Reincarnated Princess Wishes To Avoid Death - Chapter 256
Ah… She is always like this…
“Look, Esmeralda, you don’t have to be so serious about this. It’s all right.”
Mia’s hesitant smile as she stood in front of her brought back a memory…
The scene from five years ago came back to Esmeralda’s mind. She was a little nervous because she was having a tea party at the Greenmoon house. And there was a good reason for that: Princess Mia Luna Tearmoon was going to be there. The princess had never been to a gathering like this before.
Since it was decided that Esmeralda would be hosting Mia’s first tea party, she has been making careful plans with the help of her father. Because she worked hard, the party went off without a hitch. Mia was so happy about the delicious cake she had been given that she almost smiled at the maid who brought her another piece.
“Oh, wow, thank you, um…was it Nina? Could you please bring me one more slice when I’m done with this?”
Mia asked the girl by name, and she seemed proud of herself for being able to do so. She must have learned it by listening to the maids talk about it.
Esmeralda couldn’t help but smile wryly when she saw Mia’s proud smile. She thought the princess was too young to know that what she was doing was wrong. She decided that since she was the older sister, it was her job as a big sister to teach the princess how to act in a proper way.
“Miss Mia, the highborn don’t walk around trying to remember everyone’s names. You shouldn’t really call the maids by their names.”
“My? What gives?”
Mia asked, tilting her head as if she didn’t understand.
“Why can’t we use their names?”
Esmeralda stopped to think for a moment.
“Because you and I come from noble families. We are in charge of most people, so we must be above them. Better than them. That’s what nobles have always done.”
She didn’t think much about what she had said. It was the foundation of her whole worldview…
“That’s a dumb idea.”
But the young princess quickly turned it down.
“Remembering people’s names is so much easier. Why do we have to make things harder on ourselves?”
Esmeralda was hit by Mia’s words like a thunderclap. She had never looked at it that way before. It had such a loud effect that…
“I mean, isn’t that maid about the same age as us? She looks like the kind of person who would keep bringing me cake as long as I kept asking for it. It would be much simpler if I could just call her by her name every time.”
…She didn’t understand at all what the princess said in the end.
Mia had always been a little…sly…when it came to getting what she wanted.
Even though she was only eight years old, she was already wise about people and good at math; showing signs that she would grow up to be the Great Sage of the Empire.
Or maybe just a glimpse of someone who has a sweet tooth.
In any case, (the first half of) Mia’s words struck a chord with Esmeralda, whether they showed a young genius or a young glutton. She was very moved by them because they echoed feelings she herself sometimes had trouble with.
Remembering the names of her maids, making friends with one of them and naming her as her personal attendant, sharing hobbies and bedtime whispers, returning favours and apologising for slights…
She longed for these kinds of interactions. They seemed much easier and more fun than what she had now. So why couldn’t she do that?
When she first thought of the question, she went to her father. His answer started with a nervous smile.
“Because we are nobles, Esmeralda. This is how noble people are.”
It wasn’t a very good answer, but she took it anyway. It wasn’t important to understand. Things were like that. That was the end.
That answer stuck with her, and as time went on, it turned into an invisible chain that connected her mind and soul from the inside. The rules of being a noblewoman both made her who she was and kept her from thinking freely. That’s why she looked up to Mia Luna Tearmoon, the young princess who didn’t have to follow any rules.
But it was a far-off admiration that came from a quiet longing for something she knew was out of her reach.
Even the wise words of the ancestor who started their empire, which by definition should be heavy and binding, didn’t change Mia’s mind. She threw them away because she didn’t want to be tied down, and she told Esmeralda to do the same. Not to worry so much about them.
Mia was completely unmoved by power that was so strong that Esmeralda couldn’t fight back even if she tried. It’s always been that way. Every time, always the same.
Mia, who flew above noble customs as if she had wings of freedom, and Esmeralda, who looked up and criticised her high-flying friend for her strange, unprincessly ways that were an insult to the traditions and power of the imperial lineage.
But behind the criticism was a longing, a desire that had been pushed down for a long time but never died.
