The Reason Why We Shouldn't Get Married - Chapter 26
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Jaymus blinked in a daze. When he was told Iandrus was going to get a portrait done, he felt a little funny inside. It was then that he realized he never thought about having a portrait done with Iandrus. Jaymus stood still, looking like he’d just been beaten over the head.
He always liked to say that he took care of Iandrus, but was he really thinking about him properly?
Back when the royal family had their portrait painted, Iandrus was not present. When Jaymus asked where he was, the queen casually brushed the question off. She said Iandrus hadn’t completed all the work his tutor had given him, so he was being punished until he finished it. But since she assured him that Iandrus would be able to come next time, Jaymus just laughed along, musing about what a funny kid Iandrus was.
But it didn’t make any sense. Jaymus knew better than to believe such a simple lie. It took an entire month for that portrait to be painted. It wasn’t that Iandrus was too busy with his assignments to be there for the portrait. It was that the queen did not wish for Iandrus to be included within the framework of their family.
Even so, Jaymus pretended to be ignorant. The peace of their family was fragile, and he knew that it would easily be broken the moment he mentioned the truth.
“I……” Jaymus muttered, still somewhat dazed.
This was the moment he realized that the deepest parts of himself were not so beautiful. To his core, he was a person no different from the queen.
During the month they spent having that portrait painted, Jaymus did not question Iandrus’ busy assignments again. It was only long after theirs was finished that Iandrus had one commissioned as well, but in the end, it was him alone, hanging in a frame next to their family portrait. Perhaps that was the queen’s little way of quietly showing him that he was not a part of their ‘family’.
Jaymus pretended to be ignorant of even that. He convinced himself he was doing it for the sake of the royal family. His guilt was short-lived, and as he became accustomed to the separate portraits, they were slowly buried in his memories. And with time, it was only natural he hardly thought of the word ‘portrait.”
Jaymus gave a vain smile.
He vowed never to be a person like his mother, but now, he and her were essentially the same.
“……Do you think he’ll be busy all day?” Jaymus asked.
“No. He mentioned the session will be complete around three in the afternoon.”
“Then I can wait. Can you tell Iandrus to come see me once he’s finished?”
“Yes, Your Highness,” the servant said, gently bowing his head.
For some reason, Jaymus felt like he shouldn’t disturb Iandrus right now.
This would be Iandrus’ first family portrait. Something like that was too meaningful, at least for someone like Iandrus. And as someone who had dared to imitate the idea of family, Jaymus had no right to interfere.
* * *
While Diana was sitting calmly, Iandrus was fussing over everything they needed to make this portrait happen. Iandrus really wanted him and Diana to look like a family. They would eventually be one someday, so he would certainly make that possible.
What’s up with this nonsense, Cerian thought to himself. As soon as Diana beckoned towards him, Iandrus moved without question. It was such a funny sight, Cerian had to hold back his laughter. The Prince was far too restless, hanging on Diana’s every word.
….The second Prince is no threat, Cerian clicked his tongue.
Though, in contrast to his cunning and complicated thoughts, his hand as he prepared to paint a portrait was highly skilled.
“What pose would you prefer? This? Or perhaps this?”
“I think it would be better just to sit still.”
“Is that so?’
Watching their conversation, Cerian once again thought to himself, Are there no significant thoughts going on in that head of his?
Iandrus sat with his back straight next to Diana, but before long, he started moving his head around. “Diana. This might be too difficult.”
“We need to stay in the same position until the portrait has been completed. A pose like this is the most comfortable,” Diana answered with a casual tone.
“It’s alright if the two of you would like to sit a little closer.”
“Really?” Iandrus chirped, scooting himself closer to Diana. As they sat side by side, even now, their clothing was still black.
All the while, Diana still looked very calm in comparison to Iandrus’ bright smile. And this stark difference did not go unnoticed by Cerian. Diana didn’t seem too interested in Iandrus, but it was obvious Iandrus held great affection for Diana.
In that case, this’ll be easy, Cerian thought, casting a glance towards Diana.
Apparently, their engagement was a political one from the start, so her muted reaction wasn’t all that strange. If anyone was acting oddly right now, it was Iandrus. It was as though he was laying down rules for himself with how he treated her. But what kind of love could exist in an engagement based on gains and losses?
It was weird to wish for love like that. Political marriages occurred as a necessity, and could be broken if necessary just as easily. Cerian shook his head unconsciously as he watched Iandrus, who still seemed like a kid living in a fairy tale.
The second Prince was said to be young, but he didn’t look any different in age to the girl sitting next to him. But for some reason, Cerian thought that the young miss felt a little more mature than that, although subtly. In comparison to a girl like that, a clueless Prince who wore his heart on his sleeve needed to act more calmly.
Brush in hand, Cerian started to carefully tease it across the canvas.
He hadn’t held a brush in a long time, but since he did nothing but paint while he was in the kingdom, it didn’t feel awkward. Instead, it was rather enjoyable. For someone like him, holding a brush and painting suited him far better than coming to an enemy nation just to play the spy and devise schemes.
