Home Post 763-chapter-31


“I hadn’t planned on it, but if Your Highness insists, I’ll comply.”

“Damn it.”

Upon my calm retort, he bowed his head and covered his face with his hand, clearly irritated.

I realized I was just looking for trouble. So, I chose to remain silent, offering no further response.

“You won’t say a word, will you?”

Finally, the prince lifted his head and reclined against the chair’s backrest, his posture more relaxed, slouching comfortably.

Sensing his readiness to converse, I posed the question that had been weighing on my mind.

“What are you doing here? What about the dormitory?”

“And what about you? What on earth are you doing here? Hiding between the shelves, stealing people’s blankets?”

“I didn’t know it was yours. If I had, I wouldn’t have touched it.”

He shrugged at my outburst, clearly indicating a ‘So what?’ attitude.


Why was I even here with Claude Valentine?

Regret flooded me within ten seconds of initiating a proper conversation.

I felt as if I were possessed. Could the apparition in the Library truly be someone other than the late Claude Valentine?

I detested him.

I abhorred him.

It was disgusting to suppress myself and mimic others.

Yet, I couldn’t look away.

Always. Every time. Whether eighteen or fourteen. I was captivated by those melancholic eyes, unable to think of anything else.

For reasons unknown to me.

“Miss Estelle? So, what was the reason for sneaking around here in the middle of the night? If you don’t speak, neither will I.”

His question jolted me back to reality. The prince impatiently tapped the desk with his finger.

‘What was I thinking?’

My troubled mind wandered aimlessly.

“Why did you sneak into the Library in the middle of the night?”

The prince urged irritably, prompting an incomplete answer to spill from my lips in response to his impatience.

“I came here at midnight because… there’s a belief that you can encounter the soul of the deceased Claude Valentine… and gain enlightenment…”


Wasn’t there a better way to phrase it? I could feel my face flushing faintly and was thankful for the cover of darkness.

“The soul of the deceased Claude Valentine? Do you believe in that legend that says it bestows enlightenment?”

His tone carried incredulity.

“Are you, what, thirteen? You believe in that stuff?”

“Well, technically, I’m fourteen.”

“Oh, right. Of course.”

It just didn’t feel convincing at all. The prince muttered, followed by a chuckle.

“Seems like there are some weirdos like Okreena Sichs you believe in.”


“Did they tell you?”

I’ll interrogate them during the next spirit class. I meant it.

“I’m not the one to say, but it seems like we need to reconsider our acquaintanceship, Miss Estelle.”

“We’re not friends.”

I retorted immediately, but he didn’t seem to care, his face filled with a sly smile.

“No, well… Having innocence is a good thing. Keeping such a heart even in an environment like yours is a pure blessing.”

“You seem to have a knack for making things go in the direction you don’t want, Your Highness. Is that also a blessing?”

“Don’t be so willful. What if the soul of the mausoleum gets scared and can’t come out?”

If only I could scold him for his silly grin. My hand twitched where it rested on my knee.

The atmosphere had turned oddly tense. Eager to halt the pointless banter, I changed the subject.

“Anyway, that’s why I came here. What about you, Your Highness? Why are you here? How did you manage to get past the locked doors?”

The prince pulled a key from his pocket and twirled it around.

“Before Miss, the librarian, left, she was friendly with me. She gave me a spare key.”

“Ah, I see… So, when curfew passes and you can’t return to your room, you spend the night here instead. You even prepared a blanket.”

The prince nodded in confirmation.

“You’re His Highness the Prince, aren’t you? It shouldn’t be too difficult to get hold of the guards.”

“It’s a hassle every time. Also, I respect the rules of the Academy.”

With hundreds, if not thousands, of young nobles and commoners gathered in the Academy, thorough regulations governed their conduct. One of them was this:

Regardless of one’s status, students must adhere to their duties.

The Academy staff, mainly composed of lower nobles and commoners, also played a role in helping students maintain discipline and fostering friendships among young people who spent a long time together, regardless of their social status.

Thus, at least within Valentina, there was no clear distinction based on status.

“While you say you respect the rules of the Academy, isn’t it amusing that you keep sneaking in late at night?”

“You can’t hold back the wind.”

