First, I saw the horses.
Two thoroughbreds with lustrous, chestnut colored hair. They had intelligent looking eyes and were likely of a very gentle nature, and behind them was the roofless carriage that they were pulling.
And in that carriage sat the royal family.
His Highness the king and the queen were in the front, the five children were lined up in the back. The princesses and princes were waving to the crowd. Fortunately, Charles was looking in my direction.
Even so, the situation wasn’t quite perfect either.
I pouted a little at this unsatisfactory reality.
I could see him. But the view was less than ideal. As it were, I could only just barely see him through the small gaps between people, and since the carriage was moving, I would occasionally lose sight of Charles completely. I wanted a little more height if possible.
In order to make this wish known, I knocked on the head below me.
“Leon. Do you think you could grow in height a little?”
“You’ve been ridiculously selfish for a while now, what the hell do you think I am?”
“You’re a commoner, right? So listen to your betters. Make my wish come true. That is your duty.”
“Hahaha. Of course, so this is the nobility. …Keep this up and I might start a revolution!”
It would be no good for him to do such a thing while he was still carrying me. No matter how high-born a noble I was, I could not deal with a rebellious footstool while I was on it.
“Fine, fine. I shall be satisfied with the present state, but you must at least maintain this height without going any lower.”
“Whaa-, ugh, this is lame…”
I could hear his complaints coming from under me, but my vision did not get any lower. It was clearly a bad idea to make too many demands and provoke him. Well, I suppose this was fine. I had to give in.
Charles appeared to be trying, as he had promised. He smiled and waved his hands. But royalty or not, he really did not look good with that forced smile.
“Why doesn’t he smile like he usually does…”
“Huh? Did you say something?”
I replied as Leon reacted to my mumbling. I looked back at Charles.
His smile showed that he was bored. The smile Charles usually wore was so pure that it made others happy by just looking at him. I watched him almost nervously, wondering if others wouldn’t notice how fake his smile was, but as far as I could see, the crowds of onlookers were cheering without noticing.
My eyes follow Charles through the sea of people. From his view, I was probably nothing more than half a head peeking out from the masses. Even I could barely see him. Perhaps it was too much to wish that he would somehow see me. It would be smart to give up.
I had held a little hope, but he would surely not be able to find me.
Just as I had become resigned to this, something unexpected happened.
Our eyes had met.
At that moment, Charles’ face lit up.
All signs of obligations disappeared, he stood up and waved enthusiastically towards me. The second princess who was next to him looked taken aback by his sudden movement, but Charles didn’t seem to care at all. His smile now, was not the forced one a moment ago, it was the same bright smile that he always had for me.
It wasn’t my imagination. Charles’ eyes had locked with mine and he had immediately known that it was me. Normally, I would not have been in a place like this, but that had nothing to do with it, he could not mistake me. And he expressed his joy with his whole body.
As a friend, I knew it would have been proper to rebuke him for acting inappropriately.
I also knew that as his fiance, it would be right for me to pester him about his duty.
But, strangely, I was so happy that my heart was full of nothing but joy.
“He really was…”
Indeed, that was one of his best attributes. In answer, I too waved my hands towards him. For once, I feel no desire to find any fault in him.
I waved until the carriage had passed and I could not see him. Then I felt fingers pinch my cheeks and pull.
“…What is it, Mariwa?”
“Nothing. I just noticed that your cheeks looked a little slack.”
That tends to happen when someone is happy, it’s called human emotion. It was no reason to pull at a person’s cheeks.
I puff out my cheeks after hearing Mariwa’s unreasonable excuse. She let go of me now without an ounce of regret.
“His highness is fond of you. It is a good thing.”
“Of course. We are friends, after all!”
I said proudly, but she only sighed.
“Well, we shall leave it at that, then.”
What was this? There was something in the way she said it that I didn’t like.
I glared back at her through half closed eyes, but she ignored me. I looked back in the direction of the now unseeable carriage, I whisper something.
“However, such a reaction during his duties… So that was Prince Charles. I thought that it was Mishuli for a second, but she does look a little different.”
