“Your Highness, you seem to be enjoying yourself recently.”
“Though my tasks have been piling up.”
Roy turned his honey-colored eyes from papers to his Follower beside him, and returned his eyes to the papers again.
“Though not as much as my Father, Duke Ernst is harsh.”
“Yeah, the Nobleman of Ice.”
He said so with a smile, so the Follower didn’t think that Roy was so troubled.
But it must have been difficult since he usually wouldn’t even talk about such things.
They didn’t know anything about it except that it had to do with education, so the Follower was in no position to talk about anything specific, but they had heard about the fame of the Head of Three Ministries, so they could understand that it would be difficult.
Always smiling, that Duke judged to maintain a perfectly neutral position, so it seemed that some people feared him at work.
Though he had a kinded smile that seemed spoiled, he never relied on others at all, so some other people appraise him as having a level head on par with the Body of Judgment under the direct control of the Prime Minister.
“But it seems like I’ll be able to break through the first barrier by spring.
Seeing Roy’s satisfied smile, the Follower who helped in gathering data had an idea of what the first barrier was.
“Is it that? Thank goodness.
But putting the nobles aside, you also took care to prepare the data for the commoners.
Was Duke Ernst not fascinated?”
“So someone tells me.
I myself experimented, so I was able to prove its certainty.”
“When you suddenly ordered us to conduct an investigation on the colors of the hydrangeas, everyone tilted their necks.
I myself was half in doubt until I saw one change color with my own eyes.”
With that, the Follower looked at a potted plant that had become like a withered tree by the window.
“But it was a waste to cut this while it was still blooming.”
“There was a discrepancy, so it would’ve bloomed until winter.
But if we didn’t prune it then it wouldn’t have bloomed next year.
Philine likes it so I want to show it to her again by that time.”
“Her Highness loves your Highness very much after all.
It is good that she takes on the same color as her big Brother.”
“Though we have just about the same magical attribute.”
(TN: The word color is placed on the word magical attribute here)
His voice spoke of a wry smile, but looking at Roy’s face, one would see that he bore no ill feelings.
He was mostly sweet towards his little Sister himself.
“You’re even knowledgeable about gardening, your Highness.”
Roy was full of curiosity, so he read all sorts of books and accumulated knowledge.
His Follower thought that was the case for his knowledge of raising plants as well.
“No, I heard of how to raise it from a specialist.”
But that didn’t seem to be the case.
“Is that so?”
“After they explained it to me once, they seemed creeped out that I had roughly memorized it.”
Remembering the person’s reaction, Roy made a stifled laughing sound with his throat.
“My memory is bad so I’m envious…”
The Follower couldn’t believe that there would be anyone who would be creeped out by the king at all.
And they didn’t understand the mind of their master, who resigned himself to that as if it were funny.
So without touching on that, they spoke about their own envy.
“Now then, it should be enough to give this.
Make preparations to depart.”
Having finished looking at the papers, Roy collected what he needed to and entrusted it to his Follower.
The Follower lowered their head and headed towards the driver for preparations.
After quickly selecting his clothes for departure, Roy got on the carriage.
The driver, after checking that the Follower also entered the carriage, made the horse start galloping.
The interior of the carriage that quietly Followed along with its speed beared none of the force, and one could enjoy the view from within.
Various people on the street reflected in Roy’s honey-colored eyes, and he smiled in enjoyment.
“Your Highness, I don’t know how you’re not tired.”
“I can’t get tired, you see.
And every day is different.”
For the Follower, the street didn’t look any different from always.
For Roy, he looked at it like it had new things to see every time.
Is this what a statesman’s eyes were like? The Follower was strangely convinced.
As the first Prince, he was yearned for by his surroundings, and he himself had the disposition of a prince.
After some riding, his eyes that seemed to be protective changed a little, so the Follower Followed his line of sight to see children who were running after each other as if playing.
“May I ask?”
“What is it?”
“How does one make friends?”
It was rare for him to ask a question.
