I was Born the Unloved Twin
"Congratulations on your engagement your highness. And to you young miss Ventrella."
It's official. the day has come.
The same date, the same grand hall, the day we're promised to each other to be married.
A deadly domino game has been set up in place. The question now is not if I can stop it or not, it's if I can avoid personally being knocked down myself?
It's already a little different, the pieces I've set up showing itself.
For one there's a lot more witnesses, a result of grampa's and his troop's presence. In a way that's on me, the one who first set up those extra pieces.
Prince Erik still stiffly bows to me while I reluctantly curtsy in front of the elders. But it's surer now compared to the first time around, less awkward since we know each other. Something a little more real than just children going through the motions. He does not go straight to ignoring me this time, whatever his intentions were then. Instead, I'm being looked at with very visibly nervous eyes.
I'd like to think it's because of the beating I gave him the other day.
Ah, I'd like a rematch to beat out the stress that's gnawing up inside of me. It's going to be a long and painful next few years being the stupid prince's fiance, a lot of troublesome years. Can't I have a little more fun with my new sandbag before he gets too big to beat?
At least I get some cake after this, yes I'll stress eat at the tea party or whatever they set up for us. How dumb, kids don't even enjoy tea and that stuff is expensive to import. Can I take some to go? I don't mind if the stupid prince will sit there in awkward silence, I just want to enjoy something expensively sweet.
"Wheee, mama, papa, will Rosa get marwied?"
""Yes Lilyanne, an engagement means a promise to be married."
"An Rosa will wear a pwetty dwess an we can have a big pawty!"
There are a lot of simpler ways to have a big party and wear pretty clothes. No arranged marriages necessary. But Lilyanne is a sweet simple little girl. It would be good if she can stay relatively innocent, just not stupid. This world is too politically complicated.
"So happy! Will Ewik come wive witt mama, papa an Liwi too? It gonna be sooo fun!"
"Err young Miss Lilyanne that won't be how it works."
"yaaaay Liwi can't wait!~"
Lilyanne is a lot more talkative this time around, maybe since we're all familiar with one another due to our sped up meeting. Children are meant to be seen not heard, but as always no one can really fault Lilyanne. She's just too small and cute.
Besides, it's not like she's the one in the center stage.
I can feel the gaze of the foreign queen, Erik's mother, examining me for any weaknesses. His father was missing on this day, just like before.
I never cared much for her or impressing the current queen, not when my own parents were an unreachable hurdle to try reaching. I have no impression of her beside her ice-cold beauty. Nice to look at but chilling, as if she were but a well-crafted doll with little to no emotions. I can't deny that she scared me a little, like how children are scared of mannequins in shopping malls. They scare a lot of adults too.
My silence and straight posture is a contrast to both my sister and my now fiance. Rather than find it odd, the adults watching are more likely to nod in approval. If anything, they may find me obedient and well trained.
"As expected, they make a graceful pair. May this be a fruitful union between us." cheers an advisor from the other side
"Yes...a fruitful union indeed."
Father's smile is absolutely perfect but the line of his lip is stiff, too still to be natural. He looks to be holding back his shit mouth, of course only those close to him would be able to tell. He's a nobleman with a perfect public face after all.
Not a bad thing to pick up. A publicist I approve wholeheartedly.
Grampa is, to no surprise to us but to the scandal of others, sitting perched on the side. Instead of leading this introductory ceremony, or even watching from the central circle, he's saying that he's not involved in all this.
As the head of the Ventrella family, as the figure that he is, for him to not take an active role is a sign of disapproval. Still, since he's not interfering or stopping the informal introductory ceremony, that's a good enough go ahead as anyone's going to get.
Honestly, he looks like he's enjoying a bad movie, the 'so bad it's good' kind of films.
Hey, wait am I the bad movie in this analogy!?
How dare he use me as cheap entertainment!
The situation can't be helped but I should at least be a quality show. I'm not expecting my life to be a blockbuster movie but I'd at least be a semi-popular series on the internet.
