Chapter 13. Unexpected visitor
“Mmm~ What great weather!”
Opening the window, I take in a deep breath of the warm air.
The snow has completely melted, and the season has changed to spring.
After trying several tactics to make Gil realize his feelings, I still have no progress.
Maybe he’s become slightly aware, but in the novel, he realized his feelings and confessed the next day.
However, there are no signs of that happening at all.
In the novel’s story, this season is when Gil realizes his feelings, which means it’s about time for me to give him the love potion.
But there’s no need to rush.
There’s plenty of time.
“Well then, time to prepare.”
Today is the day Lily is coming to visit.
I prepare the usual tea set.
It’s just the two of us since Gil is at work, or so I thought.
As usual, the transfer circle emits light.
However, what appeared were two figures.
“We’re intruding, Reilight Oniisama.”
Lily landed softly, her soft hair swaying.
Holding her hand was a handsome man with the same deep royal green as the Lily’s.
His sharp gaze caught me, and then it softened slightly.
“It’s been a while, Rei”
The person who came with Lily was my stepbrother, Crown Prince Ness.
“I’m sorry for the sudden visit. There was something I wanted to talk to you both about.”
“No problem at all. I can’t offer much hospitality, but…”
Even though he is my brother-in-relation, he’s a respectable person living in the capital carrying out the duties of the crown prince with dignity.
His position differs completely from mine, who was living almost like a commoner.
Nervously, I guided them to the living room, and my stepbrother looked around the room with interest.
Lily had come here many times, but it was the first time for my brother to come to this house.
“Here’s something for you.”
Lily brought out some sweets and served them with tea.
They were macaroons that were currently popular in the capital city.
My stepbrother elegantly picked up his teacup and took a sip.
It was the best tea leaves I had at home, but would it suit his taste?
“This is delicious. Did Rei brew it for us?”
“Yes, today’s tea leaves are from Nordrad, but…”
“You don’t have to be so formal. We’re brothers, after all.”
I vaguely smiled at my stepbrother’s words.
It had been too long since I had met him like this, and I honestly didn’t know how to interact with him.
I didn’t have much interaction with my stepbrother who was 12 years older than me since I was in the capital city.
My stepbrother looked at me and squinted his well-shaped eyes similar to Lily’s.
When he smiled like this, it was easy to tell that he and Lily were siblings.
On the other hand, I wondered if we were truly blood-related because I didn’t resemble them at all.
“Feel free to call me Ness Oniisama.”
“You’re getting too familiar too soon. It’s troubling Reilight Oniisama, you know?”
I was a little surprised by my stepbrother’s words.
I thought that I, who had only half of the blood ties and wouldn’t become a contender for the throne, was a negligible existence to him.
But from his words, it seemed that wasn’t the case.
I gathered my courage to call him Oniisama, and my stepbrother stood up, as if moved to tears, and hugged me.
“Rei, can you call me that one more time?”
“Awwwww!!! So cute!!!”
My usually cool and elegant stepbrother had broken down! He rubbed his cheeks against mine and raised his voice in excitement.
As I was wandering around, not knowing what to do, I heard a small laughter.
“Hehe, it’s a good thing for you, Ness Oniisama.”
“I also wanted to be more affectionate with Rei too~~!! But he went to the frontier so quickly, and Lily wouldn’t let me come with her, after that I got busier and busier until I had no holidays anymore…!! I asked Lily to give you some sweets once in a while, but did you eat them?”
“Oh! Those were from my stepbrother… Ness Oniisama?!”
“You didn’t hear it?”
“Well, I did hear it, but I thought it was something prepared by Lily out of consideration…”
“It’s hard to believe that it was a gift from a brother with whom I have almost no interaction.”
“Oh, come on~~!”
As I watched my stepbrother making a gesture of breaking down and crying, a smile naturally came to my face.
Lily and my stepbrother also smiled while looking at my smile.
It was a warmth that was different from when I was with Gil.
I had always felt some kind of wall, even with Lily, because I was the only one with a different biological mother.
But just now, I felt like I had become a real family.
While we were chatting, the tea had completely cooled down.
