Chapter 1: Spring at the Age of 11 (Part – 1)
It was a beautiful spring day.
In the sunroom where the sunlight was shining, Duke’s daughter Chloe Beltoise was planning something when Steed, with his angelic face turned pale, came to visit her in a hurry.
Steed is the third prince of the Bloom Kingdom.
For Chloe, he is her fiancé and childhood friend of the same age.
“You look terrible, Steed. What’s wrong? Do you have a stomach ache?”
“Oh, Chloe. I’m such a lucky person to be worried about by my beloved. I don’t have a stomach ache.”
Steed, who behaved like a gentleman beyond his eleven years, knelt down and took Chloe’s hand respectfully.
It’s nothing new for him to give passionate looks, smile with a grin, and whisper sweet words of love.
Everyone in the mansion knows that Steed is crazy about Chloe, who he visits frequently.
“When I’m stared at with your upturned cat eyes, I get shivers. You look so lovely today too, my angel.”
As usual, the prince is good at flattering his fiancé.
Chloe has heard it so many times that she has become numb and doesn’t even bother to take it seriously.
“Thank you. But more importantly, I want you to praise my genius evil plan. Beauty is useless for world domination.”
“I’ve been ignored again this time.”
Steed shrugged lightly, but he didn’t seem too dissatisfied.
Moreover, he joined in on Chloe’s topic.
“So what’s your genius misdeed?”
“I was thinking of digging a pitfall in the garden to surprise everyone.”
“Were the maids surprised?”
“Well… it turned out to be useful for burying leftovers, so I was thinking of a new plan.”
“The maids at the Beltoise house are used to your pranks.”
“Hey, it’s not a prank, it’s a misdeed.”
It’s troublesome to have sophisticated misdeeds treated like childish pranks.
Chloe puts her hands on her hips and glares at Steed.
Taking such actions makes her look like a mean-spirited young lady.
The appearance that gives a harsh impression was Chloe’s complex until one day when she was seven years old.
――Exactly four years ago from now…
The day Chloe’s fate changed was a very cold year-end, and the view outside the window was buried in accumulated snow.
Two days ago, Chloe, who was teased by boys of the same age for her harsh appearance, stopped going outside altogether.
At that time, she was sensitive to such words from her surroundings.
As she was staring blankly at the snow from her room, she suddenly heard the maids’ panicked voices.
Despite the freezing cold and the snow that made it difficult for the carriage to move forward.
It seemed that Steed had rushed over after hearing rumors that Chloe was feeling down and holed up.
“…What do you want? I won’t welcome you because I’m mean.”
Facing Chloe, who was trying her best to be un-cute with a tough attitude, Steed smiled kindly at her.
“I wanted to show you this.”
Steed had a picture book in his hand.
When she looked down at the book he handed her, she saw a beautiful but incredibly mean-looking young lady with her hand over her mouth, laughing loudly.
“She’s the villainess who bullies the protagonist of this book. Isn’t she very beautiful?”
“Well, I guess so.”
Her eyes were large and impressive, though they were raised, her thin lips were moist and fresh, and her slender nose gave a refined impression.
She was far more beautiful than the country girl who was facing her with a frightened face, who could be expected to be the protagonist.
(But her face is too scary, so her beauty is wasted…)
As expected of a [villainess].
“Isn’t she just like Chloe?”
Chloe pouts, not bothering to hide her annoyance.
“So, you came to tell me that I have a mean face too, didn’t you?”
“That’s not it. I came to talk about how wonderful you are.”
Steed starts talking to the dumbfounded Chloe.
“The villainess points out the manners of the slightly spoiled heroine with accurate words and cuts her off. She speaks her mind and it’s really cool!”
“I love this villainess. She’s just like my beloved Chloe.”
“…You have a strange taste.”
Chloe can only say that, surprised.
“This picture book is a present for you. Will you accept it? Hey, Chloe. Let’s play together again when the snow stops.”
Chloe reluctantly accepts the picture book and nods.
But from then on, Chloe reads the picture book every day.
As Steed said, the villainess in the picture book was charming.
She runs down the path of villainy as she pleases, always positive and never discouraged.
Compared to the timid heroine who doesn’t speak her mind and doesn’t take any action, it was much more exciting to watch.
Eventually, Chloe was influenced by the picture book and began to say things like [My dream is to conquer the world.]
Now that she’s ten years old, she no longer says she wants to conquer the world, but she still strives to become a villainess who is not ashamed of her evil-looking face.
Steed has been in love with Chloe since childhood, whispering sweet nothings to her in a childish manner such as “your mischievous face is so cute.”
His hair, which doesn’t have a particular flow, sways in the wind.
His eyes, a beautiful transparent blue color.
His appearance is so lovely that he’s described as an angel, and his behavior is perfect.
Whenever she speaks gently in a calm tone, both adults and children, men and women, become entranced.
