Home Post 1533-chapter-52

1533-chapter-52

“Is it uncomfortable for you?”

“It’s fine, really.”

How many times has he asked that? Was it a habit for people in this world to constantly ask if everything was all right? Why did they feel the need to check in every few steps?

“I didn’t know… you were interested in observing insects.”

…Why bring that up again? Did he enjoy seeing me embarrassed? Then, just laugh at me! Go ahead and laugh!

I was fully grown, yet here I was, staring at ants!

“Do you hate insects, Grand Duke?”

“I neither hate nor particularly like them. I did have a phase in my youth where I was quite interested in them, though.”

Enfrise intensely focused on observing ants… I couldn’t quite picture it.

What was a young Enfrise like, anyway? Was he a bit cocky, a promising youngster, or was there some sort of twist?

“Your childhood seems hard to imagine.”

“Is that so?”

“May I ask what kind of child you were?”

To some, childhood might be a time of difficult memories, just like mine was. From what I read in the book, I thought Enfrise was just an obsessive character, though perhaps there was more to his story. There might be something more to his childhood.

Still, I didn’t want to force him to bring up unpleasant memories.

“Are you curious?”

Uum, yes.”

I wanted to know more about Enfrise.

Why did he become a person who only fixated on Chaperil? Why did he grow distant from others? Why did he only know this way of life?

There were so many other questions, too.

What foods did Enfrise like? What music did he prefer? What books did he read often? What was his favorite drink? Enfrise learned little by little about my preferences each time I asked for something. However, I didn’t know much about him.

Nothing about Enfrise.

“It might not be a very pleasant story. Are you sure you want to hear it?”

“Anything is fine. I want to know more about the Grand Duke.”

“…Alright. Where should I start?”

Did we hit something? His words seemed to falter for a moment. I didn’t really know how to hold the reins, so instead, I grabbed Enfrise’s arm. At that, he shifted one of his hands from the reins and wrapped it around my waist.

I leaned against his chest, waiting for his story to begin.

“I… I don’t like my appearance. It’s caused me to lose too much.”

…No? What was wrong with his appearance? There were no other men like this in the novel. Could everyone in this world be blind?

“My father, the former Emperor, had golden hair and blue eyes.”

…Huh?

Enfrise has black hair and golden eyes. Maybe he took after his mother?

“My mother was the third daughter of a modest family within the empire. Normally, she wouldn’t even dream of becoming an empress. She had resigned herself to marrying a nobleman from her childhood, a Count’s heir.”

How did she end up as the empress then? As if anticipating my question, Enfrise continued.

“It was rare for my mother’s family to receive an invitation to the imperial court. But that day was different. The newly ascended Emperor had sent out invitations for a ball to every family residing in the capital. My mother, being in the capital for her wedding preparations, decided it would be her last chance to visit the palace and attend the party.”

Something happening out of the norm in the world of novels often foreshadows a major event. Something that wasn’t usually the case or something that was different just that day.

“The young Emperor… seemed to fall in love instantly with my mother. He even canceled his engagement to another lady, who was supposed to become the empress, in order to marry my mother.”

Well, maybe roughly something like this?

— How could I possibly dare to be in such a position? Please, take back such an outrageous suggestion.

— And why not? Are you displeased with the prospect of becoming a concubine? If that is so, I will give you the title of Empress.

— Your Majesty.

Maybe such an exchange could have taken place.

“My mother tried to refuse until the end. She was already engaged and preparing for a wedding. However, the former Emperor began to persuade the members of her family.”

Naturally, her family would prefer her to become an empress rather than marry a mere nobleman without knowing that exceeding happiness often leads to ruin.

It was always like that. When such happiness comes, one might think they have secured it themselves, but…

It was often just a play of fate.

“Eventually, my mother accepted the former Emperor’s proposal. Or rather, she was compelled to accept it. Nine months later, I was born.”

…Huh?

