The young ladies’ gazes are irritating.
While attending the victory party held in Margrave Shallum’s mansion, I secretly breathed a sigh as to not let it be noticed.
Preventing Tarim from advancing south this year was easier than expected. I felt like going home right away, but I cannot do that.
The postwar measures remain.
In truth, the office work afterwards is longer than the fighting.
The soldiers work on collecting bodies, repairing houses or roads, everybody has been recruited for various jobs.
I can’t return until these are finished to a certain degree.
Margrave Shallum entered my temporary office.
Seeing the bundle of documents in his hand, I felt dizzy for an instant.
It’d be completely different if Alex was here, but unfortunately I’m alone.
I wondered when I’ll be able to return to the distant Royal Capital.
“Leave it there. I’ll finish them as soon as possible.”
Having the location pointed out with a sigh, Margrave Shallum smiled bitterly and left the bundle of documents there.
“I am sorry, Your Highness. While here are considerably many things than need Your Highness’s approval, could Your Highness take a look at these while at it?”
I held my head hearing these words.
“I believe there’s a fair number of unrelated things mixed in, so that’s the reason… However, I would like to return as soon as possible.”
The actions of the man in front of me seem to be saying there’s a lot of things unrelated to war’s aftermath.
Certainly, without using the Transfer Gate, the Royal Capital is far away from the north, so I considered getting approval right away. He understood that.
But, despite this understanding, I wasn’t able to get permission.
Margrave Shallum unexpectedly pointed out to me when I said that.
“Oh, usually Your Highness would ask for more work not wanting to return to the Royal Capital, what’s the matter?”
“The circumstances are different from the last year.”
As I answered while looking over the documents, he looked at me with an interested face.
“… Come to think of it, Your Highness got engaged. Should I express my congratulations?”
Margrave Shallum, who’s aware I’d been tired of women, asked like he wanted to make sure.
Every year I returned from Tarim’s suppression late on purpose.
Although there certainly are girls who aim at the position of my consort here, their number is low, so it’s not as bad as in the Royal Capital.
There are no evening parties, I only need to attend the victory party.
I could say it’s a relatively calm place for me to spend time.
However, that’s only until the last year.
Now that I met and got engaged with Lidi, I truly want to return to her as soon as possible.
“Certainly. By all means, celebrate.”
When I said so with a natural smile, Margrave Shallum narrowed his eyes in relief and nodded many times over.
“That is most wonderful. Congratulations, Your Highness. Come to think of it, there’s a rumor among the soldiers. It says that on the day of the engagement ceremony Your Highness locked your fiancée in your room.”
I wasn’t expecting this to reach Margrave Shallum so fast.
I thought it’s good the rumor propagated to make it known it’s not a loveless political marriage, but I never would have thought Margrave Shallum would hear it.
But as it’s about Lidi, there’s no reason to keep it hidden.
I affirmed with that’s exactly right and got on board the talk.
“To tell you the truth, I wanted to lock her in my room until the ceremony. But right away she coldly returned home. Just when I was thinking of going to pick her up this expedition happened. I wish I hadn’t been separated from my beloved as soon as we got engaged.”
When I sighed sadly, I heard a hearty laugh.
“Your Highness’s magic at that time. I thought it was filled with incredible strength, but was Your Highness just venting anger?”
“I wasn’t aware, but perhaps that’s how it was”
Although my magical power is stable thanks to the ‘Royal Flower’, I cannot unconditionally deny what he said.
I see, Margrave Shallum stroked his chin. His long, white beard swayed.
“If I remember correctly, Your Highness’s fiancé is His Excellency the Prime Minister’s daughter? Was she called Princess Lidiana?”
“That’s right. What about it?”
“No, speaking of Princess Lidiana, she’s been Your Highness’s prime fiancée candidate for a long time. In spite of that, there were no signs of the engagement being formally established whatsoever. I thought His Highness had no intention of receiving Princess Lidiana as the Princess Consort.”
Hearing something unexpected from Margrave Shallum, I raised my face from the documents.
I smiled a little and nodded.
