beautiful women, my mother, the queen, was exceptional in terms of her beauty. But for me, that was just one of the factors that added to my fear.

I couldn’t go against my mother.

I don’t know why he enrolled at Timberth for this life, but mother has already counted Julian, His Highness, as one of my prospective marriage partners.

“Why… can’t Lady Quatra make things work out?”

Perhaps the distortion of the human heart is just not easy to fix. If they keep repeating the same mistakes despite experiencing such things, there may be no hope for them.

“You don’t look happy, Princess Chai.”

“I told you to stop calling me that when we’re alone.”

At ten years old, it was the time when potential engagement partners appeared for both of us. Mian, just like in our previous life, gradually distanced himself from me.

But this time, I was a little more proactive.

“I feel really depressed when I think about living without you from tomorrow.”

“Chai, you shouldn’t say things like that. Timberth is much more prosperous than here, and it will certainly be a valuable learning experience.”

His argument was valid, but that’s not the kind of thing I wanted to hear.

“It’s still lonely without you. Are you really okay without me, Mian?”

“Well… even I get lonely.”

Mian’s shyly blushing face is so adorable, and just this simple interaction fills my heart with happiness.

“I’ll buy you lots of souvenirs.”

“More than that, I just want you to come back safely.”

“Mian…”

In my previous life, I was never told things like this. Slowly but surely, a desire begins to bud within me.

“When I return home, the first thing I want to do is see you.”

“But you haven’t even left yet.”

“Hey, promise me that you’ll wait for me to come back, okay? Don’t forget?”

I puff out my cheeks and lean in closer. I can see his face flush again.

“Forget? No way, that’s impossible. I’ll be waiting for your return.”

“It’s a promise, Mian.”

Even though I want to touch him, I know I’m not allowed to. But just seeing him smile like that is enough to make me happy.

Yes, that alone makes me happy.

❂❂❂

“No… it’s a lie. I refuse to believe that Mian is dead.”

Please, someone tell me this is just a bad dream.

Chapter 76: I couldn’t breathe without blaming someone else

It’s my fault that he died. After completing my two-year study abroad program in Timberth, I wrote down the date I was going to return and sent it to him in a letter.

Mian, who had been spending time at the estate within the territory with his father, hurried to the capital when he found out about my return. The letter I sent from Timberth arrived to him later than I expected. On his way, he was attacked and killed by a group of former knights turned bandits.

——I wanted to see you first when I returned.

He wanted to keep that promise.

“If only I hadn’t said those things…”

It was my fault that he had fewer bodyguards than usual during his carriage ride.

It was my fault that he took a different route to the capital than usual.

It was my fault that his body was torn apart by swords.

It was my fault, my fault…

“Is it really my fault…?”

Come to think of it, if His Highness Julian hadn’t gone to study abroad in Timberth, I would’ve never left the country. No, if we were to trace it back, if Lady Quatra hadn’t caused such a problem, I wouldn’t have needed to use my power to turn back time at all.

“Mian… I should have just married without love instead of losing you…”

A lost life cannot be returned. Force cannot be used for my own greed. Just like back then, I’m sure I cannot turn back time again. My desire to revive Mian is too strong.

“Mian, Mian, my precious Mian…”

On the cemetery hill outside of the royal capital, I wonder how long I clung to his grave. The sky that was shining brightly with the sun had turned overcast and started to rain heavily.

Forcibly pulled away by the guards, I struggled and screamed, and lost consciousness along the way. When I awoke, I was in my room, lying in my soft and fragrant bed with smooth sheets.

Thinking of him buried in the damp, hard soil, I shed tears once again.

Is it really my fault?

Wasn’t it that woman who took Mian away from me?

Lady Quatra was so jealous that she wanted to kill me. Such a cruel and selfish personality cannot easily change.

Perhaps that woman still resents me. Despite leaving behind memories in hopes of repenting and not repeating the same mistake, she may have taken revenge on me for it.

If she was somewhere praying to god for my misfortune even now…

“That’s right. Mian’s death was all Aliseteen Quatra’s fault.”

I tried to help you.

I will never forgive you for taking him from me.

Blood trickled down from my bitten lips and dripped onto the pure white sheets.

Chapter 77: The distorted fairy

“Chai. Are you aware that you are the fourth princess of this country?”

“Yes, Okaa-sama.”

“As someone without exceptional talent like your sisters, your only value is in marrying someone who benefits Slophone. That’s all.”

I didn’t want to be born fourth, and I always struggled but I never lost against any adversity. I was constantly compared to and belittled by my older sister. I was repeatedly told that my only redeeming qualities were my appearance and charm.

However, I was able to live and not rot away because of Mian. Even if we couldn’t spend our lifetime together, I just wanted him to be happy.

But he died.

It was all Aliseteen and Quatra’s fault.

Somewhere in my heart, the old me asked if this was wrong and tried to steer towards the right path.

There was no other choice. If I didn’t do this, my heart would have shattered and disappeared.

Ironically, now I understand how she felt at that time.

——You should just die.

Her amber eyes gazed at me as she spoke.

Now it’s my turn to tell you.

You, who took Mian away from me, should just die.

As time passed, I turned fifteen. I used to hate transferring to the Luvalantia Royal Academy, but now I couldn’t wait to go.

“Okaa-sama, I will definitely engage myself with the fourth prince of Luvalantia.”

“As expected of my daughter. Your marriage to the prince of his country will definitely benefit Slophone.”

“Leave it to me.”

I am not interested in inheriting the throne. The role of a queen is to use her own children as tools for the country.

“It’s been a while, Prince Stratis! I was very grateful for your help in Timberth.”

“Princess Slophone.”

“I’m really happy to be able to enter this academy where you are!”

I smiled softly, like a lovely flower blooming in the spring sun.

Like how Mian was taken away from me, I will also take away Prince Julian from Aliseteen. And once again, she will have to be friends with the cold and dirty floor.

While leaning towards Prince Julian, I immediately turn my gaze towards Aliseteen. Seeing her surprised expression, I knew right away that her memories prior to the reversal were still intact.

It’s just so pitiful that she’ll have to experience despair again for the second time in her life.

But, it’s your own fault.

Chapter 78: I’ll teach you

For the first time, I am experiencing the feeling of frustration that things are not going as planned. I gritted my teeth and bit my nails while shouting at the servant waiting behind me.

In school life, there are usually no servants, and I have to take care of everything myself. But because I am not used to this environment, I insisted to the school principal to have more guards, even more than His Highness Julian himself.

“This is ridiculous. This is definitely wrong.”

As I murmured while the sound of teeth grinding, the servant looked at me with a frightened look as if they were looking at a monster. Even their attitude makes me angry, so I am thinking of punishing them when I return to my country.

Aliseteen Quatra was different. She didn’t do anything to me even though I was clinging to His Highness Julian, and even tried to start a conversation with me.

I was easily fooled by her, but I put on a calm smile while trying hard to suppress my boiling anger.

“I truly love Julian-sama with all my heart in my current life. So please don’t get in the way. If you do, I’ll end up dying miserably again.”

She looked perplexed. The amount of given information was overwhelming, causing confusion. How amusing.

——Alise

“…I won’t forgive you. How dare you try to be happy all by yourself.”

The impact that environment has on a person is truly terrifying. My former self would have wholeheartedly blessed the girl referred to by Julien-sama lovingly.

