Chapter 83: Emptiness
「Ojou-sama, dinner is ready」
I stayed inside my room without ever coming out. The documents for today’s lecture, which were prepared yesterday, were scattered about the room. Despair ruled my heart, and I did not feel like doing anything.
How did this happen?
Both Natalia and Mary were treading carefully with me. They dared not say anything.
I kept silent, left the room, and headed to the dining room.
Honestly, I am not hungry at all. Rather, I actually did not want to eat.
My heart felt like it had a gaping hole in it.
And that hole—had no one who could fill it.
My tears had stopped for some reason.
I thought I would keep crying for a long, long time, but it strangely stopped. Instead, my heart was left with an overwhelming emptiness.
To the point where I felt like nothing matters.
A world which had lost color had nothing pleasant in it. I could only feel despair for the future to come.
「……I have kept you waiting, Father, Mother」
「Aah……have a seat, Carol」
「Then, Chris. Serve the food」
My father and mother were already in the dining room. My father seemed somewhat discomfited, while my mother looked as usual.
I could not see my elder brother around. He just had his triumphal return today, and there must be some work to do.
The dinner Chris lined up before my eyes—did not look anything delicious.
Only the clinking of the tableware could be heard.
There was no conversation.
I merely put the food into my mouth, chewed without tasting, and forced it down my narrow throat.
As I ate one bite, two bites, I became nauseous.
「……I am done. Please clear it away」
「Carol, you should eat a little more……」
「I am already full……」
I could not force down any more than this.
I had not eaten lunch in my room, but I still could not bring myself to eat at all.
I could not taste either; my sense of taste might have numbed.
This was—a world without color.
「……Then, please excuse me」
「All right. Have a good rest, Carol」
I could not respond anything to such good wishes of my mother.
Have a good rest, and then what?
What should I do starting tomorrow?
Something like my future had been closed off.
As it were—I wanted to die more and more.
「That……do not be too disheartened. It truly was unfortunate about Wilhelm-dono……」
Do not be too disheartened.
Why would you ask such an impossible request, Father?
Who would fill this heart of mine after losing Wilhelm-sama, who I had longed for with all my heart?
A hollowed heart would never move again.
「Well, even so, Carol」
「While it was unfortunate, is it not a good thing you have not yet married? Had you married, you would have been a widow at the age of sixteen. Hahaha」
I could only reply with silence to such tactless words of my father.
I did not fly into a rage and go, “What good thing?!” I did not lash out with, “Why are you laughing?”
Because my heart did not move.
A person’s heart is like a surface of water.
A stimulus would cause a ripple, and it would shake with a slight movement. Sometimes like a stormy sea, other times like a calm lake.
But right now, my heart was frozen.
It did not ripple, nor did it shake. All that was left for it was—to break and crumble away.
Therefore, at my father’s words, my heart remained unmoved.
「……If there is nothing else, I will return to my room」
「W-Wait, Carol! 」
My father stopped me from leaving my seat.
What other matters did he have with me? I am already tired.
My father cleared his throat.
「To tell you the truth, Carol…」
「The other day, Royal Prince Raul’s eldest son, His Highness Edward—our next king, visited our house」
He meant Edward-san, yes? We did meet the other day.
But what of it? It had nothing to do with me.
My engagement with His Highness Rayford had already been broken. My engagement with Wilhelm-sama was unfortunately the same.
Should I just go to a temple and become a nun?
「At that time, he talked about getting Carol……to be his…fiancée」
「W-Well, I refused. After all, at that time, Carol was already engaged to Wilhelm-dono. So……uhh, after he heard about Carol’s feelings, I asked him to take his leave……」
「Gilliam, this is the first time I have heard of this matter」
「Like I said, I refused. Since I had refused, it need not reach your ears……」
Oh, I see.
So you were thinking of making me your fiancée, Edward-san?
「Then, why do you say this now? 」
「Er, well……that…since Wilhelm-dono has died in battle……」
「How tactless can you get?! Disregarding Carol’s feelings to that extent……! 」
My father and mother began arguing like that.
Were you thinking of making a person, whose face you did not know then, your fiancée, Edward-san?
Perhaps, the Queen recommended it. I am grateful that I was valued so highly.
「The engagement with His Highness Rayford as well, you proceeded all on your own……! 」
「W-Were we not over that?! Moreover, I have properly refused with His Highness Edward! But now that it is like this, Carol does not even have a companion……」
「Do you not understand how tactless you are being?! How much Carol loved Wilhelm-sama……! 」
「W-Well, that……! 」
「……That is enough. Father. Mother」
I said to my mother who was standing and scolding my father.
If you wanted to use me that much, then do so.
Carol Ambrose is the daughter of a ducal household.
Originally, I did not have any right to choose my marriage partner.
Being engaged with Wilhelm-sama was a miracle.
A reward given to me by God for a short while.
The time for dreaming was over.
「Please proceed with the proposal, Father」
「Carol, what are you saying……! 」
This was just returning to how it was.
Returning to the time when my fiancé, His Highness Rayford, and I had no love for each other.
I only had a short happy dream in that interval.
「Even if I married His Highness Edward, I do not think I can love him」
Because my love…
…was dedicated only to Wilhelm-sama—.