Epilogue: A Gift for You
When the articles about the Founding Festival had disappeared from the newspaper, I finally found some spare time. At last, I thought, as I invited Vernoux.
“Vernoux, do you want to go to town?”
“Town? Ok, but are we going to tell Clay before we go?”
“I wanted to return before he notices that we’re gone.”
Clay’s crisis management skills and adherence to his principles are great, but I needed time as 『Gille』. As promised, I behaved myself during the Founding Festival, so I want him to overlook this, ――― I thought, but I had a feeling that he would scold me if he found out I was sneaking out.
I felt bad for doing this to him, but I really wanted to go out now that I have time.
Of course, I wanted to see the town since I haven’t been in a long time, but I have a goal.
It’s nearly Dilly’s birthday, so I really want to find her birthday gift.
Vernoux had never cared about Dilly’s birthday before, so I don’t know the exact date.
However, Dilly’s real name is 『Cordelia Enna Pameradia』.
Since her middle name was 『Enna』, her birthday should be in three to twenty days. A lot of people didn’t have middle names, but those who did had the name of the guardian deity related to their birth date, so I shouldn’t be wrong.
I hadn’t noticed that because I had such a strong impression of the words『Cordelia』, 『Dilly』and『Pameradia』, but I regretted that I missed the chance to send her a gift on her birthday as soon as I noticed that fact.
Vernoux seemed hesitant, but his expression said, ‘We probably won’t be caught’. And he probably didn’t care if he got scolded.
When Vernoux walked to where I was standing, he put his hand on my shoulder and muttered. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but it was magic spoken in the ancient language, passed down in the Flantheim House. I could tell that his magic was gently covering me. My hair had probably changed from black to a lighter colour.
I was good at sneaking out of the castle, so I went with Vernoux and snuck out with my mask. Luckily, only Vernoux and Dilly knew about my mask. Since no one else knew about it, I could easily hide my presence with my magic.
We arrived in town and went straight to a deserted alley. I took off the mask and put it in my bag so that no one would find it.
“Have you decided where you want to go?”
“Yeah. Kind of. I’m interested in some stores.”
“Then, let’s go there.”
I also got Vernoux’s permission, so I headed to a store without hesitation.
But I couldn’t find what I wanted, even after visiting two shops. Then, at the third store.
“I feel like she’d demand I write letters to her if I give her stationary.”
“… No, she won’t.”
What’s nice? I ended up in a corner lined with various papers while I was looking around.
“Having said that, a birthday card would become useless later…”
“Well, you don’t need it anymore after you’ve read it once.”
“I hope I find something that suits her….”
“Anyway, should we change stores?”
Vernoux replied in a flat voice when I spoke to him, but it seemed like he couldn’t stand it anymore, so he concluded the conversation.
Actually, we also left the first and second stores because Vernoux had said that then too… I tilted my head when he said that to me the third time.
“Is something wrong?”
“No, I think it’s amazing how you could calmly search through this store. We’re getting a lot of attention.”
People were certainly staring at us a fair bit, but it was nothing compared to the attention I get when I act as the Prince.
And Vernoux had said, “This store,” but it was just a regular store. It was a bit different from the stores I usually frequent with Vernoux, because it was aimed towards women, and the interior was pink and orange. So, I thought I would find something that Dilly would like… But Vernoux looked really uncomfortable.
“… Mm, I’ve looked around, but nothing stands out.”
“Ok. So, let’s leave.”
I feel incredibly disappointed, but there’s nothing I can do if I can’t find something to give her. Vernoux smiled a little impatiently and gave a big sigh when we left the store.
“… Gille, are you really fine with that room?”
“That’s why I asked you about what’s troubling you.”
“Rather than troubled… you normally wouldn’t be able to stay calm in a room full of stuffed animals and lace, right.”
“Hmm? Well, I am looking for something that Dilly would like.”
Does Vernoux have another good idea? Vernoux shook his head as if he was tired.
“No, never mind.”
“It seems like you’re not understanding something.”
“I don’t, but I felt like I had to reply because it’s you.”
He really didn’t understand my reasoning, but it looked like he wanted to.
“The baked goods from the corner store is your treat today, Gille.”
“Yeah, alright. Shall we go there now?”
“Sure. I want to take a break too.”
He was accompanying me right now on my incognito trip, so I didn’t mind treating him to sweets.
I was worried that I still hadn’t found a present for her, but I was hungry too, so we headed to the sweets store that Vernoux wanted to eat at.
The baked goods at the very end of the street were hard and weren’t served at the castle. Vernoux and I were both surprised when we had first eaten there, but we got addicted to them and got them every time we got out to town.
