Thinking back, ever since I was little, I always had a strange dream.
It was a dream about me becoming someone whose name I don’t know, alone, playing with an unknown machine with an unknown mechanism in a room filled with a smell of disinfectant.
Because it was only a dream, I could barely remember the details. Even the details such as my name were fuzzy. Nevertheless.
『You’re always playing games――』
The dream was regenerated with a tremendous amount of momentum at the back of my eyes. My body fell forward until both of my hands and knees were touching the cold hard floor.
I suddenly had a feeling that I’ll be able to remember all the things that I’ve forgotten. A tremendous amount of information came flooding inside my head like a tsunami causes my head to throb.
Eventually, my vision cleared up, and I was able to see what was currently reflected on the floor. A reflection of a figure was reflected by the polished floor――it was supposedly me.
（……This face……looks similar to the game’s……eh? Game？）
As my eyes were blinking anxiously at the reflection on the floor, I realized someone was standing right in front of me.
It was a blond-haired young man. He was looking down on me, who was down on my knees, with a sneer on his face.
「There’s no use trying to be dramatic and act pitiful to ask for compassion. Everyone here knows who you are. There’s no sympathy to spare for someone like you who’s been acting like a tyrant by using your position as my fiancée.」
「――Cedric, sama? Are you really Cedric-sama？」
The blond-haired young man responded ironically in a thinly veiled trembling voice.
「Are you going to say that this isn’t like me? But this is the real me. We’ve been engaged for years and yet, you can’t see right through me」
The sudden mysterious pain in my chest forcefully brought me back to reality.
That’s right, this is the reality. And, the person in front of me is the Crown Prince of this country, Cedric Jeanne Elmeier. My childhood friend and betrothed――as well as, a capture target character in my favorite game.
(Eh, what’s that）
I looked around me while feeling irritated with my fragmented memories. But, only to be greeted with cold stares by the people around me.
Tonight, I attended an evening party held by the academy to celebrate the ending of the winter term. The teachers were all gone, and all that’s left were fellow academy students. And yet, in this supposedly fun party, everyone only looked at me coldly from a distance.
The only person who looked at me in sympathy was a woman who’s currently nestling close to Cedric――her name is Lilia.
She has soft-looking chestnut hair, plump cheeks, and sweet-looking lips. Her big eyes are currently, fixed at my contemplating form.
She is indeed the heroine is what I think while I was observing her from down below, and then I realized.
Then, what about me?
「Irene Loren D’Authrice. I will annul my engagement with you」
「――Please wait a moment, that’s！」
My own name. As well as, the name of the villainess in the game.
(Waitwaitwait! I see, Cedric-sama is my fiance……then I am)
I feel like I’m currently seeing someone else’s affair as memories of this situation came bombarding me at once.
「I no longer want to lie to myself anymore, and honestly decided that I want to live the rest of my life with Lilia」
「……Irene-sama, forgive me」
What on earth is she apologizing for?
The passionate words that almost came out of my mouth are the words that “Irene” would say.
I feel like my gaze was becoming hazy once again, but I forcefully bit my lips to wake myself up. Once again, I tried to look at myself properly.
Dressed in a luxurious dress filled with complicated laces, surrounded by people. It was not a rare sight for a duke’s daughter. But, no one’s reaching out a helping hand.
Because this is the villainess’s engagement annulment event after all.
「I’ve had enough of you who’ve mistakenly thought that I’ve been in love with you.」
Then why are you smiling like you think you know me?
I swallowed those miserable words back. It felt like swallowing a lead but because of it, my mind gradually became calm.
（……How should I say this, although the memories came at the worst time……at least, I calmed down a little.
――I can at least use those points to make a good judgment about this situation.
「I can’t ask for something better than this, can I?」
If this were to happen without me knowing anything, I would’ve fought tooth and nail for my cause. Perpetually making enemies out of a wrong person.
Upon thinking about that, I outwardly composed myself. Raising my head with a thin smile on my face.
「No, Cedric-sama. ――I thought, if only you honestly told me from the very beginning, then you wouldn’t need to prepare such a grand stage for something like this」
While I was looking around with a cold look on my face, those who catch my meaning immediately looked away. But Cedric on the other hand, let out a snort.
「This is a declaration of determination from me and Lilia」
「In other words, you’re doing this here instead of in public because you’re afraid of getting scolded by the D’Authrice Ducal Family and His Majesty himself――aren’t you?」
「Of course that’s not true. I only thought that you should be judged for your crimes in front of everyone else’s here」
Suddenly, someone from beside me lifted me up roughly by my arm to make me stand up.
I turned my head around to ascertain “Irene”’s opponent.
