“Lise, are you gonna take responsibility?’
Lying on the bed is a beautiful young man with silver-colored locks and emerald-tinted eyes. He appears pale from injury and suddenly talks in an unusually gentle and fragile voice.
He talks gently to me, but I can sense the disdain in his voice, as if he were angrily saying, “Take responsibility”.
After all, I am completely in the wrong here.
But, would you like to know why I must take responsibility?
It is all because I am to blame for the injury on his arm, as well as the fracture and the several stitches he had to get.
On top of it all, they all happened on his dominant arm.
Everything occurred before lunchtime today.
Ever since I was little, I used to love climbing the 300 year old Muku tree in my yard whenever I was feeling down. I would feel relief as the gentle breeze grazed past me; and I would sit there, watching the green and blue world that surrounded me.
However, I didn’t climb to dangerous heights. There was a perfect place at the perfect height where I could rest.
I used to get scolded for climbing the tree when I was little, but now I’m already a veteran climber and they have stopped trying to reprimand me.
Al will shortly go away to enroll in a 5-year prestigious academy, where only the elite are allowed in.
Recently, he has been spending much of his days visiting me at home; I think it’s because we won’t be seeing much of each other in the following years. I have also been repeatedly invited to the dukedom so we can spend more time together.
It is very unusual for a duke’s family and a lowly baron’s family, such as mine, to get along. But both of our fathers have been friends since childhood and therefore are the greatest of friends.
Al currently has a single younger brother; he’s 5 years older so he would often visit us when he was little. That’s why Al, my younger brother and I would often spend our time together. Al is more like a brother to me now.
Talking about Al, he apparently has recently started to see me as more than just a sister.
I know this because he’s been telling me things like “I love you” or “Lise! Stay with me forever”. And he even goes as far as kissing my forehead whenever he gets the chance… We’ve become even closer than before.
I plan on hiding at the top of the tree when Al comes today. I have also chosen a green dress that will camouflage my body! It’s a flawless plan!
I’ve been trying to run away from Al because I don’t really see him as anything other than a brother; besides, we’re still only 13. We’re both at that awkward stage in our lives.
On top of all that, Al is an extremely beautiful boy and his family’s royal status is unquestionable. He’s already a person of interest in the upper echelons of the social world. Anyone would be jealous of standing besides him.
As his childhood friend I’ve always been there by his side, and have therefore received many hostile glances of jealousy over the years. That’s also why I have few friends.
I mean, It’s not only Al’s fault that I have few friends…
Anyways, I am not his fiancee, my social status is nothing to brag about and I think being too close to him would only lead the both of us down the wrong path.
Al will eventually play an important role in government and will have to get involved in royal matters.
You can only be nominated to attend Al’s school; only those who will eventually be entrusted with important national matters can attend this school. 3 of the 5 years will be spent learning; the remaining 2 years will be spent completing tasks in different parts of the nation.
Royal families all have special abilities. Everyone has their own unique magical ability.
These abilities are subdivided into three different types, ones that excel in offensive capabilities, ones that excel in protective capabilities and ones that excel in healing-related capabilities.
Although small, this country has been able to defend itself because of these abilities.
Only those with a direct connection to the royal line are awarded one of the three types of abilities.
This is because that particular family has been receiving divine and spiritual blessings for generations. As for the people marrying into those families, they also receive a small amount of power, which eventually can grow stronger. This ensures that their children inherit those powers and also compels them to serve their country.
Al’s family, the Luxel Family, bears the powers of “Healing”.
With their abilities, they suppress the spread of disease, heal soldiers in times of war and pray for the fields’ growth.
But that doesn’t mean they only use their abilities for those particular tasks; rather, they pursue the truth, make analyses, and even do medical and agricultural research that will someday contribute to the development of our sprawling country.
By the way, my father has been managing crops within our territory for years. He has been actively introducing all kinds of new seeds into cultivation. That’s why he has a close relationship with Al’s dad because of his business. The Luxel family has been closely tied to my own family for years.
Well then, I was just telling you of Al’s wonderful family and how I was about to hide from their eldest son. I was about to climb the tree but Al arrived early, and my whole house exploded into a ruckus.
I was hoping he wouldn’t find me so I took a breath, and for the first time climbed higher than I usually do.
Sure enough, Al came to check the usual spots, but left as soon as he didn’t find me.
A tiny squirrel scurried past my feet, but I didn’t notice it. I was focusing all my attention on Al. I was so surprised that I slipped off the tree.
The branches snapped as I fell headstrong into the ground. I imagined the pain I would experience but swiftly realized… I felt nothing.
That’s because Al had cushioned my fall by catching me. This resulted in a broken collarbone, as well as some small injuries caused by the falling branches on his arm.
He had finally regained consciousness. He had been calling for me, but I couldn’t respond because I had been incessantly crying.
“You’ll take responsibility, right?”
Did he just ask me that?!
Of course I will but what exactly am I supposed to do??
This is no time to be crying; now is the time to atone for all the pain I have caused him.
