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   Sir Leonhard folded his hands between his knees and abruptly leaned forward.
   His serious eyes were overpowering, and I unintentionally pulled back, but a lack of space behind prevented me from putting much distance between us.

   “Your Royal Highness.”


   He spoke with his voice even more devoid of emotion than before, and my spine straightened itself out.
   My sense of unease was right on point. He was beyond angry.

   I had almost no memories of getting reprimanded from the moment I was reborn in this world, but I did in the previous world. My parents, the teachers, and the elderly would scold with their voices, while their eyes flashed admonishment.
   Oh, how I’ve missed this feeling, but I had no time for indulging in sentimentality. All I could do was brace my shoulders, and wait for the words to come.

   H-he was a kinda scary, though…

   “Pardon the rudeness, I have something I would like to say, if I may. Is that acceptable?”


   The only thing I’ve been saying for a while was “yes”.

   Sir Leonhard asked permission to speak, but his words no longer held the semblance of a question. It was a statement, leaving no room for argument.
   Perhaps I should say Yes, you may speak. Though he was not asking, said my inner voice.

   “Earlier, princess, you said would not tell His Royal Highness. In other words, the only one who can directly lend you aid in this matter is myself.”

   Acknowledging his words with my eyes, I nodded.
   Like a bobblehead, shaking my head over and over. His gaze was sharp as he stared at me.

   “And yet, you continue to swallow your words. If you held back until even I, the only one aware of your situation, am shut out, then whoever did you intend to ask assistance from?”


   Exposed to his displeasure, my body jumped with a start.
   Even though he noticed me gulping in terror, Sir Leonhard’s expression did not soften at all.

   “When one is forced to deal with a difficult problem, expecting support from others first instead of giving more effort than one can handle on their own may seem lacking in integrity to a hardworking person like you. Perhaps, it may go against what you perceive to be right. But justice does not necessarily exist in what is correct.”

   Do you understand? Sir Leonhard looked at me to confirm.
   Without a word, I nodded a little.

   Strangely enough, I felt no resentment. Was it because his experience with people lent weight to his words? Or was it because I didn’t have a character that fit appropriately for my age?
   Either way, his words easily soaked into me.

   Even if it wasn’t right and I wouldn’t know intuitively, there was a clear line between doing the “good thing” by giving my all to do my best, and depending on others to take care of everything.
   For someone like me who hated to be wrong, I continuously chose to lean towards doing “the right thing” whenever possible. If I did that, I could find myself peace of mind.

   But I’m sure it was merely another type of escape. To me, it was nothing more than choosing the easiest path to walk down.
   A concept such as righteousness was undoubtedly different depending on who was looking, and the angle they observed it from.

   “After this, the path you have chosen will be terribly harsh on you. I do not know what pitfalls lie in wait for you, even when the way may seem paved. Before you take a step forward, please take my hand. Don’t think about whether you’ll have gone there on your own where you can.”

   My back straightened with his words.

   I see. I’d invited Sir Leonhard onto this road where unknown dangers lurked. Only one person, and it was him.

   I made the decision to set things into motion myself, so the only person I’d planned to have take responsibility for my actions had been me.
   But I was mistaken. If something were to happen to me, Sir Leonhard would absolutely put the blame on himself. Even if it was not something the law would punish, he would probably judge himself. He was that sort of man.

   Regardless of the heavy burden I’ve allowed him to carry, without a single word of condemnation for me, he’ll only try to help.

   “There must be a lot of things you cannot consult with a boorish man of obdurate nature like myself. However, if you do not share all that you wish to, your heart will be filled with trouble. No matter how small the worry, or how insignificant you have deemed it, please voice everything. Hold nothing back, because I have already decided to stand by you.”


   I nodded, holding in my urge to cry.
   His expression softened. I was even more moved to tears at the kindness in his eyes, which only offered praise.

   When I wiped away the tears that had formed, his hand moved with a twitch. His large hand had lifted from his knee, but stopped midway, and clenched into a fist.


   Had he been about to wipe away my tears?
   Sir Leonhard was a gentleman, so the possibility wasn’t zero. But because I was the princess, he had probably hesitated to touch me.

   In the end, his hand returned to his knee without doing anything, and I looked on regretfully.

   “Is something amiss…?”

   Sir Leonhard looked at me strangely, noticing the way I stared at him with meaning.

   No, I tried to deny at once, but kept my mouth shut. This was what had made him disappointed in the first place.

   But it had absolutely nothing to do with avoiding the dangers of the future. Only my desires.

