It’s the early morning after the day I met Klanven and was appointed as his helper.
I get into the first carriage in the morning, heading to the royal palace where I part for a while with that man as I’m guided by a woman, said to be the head maidservant, to the room where I’ll spend my daily life for approximately a month from now on. We walk for a short time in the Red Rose Court where royalty live, a place that I normally could never have stepped foot into. Left and right are ordinary doors; caught in the middle of them, a door which is much more gorgeous than the others comes into sight.
The maidservant stops in front of one of the ordinary doors, unlocking it.
「It’s here. All the preparations are in place.」
「His Highness Klanven, who you will be looking after, will stay in the room beside yours. When His Highness calls you, the bell provided in your room will ring, so please be aware.」
「Yes. I understand.」
When I reply, the head maidservant bows once before leaving. Watching her go, I enter the room I’ve been given. With simple furniture arranged inside, it really is a room for servants.
‘I feel much more calm in this room than in a room that’s too extravagant.’ Thinking that, I walk to the window, forcefully opening the curtains. Surprised by the force, the birds outside fly away, chirping sweetly.
「…..The weather’s so nice.」
The sun shines tenderly, and the sky is filled with blue that spreads everywhere high up. But in contrast to the weather, my mental state is cloudy and dull. I manage to swallow down a sigh that’s about to slip out. Then, leaving the window, I look down at the maidservant clothes provided for me, neatly folded on the bed.
Right after yesterday, my duties as Klanven’s helper begin, even as I’m unable to prepare my heart properly. How can I be optimistic and smile at this?
This is something I chose by myself. I don’t have any right to complain after so long, that would be far too whimsical and selfish of me. But even so, I feel so depressed I can’t bear it.
「Will I be okay?」
I’m anxious in a lot of ways. But although it’s true that I was half-bullied into this, in the end I was the one who took on this duty. I can’t keep saying ‘I’m anxious, I’m anxious.’ I have to switch these feelings and carry out my duties right away.
‘Come on,’ I motivate myself, taking off the dress I’m wearing. Instead of that, I put on the maid clothes, a dress that just reaches my ankles in a subdued deep purple color. The size is perfect as if it’s been exactly measured. I put on the pure white apron, sitting down in front of the dresser furnished in the room. I undo my usual hairstyle, putting my hair completely in a bun, and then putting on a cap the same white as the apron – it’s complete.
「It’s like this, isn’t it.」
I stand up, checking myself from top to bottom in the full-body mirror kept in the corner of the room. Yep, if you just consider my appearance, I look like nothing but a maidservant.
‘It suits me more than I thought it would……’ Or, rather, does this actually suit me more than my usual dress? It’s rather tricky, I’m not sure if I should be delighted or upset.
I don’t want to say this but this maidservant dress is, to put it simply, a ‘classical maid outfit’ right from the start. I’ll repeat once more: It’s a maid outfit. And on top of that, a classical maid outfit. I didn’t think anything of it when I saw other people wearing it, but now that I’m wearing it myself, I can’t help but feel some extremely complicated feelings like ‘What the heck is this cosplay?’ No doubt that’s the 『past』 『me』’s feelings. I did say 『it suits me』 by myself, but now that I think about it, that’s more than just a little painful for me since I’m a complete old lady mentally, no matter my physical age……. No, I shouldn’t say any more.
Right now, there’s more important things.
「…….What do I do about these?」
I look down at both my hands and tilt my head, ‘hmm.’ On my right hand is the magical jewel bracelet. On my left hand’s ring finger is a very simple, thin silver ring with not a jewel or anything on it. Both of these were given to me by that man.
The bracelet is still fine. I can hide it under my sleeve; even if someone sees it, the blooming lotus flower in the magical jewel shows that this is an official item from the Black Lotus Court territory.
The problem is the ring. After the incident with the curse some months ago, he asked me 「Is there anything you want?」 so I requested matching rings for us. Recently, a sharp-sighted noble daughter friend of mine saw it; by the time I realized it, embarrassing rumors like 「If a married couple or a pair of lovers wear matching rings on their left ring fingers, their love will last for eternity」 had spread over the capital, and then the entire country. Judging from what I’ve heard, thanks to that the country’s precious metals stores are all smiles, making easy money. It unexpectedly played a role in improving the country’s economy, but for me, I just can’t get rid of these embarrassing feelings.
Well, certainly that rumor is the equivalent of wedding rings in the 『past』 world, so it’s certainly not wrong but – it’s still embarrassing. Every time I look at my ring or at that man’s ring, these extremely embarrassing feelings attack me. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me happy.