I would have hugged Alise back then and assured her that what you did was not a mistake.

But now, I hate her with all my being. Despite my beloved Mian having passed away, why are you the only one smiling, Alise?

My heart has been shattered, so yours should be broken as well.

“I did nothing wrong.”

I murmured the exact same words as she did back then, looking up at the sky.

Uninterestingly, Julian-sama didn’t obey me. Therefore, I threatened him by saying that I’ll harm Aliseteen if he didn’t come to my side.

“If you tell anyone, I will kill her immediately. So if you don’t want that, then obey me in silence.”

He glared at me hatefully, but followed my orders.

Even as I leaned closer with a coquettish gaze and rubbed against him, he stayed expressionless and kept his distance. Instead of paying any attention to me, he just stared off into the distance at Aliseteen, who was sitting on the terrace.

“Do you really like her that much?”

“Yes, I do. I love her.”

I couldn’t help tensing up at those nauseatingly cliché words. I didn’t want to hear them.

I covered my face with both hands and pretended to sob.

“Didn’t Julian-sama tell me that he loves me?”

“Don’t lie.”

“I’m not lying. In・my・past・life, you certainly expressed your love for me. After the execution of Aristino Quatra.”

In an instant, Julian-sama stood up. The garden chair he had been sitting in fell over with a loud noise, but he didn’t pay it any mind as he glared at me with a murderous intent.

A sly smile formed on my lips, concealed by my hands.

Chapter 79: Julian’s despair

——It’s impossible, all of this is just Chai Slophone’s delusional nonsense. This woman is just making up lies to trap me and Alise.

That’s what I think, but each and every word uttered by the woman in front of me, as she deliberately sheds tears, pierces through my heart.

When I recall the days I spent with Alise, which were not short by any means, I can’t deny everything for some reason. She was always troubled by something. Occasionally, she would be frightened by something like a fit or overreact to my words.

When we were children, Lili was always there for Alise, dedicating herself to supporting her. It happened many times to my knowledge, so it must have been even worse in reality. It makes sense that Alice was so open and fond of Lili.

——I…I haven’t changed at all.

——What do you know about my heart? Don’t act like you do!

——I wanted to be a good girl…

The vague memories from her childhood came and then faded away behind her eyelids. Somehow, I believed that she had always been troubled by the fact that her actions and emotions were not aligned.

She led her followers with a stern attitude and helped the students who were bullied by the high-ranking aristocrats, claiming they were her personal toys.

I loved her even for those things.

Alise may not have been perfect. However, with her charming and human-like struggles, she was so endearing.

To me, who had given up struggling against the chains of being the Fourth Prince, she was a dazzlingly beautiful existence.

“You should ask Aliseteen Quatra. Did you ever intend to kill Princess Chai due to jealousy?”

Chai Slophone, who was in tears just moments ago, now had a faint smile on her face.

To me, this woman, who was praised like a fairy or an angel, appeared to be nothing more than a demon threatening Alise.

That demon approached me and whispered.

——You loved me, didn’t you?

“You’re so unpleasant. I want to throw you in jail for disrespect and cut off your head right now.”

“Well, how scary. You seemed so calm in front of Lady Quatra, but you were hiding your true nature. Just like me, just like her.”

“Stop it. I won’t allow you to speak badly of Alise. I have no intention of listening to your false accusations anymore.”

Even when I glared at Chai Slophone with all of my hatred, she didn’t seem to care and simply held out her hand towards the sky.

“Please, feel free to confirm it as much as you want. For your beloved Alise.”

If what this woman was saying was true…

It would mean that she would never love me.

Chapter 80: In the deepest darkness

Today’s class ended without incident, and I decided to go with Sanna and the others to seek shade from the heat. It has been noticeably hotter lately, and even wearing short-sleeved shirts makes me sweat.

As I wiped my sweat away with my handkerchief, I looked up at the sun shining high above and squinted my eyes.

“Sanna, about what you said yesterday…”

“Ah!”

“Huh?”

In the midst of our trivial conversation, she suddenly raised her voice. And for some reason, she quickly stood in front of me.

“Aliseteen-sama, wouldn’t you like to go over there?”

“Why? The shade is over there…”

“I really want to go that way!”

…I see, that’s what it’s about. I feel bad for her, as she is struggling to cover my field of vision by stretching herself, but I can still see clearly.

It’s because the two of them are there, where we’re supposed to be heading.

“Thank you, Sanna. But I’m alright now.”

“Aliseteen-sama…”

As worry showed in her eyes, I lightly patted her shoulder. Then I bravely approached those two.

I have sworn to myself that I will not be shaken by anything anymore.

No matter how much Princess Chai may have changed, nothing can change the fact that she helped me.

I instructed Sanna and took a step closer to the two of them. As usual, the number of Princess Chai’s guards was staggering.

“How are you doing, Your Highness Julian, Princess Chai?”

“Oh, Quatra-sama. Good day to you.”

Princess Chai seems to have already noticed my presence and smiles softly and cutely.

“It’s particularly hot today, isn’t it?”

“Are you here seeking a cooler environment as well, Quatra-sama?”

“Yes, it’s much cooler here than inside the building.”

While exchanging superficial words with Princess Chai, I glanced at Julian-sama.

As usual, he seems to be keeping his distance from Princess Chai, and has no expression on his face.”

However, something was strange. Though I couldn’t clearly put it into words, one thing was for sure—this was not the usual Julian-sama.

“Julian-sama, are you feeling alright? Your complexion doesn’t look good.”

“That’s probably because you’re here.”

What a rude smile. And her words were just unbearable.

“I don’t believe that’s true.”

As I chanted the calming spell in my head and plastered a ladylike smile on my face, Princess Chai’s triumphant expression never faded.

“Julian-sama, what’s really going on? Are you feeling unwell?”

As I peered into his face, which gave me no response, I couldn’t move a muscle at the moment I met his eyes.

“Aliseteen, have you also traveled back in time like Princess Slophone?”

His eyes were dull and dark, like an overcast sky that signals an imminent thunderstorm.

Chapter 81: Their changes, their individual feelings

I had prepared myself for this to eventually happen, but in reality, the trembling of my body from the shock was beyond what I had imagined.

I fell in love with Julian-sama, not just based on his appearances, but every aspect of him. Therefore, the damage done was immeasurable and my heart screams out, not wanting to be disliked by him.

But fate must be like this. Everything is cause and effect.

“…You heard it from Princess Chai, didn’t you.”

I gently closed my eyes and put my hand on my heart. Taking a deep breath, I opened my eyes again.

“Everything is true, Julian-sama.”

Ah, this is the end of everything. I will be despised by him, and in exchange, she will be loved by him.

If possible, I wish I didn’t know. Julian-sama, who smiled at me, wanted us to continue living happily together forever.

But that wouldn’t change anything. A heartless person who acts upon their own desires and doesn’t even hesitate to take away other people’s lives without understanding others. The unfortunate Duke’s daughter, Aliseteen Quatra, who truly wasn’t loved by anyone.

I will never go back to my past self.

The presence of my important loved ones gave me precious treasures that shine brightly in my heart. They taught me that humans cannot live alone.

Even if it means losing Julian-sama, I can no longer commit shameful actions. I don’t want to.

“…Alise.”

“She is justice, and I am the evil one, Julian-sama.”