Steed has an irresistible charm that draws people to him.
Chloe is often envied for being Steed’s fiancée.
Chloe often thinks that the perfect prince, Steed, seems to have different preferences.
Because a cute face doing mischief is attractive.
Those pick-up lines are definitely off.
Even though Chloe is ignorant in love affairs, she understands that much.
However, due to Steed’s special hobbies, it was a fact that Chloe was saved from her complexes.
As a result, a strange eccentric lady who runs in a strange direction was created, but Chloe was satisfied with her current self, so she was grateful to Steed in her heart.”
(But it’s strange. No matter what I do, Steed doesn’t seem to be moved at all.)
He is now pale and clearly shocked.
It’s definitely the first time she’s seen Steed like this.
“If it’s not a stomachache, why are you so pale?”
“Yeah, that’s true… Chloe, I have something important to tell you. Can we talk alone?”
While glancing at the maids who brought tea and sweets, Steed speaks.
His tone and expression are as elegant and calm as usual, but it seems like he is doing it consciously in front of the maids.
(His smile seems a little awkward. He must be really nervous.)
Even in such a state of mind, Steed indulges in Chloe’s small talk.
As expected of Steed, who is called the [elegant and perfect prince].
(I wonder what kind of talk he doesn’t want the maids to hear? A plan to steal snacks? Or maybe he finally agreed to help me make a pitfall in the garden?)
However, agreeing so readily just because you were asked like this is an act of kindness.
At times like this, a villainess would definitely wait.
Chloe peeks into Steed’s face with a smile that is unbecoming of a lady.
“Hey, Steed. If you want to invite a lady, shouldn’t you start with an invitation?”
Seeing Steed’s eyes widen in surprise, she thinks to herself, “Ha, gotcha!”
(Now, show me your troubled face, Steed!)
However, Steed’s reaction is completely different from what Chloe had imagined.
“You’re right. I’m sorry for being so rude. But please forgive me just for today. Please, my beloved Chloe.”
Steed pulled Chloe’s hand, which he held preciously, towards his face and made a kissing sound as he planted a small kiss on her fingertip.
He looks up at Chloe with an upward gaze.
When his eyes narrow slightly, the sweet impression fades a little.
His sincere gaze is somehow like that of an adult man, making her heart skip a beat.
She remembers the maids saying, “Even though Steed-sama is so young, he sometimes shows a seductive expression.”
“If you won’t allow me to escort you, should I just kidnap you by force?”
“Wa! W-wait a minute!”
The distance between them is much closer than when he just held her hand, and she starts to panic.
(And, on top of that, amidst the commotion, he kissed…?!)
Forgetting that she had just peered into Steed’s face herself, Chloe panics.
Even Steed rarely comes this close, so she is completely shaken.
“Steed, your eyes aren’t smiling!”
“That’s right. I’m serious.”
“Well, I guess there’s no helping it… Let’s talk while eating some sweets here.”
“But the maids will be around, won’t they? I want to talk to you alone.”
The maids standing behind them let out a sigh at Steed’s words.
Moreover, they watch over Chloe’s and Steed’s exchange with a smile, making the atmosphere uncomfortable.
“Let’s talk while taking a walk in the garden.”
“Okay. But let’s eat some cookies first――”
“You can take them with you to eat. Okay? The roses are beautiful. Of course, they can’t compare to your beauty.”
“Steed can be so selfish sometimes.”
Although he can be pushy, Steed is not the type to force himself on others.
He usually lets Chloe have her way.
He rarely rushes her like this.
(He really wants to be alone with me.)
“I want to be alone with you” is not something a decent gentleman would casually say to a lady.
It’s hard to believe that Steed, who usually behaves splendidly as the third prince, would say such words.
It’s quite an unbelievable situation.
If it weren’t Steed, who has been with her since she was a child, the maids might have scolded him.
If a lady is asked in such a way, she should be cautious and politely decline.
(But it’s Steed, so I don’t have to worry, right?)
Despite Steed’s passionate pursuit, Chloe hardly thinks of him as the opposite sex at all.
It’s not Steed’s fault, but rather because Chloe is still a child.
Unfortunately, Steed’s mature words of love have no effect on Chloe’s childish thoughts.
“Okay. If you insist that much, let’s do it.”
Honestly, she’s curious as to why Steed, who is always calm, smiling, and composed, is so shaken up.
“Thank you. Chloe, you’re kind.”
“I’m not kind. I’m a villainess, after all.”
After teasing them a bit, Chloe stood up and ordered the maids to prepare the cookies in a basket.
“Please, Ojou-sama. Eating while walking is absolutely not allowed. Please sit on the bench in the garden and enjoy them.”
Chloe wonders how she can eat the cookies without the maids noticing.
That Chloe, who was preoccupied with that matter, never imagined that Steed would confess something outrageous to her later.