Still, it would be unwise to make a ruckus in front of all these people. My every move is being watched and analyzed here.
Children don't need to do much but they have their roles to play. To stand out in any way, especially the wrong way, will not benefit me in any kind. In fact, I may even be forced into some hellish 'etiquette' training as compensation for my behavior. The average commoner in me, which is essentially all of me, shakes in fear at the memory. No no no that's too much tedious work.
So I grit my teeth and match my father in the following procedure. You can curse all you want to yourself but not in public.
Eventually, it's finished and prince Erik and I are herded into a little room for snacks, to get to know one another better and to let the adults handle the real business. It's our first official meeting otherwise I would try to drag along Lilyanne. As much as I dislike those two getting along, it would make things less awkward.
Besides, it's not like I can stop this stupid couple from the inevitable. I can however make it a hell lot harder for the stupid prince. Ah petty revenge.
At least there's sweets to drown in. It's only some cookies and some type of dense candied fruit and cream cake. It's nothing compared to my old world but it's something. The cream produced by the Northern territory's chefs is yummy.
Oh, that's new, the stupid prince is making to speak to me first. Well, I don't mind the background noise as long as I'm eating.
"Um... I'll get stronger as I grow so....since we're promised to one another, I promise to try to be a good husband in the future."
HAHA!!! What a laugh! I spat out the bite of cake I just had lest I choke on my own laughter. The confused look on the stupid prince's face is making it even worse! I can't stop laughing. It's just too funny.
I died by your hands, maybe not directly but I died because of you. Even if it wasn't you who struck me down do you relaly think I would think you innocent in my sudden death. Our sweet official courtship till that point was no walk in the park either? It's such a shame I can't ask baby him just when he started seriously plotting against me? Was it before or after swapping oral bacteria with my sister?
Is this dark humor? I'm not sure? You get some leeway after dying right?
Prince Erik's face keeps getting worse and worse, and the young maids in the back are frozen in fear. For their sake, I should say something. It's not their fault they've been assigned to watch over this wreck. I wouldn't want them to stop bringing me goodies either.
"Pffft, hic, don't mind me, often hahaha. Don't mind me at all!"
Oh dear, this isn't working, my laughter can't be contained. When I can roughly breathe again I'll try talking.
"Please excuse my outburst, I just wasn't expecting that. Ah, that felt good, haven't laughed that much in...hmm I can't remember, hehe. Haha!"
"I really will get stronger...."
Did I hurt his fragile little ego? Such a child.
"Haha don't feel bad, I wasn't making fun of you. I have no doubt about that Prince Erik, we're both very very young and small. There's a lot of time for us to grow and change. We'll both get stronger no?"
I've been meaning to have this private interrog- I mean talk, with him anyways. Why not clear the air here? After all, if you can't beat them, then gain their trust or blackmail to the point you have them wrapped around your finger like a slave.
That's not quite how the saying goes but it works for me!
"You will get much stronger as you grow older and become a very capable prince, that I'm sure."
A stupid one but it worked enough back then. He wasn't unlearned towards his lessons or abusive towards his citizens, he's just stupid in a lot of other ways. Say making any friends or not killing off his fiance when things don't go his way, those social skills kind of things. Oh and he was just so easy to lie to, who knows how many stupid things he charged in and ruined with this authority.
I really fear him getting close to Lilyanne. Wouldn't that make them an ultimate stupid couple?
Oh no, it's working already. The previously cowering boy near tears seems to preen, pleased with himself. My words cheer him up rather quickly, I suppose it's the most praise he's heard from me. He's heating up rather quickly.
Just too stupid and easy, even for a kid.
"Thank you, I'll be sure to work hard and fulfill everyone's expectations. I return the sentiment to you too Rosalia. You're already strong and coo! Um...the Ventrella's are powerful and your Lord Father is noble and wise. As their daughter, I'm sure you will grow to be a good queen. That's what my mother said!"
This is also the most that the stupid prince has ever praised me, as obviously rehearsed as it is. Funny how it takes a rebirth to get to this point.
