Young and Rich, Tall and Handsome(5)
T/N: Huge thanks to Taki, Isabelle, Tenshinchigi, & s for sponsoring this chapter on Ko-Fi!
Although she appeared ghastly enough to be confused for a ghost, apparently, it was a human being.
Although she didn’t know why the princess was busy pretending to be a ghost, Aristine figured it would be better to act like she didn’t see anything.
‘Because that would be embarrassing…’
And so, she turned around but…
The sound of fallen leaves being trampled on the ground echoed loudly in the still silence.
It felt like her back had grown cold.
Aristine slowly turned her head, hoping that Paellamien didn’t hear the sound. And…
Their eyes immediately met.
Paellamien looked shocked that such awkwardness could repeat itself, and Aristine smiled awkwardly.
“Ah, the weather is nice, isn’t it?”
Those words seemed to bring Paellamien to her senses and she turned away from Aristine and deeply lowered her head.
Her long hair fell over her face.
She successfully covered her crying face, but the problem was that she appeared more like a ghost.
Aristine wondered what to do for a while but eventually, she walked closer to Paellamien. She couldn’t just ignore a person crying like this.
When Aristine drew closer, Paellamien tensed defensively, not even thinking about wiping her tears.
Well, considering her personality, it would be humiliating and enraging for someone to see her cry.
That must be why she came to such an isolated place to cry in the first place.
‘When you think of it like that, maybe I should have just kept walking?’
Although that thought did cross her mind.
It was different to ignore it when she didn’t see anything than to ignore it after seeing her crying face.
Aristine sat down on the fallen leaves, staying a little distance from Paellamien.
Paellamien remained silent with her head still lowered.
A cool autumn breeze flew through the thick trees, rustling the dry leaves.
Aristine looked up at the sky. The colorful leaves seemed to be waving their hands against the blue sky.
They stayed like that for an unknown amount of time.
A small sound came from beside her. But it was too soft to understand what was being said.
“What?” questioned Aristine.
Paellamien glanced at Aristine before turning to face her front and mumbled something again.
“I can’t really hear you.”
Even though Aristine said that because she really couldn’t hear, Paellamien frowned and took a deep breath like she was about to get angry.
But she didn’t yell..
Paellamien’s breath shook like she was trying to keep her emotions under wraps, then she turned completely, to look straight at Aristine.
Her face had signs of tears, but her eyes were clear, and her aura was filled with the dignity of a princess.
Paellamien bowed her head deeply towards her Aristine.
“Thank you for saving royal father’s life.”
At the unexpected gratitude, Aristine blinked a few times. Feeling embarrassed, she rubbed the lobe of her ear.
“He is my royal father too.”
At those words, Paellamien lifted her head and stared at Aristine. Once again, she didn’t say anything for a while.
Aristine felt weird saying something when Paellamien was quiet, so she remained silent too.
The only difference from before was that they were looking at each other instead of in the distance.
“Didn’t you hate me?”
Aristine’s eyes widened when Paellamien broke her silence with those words.
Aristine pondered over it.
She didn’t particularly hate Paellamien. Of course, she didn’t quite like Paellamien either.
So far, Paellamien’s hostility to Aristine was all in an effort keep her political enemy in check.
So Aristine didn’t really take it to heart.
‘Of course, if Paellamien won against me, I might be thinking differently…’
Aristine was never trounced. Rather, you could see it as Paellamien’s faction being defeated by Aristine.
Isn’t it always said that the winners remember nothing, but the losers alone relive the memories of failure?
Of course, Paellamien and Aristine had never clearly gone against each other.
“I have no particular inclination towards you.”
At that nonchalant answer, Paellamien stared at Aristine.
She thought it was a lie, but Aristine’s expression looked like she really didn’t care.
Paellamien clenched her fists, feeling ridiculous for some reason. She felt wary and guarded against Aristine, yet the other party felt nothing.
