It had been several days since the Pope and I switched places.
Although the scheduled conference with Dorothea was still a ways off, there were a lot of other small events.
I left most of the work to the people around me in order to keep up appearances.
Fortunately, the Pope rarely communicated with other people directly, so I haven’t made any fatal mistakes yet.
That being said, I still slipped up occasionally when it came to choosing the right words to say and misinterpreting certain arrangements.
“Haaah～～～～～～ I’m exhausted～～～～～～”
After having a meeting with a church official from the Empire, I returned to the room that I was living in, hopped onto the bed without a care while still wearing my robe and let out a huge sigh.
As you may have noticed, trying to behave like the Pope was completely different from what I was used to.
I couldn’t do anything silly at all, and I had to be mindful of my conduct all the time.
Above all, the worst part was that Claire-sama wasn’t here.
‘When this is all over, I’ll make sure to play with Claire-sama as much as possible,’ I thought to myself as I renewed my determination.
There was a knock at the door.
I hurriedly tried to correct my posture and sat upright on the bed before I told them that they could come in.
“Excuse me, Your Holiness.”
The person who came in was Lishe-sama.
When she saw me, she raised her eyebrows slightly, but immediately went back to a neutral expression.
“All of today’s business has been taken care of. Good work. I brought you a change of clothes, so allow me to help you get changed.”
Lishe-sama said as she spread out the casual clothes, which was mostly just a simple robe.
“One more thing….. Try not to lay on the bed when you have the vestment on. It’ll get crinkled.”
Ah, I was found out.
Well, that was to be expected, though.
The real Pope probably wouldn’t be sitting on the bed like this to begin with.
“I apologize, Lishe-sama.”
“Yes, Your Holiness.”
Upon her warning, I hurriedly corrected myself. Lishe-sama gave me a satisfied smile as she began helping me change my clothes.
“…… Speaking of which, you must be really tired by now. Does it feel constraining, having to behave like the Pope?”
Lishe-sama asked me quietly, in a voice that only the two of us could hear.
Her tone sounded very considerate and appreciative at the same time.
“Yes, it really does. Especially because I usually behave like a wild animal.”
“That’s not true, is it? From what I’ve heard, back when you were still a student, your grades in Etiquette were quite good.”
While taking off the upper garment from my heavy vestment, I replied.
“Even so, my level of etiquette was still a far cry from the behavior of a real noble. I suppose that was because we lived in two different worlds.”
“…… Although, that is considered a thing of the past now. Aristocracy and commoners no longer exist now, after all.”
“Whether that is considered a good thing or a bad thing is something I’m still unsure of, though,” Lishe-sama muttered.
“Lishe-sama, you used to be a part of the Church, right?”
“Yes. Although, if you were to trace back my lineage, I came from a family of high ranking nobles in Bauer.”
Well, even if she was a cardinal, there was no way an average clergywoman could become the Queen, after all.
“Were you confused when you first started living in the Royal Palace?”
“Well, to a certain extent. I learned some etiquette during my time in the Church, but there were different standards for people of royalty.”
“It was something I desperately practiced,” Lishe-sama said, with a reminiscent tone in her voice.
“There were some people who helped me out as well. You probably don’t have a good impression of him, but Salas really did a lot for me.”
According to Lishe-sama, it seemed that Salas had been actively supporting her even before she became the Queen.
“Everybody has been speaking ill of Salas ever since the revolution happened and he was imprisoned. Of course, I think conspiring with the Empire in order to take control of Bauer is unforgivable. However, I don’t think it’s fair to invalidate all of the hard work he has left behind in the Kingdom.”
It was true that Salas was an excellent Prime Minister.
After he took office as the Prime Minister, the politics of the Kingdom stabilized.
His Majesty King Rousseau may have been the one who came up with the principle that placed utmost importance on one’s level of ability and power, but it was none other than Salas who actually made it come to fruition.
“In the past, he was a dreamer with pure ideals. The one who changed him was…… that person―― it was Lulu-sama’s fault.”
Lulu-sama was the Queen that came before Lishe-sama.
Even while she was still wedded to Rousseau, she and Salas had an illicit relationship, and she eventually gave birth to Sein-sama.
“Lulu-sama was somebody who had many loves. She was a typical noblewoman. Salas, who was very naive at the time, was snatched away by that person.”
My assessment of the situation was quite different from hers, so I decided to keep quiet, and asked her something else instead.
“Lishe-sama, did you love Salas?”
Upon hearing my question, Lishe-sama could not answer immediately.
For a little while, all that could be heard in the room was the sound of my clothes rustling as I was getting changed.
“One’s personal preferences are pointless when it comes to the world of politics. I was the consort to His Majesty Rousseau, and I had no sort of connection with Salas. That’s all.”
‘It sounded like she was just trying to tell those words to herself,’ I thought to myself.
“Either way, I became the Queen. After I gave birth to Yuu, she became something that I wanted to live for. You…… and Yuu probably don’t think well of me, but I truly love Yuu from the bottom of my heart.”
When Yuu-sama’s name came out of her mouth, Lishe-sama had a very gentle expression on her face.
Seeing that left a huge impression on me.
“When it comes to Yuu’s gender, I did something very unacceptable to her. Most likely, I wasn’t a very good mother to her either. But even so, I’ve always thought about Yuu’s wellbeing first. No matter how much one might try to argue with me on this, it’s the truth.”
Lishe-sama stared at me as she spoke.
I could tell by her face that she wasn’t lying at all.
“What do you think of Misha?”
I asked, having been curious about the answer for a long time.
Lishe-sama smiled wryly,
“Misha is an excellent child. Her family used to be high ranking nobles, and she helped out during the case of Yuu’s sex. You might not believe this, but before her family fell from nobility, I had no doubt that she would become Yuu’s future partner.”
She spoke, sounding like she was quite fond of the past.
In her mind, Lishe-sama was probably remembering how Yuu-sama and Misha were back when they were young.
“What about now?”
“Now…… I’m not quite sure. Yuu has become a woman, and now she wants Misha to become her lifelong partner…… It’s the same with you and Claire as well, but I can’t seem to understand the feelings behind wanting to choose a partner of the same sex.”
“I’m sorry if I said something hurtful,” Lishe-sama said apologetically.
“Don’t worry about it,” I answered.
Heterosexuals cannot completely understand the feelings of loving somebody of the same gender.
Conversely, homosexuals cannot understand the feelings of loving somebody of the opposite gender either.
This wasn’t a matter of which one was better or worse.
It was simply just a matter of sexual orientation.
“However, I am a little envious of both you and Yuu. At the very least, you both are trying your best to live honestly with your feelings. Even if difficulties are standing in your path, you have the resolve to overcome them. I think that is really amazing.”
She said something really surprising.
I thought Lishe-sama would be completely against that form of love.
However, despite saying she couldn’t understand it, Lishe-sama still said she felt envious.
“I suppose that’s just how the times have changed. When I was about your age, things like love or getting married were choices that did not belong to me. Older people tend to say that they miss the past, but I wonder if that just involves being jealous of the present because of the freedom they lacked before. Rather than denying the present, they just can’t let go of the past.”
Lishe-sama’s words were completely unlike her still youthful appearance.
When Lishe-sama was talking about her past, it made her feel older than she actually seemed.
“Rei. When you become an adult, you’ll probably come to understand it too – what it means to feel like you’re stuck in the past. In the middle of it, there will be children out there who will show you the future, and that’s when you’ll see just how dazzling, yet enviable they are.”
I will never forget the words that Lishe-sama said.
Even after the events that would occur at a later time, I still think that Lishe-sama’s words are true.