Here's a pic of the characters. Thanks for reading!
With a lot of cushions against my back, I was finally able to sit up a little bit. Besides me was my father, who still stared at me as if he was looking at a ghost, and my mother, clutching her lace handkerchief and trembling. Some parts of my fathers' flaxen hair were decorated in white, making me realize just how real all of this was.
"... In other words, I've been asleep for two years."
My parents came rushing into my room and told me of this new reality. It was all just too unexpected. I was kicked by a horse that day and received a head injury that made me sleep for over two years. As if to prove it, I realized that my limbs had become so thin that I couldn't even walk.
"The doctor said that you might never wake up... I'm so glad..."
Are you, I wonder.
I stared at my parents with eyes that seemed to question their words. My parents and I have always had a plain relationship. Because they also had another daughter, Rose, who looked just like our mother and threatened her with affection.
"Yes, I'm so happy to hear your voice again, Layla..."
Despite her words, my mother's expression was somber. I knew she didn't love me much, but the attitude she showed after I hadn't woken up in two years was harsh.
"I'm sorry for the inconvenience I've caused the both of you, mother, father. I'll do my best to get back to normal as soon as possible."
I bow lightly to my parents with all the strength I could muster. The price of spending two years doing nothing but lying around in bed is high. My wedding with his Highness was due a year from now.
"I'll try to get ready for the wedding, and I'll be sure to behave properly until then, too."
That was certainly one of my parents' biggest concerns. They always say I need to behave accordingly for I was the Duke of Ashbury's daughter. They've repeated to me that same thing so many times they made my ears hurt.
"Layla, about that..."
Oddly enough, my mother hesitated on her words. I've never seen mother, who is known to be a dauntless flower within the high society, so flustered.
"... It's okay, I'll tell her."
My father opened his mouth to offer mother a helping hand as she looked downcast and fell silent. I couldn't help but brace myself as my father straightened his posture and took a deep breath. What in the world is he going to say?
"Layla, listen carefully."
I saw my reflection on my father's flaxen eyes and saw how awful and pathetic my face looked. This kind of appearance, as I was his Highness fiancé, would certainly be laughed at.
"... His Highness the Crown Prince is going to marry Rose."
For a moment, I didn't understand what my father was saying. A heavy silence fell in the room.
His Highness, and Rose, getting married?
What, exactly, is my father saying?
I'm supposed to be his fiancé. Not someone else, but I, Layla Ashbury.
"... That's not a funny joke, Father."
My lips twisted into a bitter smile as I gazed at my father. Perhaps he couldn't bear my eyes on him, because after some seconds, he lowered his eyes just like mother did moments ago.
"I'm sorry, Layla. But we were told that you might never wake up again... And the Royal Family still insisted on marrying into our family. So instead, Rose became his Highness' fiancé..."
A huge teardrop fell on the back of my hand, and I realized that even a body that has been asleep for two years can shed tears. And I felt as if I didn't belong to this place anymore.
Ah, I feel like an idiot.
Ever since I can remember, I've been educated to become the Crown Princess and have been learning what it means to be a queen. Instead of reading novels, I've been studying things such as the country's history, its geography, its economy, and the language of other nations. I've worked hard to perfect my dancing skills until the skin on my heels came off. I didn't want to be laughed at for my plain looks, so I started to pay more attention to my skin and hair.
I can still remember the sweet smile that his Royal Highness the Crown Prince would occasionally show to me and his beautiful blue eyes. Even if he didn't love me, I was happy just by being at his side.
But that won't happen anymore. It was all for nothing.
"... But I wonder, won't my awakening cause the marriage between Rose and his Highness to be annulled?"
I knew I was asking in vain, my father raised his head lightly and squeezed out the words. His gaze showed how awful he felt.
"... If the situation hadn't turned out to be like this, that might have been a possibility."
For the first time in my life, I was getting irritated with my father who was slurring his words. Do you think everything is going to be fine by making things so ambiguous now? While thinking that, I clutched the sheets of my bed and spoke louder.