“That’s not wrong. I didn’t feel like it. Until I met her. But now it’s different. I cannot imagine life without her anymore.”
“How passionate… Your Highness met Princess and fell in love.”
With a serious reply Margrave Shallum happily patted me on the shoulder.
Understanding he’s truly pleased, my heart grew warm.
I felt like telling him my true feelings.
“It may be unbelievable, but I practically fell in love at first sight. I never would have thought it would happen to myself.”
“Above all, it’s good Your Highness is happy. After finishing this bundle of documents, as long as Your Highness attends the victory party there will be no further restraints. Please go meet your beloved Princess.”
“Yeah, I’ll do just that.”
Although looking at the documents, they wouldn’t be finished for a while. I strongly nodded to his words.
Appearing at the victory party is one of my duties.
Still, I think it’s inevitable that I’d be fed up with young ladies incessantly approaching me.
“Will, can we withdraw already?”
“Your Highness, endure a little longer. I also feel the same.”
Sighing once again I called out to my childhood friend, only to receive the similarly bored response.
The ladies surrounding us too close for comfort are looking here with amorous glances.
Of course, the girls who are aiming at me, who has the position of the Crown Prince, and at Will, who has no fiancée despite being the eldest son of a ducal house, are just like leopardesses.
They’re peeking here with fierce eyes.
The victory party is different from evening parties.
Naturally, it’s a banquet to celebrate the victory.
Of course, it’s not held in a dance hall, so the usual manners don’t apply.
For that reason, the ladies here are rather aggressive.
Although they are desperate to meet eyes with men at evening balls, today there was a strong person who called out to me directly. I became beyond irritated.
“Your Highness… are you enjoying yourself?”
A single young lady approached me with a flirtatious voice.
I checked with a glimpse, she’s Margrave Shallum’s relative.
As expected, I can’t ignore her, but honestly, I’m quite fed up with it.
“… Yeah, obviously. The soldiers also seem to be enjoying themselves. I have work remaining, so I’ll be leaving soon, but I want those who remain to recover from the fatigue of the war to their heart’s content.”
“… Your Highness.”
Will told me that I mustn’t leave yet in a reproachful tone, but I no longer care.
I’m fed up with these women, I absolutely want to return to the office.
As soon as I informed that I’ll be leaving, commotion arose among the ladies.
The ladies hurriedly began calling out to me.
“No way, is Your Highness leaving already? It has only just begun. How about taking it slow for a while longer?”
With her flirtatious attitude, it’s obvious she wanted to invite me to something.
I got strangely angry that she thought I’d get caught up in that.
Until last year I lightly let it slide, but I can only think of it as unpleasant now.
“I shall decline. I wish to return to the Royal Capital soon. My beloved fiancée is waiting there.”
Clearly being told I have no interest in her, the lady in front of me ground her teeth in frustration.
Even so, she unseemly refused to back down.
“I cannot possibly imagine a fiancée in name only is worthy of Your Highness’s worry to this degree.”
It seems those words irritated not only me, but also Will next to me.
Noticing the atmosphere around us change, the young lady in front of us raised her face. When our eyes met and she noticed my anger, she shriveled and began trembling.
… It’s too late even if she regrets it.
Looking down on Lidi is absolutely unacceptable.
The corners of my mouth lifted, and I slowly declared to warn the surroundings.
“I do not care about your misunderstanding, but she is the fiancée and Princess Consort I wished for. I will not permit showing contempt for her in unreasonable jealousy.”
I guess she’ll try making an excuse that it wasn’t her intention.
But, even with that I won’t forgive her.
I was almost at the limit of my patience.
“There were similar fools in the Royal Capital, but truly women are a nuisance. You better remember. I have no intention of marrying other princesses than her, and I will never allow her to be treated with contempt. Do not show me sights so shameful I’ll be unable to watch them. It’s unpleasant.”
I informed the shameless ladies in a chilly voice.
“Even with this I’m showing remarkable patience. Do you understand what I’m saying? … Were I angry, I’d imprison everybody here for lese majeste.”
Since the old days, women around me have never stopped vying for my affection.