When I think about when those grey eyes will twist in disgust, I want to look away immediately.

But I didn’t avert my gaze. I raised my chin firmly, not wanting to lose to the brilliance of the shining sun.

“Do you not want to hear what I heard from her?”

“Surely, it is all the truth.”

“Even though it might be convenient for her to tell it that way?”

Julian-sama’s expression as he faced me was so sad. My heart, which I had prepared to be hated, groaned with pain. I don’t want to make him sad. I just want Julian-sama to be happy.

“Even if that were the case, I won’t give any explanation (defend myself). It was something that I should have said, not her.”

“Alise, I…”

“I may still be a bad person because I was afraid of being disliked by Julian-sama.”

Knowing what Julian-sama expects of me, I cannot do it.

Something whispers in my ear, “If it’s Julian-sama now, he might trust you more than Princess Chai,” but I frantically shake my head in my mind and resist myself.

Then I shift my gaze to the girl behind Julian-sama.

“Princess Chai, I never intended to compete with you.”

“…Don’t even joke about it.”

Her voice was so low that it sounded like she was crawling on the ground. It’s hard to believe that it’s coming from her moist lips.

“You think you can just be reborn as a good person all on your own? You, the worst and lowest criminal who tried to kill me, but now trying to act like a saint? It makes me sick.”

“Princess Chai, I…”

“Shut up!”

Princess Chai strained her voice as she glared at me with resentment. Sanna and the Princess’s guards, who had appeared worried and had been watching from a distance, reacted with a twitch.

She was completely unaware of her surroundings, staring only at me with a deep hatred that made me feel like she wanted to kill me.

“Stop it… stop blaming everything on me… it’s not all my fault. Because of you, that person…”

“Princess Chai.”

“…I will never forgive you. Never.”

The atmosphere in front of me was like she was about to stab and kill me any time now, even though it should have been a completely different person from before.

In those brown eyes, twisted with disgust, I could see a momentary flicker where the old me seemed to be crying, or was it just my imagination?

Chapter 82: I had to hate

“Go over there right now. Otherwise, I’ll have the guards take you by force.”

“…Princess Chai.”

“I’m serious. Who do you think I am? Shall I make you suffer just like in your past life?”

She glared at me fiercely, as if I were her parents’ murderer. She breathed heavily through her shoulders, gritting her teeth in anger.

Why did she hate me so much, to this extent?

Did she really love Julian-sama that much? Is that why she couldn’t stand me, to the point of wanting to kill me?

If that were the case, then I could understand her feelings better than anyone.

Because I, too, was once consumed by such madness.

She must have fallen deeply in love with him from the moment they first met.

“…Princess Chai, please believe me. I have no intention of fighting with you.”

“Shut up. How can anyone trust the words of a criminal who tried to kill me?”

It’s no use. There’s no reasoning with her. In her eyes, controlled by madness, I appear terribly distorted.

This must be normal. I pushed her down the stairs, it’s an undeniable fact.

“I should arrest you right now…”

“Shut up. If you insult Alise any further, I will kill you myself.”

With Julian-sama’s intense aura that almost made me crawl on the ground, all the cells in my body reacted. The guards are still in a distance, but they are ready to jump at me at any moment.

As a prince of a nation, trivial remarks cannot be overlooked. It is more frightening to me if the guards’ focus shifts to Julian-sama.

“Let’s reschedule. No matter how much we discuss here, we won’t be able to come to a resolution.”

“You’re just trying to buy time so you can kill me.”

“If that is what you insist on, then please arrest me.”

I raise my chin and stare at the guards. I noticed their shoulders slightly twitched in response.

“Despite being a princess, I hope you understand how foolish it is to capture the daughter of a Duke from a friendly nation, Princess Slophone. You are not so naive as to not comprehend this.”

Julian-sama calmly asserted his pressure. Unlike before, he seemed to consider my unfavorable situation and was being considerate.

“Hmph, well, fine then. There will be plenty of opportunities in the future even if I don’t finish you off here.”

“Princess Chai, I swear here and now that I will never harm you.”

“That’s exactly the attitude that annoys me!”

With her big eyes opened wide, she strained her voice in disgust. Despite the prickling hatred in her skin that wanted to kill me, why did I feel such a sad emotion?

It was not anger or fear, but just sadness. I wondered if she also felt the same.

“It seems Julian-sama was more of a fool than I thought. But I believe that he is not an incompetent person who does not even know what would happen if he defends her.”

“Say whatever you want.”

“…Tch.”

With an irritated click of her tongue, Princess Chai turned lightly and glanced briefly in my direction.

“Aliseteen Quatra, I will definitely make you suffer the same fate as me.”

Throwing out those words, she left with her attendants and guards.

Chapter 83: Corrupted, Introduction to Terror

It had been about ten days since Princess Chai bared her fangs at me, and the situation had completely turned in her favor.

“I knew it. She’s just the type to do something like this.”

“She looked down on her, and did whatever she wanted.”

“She’s no match for the fairy-like Princess Slophon. I heard that even His Highness Stratis is completely smitten with her.”

Aliseteen Quatra is evil, while Chai Slophone is righteous.

Thanks to her machinations, that’s the established situation. Even though I had always been feared from a distance, now that fear had turned into hostility and disdain towards me.

No matter how much I was a Duke’s daughter, I couldn’t compare to a princess of a country. Behind Princess Chai’s backing, the number of people who blatantly looked down on me had increased.

“Aliseteen-sama is not that kind of person! She’s just clumsy and shy!”

“She doesn’t do underhanded things behind people’s backs!”

“That’s right! Aliseteen-sama is always so elegant and composed!”

Sanna and the other young ladies standing by my side raised their voices in protest. Then, Princess Chai’s followers, who were under her influence, began to harm those girls.

Despite seeing their unwavering support for me, I quietly shed tears.

It’s so heartwarming to have someone believe in me.

It made me feel like I already had the strongest weapon in hand.

“Please, cease defending me. Not only will you cause trouble for yourselves, but also for your families.”

“Aliseteen-sama…”

“If you really care about me, please listen to what I say.”

I gently wiped away the tears on Sanna’s cheeks with a handkerchief.

“This is wrong. Alise is the victim here, but why do you have to be treated like the perpetrator?”

Julian-sama was outraged and furious like I’d never seen him before. I gazed at him calmly.

“What you need to pay attention to the most right now is not me, but yourself. The current Princess Chai is unpredictable. Julian-sama, please prioritize protecting yourself. Try not to go against her.”

Julian-sama squeezed my hand tightly and shook his head repeatedly.

“It’s too late for that. I already pointed my blade at her. And you’ll probably pay the price for my reckless actions, by being put in danger because of me.”

From Princess Chai’s previous remarks, it was clear that he was being threatened. If Julian-sama didn’t comply, she would harm me.

Without me knowing, Julian-sama had been protecting me all along. Yet, I was only thinking about myself. I realized I was a selfish woman.

“I love you, Aliseteen. I can’t bear to lose you.”

“I feel the same way, Julian-sama. Right now, I only wish for your happiness.”

Even though he knew the truth about my regression, he told me that he still loved me.

Just hearing that was enough for me, I didn’t care if I died at any moment.

But not Julian.

I will never let him be taken away from me.

I gently kissed his cheek as he held my hand tightly and trembled with pain.

