I’m Not Even an Otome Game Mob Character - Chapter 37
Trees get greener as autumn, the season of calm ushers itself in.
But with the summer heat coloring them, garden flowers continue to bloom proudly.
There’s a circular flower bed with various Lisianthuses acting like paint and ornament around the perimeter. They’re followed by Tansies behind them as Hollyhocks bloom tall and fresh at the center, creating a mountain of flowers.
“It seems that the Tansies also work to repel insects. They’re even hanged around windows and such at Zac’s home.”
“So you can take your time staring at them?”
Lydia and Roy chat peacefully as they overlook the mountain of flowers through a glass door. Lydia had thought without a doubt that the Tansies were only to emphasize the beauty of the Hollyhocks and Lisianthuses, but that wasn’t all they did. As she spoke, Roy was feeling pleasant.
It seemed that she was frustrated for only looking at them from an aesthetic point of view. She must have started talking about that because Roy said that it was quite peaceful for this season. There would usually be more insects.
Based on what he had heard from Lydia, Roy learned that a gardener must not only consider aesthetics but also the function of plants as they arrange gardens. He was very interested in this topic, so he enjoyed listening to her about it. It was good to learn more things that he could apply when he looked at the castle gardens.
“Weren’t gardens designed to be simply enjoyed without thinking of such things?”
Lydia wanted to widen her vision so she found Roy’s opinions something to be envied. On the other hand, it was rare for someone of the opposite sex to be frustrated about Roy in that way, so he was happy. Everytime he saw her react like this, he remembered how difficult it was to get a friend like her.
“Come to think of it, the frequency of my visits has been the exact same ever since we’ve been engaged. Is that not a problem?”
“Why would it be a problem? We meet in tea parties and the like as well.”
“Yes. That’s just like you, Lady Lydia.”
One visit every two weeks and participating in the same parties is enough for fiancees, Lydia answered. Roy smiled in satisfaction.
Roy was happy that she wasn’t like the other ladies from the candidate stage who wanted to see him more often. Lydia must’ve guessed that he was busy as a prince which must’ve been why she didn’t feel the need to meet more often. Still, she couldn’t guess what his smile meant.
She tilted her head. In any case, Roy was happy, so she went ahead and changed the topic.
“Recently, Jorg’s attitude has softened.”
“That’s a relief. So it’s just the girl on the other side of that door then?”
Roy said that he wanted to talk alone, so her bodyguard Emilia and his bodyguard Matteus waited together outside. His honey-colored eyes faced her general direction while Lydia’s hands clenched slightly. It seemed that she was having trouble with the home stretch.
The girl had eyes like a steely crystal. That’s what Roy’s impression of her was after meeting her. His bodyguard, Matteus, smiled wryly when they were together, so she must’ve been quite upright. She was hard to win over.
“I would like to have a proper talk with her as I have with Jorg, but I haven’t been getting any opportunities to do so…”
How many times had she tried speaking to her? Lydia seemed so frustrated. Emilia was the type to hate talks unrelated to work. She wasn’t going to give her any chances to have a conversation.
“…I’m not getting any openings either.”
Roy seemed to have remembered something as he smiled bitterly, worrying Lydia. It was very rare for her to see him look bitter.
“Are you also having a hard time with someone, Roy-sama?”
“My little brother, embarrassing as it is.”
“His highness Klaus?”
Lydia remembers Roy’s little brother who she has greeted a few times after getting engaged to Roy. She has only ever greeted him, so she doesn’t know much about him as a person.
“He seems strict.”
Whenever she saw him he would always have a stiff expression which gave her that impression. But Roy softly shakes his head.
“No, half of the reason Klaus acts like that is because you’re beautiful so he gets nervous. The other half is because of me.”
Sorry, he smiles weakly. Lydia accidentally blushed at the first half of his explanation. She didn’t think it was necessary. Still, Roy goes on to say that although she’s always beautiful she’s even more beautiful when they have tea parties together, so it couldn’t be helped. She really felt like running away.
“I can’t laugh because it’s my fault. So I’m truly sorry that he acts like that even towards you because of me.”
Seeing Roy so guilty, Lydia realized that this wasn’t the time to be shy.
“Is that because of the right to the throne…?”
“Seems so. But in reality, he constantly accomodates Phil. He is actually a child with a gentle smile.”
As a part of her education as future queen, Lydia is given opportunities to speak with the present first queen. On one such occasion, she met third princess Philine as she happily chatted away with her older brothers. She didn’t discriminate between Roy and Klaus. Being a young girl, she must’ve not had any thoughts about the throne, so although they loved her the people around her must’ve not told her anything about it.
