Often the secret lock of friendship between children will have the power to withstand any lock breaking.
For a child, a promise of secrecy was not one to easily break. It boasts an unshakable stubbornness that can withstand any threats from adults. And so there was no doubt that the nights events would forever remain a secret in my new friend, Charles’ heart.
Things had followed my exact blueprint, and I was elated by a sense of satisfaction.
There were some hitches along the way, but in the end, I had been triumphant. The formidable foe who had pushed me to the brink was actually easy to manipulate, if you knew how. He still had a ways to go before he could be considered a rival of such genius as I.
“Why are you laughing?”
“Fuhahah…huh? Oh, you know. I am just so pleased to become friends with you.”
It was not as if I could tell him the naked truth, so I said whatever came to my mind in the moment. And then it came to me.
Through my lofty plans, Charles had now become a friend… But, in fact, this was also the first time that I had made a friend on equal footing.
My mouth had grinned a little, and the wickedly sharp-eyed Charles did not miss it.
“You’re laughing again.”
“Well, why shouldn’t I? …Ah. By the way, Charles,”
I remembered and asked. Of course, I would act in the proper manner if we were in a public space. But we were friends now, and this was a personal interaction with no need for honors or respect.
“By the way, why did you come here?”
Thinking back, Charles hadn’t even been at the dance hall. As a duke’s daughter, I would have without a doubt been made to greet the third prince if he were present.
So that meant that Charles being here had nothing to do with the ball that was being held in the dance hall.
“I came to read a book.”
Judging by those words, he seemed to have simply slipped out of his room and came here.
And now that he mentioned it, he had been carrying a book under his arm ever since he appeared. It was a fairly thick tome, but the cover suggested that it was a sort of picture book.
However, I think, as I look around the garden.
This garden was outside and it was now night time. The moonlight would allow you enough light to see where your feet were, but I doubted that it was enough to read by.
“Can you read?”
“It’s too dark.”
As I had thought. I laughed as Charles’ shoulders dropped in disappointment.
Most likely he had come to read during the day and found it terribly comfortable. He had escaped from his room in the night in order to repeat the experience, only to end in such a failure.
It was rather adorable to see such childish foolishness.
Why not? I still had time, and the tools were here. I will show Charles some of this etiquette that had been beaten into me.
“Let me see that book.”
“Okay, but what are you going to do? Can you read in the dark?”
“Fufufu. Charles. Remember this one thing. Books are not only useful for reading.”
I laughed proudly as I accepted the book from Charles and placed it on top of my head. And just like that, I spun so that my dress fluttered. The book that lay on my head remained completely stationary and balanced.
“What do you think? Books can be used as props for such street performances as well!”
For balancing the book on my head, I received my second applause of the day. I had utilized the etiquette that I had learned and nodded with satisfaction. I had gone through the trouble of learning this trick and had wanted to show it off.
Now that I had done it, I decided to try out one more thing that I had learned from Mariwya.
“What is it, Chris?”
I returned the book that was on my head and stretched out my arm as I made a suggestion.
“We can hear the music from here. Why don’t we dance?”
Charles blinked at the hand I had offered him.
But when he finally understood what I had said, his eyes lowered in disappointment.
“I don’t know how to dance yet.”
“Well, I can.”
I forced Charles to swallow his denial with my words.
“Now, hold out your hand Charles.”
I knew the steps and could very well dance, but a seven-year-old dancing at a ball attracted the wrong kind of attention. But to that point, this place was safe. I had a partner who just happened to be the right height and we were in a place where no one was looking. Surely I would not be punished for wanting to put my acquired skills to the test?
After I insisted, Charles hesitantly stretched out his hand. His self-conscious hand was received by my incredibly confident one.
“Now, let’s do this. One, two, three!”
The music that leaked from the dancehall moved at the exact same tempo as Mariqya’s clapping. And to the music, I and Charles held each other and followed the steps.
It was very unharmonious, we were out of sync and our movements were scattered.
The primary reason for this was Charles, who could not do any of the basic movements.
“I told you that I hadn’t learned to dance yet!”
Charles fired back obstinately as I glared at him in annoyance. Indeed, it was probably ridiculous of me to demand a five-year-old to dance. Good grief, I thought with a sigh as we continued with the steps.
“Well, alright. It was my fault for forcing you to..ah….agghh!”