“I want to be loved.”
By the time Mika returned to my office after a while, it was nearing evening.
I don’t know what in the world he had been checking out so much in the royal castle, but it seemed that he had been meticulously investigating it.
Meanwhile, I was finishing reading Marie’s book, with many other books piled up on my desk, and while letting out a grunting voice.
Mika, who had just come back, seemed horrified to see me like that.
I closed the book I was reading with a snap, and when I looked up my eyes were met with Mika standing in front of my desk, looking at me curiously.
“Anyway, what’s that book? The Demonic Beauty?”
I thought I’d use it as an example of how to win people’s hearts.”
“Using that book? Isn’t that a bit different…?”
To tell the truth, I knew that better than anyone else.
After all, Mika probably would never have imagined it, but I met my evil end just a few hours ago.
However, I don’t particularly remember ever seducing anyone, so I was fundamentally different from the villainous woman in this book.
It’s not enough to be only well-liked.
I want to be loved.
Just like this woman, I thought that enough charm and magic power were required to twist other people’s reasoning and make them devoted to you.
It’s not that I’m trying to reach the evil ending again.
I want to protect my brother, my loved ones, and my country.
I coughed at Mika, who looked at me with a blank stare.
“And so, to cherish the life of my brother, I will now start the plutogis strategy, to make people love me even if they don’t want to.”
“No… really, what’s wrong with you…?”
As Mika looked at me as if he had encountered an unknown monster, I continued.
“I mean it as it is.
I decided to take your opinion and tried to make an effort to be well-liked.
Please give me a hand.”
“Ohh, is that so… Really, what happened to you? You sound like a different person.”
“To tell the truth, I’ve been through awful things that you could never imagine.
You must have never thought about how it feels like to be a slug crawling on the ground, haven’t you? After descending into a slug once, and then coming back to being a human again, one can easily lose a screw or two.”
“Huh? When did you become a slug?”
That wasn’t the case, but that also wasn’t completely wrong.
To be precise, I’m about to become a slug from now on, but I don’t want that to happen.
Instead of becoming a slug just like last time, I would rather soar in the sky like the plutogis, the national bird of this country.
I want to be loved by all and sing a song in a loud voice.
In actuality, in front of Mika who couldn’t grasp the situation, I was the one who couldn’t grasp the situation the most.
But, no matter what I’m about to do, I couldn’t do it alone.
That’s right, one person who had already failed once was surely not enough to do it.
(In any case, I have to try every way possible…)
My usual lazy feeling that “it’s too much of a hassle” was about to come up, but I quickly drowned it out.
The lives of the people important to me and the fate of this country are at stake.
I couldn’t afford to be lazy.
I let out a small sigh.
And then, I glanced at Mika.
“Huh, what is it…”
I stared at Mika intently, who looked somewhat frightened, and then I thought.
(What I need to do is, perhaps, put it into practice…)
In addition to that, I think that Mika, the existing force, must be secured.
I’m a complete novice in terms of relationship building.
But perhaps this is the business equivalent of retaining and keeping customers.
As I didn’t choose Machina, I wouldn’t have the social network that he has.
But, Mika certainly came up with a good point.
“I’m going to try to expand my influence.”
“…Ahh, err, yeah, so that’s what you mean.”
Mika ruffled the back of his head, which his hair was especially poking out all over the place today, and spoke in a flat voice.
After thinking through what Mika told me, I decided that I would make an effort on taking a lot of parties, including the faction of the second prince, in the palm of my hand.
Of course, there is much more to do besides trying to get people to like me.
And it most likely won’t work smoothly right away.
I need to experiment with it little by little.
This man in front of me is perfect for that.
Mika is bold and knows well what kind of person I am.
Even if I were to fail, he most likely wouldn’t mind much.
I took Mika’s other hand that wasn’t going around ruffling his head, then held it with both of my hands tightly.
Mika’s body flinched.
He shouldn’t be that surprised, since he’s the one who’s often clingy with his touch.
As I thought of that, I kept on staring into his eyes.
In my first life, five years ago, I thought that Mika hated me.
I didn’t try to rely on anyone.
But if there was anyone I could have turned to, surely it was Mika.
No matter how much I rejected him or regretted that I might have made the wrong decision, the truth is I felt relieved.
Even if I said that I regretted choosing him as my knight, I felt so relieved just by seeing his face this morning.
I also ended up going to see his face first thing after I returned from death.
If at that time Mika’s eyes were teary in my dying moments, then this time—
(On this second life… I don’t want to lose him.)
I stood up, squeezed and entwined my fingers in Mika’s firm hand.
Earlier, Marie said that I’m beautiful enough to ruin a country just by smiling a little.
But when I tried smiling at her, she instead laughed at me while holding her stomach, saying that I look like a plubear that hasn’t eaten for three days and ended up eating a bitter gourd.
Then Marie said to me, “Just imagine that His Highness Seth is in front of you.
If you still can’t do it, then look at them in the eye at the very least”.
I’m still not confident that I can smile very well yet.
But if it’s just looking at their eyes, even I can do that.
I’m ashamed to admit that even as a prince, I have nothing.
I looked at Mika’s jade eyes intently, then I told him,
“You’re the only one I can rely on, Mika.”
For some reason, Mika’s eyes widened in surprise.
And then, Mika’s face gradually turned red.
It was the first time I saw Mika making such an expression for as long as I can remember.
Confused, I tilted my head.
But, as I stared at his face, it made me wonder whether it worked on him or not.
Just yesterday, I had said to his face that I had made a mistake in choosing him.
Honestly, this is embarrassing.
But at the moment, Mika is the only one who has openly declared that he’s on my side.
If I were to seriously start gathering my force and so on, I’ll have to get him to love me first, or nothing would start.
For me… I’m happy… as long as you’re… doing well.”
Mika, looking a bit embarrassed, said it in an unusually stammering manner.
But somehow, the shy look on his face reminded me of the old times when we used to run around the gardens of the royal castle together, and my heart tightened.
It was just like that time when we made that promise.
I wonder what had been deprived of me in my first life.
I thought about the regrets that I had before I died— in my final moments.
As I stared at Mika’s face, which was filling my whole field of vision, the words came out of my mouth.
“I want you to love me, too.”
Mika gulped his breath.
Then he stopped moving as if he had stopped breathing.
I still didn’t fully know what I wanted to do myself.
The future where I can love and be loved with Mika will probably never come.
Still, maybe after returning from death, I hoped to live a little more in the “present”.
I didn’t say that with the intention of a love confession.
I just meant that I wanted him to love me in the broadest, widest sense.
But now that I have said that, I felt embarrassed and started to turn red.
As I stared at Mika who had become frozen like a stone, I bit my lips while hoping inwardly that he would say something.
When I called out to him, Mika gasped and then his eyes soon went blank.
“…………..What do you mean?”
“I’ve decided to make you a test subject for my experiment.”
The enemy is powerful.
There are many things that need to be done.
Still, it’s worth trying everything I can do.
In any case, I have decided on a “plan” inside my mind.
Mika’s cheeks were still somewhat red.
I’m not sure why, but I think it might be good to have Mika as a test subject, no matter what I’m going to do.
(I wouldn’t be able to do something like this with Machina.
Not even a little bit…)
That was what I thought.
And then, I declared to Mika.
“In any case, I’m starting an experiment.”
“Yeah, but what kind of experiment??”
“—experiment to be loved.”
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