When the Follower thought as much, they were presented with one that was hard to answer, and they were stumped.
In a corner of his mind, even the first Prince had childish thoughts.
But he wasn’t a mere boy, but a Prince.
Someone to serve regardless of age.
It was hard for him to make equals, such as friends.
“What’s the matter all of a sudden?”
“The other day, when I asked to become someone’s friend they rejected me.”
“They said so…?”
“This was a young boy, right?”
What about it? Seeing their Master tilt his head in such a manner, the Attendant held his head.
For women, deliberately saying, I want to be your friend, or something like that, was common.
Moreover, the Follower felt from his experience that it was easier for relatively restrained women to say.
Roy guessed that people simply said that, but that wasn’t the case between men.
Considering whether or not he would have had the courage to refuse in the same situation, he felt sympathy for whoever he said it to.
(TN: I’m going on a little leap here and saying the Attendant is a man)
Are you a girl? The Follower didn’t have the courage to make such a quip towards a superior.
Just by thinking it, he felt disrespect and discourtesy.
How should he convey this sense of discomfort…
“…So, you see, your Highness.”
“Are friends made by calling them that? Are they happy when you do?”
After a few seconds, Roy’s expression grew bitter.
“So my words were mistaken?”
He’s really smart in how he understands quickly, his Follower admired him.
“Friends are people who suit you and naturally spend time with you.”
“That’s what they are?”
“At least that’s how it is for me.
I enjoy myself when I’m with them, so we can be together for many years, and we can act normally around each other even if we don’t meet often.
Someone you don’t like won’t last long no matter what you do.”
“You have good friends.
Never once having thought that a prince would look at him with envious eyes, the Follower was shaken.
He felt like he was even more dazzling than usual, and he wanted to turn his face away from the awe-inspiring sight.
“Though I am not sure if my own experiences can serve as reference…”
“No, it made me realize my own mistake.
“Don’t mention it.”
Maybe because of his suitable attribute, the Attendant got the urge to kneel to this saint’s exceedingly strong light, but he somehow suppressed it.
He wished that his smile didn’t become awkward.
It was also true that he was a coward, but when he interacted with his master, despite their difference in age, he frequently and acutely felt the difference in status or rank, which made him want to fall prostrate.
There was still some time before they arrived at their destination, so the Attendant naturally asked something that weighed on his mind.
“What happened to the one who refused you after that?”
Refusing a prince was considerably reckless.
Of course he would be curious about what happened next.
“I meet him every now and then.”
“You meet him…?”
I have him accompany me on my errands.”
The Attendant tilted his head at his nonchalant answer.
“This is only to make sure, but are those errands impossible without him?”
“He’s qualified, but… recently I’ve been getting used to it myself, so I’d be fine alone, too.
That being said, when I’m with him I can learn interesting things.”
Roy gave some careful thought before smiling in good fun.
Seeing that, his Follower was unable to do anything.
Wasn’t that already a friend?
If he could refuse Roy’s proposal then he probably wasn’t the type to do anything bad.
But still, if he was accompanying him, then he should have a reason aside from just being helpful or good natured.
The Follower worried if he could apply his own standards to his Master, so he kept his thoughts to himself.
It’s wonderful that your Highness seems to be enjoying himself.”
Instead, he replied with that.
He felt happy that his Master had someone he could laugh with in a way that fit his age.
Only for a second did Roy widen his honey-colored eyes before answering with a bright and happy smile.
Then, since the Follower didn’t seem to have realized, Roy added.
“You’ve also met him.”
“Eh!? Who is it!?”
He seemed like he really didn’t know, and Roy conveyed with his smile that he wouldn’t tell him until he noticed.
Then his Attendant started muttering to himself, thinking of who it could be among all the candidates that struck his mind.
Until they arrived, Roy stared at him like he was amused.
When they arrived, Roy brought his Attendant with him to the front door of the mansion.
With his arrival, the doors were opened and he was invited inside.
Roy walked at a speed that matched the speed at which the doors opened, meeting this mansion’s Lady and Butler.
