The Princess Adeleai tilted her head. Instead of greeting Belinda, she started talking in a language she didn’t understand at all.
[Linell, I heard you got a new horse for your birthday?]
So that’s why I can’t understand them… It’s not an Imperial language.
Soon a conversation unintelligible to Belinda was in full swing.
[Yes, my lady. It’s a child of the horse that won the last equestrian competition, and I waited half a year to get it.]
[Can you let me ride it sometime?]]
The language they were using was ancient. A dead language that only the royal family and high-ranking aristocrats knew. They were intentionally disregarding her, only using it to show her that they were superior. Belinda saw these intentions. But rather than being ashamed, she laughed at them.
It reveals a lot about nobility, doesn’t it? Anyone would assume they’re graceful and polite because of their noble blood, but their shameful behavior was worse than any common person’s.
The children’s conversation went on.
[I’ve decided to take painting classes from Finnelly.]
[Finnelly? Isn’t he such a famous artist these days? I’ve heard it’s impossible to get a painting from him because he’s such a wild spirit.]
[My family has decided to sponsor him this time.]
Belinda poured herself another drink. It was a little sweet, just to her taste.
How long are you going to keep this up? Hasn’t it been enough picking on me to satisfy you yet?
Adelai looked up and smiled as if she had finally found Belinda.
“Oh, look. I guess we’ve forgotten my sister is here, haven’t we?”
Belinda put down her drink and smiled back faintly.
“I guess you have.”
Adelai was embarrassed for a second by her rude reply, but soon a malicious smile spread across her face.
“It must be boring for you to hear us talk about the things that we know… I’m sorry. Join us.”
A language you can only use between yourselves, you mean.
Everyone noticed her expression. They were cruel children – they wanted her to be hurt. To feel shame and to mourn.
Belinda shook her head and answered casually.
“No, it’s okay. I have nothing to boast about. Even if I did, I wouldn’t want to stoop that low.”
She talked in a calm tone, as if addressing toddlers.
Adelai was embarrassed once again.
Did you understand? Did you learn ancient languages? That can’t be true. How could one learn an ancient language rolling in the dirt on the street?
Belinda gazed out the window indifferently, then turned around with a polite smile.
“The weather’s very good, I think I’d better get some air….I’m sorry, but I’ll be on my way.”
She turned around and left, still showing absolutely no interest in them.
She had to admit, her manners were rather bad around Adelai, but…
They were just aristocrats looking to blend in. All of them were in a gentle mood, so Belinda had to be too. Her role was to lie low and be obedient. To leave just like that, unprompted, was not exactly good manners.
When did that vulgar thing ever learn an ancient language?
As she watched Belinda disappear in the crowd, Adelai tried to put her pleasant face back on, but no matter how much she thought about it…. It was incomprehensible. The prince leaned over to whisper in her ear.
“Adelai! Belinda must know ancient languages, too!”
That can’t be true, you idiot!
She almost let herself yell out the thought, but held back just in time. The forever calm and elegant princess was tipped off balance at the drop of a hat with Belinda involved.
“Ah… ..there’s no way, Lart.”
She forced out the words, trying to sound as sweet as possible.
“I understand, though.”
“I just came to tease you a bit, but instead you start bragging like there’s no tomorrow… What was that? I think we were really childish.”
Lart scratched his head.
Wait, am I on the wrong side? This doesn’t even make any sense!
The princess hid her irritation from him, but clenched her fists tightly.
Meanwhile, a boy standing near her caught his eye on Belinda. He was the second son of the Duke of Rodson, also mingling with the noble children. However, he was the only one among them who didn’t speak any ancient languages and remained neutral.
Belinda burst out laughing as soon as she stepped out into the garden.
Of course, she didn’t know a word of any ancient language.
It was so easy to tell what those little kids were talking about!
Some things really don’t change – it had been the same when she was a commoner.The boys bragged about their horse-riding skills and the girls bragged about the new clothes they’d got for their birthdays.
That’s why she could guess what the earlier conversation was about.
