「Filmina?! Are you being serious?!」
Startled, that man half-rises to his feet from his chair as he looks at me, and the princess raises her voice as if she can’t believe it. In a sense, it’s the kind of response I expected, but really, really, I was serious. My apologies to you two, but I have a hunch that if I run away here, that bookmark will never return to my hand again. And that hunch probably isn’t wrong – in other words, it’s a belief.
‘It’s just a bookmark,’ others would say. But even so. Even if there are many daisy bookmarks in the world, there is only one daisy bookmark that I received from my husband.
It seems one could add a joke here, ‘If so, then why didn’t he make many daisy bookmarks?’ But that’s not the problem. Even if he’d made many bookmarks, my choice would still be the same.
「Thanks. Now it’s settled, hm?」
Right as I think those sunrise-colored eyes are glaring at the smiling Klanven, they suddenly face me. Those eyes are full of irritation, anger, and then above all, mostly concern. How do I sometimes feel scared and falter at those eyes?
Softly smiling a half-bitter smile at him, I lower my head.
「I’m very sorry, Edi. Please forgive me.」
As he properly stands from the chair and is about to approach me, a calm voice is heard. I look there to see the princess looking at me with a serious expression. It’s a charming expression, once again different from her usual smile. As I’m thinking those things, so inappropriate for this situation, the princess softly sighs.
「Filmina. You’ve decided, right?」
「Yes. Your concern makes me very happy, grateful, and I think of it as an honor. But…..」
「No, that’s enough. It’s impossible for you to retract your decision once you’ve already decided. I guess it can’t be helped.」
「Agedilus. Give up. You’re supposed to know Filmina better than I do.」
That man bites his thin lips at the princess’s words. After giving him a sidelong glance, the princess points her sharp gaze at Klanven.
「You may be my uncle, but I won’t forgive you if anything happens to Filmina.」
「I already know that. Even though she might be a replacement for a shield, that’s not the only reason. The final decision was because of how delicious Filmina’s black tea was.」
I’m astonished at those words that I can’t tell are lies or the truth. I thought this before too, but he really is an incomprehensible person. What the heck does 『because of how delicious Filmina’s black tea was』 mean? If such a silly reason actually was the deciding factor, that’s ironic in a sense. Because this skill of mine only improved thanks to that man, who’s now firmly protesting.
The princess makes a disappointed face, Klanven reflected in her amber eyes.
「Uncle. Did you explain all this to Filmina with the intentions of having it turn out like this from the start?」
「Do you think so, Clementine?」
「If it’s you, I think it might be possible.」
「My, my. Looks like the version of me you have in your head is a rather bad guy.」
Klanven laughs, washing away the princess’s displeasure. That man’s beautiful face turns even more grim.
「Filmina, still, cut it out. There’s still time to stop now. He’s the kind of guy even the princess talks badly to. Don’t know what he’s hiding under there. If you have a wish then I’ll grant it for you. So……」
「E-Edi, please calm down. That’s rude.」
Of course I can’t help but get flustered at that man as he’s talking impolitely to both Klanven and the princess. No matter how big-hearted Klanven is, it wouldn’t be strange if he got offended now. No matter how powerful the other person is, this man doesn’t falter, hesitate nor give in. But even so, that’s bad when the other person is royalty.
But, Klanven shows no signs of being hurt, smiling as he looks at us. 「If so…」 he opens his mouth.
「If you have so little faith in me, then why don’t you become my guard?」
At that completely unexpected idea, all of us except Klanven stiffen.
This man, as Klanven’s guard. ‘Just what does that mean?’ I look at Klanven, and he turns his gaze to that man before continuing.
「This time I haven’t chosen my guard for the time I’ll stay in the palace. It was planned that, just like the helper, I’d choose from the ones working in the palace——from the knights of the Blue Iris Court. Right, Clementine?」
「……Yes. It’s as you say.」
「So I’m saying, it’s fine if Agedilus takes on that role. According to what I’ve heard, don’t you have considerable swordsmanship skills? If you take on the role of my guard, you can be beside Filmina and guarantee my safety too. Don’t you think it’s killing two birds with one stone?」
This man certainly has enough swordsmanship skills to be recognized by the leader of the knights. When the leader of the knights was at our house once, they started sparring as a game at first, but in the blink of an eye they both grew intense, and it seemed like it would go on for eternity until I stopped them.