“I understand what you do outside each time.”

Despite my light teasing, which contradicted my actions, the prince quickly retorted.

“You have a habit of not saying what you think. Judging based on reputation. Wasn’t that what you hated the most?”

I was rendered speechless. In the darkness, Claude Valentine’s eyes gleamed with mockery as he looked at me.


I stammered. Claude looked at me quietly.

“I… misspoke.”

Reluctant to admit it, but it was the truth. My mind went blank. I felt embarrassed.

“It doesn’t matter. If what you thought was right.”

However, Claude Valentine leaned back, appearing nonchalant.

As I stared at him, his grin was mischievous.

‘I fell for it.’

Yet upon reflection, I realized the truth in his words.

Judging others without actually knowing while cutting them off based on rumors.

Wasn’t that what I hated the most?

Even if just one person looked at me behind the epithet ‘the Devil’s daughter,’ how much did I wish for it before I died?

Despite suffering and pleading for thousands of hours with tears, I was still doing the same thing.

Lost in thought, I couldn’t say anything. The prince, who had been silent for a while, oddly brought up the conversation as if to comfort me.

“Why are you so worked up? Don’t worry. I deliberately pretend to make others think like that, wasn’t that what you said first?”

As I lifted my head, he seemed to say the obvious as if it were a matter of course.

It was different from before when I blushed and denied it in the forest. I cautiously spoke.

“…You don’t deny it, do you?”

“What now.”

He replied casually.

“After all the fighting.”

It was actually me who was stumbling more from confusion.

“If I were to tell the Empress and others that you were imitating a fool when you were with me, what would you do?”

“I probably wouldn’t.”

His attitude was light and refreshing, as if we were close.

“Calling me a fool still stings, huh? Would you call it a free spirit?”

Seeing him frown and pretend to clutch his chest was even more unbelievable in this situation.

“It’s hard to understand, isn’t it?”

I spoke sincerely. The prince stopped clutching his chest as if he was hurt. He straightened up and looked at me.

“It’s what I wanted to say.”

His voice echoed in the darkness.

Silence enveloped us. It was a strange calm. An unexpected tranquility that I couldn’t have imagined even while being with Claude Valentine.

Was it possible to have this with another when we had seen each other’s true faces?

The more it happened, the more incomprehensible it became.

“I can’t understand why you started this argument with me in the first place.”

“Started? In the forest?”

I nodded. He brushed off with a sunken gaze. His tone was self-deprecating.

“I thought it was because of my quirky nature.”

“But now, you’re having this conversation with me, admitting that you’re acting like a fool to survive. You’re not mocking me despite knowing my reputation. I don’t understand why you were so sarcastic.”

He didn’t respond immediately.

“Your Highness?”

Despite my prompting, he remained silent. He just brushed his chin with his palm, lips tightly sealed.

I waited unmoving. I knew he would eventually answer. It was an intuition from the heart, not from reason.

I wondered how much time had passed?

“I was angry.”

Abruptly, the prince blurted out. Quietly, I responded.

“What do you mean?”

“That you summoned the spirit.”

“Are we going back to the bloodline talk again?”

“It’s not that.”

He fell silent again. He appeared unwilling to answer and changed the subject.

“So, what about now? Are you angry even here?”

His gaze was unreadable as he scanned me from head to toe. It was like being dissected. I sat quietly under his gaze.


The answer came after a moment.

“Strangely, no.”

I felt something stir inside me, and my throat tightened. Claude spoke as though he didn’t comprehend his own feelings.

“You summon the spirit… boast about your talent stemming from your bloodline, living not quietly as the daughter of a sinful father but exposing yourself, fluttering about at the Academy, making new connections, believing childish legends, sneaking into the Library at midnight like a fool… That should make me angry, but it doesn’t.”

“Why? What’s the reason?”

The prince once again expressed his thoughts, yet avoided answering my question. He tightly closed his lips, as though they were sealed with wax.

Determined, I refused to let it go this time.

“Don’t run away. Please tell me what you’re thinking. Please tell me why Your Highness should be angry about it.”

“I… had sympathy for you.”

Claude Valentine, at twenty-one, spoke with the vulnerability of a sixteen-year-old.

“I felt a sense of kinship with you.”