He and the Report
After my mother and Lidi left the room, we went to my father’s office.
As soon as we entered, my father ordered people to leave, so it became just my father, the Prime Minister, Alex, and I.
“To begin with – Freed. Thank you for your hard work in Irvine.”
I sat down on the sofa, and father, who similarly sat down in front of me, spoke in a dignified tone. The Prime Minister stood behind my father, and Alex stood behind me.
“I didn’t do anything. It was all thanks to Lidi setting the stage.”
It wasn’t an exaggeration or anything. When I said that simple truth, my father nodded, “I see.”
“As expected of Lucas’s daughter. Alex, good work on supporting my son over those ten days.”
“Thank you for your kind words.”
Alex elegantly bowed his head like what had happened before was a lie.
Although Alex was usually pretty easygoing, he could be surprisingly formal at times like these. His usual personality slipping out in front of my father earlier must’ve been because of Lidi, his little sister. Alex’s true nature comes out more often when talking with her than with me. It could be that they’re comfortable around each other as siblings, but… he doesn’t seem to be happy about it either. As if nothing had happened, he was completely at ease.
My father stroked his beard with satisfaction and spoke.
“It’s monumental that we could sign an official pact with Irvine. To tell the truth, I didn’t expect such significant results. It’s truly wonderful. These achievements are more than worthy of the next king.”
“Thank you very much. However, I didn’t expect such significant results either.”
Even if I’d brought up the subject, they’d always been non-committal. It was clear from their attitude that they had no interest in it, so I was at a loss for what to do.
And that quickly turned around to signing the agreement, all thanks to the Queen. Who would’ve expected that to be the key to victory? At least I hadn’t even imagined it.
“This has made me realize that the consort’s influence can’t be underestimated. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been possible without Lidi.”
I seriously remarked. My father stroked his beard. “Hmm.”
“I’ve heard that it was the princess who made signing the agreement possible, but what exactly happened?”
I won’t talk about Princess Ophelia’s kidnapping – even to my father.
I had no intention of telling anyone.
I promised that to the King of Irvine, and I know that the various accommodations given were not just done as thanks, but also meant to buy our silence.
Since I understood that, it wasn’t possible to tell my father the details.
“I apologize, father. It’s not something I can say, even to you.”
I fended off my father’s urging gaze with just a smile.
My father must’ve guessed the gist of it when I said, “can” rather than, “will” so he understandingly nodded.
“… I see. If you can’t say it, then it can’t be helped. That’s the way diplomacy is. Freed, from now I leave relations with Irvine to you alone.”
The sudden topic made me blink my eyes. My father cheerfully laughed.
“You are our trump card when dealing with Irvine, aren’t you? And your wife, the princess, is friends with all the Irvine female royals. You’re the best person to deal with them, not I. I’ll update Maxwell as well.”
“… I understand. As Father says.”
Since he mentioned the name of Duke Pellegrini, the Foreign Minister, it meant he was serious.
When I nodded, my father turned to the Prime Minister.
“Lucas, does that work for you?”
Despite his reply, the Prime Minister looked conflicted.
Having noticed that, my father questioned him.
“What is it, Lucas?”
“It’s nothing. It’s just… I started wondering if I’ll get an ulcer again since my daughter is involved… Ah no, I’m just imagining things. I must be imagining it.”
The Prime Minister sounded like he wanted to convince himself. Alex, standing behind me, was stifling his laughter.
“An expected reaction.”
The Prime Minister reacted immediately to his son’s careless remark.
“Alex, it’s not a laughing matter.”
“I’m not laughing, Father. I’m simply sympathizing with you.”
I couldn’t help but laugh when Alex smoothly returned to his phony tone despite speaking normally just a while ago. As expected of Lidi’s brother, his stamina is incredible.
To be honest, he couldn’t survive without at least that much fortitude, but I feel like Lidi and Alex were both especially strong mentally.
“You’re saying it like it’s somebody else’s problem, but do you even understand what this means for you, Alex? With His Highness taking over relations with Irvine means that as his aide, you’ll be assisting him, don’t you realize?”
“Of course, as the Prime Minister I’ll cooperate, but His Highness will have the main role, right? Which means, in case Lidi does something, it’s very likely you’ll have to deal with the aftermath as His Highness’s aide.”
“You’re kidding. Oi. Spare me.”
Alex’s expression turned serious.
His façade pitifully wore off in an instant. It had a truly short life.
Perhaps amused by Alex’s shock, my father quietly laughed. Then he advised the Prime Minister and Alex.
“Well, isn’t it fine? There’s no point crying over something that hasn’t happened yet.”
“That’s true, but…”
The Prime Minister and Alex made an identical expression.
Before, I’d really felt that Alex and Lidi are indeed related, and this time I felt that about him and his father.
Alex and the Prime Minister are very similar.
I couldn’t say much about her mother since I hadn’t had much contact with her, but the members of the Vivoir Ducal House were so alike in so many things, that I could only nod, “Yes, indeed. I can see that they’re related by blood.”
As I was self-satisfied with my conclusion, my father wryly smiled and spoke.
“It’s certainly enjoyable to listen to your conversation, but let’s move on for now. There are multiple topics that we need to discuss. Lucas, Irvine’s princess is coming next week to study here, corect?”
The Prime Minister’s face tightened, and he nodded to my father’s question.
In an instant, his expression turned from that of a father to that of a prime minister.
“We’ve already begun preparations to welcome her. As it’s not a short-term visit but a two-year stay, we’re putting emphasis on privacy. We’re considering the annex that’s currently not in use as a residence for Her Highness the Princess.”
I also agreed with the idea that it’d be more comfortable for the princess to live in a separate building than to have a room prepared inside the castle.
The Prime Minister continued.
“Furthermore, given that she’s coming here to study, we’re simultaneously selecting a tutor for her.”
She mainly wants to undertake monarch education. Princess Ophelia, who wants to breathe a new life into Irvine, wishes to study in a country foreign to her, Wilhelm.
My father didn’t receive the explanation of her precise reasoning, but from a letter I sent in Irvine he already learned of the idea of Princess Ophelia succeeding the throne instead of Hendrik.
He was puzzled by the situation, but each country has its own circumstances. The pact had been signed, so he accepted her application to study here without prying into it.
I listened to the Prime Minister talk about what was needed to be done to welcome the princess. When the topic moved onto the interior design and furniture, I asked, “May I?”
“Prime Minister. Regarding Princess Ophelia’s room, I want you to listen to Lidi’s opinion.”
“Yes. Princess Ophelia prefers dressing as a man at all times. Of course, dressing like that doesn’t mean there are any problems with her personality, but I think we shouldn’t assume she thinks like a usual woman.”
“Hoh. Dresses as a man, you say?”
The King and Prime Minister looked like it was their first time hearing it.
I didn’t feel like Princess Ophelia’s outward appearance particularly mattered, so I didn’t mention it. However, it’s a different matter when she’s coming to study in Wilhelm. I better discuss it properly.