“So you have come for my younger brother, haven’t you? We may have disturbed you with the bizarre ideas of our mother. She has been influenced too much by the fables of outern reigns. She couldn’t be stopped even by our father. That’s too bad.”
“Coming here was not a problem at all, Your Highness. I thank you along my father for having invited me.”
“Your father… Baron Dalton, right? He’s always such a cheerful person, but the other day, when he came for a visit… i found him unusually taciturn. May it be that he was concerned about his daughter?”
“I-I think it was due to his anxious disposition…”
“He adores you so much. One becomes sad when “someone leaves home”, but to desire the early wedding of your daughter would be due to your paternal affection.”
“Oh, really? Y-Yes.. it may be for this reason, for sure…”
A heroin like Peko always creates lots of clamor. Her words regarding our meeting may have caught His Highness attention. That’s quite a pity… isn’t it?
“Theresa, do you have any siblings?”
“I’ve got a sister, she is one year older than me.”
“I envy you. I’ve got a brother, but he didn’t play much with me because he is 10 years older…..”
While smiling at her sulking face, which told me “I envy you”, I took a look at the glacial stare’s monster that was listening to Peko…..
“Once this month ends, when my father comes back home, I think I’ll try to not make him worried.” – “Coming back”… you could feel some kind of strength in it!
At this point, it didn’t feel like it was a lie….. for example, even if it was the truth, there wouldn’t have been nothing more to say about it.
The surprising fact when I met Peko was that she had no ambition and no interest in nothing that wasn’t necessary.
It shouldn’t be a problem to find a shy bride candidate that can be Tou’s substitute.
“Wait… What? You want to return home? Don’t you like His Highness Itaku?!”
“Oh no! No! It’s not true! It’s just.. well.. I’ve been talking to the other girls…. and i find them more suitable for His Higness. You see.. I’m already twenty…”
“That’s the same for m…..”
“She may have thought about the difference in age with His Royal Highness Atoren. Remembering when she said “as the younger brother”, she stopped talking. What a risk you’ve taken, Peko! He would have not forgiven you if you would have told him about your age difference!
“Peko, let Itaku think about his bride. No one should meddle on this thing!”
“Well… you’re right. I agree. I’ll never mention it again.” His Highness easily obtained obedience looking at her with sparkling eyes, how tame is this woman, bending her head with such nobleness.
“Which is the way of His Royal Highness of “letting it go”? Did he give any information to his brother? If someone told him that I’m the replacement I wouldn’t need to doll up….”
“By the way, Peko, I remember you told me that you had to go to the bathroom a long time ago.”
The poor girl froze under the icy stare of his Royal Highness. After the repetitive game of cut and thrust, the monster had finally showed his teeth….
Peko turned at me, asking for help with awkward eyes… i must find a diversion..! Oh, look! A butterfly flying… Wooooooow…..!!!
Looking away without making them notice and while respecting good manners, I ran at a fast pace: Peko seemed to have learnt how a frozen person would feel… It seems that His Royal Highness is able both to freeze and to enchant!
True love has no boundaries, right? It would be better to behave like a good friend and pretend not to have heard the sound of their kiss.
Once I returned to medicinal herbs garden, His Highness Itaku was idle on the bench.
Do they have any errands? It seems that i can not go out to appear because an enthusiastic love scene is spreading: it may be that he taught his older brother where he has found Peko the other day..
When i tried to curtsy and get a reward, His Highness lightly shrugged his hand: “No need to use pompous greetings”.
“Your Highness….. I feel embarassed if you tell me such an equivocal thing…”
“You do not even need to use a ceremonial language. You talk normally with my sister in law, don’t you? I have to run an errand for my brother, it will require time. If you would, please…”
I would have wanted to reject with all my strength, but i couldn’t: I sat with a grudge.
“Why do you sit so far?”
“….. Why shall I come too near…?”
Stay quite Theresa, and do not shorten the distance….! His wordless blue eyes gazing at me left me shaken!
With a sweet smile, he whispered to me: “That hat looks good on you”.
“Oh… ehm… d-did you see how wonderful it looks with all those drawings and colors? It’s a gift of Peko, my friend… Oh no, no.. I would look arrogant using such a word..!”
“Be calm. She told me and my brother that she has a new friend. If you deny it, she will be sad.”
“Friends”, long has passed since when i used this word the last time. I also had friends when there was no separation between men and women.
Since when i was a child, I didn’t care about females pastimes, therefore i’ve spent my youth among males.
I wasn’t interested in collecting insects: I’ve always found much more intriguing having a walk in the woods and getting familiar with every type of plant I would have bumped into.
My father’s complains about my lack of womanliness begun when I started to act like a man in the attempt of being accepted in their group.
The more I was growing up, the more their attentions were addressed to my sister, and once I realized that they were showing interests to me just to get closer to her I separated myself from them.
I would be a lier if I’d say it didn’t cause me grief, but I found being among plants, which have no cunning nor falsehood, much more comforting.
“This.. this makes me really happy because I never received a gift from anyone before…..”
“What a surprise! I tought you could receive many gifts, not only from your friends but also from men!”
I don’t know how to interpret it. Does he mock me knowing that I’m the replacement, or it’s just my imagination?????
Usually, my sociable sister received gifts from boys, while I, the refused one, refuged myself in the garden, with the only friends I knew while gardening. The usual gifts for me were plant’s seeds and the sweets that old men gave me or, better, elderly men with whom I took tea together: that’s why I was pleased to receive the hat Peko gave me.
