As I mutter that in a daze, still sitting, he blinks once, 「Oh my,」 before deepening his smile further.
「To think that someone as young as yourself knows me. So I haven’t been completely thrown away yet, huh?」
He says that as if he’s joking about in some way. This elderly man is Sir Heathrow, that holds half of the political power along with Klanven in this grand temple. From my position as part of Klanven’s faction, he is an opponent for now.
But even so, it’d be rude to keep sitting and looking up at him like this.
「I-I’m very sorry, that was very disgraceful of me……—ouch!」
The moment I hurriedly stand up, my ankle hurts even more. As I can’t help but grimace, ‘oh dear,’ Heathrow moves his eyes to my foot.
「Looks like you’ve gotten hurt one way or another. Let me take a look.」
「No no, it’s not that bad of an injury to cause you trouble—」
「It doesn’t matter how bad of an injury it is. Would you sit down for now?」
Those words are gentle but they have a forceful echo in them, and I meekly obey. Without hesitation, Heathrow too crouches down in front of me, gently touching my right ankle.
「Ah, looks like it’s a light sprain. Excuse me for a while, young lady.」
I blink, wondering what he’s going to do. In front of me, Heathrow briefly recites some holy words. Different from the common language and the magical language, these words are noted down in the holy book. Through them, a warm light appears in Heathrow’s hand, gradually going along to my ankle. I realize too late that it’s the healing magic of the priests’ specialty light magic. The most suitable healing magic, using spirit magic to borrow a water spirit’s power, has little results on me because of the wounds I bear on my back from the fire spirit when I was younger. But it’s a different story if it’s light magic, that directly borrows the goddess’s power. The pain in my ankle gradually softens.
「——Well now, this much should be enough. How is it now, young lady?」
Urged by Heathrow’s words, I try moving my ankle. There’s no pain or discomfort.
「Yes, it seems alright.」
「Thank goodness. Well now, may I have your hand?」
He stands up before me, smiling and reaching his hand out to me. Klanven said the exact same thing to me a few days ago, but I take Heathrow’s hand in a completely different mental state from then, standing up.
「Thank you, Sir Heathrow. You’ve greatly helped me.」
「No, it’s nothing. It’s above all that I could be of use to you.」
As he softly smiles, I feel my chest unconsciously jump, ‘thump, thump.’ Then I realize. Ah, that’s right. This softly smiling gentleman’s atmosphere somehow matches that man’s foster father’s, my father-in-law Lancent. In other words, my former…… To put it simply, the 『past』 『me』’s exact type of man. I know this isn’t the right time for this, but a part of my heart starts throbbing, a different part than the one for that man. Considering my position, I can’t let my guard down around him, but faced with that smile I just want to confess everything to him.
「Young lady? What happened?」
「N-nothing. Please excuse me.」
I internally hit myself for getting charmed just like that, straightening myself. His slightly hoarse voice is still so charming… It’s not the time to think about things like that. No matter how much he may be my type, there’s no way I’m going to be so easily charmed by him.
Heathrow looks at me with no signs of noticing my troubles. That reminds me, what is he doing here without any companion beside him? Considering his position, there aren’t many things he should be doing alone.
「Um, Sir Heathrow. Why are you here by yourself in a place like this……?」
「I just happened to hear Sir Klanven is back. I slipped away and came here to greet him, but it seems I’ve got a bit of a late start now.」
Heathrow looked a bit regretfully at the door of the waiting room Klanven disappeared into, raising the ends of his eyebrows. I can’t help but be bewildered at the unexpected response.
This man is supposed to be Klanven’s opponent. There’s no way it’d be fun for him to see a youngster several decades than him become the next head of priests. But I can’t see even an atom of that in Heathrow. In fact, he seems to think favorably of Klanven——or perhaps, that’s an exaggeration.
「Do you have some business with His Highness? If it’s alright with you, I can humbly convey it to him.」
「No, I don’t have anything in particular. If he’s in good health, that’s all I ask for.」
「Y-Yes. In that case, I think there is nothing to worry about.」
Yes, he was in good health as he waved about me and that man today too. At my response, 「Is that so.」 Heathrow gently smiles again. Is it just my imagination that that smile seems genuinely happy?
「Sir Klanven isn’t an open person, so. I know this will be troublesome for you, but please treat him well.」
Heathrow continues, as if he’s talking about a kid who could be his grandchild. Then, without waiting for my reply, he gallantly leaves with a pace that doesn’t show his age at all. I’m the only one left, watching his grand figure from behind and unconsciously tilting my head.
I don’t know where to start. The first thing I want to say is, is it really alright to settle away Klanven’s behavior by just saying 『he isn’t an open person』……? No, more importantly, how did Heathrow think so favorably of Klanven? Heathrow’s expressions and his voice too, both seemed strangely full of affection. I thought he’d be hostile, but was that just a misunderstanding? How foolish.
That reminds me, the ones targeting Klanven’s life are a group that’s called the most extremist ones amidst Heathrow’s faction. So Heathrow himself might not be taking part in Klanven’s assassination.
However, that’s nothing more than my guess based on my first impressions with him earlier. I don’t know what someone’s thinking under a gentle smile – Klanven himself was the one that proved that.
To be honest, judging by my first impressions earlier, Heathrow seems like a much better person than Klanven. 「That’s why you’re a naive softie.」 a certain someone would tell me, but that’s what I think. Yep, it’s naive, even if I do say so myself. I know that. I know that, but that’s why I just don’t know. Ah, now I don’t even know what I want to say anymore.
It’s then, as I’m alone and at my wits’ end, that a voice calls me from the other side of the door.
「Filmina, would you come in?」
「……Yes. Excuse me.」
‘If you’ve finished changing from your uniform to your everyday clothes, you could just come out by yourself instead of calling me,’ I internally curse, opening the waiting room door and entering as I’m told. Then, I’m reduced to speechlessness at the sight I see there.
「Y-Your Highness Klanven?」
「There’s no 『what』 here. Just what are you wearing?」
Klanven blinks his amber eyes in forced puzzlement. I ask him, while feeling a severe headache forming.
Klanven isn’t wearing the priest uniform he was wearing earlier – far from it, he isn’t even wearing his ordinary clothes he wore when we came to this grand temple. What he’s actually wearing is shabby clothes like the town peasants would wear. His long silver hair is tied up high, smoothly shaking from side to side like a cat’s tail.
「Yes. These are for you.」
Ignoring my disturbed state, he presents me with a plain women’s cloak. I reflexively take it, looking from it to Klanven’s face as he puts on his own suitable cloak.
「Um, Your Highness. Just what is—」
「Hm? Don’t worry, don’t worry, you put that on too, quick. As for the hair…… Well, maybe it’s fine like that.」
Just how can he say 『don’t worry』? There’s not a single thing I can’t worry about. Just what the heck does he want to do? I feel my brows naturally furrow. He lightly pokes the gap between my eyebrows, smiling sweetly under his hood, pulled deep over his face.
「We’re going on a date now, so wouldn’t it be ridiculous to stay in those clothes?」