But that wasn’t the case between the first prince Roy and the second prince Klaus. They were close in age but with different mothers. There must have been eyes watching them all around his home the castle, making it hard for them to talk.
Especially within Klaus’ mother, the second queen’s influence. As the first prince’s fiancee, Lydia always gets intimidating looks from her.
“I’ve been trying to call out to him, but I think he hates me. I’m not even sure if he thinks of me as his older brother.”
“Is that right…?”
Lydia voices her doubts in front of Roy and his lonely smile.
“You have been speaking in favor of his highness Klaus since a while ago. I believe that you are just as concerned about his highness as Philine-sama is. And that is very fitting for an older brother.”
Lydia tells him her raw impressions. Roy’s honey colored eyes widen for a second before he breaks into a gentle grin.
“I’d be glad.”
“It isn’t as difficult as it looks. I’ve been able to do it as well.”
Lydia smiled back. She herself has had a time where she worried if she was fitting to be Flora’s elder sister. The gardening apprentice boy told her that from his perspective, she was.
She thought that she hadn’t been doing enough, but it was different from a third party’s point of view. Lydia could see Roy as a good older brother from the care he showed towards his younger brother with each of his words. Trying to speak to him again and again even after being avoided was something he couldn’t have done if he wasn’t family.
If her own little sister, Flora did that to her, she wasn’t sure if she could do the same. She would be so discouraged. Lydia felt teary just from imagining it.
“I can only imagine how you must feel…”
“Lady Lydia… I didn’t mean to sadden you. And Lady Flora would never hate you, so please don’t worry.”
She imagined herself in his shoes, and Roy brought out a handkerchief. Lydia was likely only going to get teary eyed so there was no need to wipe. But seeing Roy’s troubled expression, she obediently received it and nodded, saying thank you.
“At any rate, we must both find ways to prepare opportunities to talk.”
It may have been strange to liken her own problem with her subordinate with the discord in Roy’s family, but Lydia thought that it was better to talk this casually. Roy nodded at her words, muttered ‘yeah’, and started thinking.
Then he smiled brightly at Lydia, seeming to have thought of something.
“Lady Lydia, please be selfish and trouble me.”
Lydia’s mind paused for a second at his sudden request. How selfish would she have to be to trouble him? Raising her own wishes without thinking of the other person’s situation seemed so shameful that she wouldn’t be able to do it. She now remembers herself from two years ago and feels like dying of embarrassment.
Lydia was troubled at his extremely difficult request. Roy smiled, hoping to calm her down.
“Could you pretend to do that?”
She didn’t know what Roy intended to do. But it would make it easier for him to take action, and she wanted to help him to gain peace with his brother even if it was just a little bit, so Lydia nodded.
Now having her permission, Roy thanked her. But seeing her eyes, still moist that looked like Nigella flowers, he smiled bitterly.
“Though I don’t think Isaac will stay quiet if he finds out that I made you cry.”
Lydia tilted her head. Not to be arrogant, but there were many people in this house who looked out for her. Even within the employees, the maid Katherine and her bodyguards seemed that they would react to the slightest slight against her. So why did he say the gardening apprentice’s name in particular?
Roy simply answered with a smile and nothing more. Instead, he turned around.
“I’m sorry. I’d been forgetting someone.”
Lydia follows Roy’s line of sight to see the door opened to a blond young man with deep and fluffy golden hair. His eyes, the same color as Lydia’s, were wide with shock.
Lydia was wondering what had her father Gerald so surprised when she noticed Roy’s handkerchief in her hands. She understood the misunderstanding he was having and panicked.*
“Th-This isn’t what it looks like…!”
“Lady Lydia, I fear that will have the opposite effect.”
“Your Highness, may I have a word?”
Her father smiled without smiling, and Lydia had a hard time resolving the misunderstanding. Roy himself kept smiling the whole time like a fool, leaving Lydia to resolve it all by herself. It was unfair.
Roy said that he was deeply interested in the love Gerald had for his daughter that made him disregard his own words. Amazing, he said at her father’s menacing expression. Lydia thought he was quite amazing, too.
(TN: I don’t get the misunderstanding myself. If anyone does please go ahead and let us know in the comments)
After several days, the two brothers bumped into each other within Arventroad’s royal castle.
“Klaus, how are you doing?”
Roy smiles and greets his younger brother. His younger brother Klaus averts his eyes and replies curtly.
“We met at practice just yesterday. Do you think I’m much different today?”
