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I considered guiding him into an empty room, but in the end I decided to take a stroll. Prince Heinley fell into step beside me.
“What kind of documents are those?”
I assume he waited for me to discuss something, but Prince Heinley did not show me the papers. When I reached out my hand to take them, he pulled them from my fingertips with a small laugh.
“Stop fooling around. What is it?”
Prince Heinley chuckled again and then handed over the documents.
I looked at the papers, then looked back at him in surprise. The document had a cover, but there was nothing inside. I stared at him in bewilderment, and he smiled apologetically.
“I apologize. I thought it was more natural if we met this way.”
“There’s no need to fool around like this.”
“I don’t want to do anything that makes Queen feel uncomfortable.”
I gave a sideways glance at him, and noticed that he was looking at me. His expression was soft and his violet eyes were lit with an unusual warmth. I handed the documents back to him awkwardly and he accepted it, but his gaze didn’t break. I pushed his cheek away, and he turned his head straight and laughed.
“Then why are you here if there’s nothing to talk about?”
“Well, that’s not true. I do have something to discuss.”
I had a feeling that it wasn’t about anything good. His smiling face instantly turned gloomy, and he scratched his chin as he struggled to find his words. He seemed to be debating with himself whether it was alright to speak or not.
“I told you a few days ago that my brother wasn’t in good health.”
“Is he worse?”
“It seems so. I’ve received another letter again, but now it’s bad.”
My feet stopped walking before I even realized it. The health of the Western King was a serious matter that might bring political repercussions to the Eastern Empire, not to mention the grief of my personal friend Prince Heinley…
Under these circumstances, I shouldn’t want to stop Prince Heinley returning to the West. If he became king, our meetings would likely be sparse in the future, and we would never be able to talk so familiarly to each other as we did now.
The thought did not ease my sorrow. I looked at him with an uneasy expression.
“Then…are you returning to the Western Kingdom?”
“Not immediately. But probably soon.”
Prince Heinley’s brow furrowed.
“I have to go before my brother dies to hear his will.”
The king must be in serious condition if he was giving his will.
“Shouldn’t you leave quickly then?”
Now I was really worried about the king’s health, but Prince Heinley unhappily kicked the stones on the ground.
“Sometimes the weight of things is different…”
With a sigh, he immediately shook his head and gave a heavy smile.
It was then—
There was a rustling sound and Grand Duke Kapmen strode up towards us. I was taken aback by his sudden appearance.
“I didn’t know you were here.”
He shouldn’t be around me when he was still under the potion’s influence, and I was afraid that Prince Heinley might misunderstand our relationship. No, not just him, but anyone else too.
“Yes. I came out to cool off.”
Grand Duke Kapmen replied calmly and looked up and down at Prince Heinley. I recognized the duke’s expression from the New Year’s ball. It was a critical eye that judged one’s opponent in detail.
Prince Heinley also frowned. I hastily pulled him away and gave a short goodbye to Grand Duke Kapmen, then turned back to Heinley.
“Let’s keep walking. We have more to talk about.”
I was worried that love-stricken Grand Duke Kapmen might say something strange to Prince Heinley. However, I failed to separate the two. Grand Duke Kapmen reached out his hand, in expectation that I would step away from Prince Heinley. Prince Heinley looked dumbfounded, and his lip curled in warning.
It was me who held onto Prince Heinley’s arm, but Grand Duke Kapmen spoke as if it were the opposite. The drug that coursed through the duke’s blood strongly clouded his reason.
“You. Is this the behavior of a grand duke from the Hwa continent?”
Prince Heinley laughed as if he found the whole situation absurd. However, Grand Duke Kapmen stepped between me and Prince Heinley without an answer.
I couldn’t help but feel small while the two large men stared down at each other. The atmosphere between them was so ugly it was difficult to intervene.
“How strange. Queen was standing in front of me, so why is this man here?”
I almost choked and I tugged on the hem of Grand Duke Kapmen’s clothes. I was afraid that at this rate, he would even say he loved me.
“Grand Duke Kapmen. Prince Heinley. Stop it.”
Despite my efforts to pull his clothes, Grand Duke Kapmen glared at Prince Heinley with cold eyes, and Prince Heinley returned him a challenging look. His usual smile was replaced with a look of thunder. It seemed to be the prelude of a fight.
“Grand Duke Kapmen. Please don’t do anything you’ll regret later.”
I felt sorry for him in the end, but I kicked his heel with the toe of my shoe. He jerked towards me as if he were coming back to his senses, but at the moment, Prince Heinley pushed him aside.
Despite my protest, he gave a grin that didn’t fit the current situation.
“What’s wrong, Queen?”
“…Don’t push him.”
“I couldn’t see you at all with this guy in front of me.”
However, he gave an apologetic sigh.
“I’m sorry. Are you mad at me for pushing him?”
“I’m not angry—”
“Prince Heinley isn’t fit to associate himself with you.”
Was it starting again? My head hurt. Just as I was hoping it would calm down, it escalated again.
Prince Heinley stared at Grand Duke Kapmen with a grin. He looked scary even when he smiled.
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