And the nervous minds within the room seemed to calm now.
As the painting went on, occasionally Iandrus would talk to Diana about something, and she would respond with an answer every now and again.
One of them is clearly burning hotter than the other.
An engagement like that would be far too easy to break, either by instilling some doubts in Iandrus or by having someone else catch Diana’s interest. Even if she didn’t have someone else in mind, there was still enough room to create division.
Cerian’s thoughts spun as he kept his hand busy with his painting.
Fortunately, as he worked, two clear silhouettes were being formed on the canvas with great effort.
“I’d like to keep this portrait,” Iandrus said clearly.
“. . .”
“It’s our very first one. But I’ll give you the next one.”
“Yeah. The next one. So I’ll keep this one. It’s being done by an amateur painter anyway, so it may not even be that good.”
Bringing up reasons, one by one, Iandrus persuaded Diana, and there was a sense of impatience in his voice. And of course, Diana did not understand where his obsession with portraits was coming from. From what she could remember of him, he was never particularly interested when the idea came up. Actually, based on his reactions, he seemed to hate the idea.
But fifteen year old Iandrus was different.
What happened to him beyond her knowledge that was making him act like this?
Though she had spent so much time with Iandrus, she was realizing she didn’t know that much about him at all. He was not the person Diana thought she knew. Diana quietly nodded her head, agreeing like she couldn’t fight against Iandrus’ flow. It didn’t matter in the end since she did not desire to take this portrait for herself.
“Okay. You can keep it.”
“Good,” Iandrus said with a wide grin.
Hearing Iandrus muse about what he found good, Diana glanced at him, and once she was met with his smile, she smiled too without even trying to. It was amazing seeing him so happy about something like this.
And the smile that Iandrus unfortunately missed was seen in plain view of Cerian.
So you’re telling me she can show emotion?
Watching them, he had come to the conclusion that Diana would respond when Iandrus spoke to her, but those exchanges weren’t as one-sided as he thought. There were times when even Diana showed her smile, and there were definitely moments when her gaze would turn to Iandrus.
Without realizing, Cerian’s hand started to move again, unconsciously going to paint Diana’s smile. It was then that his expression turned serious.
Diana’s smile…..was more beautiful than he thought it would be.
It was as lovely as a pomegranate, but rather than the rigid outside, it was as bright and shining as the jewel-like seeds on the inside—a smile that best suited the turn to summer. Suddenly, Cerian realized that the black dress Diana was wearing did nothing to taint the mood of the portrait.
Because Diana herself was sparkling.
Cerian readjusted his grip on his brush.
At some point, he started to steal glances at Diana without even trying. She seemed like a cold-hearted little princess, as if she were made of iron, but the fact that even she was capable of making such a soft smile remained in his mind.
This was a useless thought. He needed to throw it away.
Cerian caught himself before he fell.
* * *
After their portrait session was finished, they were told Jaymus was looking for Iandrus. Diana was naturally going to give them space to speak privately, but Iandrus refused.
‘I will not hide anything from you.’
She asked for honesty, but didn’t this seem like too much? Diana had to stop herself from saying that out loud. She really didn’t expect this from him. She tried to refuse him politely, but Iandrus was resolute, and so Diana eventually was taken to the room where Jaymus was waiting.
Jaymus seemed a bit surprised to see Diana there as well, but he quickly greeted her with a smile. Diana also smiled, though it was an empty one—made to express her good faith.
“Lady Diana. I apologize for not saying hello properly before.”
“No, it’s alright, Your Highness.”
“Truly. I’m sorry for requiring your aid so much. I owe you a debt of gratitude.”
“It’s truly fine. My father, mother, and Guinness all agreed to this.”
Jaymus looked briefly taken aback by Diana’s appearance, speaking like her own opinion didn’t matter. Which was strange to say the least, considering Diana herself was of the Philadelphia family and lived in this mansion.
“……But I would hope you do not feel uncomfortable with my presence, Lady Diana.”
“It’s really alright.”
An inadvertent chuckle escaped Jaymus. He hadn’t seen Diana properly in a very long time, but she seemed different somehow. Like there was a thick wall surrounding her, beyond which was a world entirely unknown to others. As if her inner feelings were not something she could reveal easily.
Jaymus quickly turned attention back to Iandrus.
“Iandrus. Did you have a good time?”
“That’s a relief. I hope the portrait turns out well.”
Within Jaymus’ eyes was a slew of emotions and stories Iandrus couldn’t understand. But he turned his head away with haste. There was no need to pry in what he didn’t need to know.
“First of all, Iandrus—I wanted to meet with you so I could hear your opinion. You are the one who noticed Branneux’s conspiracy from the very beginning.”
It was the first time someone had asked that of him. When it came to major political events, Iandrus always kept far away from them. Even his own engagement was included in that category until not long ago.
“I’m thinking of sending the spies back to Branneux. But I’m still not certain if it was the first prince or the third prince who sent them in the first place.”
Iandrus looked back at Diana, who just quietly shook her head.
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