Roy nodded with a bright smile while Klaus furrowed his brows. Both of them had metallic hair, but while Roy’s hair was straight and creaseless, Klaus’ hair turned up at the ends. They were different not only in expression but also in hair. Even their followers contrasted, with Roy’s attendant smiling wryly and slightly perplexed while Klaus’ attendant wore a harsh look.
Klaus wanted to leave as soon as possible, so after that short greeting he tried to pass by his brother. But before he could take the first step, Roy spoke.
“Ah, yes. I’m going to visit my fiancee today. Would you like to come?”
His invitation was so absurd that Klaus forgot to hide his doubt. Shocked, he looked at his brother’s face only to see it as bright as ever.
(TN: He’s about to say me in a more prideful way but corrects himself)
“Lady Lydia mentioned that she wanted to speak with you, Klaus. You only need to show your face for a bit, so could you help your big brother out and come with me?”
Roy shrugged his shoulders with a troubled look. Klaus didn’t know if Roy was that into his fiancee or if his fiancee was that shameless towards Roy, but in either case it was a hassle for him.
“I’m terribly sorry, but my schedule is full for the day…”
“Oh? But none of our house tutors are coming today, right?”
Roy had already known his plans. Klaus’ expression turned bitter.
“Mother is calling me.”
“Isn’t Zimone-sama headed for a tea party with Marchioness Leimbacher?”
“My little sister is…”
“Phil is tied up with manners training for today.”
Having all his excuses shut down by Roy, Klaus could only groan. He finally notices that Roy had made sure to invite him when he had no plans.
“I – understand…”
“Thanks a lot.”
Klaus reluctantly consents to which Roy thanks him with a smile.
His attendant offered to accompany them, but Roy refused, saying that his attendant Matteus would be enough.
Matteus was a knight of the imperial guard that Roy handpicked for himself. In order to prove his excellence, he duelled ten of the existing imperial guards and won over all of them. Klaus’ attendant was one of the knights who lost to him, so he could not raise any objections.
Alone and unassisted, Klaus boarded Roy’s carriage.
He looked at his older brother warily, but his smile never crumbled so he could never read his thoughts. He felt that he had some sort of ulterior motive. To think that his competitor for the throne would invite him to visit his fiancee, was he making a fool of him? Klaus had reached the age at which Roy got engaged, but he himself wasn’t engaged yet. That was because his mother, the second queen was still looking for a fiancee more excellent than his.
As the carriage swayed, Klaus clenched his fists on his lap at the possibility that he was being insulted.
When they reached the mansion of Duke Ernst, Roy’s fiancee Lydia welcomed them with completely perfect courtesy. After greeting them, she lead them to her garden where tea was supposedly prepared.
“I am happy that we were able to meet today.”
Charmed by Lydia who smiled along with her words, Klaus returned to his senses, cleared his throat and looked at the garden so he wouldn’t have to look at her directly.
“It’s my honor to be invited for tea.”
“I wanted to speak more with you, your highness Klaus. That is why I troubled Roy-sama.”
Fufu, Lydia smiled in such a lovely way that Klaus understood why his big brother listened to her.
The duke was related to the royal family, but it was still troubling for her to simply say that she wanted to see them. But he also felt that maybe it wasn’t so troubling because she was also prince Roy’s fiancee. Thinking that this might have happened because he had only ever said the bare minimum of greetings towards her, Klaus felt responsible.
“Lady Lydia, you’re so beautiful that I hesitated to introduce you to other men, notwithstanding my little brother.”
“Oh Roy-sama, you and your jokes.”
Seeing that lovestruck exchange, the responsibility Klaus felt decreased. His slightly slanted eyes naturally glazed over again. He saw their intimacy and questioned why he had to be here.
Feeling some irritation but taking an appropriate amount of care to not let it show in his voice, Klaus gulped down his tea at once and stood up.
“Big brother must surely have something to discuss with his fiancee. I will take a look at the garden.”
Lydia tried to stop him, but Klaus walked along the promenade and disappeared.
She lowered her outstretched hand and her eyebrows.
“I was supposed to stand up and leave to prepare sweets…”
“Maybe we went a little too hard on the act?”
While Lydia was dejected that things hadn’t gone according to plan, Roy shrugged his shoulders looking more cheerful than distraught.
“Roy-sama… why do you look like you’re having so much fun?”
“No, I’m just happy that Klaus reacted more than I thought he would.”
“Is that, right…?”
Lydia would never feel that way about Klaus’ sharp attitude while Roy felt that he did indeed have certain reactions. He smiled happily.
“It’s not as if he’s running away. Once he calms down he’ll come back.”
Roy sips his tea leisurely to Lydia’s bewilderment. Even though his plan was already being set back, instead of seeming disappointed Roy looked as calm as ever. There should be a limit to composure. Lydia was even more worried than him.