“Did you say something?”
I tried to pick up the words I had missed, but Mariwa just shrugged her shoulders and left them as they were.
“It is nothing. More importantly, please excuse me.”
With that said, Mariwa put her hands under my arms and hoisted me up into the air.
What’s this all of a sudden, I think. But the reason quickly became apparent.
“Huh, it suddenly became very light–woahhh!?”
Leon’s scream and an adorable voice sounded at nearly the same time. I turned around toward the most adorable person in the entire world. I saw Leon with his face in the dirt.
Mishuli had thrown Leon to the ground and was now looking up at me as I was being held by Mariwa.
“Sister, what are you doing!?”
“Hmm? I should be asking you that question.”
It was quite clear that she had thrown him to the ground, but I could not think of why she would do such a thing.
“It’s quite dangerous to push someone who is carrying another person on their shoulders. Bad.”
“Oh…I’m sorry, sister.”
She must have just realized the danger of her actions, which had been little more than a result of momentum. After being pushed, Leon had ended up being swallowed into the sea of people and had drifted off somewhere.
Mishuli was aware of her mistake now and bowed her head with regret.
Yes. It was a great thing that she could admit to her own faults. I pat her on the head for being so very good. Mishuli smiled pleasantly.
“Ehehe. I learned the rules for the board game and so I came to find you.”
“I see. Then we can play together next time.”
It was only normal to praise her once her objective had been completed. It made no difference if it was during a plan to become independent of each other. There was a massive difference between independence and abandonment.
So I would allow her to be spoiled just a little. After all, she had become a little lonely after the execution of my plan. There was no way that replenishing my reservoir of Mishuli energy right after would be a problem.
“Did you come all the way here by yourself? Where is Surfania?”
“I left Surfania where she was! I didn’t want to get lost!”
“Yes, that is true.”
Mishuli had not said anything wrong. As sisters, even if we became separated a little, we would eventually be able to find each other with enough effort. And it was also true that Surfania would be a burden to drag through the crowds of people.
…I hope Surfania wasn’t crying over being left alone.
Even though there would be guards and servants, she might be lonely without me or Mishuli who were her original companions here. As I was considering these troublesome possibilities, Leon finally returned after having once disappeared in the crowd.
“-grief, what the hell was that. Who was it? Who just pushed me… Uh, Mishuli!? Why–”
“More importantly, sister. Why were you riding on his shoulders? You shouldn’t do things like that!”
“Huh? Why is that?”
She made the complaint with as much force as she used to ignore Leon. But people riding on the shoulders of others was a common sight today as it was a festival.
Was there really something wrong with it?
I tilt my head to the side, but Mishuli was already clenching her fists.
“Yes. You may never! I don’t know why exactly, but you cannot!”
“Is that right? And I was just thinking about letting you ride on my shoulders…”
She will, huh.
Of course, I had no intention of denying her, and so I let her straddle my shoulders. I was carrying my sister who was two years my junior. There was a sense of joy in feeling how much she had grown through her weight, there was no need for me to mumble and complain as Leon had.
“Um, Miss Mariwa. Those two–well, Mishuli, I don’t quite understand what she is saying…”
“Don’t worry, young Leon. I don’t understand it in the least. But know this. Once in a while, you will encounter such people in this world, whose actions seem to have no meaning.”
“Huh… I didn’t want to hear that.”
I ignored Mariwa and Leon’s conversation, as I was intent on supporting Mishuli so that she would not fall as I stood up.
And so the two-story building of sisters was complete. I expected Mishuli to cheer as her vision reached a great height, but her reaction turned out to be much different.
Maybe it was because Mishuli had grown much more than I had known. Maybe it was the result of my plan of independence. The voice I heard above my head was a question, which became even bigger in the next instant.
“This seems different then when it was with Leon!?”
“No, it’s the same thing?”
I didn’t know if I should rejoice or cry.
For Mishuli seemed to grow every time I blinked my eyes. Her words and actions were not only mysterious to Mariwa and Leon, but they had now reached a place that was difficult for even a genius like me to grasp.