But still, that’s nothing more than a side skill this man has. His real job is the royal palace’s head wizard, and I know how busy he is very well. There’s no way he has enough time to work as Klanven’s guard.
「Your Highness, no matter what, that’s—」
I reflexively look up at that man as he interrupts me. His expression still serious, he bows towards Klanven.
What the heck is this man saying? He doesn’t have that much time unlike me, who’s basically free every day. It’s unbelievable that despite that, he’s taking on the role of Klanven’s guard.
「Edi, please calm down. It’s fine if it’s me. You already have a job you have to do in the first place. What do you plan to do about that?」
「It’s no problem. It’s a month at most, I’ll manage. It’s fine if I assign my usual duties to others, Widnichol’s there too. As for me, I plan to do the absolute minimum necessary. I won’t let anyone complain. Besides.」
「Didn’t I tell you earlier that your 『fine』 isn’t reliable?」
I’ve lost face if he says that. Mouth still open, I can’t find the words to say. That man takes his gaze off of me, looking at the princess.
「So, that’s how it is. You don’t mind, Princess?」
「Even if I object here, you won’t obey me anyway, right? I won’t ask questions to the answers that have already been decided for.」
The princess says that, mostly sighing, bringing her cold black tea to her mouth. When she empties her cup, she points those amber eyes at me.
「It’s fine. In the name of Clementine, I recognize Agedilus Von Lancent and his wife, Filmina Von Lancent, as the respective guard and helper of Priest Klanven. I’ll immediately set up all the necessary things so you two can start your roles tomorrow.」
「As you wish.」
「Well, from tomorrow on things are going to be fun. I’m counting on you two.」
At those relaxed words, I’m probably not the only one that wants to hit his beautiful silver head.
* * *
「Go home for now. You’ll be busy from tomorrow on, so take it easy tonight.」 Obediently accepting the princess’s very welcoming words, I and that man get started on our way back home. Only the sound of the clattering carriage enters my ears. That man says nothing, but the atmosphere he’s clad in shows that he’s clearly angry.
「Edi, um, you’re angry, aren’t you?」
Pulling at his black robe, I ask that with a soft voice. Still looking out the window, he briefly replies, 「Not really.」
What does he mean 「not really」? His voice is full of bluntness and displeasure, it makes me recognize his angered state whether I want to or not.
「Don’t apologize. It’s already settled now. Besides, you decided this yourself.」
「That’s true, but…」
If I really don’t have to apologize, then he can at least look at me already. But he doesn’t move his gaze here at all. I already know the reason for that, but that’s exactly why I can’t stand it. I can’t help but lower my head.
Ah, I hate my carelessness. If I really thought dearly of that bookmark, I should have taken great care and put it in my desk. I have other bookmarks too, why did I have to use this one today? If it was any other bookmark, I would’ve given countless of them, but to think that it just had to be this one.
The more I think about it, the sadder I feel. As I hang my head down in shame, a deep sigh hits my ears.
「Well, it’s just barely tolerable since I’m going to be beside Klanven too. I won’t say ‘don’t worry’ though.」
I raise my head to see him finally looking at me, reaching out his hand to touch my cheek. My heart jumps as his sunrise-colored eyes look at my face.
「I’ll protect you. But just in case I don’t make it in time, use him as a shield and run.」
「I don’t think that’s something His Highness’s guard should be saying.」
「It’s just a question of priorities for me. I’ll take responsibility for it so relax.」
「That’s not the problem.」
If he doesn’t protect Klanven, on top of being deprived of our family honor we might be condemned to discontinue our family. And despite that, he’s talking like this. Apologies to his foster father Lancent, my father-in-law, but he’s extremely easy-going when it comes to this man, and in his case he might settle it off with 「Guess it can’t be helped」. I’m afraid of that.
As I manage to fix my smile, he kisses my forehead and continues:
「I couldn’t have lunch today. Would you make more than usual for dinner tonight?」
「……Understood. I’ll make it to the best of my ability.」
When he left the palace, he gave all the cake salé I made for lunch to Widnichol. It’s almost dinner time now. I internally decide to make his favorite dish tonight.
And then, I thought about the busy days that would start from tomorrow.