“If we chase him he’ll run away. We’ll wait for him to come on his own.”
“…His highness Klaus is not a wild animal.”
Roy found Lydia’s rebuttal clever and smiled.
For him, just being with his little brother for this long without the interference of the second queen was enough. He understood that Klaus’ guard would not be dispelled so easily, and so he never expected to be able to close the distance between them all at once. He had always been prepared to play the long game.
The tea will get cold, Roy says. Lydia could only return to her seat. It was Katherine’s tea, so she wanted to drink it while it was at its best.
“How dare they!”
Klaus tramples through the garden, irritated. He could afford to act like this because nobody was around.
The first prince Roy always wore a smile, never showed any flaws and always exhibited superiority. While others worked their hearts out he ascended effortlessly.
Day by day, his mother, the second queuen Zimone tells him to do better than him, and whenever anything happens those around him only compare him to his older brother. The inferiority complex that took root from this resulted in Klaus’ subservience towards Roy.
Even today, he should have noticed earlier. In his political studies, the home tutors have been telling him about the importance of information gathering and preparation before action. He had heard that they were applicable in war time, but he never thought that they could be applied in everyday life. He saw the difference in their perspectives and it was as if Roy was telling him to know the difference in between them.
For him, the house of his older brother’s fiancee was nothing but the enemy camp. Being in such a place also served to irritate him more.
Klaus suddenly stopped moving.
“…Where am I?”
His irritation had been carrying his feet forward, but now trees had sprouted all around him and he could no longer see anything resembling a path. He didn’t feel any sunlight so he looked up, wondering if it was cloudy. But his head was just being covered in a tree shade. He felt like he would be able to return if he could reach the promenade again, but the only thing he saw around him was shrubbery indistinguishable from each other. He had no sense of direction.
Looking around himself, he couldn’t even determine which way he had come from. He couldn’t determine which way the mansion was.
After hesitating, Klaus took one step forward to search for the way back.
At that instant, someone’s head popped out from a grassy green shrubby place right in front of Klaus’ eyes.
All of a sudden, someone popped out of the shrubs. Klaus felt like his heart would pop out of his chest in surprise.
“Huh? Who are you?”
“N-No, who are you!?”
A pair of blank copper eyes reflected Klaus as they asked him who he was. They belonged to a boy close to his own age. After a second of relief, anger rose up in Klaus at being surprised.
“I’m the gardening apprentice here.”
“Do you think it’s acceptable for a gardener to surprise his guests!?”
“Eh, but nobody comes here.”
The guest area is way over there, the gardening apprentice boy said. It seemed that he understood the layout of the Ernst gardens.
“Don’t make excuses, apologizing won’t be enough! Guide me back to the mansion!”
“What, you got lost?”
Klaus instantly denied that he was a lost child only to notice that he hadn’t thought of any excuse. He awkwardly looked away.
“…I just wasn’t looking for a second, so I lost my sense of direction.”
Klaus hadn’t noticed that that was no excuse at all. The gardening apprentice boy heard his words and simply nodded.
Trying to change the topic, Klaus pointed his index finger at the gardening apprentice boy and reproached him.
“A-Anyway, know your place! I am this country’s second prince, Klaus Wolfgang Von Rozenhein!”
“Leo had a little brother too?”
He widened his eyes and said instead of prostrating himself immediately like he thought he would. Klaus shook. That reaction was so unexpected that he couldn’t quite catch what he had said.
“Do you not know my face!?”
“Commoners don’t know royal faces.”
“What about the portraits…?”
“Not even my neighborhood church has anything that expensive.”
Until now everyone naturally knew his face without him introducing himself, so he thought that commoners must’ve known how the members of the royal family looked like. He believed that royal influence reached them. The fact that there were people who didn’t recognize him as royalty shocked him.
“…Anyway, change your attitude now that you know I’m a prince!”
“I am truly sorry. I beg you to forgive my rudeness.”
“O… A-As long as you understand.”
The instant he heard him, the gardening apprentice boy’s expression became neutral, his manners became polite and he seemed to become a completely different person. Klaus was shocked.
He was so polite that it didn’t match up with his gardening clothes. It exuded a sense of wrongness. There were gardeners even in the royal castle, but he had only ever seen them do their work from afar, so he couldn’t know if this level of manners was normal for gardeners.
Please allow me to guide you towards the mansion, he said as he took a few steps forward. After making sure that Klaus was behind him, he matched pace and started walking.
