He Was Kind If I Stopped - Chapter 16

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“It’s a bit sudden.”

 

There was a hint of suspicion in the king’s tone.

 

“I’ve been a bad sister, so I did some reflection.”

 

Hazel smiled weakly.

 

“Poor Lorette. She grew up outside the palace and didn’t get to enjoy all the things a princess should have. That’s why I think she deserves to have more happiness.”

 

“…I’m proud of you for thinking like that.”

 

A smile appeared on Ileos’s mouth. Hazel felt indescribably strange seeing her father’s sincere smile, which she had not seen in a long time.

 

Her father’s face, as he held Lorette in his arms, was always filled with that kind of smile. He even lavished the words, “My beloved daughter.”

 

His whole world revolved around Lorette. It was as if he had never had a daughter before.

 

It only made Hazel feel terribly awkward that her father’s smile was now directed at her.

 

“The imperial delegation has just arrived at the royal palace. We have a lot of things to digest. You know as well as I do that it has not been easy to make this happen.”

 

“Of course.”

 

It was a peace agreement with an empire that had swallowed up half of the continent. The reason why they had set a half-month long date for this agreement was to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

 

If the Princes had a good time in the Kingdom and showed a friendly attitude towards the Kingdom of Land, it would be an opportunity to clearly instill the Land’s status in the surrounding countries.

 

“You two are my only children. It would be nice if you two can get along with the Princes….”

 

Hazel realized the intention behind the king’s words. Since his two daughters and the Princes were at the same age, he wanted them to consider marriage.

 

The king wanted Sisef.

 

It was not the Crown Prince that Ileos had in mind, but the empress’s son, Sisef. And the partner for Sisef was….Lorette.

 

‘I didn’t know it back then.’

 

Ileos had a higher opinion of Sisef, who was well educated and lived in the imperial palace, than the Crown Prince who rolled around on the battlefield surrounded by harsh rumors. In fact, he was certain that it would be Sisef, not Achilleon, who would inherit the throne.

 

Sisef was the one who had the best qualities as a chieftain to lead a country. So this agreement was able to be reached by his outstanding skills.

 

And the king didn’t hesitate to use his daughters in this agreement. The benefits of marrying into the Empire would be greater.

 

Even if the political marriage was not consummated, it was not a bad thing for a beautiful princess to show up at a ball or wherever. The king knew better than anyone that a beautiful appearance would arouse the favor of the other party.

 

Ileos was born with a brilliant mind, and he managed the affairs of state well.

 

It took a great deal of meticulous ability to defend the throne among the powerful nobles, but he maintained the balance of power by properly appointing people from each family.

 

His marriage to Hazel’s mother, Martina, was part of such a goal: to form a political alliance with a family that would be of great help to him.

 

But that marriage was another shackle and  bound Ileos. The Duchesses of Conces often offended him by blatantly supporting Hazel, the only flesh and blood left by their own family.

 

The relationship between a father and his daughter could only worsen as he saw the child as a threat to his royal authority.

 

“I think it would be better for Lorette to take on the task of entertaining the delegation rather than me, father. I heard she did well at the welcome party yesterday.”

 

“Yes, she did. I wish you could have seen it yourself. You would be proud of her.”

 

“I know. I’m sad too.”

 

Hazel sighed deeply.

 

“Are you going to be able to attend all the special picnics and hunting competitions?

 

“…Probably.”

 

“The guests from Demophos seemed to be eager to meet you. They even said that because you’re beautiful, you’re kept hidden and they could never see you.”

 

“That’s a polite way of putting it. Lorette alone would have been enough.”

 

Hazel smiled and closed her eyes slightly, her rich dark lashes casting shadows over her white skin.

 

“Martina was one of the most beautiful women in the kingdom. You don’t need to be modest because you look exactly like her.”

 

‘That’s why you hated her.’

 

Ileos didn’t like the peculiar appearance of the Conches family very much. Dark green eyes reminiscent of a cat’s, slightly raised eyes, and pitch-black hair as shiny as black velvet.

 

Hazel had it all. Just like her aunts and cousins. That’s why Ileos liked Lorette, who resembled him in appearance.

 

They had bright golden hair and a soft impression that indicated a meek nature. Lorette looked so different from Hazel that when they stood together, they didn’t look very much like sisters.

 

“I’m just grateful that you think I’m pretty. I’d love to be there, of course, but I’m worried that I might look bad to the guests from Demophos when I’m not feeling well. It would be nice if I’m in perfect condition.”

 

“That’s…”

 

“It’s an arrangement we went to a lot of trouble to install, and I don’t want to inconvenience you in any way.”

