「Engagement, you say?」
Called to an audience, the word that came out was expected in a sense.
My fiancée had yet to be decided even now, so he must’ve been worried about his unsteady son.
I could understand my father’s sentiments.
The royalty around me were getting betrothed one after another and in the middle of deciding their marriages, being able to do as I pleased until now was honestly more of a shock.
It’s a debt collecting of years on end.
「Yes. It’s not right for the Crown Prince to be unmarried forever. It’s about time for you to take an official fiancée.」
Taking notes in a position lower than my scowling father was the Prime Minister. For some reason, his mood seemed to be good.
I could understand from just that.
……It was likely that my partner was his daughter.
For years he had pleaded to make his daughter into my consort, but it seems like Father has finally granted it.
「……The Prime Minister’s daughter?」
When I asked confirmation he nodded.
In any case I knew I would get engaged sooner or later.
Marriage was part of the royal obligation, and if it were a partner my Father approved of then I had no room for objection.
「……Freed. If there’s someone you like……」
「Such consideration is unnecessary. Father. For my obligation and for the benefit of this country, it’s better the more superior my wife-to-be is. If Father has decided so, then I will gladly abide.」
I accepted the betrothal without interest.
I was sick of women. Any one of them were the same. If that was the case then it was better for me to accept the advantageous partner that Father decided for me.
「I see……I’ll plan the ceremony to be next year. Until then, if your feelings change, feel free to speak to me.」
「I am grateful towards your generous concern. But that situation will likely not happen.」
I bowed deeply and excused myself.
While returning to my personal quarters I thought deeply.
This could be punishment.
To only make it easier for myself, even though I didn’t wish for it I continued to conduct myself in a scum-like manner.
I didn’t think things would turn out this way from that, but if I thought of it as retribution then I could accept this marriage that I didn’t even want.
If the Prime Minister’s daughter was set as the Princess Consort, then naturally she would seek to conceive children.
Wanting nothing to do with sleeping with women at the moment, there was a great problem in my mood to make the Princess Consort bear a child, but I couldn’t let the royal blood be exterminated.
In the case that the I was unwilling to impregnate the Princess Consort, then in the worst case I would take women into my harem and then limit doing it once while increasing my concubines until one of them got pregnant, such a situation might come about.
……The inner palace.
Just by imagining it, my mood worsened and I wanted to vomit.
No matter how I wanted to drive away my impairment I did something stupid, and just when I decided to stop sleeping with women at the evening party.
I was completely fed up. Towards the possible worst outcome future, I could only sigh as I was reaping what I sowed.
「Freed, congratulations on your betrothal.」
When I returned to my office, without delay the first thing I heard was Glen, who was waiting for me.
He probably knew of my feelings. While making a complicated face, he expressed his congratulations.
「……It’s nothing to be happy about.」
While sitting down in a chair I replied. It was more of an emotionless voice than I thought.
I was astonished at myself who lashed out against Glen without thinking.
I was supposed to have made peace with it, but it seems to have been more of a shock that I realized.
After composing myself, I continued speaking. Glen wasn’t the one at fault.
「……Please don’t mind it. I am only fulfilling my obligation as royalty. I thought it was about time for the matter to be brought up.」
「Please don’t make such a face. It’s something I knew from the start.」
After I uttered so, Glen’s eyebrows lowered and simply nodded with a「yes」.
Right now, I probably had an awfully pathetic expression on.
Even without pointing it out, I knew.
「……Your partner is the daughter of the Prime Minister?」
「Ahh, that’s what they said. He must be happy things are advancing just as he wanted. He was smiling from beginning to end.」
While he was a well-known sharp and able person, it was the first time I saw that Prime Minister with a face full with such glee.
「Speaking of the Prime Minister’s daughter, they mean Phantom Princess, then……」
I inclined my head to the unfamiliar words Glen spoke.
「What do you mean?」
Asking if I was unaware, Glen continued.
「Phantom Princess. She’s your fiancée. There’s a rumor that she’s sickly, so she doesn’t attend most of the evening parties. The Prime Minister also didn’t want his daughter getting close with other men, I assume. Her appearance has seldom been seen, so at some point she became known as that.」
After being told so, I noticed it for the first time.
Even when speaking of the Prime Minister’s daughter, I couldn’t recall her appearance.
There could only be one reason for that.
「……Come to think of it, I’ve never met her.」
As the frontrunning Duke and Prime Minister’s daughter, furthermore as the leading contender to become my fiancée, I should’ve met her at least a several times until now.
In actuality, the Prime Minister’s side had arranged for us before. But I recalled it was always let slip by.
I didn’t want to meet with women who swarmed around power so I thought of it as fortunate, but I didn’t pay any other heed to it.
「With the Prime Minister’s daughter? It’s just to the point of hearing conversations, but I thought that the Prime Minister wanted to make his daughter into your consort no matter what. To have never met her is strange.」
「……Truly, Phantom Princess is utterly fitting for her.」
Speaking of which, I should be grateful for at least not having to choose a fiancée from amongst the young noble ladies who trailed behind me and aimed for my affection. If the day ever came that announced one of those bunch to become my fiancée, even if it was an order I would have a hard time complying.
「……This might be an excellent direction, unexpectedly?」
「Can you stop your pointless comforting? In the end, she’ll just be the same as other women.」
Even saying so, I didn’t have the choice of refusal though.
If I refused here, then a new fiancée would just be given prospect. One bothersome event was more than enough.
「……Have you even seen her portrait?」
Glen offered to find it, but I shook my head.
「No, it’s fine. Since I’ll have to meet her sooner or later, even if I don’t want to.」
Having my close friend look at me with deplorable eyes, I smiled wryly.
「I’ve accepted it. It’s not as if a fiancée was forced upon me without my knowledge. Father also said that if I had a girl I liked then I could refuse……He said he would wait until the ceremony.」
Glen’s eyes widened. He probably hadn’t thought that I would be told such words.
I lightly nodded in affirmation.
「Just being told that, I was grateful. It’s regrettable, but there isn’t a woman I think of to such degree.」
「Freed……There’s still time left!!」
Full of zeal, Glen insisted that it still wasn’t too late.
To find a woman I loved.
But even if I was told that, I wasn’t in the mood to do so.
Everything was already too late.
Besides, I didn’t think I would be able to love anyone at this point in time.
I truly felt sorry towards my wife-to-be, but I probably wouldn’t be able to love her.
However, I would treat her with great care. Even without love, we would have to live countless decades together, after all.
「No, it’s fine already. It’s surely because it’s the right time. I was already getting tired of going to the masquerade ball and since I’ve been pinned in a corner, I thought to make next time the last……It’s probably heaven’s guidance that wants me to clean up my surroundings.」
At that, Glen showed a surprised expression.
He was also slightly aware that I was at my limit, probably.
He bowed his head deeply.
「I deeply apologize. If I hadn’t proposed such a foolish thing……」
「Your idea was good, Glen. The problem lies with me. It’s nothing for you to worry about.」
In the first place, the one who sought consultation was me.
Even while being reluctant, the one who decided to put it into practice was also me.
Condemning him was barking up the wrong tree.
「Enough of this topic. Even if we discuss it, there’s no benefit.」
Seeming like he still wanted to argue vehemently I stated words of closure and concentrated on the documents on my desk.
Even so, the voice inside my head continued to ridicule.
――――Yeah right, what do you mean『Flawless Crown Prince』.
If that was true, then you wouldn’t be a complete failure right now would you?
I thought it was a fitting conclusion towards I, who had been so foolish.
Thank you very much.
Next time is finally the Crown Prince’s destined meeting（lol）