Epilogue: To Exchange Words
The wind blowing in from the slightly opened window is gentle and comfortable. The sunny weather is surely calming the hearts of the people who live in town.
A knock sounded at my door.
This sound is definitely Vernoux.
“Hey, Gille. What’re you reading?”
“Hello, Vernoux. I’m reading the record of proceedings I borrowed from father.”
“Oh, the thing yesterday? I also heard a little about it from father. They’re planning to organise part of the northern district in the royal capital, right?”
“Yeah. They add a lot of illegal buildings in that district, and it’s hard for people to walk around. There are also a lot of quarrels there.”
“They’ll probably argue about solving it too, but that’s inevitable.”
The place in question tends to prioritise customs over laws, so the congressional decisions will also lead to backlashes. However, Congress isn’t making this decision on their own. They’re improving the area because the local residents complained. Of course, it would be ideal if there is a solution that would satisfy everyone, but even God wouldn’t be able to find such a solution.
“It’s no use, but I want to reduce the number of dissatisfied people… but this is the most I can do.”
People living under the law should not suffer disadvantages.
What is right, and what is wrong?
Even though there is a congress, I will make the final decision someday. I feel again that my ideas have an influence on people’s lives, even from a piece of paper.
“Father is amazing.”
“His Majesty is asking you to watch him. He wants you to study from him while you can.”
“That’s right. Father is always thinking of my welfare so that I won’t be troubled in the future. If I can live up to his expectations… No, I have to live up to them.”
“You don’t have to correct yourself. That part of you is really diligent.”
Vernoux sat on the sofa where he usually sat. That sofa is like his reserved seat, so I always put sweets there for him. I put bottle orange peels there today. I like eating things as they are, but for Vernoux, who loves sweets, I placed some chocolate coated orange peels there. Vernoux knew that those were for him, so he opened the lid without waiting for my permission.
“I was surprised when His Majesty suddenly showed up in the study room in the morning and called you… So it was to give you that record of proceedings.”
“Yeah, no, that was different. I got this at breakfast.”
“Really? Then, what did he want?”
Vernoux asked while eating the orange peel. His actions aren’t commendable as a Marquis’s son… but this is Vernoux, so it can’t be helped now.
“That’s… not a big deal.”
“Surprisingly, you’re hesitating. Was it about an arranged marriage?”
“You know, don’t put me in your shoes.”
“Hey. Both you and Dilly. What kind of person do you think I am?”
I think Vernoux was joking, but it’s not funny to me, so I want him to stop.
But fortunately, that wasn’t what father informed me.
“Father told me to do a better job at sneaking out.”
“His Majesty did?”
“Father silently approves of me going to Sensei’s place, right? But, that’s only silent approval. Clay complained that I quickly disappear whenever I have free time.”
“Ah… Isn’t it fine? You do what you have to do, so you can spend your free time however you want.”
“He’s obstinate as always,” Vernoux frowned, but it wasn’t like I couldn’t understand Clay’s feelings. He is simply worried that it would develop into a serious incident if something were to happen to me while I was out. Father giving me silent approval instead of giving me permission when I talked to him about it is proof of the risks.
“When His Majesty was young, he would secretly sneak out of the castle, didn’t he?”
“Of course, but that isn’t public knowledge. I don’t think Clay knows about it.”
The only reason why Vernoux knows about it is because his father, Marquis Leonard Flantheim, snuck out with father. No, unlike me, I heard that father didn’t want to go out, but the Marquis forced him to, “You’ll suffocate if you don’t go out! You won’t have a fated encounter either!” “He’s always been like that,” father had said.
“… What’re you laughing at?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
I’m sure Vernoux will remain as he is, no matter how old he gets.
It’s a little hard to say that I thought such a thing. Because, apparently, it’s eerie.
“Hmm? Well, it’s tough on you, Your Highness. Good work.”