That’s what he means by taking responsibility, right?
I should start by taking care of his wounds.
I just have to pray he makes a full recovery. Our lowly family wouldn’t be able to afford it if he were to demand damages, so I will have to do the work myself, or maybe he’ll force me to pay him back by making me one of his maids for the rest of my life…
“I… will do anything. I will take care of you until you’re fully healed. Does it hurt? I’m sorry, I’m so sorry… Al…”
“I’m just glad you’re okay Lise”
It was his usual kind voice. I felt relief from the bottom of my heart; but, I still cried after I looked at him again.
“Lise, you should get some rest for today. Let’s have some breakfast tomorrow. Will you come see me once you wake up?”
I nodded back and forth at the smirking Al until Natal, my maid, came to see me. “Miss, let’s go. The attending physician will examine Mr. Alfred and prescribe some medicine.”
“Alright. Thank you Natal. Lise, good night. Let’s talk tomorrow.”
“…Good night, Al…”
I left the room with Natal pushing me along the back.
“Miss Lise, you look a bit pale… You should get some rest.”
“But… I still have to apologize to Aunt and Uncle…”
“About that… Your father and mother are currently talking to the Frandorfs. Your father has asked me to tell you not to worry and that he will talk to you tomorrow.”
“I see… He won’t even let me apologize… Maybe I deserve it.”
“Miss, that’s not true. It’s just not something you should be worrying about. Worrying like this will not help Master Alfred heal.”
“I got it…”
“Shall I bring in some food? You haven’t put anything in your mouth since this morning, you should try eating a bit…”
“Sorry Natal, I just wanna rest now…”
I went back to my room and changed into my nightgown. I slept like a log.
I am normally a happy-go-lucky kinda gal, and I’ve lived a carefree life. But the following day I woke up with a high fever and couldn’t get out of bed. Perhaps it was all due to the responsibility I felt towards my injured friend.
I was feeling bad because I couldn’t fulfill my promise to Al of having breakfast together. The attending physician had finished his examination and was now coming to check up on my symptoms.
The results of his examination showed that my high fever was caused by excessive stress. He also said I should sleep it out and that, if possible, I should also try to eat something.
He also prescribed some fever medicine since my temperature was a bit high.
This doctor has been taking care of me since I was a little baby. “Miss Liselotte, you shouldn’t worry about Master Alfred’s condition. Please don’t worry about him and get some rest.”
With those words he also left me a prescription for my heart.
I ate some fruit and took my fever medicine with some vegetable soup. It was already dark out when I started to drift back into sleep.
My body was finally starting to feel comfortable again; and as such, father, mother as well as my little brother Yuri, came to check up on me.
“Lise, are you alright?”
My father lowered his hips onto the side of the bed. Mother sat on the chair by the bed and held my hand.
“I’m fine… Never mind me, how is Al?”
“Al will be fine, after all, his family has all those healing abilities. They have already treated all the external injuries but…”
“It’s not like they couldn’t have just healed everything, but Al said he wanted you to reflect on your actions so he wanted to heal by traditional means, instead of using healing magic on everything.”
“He’s right… I certainly have a lot to reflect on.”
It’s true that I’ve been very reckless in the past. And I’ve caused a lot of trouble for some people because of that.
“Please, don’t do any more dangerous stuff.”
Mother cried as she said that. I’m so sorry mother.
“Big sis, I think you should start acting more lady-like.”
Little bro… Please stop saying that with such disappointment in your face…
“Anyway, Al is also worried about you, so he’ll be recuperating in our house for about a week. You’ll have to start taking care of him as well.”
“Also, we’re gonna make Al some dinner now. You should bring it to him and have a chat. You can also try tomorrow if you still can’t get up from bed.”
“No, I’m fine. I also promised him we would eat breakfast together; but, I ended up sleeping in, so…”
“That’s great then. And be sure to at least eat a bit or you won’t be able to get out of bed tomorrow either.”
“Yes, I’m sorry for making you all worry. I will try hard to earn Al’s forgiveness.”
Everyone had started leaving the room, but Yuri stayed back and whispered so no one else could hear.
“The issue is not about whether he’ll forgive you or not; isn’t it about whether he’ll let you go or not?”
Al has his own room in our house because he’s been staying here since he was a little kid.
I knocked and entered Al’s room. He was already sitting on the sofa and waiting for me.
He wasn’t sitting directly in front of me; instead, he sat on the sofa directly perpendicular to me.
“Lise, are you alright? It seems like your fever has gone down.”
“Al… I’m sorry, I couldn’t come this morning…”
“I also couldn’t get up this morning, I think it was because of the medicine. So we were both in the wrong.”
“The wound from that falling branch… Did you already remove the bandages?”
“Yeah, this one. My father was able to stop the bleeding with his healing magic, but he left the scar intact. Do you know why?”
Al took my hand and gave me a serious look.
