“I know it’s not my place to say. . .but don’t get too close to other men.”
Theodore looked like he was in pain, as if he had been injured, and I pushed back my urge to ask him about it. He must be jealous. . .but it seems he hasn’t given up on me.
Indeed, it was a conversation I didn’t want others to overhear, so I was aware that I leaned in quite close. If only I had created that “language just for us” when Diark suggested it long ago, I wouldn’t have to go through this trouble now.
“. . .It’s really not something you should have said.”
I wanted to do what he said and reassure him, but there were too many circumstances at the moment. If only I could somehow win over Bella and change the plan. . .
Then he tightened his arms around me for a moment, and slowly let me go.
“For now, I’ll just be satisfied that you know what I’m thinking.”
Why does he care so much about me, even though I say such terrible things? I’m not a great person to deserve Theodore’s affection.
“Theodore. . .”
“Hey, Theodore, what are you doing? We’re going to see dresses next.”
The princess, who came out of the store a little late, caught up to us and pulled Theodore away. I clenched my hand, wanting to reach out to him, and closed my lips to hold back the words that wanted to stop him.
“That woman was Ojii-sama’s maid, right?”
“Her name was Bella, wasn’t it? Do you know the location of Chrysler’s store?”
The princess, who had declared that she would guide us, seemed to have no idea where anything was. She asked the question while arrogantly crossing her arms.
“Unfortunately, Chrysler’s store closed last month due to bankruptcy. . .”
“Oh, is that so? That’s too bad. Then, what about Raffinirt?”
“I will guide you there. . .What would you like to do?”
Bella didn’t want to be separated from us. She asks the question, but the princess, who seems determined not to be disturbed in her time with Theodore, glared at Bella.
“Hey! Isn’t this woman on my side? Don’t do anything unnecessary!”
“She’s being cautious and can’t get close to the princess. We have to do something. . .”
Diarc sends me a gaze that seems to ask, “What do we do?”
Entrusted with the decision, I recall that Raffinirt was the name of a dress brand. Although I have no personal interest, I decide to accompany Bella in order to win her over as an ally.
“Shall we go together?”
Since the next destination wasn’t far away, we walked instead of using a carriage. I casually approached Bella and started talking.
“You said you were from the castle town, but where exactly?”
“I… was born to a live-in maid at a certain noble’s townhouse, and my mother and I were both under the care of the master there.”
“Your father. . .Wasn’t it Marquis Hanawald?”
“I see, you know a lot. . .”
“Marquis Hanawald was definitely on the side of the imperial prince.”
It’s surprising that someone of the prince’s caliber would have a maid bear his child… but perhaps it was better not to be a proper lady with a high social standing in order to be used effectively.
“It was a political marriage, and there was no love between the Hanawald couple. Since I was born as a daughter who would not cause any succession problems, Lady Hanawald allowed me to live in their townhouse.”
“I see. Is your mother still working for the Marquis family?”
I was able to ask about her mother, who was being held hostage, in a natural flow of conversation.
“. . .No, she fell ill a month ago and is now recuperating in the countryside.”
“She was taken hostage by the imperial prince, who poisoned her and demanded that she obey him if she wanted the antidote. They even put a guard on her to make sure she didn’t escape. I wondered why they took my mother, but it was because I looked a little like the princess.”
. . .It’s not my fault that the scumbag imperial prince did this. But as I watched Bella bow her head in self-blame, I felt a wave of guilt wash over me.
However, it was a month ago. The difficulty of my healing magic depends on how long the target has been in their current state. For example, someone who had their arms cut off a minute ago would require less magic power than someone who had a scratch a week ago. That’s because my healing magic is not about healing, but about restoring.
When I was a child, I once ran out of magic power just by healing the injuries of two children who had just been hurt. But now that both my magic and magic power have grown since then, I can probably manage it somehow.
“I’m worried. Is it within a distance where you can go see her right away?”
“Thank you for your concern. If I take a carriage, I can go see her in a day, so I’ll go during my vacation.”
If the distance is covered in a day by carriage, then I can probably teleport the two of them back and forth. The remaining issue is finding a place to hide her mother… but I’ll leave that to Diark.
When they finish their stroll on Blitzen Street and move on to the next destination, they can leave the princess with Theodore. If Bella’s persuasion goes well, they should be able to return without arousing suspicion.
“Everyone, we have arrived at Raffinirt.”