“….. I’m not really attached to that thing. Understand me, for heaven’s sake! I’m not married at this age!”
He was silent, maybe because he couldn’t find words for such an unfortunate woman, but his stare was really eloquent: “Really..?!” He said, with his eyes seeking for confirmation.
I turned my attention somewhere else, lowering my head; the strength of his gaze looking at me from head to toe made my skin shiver like if it had a physical power! An inadequate shame made me blush. Ohhh jeeeeez! Didn’t his mother, the Queen, teach him that it’s not convenient to scrutinize a person like that?!
Since I couldn’t bear it anymore, I looked straight at him. His blue eyes looked away, and the next moment they sharply lit up.
“You say you have never been involved with anyone else before, do you?”
“It’s not because you wouldn’t, it’s just because you are tending to avoid it, right?”
“.. It’s-It’s not about me…!”
His words upset me, but i realized that’s because he got it right: it wasn’t lack of femininity, it was the defection of willingness in refining it.
Can I say with no shame that I have done everything possible for becoming more pretty? Did i ever tried to enhance my charm and look like more attractive to men?
Maybe, I’ve always avoided this unconsciously, believing that I would have not been up to the task.
I started being more debit to gardening because I thought men were avoiding me, but I was the one who was avoiding them!
I felt solitude in my own way, but it was the result of my laziness.
“….. Yes, you are right. I didn’t make any effort and sought the reason somewhere else…”
I can’t ask anymore “Which flower will bloom on a plant called Love”?. I completely forgot about that due to the mess of my sister running from love, but now that she disappeared, the Dalton will extinguish if I’m not going to marry him. Here’s the groom. The groom!
“I thank you, my Lord. I opened my eyes thanks to you! I will try to get more refined in order to find someone when I’ll return home.”
It looks like the fog that covered my heart dissolved: maybe it’s just me, but it looks so bright. It must be like a dawn! I must pray….
As soon as I thanked him, the frowning boy raised his hand saying: “Wait, please…”
I was not sure if he was having a headache, as he sighing, massaging his temple: “You are a really strange person.”, he said.
“That’s the way I feel too. I didn’t realize my stupidity until you didn’t make me notice it!”
“Errr… That’s not exactly what I meant…. But I’m still not getting the meaning of your words…”
“I beg your pardon! I-I intended to thank you… Did I annoy you?”
“I wouldn’t be enough for you… I can’t figure you out! First, you amaze me with that strange dress, then, you behave like a noble girl… You also seem to have an unusual docile nature…..” – if it wouldn’t be for the compliments, It would looks like he was mocking me – his eyes were agitated like they mirrored my embarrassment: “Why did you decide to come here?! You could have refused an invite which you didn’t find interesting!”
It’s true that I could have refused it: since he does not want to divide some lovers, the invitation to the royal palace could have been declined if they were engaged. But wait! It’s like a suicide for a poor noble to refuse the invitation from the royal family: His Highness itself could kill you with a saw!
Probably my father did it being sure that no one could refuse, but my sister messed this up.
“I-I didn’t say I’m not interested…”
“And tell me, which part of the royal palace catches your interest? The palace itself? The people? Me..? Or.. THIS garden? You are not a person who can hide things.”
“This garden”….. It’s inevitable been fascinated by it! I tried to nod when he talked about himself, but i couldn’t in front of this floral paradise!
“You don’t take care of me, even if you are one of my suitors. You smile only when you hear about herbs.”
After glimpsing at me, he crossed his arms coolly.
What was he thinking? Was he sulky? He had an ambiguous behavior, waiting for my response still sitting on the bench: I would have cuddled him if he would have been my sister… but it wouldn’t be funny getting condemned to death for lese-majeste!
“Many women would take care of you.”
“Again! Easy girl! You must be careful about what you say!”
Maybe he heard me thinking about him choosing between such some beautiful girls like lady Miranda, lady Cecil, lady Yuliana and many more….. I fear such royal people!
“It makes no difference if you say that you’re not interested in me.”
I, being dumb, finally understood. It’s absolutely not right that a suitor may say “Find another woman”, while declaring at the same time “I’m looking for a fiancee”: it’s done, it’s over!.
I was praying my mother when His Majesty stood up. I instantly became terrified, but he proceeded to the garden.
He came back immediately with an azure flower in his hand: a Lirott flower, made of twelve petals.
“I want to take care of you, maybe because you don’t take care of me. How is it to decorate your hat? The vivid blue Lirott will look good on your cream colored cap.”
It felt like he criticized me, like a sort of “fashion check”, but I was relieved that he was not angry.
Yes, i know, he’s a bit mean, but he wouldn’t give a flower to someone he doesn’t like.
The flower that he put in my hand released a sweet and fresh perfume: “What a nice fragrance! My thanks, Lirott is my favorite flower!”
Seeing my thankful smile, he sat heavily on the bench: “You keep amazing me, a woman usually does not appreciate wild herbs”.
He left me wordless.
Lirot is a very important flower which grows everywhere in Rionia. It is not a plant which should be kept at home, but it does not need the attention which a rose requires: it’s strange to see it in a royal garden… but maybe it’s here due to his perfume…!
“Are you giving it to me as a prank?!”
“No, I was just thinking that it would matches with your eyes”
I turned about, and he turned his head blushing….. Should I consider his words as a compliment? I’m confused, I lack of femininity, how could it be??!
Nevertheless, I really appreciated, and I thanked him again.
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