When I served a fresh one, my stepbrother exaggeratedly expressed his joy.
“Ah! It’s very delicious. Rei, when we go back to the capital, let’s have tea every day…”
“Ness Oniisama, we’re not getting to the point.”
I chuckled at Lily and my stepbrother’s funny exchange.
My stepbrother pouted like a child, cleared his throat once, and turned to me.
“So the main point is, it’s been decided that I will ascend to the throne next year.”
It was a truly joyful thing.
My stepbrother would surely become a splendid king.
“As a result, several people will be ennobled. It has been decided that Gilbert, the adopted son of the Mason family that you know, will also be given a title for a lifetime.”
Since coming to the frontier, Gil had improved the devastated land, developed infrastructure, and improved public security.
The once unsuitable land for people to live in was now the most rapidly developing area in the country.
His achievements were being recognized.
This was not an event that occurred in the novel.
Gil was really amazing!
“This frontier will become even more crucial to the country in the future. That’s why!”
While listening to his story, I became excited inside, and my stepbrother leaned forward.
“I’m thinking that in order to strengthen the cooperation between this frontier and the capital, it might be a good idea for Rei to represent the royal bloodline and marry Gilbert. What do you think? Of course, if Rei doesn’t like the idea, we can pretend it never happened. Rather, let’s pretend it never happened, we are going back to the capital right away–“
“Ugh… Lily, please don’t look at me like that.”
Their conversation, which should have been amusing, felt distant to me.
My head was filled with confusion.
“Marriage… between me and Gil…?”
As soon as I spoke the words, their meaning sank in.
It was possible that I could have Gil.
Suddenly, I felt selfishly happy about this stroke of luck.
The old me would have accepted the proposal without a second thought.
But soon, that joy turned into guilt.
In the novel, it was just Rei’s own desire to get married, and there was no proposal from the royal family.
But this current offer was brought up directly by my older brother, the crown prince.
At this point, it was only a tentative proposal, but if I were to nod my head, it would quickly become a royal command.
Did the plot change in the novel because I couldn’t cause trouble? If so, then what should I do?
“Rei, are you okay?”
My older brother, worried about my silence, peered into my face.
I hurriedly lifted my head.
“Oh, yes…I’m sorry. I was just thinking…”
“It’s understandable. It would be strange not to be confused after suddenly being given this proposal.”
If I continued with this conversation, Gil would surely marry me without realizing his true feelings.
Even if he did realize them, he wouldn’t be able to refuse a royal command.
Knowing how sincere Gil is, in that case, he would suppress his own feelings and treat me well.
But that’s not enough.
I want Gil to be truly happy from the bottom of his heart.
“Lily, what do you think?”
“I…agree. If Reilight Oniisama and Gil are together, the safety of the royal family is guaranteed.”
Lily hesitated a little but ultimately agreed.
She’s such a kind child.
Even if Gil were to marry Lily instead, as long as this marriage is meant to connect the frontier and the royal family, it wouldn’t matter who Gil’s partner is.
Nevertheless, the reason why the proposal came to me was that Lily stepped aside.
She even supported my love life as a stepsister, even though she may have had some unfavorable feelings toward me.
“…Please give me some time to think.”
“Of course! Take all the time you need to think.”
Upon hearing my stepbrother’s kind voice, tears welled up in my eyes.
I should have refused right then and there, but I was too weak to do so.
As if granting me permission, my stepbrother gently stroked my head.
“Rei, if you decide not to get married, you can come back to the capital. The pharmaceutical research facility in the capital is just as advanced as the one in the frontier.”
“Thank you very much, Brother Ness…”
My nose stung.
I closed my eyes and held back the tears that threatened to overflow.
After the two of them left, I tremblingly retrieved a love potion from the back of the medicine cabinet.
I didn’t want to use it if I could help it, but I had no time left.
“I have no choice but to do it…”
Getting Gil to realize his feelings for Lily.
That was my way of atoning and bidding farewell.
If Lily knew that Gil had confessed his love to her, she would probably give up the idea of supporting me and embrace the happy ending of the novel. Even if Gil came to hate me, I had to accomplish this task.