4 (2) – 10
What Franz is to Klaus, Camilla was to Liselotte.
Camilla hadn’t merely been in love with Prince Julian, she had worked herself to the bone in a desperate effort to capture his attention.
In order to capture the eye of the Prince, she would push others out of the picture and use whatever means at her disposal to get close to him: her parent’s influence, her own connections, as well as a few well-spun lies. In her quest to become the image of the Prince’s ideal women, she picked out the most beautiful dresses, wore all sorts of finery, and spent untold hours applying powder and other makeup. She even kept tabs on whichever topics took the Prince’s fancy so that she could study them as well, in hopes of catching him in a conversation.
And yet, Camilla’s wish never came true. No matter how much she yearned for him, the Prince’s heart belonged solely to Liselotte. No matter how much she dressed or studied to suit his tastes, it was Liselotte that the Prince sought after.
Frustrating. Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating, it was unbearable.
– Just why did you never look my way?
“Your position is what Franz wants above all else, isn’t that right?”
Lifting her head haughtily, Camilla glared at Klaus.
“He made an incredible effort, and yet he still hasn’t obtained it. But you’re just going to throw it away because you feel ‘sorry’ for your brother.”
His brother was willing to become unsightly in his desperate fight for what he desired, yet Klaus was content to simply toss it aside. What was treasure in Franz’s eyes seemed like garbage to Klaus.
“All you’re doing is making a fool out of Franz and everything he’s worked for. Not just being the head of the Lörrich family, but his plans for the future of this town and its people. It’s like saying everything he’s been working his entire life towards is worthless!”
Camilla paused to catch her breath.
If something was deeply important to you, seeing it tossed aside like trash would hurt. Yet being reduced to having to pick it up in someone else’s wake, like a starving beggar, was equally painful. She had always wanted to win it herself. Her hopes, her desires, Camilla had always struggled to make them happen herself.
“No one would be happy to be given something like that out of pity!”
Klaus slowly crossed his arms as he looked at Camilla.
It was hard to tell what he was thinking, since his expression remained unmoved. Klaus, and Alois as well, just why were both their faces so hard to read at times?
“Wouldn’t he still be happy about it? Even if it’s second-hand, it’d still be his.”
“It’s exactly because it is second-hand that he won’t!”
“If Liselotte had stood aside for you as well, the Prince might have become yours too.”
As he said that so calmly, Camilla’s words stuck in her throat.
If only Liselotte wasn’t there… She had often thought about it.
“You still love that Prince, right? Even if it were an unsightly victory, you would still want to be chosen, right?”
Klaus’ smile suddenly turned back into that usual teasing smirk of his.
Camilla felt like that expression of his was trying to goad her into giving up.
“If you really want something, you would take it no matter how it fell to you. If you wouldn’t take it, could you say you really wanted it?”
She didn’t know what to say back to him.
Camilla inadvertently let her eyes fall to the floor, as that question rattled around in her skull.
What if Liselotte had taken pity on Camilla and given up her position as Queen to her?
The Prince would mourn his loss, but Camilla could comfort him. One day she could become the first person on his mind, even if she had inherited the position second-hand. It would fulfil her desire and give her hope for the future.
– And, yet…
She asked herself.
If Liselotte had simply disappeared, could Camilla truly have become happy?
“You might hate it at first, but over time you’d come to be happy that it was given over to you.”
Klaus said that, as if he were staring straight into Camilla’s thoughts.
Frustrating as it was, Camilla couldn’t answer him back. Her silence was unknowingly confirming that his words had a hint of truth to them.
No matter what, his feelings wouldn’t have remained the same forever. Once the Prince eventually let go of his memories of Liselotte, Camilla would have been able to live together with him in bliss.
“I am a genius, y’know, so it’s not hard to figure out how people are feeling. What people want of me and what people want for themselves, they’re plain to see.”
Klaus laughed as he shrugged, as if this were all just a game.
She hated that laugh.
“So because of that, it’s easy to live up to everyone’s expectations. That’s why I play the fool. To meet everyone’s expectations, I’ll strike myself down. That guy, Alois, he’s the same, y’know?”
