They were a very kind father and mother. Hemelina hardened her mind with their warmth. The very next day, she met Leiwarden in front of Ramon Vischeri.
“Lei,” she called.
He could tell she was calling him with some intention. He knew it intuitively.
“Yes, Your Highness,” he answered.
It had been four years since they knew each other. The princess told him many times to treat her more comfortably, but he was still polite.
“I have something to tell you.”
“Yes, Hemelina. Please, tell me.”
The only thing he had allowed himself in their relationship was calling her name.
She did like his neat stiffness. Her heart was beating. She swallowed and tried to smile. She opened her mouth.
“I like you.”
His face changed immediately…
Hemelina shut her eyes and continued to speak.
“Lei. I want to be engaged to you.”
It was as if he were handed a bag of cookies the first time they met.
“Well. this is not official, you know.”
She decided to speak quickly instead of refining her words.
“I’m just asking for your opinion.”
She finished her speaking. She opened her eyes when she heard a clear voice.
She wished he would wait at least a little bit when he answered. Hemelina was trying to smile still and talked.
“If you’re going to refuse, just—”
But she failed to talk anymore.
Leiwarden called her again like a sigh. He didn’t blur the end.
She wished he called her name again. Her heart rang out loudly, but she could not manage to open her mouth.
“I am the youngest son of the Count.”
“And Your Highness… I am thanking you that you willingly took me as your friend. I think that was how we spent a long friendly relationship.”
“So, I am very sorry but—.”
“It’s okay, Lei!”
Hemelina smiled with a lively voice as usual.
“Umm… I get it now.”
But the words trembled.
She did not have much experience to pretend it was okay, especially in front of him. But Hemelina had learned something, so she shrugged quite calmly.
“I just asked you. Yea. It’s okay.”
She regretted that she added more words. She barely managed not to click her tongue.
She needed to prove it was really okay. Because Leiwarden’s face looked very bad now. His knitted brows were lowered, and his mouth tightened. He was a very strictly polite man, so he would not feel good in this situation.
Hemelina barely tapped his shoulder, gently like usual.
“It’s okay. So, don’t mind.”
The prince demanded a word, so the Count’s son opened his mouth.
His voice lowered even more.
It was Hemelina who avoided the place first. She said while she stepped back, “We are still close friends, and that won’t change. So, if you find someone to marry, just let me know first.” She laughed, and her steps were elegant.
But, as soon as she entered the hallway, where he could not see, she collapsed.
No sighs came out. She just called Liam, her chamberlain, with a weak voice. He asked if she would like to go back to the palace. His voice sounded a bit careful. Hemelina stretched her arm and asked him to pull her. Her chamberlain was willing to lift the princess. She probably would not have power in her legs, so he thought it would be better just to hold her. Hemelina was willing to bury her face in his comfortable arms. Liam could feel his clothes were soaking but didn’t say anything. She was such a light, little, and delicate girl.
That night, in the king’s bedroom, Lu Harve called his wife.
He dried his hands and wore his gown neatly.
“Have you heard that?”
Ashtie laughed lightly.
“Lam,” she called him.
Then, she tapped next to her. Lu Harve sat down willingly.
“Well. What I heard from Liam. She was rejected.”
Lu Harve tilted his head slightly. There was a silent sigh.
“Is that so?”
She gently touched his hair. Lu Harve held her hand. Ashtie smiled.
“I think she is growing up very quickly.”
Lu Harve smiled as well.
“I think the same. Ashtie.”
He held her in his arms. It was a familiar temperature. Ashtie, who was buried in the warmth, whispered.
“But it will be okay. She will grow up most beautifully.”
“Of course, Ashi.”
He stroked her hair. It was still a soft touch.
“She is your daughter.”
“And your daughter, too.”
He gently kissed on the lady’s forehead, who kept a smile. Lu Harve whispered quietly.
“I think we should hold her coming-of-age ceremony pretty big. To suit her.”
The king’s words were fully realized exactly two years later.
It was customary to become an adult to attend a royal banquet, but the young royal family could go there from a young age. As she did with her mother before, Hemelina participated in many banquets for two years. She didn’t have any other reason. She was just worried if there was a girl around Leiwarden. But it didn’t seem like that. She saw him sometimes, but he was with people from Ramon Vischeri or his family.
She was glad for two whole years.
And finally, her coming-of-age ceremony was held. The king opened her ceremony at the grand ballroom.
