“His birthday, you say?”
The pretty boy sitting in front of me nodded meekly.
The weather was nice this afternoon. After a long time, I was sitting in the garden with Schwarz again. Will and the Prince had been here too, but Will dragged the prince to go out and play, so it was only me and Schwarz now.
“That’s right. It would be great if you would celebrate His Highness Dylan’s birthday.”
Schwarz said and explained that the Prince’s birthday was at the end of the month. However, since he needed to leave the imperial capital because of work with his father, he couldn’t be with him. Which is why he requested me to celebrate the Prince’s birthday instead of him.
“Certainly. As the prince’s fiancée, I will celebrate him to the best of my abilities.”
Schwarz patted his chest in relief as I smiled at him.
“I’m glad. Thank you very much.”
“It is a matter of course to celebrate someone’s birthday. Huh? Now that I think of it, the end of the month…”
The prince’s birthday suddenly intrigued me.
“It is the day when His Highness Dylan and you have the formal marriage interview.”
That’s right. The marriage interview.
A year has passed since I remember my past life’s memories. Time flew really fast.
“Oh, but will there not be a party commemorating his birthday?”
I had heard that the birthdays of royalty had to be grand. Since the prince will have his own party, it shouldn’t have been necessary to go out of his way and ask me to celebrate him too. I voiced my thoughts, but Schwarz's expression turned gloomy.
“The party… Well…”
“I-I apologize! I was insensitive.”
Flustered, I waved my hand.
When Schwarz’s expression changed, it usually always had something to do with the prince.
“There will be. There will be a party.”
Schwarz said while shaking his head.
“Are you aware of the prince’s situation at the royal palace?”
“I know more or less.”
The isolation of the second prince at the royal palace.
I heard it from my father, who told the famous story nonchalantly. There were various rumors going around the nobles, such as the prince’s overwhelming magical powers, or that something was wrong with his personality, but they were only rumors with no conclusive evidence. The nobles weren’t idiots, either, so they saw it as a sort of dispute about family succession. Well, the prediction wasn’t too far off.
There must be an ulterior motive regarding the party, too. It all seemed too suspicious. I nodded, and Schwarz drew in a deep breath before continuing.
“His Highness Dylan’s and the Crown Prince’s birthdays are very close.”
“Oh, is that so?”
Troubled over how to react, I answered vaguely.
“The royal parties are large-scale, and although they are only inviting relatives, they are incredibly expensive.”
“Of course they are.”
“They also invite high-ranking nobles. Since they have jobs too, they don’t hold parties often even though they are royalty.”
I nodded along as Schwarz explained. Nobles have a schedule to follow too, so although they’d go if they were invited to royal parties, they’d be neglecting their work and getting their priorities backward.
“Therefore, it was decided to combine His Highness Dylan’s and the crown prince’s birthday parties. This was His Majesty the King’s own decree.”
Well, it was only a birthday party, so even though His Majesty the King decided it himself, it wouldn’t affect national affairs. It’s about the royal family Vermelio, so to speak, so it wasn’t something outsiders would involve themselves with.
“There… The Crown Prince.”
“Here, you say?”
The two of them sighed heavily. What kind of trouble would the Crown Prince bring now?
“‘I hate being together with him’ he yelled and threw a tantrum. I think it was His Highness Dylan’s 6th birthday. He had said nothing until now, but suddenly he brought it up again.”
As Schwarz nodded his head, I groaned.
“Hmm, even though he dislikes His Highness, as the elder brother, he should endure it.”
“That is what he ought to do.”
Schwarz replied immediately.
“He is the Crown Prince, after all. He will be the king in the future. To be so selfish…”
The mood chilled as Schwarz’s expression grew angry. It felt like Will talking. I would rather he didn’t speak like that with a scary expressionless face. And the opponent is the Crown Prince. I don’t want to die because of treason.
I stiffened as he looked at me, and Schwarz cleared his throat awkwardly. He couldn’t fool me, though.
“Uh, excuse me. Having His Highness Dylan be disregarded made my blood boil.”
“I-I see. That is true…”
I didn’t know Schwarz was this loyal to the prince. How scary. He won’t end up assassinating people, right?
“Originally, the birthday party of HIs Highness Dylan and the Crown Prince was supposed to be held in the middle between their birthdays. However, the Crown Prince was being unreasonable, so it ended up being on his birthday.”
“What? Is it not essentially the Crown Prince’s birthday party, then?”
“That is right. His Highness Dylan will be like an extra. That damn Crown Prince!”
