I could still salvage this. I would turn this around. It was not yet an impossible situation. As a genius, I was immediately able to think of a way to escape this predicament. From here on my third scheme would be put into action…!
“You know, Charles,”
“What is it, My Lady Christina?”
Why was this boy, the third prince of this kingdom, speaking to me with such reverence?
“Yes. Well, I did have something I wanted to ask you, but it can wait till later. More importantly, why did you put ‘My Lady’ before my name?”
It would only look suspicious if I changed my attitude now. It also had the benefit of fitting within my next plan, so I continued on in my usual way of speaking.
And his reply had been to call me ‘My Lady Christina.’
This completely spoiled it from the onset. I could only be impressed that he could so thoroughly unbalance me from the beginning. I, a genius conversationalist. Even in the dance hall earlier, I had led the conversation and grasped control of its outcome without letting go. But this prince had casually thrown me off course.
This one, he was capable.
I raised my guard even further, but Charles was looking at me with a puzzled expression.
“But My Lady Christina, I am only doing it because you told me to ‘fear and obey you’?”
“…Ah, yes. I see.”
I did say that.
Apparently, this five-year-old child had not only thoroughly memorized the biggest slip of the tongue in my short, seven-year life, but he had even gone as far as carrying it out. If he indeed was not trying to mock me with advanced techniques, then Charles was an incredibly naive and good child.
One might even be worried about his future.
I don’t know. With the exception of Mariwya, no one has ever made feel so defeated after a short conversation.
“I did say that, yes. That is correct, yes…”
I ground my teeth as Charles, who meant no malice, pushed me even further. I had been very disheartened by the defeat at the hands of Mariwya, but it was not like me to give up in a place like this. This was an unintentional yet punishing blow, however, I had still not been struck in the way I had been by Mariwya. And in spite of appearances, I could take being hit.
Right, I recomposed myself and raised my chin. I returned my thoughts back to the present and focused my gaze on this formidable enemy.
“What is it, My Lady Christina?”
His petty psychological attacks made my lip curl, but I somehow continued in a soft tone.
“I did say all that a moment ago, but you don’t have to call me ‘My Lady.’”
Why. What a simple-minded question. It was simple and could lead to different paths. It made his former formidability seem like a joke.
…Was this a trap?
I had my doubts as I looked into his pure, questioning blue eyes. But even so, I laughed to show that I was not phased.
“Hehe. Why, Charles. It is because we are friends, are we not?”
“Yes, we are.”
He reacted strongly to the word friend. I did not miss his mumbled question and nodded vigorously. Good, this was going well. But if he lost interest here, or said ‘I don’t want to’, then my whole plan would be ruined.
“I am your friend. Well, more accurately, we are going to be good friends.’
“Going to be friends?”
“Yes. Being in a friendship is splendid, you know? Among friends, there is no station, age or reservations in conduct. Friendship is a kind of relationship that allows you to connect and bypass all of the other things!”
I emphasized the wonder of friendship by spreading my arms wide. Charles listened to my speech and raised his voice in admiration.
I could taste my victory. He only needed one last push before it was mine.
“If you understand me, stop calling me My Lady. If anything, you can casually call me Chris!”
“I understand, Chris!”
This boy was so naive.
I watched Charles who seemed to be overjoyed at making what was likely his first friend on equal footing. I mentally posed in triumph. You could say that my plan had all but succeeded now. I just needed to insist that our first interaction had been something between friends and I would not be tried for lese majeste. There was only one last thing left to do.
“One more thing, Charles.”
“What is it, Chris?”
We referred to each other casually and I put a finger up to my lips.
“Let’s keep what happened here a secret between the two of us.”
“Yes. A secret. What happened here, everything.”
“…Even the part where you laughed like, Fuaahahahahahha?”
“That’s a top secret!”
Why did he have a tendency to pinpoint the worst parts and pour salt on my wounds?
“Listen. You can’t tell anyone that you met me here tonight.”
I repeated strongly and Charles curled his lip.
That Charles’ question contained a degree of discontentment was likely due him wanting to tell someone of tonight’s events. But I did not think it was because he wanted to spread the story of my boisterous laugh… He just wanted to share the joy of making a friend with someone he was close with.
As a genius, I understood his childish heart and so I gave him a humorous wink.
“After all, it’s a special, commemorative day for our friendship. Don’t you want to keep it just between the two of us?”
By beautiful suggestion seemed to works as I saw satisfaction appear in his eyes.
“I understand! It’s a secret!’
Internally, I was applauding myself for being able to draw out from him the exact words that I had wanted.