Chapter 84: Connected to the worst future

I begged Otoo-sama repeatedly in several letters to increase the number of Quatra family guards, and they will arrive at the school tomorrow. It’s frustrating and angering to think about it, but there’s no use getting worked up about it.

However, for some reason, my heart won’t settle down. Even though Sanna and Julian-sama have made sure that no one gets near me. For now, this is probably for the best.

“Calm down, Aliseteen. Calm down.”

I avoided the other students and sat on a bench in a secluded spot. When I closed my eyes, I felt the hot summer air cling to my skin.

Why do I feel so uneasy? It’s because nothing has happened yet.

——I won’t forgive you. I absolutely won’t.

Those eyes that truly hate me. Princess Chai now is a completely different person from the one I knew in the past.

What exactly has changed her so much? Is it because she loves Julian-sama with all her heart? Is that why she hates me as an obstacle?

If that’s the case, then why am I still able to remain at the school like this? If Princess Chai were serious, it would be easy for her to just eliminate me from her sight.

In fact, now because of the rumors she spread, I am an outcast of the school. And if it were to be further intensified, false charges could easily be fabricated.

“Why does it just have to be limited to mere rumors…”

Certainly, there is a certain amount of damage, but my impression was not good from the beginning. It only worsened, but it’s something that I alone can endure.

Yes, alone.

“Could it be… that was her plan all along?”

Considering the extent of the bad reputation I have received, she may have thought it would distance me from those around me.

A stage, set up according to her scenario.

To isolate me, and then what exactly would she do…

——It’s all your fault. It’s because of you, that person…”

——I’ll make sure to make you suffer just like me.

“…!”

I felt as if the puzzle pieces that had scattered had clicked together with a snap.

“Julian-sama, Julian-sama…!”

I jumped up from the bench and ran forward eagerly. My haste caused me to trip over my own feet several times.

“Is Sanna here?!”

Gasping for breath, I rolled over and jumped onto the terrace where they always spent their time after school.

“What happened, Aliseteen-sama?!”

“Have you seen Julian-sama?!”

“Your Highness? No, we…”

Sanna and the others looked at each other and shook their heads unanimously. Then, in the next moment, she grasped my trembling hand tightly.

“You’re troubled, aren’t you, Aliseteen-sama? We’ll do anything we can to help you.”

I thought her eyes, filled with determination, were very beautiful.

Chapter 85: That back that didn’t reach

Thanks to Sanna and the others, who had done some questioning, I obtained information that Julian-sama had been seen. He had apparently been alone, and I hurriedly made my way there.

“I want Sanna and the others to search for Princess Chai.”

I asked them to watch her movements and ran without even remembering to hold down my skirt. If Okaa-sama were to see me in such a state, as the Duke’s daughter, she might faint.

I didn’t mind if it was just needless worry. For now, I couldn’t relax until I confirmed Julian-sama’s safety with my own eyes.

“Haa…haa…!”

I found his figure standing in one of the gardens within the school. There weren’t any particularly eye-catching flowers planted here, and the area was always quiet since it lacked tall trees that could provide shade.

Although I could only confirm his back from this side of the small shallow pond, that was undoubtedly Julian-sama.

“Julian-sama! Julian-sama…!”

Though my throat burned painfully, I called his name repeatedly without caring about it.

In an instant, Julian-sama’s body swayed. I was relieved, thinking that he was going to turn and face me, but the next moment, I held my breath in shock.

His body slowly sank to the pond.

“No…Julian-sama!!”

I ran wildly, my hair disheveled. Without hesitation, I plunged into the pond, making a splashing sound as I doggedly made my way to Julian-sama.

“Julian-sama, Julian-sama…”

His shoulders were soaked in blood. There was an arrow lying next to him. Perhaps Julian-sama had pulled it out himself while still conscious.

I was sure that it wouldn’t be good to shake him. The body of an unconscious man was heavier than expected. Carefully turning him over, I brought my ear close to his mouth to check if he was breathing.

He was breathing weakly. But it was so feeble that he seemed like he could die at any moment. The terror of that possibility made my body tremble.

Involuntarily, I lowered my gaze, and noticed that he was holding something in his hand.

“This is…”

A white handkerchief, soaked in blood in some places. No, it was probably never beautiful to begin with.

It was an old, poorly embroidered handkerchief with mimosa flowers that I gave him as a present when we were young.

——Thank you, Aliseteen. I will treasure it forever.

His figure, blushing and smiling from our childhood, appeared and then disappeared with a snap.

“Julian-sama… please, God, please…”

I clenched my teeth tightly and tightly held his hand that was holding the handkerchief.

Soon, the guards I had brought with me rushed over to check Julian-sama’s condition. They were much more agile and accurate than I was.

❂❂❂

“His Highness Stratis was targeted for assassination by someone!”

“He seems to have been hit by a poisoned arrow and is now in a coma.”

“His Highness Prince should have developed resistance to all poisons, so if it doesn’t work, it means that a new type of poison was used.”

The news of Julian-sama being ambushed had shaken the entire school. Everyone trembled in fear and hoped for his safety. They were terrified at the thought of the assassin still lurking nearby.

“Fufu. How noisy.”

Only Princess Chai was enjoying her afternoon tea elegantly.

“What was so important about that dirty handkerchief? I don’t understand it at all. You know?”

She giggled, but her murmurs did not reach anyone’s ears.

Chapter 86: Please again

“What is Julian-sama’s condition?”

“The poison is spreading very quickly and his pulse and breathing are weakening. He’s also suffering from confusion and if this continues…”

“That can’t be…”

The doctor who is stationed at the academy is like a decoration compared to the court physicians. Even so, the system is better equipped than before because of the royalty that attend the school.

There is simply not enough time to call a capable physician.

“There is a high possibility that a toxin that is not in Styratol was used.”

“It must be that person…”

Julian-sama’s complexion on the examination table is pale and he is not in his right mind. It’s probably impossible for his symptoms to worsen this much in such a short amount of time unless it’s an extremely strong poison.

Even if the culprit is clearly identified, there is no way they would tell us the antidote method honestly if we question them. It would be a waste of time to interrogate them.

But I don’t know anything about the antidote. I don’t have…

“That’s right… If it’s that person, then…”

Suddenly, the face of a certain person came to mind, and I was propelled to run again as if I had been kicked. I don’t know if this action is truly the right thing to do, but for now, I have to do what I can.

I absolutely cannot let him die.

“Haa… haa… Your Highness… Where is His Highness Stratis…?”

Wolle Tanatora, whom I brought along, was gasping for breath, and his whole body was drenched in sweat. Yet the eyes behind his glasses were filled with strong willpower.

First, the doctors are very surprised at the fact that Tanatora-san’s and my uniforms are covered in mud. This is because I pulled out as many plants as I could think of while following his instructions to get here.

In addition, he had also packed various detoxifying drugs that he is testing in graduate school into his bag. The pharmaceutical instructor he admires is also scheduled to join us soon.

“Please, I beg you, save Julian-sama…”

As I begged desperately with disheveled hair and covered in sweat and mud, Tanatora-san sprinted ahead before even answering me.

Entrusting the life of the royal family is too heavy of a burden for him, and I am well aware of that. If by any chance he bears any blame, I have decided to bear it all.

“Excuse me for stepping back, as I’m unclean.”