Watching him silently move forward without saying a word, Klaus didn’t feel as much presence from him as before. It was as if he was no different from the employees at the royal castle who would only ever enter his vision. It was completely unlike how he was when they had met and somehow boring.
“Don’t be quiet. Say something.”
“But the uncouth words of a gardener such as myself may only soil your ears.”
That fast reply was so typical that Klaus furrowed his brows.
“First of all, stop talking like that. It’s gross.”
That was right, it was gross. After hearing how he actually spoke even if it was just for a short time, speaking to him as he was now was like talking to nobody. After so obviously changing the way he spoke was he now going to feign ignorance?
The gardening apprentice didn’t agree so easily to Klaus taking back his words.
“Just do it.”
“…Only if you keep it in this garden.”
“Understood. I’ll allow it.”
Klaus agrees to his condition. The boy stops for a second, turns around and smiles.
“I’m bad with formal stuff like that so thanks. It’s Isaac.”
You’re more reasonable than I expected, he praised Klaus. And though he hadn’t praised him as a prince, those words tickled Klaus’ heart. His first words after returning to his original way of speaking were directed right at him, so it didn’t rub him the wrong way.
At first he’d gotten mad thinking that he was being rude, but if what happened here was going to stay here then he could have a relaxed conversation. As he followd the gardening apprentice boy’s guidance, Klaus voiced his doubts.
“You were awfully proficient despite not being good at it.”
“I did act as a practice substitute for a short time.”
“Your brother refused to dance with anyone until he got engaged, right?”
Now that he mentioned it, to keep a feeling of fairness his brother didn’t dance with anyone until his fiancee was set in stone. His mother criticized him, saying that he was displaying arrogance just because the choice was his. But Klaus hadn’t thought that the ladies would then be troubled over which partner to dance with.
“Is dancing included in the work of a gardener?”
“Don’t talk like Leo.”
Of course not, the gardening apprentice boy replied in a bewildered voice. But he said that he was a substitute himself. The fault was with him for causing the misunderstanding since he didn’t know the scope of a gardener’s work, Klaus thought as he glared at his back.
“Isaac, was it? Calling others ‘you’ after they’ve introduced themselves isn’t only irreverent but rude*.”
(*TN: It’s a Japanese thing)
He pointed out something that had been on his mind since a while ago. The boy apologized right away.
“Sorry. Uhhh, Kla… what was it?”
But he couldn’t really remember his name. Klaus accidentally got worked up.
“It’s Klaus Wolfgang Von Rozenhein.”
“Kla… Wo?? Why do nobles have such long names?”
“Are you dumb!?”
The boy honestly acknowledged his bad memory. Klaus lost his energy. Did he not feel frustrated to be called that by Klaus even though he was older than him? Or were all commoners like this because they didn’t get educated like nobles did? No, he felt like this boy just lacked self-respect.
“…Then just call me Wolf.”
He was only going to talk to him here anyway. If he were to call him by his real name, this dumb man might carelessly say it down the line and get reproached for disrespect. It seemed like a hassle. Thinking that, Klaus gave him his middle name which shouldn’t be as easily recognized.
The gardening apprentice boy didn’t notice that he was concerned for his intellect. I can remember that, he replied with a smile.
“Anyway, you have some stamina to have come that far, Wolf. Are you training?”
“I’m learning swordsmanship. I do practice swings too, so this much is nothing.”
He replied with genuine admiration. Isaac didn’t know the royal family so it was a matter of course, but Klaus didn’t often get praise without being compared to his older brother. He felt happy again.
After bringing up his swordsmanship, Klaus remembers what happened yesterday and furrows his brows.
“But I still can’t win against my big brother.”
It was just a simple exchange of blows, but he parried everything. It was so frustrating to not be able to hit him even once.
“How much older is your brother?”
“Just half a year. When we get to the academy we’ll be in the same grade.”
Though this was many years down the line, once they enter the academy he’d be placed into the same grade as his older brother and probably compared to him even more. Unpleasant thoughts piled up.
Though he didn’t know why, the gardening apprentice boy stopped and turned around.
“Hey, give me your hand.”
He offered his right hand. What, Klaus thought as he reflexively gave him his left.
“Look, isnt mine bigger?”
Once they aligned their wrists, Klaus could see that his was one size bigger. Why are you stating the obvious, Klaus asked.
“Am I taller than your brother?”
His eyes were higher than his big brother’s were so he must’ve been taller. That was why Klaus agreed.
“But that’s only because I’m older than him. Right now half a year is a long time, but after a few years you might get stronger than him if you keep on training.”
For kids, a one year gap was huge. So was he telling him to not mind if his big brother was physically better than him right now?