“Do not lump Lord Alois together with you!”
As she listened to Klaus tear himself down, Camilla yelled that out in anger. Even Camilla was surprised by it.
Realizing that she was being coaxed by Klaus, she lifted her head. Liselotte wasn’t simply going to disappear. There were no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ about it.
In the first place, this wasn’t about Camilla.
“Lord Alois is not a fool. Even if he may have been a fool in the past, he’s different now.”
Using the word ‘fool’, he must have been hinting at how Alois used to look.
If you considered it like that, Alois was certainly a figure that people would poke fun at. Amongst the nobles of the capital, Alois was ridiculed as the ‘Toad of the Swamp’, something even Camilla was taken in by. Despite being a relative of the royal family, he was withdrawn and ugly, a person best left to fester in the shadows.
But, Alois was trying to change himself. He wasn’t like Klaus, who was stuck in his role as the fool.
Unlike Klaus, he wasn’t going to deny who he truly was to satisfy the mocking expectations of others anymore.
“…The only fool here is you. Everything about your younger brother and the expectations on you are just excuses.”
Camilla stepped forward, once more raising her head.
“Just what is it that you desire? Didn’t you say that you didn’t want to see this town change!?”
“…There’s no way for both Franz and my own desires to come true.”
“This is not about your brother!”
Cutting off Klaus’ words, Camilla raised her voice again. Even though it was Camilla who had given over to her passions, Klaus seemed to have lost the words with which to argue back. As Klaus grit his teeth, Camilla stepped forward again.
“What is it that you want to do!? Is the town important to you!? Or are you just going to give up!? If you can’t make up your mind, then don’t bother complaining to me!!”
Another step forward. As Camilla stood right in front of him, she poked at his chest, as if pointing her question right towards his heart.
“You have something that you want to do! So just go out there and do it!!”
Camilla’s cheeks were flushed in anger. As she threw those words at Klaus, she was, in effect, persuading herself as well.
Liselotte never hesitated, as Klaus had. The thought of handing over her prize to someone else had never crossed her mind. Liselotte was serious as well. Just like Camilla, she would take what she wanted by any means.
Liselotte wouldn’t step aside. Even if Camilla had begged and pleaded, she would never have given up her spot by the Prince’s side.
“You know… You really aren’t logical at all.”
Klaus sighed, looking down at Camilla’s finger that poked into his chest.
“You’re the first person I’ve ever talked to about Franz like this. But somehow, you’ve managed to twist this conversation into being about my own desires…”
“So what!? Do you have a complaint!?”
“Nah. Thanks… For saying what you did.”
As Klaus thanked her with a light voice, Camilla blinked in surprise. For a moment she thought she was hearing things as she frowned at him in confusion, but there was no mistaking those words.
She met Klaus’ eyes, that had returned to their regular carefree selves.
“I guess a headstrong girl isn’t bad sometimes, either.”
“Hey, I’m a way better guy than that Prince of yours. First off, I’m a genius, and at least for the time being, I’m still a noble. I’m a better catch than that blind idiot of a Prince, so just marry me instead.”
As Klaus returned to his usual self, Camilla sighed deeply. She couldn’t tell his jokes apart from when he was being serious again. If he was just making a fool of her once more, nothing Camilla could say would really reach him.
“An immediate answer, huh?”
Klaus didn’t look hurt, simply shaking his head slightly. That’s why she was able to reject him so immediately.
“Of course, that’s only natural. Such a half-hearted marriage proposal, such a thing isn’t even worth thinking about.”
“Oh? I thought it was a pretty good and serious one, though?”
It was hard to see just what true thoughts hid behind Klaus’ smile.
A typical flirty smile… there couldn’t have been anything deeper to it. Something about it worried Camilla though, a crease forming between her brows as she frowned. She had responded to him as if it was a joke, but if he were actually serious, then she ought to give him a real answer.
“In that case, I categorically refuse.”
Camilla spoke firmly.
“If that’s truly how you feel, it would be cruel of me to give you any false hope.”
“…Not even a second thought, huh?”
Klaus sighed as he muttered that, wishing she would have at least looked a little flustered about it.
Edited by: ApoPie