Even if I’m here in this place, there’s nothing I can do. As I left, I caught a glimpse of his tightly closed eyelids among the doctors.

If I could see those beautiful gray eyes again, I thought from the bottom of my heart that I wouldn’t mind what happens to me.

Chapter 87: Her determination

Thanks to Tanatora-san and the wisdom of the pharmacology teachers, Julian-sama miraculously survived. Although the situation is still uncertain, I am relieved from the bottom of my heart that he was not lost to us.

By tomorrow, skilled court physicians will arrive, and his treatment will become even more thorough.

“I still can’t relax, but I’m really glad.”

“Tanatora-san, how can I express my gratitude to you?”

Tanatora-san, who was now dressed in clean clothes, instead of being covered in mud, shook his head, wide-eyed.

“Oh no, I just did what I could! It’s natural to want to help the prince of our country!”

“If you weren’t here, Julian-sama wouldn’t have been saved. You will surely become a hero of the nation.”

Tanatora-san looked straight at me with his beautiful eyes shining behind his round glasses.

“It was undoubtedly Quatra-sama who saved His Highness. The one who deserves that title is not me, but you.”

“I was just covered in mud, that’s all.”

“That’s all it means to have worked so hard for His Highness.”

I was simply obsessed. If Julian-sama were to disappear from this world, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to go on living.

I’m filled with self-blame for not realizing sooner that this was Princess Chai’s desire all along.

There’s no doubt that it’s my fault that he ended up like this.

“I’m not that great of a person. I’m just a fake with high pride and the appearance of being capable.”

“To me, you appear to be a wonderful woman with the strength to overcome anything. Not just to me, but I’m sure to His Highness as well.”

This person has always been so honest, it’s almost blinding to me.

The sparkling radiance of the world that I couldn’t see before is now so dear to me.

It was taught to me by my nursemaid Lili, my friends like Sanna and Tanatora-san, and my beloved fiancé.

And Princess Chai Slophone as well.

“… It’s almost dawn.”

While watching the jet-black sky start to turn slightly white, I narrowed my eyes slowly.

After parting with Tanatora-san, I made my way to the infirmary where Julian-sama was staying. He had been moved to a private room, and was sleeping wrapped in pure white sheets. As I gazed at his chest slowly rising and falling, a sharp pain throbbed in my nose.

Asking the resident doctor to leave us alone for just a little while, I leaned over and approached him. I held his hands in both of mine, and prayed to God.

——Please let him experience all the happiness in the world.

And then,

I lowered myself and stared at him intently. It was the first time I had ever been so close to Julian-sama, and my heart was racing. I immediately scolded myself for my lack of discretion.

Chapter 88: Kiss goodbye

“Hey Julian-sama, do you remember when we first met in this world? You coldly dismissed me, saying you didn’t like talking to noble daughters like me.”

For me, it was not our first encounter, but a reunion. You were always so beautiful, born into the royal family, blessed with both beauty and talent, and could get anything you wanted. I thought you were an enviable person, only seeing your surface.

But that’s because I had only seen the superficial side of you. You were a very mysterious person.

As we grew older, you acted like a spoiled child in front of me. I realized that it was just the flip side of loneliness and it made me love you even more.

Julian-sama was a pitiful person. He was kicked out of the palace, had no trustworthy friends, and couldn’t open his heart to anyone. In addition, his fiancée was an evil villainess.

I don’t know if he fell in love with Princess Chai or not, but I think he always wanted to be loved by someone.

I am sure I could never fulfill that wish. At least not the me from back then.

“I have learned a lot since this life began for me. There have been many frustrating times when things didn’t go as I wanted them to, but… it makes me very happy to know that there are people who see me as Aliseteen.”

I keep talking to him in a breathy voice. His complexion is still pale, and when the moonlight reflects on him, he looks like a doll. I grab his hand even tighter, feeling scared.

“Julian-sama gave me so much love. He called me Alise, looked at me with loving eyes, and told me he loved me with those lips. I love seeing your smile so much.”

I hope that you can smile genuinely again.

That is all I wish for.

“It made me so happy… since it was something I had been dreaming of for so long. I wish that from now on, you would only smile at me.”

Whenever Julian-sama’s beautiful fingers touch me, they make me feel like I’m burning. I am too embarrassed to react in any cute way.

“I’m sorry for not being honest until now. Aliseteen truly loves Julian-sama from the bottom of her heart. This feeling will never change.”

Tears spilled out and soaked the pure white sheets. The stain quickly spread.

“I might make you suffer again, but I know Julian-sama will overcome it. Please make an effort to be kinder and not scare people away.”

I gave a small smile and gently kissed his cheek.

“Goodbye, Julian-sama.”

The moonlight on his face swayed, making it look as though he was crying.

Chapter 89: Tangled chains of fate

ーー

With every step, a clunking sound echoes from the heels. Looking around the minimalistic space, my body unconsciously shivers.

“It seems much more comfortable than the cell I was in.”

“I am a princess after all. It’s a pity that I have to be treated with such respect, even if I am a prince killer.”

“Julian-sama is safe and sound.”

Princess Chai, who was elegantly sitting on the bed, suddenly contorts her expression.

“That’s impossible! That poison can only be extracted from a plant found in Slophone. There is no such detoxification in this country.”

“My friend is a graduate of the School of Pharmacy in Slophone. It was truly a coincidence, a stroke of luck.”

“Friend? A friend who will lend you a helping hand…”

This pretty fairy contorts her face as though she were the devil.

As I watch her, my chest tightens with emotion.

“I have a friend whom I can truly trust now. I am now feeling grateful for that.”

“It’s a very admirable attitude. You look just like a pure-hearted goddess.”

Princess Chai snorted as if she truly despised it. In her past life, she would never have made such an expression.

Her eyes gleamed with resentment. I could feel the sadness hidden within them, swaying back and forth.

It’s okay.

This time, I’ll save you.

“…You lost someone important to you, didn’t you?”

As soon as I murmured those words, she opened her eyes in surprise.

“Why…”

“I told you, didn’t I? The pharmacist who saved Julian-sama is from Slophone. He told me about your sad rumor. Your childhood friend passed away.”

I felt the air change. It was clear that this was at the heart of Princess Chai’s troubles.

“Your relationship with that person was not publicly known, and you were not engaged. However, he was skilled enough to be allowed entry into the palace, and he saw you and that man chatting in a carefree manner many times.”

“…”

“Princess Chai. I finally understand the cause of your change.”

As I quietly spoke, she glared at me with the eyes of someone seeking revenge.

“It’s all Aliseteen’s fault! If I hadn’t thought to save you back then, this wouldn’t have happened!”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Yet you laughed happily without knowing anything. I wanted you to experience the same pain of losing someone important.”

Why must fate be so cruel?

“I should have never saved you! You should have died miserably!”

She spoke the very words I had thought at that time.

I approached her slowly, one step at a time. I knelt on the ground and tightly hugged her trembling body from the front.

“It’s alright. Everything will be okay.”

This time, I will be the one to save you.

Chapter 90: Aliseteen determination

Princess Chai writhes in pain, screaming. Despite having my hair pulled and my face scratched, I refuse to let her go.

“What do you think you’re doing?! Trying to become a saint?! You’re just a selfish villainess with the worst personality!”

“I’ve changed. I’m not the old Aliseteen anymore.”

“Human nature doesn’t change that easily!”

