Intermission 02: The Prince and the Red Rose
Blessed with a mild climate, the Founding Festival that everyone enjoys starts tomorrow…… Just when I thought that.
I was stopped by a junior, who had changed his expression. I listened to his message and also walked as fast as I could to a specific person. I really wanted to run, but this was inside of the Royal Palace; we weren’t allowed to run in here unless something big happened. ――― But, the thing that happened now was also significant.
『Yo, Isma! Long time no see! 』
『I hope you have fun this year too, Your Highness Ferdinando. You arrived very early.』
『I thought I would surprise you. But, you’re really stiff. I wish you would talk more comfortably.』
We were talking in a foreign language, but it was an honour to be told to speak in a friendlier manner. However, I couldn’t agree with him.
Because the person in front of me was a prince from another kingdom, who came for the Founding Festival.
And during the Founding Festival, I would be responsible for protecting this person. Of course, His Highness Ferdinando has his own guards from his kingdom, but each kingdom had its own rules, so, in short, I was his local guide.
This was the third year that I was in charge of His Highness Ferdinando’s protection. However, I hadn’t expected to be a guard in the first place, but I, who was in charge of another duty, was stopped by him and he said something rash while I was wondering what was going on, 『Can I request this person as my guard?』As a result, I was placed as his guard. Later, I heard that the person who was in charge of him was hard-headed, so he wanted to change to someone more flexible…… Even I was working diligently while complying with the rules, so why did he think that I would be flexible? I tried asking him about that once, but unfortunately, I couldn’t get a clear answer.
However, I also thought about it. His Highness Ferdinando was quite eccentric.
I’ve never heard of any other royalty who would come earlier than expected, just because they thought they could surprise people. If this were known in his home kingdom, then he would be scolded, 『What do you think appointed times are for!?』His cheerful personality was likeable, but I could sympathise a little with others around him since they were probably troubled since he was too wild. At the same time, I was thankful from the bottom of my heart for my Prince’s honest personality. I believe that our Prince’s nature wouldn’t change, even if he reached His Highness Ferdinando’s age.
No, well, His Highness Ferdinando was honest too. It was difficult to respond to his friendliness, but he didn’t have a lousy personality, and he didn’t say absurd things that were difficult to answer to.
『You still don’t have a household?』
『Is that something you say as soon as you meet someone?』
『Well, I’m worried about it. If you get married, then I’d have to congratulate you.』
I laughed dryly in time with his loud laughter. Let me correct that at once, he does say things that leave me troubled, but well, he is an easy-going person, so it doesn’t feel unpleasant.
『Then, how about my little sister? It might be interesting for Isma to become my little brother.』
『Then, I don’t care if I take your sister. She’ll become my second wife though.』
He laughed happily at me, who was drained. But that joke was honestly bad for my heart. I was fully aware that he wasn’t serious, but I don’t know what would happen if those words were to reach my father. So, I didn’t want him to say them aloud, even if it was a joke. I honestly couldn’t imagine it. I want to live in peace. He had already stopped laughing for a while now, but he didn’t notice how I was feeling at all.
『However, I’m glad you were surprised, but I want to enjoy this free time. Is there a place for me to waste time? 』
Of course, the guest rooms have already been set up, even though something unexpected had happened, but he wanted entertainment. It wasn’t a waiting room. However, I couldn’t say something like, “Then, do you want to go to town?” If I took this person there, then I don’t think I would have enough energy for the rest of my life. If he had to go at any cost, then I hope that he would do it on the last day. But, if there was something else that was rare, then what about the greenhouse that was built under father’s supervision?
『Have you ever seen the greenhouse before, Your Highness?』
『The greenhouse? Ooh, I hear that it’s great, but I’ve never visited it before.』
『Then, I will go confirm if you’re allowed to see it, could you please wait for a moment?』
I don’t think that a tour would be rejected, but there was a possibility that people were working inside of the greenhouse. Luckily the greenhouse tour was quickly approved.
When we arrived at the greenhouse, His Highness Ferdinando looked up at the ceiling.
『The rumours appear to be true, it’s a splendid building.』
『Do you like it?』
『Yeah. It’s rare. There are a lot of plants, but there are also butterflies.』
I proceeded through the greenhouse with him, who, if I had to say, was more interested in the building itself and the butterflies than the flowers; and before long, we saw a shadow sitting in the chair in the direction we were walking.