I’d thought it would be useless to constantly drive them away, but now that I obtained Lidi it’s unpleasant to properly keep them company.
To put it bluntly, I wish they didn’t approach me.
Having received my anger, the young ladies turned pale.
They must have clearly understood they incurred my displeasure.
“Your Highness, that’s enough.”
Will rebuked me in a quiet voice.
The ladies seemed relieved at his intervention.
But, it’s a big mistake if they think they were saved.
Anger was surging from his whole body.
As I thought that, Will spoke ridiculing words.
“I also find it extremely unpleasant, but Your Highness doesn’t need to worry. It’s only an unpleasant buzzing of small insects.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
I agreed with him who looked considerably angry.
The young ladies, not expecting to be told that, all solidified from the received shock. Taking the opportunity, I went for the exit with Will, but one lady tried catching the hem of my clothes.
“P, please wai…”
Without hearing her to the end, I spat out foul words.
“I haven’t allowed you to touch me. It’s repulsive.”
Without sparing her a glance I left. Will also followed.
I was truly sick.
“… However, young ladies nowadays certainly are assertive. It was quite troubling.”
I answered Will’s quiet mutter with a dry laugh.
Afterwards, we returned to the office bringing alcohol with us, and somehow started drinking with just us two.
“Especially you’re unmarried and don’t even have fiancée. I think there was something unavoidable about it.”
When I pointed out the reality, Will shook his head in denial.
“On the other hand, I’d prefer to avoid those women. My taste is different.”
Seeing Will smile tiredly, I suddenly recalled he loves Lidi.
As expected, I didn’t have time to think about such things during the war, but remembering it makes me feel complicated.
Despite the hazy feeling, I stared at the man in front of me.
A legitimate child of a ducal house, a prodigious magician with a sharp mind. The Magician Division Commander despite his young age. Moreover, attractive appearance.
This man is also everything a woman could wish for.
I wonder if Will, who’s silently drinking, is thinking of her now. Suddenly I became curious.
I called out to him, but I realized there was nothing I could say to him.
The other day I burned with jealousy, but in that case how must Will feel, having his loved one of many years snatched away.
I obtained Lidi, so Will’s wish won’t come true.
I didn’t even need to think to realize who has it worse.
Nevertheless, while I absolutely won’t hand her over, I don’t feel like letting them spend time together.
I acknowledge my heart is terribly narrow.
Even if Lidi doesn’t mind, just who’d want her to meet a man who fell in love with her.
I understand it’s a meaningless jealousy, but I can’t stop it.
Ultimately, I don’t have any leeway for that, just because I don’t know which way Lidi’s feelings go.
She doesn’t dislike being touched or embraced by me.
Despite saying that, I don’t understand why she returned home so readily.
If she doesn’t dislike me, I wish she’d be at my side.
I wonder if it’s wrong to think that.
Nevertheless, supposing she dislikes and refuses me, if asked whether I’d obediently agree, the answer is no.
I can’t pretend to be a sensible adult.
I want to put Lidi at my side no matter what.
That won’t change even if she herself refuses.
I can’t quietly wait until the wedding.
Therefore, when I return, I plan on going to meet her right away, and even if she dislikes it I don’t intend to stay apart from her.
Above all, I couldn’t endure not being with her every day.
Struck by Will’s sharp gaze I vaguely smiled.
“Nothing, I hope we return quickly.”
“… That’s right.”
I slightly raised the glass toward Will despite his distrustful expression.
And for some reason I gazed outside the window.
The Royal Capital was certainly in that direction.
With such sentiment I approached the window as if I was invited.
The outside completely changed to a snowy landscape. Still the snow shows no sign of stopping.
Sitting on the window frame, my thoughts turned to one person in the Royal Capital.
―――― Ah, I want to see her face soon.
While doing that, I felt Will’s stare pierce me as if he wanted to say something.
I looked back to see if he had something to say, but Will only secretly averted his eyes.
Without questioning his gesture, I showed a small smile.
We drank in silence.
Time passed ordinarily like that.
The snow kept silently falling and piling up.
In the end, this quiet comfortable party of just us two continued uneventfully without us getting bored until late at night.