Klaus had had thoughts that their gap would widen in the future, but he had never thought that that half-a-year difference would actually shrink. His eyes widened.
“But I don’t do swords or anything so I’d probably lose to you myself.”
He smiled dumbly and indeed, unreliably.
“I’ll hold back when we do that.”
Klaus deliberately said haughtily, which the gardening apprentice boy seemed to find funny.
This was the first time he learned that he could talk so much. He had never had someone to talk to like this until now so he’d never known. Was he only able to talk so ridiculously like this because they were here?
“You’re a weird guy Isaac.”
“Is that so?”
He tilted his head as if he genuinely hadn’t known that. But until now, he had never met someone who wouldn’t treat him as a prince unless specifically told to even after they learned that he was a prince.
“You’re an employee of the Ernst house. Are you not going to ask about my older brother?”
“Why would I ask something like that?”
He replied as if he genuinely had no interest from the bottom of his heart.
Was he really uninterested despite the fact that the lady he served was engaged to him? The fiancee’s status and such reflected on one’s own house, so he thought that the employees of the house would hold no small amount of interest in that.
Klaus found his lack of concern amusing and laughed a bit.
“I feel like an idiot for caring so much.”
He had thought that everyone in his big brother Roy’s fiancee’s house would think well of him.
“I don’t really get it, but what would you have said if I asked you?”
“I would have revealed his true nature.”
His brother looked good so he might not believe him, but he had decided to let Isaac hear the “praise” he must’ve wanted to hear about him.
The gardening apprentice boy curiously tilted his head.
“That’s right. My brother is prideful and deliberately mean.”
“Well… he is cheeky.”
Taking the boy’s mutter as an agreement, Klaus was encouraged to speak more.
“Right? He’s sly, the type of person who would be fine with kicking someone else down!”
Klaus argues strongly, but the gardening apprentice boy only gave brief replies. He didn’t seem very interested.
“But everyone who doesn’t know that says that he’ll be the next king! But I’m more worthy to be king!”
“Wolf, you want to become king?”
“Of course I do!”
“Why do you wanat to become king?”
“Because my mother wants me to.”
Become king, do not lose to your brother, his mother told him again and again. It must happen as she wishes.
The gardening apprentice boy gazed at Klaus blankly.
“I asked you if you wanted to become king. Why did you bring up your mother??”
He could no longer continue speaking.
Until now he was based on a foundation of which he had no doubts. You mustn’t think of this, a corner of his brain rang out. But those copper eyes right in front of him were waiting for his reply, so he couldn’t stop thinking.
Why did he want to be king?
Did he really want to be king?
His doubts gave way to disturbance and he didn’t know anymore. He clenched his fists in an effort to withstand his doubts.
“…A-Aren’t you just an apprentice yourself because it’s your family’s business!?”
“No? It’s because I want to be one. Mom and dad have never told me to become a gardener.”
Desperate, he asked him the same question and got an answer right away. While Klaus didn’t, he clearly knew what he wanted to become.
He was jealous.
Klaus bit his lip. Seeing that, the gardening apprentice boy didn’t understand and asked.
“You’ve been different ever since you started complaining about your brother. Did you think of those complaints yourself?”
He realized that he was about to say his mother’s words again and hesitated. This guy who couldn’t even remember his name correctly was asking him what he thought. So he couldn’t fool him.
Klaus knew that he had his own – Klaus’ own words within him. But when he tried to weave those words, they got tangled up.
Was it so hard to speak with his own words and not the words of his mother and those around him?
Called by that name, he raised his head. A hand plopped down on it.
“My mom said this. You were born with the pain of my womb so I love you like you were a part of me, but you mustn’t forget that you’re a different person.”
I’ve never been able to read her thoughts but I feel the same way, the boy in front of him said nonchalantly. He should have been borrowing his mother’s words like Klaus did, but those were from him.
Klaus’ eyes widen stiffly.
It was the first time he was told that he could have a different opinion than his mother. That was shocking.
Those around him agreed with his mother’s every words and wished for the same. So he thought that he had to act according to what his mother wanted. He was too conscious of their blood relatonship. He had forgotten that he was a different person, as obvious as it was.
Once he realized that, his entangled words slowly started to unravel.
“…I think political studies are hard so I don’t like them. I’m frustrated that I can’t win against my brother, but I think swordsmanship training is more fun. Phil… my little sister likes it, so I enjoy playing the violin.”
He searched his heart and spoke as if he was talking to himself, but the gardening apprentice boy was definitely listening to his words.