“Your Highness, welcome.”
“Lady Lydia, it’s been a long time.”
After saying her pleasantries, the girl raised her face and welcomed him with a smile, to which Roy replied with a familiar smile of his own.
“Is that so? We met two weeks before.”
“Lady Lydia, you must be living quite the eventful life.”
“This is where other people would say that they had grown tired of waiting for me.”
Roy saw through her with a beaming smile.
Lydia widened her eyes and bowed her head with shameful colored cheeks.
“How rude of me.”
“Ah, that’s not it.
I just thought that it was fun to speak with you.”
Lydia stopped bowing her head and looked up to a radiant smile.
Her cheeks reddened even further, and she couldn’t reply with anything but an, is that so.
Seeing that, his Attendant was impressed that he was used to dealing with women.
Although it was abnormal for a seven year old boy, he was curiously able to accept it just because it was him.
Roy entrusted the papers and data to the Ernst Household’s butler and followed Lydia to a corner of their garden that had black tea prepared.
“Wow, you really are good Lady Lydia.”
On the way Roy said delightedly, and Lydia looked at him with some spite.
“Can you eat it without having it reheated?”
Lydia said in a way that made light of the Prince, embarrassed.
Though she knew that Roy didn’t mean it that way, his words felt sarcastic.
For her, she often spent her days practicing or meeting with Tordelise who had become her friend, and until just recently she was distressed about something.
She didn’t have the leeway to grow impatient waiting for Roy.
“But I’m happy.”
“Happy, you say…?”
“It’s natural for both of us to have things to do when we aren’t meeting.
But other ladies only want to hear about me.”
A one-way conversation wasn’t fun.
The way they sold their flattery to raise his goodwill with them made him feel pity more than anything else.
They were probably instructed by their parents to do so.
The feelings of the Ladies themselves which should’ve been simply love or yearning were twisted.
But Lydia didn’t have any twists like that.
Roy was happy for it.
“Isn’t that because they’re interested in hearing about Roy-sama?”
Roy’s words that were spoken in a way that was easily understood, were interesting even though they were in a different realm from hers.
Knowing that, Lydia thought that the other Ladies weren’t like that.
But she understood with Roy’s wry smile.
“If it’s just me then it wouldn’t be interesting.”
“…Then I wonder if I should also speak, just as I thought.”
After hearing Roy’s words, Lydia muttered after looking at herself in retrospect and worrying.
Though he heard bits and pieces, Roy didn’t understand what she meant, so he tilted his head.
“It is personal.”
Lydia shook her head to the sides, saying that it was nothing.
“What will you show me today?”
“This is the best time to see the Acacia Baileyanas, and the nearby Lily Magnolias are budding cutely.”
I’m looking forward to it.”
Lydia was cute as she smiled, remembering the scenery that they were about to visit.
Taken along by her expression, Roy’s expression unravelled.
When they arrived, the Acacia Baileyanas sprouted into their fields of vision, announcing the advent of spring.
A chair had been prepared at a table from which everything could be seen, and a maid was standing, having provided tea.
“The Ernst garden always shows me a different face.
Just as Lydia had said, the yellow Lily Magnolias offered a peek at their buds, and it was cute.
I love my garden.”
He understood her pride well.
As if to arouse a heart that loved flowers, the plants bathed in the sunlight and bloomed, filling Roy’s heart.
After making sure that the tea had been poured, Lydia dismissed the maid.
Then, after a while of staring at the flowers quietly, the two turned their heads to a rustling Acacia Baileyana that had started to sway.
There was no wind to make it sway so much.
“What, is that…?”
Even while she was scared of that disquieting noise, Lydia single-mindedly approached whatever was swaying since it was her own house.
“You should take a little more distance.”
Saying such, Roy stood in front of Lydia and protected her with his back just in case.
There shouldn’t have been any intruders because of how tight the security was in the Ernst Estate, but if they got too close without knowing what it was then they could be late in dealing with it.