Vernoux ended the conversation as if it was someone else’s problem and reached out for his second orange peel.
“Well, if you don’t want to stop sneaking out, then the only thing you can do is be grateful for His Majesty’s advice. You don’t want to stop, right?”
“Yeah, not at all.”
Even father gave me advice so that I wouldn’t have to stop. Of course, I’m taking a breather… but I finally get to meet Dilly, so I definitely want to avoid a situation where we could no longer meet. However, I probably can’t visit Oulu Village more, even though I want to. I have to put up with this.
“I actually wanted to see more.”
“Well, of course… Anyway, aren’t you glad you got to go to Oulu Village? Isn’t it good nourishment for you as 『Prince』?”
To create a kingdom where everyone is at peace.
I understood 『everyone』who I couldn’t comprehend on paper because I actually talked to them. All I could do for the children in Oulu Village was play with them, but it made me strongly want to create a kingdom where everyone could live with a smile. I can’t imagine people’s happy faces if I just stayed in the castle.
“Well, yeah… But the children over there would be surprised if they found out that you’re the real prince. I mean, I don’t feel like surprised is the right word to use.”
Vernoux said, and I smiled wryly.
“Vernoux looks more like a 『Prince』to the children than I do. They wouldn’t find out the truth.”
I said lightly, and Vernoux stopped the hand that was reaching for a new orange peel.
“Stop it. I’m getting goosebumps.”
I’m sure they would be surprised if they found out that Vernoux is a Marquis’s son. I think that Vernoux looks closer to the princes and typical nobles who appear in picture books.
However, Vernoux only looked bitter.
“Princes in picture books wear pumpkin pants. Someone, do something about that. Pants with vertical stripes are just unreal!”
“Even if you say that to me…”
“Do you know how I feel about being told that I look like that?”
“Do you hate it that much?”
I feel bad for Vernoux, but I can’t share his feelings. He doesn’t hate the position of prince, but the pumpkin pants… I can’t imagine it at all. I’ve never worn them in the first place.
He emphasised firmly. I never imagined that Vernoux is obsessed with fashion, but it seems like pumpkin pants are unbearable even in his imagination. I found out something new.
“Then, isn’t it better if they were naked?”
“You know, that’s going too far, right?”
“Sorry. I’m kidding.”
“It’s too vulgar for a Prince to say. Where did you learn something like that?”
“I have an idea, but… for example, from Vernoux and others.”
“Stop with your false accusations.”
I didn’t apologise even though Vernoux, who had thrown three orange peels into his mouth, had protested.
“Because you hate princes too much.”
“Of course I do. I’m not fit to take your place even if you take out the pumpkin pants.”
I blinked several times.
“I can… take that as a compliment, right?”
“You can interpret it however you want.”
Vernoux’s answer sounded indifferent, but he didn’t deny it, so I’ll interpret it how I like.
“I didn’t do anything you need to thank me for. But well… like you saw, children admire princes. Stand firm and don’t lose heart.”
“Okay. I’ll do my best so that they won’t say the fairy-tale princes are better.”
“But don’t overdo it.”
After eating the orange peel, Vernoux clapped his hands lightly and leaned back on the chair.
“Well, you may be popular with children, but Dilly still wants nothing to do with you.”
“No… Well, if you could stop there.”
“What? I said it modestly.”
I thought Vernoux looked a bit optimistic but was he worried about me after all?
I could only smile wryly when I thought that. I was able to meet and talk with her a lot as Gille, and I was given the opportunity to contact her about the mobile library as 『Sylvester』because Vernoux had brought up my name… Dilly reacted just like I had expected her to… she frowned for a second when my name was mentioned.
She had said, 『I don’t want to bother His Highness』… but it was difficult to accept that.
“Still, don’t be discouraged.”
“Dilly doesn’t get discouraged even if she’s hated. She’s already set an example.”
“Mick and Dilly. Haven’t you heard that they get along now?”
