Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
Klanven’s expression was always so warm and gentle, so it was weird for him to suddenly show something other than that. His eyes opened wide when I touch the ring on my finger again and smile at him.
「I know that my case is different, that my experience is not the same as your mother’s when she was younger. The days I have spent with you as your caretaker and Edi as your bodyguard, I can’t say that I enjoyed them greatly, but at the same time I can’t say I disliked them either. Let me say that clearly right now.」
The days I have spent together with that man are the same. They’re comprised of only joyous things. There were times when I was sad and angry. After all, his character was not the easiest one to handle, fitted for outbursts of anger and awkwardness because of all the knowledge and wisdom he managed to accumulate throughout the years. Living together with such a man was not easy, having to suffer his humors and sarcastic remarks all the time, but also showed me just how helpless he would have been without me being there for him. Still, I wouldn’t trade those days for anything else in this world.
For a moment there, Klanven stares at me with a vague kind of expression. Then, his features warm up again and he smiles.
「…… I give up.」
He leans towards me with his usual smile back on.
「It’s nothing. More importantly, could you pour me another cup of tea? With milk and honey, if you please.」
He passes me his cup and I pour the tea into it, adding milk and honey as requested. I put it back on the saucer and stir the mixture with a silver spoon. I then present it back to Klanven.
「By the way.」
Klanven smiles at me while holding the cup in his hand. It wasn’t the bitter smile that he flashed me before, but his usual smile full of warmth and gentleness.
「Some people at the Temple were telling me that you weren’t fit to be my caretaker, and that I should just send you away.」
I was about to drop the teapot with hot tea still inside of it. Klanven looked at me curiously.
「Thankfully I managed to use my authority to shut their mouths and end the matter right there. But this was proposed to me not only because of the rumors about us having some sort of illicit relationship, but there were some other complaints as well.」
「Eh? Other complaints? That’s the first I’ve heard about it.」
I had no idea that the rumors were so widespread that they managed to reach Klanven. They must have spread like wildfire because the festival was drawing near…… Huh, no, wait just a second.
「…… Maybe the one who spread that rumor is the same person that tried to poison your food? And in light of your words just now, wouldn’t it be probable that the assailant is most likely a member of the priesthood? We never really considered such possibility.」
「Hee, I see. It is true that some of the priests out there are truly obsessed with status and material goods, and it’s not all that improbable that some of them would be annoyed by the fact that my caretaker is a young and beautiful woman. They would certainly want me to give up on you. And I do believe some of them may be adamant on making it happen that I send you away.」
Even though he said something like that, his expression was still as gentle as ever.
「Umm, Your Highness? I understand that the ones who try to kill you are probably the same ones that want you to send me away, but how does that even connect?」
「Also, we have no solid evidence to back us up, so not even your testimony alone is going to get us anywhere.」
Certainly, it’s just as Klanven says. My position is only but a caretaker, one of the many that there are. Klanven laughed gently, and I was frustrated that there was no kind of witty remark I could make here.
「Oh well, guess I’m too impatient to wait until the end of the festival to get this over with, so we might as well get this done.」
Klanven didn’t say anything anymore, just sipped on his tea. I also couldn’t say anything to that. The breakfast ended on such a silent note.
「Filmina, do you have a moment?」
「Well, if it isn’t the Princess. What are you doing here?」
While I was walking through the corridors of the Red Rose Court to prepare the meal for Klanven, I was approached by the Princess. Her long silver hair combed neatly, she appeared before me alone, without any of her usual escort following her.
I haven’t seen her much since I was appointed as Klanven’s caretaker, but I can see that in that time she’s become even prettier. Right now she was shining just like a precious jewel. The Princess extended her hand and closed it around mine and started walking somewhere.
「I went to my Uncle’s place to meet you, but you weren’t there. Uncle gave me his permission to borrow you for a while, so could you please accompany me for a little bit?」
「Sure, I don’t mind, but……」
I really wanted to say that I can’t, because Klanven’s meal would be delayed by a considerable amount of time, but the Princess didn’t seem to care about it in the slightest as she just pulled me with her. So I had no choice but to follow her.
Then, after being dragged around by the Princess for quite some time, we arrived at a door leading into a certain room. There was nothing unusual about it, just your typical, normal door. The Princess opened the door and entered the room, and since she was still holding my hand, I entered the room as well.
The room was brightly lit and well decorated, but aside from that, it looked almost exactly like the room I was currently staying at.
「This may take us a while, so why don’t we sit here? Please, Filmina, have a seat over there.」
The Princess lets go of my hand and urges me to sit down on the nearby sofa.
「I really wanted to have this conversation with you sooner, but my responsibilities for the festival preparations kept me quite busy, you see. Sorry for taking you away so suddenly like that.」
Saying that, the Princess sat down on the sofa right next to me, looking at me apologetically. It was really strange, being able to casually talk with this pretty Princess just like that.
