It was only after Liam left that Jonathan realized the kid had forgotten his dagger. He would just have to give it back at breakfast. Well, that was assuming he would be present at breakfast. Jonathan was planning to leave, but he wasn’t sure when he would be able to. He was too suspicious to assume the deaths of the Empress and those other two consorts were actually natural.
What happened yesterday to Prince Roscoe was another question he had. Jonathan was rather sure it wasn’t common for princes to suffer from knife wounds when they had supposedly been fighting some sort of animal. Judging from his interactions with them during breakfast and in the library, Emlyn and Millan seemed to know something Jonathan didn’t. They, at least, didn’t seem hostile to him.
After he finished pondering what he had been learning about this world, the transmigrator realized how hungry he was. He had skipped lunch for the sake of avoiding his fiancé and settling his emotions, but he only somewhat regretted it.
He wanted to eat something—the meals he had for breakfast gave him high expectations—and so, he walked back in the general direction of where his room was in the palace. Jonathan fortunately didn’t have to remember the exact door for his bedroom, as he was approached by a young woman once he got to the corridor.
“Roscoe, where have you been?” The lady brushed a curl of blonde hair behind her ear. She looked worried. “You never miss our afternoon tea plans.”
Jonathan flinched when the young woman took his hand. He was pretty sure he was acting differently than the original prince as she seemed surprised at the reaction.
“What happened to your neck?”
The transmigrator shrugged. He needed to get out of this situation, but he wasn’t sure how yet.
Mr. Trival just turned the corner, just in time to intercept. He bowed to the lady and shot a quick glance at Jonathan then said, “My Lady Clementine, Prince Roscoe injured his throat while hunting yesterday. It is painful for him to talk. My sincerest apologies for not being able to pass along the message in time.”
Clementine’s face shifted through multiple expressions before landing on worry. “I’m so sorry, Roscoe, I didn’t know.” She turned to the butler and ordered, “Mr. Trival, please have Mrs. Crux bring up some tea and cakes to the drawing room. Oh, and make sure she knows to make the raspberry trifles.”
Mr. Trival hesitated and looked at Jonathan once again. He seemed conflicted for a few moments. In the end, however, he bowed towards the two and left.
The young woman tightened her grip around Jonathan’s hand and pulled him through one of the doors in the corridor.
The sight of the pristine rug gave Jonathan the feeling he should take off his shoes. He looked around the room as he was led to a couch.
The drawing room was opulent and full of various, dramatic looking war paintings. The yellow rug was decorated with thousands of small blue flowers. The brass chandeliers overhead were polished to a golden shine. The fireplace wasn’t lit and the windows were open to let in the cool breeze.
Jonathan felt awkward; she did not. Clementine talked about many things and he nodded his head half-heartedly to show he was listening. This continued until someone knocked on the door and the maid, Mrs. Crux, entered with a tray of snacks and a tea set.
Clementine thanked the maid and dismissed her. While she poured tea for herself and Jonathan, she argued, “I know you got back late, but you still should have told me. I’m your fiancé. I need to know.”
Jonathan nodded in agreement. It was better to agree than disagree. If Roscoe didn’t like his fiancé, then he was sure his odd behavior could be excused with his injury and something like ‘I realized how much I appreciate you’ because of his close call during hunting. He picked up the cup of tea and sniffed it.
The transmigrator wasn’t sure why, but it smelled like bitter almonds. Jonathan frowned. He wasn’t going to drink that tea. Even if he was wrong about what was going on, it was still bad tea.
Clementine was watching him carefully. “Is there some reason you didn’t tell me?”
Jonathan knew there was something else going on. He nodded.
“What happened?” Clementine gave her fiancé’s hand a comforting squeeze.
Jonathan pointed to his neck and then gestured towards her. He wasn’t sure what conclusions his new fiancé would draw, but what she thought would likely be based on what she already knew.
Clementine paled. “What? What are you saying?”
Jonathan had a terrible feeling; he recognized guilt on her face. The transmigrator looked away from her. He decided to take a gamble, so he picked up the teacup and pretended to angrily sip at it for a few seconds.
“Roscoe, look at me, please. I didn’t do anything. I’m not sure what you’re saying.”
Jonathan gagged, dramatically. He dropped the teacup and it shattered, spilling the golden tea across the rug. He bent over and coughed until he had tears in his eyes. He shook off his new fiancé’s hand and clutched at his throat.
Clementine shifted closer. She was moving slowly. The expression of concern on her face hadn’t slipped, but her body language was relaxed instead of tense. “Oh no, Roscoe. What is it?”
Jonathan looked at Clementine. He had seen better acting from children. “Stop faking it,” he rasped; his throat was raw from the faux coughing. He pulled Liam’s dagger out from his coat pocket and held it out threateningly towards her. “Why aren’t you panicking? Why haven’t you yelled for help?” He moved forward, grabbing her wrist to keep her from moving away. “Why did you poison my tea?”
Clementine leaned back, trying to avoid the sharp blade at her throat. Fear flickered over her face, before she glared at him. “Don’t try to guilt trip me into anything. I never wanted to be involved in any of this.”
“You may have, but you are now. Why? Is there anyone behind you?”
Clementine frowned. If she didn’t have a blade at her throat she would have thrown her hands out in a gesture of frustration. “Are you joking? Who do you think wants you dead?”
Jonathan pressed the dagger closer. He wasn’t going to make her bleed without a reason, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t try to scare her. “You tell me.” He was secretly relieved that he didn’t have to pretend to be Roscoe. If Clementine had been truly in love with Roscoe and he had to go along with it, that would have made him detest himself.
“Consort Lorelei, Prince Oliver and Prince Liam’s mother,” Clementine stated. She was taking smaller breaths to keep her throat further away from the edge of the blade.
“The maid helped you. Is she more loyal to you or Consort Lorelei?” From what Jonathan remembered, Lorelei was the woman in the green dress at breakfast.
“Consort Lorelei.” Clementine scoffed and blew a strand of her hair out of her eyes. “Don’t you remember that Mrs. Crux used to be one of her maids?”
“What about Mr. Trival?”
“He was given to you from the Emperor. He’s suspicious of everyone, but he wasn’t involved with this.”
Jonathan glanced around the drawing room. He noticed at least a few golden trinkets worth some money. Parts of the tea set were small and valuable as well. He wasn’t crazy enough to try to take a chandelier.
“Tell me, Roscoe. What are you going to do?” Clementine seemed unsure, half-pessimistic about her chances and half-hopeful her fiancé would still have some fondness for her, or at least, the information she could give him. She put on a brave face and smiled tauntingly. “Are you planning to use me as your spy, tell the court, or just kill me here?”
“Oh no.” He informed her with a unchanging expression,
“You’re going to help me fake my death.”
What’s with the shock? You haven’t enlisted your would be murder to fake your death before? Smh.
F’s in chat for all those who thought this would be a regular ‘I became royalty’ isekai story.