"Please, say it clearly! Are you saying that once a young lady is wounded, she is no longer worth to marry into the Royal Family? You're right, I don't know how much better it would be for the Royal Family to have the beautiful Rose instead of me."
My parents' eyes widened as I spoke out so loudly. It's understandable. I've never raised my voice in such a way, not since I can remember. I've always acted like the young lady my parents wanted me to be. Not once did I ever break down the facade. While my younger sister spent her days living so freely.
"No, Layla! That's not what we mean...!"
My mother raised her voice. Tears started to appear on her beautiful sky-like blue eyes. That was the first time I saw my mother cry.
"... The thing is... Rose is pregnant with his Highness child." My mother said while pressing the handkerchief she had in her hand against her eyes, her voice trembling.
Rose is pregnant, with his Highness child?
"... That's also the reason why we are speeding up their weeding. They're supposed to marry in February to keep her belly out of sight."
After saying that, my mother looked down again. My father did the same. I couldn't fully understand what was going on, and all I could think of were the words that I didn't mean to say.
"... I-I see. Congratulations..."
It's not a very pleasant story to have a child before getting committed to God. But when talking about royalty, it's a different story. Who can say anything bad about the birth of a new life for the Royal Family?
Yes. I feel like such an idiot.
A self-mocking smile appeared on my lips. I have been engaged to his Highness since I was nine years old, and we have never had a single kiss. And now I can't believe that Rose, who has been engaged to his Highness for not more than two years, is pregnant with his child.
I wonder if his Highness would have loved me if I have had platinum hair and clear blue eyes like Rose. I wonder if I would have looked cuter if I had laughed gorgeously and acted like a somewhat extravagant person like Rose.
The mere fact of Rose being pregnant with his Highness child seemed to negate my entire life, or even my very existence.
"... If things turned out to be this way, it would have been better for me to keep on sleeping."
I whispered to myself, somewhat stunned as I cried again. Oddly enough, the same self-mocking smile remained in my lips.
"Layla, please don't say something like that. We can't tell just how relieved we are now that you're awake..."
For some reason, my mother broke down on tears. While my father looked at me with furrowed brows.
"Please, don't worry about me. Even the rest of the world would have been better without me waking up. I'm terribly sorry. I'm not fit to be the daughter of the Duke of Ashbury."
"Please go ahead and leave the room. I'm feeling sick, I need to rest."
"Layla... I'm sorry. As your mother, I should have believed that you would wake up..."
"Fuh fuh fuh... It would have been better for you if I'd never woke up. Since the very beginning, mother always wanted for her favorite daughter Rose to take the seat of the Crown Princess. Maybe all this was for the best."
"Layla! What are you saying to your mother! Your mother loves both you and Rose equally! And of course, me too."
My father was holding my mother's shoulders as if desperately trying to protect her. That was enough. I don't care anymore, I want you to get out of here.
"If you're going to say a lie that even a little child could understand, then please don't say anything. Please, go away. If you won't leave, then I will." I force my aching body up and got my feet off the bed. My exposed legs, so ugly and skinny, made me feel nauseous. A scream came from Jessica and the other maids who were waiting in the corner of the room.
"Layla, please stop! If you keep doing that you'll end up hurting your body! We're going to leave, so please calm down."
Father stood up while holding my sobbing mother in his arms and quickly made his way to the massive door.
"... I'll come back later to check on you. Please make sure to eat properly."
You don't have to go out of your way to show signs of worry when you're about to leave the room. I can't stop smiling seeing how you force yourself to act that way.
"Miss. Oh, Miss Layla. How unreasonable of you to do something like that!"
Jessica quickly walked over to me and helped me back to the bed. As I lay down, tears streamed down my face. I felt so ashamed of myself that I had to lift my hand to wipe off the tears, and that made me cry even harder.
"It's okay now, Jessica... Please leave me alone."
What a ridiculous life I have.
Once again, such thoughts filled my heart. It would have been better for me to die. No, it's not too late. I wish I could just die like this while on my sleep.
I calmly closed my eyes, holding these wishful thoughts in my mind.