A little boy with gold eyes and black hair. It was unquestionably the prince of our kingdom, His Highness Sylvester.
“…… in…… nk.”
His Highness repeated his words in a whisper.
From his appearance, I could tell that he was probably practising for his speech for the Founding Festival. Of course, I hadn’t planned to interrupt him, since I hadn’t known he was here, but we would if we continued walking. I felt sorry about this, but His Highness Ferdinando looked as if he was happy.
…… I’m sorry, Your Highness. I brought a disturbance with me.
His Highness Sylvester also seemed to have noticed that people were approaching him.
He turned around, and his round eyes met with mine.
“Excuse me, Your……”
“Yo! You the Highness Sylvester?”
His Highness Ferdinando interrupted my words and spoke a bit clumsily in the language used in Crista Kingdom, which made His Highness Sylvester look a little surprised, but he immediately smiled.
『It’s been a long time, Your Highness Ferdinando. I sincerely thank you for travelling for so long to get here.』
Even though we had shown up here unexpectedly, His Highness Sylvester replied in His Highness Ferdinando’s home language, which he usually didn’t use. His Highness Ferdinando’s eyes widened in surprise.
『You’re really good. Your pronunciation is more natural than I sound when I speak the language of this kingdom.』
『Those are generous words.』
Even I knew that His Highness Ferdinando’s words towards His Highness Sylvester weren’t too generous, but His Highness Sylvester probably thought they were. I think it’s a good thing to be humble, but I felt that he could be a little more confident like his friend…… No, Vernoux-dono wasn’t only 『a little』confident.
『But, you’ve gotten a lot taller. I called out to you, but I thought you might have been someone else for a second there.』
His Highness Ferdinando expressed his surprise with both his hands lightly lifted and His Highness Sylvester’s eyes shone.
『Do I look like I’ve gotten taller?』
『Yes. You look like you’ll eventually get taller than me.』
『That is…… I will certainly catch up to you.』
I stared at His Highness Sylvester, who was smiling with joy, and thought it was surprising. Is he someone who cares about his height? I certainly wanted to be taller than my older brother when I was younger, but I wonder if His Highness, who is easy-going, also wants to grow taller as well. But I don’t think that he is too short; his height is about the same as Vernoux-dono, whom he is always with. I wonder if it’s because he wants to be an adult soon.
His Highness Ferdinando was very pleased with His Highness Sylvester’s reaction and patted him on the head.
『By the way, what were you doing here?』
『I was practising my speech for a bit.』
『My bad, I’ve interrupted you.』
『No. I was only reciting it because I couldn’t relax. Please don’t worry about it.』
I don’t know if those words were him being mindful of His Highness Ferdinando, or if he really meant it. But I think that it’s unlikely that His Highness Sylvester, who is always thoroughly prepared for anything, would have to practice until the last season this time, so I guess it’s just like he said.
There was a red rose blooming right next to His Highness Sylvester. I felt like I’ve seen that rose somewhere before and became confused. There were more varieties of roses than I could count, and we even had some at our mansion, and it wouldn’t be strange for the same things to be blooming at these two places, but it felt weird.
『Isma, what’s wrong?』
『No, I just thought that that is a gorgeous flower.』
However, since I had not said the word 『somewhat』, I hadn’t lied outright, and only covered it up. His Highness Sylvester also looked at the roses when I’d said that and looked a little embarrassed.
『It’s a lovely flower, isn’t it?』
『It calms me down since it feels like it’s watching over me.』
“It might sound a little weird,” he laughed.
It’s definitely a beautiful flower, but it didn’t look different from the rest. The number of petals and the colour of the flower also look common. But it must be different from the rest if it’s growing here.
I thought curiously as I concentrated a little magic into my eyes. Is this type easy to grow or is it disease-resistant? Such interests welled up within me. However, the characteristics of this flower seemed to be its strong fragrance.
『I feel like this is the type of flower my sister would like.』
『Could you tell me what type it is?』
I continued to ask His Highness Sylvester, who seemed happy for some reason. I thought I could give this as a present to my sister since she would be staying at home by herself during the Founding Festival period.