She may be right. Even if I go back in time, I’ve made countless mistakes. Each time, I felt despair and gave up, fearing the future that would come. I thought I couldn’t do it on my own.

Actually, it’s probably true. With just my own strength.

“I’m not alone anymore. So I will never give up fighting.”

I speak in a calm tone as if talking to a small child. I continue to stroke her back as she struggles and resists.

Suddenly, Princess Chai’s body loses strength.

“… I’m still alone. So I can’t keep going anymore.”

I can’t measure her sadness. I think it must be so painful, as if her heart is burning.

Perhaps the spark in her heart had already burned out long ago.

If Julian-sama hadn’t survived, I would have hated and wished to kill Princess Chai.

The pain of losing a loved one from my world is far, far more painful than disappearing myself.

“Good for you, Aliseteen. You’ve won. I’ll be executed, and you’ll live happily with His Highness. I’ll pray that you’ll suffer from terrible after-effects, even if I have to ask the devil.”

She sneered as she rested her head on my shoulder. In an instant, a sweet, floral fragrance tickled my nose.

“Whether it goes well or not, you intended to die from the beginning, didn’t you?”

“… Well, what do you think?”

As I closed my eyes, I could feel Princess Chai’s heartbeat. I couldn’t let her die like this.

“Princess Chai.”

I opened my eyes and looked straight at her.

“Use your power one more time.”

In an instant, her body trembled with a startle. As if she were seeing a supernatural being, her expression was tainted with a color of shock.

“What on earth are you saying…”

“With the power of Princess Chai, we can turn back time once more.”

There was not even a flicker of hesitation in my eyes.

Chapter 91: Salvation, saved

I was happy, more so than that time when everything went my way.

“No matter what you think of me now, it’s a fact that you saved me back then. Thanks to you, I learned a lot of important things.”

That is surely a treasure that will never disappear.

“So, it’s my turn to repay you now.”

“Aliseteen.”

Her pale eyes flickered. The poisonous thorns fell off like flakes, as if she had returned to the previous Princess Chai.

“But in the end, I still have to rely on Princess Chai’s power.”

“…Do you even understand what you’re saying?”

“Yes, of course.”

It was natural for her not to believe, because I myself felt the same.

“That’s impossible. Aliseteen, you can just sit back and watch.”

“But then you’ll die.”

“I’m fine with that. After all, I can finally meet him.”

To those words, I surely raised an eyebrow.

“That’s just impossible. You are a criminal of attempted murder, there’s no way you can go to the same place as your beloved.”

“Well, that’s…”

“Moreover, if things continue like this, not only will Princess Chai’s reputation suffer, but future generations will also have to bear the burden. This is no longer just your problem.”

Despite knowing this, Princess Chai glared back, as if unwilling to give up.

Somewhere in my heart, I breathed a sigh of relief at her reaction.

“Once you’ve used your power, if you’ve gone backwards in time, does that power come back again?”

“…I don’t know. I can’t activate it for my own selfishness, and even reversing time in the first place was a miracle. Even if I could use it again, I don’t think it would work out as well as it did before.”

“Still, it’s worth a try. At the very least, the situation won’t get any worse than it is now.”

I smiled softly, causing Princess Chai to look at me with a puzzled expression.

“…Why, Aliseteen? I tried to take away your most beloved one, didn’t I?”

“Well, that’s really unforgivable. But Julian-sama was saved, so isn’t that enough?”

If I were to hate and abandon her here, I would go back to being the old Aliseteen Quatra. Everything that was important in this world that I’ve spent time in, learned from and nurtured would become meaningless.

“If you just stay like this, you’ll be happy.”

“No, it’s impossible. I don’t want a happiness that’s built on your sacrifice.”

With a firm declaration, Princess Chai’s resistance dissipated and her body became weak.

“…Aliseteen, you really have changed.”

“It’s because of you, Princess Chai.”

She smiled softly and shed a single tear on her white cheeks.

Chapter 92: I’m not saying good-bye

I am once again reminded that the world is still full of wonders, that such a strange power actually exists.

“Now, we don’t have much time. We don’t know when you will be moved to an even more secure prison. If you’re going to use your power, now is the only chance.”

Princess Chai is the fourth princess of Slophone, and cannot be punished immediately in this situation.

However, Princess Chai did not seem to have any intentions of escaping or hiding, and even used poison from a plant that can only be found in Slophone to make it clear that the culprit was herself.

Furthermore, she admits to attempting to poison Julian-sama. She will almost certainly be executed soon.

We must absolutely avoid that.

“Please remember that this is my wish. It is not your wish to be with the one you love, but mine.”

“…Aliseteen.”

Her expression, now back to her senses, is filled with sorrow. It must be because her revenge did not succeed.

It’s because you’re thinking of me.

“Even if I could use my power again, I’m not sure if I can leave you with memories again.”

“But you said it doesn’t matter, right? I’ve already made up my mind.”

“But even so…”

I gently held Princess Chai’s hand, which she was still undecided about. And then, I smiled quietly.

“We didn’t do so well the first or second time. But I’m sure we can have a good relationship on the third try.”

“A good relationship?”

“Yes, like being friends…or something.”

I thought it might be disrespectful to suggest this to a princess, but she only smiled sadly and quietly.

“…I’m sorry, Aliseteen.”

“I won’t forgive you for what you did to Julian, but I don’t want to hate each other either.”

“You’re strong.”

Princess Chai released my hand and stood up lightly. The figure illuminated by the moonlight leaking through the lattice door was as beautiful as a real fairy.

“It was a full moon that day too.”

“…Yes.”

I slowly close my eyelids. Now, I can no longer recall the coldness of the floor when I was locked up in a cell.

“May the blessings of God be upon you.”

“It’s an honor, Princess Chai.”

The bright flash was so intense that I could feel it even with my eyes closed. In my heart, I imagine the person I think is the most beloved in this world.

Chapter 93: Good morning, Sleeping Beauty

ーー

It feels somehow warm. What is this…

With that thought on my mind, I unconsciously moved my finger.

“…S…Lis…Aliseteen!”

The name was repeated over and over again, and I slowly moved my eyelids. My eyes, which suddenly took in light, were surprised and my vision was blurry for a while.

“Oh…Alise…thank goodness…”

The first thing that caught my eye was Julian-sama’s figure. He firmly held both of my hands and his beautiful face was wet with tears. He furrowed his brows tightly, looking only at me.

“Julian…sama…”

“Alise…”

“What beautiful…silver eyes…”

Those were the words that came out of my mouth. Julian-sama’s expression twisted even more as he gently hugged me.

“Where is this…?”

“This is the special infirmary of the academy. You’ve been sleeping for over ten days now.”

“Ten days…I was sleeping…?”

My body hurt everywhere, and I couldn’t move as I wanted to. I lightly shook my head to clear my fuzzy mind and thought things through.

“Yes… that’s right… I… I am with that person…”

As my consciousness gradually returned, I realized that I had forgotten something very important. I struggled to sit up and clung to Julian-sama.

“Julian-sama! Where is Princess Chai now?”

Though he was surprised by my sudden change, he held me firmly. With tears still streaming down my cheeks, Julian-sama looked at me with a troubled expression.

“Alise, calm down.”

“It’s impossible to calm down! Where is Princess Chai now?!”