The things he likes, the things he doesn’t like. As they float up, his unsolidified thoughts take form. He’s been doing his best because he wanted his mother to praise him. But the happiest he’s ever been was when he showed his little sister his shoddy performance of whatever parts he remembered and she smiled at him innocently.
“Father is king even in front of me, so… he’s a bit scary.”
His father was king even in front of his own children. The expression he wore as a statesman made him nervous and he didn’t know if that was respect. He knew that he did respect the bravery of his little sister who told their father that she wanted to eat with the whole family.
“So I don’t know if I want to become king.”
He didn’t feel any longing to become like his dad. If to become a king was to not show any emotions even in front of your own family in the spirit of fairness, he didn’t want to be one.
After expressing the feelings he had finally found, Klaus realized. The person in front of him already knew what he wanted to become. Wasn’t it funny that he didn’t know what he wanted to be himself?
“Isn’t that okay?”
As Klaus’ face was starting to turn red in shame, he was interrupted not by denial but affirmation.
“There’s not a lot of people our age who have found their dream. I just got lucky.”
Klaus was affirmed as the more normal one. He didn’t know how to respond.
It had been a long time since he even spoke his own words. Since when had he given up on saying what he felt? In the beginning he only wanted to make his mother happy.
Saying what he felt again was scary, but having someone listen to him somehow made him so happy that he felt like crying. He endured it. It was lame for a man to cry.
Klaus simply nodded. His mouth had curved into a smile before he even noticed.
“Ah, we’re about to arrive at the promenade.”
He looked at where the gardening apprentice boy pointed to find a certain flower bed he remembered seeing beyond a point where the shade of the trees stopped.
He followed him out of the trees and onto the esplanade. The sun felt bright and Klaus reflexively shut his eyes.
Then he waited for his eyes to get used to the light from behind his eyelids before opening them. The flowers on the flower beds by the side of the esplanade looked so vivid. More vivid than they seemed a while ago, he felt.
Beautiful, Klaus muttered silently.
Then he noticed that it was too quiet. He looked at the gardening apprentice boy who was looking at him, shocked.
“…What is it?”
He asked dubiously. Copper eyes twinkled in the sun.
“Wolf, your eyes are golden! It’s amazing! And your hair is like platinum.”
“Gold…? Isn’t it silver…”
Those words caught Klaus off guard.
While his brother was called the golden prince, Klaus was often called the silver prince.
That was because his brother was blond while he had silver hair, but it was also used as a metaphorical insult because silver is inferior to gold in the dark. He also had green eyes instead of the gold which was representative of royals.
Royals don’t always have to be golden. Though he understood that in his mind, he was also hounded by the idea that he was inferior. It made him anxious.
But the gardening apprentice boy called him golden. And his hair was called silver before, but never platinum.
Hearing Klaus’ question, the gardening apprentice boy tilted his head.
“If it were silver then it would be more reflective like a mirror. Only platinum shines that softly.”
He found it curious that a commoner like him had seen the rare mineral platinum before, but he was right.
“I like your hair. It’s a gentle color.”
For some reason, the gardening apprentice boy smiled happily.
“…W-What’s wrong with you!?”
“Hey, what’s this all of a sudden?”
His emotions boiled up and overflowed, so Klaus punched the gardening apprentice boy. He made sure to keep it weak enough that he wouldn’t feel any pain. The boy didn’t know what he was doing and resisted only in words. If Klaus didn’t take his feelings out through his fists, he felt like his expression would slacken.
After taking his emotions out and calming down, Klaus thanked him in an exaggerated manner to which the gardening apprentice boy nodded and turned his heel back to work.
Klaus also stepped on the promenade to make his way back. But he turned around and called at the boy who was returning to the trees.
“Isaac, see you again.”
“Don’t get lost next time-.”
The gardening apprentice boy only turned his head back, smiled and waved his hand. After his silhouette could no longer be seen through the trees, Klaus also turned and started walking. He didn’t really know why he said again.
Desert Alyssums and Garden Phloxes bloomed along the promenade. They looked cute so his little sister would be happy to see them, Klaus thought. He noticed that unlike on his way here, he had gotten composed enough to stare at the flowers now on his way back. It was funny.
After walking for a bit, Roy and his fiancee approached him. Lydia saw Klaus, smiled in relief and quickened her pace towards him.
“Your highness Klaus, thank goodness. You hadn’t come back in a while, so I was getting worried.”
“Look, didn’t I tell you he’d be okay?”
You are unexpectedly a worrywart, Roy said cheerfully. Lydia replies that Roy is just too laid-back. He could take an exchange that would have irritated him a little while ago as them simply getting along well.
Klaus smiles wryly at the change in his mental state. It was self-serving.
