Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
"Of course… I was also not good with thunder when I was little and had to sleep alone…"
"I, it's not like I'm not good with it…Besides, weren't you growing up without your parents?"
He wanted to finish the thought, but Reaina interrupted him, suddenly showing interest in his family history. It was probably so that she could change the subject.
"That's right, they passed away when I was still little. Since I was always by myself, I decided to try to aim towards achieving knighthood…"
"I, I see… Always by yourself…"
It was surely unexpected that the Princess would listen to the story of his past so interestingly. So the boy carried on with his story, but Reaina looked as if she suddenly came to realize something.
"Hey, if you want to be a knight, you can't be easily scared by something like a mere thunder!"
"Eh? B, but of course, now I'm handling it just fine…"
"Are you sure about that?"
Seeing how the blond beauty was doubting him, the boy shook his head vigorously, afraid that he might have just completely lost his reputation.
"I, it's true! I am perfectly fine with both rain and thunder right now!"
"Fufu, ahaha… Oh, I see how it is, it only stands to reason you would eventually overcome it…"
He had no idea what was so funny about his words, but for some reason Reaina's stiff mask broke as she burst into laughter.
"T, this is…"
The Princess laughed while covering her mouth with the back of her hand, while the boy just stood there, not knowing what was going on. Just like that, he had to return to doing his rounds, but all this time he wouldn't stop worrying about Reaina, thinking that there must be something wrong with her.
He had seen various new sides of her, like the one that is afraid of lightning or the one that laughs with innocent look on her face. He felt like he managed to ever so slightly shorten the distance that was set between him and the Princess he adored so much. While he was basking in this personal joy, the rain outside has stopped before he even noticed.
"Haa? Why are you even asking me something like that?"
The red-headed maid tilts her head slightly.
The next day, Princess Reaina was back to her usual high-and-mighty demeanor and selfish tone of voice, but when their eyes have met by chance, she reacted by shyly avoiding her gaze.
Also, while he was doing his rounds on the Peacock Tower's top floor, Karen approached him and told him that Mirianne-sama would like to have a word with him in her room.
"No, you see, I thought that you might know the reason…"
"And why would I know…? No matter how you look at it, at the moment you are the one who's closest to Reainsama, are you not?"
"Yes, but she's still cold towards me, only occasionally something feels different, but… Wait a moment, I just got here, and you've been working here far longer than I am…"
Seeing his Mistress' unexpected sides yesterday made him realize that he didn't know a thing about Reaina. So he tried to ask Karen about her, since she was in the castle far longer than he was, but the sudden questions only seemed to have startled her.
"I don't think she particularly dislikes you. I think it's because of her position and her own pride that she tends… she tends to act that way towards everyone else."
Knowing that, the boy-knight felt a little bit relieved.
"Or it may have something to do with what happened to Reainsama's mother…"
"Eh, what do you mean?"
Hearing Rou's surprised reaction, the girl covered her mouth with her hand as if she said too much, and tried to change the subject on the spot.
"M, more importantly, why is it that Ann-sama like you so much?"
While walking down the wide corridor, the maid's expression changes into a sharp one.
"I don't really know myself… Maybe it's because she saw me stopping the assassination attempt on that day…"
"Hhhmmm, so that's how it is~."
For some reason Karen's face changed into mysterious expression, one that Rou had no idea what was the meaning behind it.
After a short while, the two have finally arrived in front of the Mirianne-sama's bedroom.
"Ahh, it's Rou-san! Come on in, come on in!"
When he entered the room together with the maid, the blonde Princess greeted him with a huge smile on her baby-like face. She urged him to sit right in front of him on the sofa, while her natural innocence made his jaw drop ever so slightly.
"Is there anything you want, Mirianne-sama?"
"Geez, I thought I told you to call me Ann, didn't I?"
"I, I am terribly sorry, Ann-sama…"
"Ehehe… Right, right, that's the spirit!"
The Princess' cheeks were round and red just like a pair of ripe apples when she was smiling like that. It may be a little bit rude, but watching her right now, anyone's heart would be filled with this sense of inner peace.
"Wh, why are you grinning like that…"
"Eeh… Oh, no, it's, it's because…"
The twin-tail maid noticed the boy's expression and coughed a few times to address that, thanks to which he tried to correct his expression in a panic but it was already too late. Karen pouts and leaves to the room next door, while the Princess hit the palm of her hand with her fist as if she suddenly remembered something.
"That's right, Rou-san. Have you thought about that?"
"Thought… about that?"
Not understanding what the Princess was talking about, Rou cocked his head.
"Eeh, have you forgotten already? I asked you if you'd be willing to become my very own knight!"
The Princess bluntly explained to the oblivious boy. She certainly did say such a thing, but at that time he thought she was only trying to be polite with him, nothing more.