“Princess Chai… if I remember correctly, she is from the Kingdom of Slophone?”

I wondered what had become of her now. Julian-sama in front of me didn’t look like I stepped back in time. Maybe she and I had failed.

As I came to that realization, I felt like I couldn’t breathe at the thought of Princess Chai’s safety.

It’s already been ten days since then, what is going on?

“Julian-sama…could it be that Princess Chai…”

“Hey, Alise.”

“…?”

While Julian-sama supported my body, he tilted his head curiously.

“Why is Slophone’s princess name coming up now?”

“…What?”

“Alise, who has never been to Slophone, shouldn’t know much about that princess.”

As I heard his words, all the strength in my body seemed to fade away.

What on earth is going on… I couldn’t grasp the situation at all.

However, it felt like I somehow understood that Princess Chai was supposed to not have come to this country.

But that was all.

Chapter 94: Only if you wish for it strongly enough

After that, Julian-sama kindly explained to me what had happened while I was asleep, although it was a very simple story.

For some reason, I had collapsed in the guest room on the top floor of the school. There were no bruises, and there were no traces of anything having been put in my mouth. Without any apparent reason for my collapse, I apparently remained asleep for ten days.

Although they tried to move me to a better-equipped medical facility elsewhere, Julian-sama advised against it because traveling by carriage with an unknown cause was dangerous. Despite several royal doctors being personally dispatched by His Majesty the King himself, nothing had changed about my condition.

In the midst of the doctors struggling with the possibility that I might never wake up, Julian-sama was the only one who truly believed in my recovery and devoted himself to taking care of me.

Well, that’s what I heard from Sanna, who happened to come to check on me earlier. By the way, she was sobbing uncontrollably, laughing and crying at the same time.

Anyway, the only abnormality that occurred in this world was “my sudden collapse.” Julian-sama’s attempted poisoning and Princess Chai’s visit never happened, of course.

“The fourth princess of the Slophone Kingdom, Princess Chai Slophone, does exist, right?”

“Ah, I think the name of the fourth princess of the Slophone Kingdom was indeed Chai Slophone. I haven’t actually met her yet, though.”

“Huh? But didn’t Julian-sama go to study abroad…?”

When I said this in confusion, I was even more confused when he replied, “I’ve never gone to study abroad.”

“Anyway, it’s really good that Alise woke up. The doctor said there was no abnormality.”

“That’s what I was going to say. I was so worried that Julian-sama would die…”

As tears welled up in my eyes, Julian-sama gently stroked my head, as if comforting a small child.

“You had a bad dream, but it’s okay now. I promise I won’t let you go through something like this again.”

“A bad dream…”

Maybe it really was true. That I had tried to take her life in the past, and that I died a miserable death alone.

Maybe everything was just a bad dream.

“…No, that’s not it.”

It was true, I was the worst. I only cared about myself and thought that as long as I was the only one happy, that was all that mattered. I didn’t have an ounce of consideration for others, and because of that, people around me hated me.

The Aliseteen Quatra of that time certainly existed. I couldn’t just pretend it didn’t happen. My shallow actions had hurt many people.

“I will never forget, so as not to repeat the same mistake again.”

“Alise…?”

“…It’s nothing.”

Various emotions mixed deep in my heart, and I didn’t know what expression to show.

Julian-sama gently touched my head and leaned me against his shoulder.

“It’s okay. You’ll be okay.”

Repeatedly, over and over again, kind words were spoken. I gently closed my eyes and thought of “her”, like a fairy.

“Please, may you have days full of happiness and overflowing with smiles.”

I whispered.

Chapter 95: There is nothing more important than an ordinary day-to-day life

Despite sleeping for ten days, my body recovered surprisingly quickly. According to Sanna and the nurses, it was because Julian-sama took care of me day and night. Everyone was moved by his devoted care, and they all teared up for some reason.

And as expected, no one except me remembered Princess Chai.

I had already recovered enough to return to my dorm room with no issues, but at Julian-sama’s strong insistence, I ended up spending a few more days in the infirmary.

“Well, because I can’t enter your room in the dormitory,” he said with a grin, unapologetic.

“Here, say ahh.”

He held out a fork with a piece of apple cut into it to my lips.

“Um… I can feed myself.”

“It’s okay, don’t be shy.”

With everything that had been happening with Princess Chai recently, I had forgotten what kind of person Julian-sama was lately.

With gleaming grey eyes, he stared at me in amusement while I was confused and shaking.

“…I, I’ll do it myself.”

“Your cheeks look like apples, it’s cute.”

“…huh.”

It’s impossible, I can’t do this.

Now, there’s no stopper in my heart. Since the matter with Princess Chai was resolved, I no longer needed to suppress my feelings for him.

“That’s right, it’s all good now…”

When Princess Chai appeared before us, I resolved myself to pull back if Julian-sama fell in love with her someday.

When he fell victim to the poison arrow, I thought I might never hear him call my name again and my heart felt as if it would burst.

Then, when I made the decision to turn back again, I resolved myself once more to the possibility that I might never see his smile again.

And now, finally.

I can proudly say that I love Julian-sama.

As I think this again, my heart swells with heat. This person in front of me is so precious to me, I can’t resist it.

“…”

I bring my lips closer, and with a crunching sound, I eat the apple.

“While it’s sweet and sour, it’s really delicious.”

I said with a smile, causing Julian-sama to drop his fork from his hand.

“Julian-sama, your fork fell.”

“… ”

I thought he was frozen with his eyes wide open, but suddenly his cheeks started to turn red.

I rarely see him make this kind of expression.

“Your apple-like cheeks are cute.”

I said the exact same line, while his cheeks were still flushed and his lips pursed.

“That’s not fair, Alise.”

“I realized, Julian-sama. I know it’s not something that’s taken for granted to have you by my side.”

That’s why I decided. From now on, I will cherish this everyday life even more.

“Alise.”

“I really like Julian-sama.”

His pursed lips now gaping open, and I watched him turn even redder than any apple. I smiled while savoring the happiness that overflowed from my heart.

Chapter 96: Aliseteen hidden popularity

“Quatra-sama!”

“Aliseteen-sama!”

“I’m so glad you’ve recovered, Lady Quatra!”

I wanted to maintain my noble and dignified Duke’s daughter facade, but being welcomed like this made me want to cry.

“…I am very happy.”

That was all I could manage to say with all my strength in my face.

This gathering was set up by Julian-sama, who arranged to rent the common entertainment room for two hours to hold a celebration for my recovery.

As the daughter of a duke and the Prince’s fiancée, I expected people to gather to some extent, regardless of what they thought in their hearts.

However, when I opened the door, I was surprised. There were more students than expected who genuinely celebrated my recovery, including Tanatora-san, Sanna, and others.

In particular, the people I had previously called “toys.” Looking back now, I think it was pure hypocrisy, but they shone in their eyes and even said, “Quatra-sama saved us.”

On the other hand, the high-ranking nobles who can spread their wings freely when I’m not there, pretended to be happy by saying “Good riddance” but their eyes were not smiling at me.

However, I strangely didn’t care about that at all. I was so happy that there were people who cared about me so much.

“Lady Quatra…I came here from the university as soon as possible…”

Tanatora-san, who came all the way from the university, had a cute face that was wet with tears. One of his glasses was falling off.

“Thank you, Tanatora-san. I’m grateful to you from the bottom of my heart.”

