Then again, she really looked like a princess.

Annette looked awkward, wondering if her education as a lady was progressing even if Mariabelle didn't become her teacher, but she was already drinking tea slowly without making a sound.

Behind Annette was Mrs.
Dudley, who also taught Mariabelle.
Although she is quite strict, she teaches perfect manners.

If Mrs.
Dudley was educating Annette, she could rest assured.

I am sure she will learn more perfect manners than me, Mariabelle thought.

When Mariabelle was lost in her thoughts, Annette made a small noise while putting the tea cup back on the saucer.

Annette looked around nervously, but Mariabelle, who was sitting in front of her, simply smiled and pretended not to notice, as if nothing had happened.

After all, Annette was still having a hard time perfecting her manners.

Dudley, who was standing nearby, gave Annette a hard look, but Annette didn't notice it.

In fact, Annette thought that if neither Edward nor Mariabelle said anything, she would be tolerated at least this much.

She was a commoner, after all.

Annette was suddenly told that she would be the crown princess, and although she has been working hard, there is no way that she would be able to acquire perfect manners right away.

Still, I'm doing my best, and I would like to be praised for it since I'm always being taught such formal manners.
I wish they would at least let me take it easy when we have tea from time to time.

Edward told her that Mariabelle, his former fiancée, was just a childhood friend.
If so, this is like a tea party between friends.
Annette was certain that Edward had thrown this tea party for her, who is always in a difficult situation, and that the queen had left immediately because she thought it would be easier to have a tea party with people of similar ages.

With that in mind, Annette decided to relax her shoulders.

“The Marquess of Berkeley is a family with a long history.
Since a royal princess was married into the family several generations ago, it's safe to say Mariabelle is also a princess,” Edward said.

“Really? So that's why you have such manners.”

Being observed so intensely, Mariabelle dropped her gaze in annoyance.
It's considered bad manners to stare at another person, so she is not used to this kind of situation.

Annette sighed exaggeratedly without caring about the situation.

“But then again, it's hard being an aristocrat.
Everything is always decided for you.
I wonder if they don't know what the word 'flexible' means.”

“Indeed, there may be a lot of meaningless rules.”

“If it were me, I wouldn't make a rule about not being able to talk to someone above you until they talk to you.
What if there was an emergency? If you wait for them to speak to you first, it may be too late.”

“What do you mean, too late?” Edward asked Annette, and she tilted her head.

Her reddish-brown hair fell over her tanned face.

Her skin was healthy and different from the fine, white and delicate skin of the aristocrats, and her expression changed every time she said a sentence.

*The very first time I saw Annette, she looked so different from Mariabelle that I felt a burning sensation deep in my chest, *Edward thought.

“For example, if the pans are going to burn, assuming they haven't poured the oil in it, you won't speak until you are asked.”

Pans! Annette always says something funny, thought Edward.

Annette's cheeks puffed out as Edward bursts out laughing.

“That's not a laughing matter.
If the pans get burnt, it will be very hard to clean it off.”

Edward's smooth, manicured hands wrapped around Annette's, who was still saying this.

“You don't have to do that anymore.
You're going to be my wife.”

As they looked into each other's eyes, Mariabelle could only stare, as if she was being left behind.

The sound of her heartbeat seemed louder than before.

She would nullify a rule just to tell the king that a pan is going to burn…
how ridiculous could that be.

At first, she thought it was a joke, but the way Edward and Annette looked at each other, she knew it wasn't a joke at all.

Mariabelle has been working hard since she was a little girl to become Edward's wife and the future queen.

To think that all that effort had been taken away from her by such a common and clueless girl made her even sadder.

It was not that she wanted the position of a queen.

It was not that she loved Edward so much that she fell in love with him.

It's just that she had just been informed that all her efforts until now had been in vain…

That's what makes me sad.

If Annette's carefree smile is what won Edward's heart, it is something that Mariabelle could never have.

She felt as if she had been denied everything she had ever been—even the education she has received until now—and it hurts as though a needle has been pierced through her heart.

She hid all the turmoil in her heart and stared blankly at the lovers who laughed at each other with gentle smiles on their faces.

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