「Can you be more gentle? Is that how a gentleman treated a lady these days?」
「What lady? Stop with your nonsense, Irene. Your bad deeds can no longer be hidden」
While he was saying that, someone thrust out a document in front of me, that person was a childhood friend of mine, Max Cowell. He was seen as the future Knights’ Leader, a silent type of person with a slender body. He was someone with a strong sense of justice and abhors injustice. The owner of that pair of intimidating eyes is currently looking at Irene like he was looking at a criminal.
「……I can stand up on my own. Can you let go of my arm now？」
Irene, after recovering back her arm from the rough grasp, stood up on her own while looking back at Max with the same amount of intensity. She looked over the presented document. It was the compilation of the so-called accusation letters. Since when did they collect this, she wonders.
Lilia was being bullied because for someone who’s low in status 『she didn’t greet Irene first』. When Irene selfishly changed the play’s script at the school festival, poor Lilia had performed poorly as she was unable to memorize her line in time. If Lilia does not obey what Irene said, Lilia was faced with the threat of demoting her noble parents――and this type of almost similar accusation continued for many more pages.
All of them were anonymous, and of course, without a name. I was so amazed by the stupidity of its content, I threw them all behind me.
「This is ridiculous, is this the so-called proof？」
I laughed gracefully while a large number of papers fluttering down behind me.
「Max. Listen to me carefully. The thing with『Everyone said so』is that, it’s not solid evidence. It’s just a rumor or to a certain extent, a slander」
「After all this, you still insist that you’re being accused by many! Don’t think just because you’re the D’Austriche Ducal family daughter, you can get away with everything！」
「Do you think you can still hold on to that piece of evidence, if I were, the D’Austriche Ducal family daughter, really want to get away with crimes? Moreover, over something that is so childish. Since when do the students of this academy become infants」
While saying that, I stomped on a piece of paper that had fallen down on the velvety carpet with my shoes. And then my lips formed into a smirk.
「If you really want me to look through that garbage, how about you collect that once again? but with signatures this time. And then, I’ll make sure to remember them carefully one by one――all the names that are on the document that is. Don’t say that you want to do something as pathetic as condemning one little girl like me over an anonymous piece of evidence？」
Max clucked his tongue in frustration over Irene’s arguments.
「If you can run your mouth up to that point, can’t you at least let out an apology?」
「Apology? Eh, shall I apologize then? Lilia-sama. I apologize for teaching you, who’s been raised as a commoner, the rule of the noble society like『don’t talk to a person of a higher status than you unless they talk to you first』. Also about the play during the school festival, I’m sorry for thinking that memorizing such a long script must be hard on you and thus, ended up changing it at the last minute for your convenience」
「Irene! Will you stop insulting Lilia?」
I’m the one who’s being insulted here.
In front of this large number of people, the Crown Princess herself was sentenced to an engagement annulment. If you didn’t have an intention to make everyone laughed at “Irene”, and making a pathetic attempt to make “Irene” being hated by everyone by collecting those letters of accusation―― this kind of development will not happen.
But, Cedric whose face had turned red due to anger, and Max whose fist was trembling, only had their eyes on Lilia who currently had unshed tears in her eyes. Looking carefully, the students in our immediate vicinity were all capture target characters.
Everyone could participate in this evening party. Then, I bet they’re in cahoot in this. And then they’ve planned to catch me the moment when the teachers were all gone.
(How crafty. ――no, but the one who’s been done is me, I guess)
Even if I stayed here, all that’s left is nothing. I let out all that emptiness and breathe in something new.
「I think I’ve said too much. Then, it’s about time I excuse myself. Though it saddens me greatly that I am unable to show you my crying and begging form, as what you would’ve all desired」
Don’t cry until it’s over. Keep smiling. Don’t give them any sense of superiority over their action.
That’s why, the one who has to have the last laugh, must be me.
「Well then, farewell everyone. Cedric-sama――I really did was looking forward to meeting you, tonight」
At that, Cedric made some sort of foolish-looking face.
But Irene as per usual lifted up the hem of her dress in a perfect manner and gracefully saw herself out.
Maybe because I clenched my teeth too hard to prevent myself from crying, my head kinda throbbed a little.
From now on, if I’m not mistaken, I’ll be forcibly expelled from the aristocratic school that I attended under Cedric’s reason of 『not wanting to see her face』.
But, there should be several other events going to happen in between that. There were still huge chunks of my memories that were still hazy but if I’m not mistaken, Irene will be stripped of her title as a duke’s daughter and continue down the path of destruction.
(That’s right. If this really is that game’s world, then I don’t have the time to cry)
――Because in 3 months’ time, at the so-called ending, after everyone graduated from the academy, the villainess Irene would be dead.
「Are you kidding me」
I will not cry. I will not give up either. I will not die for the sake of those people’s happiness.
Think. Remember. Because I have these memories, I can still do something――Although I say that, I still don’t know what to do.
「……well, the enemy of your enemy’s your friend, isn’t it?」
The lips adorned with a red lipstick pulled into a smile.
It was a smile befitting of a villainess, but it kept her tears from falling.