“If you want to screw me up, slap me in the face! It hurts more.”
Walking through the neat flower beds, she approached the window where she’d been standing earlier with the other children.She took out a cherry tart that she’d swiped from the party and wrapped in a handkerchief.
“This is so delicious.”
With no one except Belinda, the garden was perfectly still and quiet. She continued to talk to herself as she strolled around.
“Such a unique taste. I’ve never had anything like this before”
She would have looked like a madman to anyone that saw her, but she just laughed to herself, thinking of what a relief it was that her chauffeur wasn’t with her. There was no one around to call her crazy.
“Are you sure you don’t want even a bite? I’ll eat it all! Huh?”
As soon as she finished the sentence, a bush rustled to reveal a small ball of black fluff.
It was Aymon.
Belinda pursed her lips tightly to avoid bursting out laughing.
That’s right. Aymon can’t resist the thought of dessert.
She sat down on the ground with him. Her beautiful dress would be crumpled, but she didn’t care. A ridiculous-looking scene unfolded: a tea party between a girl and a beast.
Aymon curled up on the hem of her dress and began munching at the tart.
「How did you know I was here?」
“I heard a growl and saw a cute little kitten outside the window.”
「Little and cute??」
He said in an embarrassed tone, face buried in the tart.
She brushed the crumbs off his face, smiling. It’s certainly alright to be small and cute, isn’t it?
“You’re here because you’re worried about me, right?”
Aymon flinched and hid his face in the tart again.
「No… I was just wondering what a human party was like, you know… That’s why I came…」
He muttered as an excuse before going back to the food.
Belinda had had a feeling for a long time – that there was something different about him. He wasn’t bragging constantly like those kids at the party, he was actually so shy and humble…
The sound of leaves falling and the soft breeze was the only thing to interrupt their peaceful stillness. Belinda looked down at the cat and they held eye contact for a few moments. He might not have seemed like much, but he had a real knack of making an impression on people.
Belinda didn’t actually notice him at first. That was a lie.
She only discovered him in a tense moment, his tail swinging nervously outside the window as she stood around the group of noble children. She saw his pointy ears pop out when she talked back to Adelai. A bit more time, and he would have lurched straight in through the window.
That’s why she tried to get out into the garden as soon as she could. To meet this stout, tender-hearted gentleman.
“Nothing. Just because.”
Aymon replied, wagging his tail slowly.
「What is it? Honestly.」
Honestly, Belinda wanted to thank him. There were so many things to thank him for, she was embarrassed to express all she was feeling.
It was really hard at the party. The heartbreak of seeing the emperor’s perfect family, a stable, loving relationship she envied yet couldn’t ever have. Well, not anymore. No one there to love her unconditionally – the sad reality of a de facto orphan.
Just because she expected all of it to happen, didn’t mean it wouldn’t hurt. She was still always lonely and sad. She could only run away from the feelings for so much time.
But there’s Aymon.
At that moment, just having him right there next to her was perfectly consoling.
How could such a little thing be so lovely?
「This is delicious. Bring more~」
Belinda couldn’t stand it anymore. She picked up the little leopard and hugged him tightly.
Surprised, Aymon screeched but didn’t let her go.
“Pretty. You’re really pretty.”
「What? What’s wrong with you all of a sudden?」
He couldn’t stay still for long. He tried to push her away with his paws. Without sticking his claws out, of course. Soon he stopped for fear of hurting her, with an annoyed look.
「Whatever, do as you please…….」
I’m sick and tired of being loved and adored.
Where had his dignity gone? With this girl, he was nothing but a cute little kitty.
Belinda rubbed their cheeks together and smoothed out his fluffy fur. He smelled of cherries.
He sighed deeply. Belinda just booped his nose and laughed again.
“What a cute sigh.”
Aymon looked away.
Belinda squeezed him again. Soft and warm.
Thank you for Aymon.
So self-conscious and always pretending to be manly. Sweet, threatening without ever showing his claws.
There was a lonely cliff facing Belinda, but there was still hard ground under her feet. Aymon.
That was enough.