Hemelina, as a lady from Monterobis and also as an owner of this party, dressed up splendidly. The white and long lace covered her blue hair. She wore a flowing dress. It was red. Her thin shoulders and the round collarbone stood out. They were shiny with powder. The white high-heels were high, but her steps were as elegant as willows as if they were not uncomfortable at all.
Her eyes shined like stars. Her red eyes looked mysterious and glorious. The princess, who became an adult just this day, still looked like a girl a little bit, but still looked elegant like her mother. The queen gave unstinted praise to her. The king also smiled as he was satisfied.
Hemelina just laughed at the celebration of many people; father, mother, and her brother who could speak quite well now, Duke Moncheta and other nobles. It was a nice and pleasant day.
But nothing was better than his celebration.
She turned her body. Her blue hair made a shadow on her face, and the white lace covered that shadow.
“I congratulate you on becoming an adult.”
“Thank you, Lei.”
He moved his lips slightly. He looked worried. She blinked her eyes.
She tilted her head. Her hair gently swayed, and her scent got deeper.
“…You are so beautiful. Your Highness.”
Leiwarden finally spoke out.
In a moment, Hemelina felt something extraordinary as it was two years ago.
The person who had the coming-of-age ceremony was supposed to dance with the other person. The king and the queen didn’t say anything. There were many candidates, but the princess was willing to choose the youngest of the Counts. She saw his dark eyes. There was no reason to hesitate.
“Leiwarden,” she called him.
“Yes. Your Highness.”
“Would you like to dance with me?”
“Happily,” he answered politely.
She could feel a trembling heart. They beat time well. They were together that long. His neat coat made lingering images when he moved his steps. And the white and blue light covered it. The left was a red tail. It covered all the footsteps.
When their dancing was over, Hemelina still wanted to be with him. So, she led him to the balcony. He followed mildly.
Soon, she pulled the curtains. Hemelina opened her mouth without hesitation.
“Thank you for coming.”
“No. Your Highness. Of course, I congratulate you. I am just honored to dance with you.”
He added more words, but she could not afford to listen to all that. She called him again.
She stared at him.
The only light there was the moon and the starlight from the sky and a slight light behind the curtains. But her red face was vivid.
“You didn’t marry yet.”
He could not stop staring at her face. He was never able to.
“Well, that is—”
He tried to say what he prepared.
But when he actually opened his mouth, it was just a poor excuse. So, he talked a lot.
“…I am very grateful that you were willing to have me as your friend. I value this bond very much, too.”
“So, I thought when you became an adult and found your spouse; then, I should find mine as well.”
She was a smart princess. There would be no way she would not notice his excuse.
A clear voice sounded the night breeze.
“Don’t you…” she said.
She was too nervous to talk well two years ago, but now she was different.
He also looked changed. She noticed his subtle change. She could not tell why, but she could. Maybe because it was the first time that she saw his full formal suits, or she felt it was the time. It would be possible because he changed his mind so far, or he just hid this well.
“So, Lei, tell me.” she thought and said, “Don’t you still not think of me as a fiancée?”
This girl was always friendly. She was very straightforward, honest, and distinctly revealing her mind. Her thoughts and feelings had always been—
—so pure and white.
He naturally had followed this white and pure light. When he realized himself, he always had been like that. She was such a sweet girl who told the boy she first met, that they might be similar. She was willing to embrace his worry of thirteen years with a smile.
It was really thanks to her to start the relationship. He never forgot the grace of that day. She always laughed and talked about happy things. He was always happy to be with her. When he danced or sang with her, he felt like a blue scent swept him away somewhere far away.
Nevertheless, this was too much for him. Leiwarden knew about himself. He was just a son of the count. He would never get a peerage title. He worked as a minor clerk in the office after he graduated Ramon Vischeri. But she was the princess, Nantes of this country. No other modifiers were necessary.
So, when she confessed her love, Leiwarden struggled to tide his boiling emotions. He finally managed to suppress the emotions, so his voice was calm, but his face was crumpled. He could not say anything to her except just calling her name.
“I…,” he said.
She was a lively girl, and his rejection probably hurt her a lot. But she still stayed around him. He was glad when she still smiled at him. He was glad, very glad about that. There was no hesitation on the way to the celebration of the coming-of-age ceremony.
And she welcomed him. She was still white and shiny under the bright light, or brighter. When she smiled at him with the eyes that redder than her red dress and called his nickname with a soft voice, he swept away in the blue scent again. It sent him to somewhere far. But when she called him again, that voice held him tight.
