Zeke’s kidnapping? Well, there is no doubt that I sort of abducted him — and three days after he returned to the Royal Palace following the invasion by Queen Ekaterina.
“… What did you do, Alice?”
Father, who had been at the royal palace, came back for the first time in three days and said that while sighing in my room. Uh…
“Don’t lie to me. Queen Ekaterina bowed to me. She said, ‘I am indebted to your daughter.’ And she laughed. What on earth did you do to make her laugh?”
“… Is Queen Ekaterina laughing so unusual?”
“They call her the ‘Ice Beauty’.”
Isn’t that unreasonable? Ice Beauty… At worst, she’s just a beautiful lady, trying her best, isn’t she?
“… Are you thinking of something disrespectful?”
“No, no. Queen Ekaterina was beautiful.”
Yeah. I’m not lying. I’m not.
“… Well good. His Royal Highness also seemed in a good mood, and the two seemed to have a good relationship. This reduces one concern. I don’t know what you did but… Well done, Alice.”
Father says with a smile and laugh. Uh…
“What are your concerns?”
“It’s not a pleasant story you need to hear. You should just focus on being a happy a child.”
Mm … I’m even more curious when you say that, you know?
“But I’m curious. I’m his fiancée, aren’t I? So, I’d like to hear about anything that concerns His Highness.”
“… And what did father wish to be concerned about?… I’m curious about that too.
Father is a nobleman who has a territory, but at the same time he is a nobleman who also serves as the Lord of Home Affairs in the royal palace. In other words, he is like a feudal lord in the Edo period who also works for the shogunate. And when His Highness and I get married, the royal palace will become my “workplace.” It’s good to know what
I’m getting into. I mean, in order for me to live in peace in the future, I need to know what is happening in the royal palace now.
“Also… I’m curious about father’s work!”
Then I look up at my father. That’s it. “What do you do for a living, Dad?” That’s a child’s strategy! My father crosses his arms and stares up at the sky.
“… Fine. I’ll talk to you about it. It’s not like it’s irrelevant to you either. But to be honest, I don’t have the confidence to break it down and teach it to a seven-year-old. If you don’t understand it, that’ fine. It’s fine even if you only understand half of it.”
Fufufu! Father, don’t let my appearance fool you. I may look like a child, but my brain is that of an adult. I’m like that kid from the primary school detective show. I can understand everything you say father, not just part of it! I’m sure I’ll be able to understand what you’re talking about.
“First, let’s talk about the factions in the palace.
“What? Oh, you don’t understand what a ‘faction’ is?”
“No, it’s not that…”
I was surprised. Not from the meaning of the words, wouldn’t most people thing this topic is too hard for a seven-year-old? I mean, it’s what I wanted, but… for me to ask “Dad, how’s work?” And then he casually throws out, “Oh, you know, the palace factions and all.” What kind of father says that?
“… If you don’t understand, you don’t have to understand”
“It’s not … I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
Father, you’re not going to simplify this at all, are you? Well I did say that’s fine with me. But seriously, though? Are all the adults in this world a little strange? This is peak “Exciting! School of Love” stuff.
“In the royal palace, there is a faction that supports the first prince, Zeke, and another faction that supports the second prince, Allen. Since Zeke is just seven years old, and Allen is only three years old, the factions aren’t that big of a deal yet. “
“Prince Zeke’s faction is stronger in terms of power, but Prince Allen’s faction is gaining momentum.”
Although she’s dead now… Prince Zeke is the legitimate child of Queen Liliana, and is the first prince.
“Well, Queen Ekaterina—who is the current object of His Majesty’s favor—is still alive. His Majesty and Queen Ekaterina would never disparage or degrade Lady Lillian, but … then again, dead men have no say, and no power.”
I can’t believe he said that!
“My apologies. It’s for this reason that you, Alice, have been chosen to be Prince Zeke’s bride. Our family is one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the Kingdom. It’s not that His Majesty doesn’t love Prince Zeke. But with our family backing him, he’ll be able to get a lot more support… That’s the idea anyway. “
“… Isn’t that bad for the opposite faction?”
“Very clever, Alice. Of course, that would jeopardize the balance of power with Prince Allen’s faction. And even if that were not the case, what would the other nobles think of our family’s ties to the royal family? I was against it myself, but… Queen Ekaterina insisted.”
“‘His Highness Zeke needs someone who will treat him with love and affection.’ And …well, that’s one of the reasons why you were chosen.”
“… I see. But then, why was Queen Ekaterina…”
“… She’s not very good at expressing her emotions. Personally, I was frustrated by it all, but …well, if you look at His Highness and Queen Ekaterina over the past few days, I guess things have turned out well.
Father sighed and turned to stare at me. What now?
“Did you understand?”
“Uh… Well, yes”
“… It shouldn’t be so simple that a child could understand it? Alice, is there anything you’re not telling me?”
Uh, oh! Father is looking at me suspiciously!
“Oh, that’s not the case! There were some places that were difficult and I didn’t understand… but, it’s good that everyone is getting along! “
Father sighs with a quizzical expression at my words, as if to say… I’m not sure what to say about this child.
“… Well, it’s good if Alice is smarter than expected. It’s better than being dumb.”
“That’s right! And His Highness and Queen Ekaterina have become friends, and that’s all that matters!”
Yes, that’s right! It’s all good! No one loses—
“… I’m not so sure.”
“… Our family was chosen to back His Highness Prince Zeke. It was to reduce the power of Prince Allen’s faction… It’s not so much that the faction is not powerful anymore, but rather that they’re not going to be able to gain any more power… Have Queen Ekaterina and Prince Zeke really gotten closer?”
… Oh. I get it. Prince Allen’s faction is getting very impatient right now. And … Huh? Father? Why are you looking at me like that? Like, you’re dealing with a pitiful child…
“… You know the son of the Knight Commander of the Kingsguard? He’s seven years old, just like His Highness Prince Zeke and Alice.”
“And … the Knight Commander is a man who is a leading noble of the Allen faction.”
… I have a bad feeling about this.
“So, Alice? You said you were going to tutor His Highness, didn’t you?”
“… the Knight Commander approached me. ‘My son is seven years old, just like His Highness and Lady Alice. What do you think? It would be great if he could study with them.’ So … “
… Oh, I see.
“… a change in loyalties?”
“Wouldn’t you …… like to be friends with the son of the Knight Commander?”
Father turns away as he says that.
… Wait, what? Isn’t this going to be troublesome?