“Even though I ridiculed you for being dirty and a gutter rat when you arrived in Irugo?”
“Oh, that,” Aristine calmly replied.
Of course, she hadn’t forgotten about that.
But those memories didn’t make a big impact on her.
Of the memories made that day, Tarkan was the one who left the biggest impression on Aristine.
Her husband, who wrapped her in silk, and carried her like a princess.
The joy she felt after concluding those negotiations and the scones that were surprisingly delicious.
The more important memory glowed, taking precedence and a cloud of dust settled over the people who were snickering as she got off the carriage.
“I am too busy to keep such things in my mind and brood over every little thing.”
Aristine mumbled as she buried her feet in the pile of fallen leaves.
“And in the first place, you didn’t say that as a reaction to me as a person but as a means to intimidate a political opponent.”
Aristine’s words made Paellamien pause.
She was right.
Starlina or Yenikarina might be different, but she only put down Aristine to side with her queen.
‘Is it that easy to separate it?’
Paellamien looked at Aristine like she was seeing something incomprehensible.
Her lips moved a few times before she asked, “…Aren’t you going to ask me why I’m crying?”
“Do you want me to ask?”
Paellamien pressed her lips together.
She didn’t want Aristine to ask.
If Aristine had asked, she would have told her off since it wasn’t her business and rebuffed her for trying to make a mockery.
She was nervous that Aristine might ask why she was crying and try to comfort her.
That would be humiliating.
But when Aristine just sat beside her without asking anything, she felt a little weird.
“I am getting married.”
Paellamien only realized that she spoke after the words left her mouth.
She didn’t plan to say anything, but she didn’t know why those words came out. However, she didn’t regret it.
Aristine stared at her for a moment, then she smiled.
“More to celebrate. Prince Hamill is also having talks of marriage.”
Hearing that, Paellamien’s eyes seemed to turn red. Her suppressed anger suddenly exploded.
“More to celebrate? Hah! There is no such thing. Only one misfortune.”
“Huh?” Aristine’s eyes widened and with an ‘ah’, she realized. “Don’t tell me, instead of Prince Hamill…”
Paellamien bit her lip heavily.
“I bet they never planned on marrying Brother Hamill in the first place. Such a perfect way to sell me off.”
Seeing the grin on Paellamien’s face, Aristine furrowed her brows.
So far, the queen’s faction had used the position of Hamill’s wife to play push-and-pull with several noble families.
Becoming Hamill’s wife meant that there was a high chance of becoming the next queen, so they were all fretting to lower themselves before the queen.
‘Which is why I was surprised when the queen said that she was considering Hamill’s marriage but…’
Who knew that she would take advantage of this opportunity to send off Paellamien instead of Hamill.
When word spread that Hamill would be marrying soon, many aristocrat families conceded their vested interests to her queen to solidify their alliance in the final competition.
If not for the incident where she accused Aristine of being the poisoner, the competition would have been even fiercer.
‘That means she took it for now and deferred her decision…but if she tries to call the whole thing off, there will be a strong backlash, so she gave Paellamien instead.’
In Paellamien’s position, her anger was understandable.
The Paellamien that Aristine knew was a highly political figure.
It was surprising that someone like her showed her resistance in front of a political opponent, Aristine.
(Aristine)“An arranged marriage will happen at some point anyway. Of course, it might be unpleasant to be treated as Prince Hamill’s substitute, but isn’t that what politics is like?”
Don’t you know this enough?
At that gaze, Paellamien clenched her fists tightly.
The pile of fallen leaves on the floor crumbled in her hand. After stubbornly shutting her mouth for a while, she spat out.
“He is ugly.”
Aristine thought she heard wrong.
But one look at Paellamien’s expression told her she heard correctly, and she was taken aback.
Something like that? In a political marriage?
Paellamien blew up at the look in Aristine’s eyes which clearly showed what she was thinking, “You married Tarkan!”
You can’t understand!
The leaves piled up by her feet flew away in the wind.