What did that boy say right now? Did he just call that man a「brother」, or was it my imagination, maybe I heard something wrong? No, no, that was not the case. The distance between us is small and he spoke very clearly. I wasn’t wrong and I remembered exactly what the boy had said. However, it’s undeniable that such words said so suddenly were easy to believe.
Once again I examined Lucius’ face, and then my husband’s. Both were obviously exceedingly handsome. However, looking at their faces I couldn’t just finish on ‘handsome’. The difference in their hair color was adding to their effect. The man’s face gave the impression of harshness and was a little smug, while Lucius had soft and gentle features. Still, I had reached the conclusion that overall they resembled each other closely. It was as if somebody put a big mirror in front of that man and I am sure he thought of himself from a younger age. They were so much alike, I couldn’t believe it. And I slowly began to actually believe that they were brothers, just as Lucius had stated.
「Am I the one you’re calling a brother?」
His voice was flat and indifferent, so I couldn’t tell what he was really thinking. Even though his voice was so unwelcoming, the boy wasn’t frightened at all. Without any hesitation he said「Yes!」with a smile on his face. His androgynous features, so similar to that man’s, looked so fragile and delicate that I felt as if they might break with a single touch. But even though he looked sensitive, he had some nerve to be so bold and cheeky. Or maybe, as his voice indicated, he couldn’t help himself because of overwhelming joy and he simply didn’t have the capacity to notice the surroundings. As for the man opposite, just like his voice, his face was expressionless. But from this I understood, his heart was unusually disturbed. Perhaps he couldn’t believe it? Or maybe he didn’t want to believe? I was on the verge of asking him those questions, but I knew he wouldn’t respond, there was no doubt about that. Normally the man, being in such a big hall would say something like「You are very good at making jokes.」 and laugh scornfully. I was positive about that. Family for this man was something special. His respect and affection for my father-in-law and his clumsy love towards me – his world wasn’t big by any standard, but he held and protected this narrow world by himself. Even now it hasn’t changed. So when at that moment he didn’t immediately discard the boy who was about to trespass on his precious world, I began to wonder what might have been the meaning of that. Was it because of how similar their features were? Was it because they had the same colored eyes? Or was there something else, a more profound connection that he noticed?
The people around had been watching us all this time, while talking in hushed voices. I understood their desire to look at those two beautiful figures standing together. I had a secured front-row view. But those beauties combined weren’t the reason for this attention. The one word uttered by Lucius,「Brother」, was more than enough of a reason for such focused attention.
Frankly I was at a loss of words. How rude of me, who came here as a wife of that man and is supposed to fully support him. Only then did I realize that in fact I too was trembling, just like the man. Completely disconnected from the commotion around me. Deep in my heart I smiled broadly, but what was I supposed to say? No, the boy had addressed that man. If I spoke in this situation, it might have been considered bad manners or I might have said something foolish and thoughtless, and judging from the man’s behavior I was expecting a friendly answer.
Where was his usual wicked tongue? Was being called a「 brother」so shocking to him? Indeed, he had not been called a brother ever, not even as a joke by Fernan, his actual brother-in-law. He never seemed to mind. But maybe he has always wanted a younger brother? No, that’s stupid. Aah, the trembling got worse and in this disorder I didn’t know what to do.
There stood the expressionless man, the smiling Lucius and myself, in bewilderment. At that moment a fourth person joined our group.
「The conversation got very interesting, didn’t it?」
It was a deep and reverberating baritone voice. When Lucius heard that voice he looked at the figure behind us and his smile broadened even more.
「Lucius. I hope you are not being impolite to master Agedilius and the Lady?」
「Of course not.」
Lucius responded with his posture straightened, while the man naturally walked by and stood next to him facing us. He had a magnificent moustache, and was very well-built. I didn’t remember ever seeing him before. He was the most impressionable person, so it would have been impossible for me not to notice him during the daytime festival celebrations. With sharp and narrow eyes he bowed quickly, just like Lucius did before.
「I beg your pardon for this late introduction. My name is Gabriel Orina Yuradislav. I hurried here to take part in the celebration as the ambassador for the Nerogrant Empire. It is truly an honor to meet the hero who saved the world」
Even though usually when people see that man’s hair, they react in one way or another, the ambassador just like Lucius, didn’t show any sign of agitation. Maybe it was something common in their country’s culture. I wondered what their expectations were. The surrounding people even though averting their eyes from my husband, were holding their breath in suspense and listening eagerly to the conversation, but neither Lucius, nor Gabriel seemed to mind.
「…..My name is Agedilus Von Lancent, His Majesty’s Valgentum’s Head Magician.」
Maybe it was thanks to the ambassador’s impressionable form of greeting, but it seemed that the people around us were slightly less intimidated by that man. The atmosphere of surprise has changed. The man gave his answer to the ambassador with his expression as blank and emotionless as ever. He introduced himself as if he was biting his tongue and gave the formal name of our country without any hesitation. Yes, it’s only his way of conduct.
Letting out a sigh of relief in my heart, I stood next to this man, held the hem of my dress and bowed once.
The ambassador said「You have a beautiful wife.」, an agreeable compliment, and once again focused all his attention on my husband. His bright eyes showed no fear or disgust. He simply smiled broadly, held Lucius’ shoulder and pushed him slightly one step forward so that he now stood directly before my husband.
「I let young Lucius accompany me on this delegation to observe and learn during this occasion. However, to be frank it was not the primary reason for his visit.」
Do you understand now? The ambassador’s smiling face seemed to be asking this question. I glanced quickly at that man’s face and saw that he had the slightest frown on his beautiful, well-featured face. He wasn’t fond of indirect expression, so perhaps he was getting annoyed with the air of importance that the ambassador expressed. The man himself had the tendency to speak and express as little as possible, but why should that be the case with other people? Lucius and Gabriel didn’t seem to notice the slight change in that man’s countenance at all. Even though it was their first meeting, and with a person with black hair too, they showed no intention of avoiding him and still with smiles on their faces they continued the conversation.
「It was you, who Lucius wanted to meet during the festivities. As you might have guessed, he is clearly your younger brother. I dare say, you share the same father. Isn’t that right, Lucius?」
「That is correct. Sorry, please, call me Lucius.」
….No. No, no, no. What was that speech? It was said so plainly, but it’s not something that can be accepted easily, is it!? To those badly-timed words, the people around us stirred once more. Words like「What’s the meaning of this?」could be heard, but I felt that the person to say it should be me. Lucius stared at the man with eyes filled with anticipation, while the ambassador looked at Lucius as if examining something charming. The man himself was… Even though I have been with him for so long and was confident in my skills of understanding the subtle signs of emotions he showed, this time I couldn’t understand his feelings. He wore a mask of perfect indifference.
I could only see that he was surprised but that was it. What other feelings apart from astonishment were there, I couldn’t say. He consciously hid them, even from me. If only I could see his hand trembling again, that would be enough. But it would attract the public’s attention at some point, so he couldn’t even do that. Edi! I wanted to say his name, one word only, but I hesitated. Even if you were to believe the words of those two, first remember that as my husband, you are more precious to me than anybody else.
I wanted to convey those words to him so much, but in this place and situation it would be considered ill-mannered speech and conduct and might have met with disapproval from other people. I stretched my hand to touch his white angular one, but at that exact moment another voice spoke.
「Excuse me for just a moment.」
I gasped in surprise, hearing a dignified voice.
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