I took his hand instinctively when I saw his face. His face turned red in no time and his glasses slipped down completely.

“Eh, uh, what…? U-Uh, yeah, what ARE YOU…”

“This one fell off, didn’t it?”

Julian-sama, who cut in forcefully from the side, picked up the glasses and handed them to him with a smile.

Poor thing, it has a crack again. As a sign of gratitude, let’s give him a new one as a present.

With Julian-sama, of course.

“Quatra-sama! Congratulations on your recovery!”

“Why, it’s you all.”

“Quatra-sama, I am deeply grateful for your previous assistance.”

Isaac Owen, son of the Count family who mistakenly put a love letter in my shoe box, and his beloved Lillina Creaket, both came to me with smiles on their faces.

It was clear at first glance that the two were in a close and affectionate relationship. Even I couldn’t help but smile from their love.

“As it was sudden, we could not order anything too expensive, but we hope you will like this.”

“My goodness, is this a gold hair ornament? It’s so beautiful.”

I remember that Creaket Count’s territory was famous for hosting regular wholesale markets for decorations. My heart became warm from the thought of them having specially ordered this for me.

“Thank you both. I will cherish it dearly.”

“For you, Quatra-sama, I will do anything.”

“And of course, me too.”

As I trembled with joy at his words, Julian-sama cut in again from the side.

“That’s a lovely hair accessory. Allow me, as your fiancé, to offer my thanks.”

“…Julian-sama, really.”

They were lovers, so there was no need for him to feel jealous at all.

“…I just want to be alone with you already.”

As we watched the line of people coming to greet us one after another, Julian-sama muttered with a frustrated expression.

I wanted to laugh at him, knowing that he was the one who had arranged this event, but I secretly held Julian-sama’s hand so that nobody would notice.

“Alise…”

Oh no, if you look so happy, someone will notice.

Chapter 97: An extra sweet time

The celebration for my recovery had ended without incident. The items available within the school were limited, so it was a simple party, but it was the first time in my entire life that I thought how wonderful it would be if it never ended, surrounded by so many enjoyable people.

Laughing while surrounded by kind people was much more meaningful and precious than being surrounded by luxurious meals or glamorous decorations.

Normally, I only drink alcohol in moderation at parties, but perhaps because I was in high spirits today, I drank a little too much wine.

Now, in the entertainment room where everyone had already left, I sway back and forth.

“That’s why I told you. Drinking too much is bad.”

“Hehehe.”

“Even though you’ve recovered, you still can’t let your guard down. You need to take even better care of yourself.”

Like a nagging tutor, Julian-sama muttered under his breath as I pulled his hand hard.

Unexpectedly, he lost his balance and fell on top of me. I ended up in a position where I was being pressed down on the couch sofa, and Julian-sama’s handsome face came closer.

“…I’m sorry, Alise. I have to go now.”

“No.”

Feeling light-headed, I stretched my arms and hugged him tightly around his neck. I stayed that way, snuggling up to him like a dog.

“Just a little longer, please.”

“Alise, that’s…”

“Is it really so bad?”

I gazed up at Julian-sama with a coy expression as he tried to pull away from me. He was always calm and hard to read, but his cheeks turned a faint shade of red.

“… The power of wine is amazing. I think I’m drunker than you.”

“No, I…”

It’s not the wine, it’s just this distance. To have someone I love here, breathing, blinking, and looking at me with those beautiful silver eyes. I know how precious it is to me now.

“I don’t want to lose you, Julian-sama.”

“Alise…?”

“I’ll do my best. I’ll become a wonderful lady worthy of you, both in my body and my heart.”

I want to become stronger and stronger, so I can use these hands to save the smiles of those I love. And then, I want to protect them without ever letting go.

“Julian-sama.”

“…Alise.”

Furrows appeared between his eyebrows and in the next moment, he embraced me strongly with both arms.

“I was really scared… that I would lose you forever.”

“I’m sorry, Julian-sama.”

“I love you, from the bottom of my heart.”

Because his gray eyes were filled with passion, my heart shook. The sound of my own heartbeat echoed in my ears, and it felt like it was about to overflow.

“Alise…”

Slowly, he closed his eyelids. And in response, I also gently lowered my eyelashes.

Smooch.

“We’ll be together forever.”

“…Julian-sama, you coward.”

“Huh?”

Why on the cheek? I wanted him to kiss me on the lips.

Pouting, I turned away.

“But, Alise, we’re still students and besides…”

“I don’t care anymore.”

“Alise…”

While watching Julian-sama, who was flustered with a red face, I wanted to hug him and say how cute he was in my heart.

Chapter 98: In the cool breeze, two

ーー

Since the day Princess Chai and I decided to travel back in time again, I had sent many, many letters, but it wasn’t until half a year had passed that I received a response.

And it was only one sentence.

“When you’re in trouble, tell me.”

The letter came with a special face powder made from the valuable embryonic portion of a rare flower that could only be obtained from Slophone. It was the kind of special powder that only royalty and some nobles could use.

It was the same gift that she had given me before.

“…Fufu.”

As I touched the small box containing the powder with my finger, I thought of her. This wasn’t enough to understand anything. Someday, I’ll have to go meet her.

After carefully putting away the letter and the face powder, I flipped my amber-colored long hair.

Before I knew it, summer was already coming to an end. A gentle breeze brushed my cheek and the sun shone on the sparkling scenery.

“Alise.”

Even among them, he shines brightest. Silver hair and eyes of the same color. They are soft and gentle, directed toward me with a kind voice.

“Julian-sama.”

“Have you already submitted it to the teacher?”

“Yes, just now.”

Next to me, sitting in the shade of a tree, is the usual Julian-sama.

“I never thought you would run for student council president.”

“Speaking of which, you ran for vice president too, Julian-sama.”

“I only followed you.”

I submitted my candidacy for the student council president, and he submitted his for vice president. In this academy, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that those with higher status get what they want.

However, the teachers seemed a little confused that Julian-sama was running for vice president.

“When you’re president, you can help people without saying ‘toy’, because you can help them with dignity.”

“Alise seems to have changed a bit. Become more honest.”

I am different now from my past self. But I also feel different from myself just a few months ago.

“That’s right, I decided to become stronger. It’s a daily pursuit.”

“I love both versions of Alise.”

“I also love you, Julian-sama.”

In an instant, Julian-sama coughed and choked.

“…it’s like you’re too honest and my heart can’t take it.”

“Fufu, how adorable.”

“…are you doing this on purpose?”

With his lips pursed, Julian-sama’s beautiful fingers lightly poked my cheek.

“It’s idyllic (peaceful).”

“Yeah.”

“If Julian-sama is by my side, I feel like I can do anything.”

He smiled and blushed shyly as he reached out to play with my hair in the wind.

“I love any version of Alise.”

“Julian-sama.”

“But I’m also making an effort to change. To become a strong man who can support you by my side.”

He lifted a strand of my amber hair and kissed it.

“And I want to have you all to myself soon.”

“I’m already yours, body and soul.”

“…oh, come on!”

Watching him struggle with something and seeing him so desperate, I laughed while shaking my body.

Surely, various things will happen in our lives from now on. And at each occurrence, we will make choices.

We will struggle and suffer, holding onto important feelings with both hands.

One step at a time, we will walk towards the path of happiness.

~The End~


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