The two stared at the shaking Acacia Baileyana for a few beats or a few dozen seconds.
Then suddenly, a silhouette of a reasonable size fell out of the cloud of yellow flowers.
Lydia held her breath in surprise and unconsciously gripped Roy’s sleeve.
Even as he seemed to be losing his balance with the branch he was holding, a boy landed.
With a small saw on a leather cover placed on his hips like a belt and several branches that had blooming yellow flowers on them on his shoulder, he stood.
Knowing who that silhouette was, and also with some resentment for making her scared, Lydia scolded the boy who appeared in front of Roy.
“Where are you falling off from!?”
The gardening apprentice boy turned around towards that voice, and tilted his head curiously at Lydia’s menacing look.
“What did you do to fall off a tree of all things!?”
Dad told me to decorate Oku-sama’s room, so I thought I’d get some pretty ones from above where they get the most sunlight, since they’re finally blooming.”
It’s pretty, isn’t it, the gardening apprentice boy said as he raised a branch over his head with no sign of guilt.
Lydia couldn’t tolerate that.
“I’m saying it’s dangerous, is it not!?”
Hearing Lydia’s angry words, he widened his eyes before smiling gently.
“Thank you for worrying about me.”
“You’re not reflecting…”
The boy soothed Lydia from her anger with a gentle smile and a pat on her head.
Then a voice came in a tone that sounded exactly as it said.
Hearing that, Lydia came to her senses and stiffened.
Then the gardener boy looked towards the voice.
With stiff movements, Lydia fearfully turned around to see Roy’s honey-color eyes softened in great interest.
“Lady Lydia also had such a lively side to her.”
“Um, this is… er…”
She unconsciously highered her voice.
After showing him behavior unfitting for a Lady, she didn’t even have a chance to smooth things over.
As Lydia panicked about what to do, a voice leaked from nearby with more exasperation than surprise.
“You’re Roy-sama, huh.”
When she looked at the gardening apprentice, he wore a complicated expression as if he didn’t know how to react.
On the other hand, Roy smiled brightly.
“It’s no wonder Ojou was saying weird things about you.”
He breathed out inexcusable words with a long sigh, to which Lydia protested.
“I never said anything weird!”
The weird one is this guy.”
The gardening apprentice boy pointed at Roy.
Almost taken by shock with his attitude, Lydia scolded him.
“Roy-sama, his Highness is a Prince you know!? That was rude!”
“…Looks like it.
Should I correct myself?”
“No, I don’t mind it in informal settings.”
“How the heck would I see you in a formal setting?”
“Of course I don’t know.”
“If I had to talk to you politely I feel like I’d be really disgusted.”
“I wouldn’t like it either.”
Seeing the exchange of the boy with half-lidded eyes and Roy with a funny smile on his face, Lydia was actually taken by shock.
“…Do you, know each other?”
Their lighthearted conversation made it obvious that they were acquainted, but they shouldn’t have had the slightest chance to get acquainted with one another.
Lydia asked in disbelief.
“This guy was lost you know.”
“That was our opportunity for you to cooperate with me in my inspection of the town.”
Without hiding how they met, it was exposed straight away.
Roy smiled with a little more embarrassment than sarcasm and continued speaking.
Roy had told her before about how he went to inspect the city, but never in her wildest dreams did her own employee help him.
And the gardening apprentice almost never told Lydia about what he did downtown.
“You never told me…”
Not knowing was par for the course, but Lydia felt somewhat left out and complained.
“I mean, I never knew you and Leo knew each other.
If you have any complaints tell it to Leo.
This guy definitely knew what he was doing.”
“Well, I thought I could explain once we met but we surprisingly didn’t.”
Sorry, Leo apologized though he was actually having fun.
The gardening boy was exasperated at him.
“By any chance, were you trying to surprise me?”
“I was definitely looking forward to how you’d react.
But you’re not surprised.”
“I knew you had quite the status after all.
If I had to say, I was convinced because of one reason.”
Even after knowing Roy’s true identity, the gardening apprentice boy didn’t show any sign of shrinking back.