"I am very honored by your offer, Your Highness, but I am already serving Reainsama, so I must…"
"Eeh~, so it's a no-no, then? And here I thought I would be able to persuade you to choose me over Onee-sama~."
Just like a normal child would, the Princess naturally came closer to Rou and took his hand in her own, looking him straight in the eyes. He got really excited the moment she held his hand, but was trying to keep his composure and averted his gaze.
"N, no… Even if you tell me something like that…"
Holding hands with the second most beautiful Princess in the entire kingdom made the boy feel like he was about to faint. While he was beginning to think that it would be a good idea to put a little more space in between himself and the Princess, Karen came back to the room and assisted him.
"Ann-sama. If it is an escort knight you want, we can easily arrange that for you… Ah, that's right, it may be better for Rou to have it with milk and sugar."
"Uhm, thanks a lot."
Karen puts the two teacups on the table and joins the conversation while pouring the tea for them from the expensive-looking pot. Next, she cut the cake in small, easy to handle portions and served it to her master and the boy.
"But I don't want anyone else! It has to be Rou-san!"
The Princess threw a tantrum towards her maid, hearing her casual remark.
"And why is that?"
The Princess again turned toward Rou, trying to woo his attention towards herself, getting even closer. Her body was still developing, but it already had a certain softness and warmth to it. What's more, there was a sweet fragrance drifting from her hair, making his heart race in his chest and his thoughts stop working normally.
"I am definitely not going to be a bother to you, so please, won't you become my knight!?"
Feeling as though he was about to lose to this innocent temptation, he suddenly remembered Reainsama's face from yesterday, being helpless and afraid of thunder. What's more, he remembered what both Karen and Diansan told him, that the Princess didn't really disliked him and she was just being full of pride.
"… Ah, umm! That's right, there was something that I wanted to ask you, Ann-sama…"
"Of course, what is it?"
Even though he forcibly changed the subject, the Princess still responded him with a huge smile on her face.
"It's about Reainsama's mother…"
"W, wait just a second there, Rou…"
It was Karen who reacted to the boy's words, by trying to interrupt him. He didn't wanted to this, either, but it was a matter that's been bugging him since a while back.
"About Onee-sama's mother… I'm afraid I can't tell you much about that, since our mothers are different and Onee-sama's mother was already dead when I was born."
"Is, is that so…?"
Hearing that the royal sisters had different mothers only made it clearer to Rou that it was a subject he shouldn't have touched. Moreover, since he had also lost his mother, he suddenly felt as though there was some kind of connection in between them.
"So, is that the reason why you don't want to comply to my request…?"
Seeing that Rou's conviction would not really change, Ann's voice lost its cheerfulness as her shoulders dropped.
"Umm… A, Ann-sama!"
"Yes? Did you made up your mind?"
He carefully looked at Ann-sama's small face, now full of expectation. And then ----.
"I am terribly sorry, but I am dedicated to serve Reainsama!"
"Ehh… W, wait just a minute, Rou-san!?"
Rou freed himself from Ann's hands and left the room in a hurry, as if trying to escape from something. He was dead-set on doing whatever it takes not to betray Reainsama's trust.
"H, hey, wait a minute… What's wrong?"
He went back to his room after doing his rounds when he heard knocking on the door. He was surprised that someone would ever want to visit him this late at night.
"What's wrong, you ask? I just wanted to ask you for a favor, Rou-san."
To Rou's surprise, Mirianne comes into his room without any kind of restraint as if she owned the place.
"A favor? What do you mean by that…?"
He asked again, trying to get to know what this was all about.
"Like I said~ I want to ask you to become my knight one more time, Rou-san. "
"… This is, I thought that I already refused…"
He tried to calm himself down amidst this sudden situation, but there was no way he would be able to remain calm while being alone with a young girl, even more so the representative of the kingdom.
"Why do you keep refusing? Is it because you hate me so much, or…"
"I, it's nothing like that, I swear! But I already sworn that I would serve Reainsama…"
Seeing that Rou's answer was repeating itself like a broken record, Ann-sama was clearly starting to grow dissatisfied, as it was perfectly visible on her baby-like face.
"I like you, Rou-san! And I am sure that I care about you more than Onee-sama ever will!!"
"… A, Ann-sama…"
He suddenly started to feel bad about constantly refusing the girl who went and said that she adores him so much. Rou's conviction started to weaver as he looked at the Princess.
"I am happy to hear that you feel that way about me, Ann-sama. But the one I truly lo… I, I mean, the one I truly adore is Reainsama… I want to dedicate her my life and serve her with all of my might!"
Hearing Rou's sudden confession, the Princess' eyes grew large with surprise, but slowly a shade of regret started to creep its way onto her face.