I really wanted to bite his exposed neck right in front of me, leaving a hickey as a mark of possession, to make it clear that he belongs to me. But if I were to do such a thing, it would displease the princess, and if something happened to him…
Theodore is strong, that’s for sure. But pure strength doesn’t always surpass power. I thought I couldn’t force Theodore into a fait accompli by force, but seeing him trying to kiss me under threat made me think again. That’s why I have to protect him.
Besides, I’ve been acting like this all along. It’s just going back to the way it was. Even if Theodore misunderstands me – even if his heart. . .drifts away.
The next day, the princess stormed in and took Theodore away with her. She agreed to let two of my maids accompany him, so I don’t think anything unusual will happen. . .
“Esterize, I’m really sorry. I knew I was stupid, but I didn’t think I was that bad. . .”
“No, it’s fine. . .not that it matters. You’re not the one to blame.”
“Our stay was being monitored by Diark at the request of His Majesty the Emperor, and he came to apologize in the morning after apparently gaining that information.
“No, I should be the one apologizing. Diark must be busy too.”
“It’s only natural that the inconvenience is on our end. Well, while you guys are here, my father will be taking care of my work so it’s all good.”
“You’re thorough, aren’t you. . .If you have time, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”
As I didn’t want others to overhear the conversation, which I didn’t want to be asked about, I sat back next to him and spoke in a low voice, concealing our mouths behind the fan and making it audible only to him.
“To tell you the truth, I can use divination magic, but I haven’t made it public. Remember when I stopped you from drinking the other day? That was also thanks to my divination.”
“Hmm, you have quite a few useful magic spells, like teleportation and healing.”
“I’m not sure about that, but if you believe me, that’s fine. Anyway, let’s get to the point.”
“I don’t have the ability to predict the future, but I have a bad feeling about this.”
As I continued with my explanation, Diark’s expression contorted, and eventually, he covered his face as if bowing down.
“I thought that idiot was just running wild on his own, but. . .Uncle is also stubborn.”
“Why can’t he understand that Acardi can prevent demon beast invasions precisely because it’s an independent country with such a strange system? And he’s an idiot for thinking he can easily catch Esterize. . .Wait, does he not know that saints can use their abilities even in the room with the Hinderan stone?”
The Hinderan stone prevents the use of four-element magic. I see, so he was planning to lock her up in the room with the Hinderan stone.
“So I met with the imperial prince last night, and his maid will accompany us when we go to the castle town. So I think there might be contact with Grose Baehr there.”
“If your fiancé allows it, I can be by your side as a witness, but did you even tell him?”
“. . .No, I didn’t say anything because I thought it would be better for Theodore to participate as my partner and protect the princess. So I guess we’re practically fighting now.”
“Well, even so, it’s difficult to increase Dorothea’s guards without arousing suspicion from your uncle. If we only want to stop this plan, it’s okay to be noticed, but it will just repeat the same thing.”
I thought so too. Even if she is the princess, having many guards at her own country’s birthday celebration, where she is the main character, is like saying she doesn’t trust the guests. It’s almost impossible to do it without arousing suspicion. And that old tanuki is quite persistent.
“I think so too. So I want to grab decisive evidence and end this soon.”
“I’ve been thinking that I want to retire soon. If it’s Sir Theodore, he can protect Dorothea alone unless something big happens. . .But, hey. Are you okay with that?”
His golden eyes looked at me. They were straightforward eyes that would easily see through lies.
“You understand, don’t you? My personal feelings don’t matter.”
“You’re an idiot. Because I understand, I want to take care of you as much as possible.”
Those words left me speechless. Diark is not a citizen I must protect, nor a king I must serve. . .that’s why.
“Well. . .yeah, it’s not good.”
A small, weak voice escaped me, unworthy of the next queen. But Diark didn’t blame me for it.
“But I have a duty to protect those who protect me. . .So, even if I don’t want to, it’s okay as long as you know, and that alone saves me.”
“I see. . .You’re amazing.”
With those words, I sniffled.