We pretended this whole scene did not happen.
It was the smart thing to do, why fixate on the remains of a fallen sand castle, if you could act as if it never were? Thanks to fathers mediation, we were able to settle things and the acts of barbarism committed by both me and Charles would be scrubbed from the records. Once everything was cleanly forgotten, the only thing that remained was Charles’ slightly reddened cheeks. It was much too small to be considered evidence of anything.
And so once this scene had ended, I was allowed to take Charles away and give him a tour of the house.
“What do you think Charles! This the famous garden of House Noir!”
His reaction upon seeing the gardens was so good that I too snorted with delight.
While I may have said ‘taken away’ this tour of the mansion had been planned in advance.
Originally, it was to be father who would do this, but the role had been changed in an emergency. Father had told me in a voice mixed with resignation and comprehension that, ‘his majesty will probably be happier if you gave the tour…’, well, that was his reason.
In any case, it was the duty of a genius to carry out any task to perfection. I was very enthusiastic to introduce our home to my friend.
“What do you think of this garden! We employed a most gifted gardener to make this!”
“The one in the palace is better!”
“Shut up. Be quiet and praise it.”
My contradictory command seemed to have confused him, but I did not care.
It was something I decided to keep within the walls of the Noir house, but here I decided there was no need for respect and honors to be shown him.
There were two main reasons for this. The first was because we were both children. The second is because when I did use elegant words and respect to greet him, Charles had taken to accusing me of being a fake and causing a scene.
Ultimately, father and Oxe, who stood by Charles, had to discuss the matter and decided that such reservations were not necessary between children. The man who was with Charles was a house knight after all, and he had been assigned as Charles’ caretaker. They had also considered the fact that I was adept at changing into the necessary way of speaking in public.
“Duke Noir. Your daughter Christina is quite a lively young lady.”
“Yes. I don’t know what I did wrong with her. I have such mixed emotions, I don’t know if I should feel happy or sad…”
“No, it is a good thing that she is so healthy. …And she seems to get along with Prince Charles.”
“I see. Well, I am glad to hear you say it.”
Oxe and father, what these two adults with pretensions of guardianship were talking about had nothing to do with me. I pretended that I could not hear them and continued to show Charles around.
“Well, I will admit that it is perhaps one step behind the gardens of the royal palace… But the best thing about this garden is that over there!”
What I now pointed to was the giant, one-hundred-year-old tree that I had often used to hide away from Mariwa.
“That big tree?’
“Yes! The view from that tree is in a league of its own. You can see the entire mansion from up there. Now, Charles! Let us climb it!”
“Please stop this, lady Christina! Prince Charles! It is much too dangerous, please, please… Ahh! Both of you, wait just one moment!”
We brushed off Oxe’s protestation and began to climb the tree, but then father came and grabbed us by the collars and dragged us back to the ground.
“Now, next is the hallway.”
“A hallway? What is interesting about that?”
Next was the inside of the mansion. I showed Charles the hallway which was not particularly strange or even decorative.
“Fu. That is an unjust prejudice to think hallways are boring, Charles. Look, this hallway stretches on in a straight line!”
“Good! And so you understand then!”
“No, I don’t!”
I nod at his energetic and quick replies. Dialogues with him tended to be smooth and delightful.
“…Duke Noir. Is there indeed something special here?”
“No, this is just an ordinary hallway…”
“Then why is she showing it? It does not seem like a place for such a tomboy to become fond of…”
“I’m not sure myself. What reason could a tomboy have for showing this place…”
They may have been speaking behind us with hushed voices, but I could hear it all.
It seemed that Oxe had completely recovered now from the psychological blow I had dealt him. I thought it was time I showed these ignorant people just what the merits of this hallway were. I raised my voice:
“If you do not know, then I will tell you! This long hallway is perfect for having a race!”
I don’t know if my echoing voice resounded in their hearts. It hardly mattered to me.
“Now, let us race, Charles! On your marks… Hey, Oxe. You are in the way. Do not stand like that in front of us. It is disrespectful.”
“I will not move! You cannot make me!”