 

Ileos nodded, seeming to understand Hazel’s answer.

 

“The first thing you need to do is to recover, so get some rest.”

 

“Thank you, father.”

 

As soon as Ileos left, Mary said in surprise.

 

“I didn’t expect His Highness to visit you…”

 

As she looked at the seat where Ileos had sat, Mary kept repeating the exclamation, “Oh my. It was just a father coming to see his sick daughter, but it was too much of a reaction. But you’re well deserved.”

 

“I know. When was the last time my father visited the Rose Palace?”

 

Hazel couldn’t quite remember. Apart from stopping by when her mother was still alive, the day Hazel came to this Rose Palace after Lorette’s return…. Hazel tried to think of more, but stopped.

 

“It seems he was worried about the princess!”

 

“I don’t think so.”

 

Hazel couldn’t suppress a bitter smile.

 

“As expected he loves you the most.”

 

“….”

 

Hazel only smiled ambiguously.

 

“I thought he came to scold me because I didn’t attend the ceremony and thought I was protesting.”

 

“That’s it…”

 

“I can’t believe he went easy on me.”

 

Hazel gave an empty smile. Even before Lorette came back to the palace, the king hadn’t been a very attentive father.

 

“I guess he was proud of me.”

 

Mary tilted her head and laughed.

 

“Aren’t you glad?”

 

“Of course I’m happy.”

 

Hazel was smiling, but there was a hint of sadness in her eyes.

 

“He praised me for being nice to Lorette.”

 

 

So in the end, it wasn’t that her father was starting to care about her. If he was really worried about his daughter being sick all night, he would have come to her in the middle of the night, no matter what.

 

“That would have been sweet.”

 

Hazel sighed spontaneously as she remembered her crazy past to crave such affection. It was a kindness like sand that no matter how hard she tried to catch it, she could not.

 

The only kindness her father had finally given her was when he was kind to her half-sister and polite to her stepmother.

 

“Perhaps if the king treated the princess very kindly, the world would look down on him?”

 

“Perhaps, but ….”

 

Ileos was not the kind of father who was stern in the eyes of the people, but warm in private. If he was, Hazel would not have hated Lorette for being loved by him.

 

“Whatever it is, I’m done with it.”

 

Hazel didn’t want conditional love, because that wasn’t real love. It may seem like she possessed it, even temporarily, but it would eventually slip through her fingers.

 

All the time she spent longing for love and recognition from her father has been wasted. For a moment, it was like looking at a sand castle that had been swept away by a gust of wind. No matter how much effort she put into it, Hazel thought, there was no need to risk her life for something that was useless.

 

“It’s a beautiful day…”

 

Hazel looked out the window absentmindedly.

 

“Yes! The flowers in the rose garden are so beautiful. Would you like to go for a walk?”

 

“No, I’ll stay in the palace only.”

 

Hazel wasn’t going to go outside, at least not until the imperial delegation left. One encounter with Achilleon yesterday was enough.

 

“I’m going to the greenhouse.”

 

Hazel’s reply didn’t occur to Mary for a while, but she soon answered with a bright smile.

 

“Then I’ll tell the greenhouse to prepare some tea and refreshments!

 

***

 

The Rose Palace, where Hazel lived, was, as the name suggested, a palace where roses bloomed all year round. It was the palace that Queen Martina loved the most when she was alive, and the greenhouse in the middle of the garden grew dozens of varieties of roses.

 

Hazel loved this space the most because she could always see the magnificent roses in the greenhouse, even during the season when they were not in bloom.

 

It was also the place where her happy memories were all stored. Running around and playing with her mother in this greenhouse, and learning to pick and arrange roses together.

 

Hazel looked around as she sipped her thick rose-scented tea.

 

‘It’s only two weeks from now.’

 

The imperial delegation would be leaving the palace. Until then, she had to lay low as if she was dead. Then the relationship with Achilleon shall be broken.

 

“I’ll remember your face.”

 

Hazel still couldn’t forget the sound that Achilleon whispered bitterly.

 

“So what if he remembers…?”

 

No matter how much he looked for her, she was just a servant girl as far as he knew.

 

Hazel closed her eyes, listening to the sound of water from the fountain in the greenhouse. It was then…

 

“Princess, the chamberlain has sent people.”

 

“What for?”

 

Hazel raised her head, frowning at the sudden noise. It wasn’t everyday that the quiet atmosphere of the Rose Palace was so noisy.

 

“I..in the rose garden.”

 

“Speak properly.”

 

“I’m going to… pick the roses.”

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