From his perspective, he was able to accept it simply because he had heard that the reason people sparkle would be because they were royalty.
Whether or not he should change his attitude, he determined that that wasn’t a problem after asking the person in question.
For Roy, the reason he didn’t reveal himself was because he feared the one in a million chance that he would change his attitude, but it looked like he didn’t need to.
Because he didn’t change his attitude, Roy exuded relief and happiness.
Stop being so uselessly bright.
Ojou, help me.”
“Could you please not use me as a shield!?”
The gardening apprentice boy escaped from Roy’s bright smile behind Lydia.
Lydia, who couldn’t stand his smile in a different sense, lodged an appeal.
“Ojou, you have a lot of magic so you should also have a high magical defense.
You can do it.”
“What is that logic!? Magic has nothing to do with it, does it?”
Lydia was enraged at his unfathomable reasoning.
She knew that he was bad with showy things, but being this blatant was too extreme.
Roy stared at the gardener boy having a repetitive quarrel with Lydia that he didn’t quite understand happily.
For a certain bystander, that sight was nothing if not bizarre.
The one who noticed that upright silhouette was the gardening apprentice boy.”
“Oh? Big Brother Matteus.”
Following his gaze, Roy turned around to see his Follower.
There should still be time.
Are we in a hurry?”
“No… it seemed a little noisy, so I wondered if something had…”
Even in his bewilderment, the Attendant devotedly answered his Master’s question.
He was accompanying him as his bodyguard and heard something, but the unexpected sight left him confused.
Hearing his words, Lydia apologized.
“I am deeply sorry for that.
An employee from my home acted rudely-”
“Zac, didn’t you fall from a tree?”
“Ah, I see.
I’m sorry for causing a ruckus.”
Having it pointed out by Lydia, the boy meekly apologized, being self-aware of the noise he had caused.
“No, it’s a relief that nothing happened.”
“I’ll be alright so you can go back.”
“Big Brother Matteus came because he was worried for us.”
“It’s his job.
And if Matteus is here I can’t talk with you calmly, can I?”
“Hmmmm, even you say bratty things.”
Not wanting a place full of children to be intruded upon by an adult was one of his rare childlike parts.
The gardening apprentice boy muttered what he thought, and honey-colored eyes widened so much that they could’ve fallen off.
The gardening apprentice felt surprised at the sudden change in Roy.
He didn’t think anything of it, but for Roy it was a shock.
To think that he, who was treated as if he was older than his age and had gotten used to acting as such, still had a side like this to himself.
It’s exactly because someone treated him like his age that he got to learn of this side to himself.
The boy was unconsciously drawing out Roy’s childlikeness.
This time the Follower pointed at the gardening apprentice boy and shouted.
He and Lydia were taken by surprise from that voice.
But the Attendant couldn’t care for the two.
He had finally found the answer to his Master’s riddle.
Indeed, he could understand him having a lighthearted relationship with him since they hid Roy’s status whenever they met him.
From how things looked, even after learning his true identity their relationship didn’t change.
The two were perplexed since they didn’t know about Roy’s exchange with his Attendant.
In particular, the gardening apprentice who was being pointed at was extremely confused.
Even though he wasn’t fazed when he learned that he was a prince, was he surprised with something like this? His surprised face that he saw for the first time was funny, and Roy laughed loudly.
“..Ojou, what’s happening?”
“Please don’t ask me.
First of all, it’s your fault isn’t it?”
I didn’t do anything, the boy wanted to insist, but Lydia thought that he had no persuasiveness in this situation.
She experienced how much influence his unmindful actions had firsthand.
“…Well, I’m glad that Roy-sama seems to be having fun.”
“But I didn’t say anything funny-”
The duke’s daughter laughed happily, and the gardening apprentice boy tilted his head.
Spring’s footsteps approached a garden where the Prince’s laugh echoed.
Regardless of the fact that they were in the world of an Otome game, their days piled up.
Without noticing that such days were quietly changing-
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