"It doesn't disturb you then? That we've been engaged when we're so little?"
"No-no! Not at all!"
"It's alright to admit it, after all, we've just met not too long ago. It's weird right?"
"Well, I am a little surprised. But I've been told I was going to be engaged to someone soon. I'm glad it can be with someone like you!"
"Oh, Is that so?"
"Mmm! Even though you're younger than me, you speak very well and you're fast at the sword."
While I do like praise as much as the next person, with my status as a time-hopping reborn person these things aren't really praiseworthy. I can speak with decent grammar and beat up a 3 year old, whoopie me.
"Those things are nothing."
"Mmm not at all Rosalia, I'm sure you learn things really fast! You're a really suitable princess candidate! I don't know any little girl like you!"
Right, and how many little girls do you even know. Eh, irrelevant. Maybe that will true for a while but then what?
What was that phrase again? Genius at what 3 or 5? Prodigy at 10 and a common man after 15? Something like that, my quote memory isn't perfect.
That's what I'll be.
It won't be good for people to keep getting fooled by me in the long term when the jig is up. But that doesn't matter with my life on the line. As long as I survive, anything goes. And part of that is coming clear enough to have a working relationship with the stupid prince here.
I'll never like him.
It's out of the question. I can't bring myself to even like him in a decent respectful way, let alone love him. Even casually putting up with him out of necessity is a strain on my patience. In a way, I'm still kind of scared of him. Or well, the cold and cruel person he will grow into becoming.
But even if I can't bring myself to like this person, I don't have to be his enemy, at least not outright.
"It's really nothing Prince Erik. I'll soon be out shadowed. "
"Whatever do you mean by that Rosalia?"
"It means. you dumb boy, that I won't matter much in the long term. Do you think I'm strong?"
"Yes! And cool! They way you defeated those demon spiders! You were really strong!"
Ohohoho I can live with this opinion. Shall this be my image for this lifetime? The cool one? Oh dear, that laugh earlier sounded like my mother's though.
"And what do you think of say, my sister Lilyanne?"
"Ack, um...she's more-um."
"Go ahead, I won't get mad and hit you for it or anything. "
I'll hit you for lots of entirely different reasons, You won't get out of being my sandbag that easily oh stupid prince.
But he guys it and gulps down his little nerves.
"Well...Lilyanne is a lot more babyish. You're twins? I never saw twins before but it's cool! You look alike but she seems so much smaller.... I know you're the same but it's like she's the baby? To look out after."
"You think she's cute don't you?"
"Eep! What!? No! I mean yes, wait. I mean yes, she's cute. You both- ah same face- err. Is this a trick question?"
"I know what you're already thinking."
"What are you even talking about? I'm confused."
"Of course you are. But I already knew that too ."
"I'll be out shadowed soon if I'm not already. Your family made the wrong choice and picked the wrong girl. You'll see it soon, maybe you already do."
"Rosalia, are you're feeling -mmmpf!?!!"
I stuff a forkful of a non-choking hazard attempt at cream cake into his open mouth hole, the unfortunate one he uses to talk.
Don't you dare finish that damn question stupid prince, don't you dare say jealous. Rosalia had a whole lifetime to be bitterly jealous and it had little nothing to do with you. Forcing the vomit-inducing aftertaste down, I give my best impression of Lilyanne. A cute and innocent little soul
"I'll tell you a secret prince Erik but only if you promise not to tell anyone else. Come closer if you want to hear it."
The stuffy little prince is confused, it makes his face even stranger as if he needs help going to the bathroom. But he readily nods and agrees, even though getting closer clearly makes him nervous. As if I'm a beast he's not sure how to approach let alone attack.
Good, he should be scared!
I meet him halfway across the dainty pathetic sweets covered table, beckoning him even closer. I can only childishly whisper it into his reddening ear, so no one, not even a fly could hear.
"Don't worry, you and I won't ever be married."
Not in the last life and definitely not in this one.