Staring fixedly down at the ring, ‘hmm,’ I nod. At least this much ornaments should be allowed. It won’t turn into a problem since it’s just an ordinary silver ring that doesn’t even have any sort of magic unlike the bracelet. I can just remove it if it gets pointed out. ‘But I’ll keep it on until then.’ Deciding that, I lightly slap my cheeks with my hands as I get all fired up.
Well now, these are all my preparations. Now all that’s left is to wait for that man. He’s probably been given the room on the opposite side of Klanven’s, but he was taken away to another place when we arrived at the castle.
It seems he’s been taken to the Blue Iris Court, but I still feel like he’s late. It’s really unthinkable that he, a man, would take more time to get dressed than me, a woman. Just what is going on?
Bored, I aimlessly wander around the room. As I’m doing so, I find a lovely golden bell hung beside the shelves. So this is the bell the head maidservant was talking about. ‘I hope this doesn’t ring……’ I do pray for that, but it’s going to be a month at any rate so I can’t even say that. It’s no use even if I grumble and complain. It’s my opinion that you have to carry out your duties once you’ve taken them on.
It’s just a month at most. I have to work hard so I can happily take my bookmark back.
Nodding at my reflection in the bell, I grab the doorknob. If that man doesn’t come, then I’ll go meet him myself. There won’t be any problem if I go to meet him now since I heard I’ll be officially announced as Klanven’s helper and introduce myself to him again, when I’m together with that man.
Then I leave the room, starting to walk towards the Blue Iris Court where that man probably is. Leaving the Red Rose Court, I walk through the corridors connecting court to court. Perhaps it’s because it’s early in the morning, the castle is more deserted than usual, and there are barely any people walking. It’s silent as if everyone is still asleep. ‘It’s nice to see the palace like this once in a while too.’ As I think that, a shadow suddenly falls in front of me.
Standing in front of me is an unfamiliar young man. I’m not in my regular dress now, but in maidservant clothes. There shouldn’t be any reason to stop me from walking like this. I blink in surprise, looking up at the man to see a broad smile on his above average face.
Well, 『above average』 might be an impolite way to put it. But since I’m used to people with unparalleled, outstanding beauty, with that man at the top of the list, my judgment is going to be harsh no matter what. So please forgive me.
「Do you need something?」
The young man deepens his smile at my question, peering into my face. His sense of personal space is rather small. Just what is going on? I’d like to get to the actual problem here. Seemingly having no idea of my thoughts, he starts chattering away.
「No, I just thought I hadn’t seen you before. Are you a newcomer?」
「Yes. I was just assigned today.」
「Oh, is that so? Just assigned today, you probably don’t know left from right in this place, do you? It’s still early, so why don’t I show you around the palace?」
「Huh? No, that’s…….」
I can’t hide my bewilderment at the unexpected words. Is this actually the so-called playboy? I feel like saying ‘No way.’ It’d be best not to hang out with this old lady past her prime. Is this young man so used to playing around like this?
This might be the effect of the maidservant uniform. The incredible maid outfit – this isn’t the time to be saying these things.
「I’m very sorry. I’m in a hurry.」
「Well, you don’t have to say that, huh?」
I bow and try to pass beside him, but his hand grabs my right wrist. I’m dumbfounded at that overly-familiar gesture. Even if I try to pull my hand away, he doesn’t let loosen his grip even slightly, still smiling.
Should I just stomp on his foot and escape? It’s just then when it happens, as I’m about to take my last resort. A white gloved hand grabs the wrist of the young man who’s grabbed my hand.
Neither me nor the young man can hide our surprise at the new person that appeared out of nowhere. Mouth agape, I look there to see a person step in between me and the young man, clad in knight clothes with a magnificent sword hung by his waist. The knights of the Blue Iris Court are the only ones who can wear those clothes, a vivid blue as the base color.
Brilliant golden hair that reaches his back, tied up by his name, he has his back to me as he grabs the young guard’s hand.
「W-what are you doin’ outta nowhere—?!」
He must have tightened his grip on the young man’s hand. The young man raises his voice in pain, letting go of my hand and shaking off the hand of the person that seems to be a knight. Then, the young guard glares at the knight. But that’s just for a moment before his face instantly turns blue just like the knight’s clothes.
Right as he hurriedly bows, he turns on his heel and flees. It’s like his earlier pushiness was a lie. Unable to find the words to say, I and the knight watch him leave, before I unconsciously let out a sigh of relief.
Then, after a moment I calm my heart, calling out to the knight who still has his back towards me.
「I don’t know who you are but you’ve saved me. Thank you very m—」
‘Much,’ I’m about to say, but I can’t. Since I can now see the knight’s face as he’s finally turned around.