Yes, she’s right… Now I remember… I have always admired her.
The thought came back to her. She had always wanted to be Mia’s best friend because she thought she was so cool.
But she knew the truth deep down. Knew too much about it. She always wished she could be, but she never could.
She wasn’t worthy of being Mia’s best friend. Mia was up there, and she was down here. How could she be?
She didn’t feel the fluttering wings of freedom on her back. Instead, she felt the cold weight of chains that were much thicker and stronger than she had thought. It was painfully clear that she didn’t have the courage to cut them off.
She did not deserve to be Mia’s friend.
When the thought came back, it brought with it the feeling of suffocating resignation that a heart used to despair was used to.
“Instead of following the first emperor, why don’t you do what I say? Free yourself from the chains of an old oath of loyalty to him, and strengthen your friendship with me, your best friend.”
Mia didn’t care about it at all. She stepped in, brushed Esmeralda’s dark thoughts away with a shrug, and turned her world upside down.
She was so willing to take on the coveted role of best friend. She asked Esmeralda to stay by her side, not to be loyal to the first emperor, but to be her friend instead.
She didn’t say it, but her action said, “You can do it, too.”
She did all of this with a mischievous smile, as if it were just a game they were playing together. Even so…
The word that came out of her mouth was “no.” Was it because of the way she was brought up? Or had she given in to the absolute power of the first emperor?
No, neither of those was it.
Before Mia’s warm welcome, those worries had already gone away. But one thing kept coming back to mind.
It was a small thing that hurt her heart, and because of that, she couldn’t take Mia’s hand. She had a dream in which she told a sad Mia that she would throw a tea party to cheer her up, but then didn’t follow through.
Even though it was just a dream, the regret was very strong. She didn’t know when, where, or how, but she felt like she’d hurt Mia at some point.
Of course, it couldn’t be true. Nothing about it was true, except that it hurt her heart. She couldn’t call herself Mia’s friend as long as that pain was still there.
“I… I’m sorry, Miss Mia. I let you down.”
Her sadness made her tell the truth.
Mia gave her head a scratch.
“I promised you I’d throw you a tea party, but I never did. I broke my promise…”
Some small part of Esmeralda’s mind that was still able to think clearly was upset by how she was talking.
What did she want to say? It was nonsense. Mia had no idea what her dream was about. This would only make her feel worse. But she was surprised when…
“Oh, I see… Well, then…”
Mia wasn’t confused. She did not laugh. Instead, she looked serious and seemed to be thinking deeply. She finally said, “I’d like a cake.”
“Yes, I like the idea of cake. Those that are extra sweet are best. I’d like to indulge in some sugar. So, once we get off this island, I’d love it if you’d invite me to one of your tea parties.”
Esmeralda kept batting her eyes. After Mia’s next comment, she gasped when she realised what she had said.
“There, we’ll all swear to be true to the empire.”
She looked right at Esmeralda.
“Not to the old one who is trying to destroy the continent. To another. A better one, where everyone wants to live in peace and stability and will work hard to make that happen.”
A drop of water fell on Esmeralda’s hand.
She looked up, confused. The roof was not wet. Not until then did she realise that she was crying.
Tears? I’m…crying? How come? I don’t need to cry…
She felt that faint pain in her heart again. It was a constant reminder of a promise she’d made long ago. It was a sad promise because it never came true and was doomed to die along with the dream that made it.
It was all in a dream. Mia has no way of knowing about it. But…
She looked back at Mia. She felt like she was looking at the Mia from her dream, as if that Mia had crossed the line between reality and fantasy to give her a chance to make good on the promise she had broken.
She finally reached out…
“Okay, Miss Mia, I’ll do it. I’ll find the best people who make cakes and have them make the best ones. Then I’ll invite you to my tea party.”
And she grabbed the hand of a friend who was more important to her than anything else. Her best friend’s hand.
As a bit of background, it was getting dark when this scene was happening, so Mia hadn’t eaten since three hours before. She was very, very hungry because she had skipped breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Just so we’re clear.
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