The clerk put the sweet halfway into the bag, and we sat on a bench. Then we watched people walking through the streets as we ate. It had a simple taste, so I would probably eat a lot if it were a bit softer.
“Me too. Let’s go to the next place.”
There were a lot of stores at the bazaar lined with fruits and one which squeezed them into juice. That store was our aim. We started walking again.
On the way there, Vernoux suddenly asked.
“Say, I want to ask you… Who’re you sending that gift as?”
“Are you sending it as 『Gille』? Or your real name?”
As Gille or as Sylvester?
“The answer’s obvious. I’m sending it as 『Gille』.”
The answer would be different if he’d asked me who I wanted to send the gift as, but the answer to that question was already set. I couldn’t send her a gift as Sylvester. Dilly would definitely be puzzled.
“That’s tough. You too, you can just tell her already. It’s been four years, right?”
Vernoux said, when we got to the bazaar and paid for the juice. He had said it so easily, but it was a difficult thing for me to do.
“I would if I knew the reason why she was avoiding me.”
I had no idea what she hated about me. It wasn’t like I’ve never thought about telling her when writing to her. But I could never write it when I thought about how our relationship might end because of it. And the fact that she dislikes people who lie has become a dead weight for me.
“Honestly, you’re so negative. You love her, don’t you?”
Vernoux always makes positive suggestions, I thought, but I didn’t know how to reply. Especially towards that question.
I stayed quiet for a while before answering, and Vernoux blinked a few times.
“Hah? Oh, what? You’re saying that now?”
“I mean, I probably do. If I didn’t then I probably wouldn’t sneak out into town to buy her a gift. But I’ve never felt like this about anyone else before, so I have nothing to compare this feeling with.”
I couldn’t think of any other suitable words to say. It’s probably because I’m trying to become an adult whose worthy of her. But I’m not confident enough.
“You’re sweeter than I thought. Are you trying to give me heartburn?”
“Are you eating too many sweets? Should I prescribe you some stomach medicine?”
“I’m telling you that’s not it. Well, I do appreciate your feelings though.”
Vernoux made a grand gesture in disappointment, but I didn’t know what it meant. Vernoux spoke like that sometimes, but I wished he would just be frank.
“But, love or not…?”
“If I knew why she was avoiding me and fixed it… I’m still worried about a lot of things. And my future will probably be decided depending on the situation.”
Even if I could talk to her normally as myself, Dilly would probably be annoyed if 『Sylvester』chased after a certain lady. Then she would probably avoid me again before we even become friends. To begin with, depending on the situation of the kingdom, I’m in a position where I have a lot of marriage proposals from ladies both inside and outside of the kingdom. I thought. Aren’t my thoughts getting a bit out of hand? I reflected. What’s the point of thinking about marriage proposals?
“I was wondering what you’d say… But what’s the point of saying such trivial things?”
“Trivial, you say…”
“How the situation turns out doesn’t matter. You and your father are the ones who decide how the situation will go. Everyone worries about their future.”
“Don’t make such an irritating face in this peaceful world. You just have to think about how you’ll use us. You’re really stupid.”
Vernoux said and laughed.
“Am I wrong?”
I was at a loss for words because he’d refused. But this was too different from my thoughts, so I couldn’t say anything to agree with him.
“What? You want to refuse?”
“No… Oh, but is there anything you’re worried about Vernoux?”
I have to answer. The answer I’d replied with after much thought sounded as if I was trying to distract him. But Vernoux was good at not breaking his expression.
“Oh, I do. I’m worried about what kind of long lecture Clay will give us once we return.”
“Haha, that’s a serious matter.”
I burst into laughter because Vernoux had said something that shouldn’t have been spoken. Vernoux had never listened to Clay’s lectures seriously, so there’s no way he would be worried about them.
“I’ll have to learn how to dodge the subject like you, Vernoux.”
“I’m always honest?”
“Ah, thanks. So could I say something else?”
“Yeah, if you want to vent then vent away. I’m sick of this heavy mood.”
Vernoux, who joked, was really reliable.
“To tell you the truth, I want to meet her more as 『Gille』. I could learn more things about her by talking with her, face to face, which I wouldn’t be able to learn no matter how many letters we send to each other. And her response time would be faster.”
I also want her to know more about me, and I also want to know more about her.
“… Well, there are some things you could say because you can’t see the person. Letters aren’t bad either, are they?”
“How unusual. I can’t believe you’re consoling me.”
I smiled wryly at Vernoux, who had probably said that since he knew I was envious of him. I have such a good friend. He’s encouraging me even though he usually doesn’t do this.
But Vernoux looked serious.
“Well, I’m just pitying you.”
Apparently, he wasn’t comforting me. Those were his true feelings. If possible, I wanted him to let me think that he was comforting me. If I had to be direct, I would say that my damage has increased.
