Charles smiled quite often.
Well, at least when he was around me. Most of the time he would smile with an expression of great happiness. Of course, it was not as if he was always smiling, he had a varied and expressive face. He would smile when we first greet each other, then he would narrow his eyebrows and fold his arms when thinking about something. He would declare it clearly whenever he did not like something, and sometimes he would get into big fights with Mishuli. He expressed all his emotions without subtlety, and it was most entertaining to watch him shift through each one.
However, he was apparently quite different normally. From what I heard from his caretaker, Oxe, Charles had a permanent expression of boredom while in the palace. I think that he had a strong dislike of feeling restrained. That must be why he looked bored in the palace, where he had no freedom. Sometimes he would even try to escape from his room, causing Oxe much grief.
But the Charles in front of me looked sullen.
I wondered why.
My head was tilted to the side in consideration, but I could not understand it. I thought back on what we had been discussing, and yet I could see nothing in it that would cause Charles to become upset. I hadn’t tried to restrain him in any way. In other words, I did nothing wrong.
I nod at my perfect logic, it was worthy of a genius. Charles began to mutter.
I could see that he was sulking visibly from the corner of my vision. But he had now finally opened his mouth, so I turned my attention back in his direction.
“Do you, ride on just anyone’s shoulders?”
I did not understand it.
“I do if the need arises?”
“So you do.”
I do. So what.
What was wrong with riding on someone’s shoulders.
That is what I think as hear his words, which clearly contained a degree of reproach. There were times when Mishuli would act most eccentrically, and Charles was much the same at this moment. I can’t help but remember, with some satisfaction, that they were cousins.
I had really done nothing wrong. I declare once again. I have not done a single thing that was wrong. And yet, why must he look at me with such a reproachful glare?
“I haven’t even…”
“Hmm? What’s this, Charles? Do you want to ride on my shoulders? There is no one watching us now, I don’t mind if–”
“What are you running on about, Chris? That is not what I mean.”
Charles, you are the one who has been saying things with no meaning. It is not me. I was rather insulted at the blunt rejection of an offer I had made with such affection. I pouted.
“Why were you doing it in the first place? I’m quite sure that it is strange.”
“No, it’s not strange at all. I don’t know why it even matters.”
“It is strange. It’s not right.”
My cheeks puff up in denial.
I had no idea what I was supposed to do with Charles. For some reason, he had no intention of listening to what I was saying. I understood that he was in a bad mood, but I could not understand the reason or what I was supposed to do to fix things.
Well, as long as he was questioning me, I would answer honestly.
“It was because I wanted to see you, Charles…”
His shoulders jumped a little.
“You wanted to see me…? What do you mean?”
“Isn’t it obvious? It was because I wanted to see you in the parade. Mariwa refused me even when I asked her, and there were so many people that I wouldn’t have been able to see you without help. Leon just happened to be around and was the right height, and so he carried me on his shoulders.”
“…Is that so?”
“Hm? Let me see…”
I think back.
Charles during the parade. He was in the carriage along with his family. They wore fancy clothing and waved their hands to the crowd. Ignoring his bored face and fake smile, he did look incredibly happy when he saw me.
Charles was looking straight at me without blinking as I began to answer.
“You were great.”
I praised him honestly, and Charles’ face lit up.
I wasn’t quite sure what lead to all this, but judging by how happy he looked, Charles was in a good mood again.
“So, Charles. Is riding on someone’s shoulders a bad thing?”
“Not at all.”
What was with him?
I had asked as a confirmation, but his reply had come at a ridiculous speed. I could only laugh. It did not upset me, in any case. But, it reminded me how much I enjoyed seeing his expression change from one to the next.
A stark contrast to before, the now good-humored Charles stood up and extended his hand in front of me.
It was a fine hand, fitting of royalty. My gaze followed up his arm and to his face. There was something refreshing about looking at his face from below, as he was usually half a head shorter than me.
“What is it?”
I knew what his proposition was, and yet I ask him mischievously.
It was incredibly clumsy as a gentlemen’s invitation to dance, but I shut my eyes to it.
We would dance in this garden.
This would be the third time including the failure of that first day. This small event was now almost a custom for us.
The lady that I am, accepts Charles’ hand and bows most gracefully.
I smile as I accept Charles’ invitation.