After some embarrassed coughing, Lart began to make excuses with a red face.
“It just came out. I didn’t mean it. Really. It’s a bad habit.”
“….I’m sorry. I’ll try harder to not do it.”
A lifeless apology slipped out. Belinda tapped the table with her fingertips.
“If you keep doing that, I’ll tell Lucy that you peed yourself in front of me once.”
“What? When did I do that!”
“Ten years ago… When you were crying because you got trampled on by a Shinsu.”
“Come on, you have to forget that! We’re family now.”
Lart, huffing and puffing, really did look upset.
Wasn’t that true? It meant that no one would speak of his embarrassing behavior while threatened by a Shinsu. Surely everyone would have reacted the same, unless their heart was made of solid diamond.
Belinda laughed out loud.
“That’s not what someone that’s been treating me like a halfway family member should say, Lart.”
“….Oh….I apologize again, then….But please don’t tell Lucy….”
Lart slouched. He was like a mimosa, making Belinda want to tease him even more. However, she decided to stop.
“Why did you come today, though?”
“That’s…Um…Could you let Lucy go outside today?”
“That wouldn’t be much trouble. Why?”
Belinda asked, pushing aside her empty teacup.
Lart opened the envelope on the table, revealing a ticket, then closed it again.
“I’m going to see an opera.”
Belinda raised an eyebrow.
You’re really giving it your all, huh?
It was amazing. Lart, while in love, wasn’t the arrogant prince she knew. She was really hoping that he didn’t take it lightly, and wouldn’t hurt Lucy.
Belinda scanned through him with a serious look and nodded. At least, he was sincere.
“Okay. You can leave together when Lucy gets here.”
“How about I go pick her up?”
“Lucy won’t go anywhere without my express permission.”
They both nodded. In the meantime, there was a knock on the door.
“The lady has arrived, Princess.”
Lucy was going to be arriving soon. Lart straightened his posture, trying to look elegant. He had to make up for the image of him rolling around in the dirt in a forest from a few days ago.
“Good morning, Princess!”
Lucy came in with a cheerful greeting, bringing a scent of fresh flowers. Seeing Lart was a surprise.
After regaining her composure and bowing, she was left to stand around awkwardly – there were only two chairs in the room.
Belinda stood up, wondering what to do. She wanted to walk around a bit because she was dizzy, but she also thought that Lart deserved a chance.
“Sit down, Lucy.”
Belinda walked over to the window, catching a glance of Lart and Lucy at the table. The sight of Lart’s embarrassed expression was really something.
The sun filtering through the leaves warmed her. Her body could tell that spring was coming before she could.
She stood below the window frame, looking at the two smiling faces. Lart crumpling the opera tickets’ envelope with a stiff face, asking about a date red-faced and stuttering, Lucy’s surprised face also blushing.
Belinda closed her eyes and stood in the sunlight. Aymon came to mind.
She hoped he liked her, but at the same time, she didn’t want him to get hurt.
She didn’t want Aymon to see Lart and Lucy together. So that her big cat wouldn’t have to suffer.
These concerns are ridiculous anyways.
Even if Aymon liked Lucy, they could never be together. He was a beast and she was a human. To put it differently, even if Aymon liked her, their chances were slim.
Even if they were friends.
Of course, that wouldn’t stop her from thinking about him. Her heart could do as it liked.
“A human and a beast are hopeless in the first place.”
At that moment, before she could even close her mouth, there was a sudden growl from behind her.
「What are you talking about?」
The low voice was full of annoyance.
Belinda lurched back in surprise and turned her head to see the animal staring at her. The white sunlight scattered behind him, creating a dreamlike sight. His eyes were so chaotic that they could have dismantled her.
“Aymon? Are you here?”
Instead of Aymon, it was Mazetto who cheerfully chirped back.
“Mazetto is here too!”
He was the only flying animal that could treat a Shinsu like transport. Aymon briefly growled at him.
「What are you talking about, that a human and a beast are hopeless? Do you mean me?」
Aymon asked, grinding his teeth.
Belinda laughed awkwardly but didn’t answer. She knew he liked Lucy and didn’t want to break his heart. She hated to see the lovely big cat sad.
Aymon’s eyes narrowed.
Belinda leaned out the window, ignoring his sharp gaze. The first thing she needed to do was calm him down, so she reached out to gently rub his nose.
However, he showed no sign of calming down.
「Why can’t a human and a beast work? What’s the reason? Why couldn’t they?」
Aymon asked, continuing to grill her. He couldn’t hide that he was heated, and it bubbled up in his voice.
Belinda, not knowing what to say, stayed silent.
「There’s nothing impossible about it. Don’t worry! I’ll make it happen! Why did I become the chief, if not for this?」
He continued to huff and puff like a child.
Once again, it was Mazetto who answered.
“Why you became the chief? Well, why did you, Aymon? Hm? Is there a reason? Wasn’t it because you’re the strongest?”
Aymon continued to ignore him, along with Belinda, but Mazetto went on relentlessly, circling them.
“Why? Why are you the chief? Why? Why? Why, Aymon?”
He flew away, startled, when a dangerous growl came out from Aymon.
“What the hell! Why are you suddenly angry! You surprised the sparrow!”
Of course, the anger wasn’t exactly sudden, but Mazetto fumingly declared that he was leaving and disappeared into the woods.
Mazetto or no Mazetto, Aymon hit the floor with his paws, shouting.
「I’m the chief now! I’ll do as I please! No beast or human can stop me!」
Belinda nodded at his childlike ramblings.
“Yeah. When have you not just done that…”
Aymon, still panting, tried to growl to relieve his anger, then addressed the royal snooping around the window in a low voice.
「Get out. This is my territory.」
Lart, apparently on the receiving and of his anger, was forced out of the room after his snooping. He nodded towards the tickets to Belinda before carefully heading outside with Lucy. He couldn’t be scolded by a Shinsu, especially one showing his fangs.
Aymon’s expression only softened when he was the only man remaining in “his territory” with Belinda. He raised his head proudly.
「I’m going to sleep here today.」
He really was acting like it was his territory. Belinda scratched his chin with a puzzled look.
“Whatever you want.”
Her pretty cat’s temperament seemed to have gotten worse as an adult.
The night air was still cold. Belinda glanced at the moon and took a deep breath of fresh air before closing the window.
Normally, this would have been a dreamland. She closed her eyes, listening to the crickets’ chirping in the otherwise silent room, and leaned back onto Aymon. Even when she used to dream of being held in the arms of a beast, she never imagined that she’d be buried like this.
“Aymon, can I touch your paws?”
In response, Aymon slowly moved closer to her and stuck out his big front paw. Seeing him hesitate, Belinda asked again.
“Give me your paws.”
This time, it was an imposing demand, to which Aymon silently pushed his paws forward.
What a good boy. Belinda fiddled with the huge paw on her thighs. Even holding just one, it was terribly heavy.
This beast is really so big and heavy.
She’d already found out when she saw him crushing a bear as if it was a grasshopper.
She pressed down on his feet and gently stroked his fur, making him flinch and wiggle.
Belinda lightly slapped his paw.
Aymon closed his eyes, murmuring more complaints.