A white, androgynous beautiful face that you could never tire of no matter how many times you look at it, so beautiful that it could shame even night fairies. The hair color and length have changed, but those are definitely the same, unmistakable beautiful sunrise-colored eyes. Without realizing, I reach out my hand to the scar that runs under his left eye. There’s only one person I know who has that scar. This person, not avoiding my hand but receiving it like it’s only natural, is:
The beautiful voice that answers me is definitely the voice that is familiar to me. There’s no doubt about it. This man was very much the same as my husband, even though his hair is now blonde and he is wearing a set or armor instead of elegant robes, so much different from what I am used to.
「What happened to your hair?」
I cannot help it but to be bewildered at the fact that he looks so much different from the way he usually did. The man looks at me and says “Ahh” as if realizing something.
「As you can see, I was assigned as the guard of His Highness Klanven. And no matter what, we simply cannot have Agedilus Von Lancent escorting His Highness, so I allowed myself to borrow a few things to disguise myself.」
「Haa, is that right?」
「Do I look strange?」
「No. I think it looks good on you.」
That right, he looked surprisingly good. If anyone was to look at him right now, they would probably see one of the castle’s elite knights. And judging that I wasn’t able to tell his identity at first glance, other people surely wouldn’t be able to tell that this young man here was in reality the castle’s court magician, Agedilus Von Lancent.
「Why are you here? Are you waiting for someone in the Red Rose Court?」
「That’s right, since I knew that you’d come here I thought I might wait for you and at least say hello.」
Hearing my words, the man answers “I see.” But I could feel that there was something more to his response than usual. Does changing his hair color from black to blonde changed his personality this much? Since his aim was to pose as someone else entirely, I had to play along, but what should I say here…………
He suddenly talked to me while I was lost in thought. In the light of the morning, I could see that he was looking at me with his eyes filled with sadness. When I smiled back at him in my usual manner, he did not answer with a smile, but instead opened his mouth.
「My current name is Edilka Vince. I would like you to call me that even if we are alone for now.」
「As you wish. So, “Edilka-sama”, is that right?」
When I answered, the man gets up and starts to move down the corridor. And since I was going to Klanven’s chamber, I walked right beside him.
I only notice it now, but there are more people walking through the corridors than before. Maids, palace guards, knights, officers, doctors, wizards, but none of them was as bright and dazzling like Edilka-sama.
He was so handsome that people’s eyes were being attracted to him regardless of their age or sex. Women’s gazes were particularly hot and bothered, so much in fact that even I could feel them burning me right next to him. But even so, the man just continued to walk forward, as if it wasn’t bothering him in the slightest.
If that man was his usual self, Agedilus Von Lancent, he would often look at people staring at him with scorn, as if they did something they absolutely shouldn’t have done. It may just be my own personal opinion, but I think that change right now really suited him.
Walking down the corridor with a man who was my husband but at the same time was not my husband, we soon arrive at the door leading to the Red Rose Court. Then the man procured a permit to enter out of his pocket to one of the guards, one that allowed him free enter and leave whenever he pleased. The door opened with ease and we were allowed inside.
「You know where His Highness’ chambers are?」
「Yes. You can leave it to me.」
If I remember correctly, Klanven’s chambers are the one right after the set of doors we were just passing by. We eventually arrive at our destination, after passing through corridors without getting lost and being stared at by other people.
「It’s right here. By the way, my chamber is the one to the left of His Highness’ chambers, right next to you, Edilka-sama.」
The man knocked on the door without any hesitation. P, please wait just a moment, my heart is not ready just yet……! But it was too late to think that. There was a voice coming from inside of the room, telling us to enter and the man walked right into the room.
「Ohh. Good morning to you, you two.」
Klanven was resting his body on the sofa. He smiled at us when he saw us entering the room. His long platinum hair were scattered all over the sofa, creating an image that begged to be commented upon, but I absolutely couldn’t do that.
Walking right after the man, I step into the room as well. Looking at Klanven right now, he looked like a completely different man from his yesterday’s self. It was plain to see.
「Huh? Your disguise is very well-made if I do say so myself.」
When Klanven complimented that man’s disguise, he simply bowed his head slightly and thanked him for his kind words.
「My name is Edilka Vince. From this day forward, I shall serve as Your Highness’ escort!」
I also fold my hands in front of my apron, and bow my head down, doing my best to give Klanven the best formal greeting that I could do.
「My name is Filmina Von Lancent. I’m looking forward to serving you, Your Highness.」
「Yes, yes. I hope that both of you will treat me well.」
Klanven just nodded his head and responded to our greetings. I was hoping that this polite greeting was just the beginning of a fruitful and friendly relationship.