I’m sure that, sooner or later, he’ll die because of treason. Even though he’s more or less right in front of me… Since he’s that loyal to the prince, I won’t say anything. This is better.
“That party will be uncomfortable.”
“Exactly. The nobles will flatter the Crown Prince who’ll become the next king and turn a blind eye to His Highness Dylan. Oh, but the young ladies won’t pick up on the mood and end up clinging to the prince.
I feel like he’ll poison people here and there.
“That will be troublesome. If I had to say, the Crown Prince is good-looking, so the young ladies will run rampant.”
“They will end up competing again.”
Schwarz held his head in a fed-up manner.
“Therefore, the time when His Highness Dylan went out to meet you caused an uproar.”
Speaking of which, there was a time when he came to my home about a month after our engagement. Could it have been the Crown Prince who lost his temper?
“That is right. But why? Won’t the young ladies stop currying favor with him if he became engaged?”
“It is because of you, Lady Berthia.”
I tilted my head in puzzlement.
“Because of me?”
“You have never gone to the royal parties before, no? Even though the head of the Thibus Family comes.”
That’s true. I have never gone to larger parties. I don’t have any manners, and my parents told me I didn’t need to go after all.
“Lady Berthia, are you aware of the rumors going around about you?”
“Huh? No, I don’t. What rumors?”
Oh no, I have a hunch it’s something bad. Someone, please stop the chills running down my back.
“You have never gone to the royal parties. Moreover, you have never revealed your face.”
“You don’t mean…”
“It is said that the only daughter of the Thibus family is an exquisite young lady.”
I suddenly felt myself go pale.
Berthia was beautiful. Since I wasn’t fully an adult yet, I had a childish cuteness and a beautiful face. I was really like a beauty. Naturally, I was aware of this. Or rather, there were rarely characters who had plain looks in dating games.
But it’s different from being called an absolute beauty! I am definitely charming! I am cute! Glossy and soft hair with large glittering dark ice gray eyes. Isn’t that adorable?
However, it was the level of saying “oh, how cute”. If a hundred people were asked if I was cute, some among them would say no. And to be compared to the prince… I don’t want to stay next to him. My pride as a woman would get hurt.
“That is impossible. What kind of rumor is that? Please erase it immediately.”
“That, if anything, is impossible. It is alright. You are beautiful, after all.”
“I know that!”
“So you know.”
Schwarz tilted his head and seemed to think, “Then what’s the problem?”.
“But my appearance is not beautiful to everyone! There is a world of difference between me and the prince!”
“I think you are comparing yourself with the wrong person.”
“Please console me instead of saying that!”
I dropped my shoulders in disappointment.
It turns out that Schwarz wasn’t a gentleman after all.
“Oh, that is right.”
“It’s too late…”
“After hearing the rumor that His Highness Dylan’s fiancée was beautiful, the crown prince had another tantrum. It is just like a pack horse.”
I was surprised to have been ignored, but even more that he called the crown prince a pack horse.
“Since the Crown Prince is especially tiresome, be careful.”
“I will use discretion.”
Conversing with Schwarz was hurting my soul. Exhausted, I let go of my manners and rested my chin on my hands. I felt like he smiled at me a little when I pouted. Though it might have been my imagination.
“And please stay by His Highness Dylan’s side. Forever.”
“What? Did you not just say something really heavy right now?”
“Yes. Please live for His Highness Dylan’s sake.”
“That is strange in so many ways.”
Just how much did he revere the prince? He’s the one devoting his life to the prince here.
Although I thought that, I smoothened my black curls.
“I beg of you. Be on His Highness Dylan’s side.”
What happened all of a sudden?
That Schwarz was bowing his head. He never did that, except for the prince.
Though, he was only lowering his head about 15 degrees.
“It can only be you, Lady Berthia. I beg of you. Please do not disappear from His Highness Dylan’s side.”
“It’s not like I’m going to disappear…”
“Then that is enough.”
Soon, the one staying on the prince’s side would be the heroine. I swallowed my words. It was better if I didn’t say it. It was enough to keep it to myself.
Schwarz raised his head from the 15 degrees bow and smiled. Really… This time I knew I didn’t imagine it. He definitely smiled.
Having seen Schwarz’s mature smile for the first time, it imprinted on my mind before he quickly recovered his expression again.
A sudden gust of wind blew.
A gut-wrenching voice rode on the wind. It came right behind me.
“What, are you staring at each other?”
When you speak of the devil.