I took an envelope out from the drawer because she had written about it and Vernoux sighed lightly.
“It was a pretty simple reason… is what I want to say, but I didn’t talk about it with her face-to-face. What? So you’re discouraged after all? Don’t change your expressions in such a short time.”
“Pretend you didn’t see it.”
“I’ll take it as you’re growing instead of being discouraged.”
Vernoux looked annoyed, but he didn’t say anything else about it. Actually, rather than growing, I’d take talking and being able to meet Dilly as a small step to achieving my happiness … But putting it into words has a lot of negative points. However, I didn’t say this out loud and kept it in my mind. Even if Vernoux took back his previous compliment, it was uncool, and I can’t change the situation if I don’t face forward.
“Oh yeah, did you eat the muffin properly?”
“I did. I had to eat it while it was still delicious because Dilly made it. It’s a waste, though.”
“You don’t have to worry so much. She said that she would make you more if you ask her to.”
“Um. I’m pleased.”
I think this is one of the reasons that improved my depression.
I couldn’t help but be surprised when Vernoux delivered me the muffin that Dilly had made. Because I couldn’t imagine a noble lady making sweets herself.
But I was happy.
So I couldn’t make up my mind about whether to eat it or not, but gradually I got to the point where I thought it would be rude to not eat it while it was at the most delicious, and had it for dinner.
Dilly probably can’t guess what I’m thinking, I thought as I ate the muffin.
“But… I want to ask her to make them again, but I’m a little worried about asking.”
“What’re you worried about? Dilly said it was alright, so you don’t have to worry about her saying no, right?”
“No, that’s not it… I’m worried that she might get hurt while making sweets…”
I don’t want her to get hurt because I asked her to do something. I’m sure she has to use butter to make the muffins. If so, then she would have to use a knife, or she may get burnt.
I worried, and Vernoux looked at me in shock.
“You don’t have to worry that much. Dilly isn’t that clumsy. She probably uses a knife all the time, and I don’t think she’ll mess up and hurt herself… Oh.”
“No, well, it’s nothing.”
I questioned Vernoux, who had stopped artificially, and he feigned innocence. Vernoux is good at hiding things, but his reaction right now had been half-hearted. Far from being suspicious, I’m worried instead. Moreover, if this was something related to Dilly, then I couldn’t wait around for him to answer.
“What’re you hiding?”
“Nothing… I just thought that she had gotten hurt the other day. It’s only a scrape, and it’s already healed. But, it’s rare for Dilly to get hurt.”
“Hurt? Should I send some medicine?”
I said before thinking because he had said something surprising. But, Vernoux lightly shook his head.
“No, I’m telling you it’s only a scrape.”
“It won’t be good if it leaves a scar even if it’s just a scrape.”
“I said it’s already healed, didn’t I? And Dilly didn’t want to talk about it, so pretend you don’t know. I’ll be troubled if she gets angry. That’s why I was hesitant to tell you,” Vernoux continued, but I couldn’t forget what I had heard.
“Is she really alright now?”
“You know, it’s not like she’s from a house that can’t buy medicine. You’re worrying too much. It’s not a big deal when we get scrapes, right? The Earl would already get it treated if it had been a serious injury.”
“That’s true, but…”
“Then, it’s decided. You can’t ask her about it. She didn’t even tell me about it when I asked her face-to-face.”
Like Vernoux said, I had to agree with him.
But on the other hand, I didn’t want to.
Vernoux didn’t say anything, so I can’t either… it sounded like it had already been decided. Well, it has.
Of course, I know that wasn’t what Vernoux meant. As he’d said, she hadn’t told him anything about it even though he had asked her face-to-face, so someone who hadn’t seen it shouldn’t point it out.
“What? Is there something else?”
“… Nope, nothing.”
There was nothing wrong with what Vernoux had said. I just thought that I was a little pathetic for thinking those thoughts.
“But I won’t lose.”
“What was that?”