“I am very sorry. The colors around me would change the more I walked, and before I knew it I had arrived deep within the garden. It’s a nice garden. I would like to show it to my little sister too.”
“Yes, isn’t it cute? We take pride in this garden, so I am very happy that you like it.”
Lydia smiles widely and happily, to which Klaus smiles back. He’d gotten carried away by her adorable reaction.
Then he felt eyes on him and looked at Roy. His honey-colored eyes were looking at him curiously. Klaus was surprised that he would make such a face.
“What is it?”
“No… I thought that I would have to wait another year to see this.”
I’m just surprised, Roy says shyly and happily. He didn’t look unreadable like normal, but rather transparent which surprised Klaus. Then he realized why his brother was so surprised and sulked.
“How rude. I smile too.”
“I knew that.”
But Klaus had no memory of smiling in front of his brother, only glaring. He tilted his head, unsure of how he knew.
He only allowed himself to smile in front of his little sister. Which meant that it had to be at that time. Klaus guessed that his brother was watching him while he wasn’t looking and got embarrassed. He had only seen him as an object of envy, never thinking that he was on his mind.
Klaus stopped talking and turned his face away from his older brother.
But even still, he felt his brother’s happiness. He wanted to complain but he couldn’t think of anything, so he could only clear his throat.
“Brother, do you want to become king?”
He knew that it was sudden, but he wanted to see while he had the opportunity to. Once they returned to the castle, mother would be there. Klaus wasn’t confident yet that he could say his own words in front of her.
Roy’s eyes widen for a second before looking back at him and smiling gently.
“Yes. Because I love this country.”
Klaus heard why his brother wanted to be king and it was just as he had expected. Aside from his talent, he had thinly felt that he seemed different from himself when they studied.
“Then you’re fortunate.”
“Right. I’m lucky.”
Lydia felt uneasy at the way Klaus spoke, but Roy simply smiled more deeply.
“I… it’s frustrating to lose to you in swordsmanship so for now, I will do my best there.”
He would set aside whether or not he would aim for the throne and do his best where he could in his education.
“Then I can’t hold anything back either. I can’t look lame in front of my little brother after all.”
“Were you worrying about something like that…?”
“What do you mean, ‘something like that’?”
Roy replied with complete honesty while Klaus was dumbfounded. He thought that he had always had effort to spare.
“It’ll be a bad look if people find out that you can’t win without hardwork.”
Finding humor, Klaus laughed with his throat. Learning that his big brother wasn’t actually perfect made him forget to talk formally.
“Lady Lydia, we’ve done it! Klaus isn’t on guard anymore!”
“That’s very good, Roy-sama.”
Roy must’ve been so happy to show his brightest smile for the day. Lydia didn’t want to pour cold water on him so she refrained from pointing out that he was talking about him like a wild animal again. She also noticed that the goal Roy had expected to reach today was awfully low. But it couldn’t be helped since he had kept avoiding him.
Klaus was embarrassed that his every move was being observed and reacted to. He didn’t have to go out of his way to tell his fiancee.
“It’s a big deal for me.”
He couldn’t change back to formal speech now, so Klaus casually protested. But Roy didn’t show any signs of hiding his happiness.
“Your highness Klaus, if it pleases you let us meet with Philine-sama next time.”
“‘Your highness’ is fine. Someday you’ll be my older sister.”
Both Roy and Lydia widened their eyes at Klaus’ words. And they exchanged looks as if they had remembered something.
Klaus didn’t understand why they did that. He shouldn’t have said anything strange.
“Then is ‘Klaus-sama’ acceptable?”
Klaus hesitates just a little bit before nodding. Lydia smiles with relief.
Roy joyfully speaks to Klaus.
“Let’s come here again as three at a time where these Garden Phloxes and this mountain of flowers are in bloom.”
“Mountain of flowers?”
“I’ll tell you about it next time.”
“No, I could just come with Phil…”
“It would be so mean to exclude me in my own fiancee’s house.”
“…I’ll think about it.”
Lydia looks pleasantly at the brothers’ frank exchange. She wasn’t sure how this would turn out at first, but it seemed that Klaus would now listen to his brother.
But it was curious how much he had mellowed out after just a single trip around the promenade, especially considering how stubborn he was. Did seeing the flowers calm him down? If that were the case then she must give thanks to the gardener Dennis who had made such a splendid garden.
I too want to stare at the flowers with Emilia.
How good would it be to spend quiet time in the garden with Katherine, Petra and everyone? Her eyes looking at Roy and his brother were mixed with envy.
Lydia resolved to learn from Roy and do her best.
What a great chapter. Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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