Although, I do feel a bit lighter now that I’ve said it.
“We’re already here, so why don’t we go see the stalls? Last time I also bought something interesting from there right?”
“Oh… Sure. The stalls are much better than those stores.”
Vernoux agreed with me, so I looked around the stalls. I found a lot of things that interested me, but I kept telling myself that I was buying a gift for Dilly today, so I moved as quickly as I could.
Not that, or this. While thinking so, I arrived at the stall where I bought the mask.
The seller looked up and lightly lifted his right arm.
“Yo, Chibis. You’re here again?”
“Yes. Do you have any more unusual items?”
“I brought a lot of glass products with me today… But don’t break them okay?”
The seller looked healthy with his tanned skin. He grinned showing his white teeth. His smile could also be interpreted as ‘you break it you pay’. He probably valued his goods a lot.
“I’ll be careful.”
“A’ite. Well, I don’t have to worry about you breaking it since it’s you Chibis.”
I shifted my eyes to the glass products after the seller made his comment. There was a paperweight with a hole to insert things into, and pen stands. There were a variety of products lined up, but one caught my eye.
“This is… an ornament based on a brush?”
“Oh, that’s a glass pen. It’s a rare item in this kingdom, but you can write with this glass pen.”
I repeated the words I’ve never heard before, and the seller looked at me and held the pen.
“There’s a slit in the nib, right? When you soak the nib in ink, the ink flows through this slit. Once you fill it, you could write half the page or a full page. It’s not bad as decoration either.”
“You’re observing the pink one. Is it a gift for a girl? That glass pen comes with a cute pen stand. But well, if you want to buy both, then the price isn’t going to be pretty.”
The owner put up his thumb and index finger while saying this. I see. It really will be expensive. But it’s only expensive when you compare it to feathered pens. It’s not something that I can’t buy. I probably don’t have to worry about Dilly refusing it because it’s too expensive.
“How does it write?”
“Do you want to try it? The glass pens are handmade, so the pens each have different thicknesses.”
The seller said as he took out an ink bottle and paper. And, when he dipped the nib into the ink, the ink was sucked up vigorously along the slit. He ran the nib along the edges of the bottle and then gave me the pen-holder.
“Well, I think my artisans make all of them easy to write with.”
I wrote with the pen, and it was certainly like the seller had said. The pen smoothly slid on top of the paper, and it felt light as I wrote. The pen-holder also had an ornament on it, but it was created so that the ornament was easy to hold.
“It looks good. You like it too don’t you?”
Vernoux, who was watching the interaction between the seller and me, said and nodded.
Dilly doesn’t come to places like this, so she probably doesn’t know that items like this exist. She would probably accept this beautiful pen which was easy to write with.
“Fancy brats. Do you want to try the other pens?”
As the seller said, the glass pens were all unique, and I want to give Dilly the one which was most comfortable to write with. Just because I think this one is easy to write with doesn’t mean that Dilly would feel the same, and it’ll probably be better for me to choose a pen with similar thickness to the ones she uses.
“You can clean the ink if you run the glass pens under water, so it’s easy to change the colour of the ink.”
When I heard that, I remembered that she had a lot of coloured ink and secretly rejoiced because it was becoming the perfect gift.
I tried different pens and then handed the seller one.
“Can I get this?”
The pen tip was clear, and the pen-holder was light red. Some people might even consider it a shade of pink. 『Cordelia』was also a red rose, and the thickness of the lines was just right.
“There are grooves on the pen-holder, so it’s slippery.”
“It’s easy for me to use, so I hope it is for her as well.”
“You don’t have to worry about that with a product from my stall.”
“Gahaha,” the seller laughed heartily as he carefully put the pen into a case.
“It comes with a pen stand, do you want it?”
“Can I see it first?”
“See, this one.”
The pen-stand probably looked good with the pen since it was a set. But I wanted to know if it was something I wanted to give to Dilly. The seller showed me the pen-stand, and I knew with a glance that it was made with that glass pen in mind.
“I thought it would catch your attention Chibi. But, well… Have you already used up your present budget?”
“Do you have anything else?”
“I have an ink jar. Well, it’s more expensive than the pen, so you probably have to talk to your parents and check your budget.”
“It’s over there. There are quite a few novelty ones. Do you want to see them?”
The seller took some white boxes out from behind him and took out the contents one by one.
The ink jar was slightly pink. The glass was thick, and a flower was engraved on the front. The lid was shaped like a flower. It was an elaborate item. I think it would suit Dilly, but I couldn’t make a decision straight away.
“I think she’ll probably put blue ink in there, so I think it would be better if the colour stands out more than the ink…”
Sometimes she wrote with sepia or green, but blue was probably her favourite.