The only thing he learned well so far was manners. He was a fool for other things. So, when he started to worry for the first time, that he was not polite to her, he never could say she was cute. But, at the moment, he could not stop himself not to say this to this beautiful lady.
“You are dying him with a deep scent again,” he thought,
“The only thing I could stand up is just the name of the family.”
“You were a lady, My Highness.”
Leiwarden finally answered his truth. He blinked his eyes and looked straight at her.
She took a step closer. It was just one step. But it was a big stride, not like usual. He immediately avoided her eyes. She became urgent. Her heart was thumping.
“Why do you avoid me?” she asked.
It was very close. He felt dizzy from the warm breaths and sweet smell. He barely managed to say. It was rather subconscious. It was possibly with lifelong courtesy.
“…We are too close…”
He even blurred his end. He only moved his mouth slightly.
She reached her hand and grabbed his wide shoulder, with a thumping heart.
“Don’t avoid me…” she said.
She whispered to him. The words set down like a feather. It tickled his ear.
He was shy, too. But the light was flashing, and he didn’t want to miss it. He held it. Who would hold first, was not a matter anymore.
“I am just the son of the count,” he thought, “and she is the princess.”
He knew she was above him. “But if I can still stay with you from now on.”
Leiwarden spat out his truth one by one. He tried to suppress, but it just firmed up more. His lower voice wet the girl’s mind like a light rain. Soon, the sun shined on her heart.
“Can I be with you, Your Highness?”
The hearts pounded. They could hear each other’s heartbeat.
Hemelina touched his shoulder with the other hand. He raised his hands, he clenched his fists and opened them gain a couple of times. And he slowly put his hands on her delicate waist. The night was sinking, so as his heart to her.
The exceptionally bright starlight fell off to them, and the soft sound of music flew smoothly.
The night went deep.
And that night, in the king’s bedroom, Ashtie called the king.
She was dressing up her gown. Lu Harve was putting out candles except one or two and nodded to her.
It was a very small sound because he was in the aftereffect of love. Of course, she heard well.
“You did a good job,” she said.
She was closing her eyes, but she could tell he was smiling. The blanket sank soon. The frim and warm arms were close. Ashtie moved her arms and wrapped around his waist.
“That boy. His hands were pretty thick.”
It was a little unexpected. His shoulders were squared as well, not like other people from Ramon Vischeri. Well, he was from the knight family.
“He was also a good speaker.”
He lost in his thought and lightly nodded. Ashtie slowly yawned. She spoke in a soft and slow voice.
“Yes. The boy, Lina, used to talk a lot… He must be him.”
Lu Harve rubbed Ashtie’s lips with his finger and continued thinking.
“And his eyes…”
Ashtie blinked her eyes. Without much light, her eyes were still bright yellow. Lu Harve faintly laughed.
“They were very clear.”
He had straight eyes while he was facing the king.
He knew well such eyes.
“They were like yours, Ashtie,” Lu Harve said while he swept down her hair.
“Yes?… Is that so?”
So, he decided to leave and watch. Especially, he was the boy that his daughter liked.
“I guess I will meet the count as well.”
Ashtie smiled gently again and touched his shoulder area. She patted it slightly.
“Lam, do you remember?”
“After I gave birth Lina… You asked me something about that time.”
“Ah,” he exclaimed with a low voice.
“Yes, of course.”
Ashtie looked up slightly. He had asked in a low voice whether he could be a good father. She was confident that she would be the only one who could see his that kind of face. That was how she could still smile like a girl in front of him. She kissed on the darkish cheek, spread her warm breath, and whispered.
“You are doing very well,” she said.
“You are a very good, excellent father,” she said more. Lu Harve closed his eyes as if he was appreciated. Her soft voice was so enough to him.
“I believed that from the beginning.”
She was as sweet as her soft voice, or sweeter than that voice. Lu Harve kissed on her, too.
“Thank you, Ashi.”
“Lina…is calling you, father well these days. Soon, Eddie will do that, too.”
He felt his heart swell. From the beginning, he felt something warm and cozy in front of her. He just made it as a soft and warm word and sent it to her. He kissed her again.
“Ashi, I am always thinking of you.”
The whisper was warm. A smile spreads on her face even she closed her eyes. As always, as it had been.
“Thank you, Lam.”