Also, sitting right next to one another like this felt rather intimate, as opposed to having her sit on a throne with some space separating us.
「Well then, what is it?」
「Whatever do you mean?」
The Princess blinks a few times, as if not understanding what I just said, but then she quickly regained her composure and smiled gently. She looked as adorable as a little lily, and was somehow similar to Klanven at that moment.
「Why of course, the everyday life as my Uncle’s caretaker. According to what I have heard, it is going quite nicely.」
She said that while smiling at me so brightly. I felt somewhat unable to resist that smile, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was also something quite malicious behind it.
「Umm, Princess. Can I ask you something?」
「What would that question be?」
「Did you perhaps heard any rumors that are being spread recently……?」
「Not really, aside from the one that says that the two of you are practically head over heels in love with one another. But no, not really. So don’t mind me and please carry on, okay?」
The Princess continue to smile, even though that smile wasn’t quite matching the look on her face right now.
「You know, in case you ever wanted to divorce your current husband and marry my Uncle, that would be wonderful. We could become genuine sisters, right? I think it’s not so bad if you think about it.」
「P-please stop joking like that, Princess……」
「Why of course. Of course it was a joke. Please pardon me.」
The Princess laughs happily and I manage to force a smile on my lips as well. To divorce that man and marry Klanven instead, was such madness even possible?
But still, if the rumors were reaching even the ears of the members of the royal family, I think we simply cannot leave it be any longer. Sooner or later, it was going to affect my everyday life one way or another.
The Princess laughed some more for a while before eventually falling silent. Somehow it was even more ominous of a sign.
「Say, Filmina? What do you really think about my Uncle? And I don’t want to hear any flattery or dodging the bullet. I want to hear your honest thoughts.」
I couldn’t help but to think that I was getting scolded for something I didn’t do. Even though the Princess wanted to hear my honest thoughts about her Uncle, this was hardly the time to answer that question. That gentle smile of his was the only kind of answer I really needed.
His smile was like that of a sun that couldn’t be concealed by even the thickest of clouds. It was always so bright and warm, with no false or despicable emotions being able to taint it.
But still, he was so reckless that he would eat a whole plate of poisoned soup just so that the dish wouldn’t get thrown out. He also didn’t seem to care about the consequences of his actions, just living in the moment.
But then, there were the moments when he protected the children at the orphanage from the werewolves and when he was gazing at the pocket watch that his mother gave him. Those were certainly softer parts of his personality that he was usually kept well hidden deep inside of him.
「 –––– I think that His Highness is a rather strange person.」
It may seem like an answer that wasn’t really an answer, but it was the only way in which I could formulate my thoughts.
The Princess looks down as if thinking about something. After a while, she rose her head and her expression was like she wanted to say: “I see.”
「I see. What a relief.」
「But it’s a rather poor answer, don’t you think? At least you could have gone with standard “I love him!” or “I can’t stand him!”. A concrete answer full of conviction. Just like my Uncle himself.」
Much to my surprise, my answer seemed to have satisfied the Princess. She looked quite content and even said something like “Could you perhaps elaborate on that”, which made me feel at a loss for what to say.
「Umm, Princess? Can I ask you something in return? What is His Highness to you, Princess?」
「For me? Hmm, let’s see……」
After putting her hand to her chin and thinking for a while, the Princess finally made up her mind and proclaimed with confidence.
「……Honestly, I can never tell what his deal is. Sometimes he has greed in his eyes and can act like a really bad person, but in the next moment his eyes are full of compassion and warmth. He’s really complicated.」
Was it really wise to call your own relatives bad and greedy? I couldn’t really say anything, and the Princess laughed in a dignified manner upon seeing my confused reaction.
「But, I must say I’m happy that you are my Uncle’s caretaker. Especially since he how he is, clumsy and that he cannot be really honest with himself at times.」
「I feel like I can somewhat understand that.」
Speaking of which, I remember that Heathrow-sama used to say the exact same thing sometimes in the past, about how cunning and clumsy of a man Klanven was, always trying to hide behind the mask made out of smiles and gentleness. That he would always do the bare minimum for the public services, and then try to push his own responsibilities onto somebody else. Seeing someone like that, you just couldn’t help but to want to support him, to lend him a hand.
What is he doing right about now? He should be alright for now, but if I don’t come back in a bit, he might go onto something stupid or irresponsible again…… At that moment, the Princess smiled and took me by the hand again.
「But still, I wouldn’t lower my guard if I were you, Filmina. You need to always stay vigilant around my Uncle, or you might end up crying because of that.」
As the Princess said that, I wondered if it was meant to be some kind of a warning or more of a general form of advice, but before I could muster the courage to ask her about Klanven some more, the Princess fell silent.
She then let go of my hand and said with a smile on her lips: “That’ll be all. Sorry for keeping you away.” before eventually seeing me off.