The pen-holder was coloured, but the tip was clear, so she probably didn’t have to worry about which colour was on the pen.
But this jar was pink. It’s beautiful and rare, but I didn’t know if the colour would stand out once the ink was put inside.
“Then, how about this one? It’s made with a transparent layer and a decorative layer. Apparently, the artisan came up with this item while gazing at the sea. He made it represent the waves and the fishes.”
“But I want something with flowers. The girl likes flowers.”
It’s a nice item if I were to use it and I think Dilly would like it too. But still, Dilly gives off the impression that she really likes flowers. Isn’t there something that she would really like? I couldn’t help but think.
“If you want one with flowers then I have others. If you want a coloured ink jar, then how about this one? It’s a bit greenish and feels like the forest, right?”
“Mm, I didn’t say she likes forest. Wait, no she might…”
“Then-,” the seller and I looked for a different ink jar, but Vernoux, who was standing next to me, picked up a jar.
“Isn’t it better to give her a simple and clear coloured ink jar? The gold line doesn’t look bad, and you don’t have to pick a pen to suit it.”
The ink jar that Vernoux chose was exquisite. It was simple, but made out of frosted glass and engraved with a flower. It looked like it would suit any ink colour and pen. There was a thin gold line around the mouth of the jar, and I could still see the line even though the lid was closed.
“… It’s lovely.”
“Don’t look mixed if you’re going to compliment it. I can tell you want to choose it yourself.”
“No, you can’t.”
“Yes, I can.”
Vernoux pointed this out, but I insisted that I didn’t. The ink jar that Vernoux had chosen was gorgeous and would suit Dilly. I’m looking for something that would make her happy so this would do. This is the only one that would make her happy, of course, I would choose this jar. But, I can’t say that I didn’t want to pick it myself.
“Then, this and that. I’ll wrap it for you. I’ll give you a bit of a discount since you’re buying them together.”
The seller was a little rude as he carefully tied a ribbon onto the box. The appearance of him tying the ribbon didn’t match his image. He had tied the ribbon into a flower because I’d said that Dilly liked flowers.
I paid for it and put it into my bag.
I’m so glad I found a good present. I thought, and the seller grinned.
“Chibi, you should remember what this flower means in the language of flowers if you want to give it as a gift.”
“Language of flowers? Oh yeah, what flower is this?”
I didn’t care much since I thought it was pretty, but it was a flower I wasn’t familiar with.
“This flower’s called Kikyo Bellflower//Platycodon.”
“Kikyo… It sounds a little strange, doesn’t it?”
“Apparently the roots could be used as medicine. Anyway, the language of flowers. It’s just right for you right now, isn’t it?”
I was worried because the seller’s face said he wanted to tease me. I became anxious because he looked like he was putting on airs. Irritating, I thought as I stared at him and waited for an answer.
“In the language of flowers, it means 『honesty』and『endless love』. It’s nice, right?”
I had certainly heard his words, but my brain couldn’t keep up.
But, Vernoux, who was next to me, burst into laughter.
“Mister, those words don’t match you.”
“What’re you saying? Those words suit me more than anyone, right?”
The two had fun joking around, but I couldn’t join in. Instead, my face turned red.
No, Dilly probably won’t notice the meaning of the flower.
The seller had said that a trait of Kikyo, which couldn’t be found in this kingdom, is that it could be made into medicine, he never said that it’s a flower with a strong scent. So, I’d like to think that the chances of Dilly knowing this flower are very low… Or perhaps, this flower has a strong scent?
But I want to give her this gift no matter what Kikyo meant in the language of flowers. It wasn’t like it’s a bad meaning. There’s no use worrying over it.
But on the other hand, I also wanted her to notice this a bit and know how I feel. I didn’t intend to say this, but my redness wouldn’t go away now that I thought about it.
I’m going to write her a letter along with the present. Can I write properly and hide my restlessness?
I covered my face because it seemed like I was going to have a rough time. And, I couldn’t help but think that I would always be at the mercy of anything involving Dilly.
But I really did want to congratulate her, and I sincerely hoped that she would get it.
Even if the letter becomes hard to write and I only manage to write ‘Happy Birthday’, I think that my desire of wanting to congratulate her won’t lose to anyone.
Besides… I’m sure that I would regret it if I don’t congratulate her, since I’ll be seeing her soon.
At the end of the Founding Festival, ―――we’ll be going to visit the Green Witch, my sensei in medicinal herbs. She has a lot of medicinal herbs and books about medicinal herbs. I’m sure Dilly will like it. And I’m sure Sensei will like Dilly too.
And, ――― I hoped that I would be able to talk to her a lot more than I could at the evening party.