“Isn’t it to teach me a lesson…? Though it’s so sad to see a scar on your beautiful skin…”
“No, it’s a lesson for myself. It was my carelessness that led to this wound anyways; I have to get even stronger so I can protect you, Lise.”
“You don’t have to do that; I didn’t get a single scratch on my body because of your kindness.”
“No… I should have tried to make you fall for me sooner. Why were you even hiding from me yesterday?”
He had come closer to me and looked at me with that serious gaze again.
“It’s not like I was hiding… I was just thinking of you going away to that school… And that we would have to part ways soon…”
“That’s not it, is it? I know you have another reason.”
“I mean, you’ve been saying lots of weird stuff lately… You’ve been telling me you love me, but haven’t we always been more like siblings?? This might sound conceited… But I don’t think I’m the right girl for you, Al… I mean… How should I put it…”
“Did someone tell you that you weren’t right for me?? Lise, I am certain of my love for you. You do know that right? I’ve asked my father and your father for your hand in marriage countless times.”
I’m sure Al loves me, and his parents have always treated me very well. Al only ever acts selfishly like this on very rare occasions, and he seems to truly want me so that’s why he asked for my hand in marriage, or at least that’s what he told me.
My parents were happy and even thankful for the request, but they didn’t think my marriage to Al would be of much use to his family… Of course they were flattered by Al’s feelings, but they don’t see the need for an engagement. They didn’t think Al should be making these kinds of decisions right now either. They would be happy to give my hand in marriage if Al still wanted me by the time he turned 18… That’s what they were talking about.
“I want Lise by any means, so that’s why I will need you to take responsibility for this wound and get engaged to me right now. I will be going away to the capital for 5 years. I won’t be able to stay by your side anymore. That’s why I need you to make this promise to me, I need you to accept this engagement…”
“Lise, I love you. I’m still just a kid, but I know I only want you. I have to get through these 5 years of hard training first though so I can protect you. In 5 years time, you’ll be 19 and I’ll be 18; we’ll be able to marry by then.”
“I would like to serve you if you’d like me to make amends. For example, I could become a maid for the Luxel household. I’m really truly sorry for hurting you… I will work very diligently…”
I tried to catch my breath, but Al seemed very angry all of a sudden.
“Lise, I don’t want you as my employee. I love you… Honestly, I would love to marry you on the spot… But we can’t really do that because of our age.”
“Al… If… If I were to get married, I would want it to be with someone I truly love… I love you but I still don’t know if I want to marry you. I mean, I haven’t even gotten the chance to talk to any other boys my age…”
“I’m not even gonna let you talk. If you’re gonna be like that, I’ll have no choice but to force you to take responsibility for this wound. You’ll marry me, won’t you? I don’t think any woman will love a wounded boy like me.”
There’s no way that’s true… I will say this again, Al’s looks, abilities and social status are unmatched by anyone in the kingdom. It’s not even funny.
It doesn’t matter if he’s got a scar on his arm, that’s not gonna stop anyone. His fractures will eventually heal, and if he wanted to, he could even repair all those scars with his healing powers.
But I have no say in this matter.
“Lise, what is your answer?”
“I will get engaged to you… But know that I wouldn’t mind if you fell in love with someone else and threw out this engagement!!”
“Lise, I will only ever want you.”
Al tried to hug me but couldn’t do so because of the pain from his fractures. Instead, he kissed me on the forehead and took my hand. He then performed a traditional marriage proposal ceremony. He got down on one knee to strike a pose of loyalty, he then grabbed my hand and planted a kiss on the back of it.
“Liselotte, I vow to love and live by your side. Will you promise to marry me?”
Al locked his gaze on me and wouldn’t look away.
He held my trembling and nervous fingers gently within his palm. I finally replied.
“I promise. I also vow to love and live by your side.”
Al had a big grin on his face as he leaned down and kissed my ring finger. A white flash of light suddenly enveloped my hand. In an instant, my body temperature rose, and the white light slowly dissipated into the ether. A vine-like pattern had been etched into my ring finger’s skin. It was just like a tattoo made from light.
Looking closer at the ring of light, the words “Alfred” and “Liselotte” were written down and flowing within the pattern.
“What is this…?”
“The bearers of abilities perform this ritual whenever they find their partner. This ring seal is like an amulet, it will give you some of my power and keep you safe.”
He lightly caressed my finger and kissed it gently again.
“You’ll be my fiance as long as you wear this… You’ll be recognized by others as my companion, and you’ll slowly start to gain healing abilities. However, you’ll collapse if you start using it too much. So don’t use it carelessly.”
“ Will… I… be fine? I can’t believe I’m your companion now…”
“Lise, I love you. I wouldn’t have been able to give this seal to you if you didn’t have any feelings for me, so this proves that at the very least, you care for me.”
I was left stunned and in a daze. We then put dinner together and ate.
I helped the wounded Al eat, and we finished our small meal.
“Your parents as well as mine have already accepted our engagement, so I’ll let them know about the ritual later on.”
As he told me that, the rumors of my engagement to Alfred had already started to spread among high-class socialites of the kingdom.