We were now halfway into the party, and had completed our round of greetings.
Generally, we went around to greet father’s acquaintances and those people he wished to show me to, of which there were now none. In fact, the real purpose of this ball was not so much to introduce small children like myself, but to be the social debut of young ladies and gentlemen who had turned 14. In fact, there really was not much for either I or father to do.
A person who turns 14 basically has two options, enrolling as a fourth-year student at the Royal Academy or directly debuting into society. Percentage-wise, boys usually went to the Academy and girls tended to be debuted, but according to my knowledge of my past life in Labyrinth Destiny, both I and Mishuly are to attend the Academy.
Well, who cares about that future. As a genius, I was sure to be admitted as a top student and I would graduate as a top student. But the present was what was important.
My current state could be expressed in a single word.
Well, it was not surprising. It was hard. it was manual labor. This continuing of all the moves required to be the perfect lady. And I was only seven years old. I was able to bear the stress of this physical fatigue, but I did have my limits.
Alright, I decided.
I was going to leave.
I had already finished my round of greetings to the adults. My role as part of this ball was pretty much finished. It should not be a problem if I snuck out. I would throw off this princess disguise in a place where no one was looking and stretch my legs. As long as nobody saw me, it would be nothing.
I made a quick scan of my surroundings in order to gain that moment of rest.
There were many thick groups of young ladies and gentlemen who had achieved their societal debuts tonight. As for the children of my own age, well, it seemed that they were not being left alone either. They were all close to a parent instead of being in a group of their own. Just like father stood close by me.
Now that I’d assessed the environment, it was time to construct some sort of plan.
One child wandering about would surely catch someone’s notice, but as this was a ball, there was music playing and many people dancing. I did not think that anyone would care, even if I was the child of a Count, if I made some excuse and left the hall. After that, I only had to find some random garden where no one was looking.
Well, then there was only one problem left.
My guardian, my father.
It pains me to say it, but I did not think that my father, who knew all of my habits well, would allow me to go free. As has been made very plain by his recent reactions, his estimation of me is extremely low. There is a very apparent sense that he mistrusts me.
However, as I was a genius, I had already thought of a natural reason to get away from him.
“Hmm? What is it, Christina?”
“Oh, father. I wish to go and gather some flowers.*”
There really was no better way for a lady to make her exit. Not only would leaving father here look natural, but it made it difficult for him to question further. It was perfect.
As I smiled inwardly at the perfection of this plan, father answered gently:
“I don’t mind if you explore the surrounding area, but please do not pick flowers from the royal garden.”
I couldn’t help but be stunned silent by father’s words.
He had either foolishly taken my words as literal, or he had perceptively seen through my plans.
Father’s warning was a difficult dilemma even for the genius that I was.
*gathering flowers is an idiom for going to the bathroom.
Going outside was much easier than I had imagined.
All it took was to exit the dance hall and go off the main path a little. The garden could be easily accessed from the hallway that faced outside, you just needed to be sure that no one was watching. There were planted trees that acted as a barrier, but I was only seven years old. I was easily able to crawl through the cracks.
Entering the empty royal gardens was nothing for me, a genius with the ability to plan and a will to act.
Now, I was finally in the garden. The flower garden had been beautifully tended to by a gardener skilled enough to serve the king. It was even arranged differently depending on the season. And in that garden, I stretched and loosened my joints to my heart’s content.
The unladylike sounds escaped my lips, but I did not care. It would not harm my reputation as long as no one heard it. As long as I was not exposed, there would be no need to fear Mariywa’s wrath at my ill-manners.
As there was no need to worry about being seen, I sat heavily on a bench that had been set nearby.
I sighed and looked up at the sky. The dark sky was full of small stars and a brilliant, full moon.
There were no clouds to intercept the moonlight, and it cast a soft shadow around me.
For a while I sat there, enraptured by the platinum, full moon, and I began to think again of the situation I was in.
Hmm. I really was quite tired.
At the end of the day, I had been trying too hard with things I was not accustomed to. It was not possible to not feel tired. I would have probably caused some horrible incident earlier had I not replenished my reservoir this morning with the source of my energy, the healing ingredients from Mushuly.
But, I had accomplished it.
I had played the perfect lady without a single mistake. Well, we weren’t completely finished yet. I just needed to rest here a little and then return as if nothing had happened. And then it will all be over.
And the only thing that will remain after that is my reputation, which will be just as perfect and whole as that full moon in the sky. Once she hears of my fame, even Mariywa will have to praise me.
I burst into laughter, but it was not as if anyone was watching. It was good to release some stress. There was no reason to hold back my boisterous laughter now.
As I sat on the bench, I raised my face towards the moon and let out a loud roar.
“What are you going?”
My loud laughter, which I was quite proud of, was suddenly shattered with a screech.
Had I just heard something? Yes, I definitely heard something.
I considered the question I posed to myself as I moved my neck to look at the person who had spoken to me.
I had kept my attention on the garden’s entrance this whole time, and no one had entered from there. Like me, this person had apparently entered through the cracks in the planted trees.
This was shocking. I did not think any child of nobility besides myself would have attempted such a thing.
The two of us stared wordlessly at each other, confirming our existence.
The person who spoke was a blond-haired and blue-eyed boy. He appeared to be the same age as Mishuly. While not to the same degree as either I or Mushuly, he did have a well-shaped enough face that made one excited for this future.
The boy held a thick book under one arm as he cocked his head to the side.
“Who are you anyway?”
“Well, who the hell are you?”
My princess disguise cracked and fell to the floor. I had made the mistake of addressing him while not hiding my true colors. I looked again at the sky and noticed something for the first time.
That full moon that I had thought was perfect and whole was in fact not full at all; it was a moon that still needed an extra day to reach perfection.