It might be a variety that wasn’t circulated in the market. However, it was rare for His Highness Sylvester not to answer. At least, it growing here means that it isn’t confidential…… No, I’ve never even heard of a flower that was confidential in the first place.
『Sorry, the name of this flower is a secret.』
The words that came out of His Highness Sylvester, when he finally spoke, he sounded apologetic, but it also sounded as if he was amused. At least, it didn’t seem like it was a secret of national interest.
『What is this? Your Highness Sylvester and Isma, you don’t have to go out of your way to speak in my language, just speak in your own. I won’t think you’re having a secret talk, so just take it easy.』
His Highness Ferdinando demonstrated his presence with a slightly exaggerated gesture. No, we didn’t forget about you, you know?
『Thank you for your concern.』
『No, nope. I’m the one who’s visiting your kingdom, but you’re speaking in my language. I’m bad at speaking your language, but I don’t have any problems with listening.』
“Then, I’ll take you up on your offer.”
He probably couldn’t refuse His Highness Ferdinando’s words. His Highness Sylvester replied with a slightly clearer pronunciation than usual and His Highness Ferdinando looked satisfied at that reply and smiled.
『But, I feel like it’s a shame for three men to view flowers. What do you say, Your Highness Sylvester? Are you interested in my sister? I can introduce her to you with confidence. If so, then this place would probably be more fun next year.』
His Highness Ferdinando’s words, which were said jokingly, were also asked at me a while ago. While I thought how he could say such a thing instead of a greeting, I also considered that he was probably a little serious when he said it to His Highness Sylvester. His younger sister was probably around His Highness Sylvester’s age, and if royalty from a kingdom, where we had good relations, approached other royalty with that, then it was more realistic.
Though, I do think that it was anything more than a joke since he wasn’t talking about it directly to His Majesty. Now then, I am interested to see how His Highness would reply.
His Highness Sylvester widened his eyes and blinked several times at those words. This was probably the first time this kind of conversation has been dumped on him. However, he was only surprised for a second, and he relaxed his expression again.
『I’m sure that your sister is probably a humble and beautiful princess.』
『Yeah, I can guarantee that.』
『But, I am still immature.』
Ah, he evaded it well.
If he replied with the same thing even if His Highness Ferdinando replied with, “That’s not true,” then it would be possible to avoid seeing who would hold out longer. His Highness Ferdinando shrugged and laughed.
『Do you want to see more of the greenhouse?』
『No, I don’t mind doing something else if it’s interesting. It is a wonderful building, but I don’t know how to admire flowers.』
『Then, should I get some tea cakes or snacks? I’m sure you’ll enjoy it more than viewing flowers with men.』
『That sounds good. It would be even better if His Highness Sylvester joined us.』
『As long as time permits.』
『You’re a sociable person. Thanks.』
If that’s the case, then I have to quickly go and request the food. His Highness also asked, “Can I leave it to you, Isma?” I bowed and turned to leave.
But the moment I turned my back, His Highness Ferdinando’s words reached my ears.
『Say, Your Highness Sylvester. You said you were still immature before, but would you think about it once you become an adult? 』
His Highness Ferdinando will surely have a childish and mischievous expression on his face right now. But this time His Highness Sylvester didn’t pause.
“When I become an adult, there is someone who I would like to show that appearance to.”
His reply was clear and a little fast. I wanted to turn around, but I controlled myself and pretended that I didn’t hear him.
The person who His Highness Sylvester wants to show his adult appearance to.
Is it Their Majesties? Or does His Highness have someone he loves?
I might be able to understand this a bit better if I could see His Highness Sylvester’s expression, but I couldn’t turn around here, so there’s nothing I can do. His Highness Ferdinando didn’t seem to understand his words well and asked him, 『Could you repeat that? 』But His Highness Sylvester evaded it by saying, 『It’s a secret.』
I see, so it seems like His Highness Sylvester already has someone he loves.
“I hope you can convey your feelings to her.”
Those words weren’t directed at His Highness Sylvester and had just come out, so it should have been spoken in a voice that wouldn’t reach his ears. However, I turned around when he stopped me “Isma,” and he put his index finger to his mouth. It was an adorable pose, and I chuckled in return.
First of all, it is necessary for me to hasten the preparations for the guest’s hospitality, so that His Highness can acknowledge to himself that he is becoming an adult. I thought as I walked a little faster.