Hold on. If his father was the Emperor and his mother the Empress…

Huh?

Enfrise, are you the Emperor’s legitimate eldest son?! Then, why are you just a Grand Duke? Shouldn’t you be the crown prince or the Emperor?

“The timing of my birth after their marriage wasn’t unusual. However, my hair and eye color became a problem. I resembled nothing with the former Emperor.”

Suddenly, the way that intruder referred to Enfrise comes to mind.

Did he call him a blood thief?

Could it be that this nickname originated from…

“People also gossiped about the fact that my mother had been preparing to marry another man. Thus, the social circles started to whisper that I was actually the child of her former lover.”

That didn’t make sense, did it?

If he was the exact image of his mother, wasn’t that possible through genetics alone? How did that prove he was some other man’s child? Did everyone lose their minds? Was rational thinking too much to ask for?

“Realizing the controversy, the previous Emperor publicly declared in front of the nobility that I was his son. He proclaimed that the Empress was virtuous.”

Yes, yes, that was how it should be.

No father would stand by while his wife and child are subjected to such rumors.

…But why was Enfrise here now?

“However, the strongest doubts came from the former Emperor himself. He conducted secret investigations and questioned servants from both houses and people close to us, trying to gather evidence without my mother’s knowledge. Even after everyone denied it, he went as far as to confront my mother’s former fiancé. Of course, he denied it as well. Yet, the former Emperor’s suspicions never go away.”

…..That man’s crazy, too.

I didn’t want to speak ill of Enfrise’s father… but it seemed like this emotional and obsessive aspect was inherited from his father. So, the kind and gentle side must be from his mother?

“Because… Because I increasingly resembled my mother as I grew.”

“Though why is that an issue? It’s normal for a child to resemble their mother.”

“…When my younger siblings, Barca, who is now the Emperor, and the youngest, Elmare, were born, my father’s suspicions turned into conviction. Both had hair and eye colors like my father.”

No…!

Three children, one resembled the mother and the other two the father, it was perfectly possible! Did they ever do a genetic test? Or any kind of paternity test? Was there such a thing in this world? If there was, I’d want them to do it immediately.

“By the time Elmare was walking… it was almost taken as a fact inside and outside the palace that I was not my father’s child. It was beyond control by then.”

Uugh.

It was easy to predict what would happen next. Now, I understand why Enfrise turned out the way he did.

Rumors are dangerous, especially in a closed society like the nobility, where rumors become akin to God’s decree that is undeniable. There would be no one to speak against the rumors, particularly when the only person who could stop them harbored the greatest doubts.

Yet none of this was Enfrise’s fault.

Even if his mother had committed adultery, why should Enfrise be blamed for it? Did those who slander him ever truly meet him? Had they ever sincerely spoken with him to understand what kind of person he was and still decided to label him with such dirty terms, like blood thief?

Prejudice was indeed a terrifying thing.

“As a child… I believed I could overcome the rumors with my efforts. I thought if I showed exceptional abilities, behaved well, and earned my father’s approval, everything would eventually be resolved.”

Wow, that was admirable.

Without realizing it, I reached out and placed my hand over his. I gently patted the back of his hand as if comforting him.

“….”

Did Enfrise feel that gesture? The conversation paused for a moment.

If I had been drawn into this world a bit earlier, perhaps it could have been better. Or maybe, if someone like the female lead from other possession stories who changed their fates to survive had been drawn in.

Instead of me, someone who didn’t yearn for this confinement to last forever…

It might have been better for Enfrise.

“Are you trying to comfort me?”

“Not really.”

“Then, what is this hand for?”

“It’s just, the young Grand Duke seemed so admirable. It’s not really meant for you. It’s for the young Grand Duke in the story.”

At that, he let out a low chuckle.

I wondered what expression he was making now. I couldn’t see his face as I was nestled against him.

Still, one thing felt certain.

He must be making a very charming face.

 

__