Herietta closed her eyes tightly. Even without looking at Bernard’s face, she could imagine what kind of expression he was making.
“I will not make excuses for Edwin’s crimes against Velicia. I wouldn’t even dare to glorify him in Your Highness’ presence. Whatever the reason, he led soldiers into this country, and it is true that many people lost their lives as a result.”
“From Velicia’s point of view, I can fully understand how reprehensible and unforgivable a sinner he would seem.”
“Then why the hell are you asking me to do that?”
Bernard asked. His voice was a little more heated than before, as if he was trying to suppress his overflowing emotions.
“Why do you ask me to do that when you understand that so well?”
“Because I love him.”
“Because…… I love Edwin, Your Highness.”
Bernard was at a loss for words at the answer that Herietta gave him. Her words became a mace and struck him on the head, and it became a dagger that was thrusted into his heart. It wasn’t something he hadn’t expected at all. But when he heard those words directly from Herietta’s own mouth, the aftermath of the shock was beyond imagination.
Bernard stood there blankly and looked down at Herietta.
“If someone has to pay for their sins, I will pay for them instead of Edwin. If you order me to do whatever you ask me to do, and to die instead, I will gladly do so. So please…… Please, Your Highness.”
“Please save him. You must save him.”
“Are you…… going to die instead?”
Bernard asked with a dejected face.
“Is he that precious to you? Enough to give up your life so easily?”
“…… If he dies, I die too.”
Herietta squeezed her hands on the floor tightly.
“I cannot live in a world without him.”
Bernard bent over and took Herietta’s hand. Then he slowly raised her up. Her face was tear-stained and messed-up. He carefully wiped the tears from her face with his thumb.
“As I said before, I want to be with you for a long time.”
Bernard looked straight into Herietta’s eyes and said.
“If you’ll give me permission, I’d like to have you sit next to me who will one day ascend the throne.”
“I want to give you all the wealth and power given to me, and even this heart of mine, Herietta.”
He tried to speak calmly, but his voice visibly trembled. This was the first time he had these feelings for someone. It was exciting yet heavy, sweet and bitter. He thought he knew a lot, but he was ignorant of how to control his emotions.
“You don’t even know what feelings I have for you.”
Please, Herietta. Choose me, not him.
Bernard’s breath trembled. He knew he was practically begging her, but he didn’t care. If he could turn her heart, he was willing to be on his knees before her.
Herietta looked up at Bernard. His face was filled with pain. Her vision was blurry because of the constant flow of tears.
“Even if I have all the wealth and power in the world, it is useless without him.”
Herietta answered, swallowing her tears.
“I’d rather have a life with nothing than a life with everything in the world but without Edwin.”
She knew that her words would scratch and hurt Bernard’s heart. But she said so. She couldn’t lie to him. Her throat ached as if she had swallowed a handful of sharp thorns, but she had to tell the truth.
Like a soft ground at the edge of the cliff collapsing, Bernard’s straight face slowly distorted. Like the last remaining hope had disappeared, his eyes were full of despair.
Bernard went silent for a long time. He glared at Herietta with a darker face.
“…… Redford’s condition is critical. It’s amazing how he’s still breathing.”
He said again.
“Even if he receives treatment now, he probably won’t live.”
The warmth that had touched Herietta’s face disappeared. Bernard took a step away from her.
“Herietta. If I do what you ask, you will never see me again. By complying with your request, I am abandoning my duty as the prince of this country and as Siorn’s younger brother.”
Bernard gritted his teeth and said again, emphasizing each word.
“I will never be able to forgive you for making me that way. I must not forgive you.”
For the rest of their lives, they would have to live considering the other is dead.
Living like she had never existed from the beginning.
Bernard clenched his fists. He was also hurting and suffering even though he was the one speaking this with his mouth.
“One way or another, he’s going to die. Even if he manages to get out of here, there’s little chance he’ll survive. Still, for that small, unknown possibility, are you going to ask me to help him until the end?”
“Even if you give up everything with me?”
Bernard asked further.
I don’t think I can do that. I think it would be difficult. He hoped Herietta would say that. If she wouldn’t argue with him and just say that…….
But Herietta said nothing. All she could do was look at Bernard through those watery eyes. Eyes that sway violently like a ship caught in a storm. She looked precarious, as if she would collapse at the slightest blow.
Before long, Herietta bit her lower lip. She then gave a small nod as she helplessly dropped her head down.
Seeing this, Bernard tightly closed her eyes.
He covered his face with his hands. His heart ached like it had been set on fire.
“Now that I see it, you are so heartless.”
His heart, which he wanted to dedicate completely to her, was shattered in two pieces that day.
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