   Round, and round, and round my thoughts went in circles. It was a completely useless exercise, leaving only an empty, creaking sound.

   Sir Leonhard did not try to press me for an answer. His dark eyes only continued observe.
   If he had scolded me and said I just said it earlier, didn’t I? it would have been easier to speak. I could make an excuse, and my feelings of guilt would diminish. But I shouldn’t think like that.

   “May…may I…”

   I broke off.
   Even if I was not minding my appearance at last, the words did not seem to want to come out. For a moment, I cut off my words, and took a big breath. I cleared my throat once.

   “…say something s-selfish?”

   “By all means.”

   His eyes gently smiled at me.
   I wished he wouldn’t look so amused, like he was taking care of a small child.

   It saddened me, but it was my reality. I was an awkward child, and I wasn’t good at being demanding of others, but this was how I looked to others. That was why I needed to live up to the maximum of my potential.

   “I would like you to be more rude to me.”


   Huh? Something was wrong. When I tried voicing myself, I couldn’t find the right expression.

   I’ve definitely chosen the wrong words.

   “A little…different from discourteously. Crudely…roughly?”

   “Whichever it is, the same meaning is retained. Your Royal Highness, what in the world are you thinking about?”

   With every word that flew out of my mouth his expression became more thunderous. Sir Leonhard put a hand on his head and looked down. He took a deep breath like he was holding back tremendous shock, and looked at me with suspicious eyes through a crack in his fingers.

   “Sir Leon, I believe the way you treat me is too polite.”


   I’d wondered if he’d be upset, but his eyes became rounded.
   He’d been struck dumb by my unexpected words.

   “The Commander of the Royal Knights deferring to the princess with courtesy is the utmost correct conduct. I understand. However, I can’t help but feel a great distance between us.”

   “Your Royal Highness…”

   When I looked down, bewilderment mixed in with Sir Leonhard’s voice.

   “I was happy when you scolded me earlier. It was the first time anyone was mad at me, so it was bit scary, but…it will always be better than being treated like glass. From now on, if I do something wrong, I want you to scold me. You don’t need to excuse yourself ahead of time. I won’t mind at all if you poke me, either.”

   “I would not dare!”

   “So you find it disagreeable…”

   I glared at him in reproach. Bashfully, he held his tongue.


   “No one ever tells me what to do. That’s why sometimes even I am at a loss and don’t know where to go. I want to be scolded and praised like any regular girl. And also, if at all possible, by you…”


   My desperate expression was reflected in his bulging eyes.
   Even if I had to face him when he was confused, I had no intention of drawing back. Letting go of my pursuit meant not obtaining what I wished for.

   This was the first battle. Good luck, Rosemarie.

   “I don’t mind if you keep up the same appearance in a public location. I’m fine if it is only at a time when we are alone, but I want you to feel comfortable to be yourself. It’s only a little, so please let me get closer to you.”


   Sir Leonhard continued to stare at me like a stone statue.
   Well, I suppose. If the little princess were to suddenly throw out impassioned words similar to a love confession, anyone would be thrown off guard. He’d be left wondering what to do. Yeah.

   After several seconds, he came back to his senses and covered his face with his hand. I couldn’t see the expression on his face as he dropped his head down, so I had no idea what was going through his mind.

   “Sir Leon…?”



   Groaning, he looked up. The brows creased in displeasure were drawn together, but his cheeks were slightly red so he wasn’t entirely scary.
   Sir Leonhard stirred up his hair into a mess, and sighed deeply.

   Did I anger him…?

   “I’m not angry.”

   Seeing how worried I’d become, Sir Leon smiled wryly.
   Great. I sighed in relief. Then a different question took my attention.

   “What…? Did I speak out loud?”

   “It was written on your face. Your thoughts appear quite easily.”

   Seriously? I thought I was born from a lineage full of expressionless people.
   Flustered, I grabbed my cheeks, and Sir Leonhard smiled like he was exhausted.

   “You’re unusual. Normal women would be more delighted to be treated with politeness. To think I’d ever be asked to treat you with rudeness…you really are a genius of messing with me.”


   “You should be proud. The only one who could manipulate me is most likely you.”

   His eyes narrowed in mean-spirited laughter.
   A big hand gently patted my head.


   For a split second I couldn’t comprehend, Have I woken something up? My eyes were opened until they could get no bigger, and he chuckled in amusement.

   “When I poke you, you must forgive me. Princess.”

   Without a doubt, I had confidence I was the happiest person in the world right now.

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