He and the King of Irvine
“Thanks for yesterday. You really saved us.”
Despite being busy before returning tomorrow, I met Hendrik early in the morning.
To be honest, I hadn’t planned to meet him, but he asked me for that no matter what, so I agreed to do that early in the morning. I was slightly peeved, since it meant I had to go out leaving Lidi behind.
Leisurely breakfasts with just the two of us are fun and quite difficult to make the time for. When I instinctively scowled at Hendrik for disturbing that, he said, “My bad,” with a wry smile.
“I wanted to thank you again no matter what.”
“There’s no need. It’s already in the past.”
“Sure, but let me say it anyway. Thanks to the help from you guys, Ophelia came back safely.”
“… We haven’t really done anything. We just referred to the information broker.”
“I’m incredibly grateful for that. I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t be able to find Ophelia alone.”
Hendrik said that and took a breath.
“Well, that’s what I basically said when I talked to you telepathically yesterday. I wanted to meet you today to offer my thanks in person.”
“I’m saying I don’t really need that.”
“Don’t say that! You might not care, but we won’t be satisfied with that! Even Esteemed Father was incredibly grateful to you guys. And so he said, ‘I’ll accept Wilhelm’s offer to import coffee beans.’”
My eyes widened when I heard Hendrik’s words.
The import of coffee beans. It was one of the things I had on the agenda for the meeting with the King. Of course, when opening negotiations, it’s the basics to first come up with advantageous conditions. The other side then states their wishes, and then both sides compare and adjust their conditions until both are satisfied.
I was worried that our conditions were too different to come to a conclusion by readjusting them, and yet they accepted Wilhelm’s proposal as is? Irvine did?
When I stared at Hendrik in disbelief, he nodded with a serious look on his face.
“Do you understand now? That’s how grateful we are. By the way, I already have the documents with Esteemed Father’s signature. The moment you sign them, the negotiations will finish.”
“… Is that fine?”
“Fine, or whatever. It’s us who are proposing it.”
“No, I get that, but…”
I never would have thought they would say it.
While I was shaking my head, still unable to believe it, Hendrik said.
“This is the only thing we can do for you since you’re the Crown Prince of Wilhelm. Um… About the other matter, I’d be happy if you could do something about it yourself. I don’t think Esteemed Father won’t listen.”
What Hendrik was talking about is the agreement between our countries. Certainly, that’s more important than the import of coffee beans, but since Lidi will be happy about this, I’m grateful.
“Still, I was saved. Lidi took a liking to the coffee, so I wanted to reach an agreement no matter what.”
“It makes me relieved to hear that… And listen.”
It was unusual for Hendrik to be reluctant to say something, so I raised an eyebrow. After hesitating for a while, he spoke like he made up his mind.
“… After what happened, I also thought about various things. Before, I thought it’d be fine to just be happy together with Ilya. I didn’t mind creating trouble for my surroundings. However, you know… Yesterday, I thought – I witnessed such an event happening and then Ophelia’s determination with my own eyes, and yet I pushed everything on my little sister and ran away. I’d never part from Ilya and I don’t mind handing over the position of the Crown Prince, but wouldn’t it be wrong to leave the country? I started wondering if I shouldn’t stay in the country and support Ophelia together with Ilya after handing over the position of the Crown Prince.”
“As long as she’s with me, Ilya doesn’t mind where it is either, so it’s possible for us to support Ophelia.”
“I guess. Because of you, Princess Ophelia will succeed the throne. She’s your dear younger sister, so as her older brother, shouldn’t you support her at least that much?”
“… That’s quite a thing to say by someone who has no siblings. But, you’re indeed right.”
“I’ll talk about it with Ilya.”
“I wonder… if Ilya will accept my proposition.”
When Hendrik said so anxiously, I slapped his back.
“Pull yourself together. If you don’t believe in Princess Ilya, who can you believe in?”
“Freed… Yep. Thanks.”
Hendrik nodded a few times and smiled at me. His smile was refreshing like a weight had come off his shoulders.
“Yep. There’s no point in worrying… Ah, another thing. I forgot, but about the import of coffee beans! You have to sign the documents.”
I took the documents Hendrik had been entrusted with. Our conversation had digressed, but since we finally returned to the topic, I called Alex, who was waiting in another room. Alex seemed surprised that our conditions were accepted, but he confirmed the documents without saying anything and nodded.
“Certainly, our every condition is met here… Is it really fine?”
“It seems to be the King’s intention. Alex, can I sign them?”
“Yeah, far from there being no particular problems…. there are only conditions advantageous to us. Seriously? It’s the import of coffee beans, no? Is it alright for us to benefit so much?”
I left as is Alex trembling in fear over the conditions being too favorable and finished signing them. I wrote the same signature on the two documents and affixed them with a seal.
I handed one to Hendrik, and he checked the document and nodded.
“Yep, that’s good. Then, I’ll be going. Ilya should be at Esteemed Mother’s tea party, but I’m thinking of bringing her back soon.”
“I see. No, wait a moment, Hendrik. There’s one thing I want to talk with you about.”
I almost forgot.
I called Hendrik to stop him from leaving the room and walked up to him.
Hendrik looked at me suspiciously. Careful not to let anyone overhear us, I spoke.
“Could you set aside some time tomorrow before our departure?”
“Eh? I can, but what for?”
“You’ve heard that your consort and one of our escorts come from the same hometown, right? I want them to talk a little. But, I know it’s impossible for them to talk one on one, so what if Lidi was there, since she knows their circumstances?”
“… Certainly, I’ve heard about that from Ilya.”
Hendrik didn’t bother to hide the disgust that appeared on his face. He must hate his wife talking with another man. I understand this feeling very well, but this time I have to make him step down.
“Hendrik. If you feel obliged to me, I’d like to ask for that. Lidi wants to make Princess Ilya and our escort talk. You don’t think Ilya would have an affair either, right?”
“Of course I don’t, but…”
Hendrik hesitated. He looked quite troubled, but eventually he gave a nod.
“I understand. I’ll allow it. To be honest, I really don’t like it, but if Princess Lydiana will be with them, I can endure that.”
“I’ve bothered you in various ways, and I’ve also consulted with you. I’d feel bad if I didn’t agree to at least that much… It’s okay we do it before the departure, right?”
“Got it. I’ll relay that to Ilya.”
Hendrik sighed and left the room. Afterwards, Alex walked up to me, holding the document I’d just signed in his hands.
“We were lucky.”
“We sure were. I didn’t do it for this reason, but in the end, it was a good move.”
When I agreed, Alex earnestly said.
“Well, you really made him indebted to you. I didn’t even imagine what happened yesterday would come back like this.”
“I don’t remember making him indebted.”
I just responded to Lidi’s wish to save her friend. Of course, I’d have accepted Hendrik’s request by myself too, but if not for Lidi, I think Hendrik wouldn’t have relied on me in the first place.
I understand he decided to rely on us when that happened because Lidi had already made friends with Princess Ophelia.
Alex looked at me and said.
“That’s why. He returned the favor because you had no intention of making him indebted. In any case, I’m relieved one headache is over with. What’s left is the final negotiations with the King… Freed, can I count on you?”
“I don’t think it will go so smoothly, but I’ll do what I can.”
This is what’s most difficult.
Perhaps they’ve already reached some agreement with Sahaja. There’s no way the King of Irvine would agree then.
“Ahh, I wish they would show their gratitude with the agreement, not coffee beans.”
“Even if you say that, it can’t be helped. I think the King has already accommodated us the best he could.”
“I know that. But, I still felt like saying that, okay?”
I nodded to Alex and fired myself up, since this would be the critical moment.