“Tsk. …Hey, Charles. You must use your authority as royalty to the fullest and make Oxe move. You can surely do it.”
“Okay, I will try!”
“I must beg you not to put such wrong notions into His Highness’ head, lady Christina!”
I felt a sense of relief seeing Oxe pleading with me so desperately. I was only seven years old, but my genius brain could easily bury any gap that came with age.
I stood there quite satisfied at having bested one who was ten years older than me, but Charles was different.
He took one step forward and continued.
“I command you as the third prince of this kingdom. You are in the way, so move!”
“Hhh, hey, Charles. Perhaps we should let him off now. Right?”
While he continued to block our path, I could see that Oxe was on the verge of tears and I could not help but feel sorry for him. And so I interceded for him.
“Now, Charles. I will take you to the mansions great attic…”
After that, I had pulled Charles all around the mansion. There were several other moments that we made Oxe cry as well. As this repeated itself, father finally mumbled towards me.
“If you run around like this any more today, I might have to give a report to your teacher, Miss Toinette tomorrow?”
“Now, Your Highness, Prince Charles. We have seen everything that there is to see here, let us now retire to my room.”
I quickly donned my lady’s disguise and lead Charles towards my room instead.
“Uh, Chris. It was weird the first time as well, but what are you doing?”
“Foolish Charles. Every lady has a feature that allows them to switch between three different levels of transformation. This one you just witnessed was my second form.”
“Second form!? So, so there is a third one?”
“Of course. I am a lady!”
“Three-level transformation feature… Ladies are so cool…!”
“Fu fu fu! Indeed. Am I not the coolest!”
“You are so cool!”
My lady’s face had fallen off quite quickly, but I was satisfied seeing Charles’ reaction. His blue eyes were shining with wonder.
Right behind us, I could hear the two adults once again talking in very audible hushed voices.
“A three-level transformation feature… Duke Noir. Do women usually gain the ability to change their attitude so quickly at this age?”
“My daughter is quite special. There is no need for you to smash any ideas you may have had of women before you even marry.”
Their conversation was full of more sadness than all of the previous ones.
“Now, Charles. This is my room.”
After that, I had invited Charles to my own room, I hid nothing as I proudly presented it to him.
The two adults were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they had seen how well I and Charles took to each other and decided we could be left alone. It seemed that the two of them had much to talk about. They were drinking lightly in father’s study and getting to know each other.
“So, what should we do? Unfortunately, while my room is fairly large, it is still just one room. We will not be able to play on a very large scale.”
“Let’s run away!”
It was a most beautiful idea, but it had to be dismissed. There were servants just outside of the room. Even if we were to escape from the window, we would be caught immediately.
If that happened, I was sure to be whipped by Mariwa on the next day.
“Hmm, something we could do quietly here…”
There was plenty of things we could do here. Just as I was about to suggest some of them, I could hear that there was some conversation happening on the other side of the door.
“My, my lady Mishuli. Forgive me, but there is a guest here…”
“It’s fine. Sister said that I could come over.”
“Is, is that so?”
It was Mishuli and the servant who had been keeping watch.
Indeed, Mishuli had asked me if it was alright for her to visit later on. But I had been sure that she would visit only after Charles had left…
“Oh, well, in that case… I suppose it is, alright?”
“Yes! It is!”
Now Mishuli had forced her way past the servant.
“Older sister. I am coming in now!”
I hesitated at Mishuli’s words. I was entertaining a guest. I glanced over at Charles, but he looked a little stunned as if he had no idea what was happening. For a moment I wondered if I should turn Mishuli away. It was not very proper to have an intruder while a guest was here.
But more than anything, I had a sudden vision in my head of the two of them together in ‘Labyrinth Destiny.’
I did not want the two of them to meet. Somehow, I felt that very strongly, but even as I was hesitating, time moved on.
Without being able to stop her, Mishuli opened the door.
“Thank you for having me over, sister! …Ah.”
The brilliant golden hair. The eyes that were blue like the sky. These two could be bound by fate.
It was the meeting of two who had those elements. Their first encounter was…
“…This is, Charles.”
“…Chris, what is that?”
It was an incredibly hostile atmosphere.