TL/N: Sorry for the late chapter guys! My PR is very busy, so there’s been a bit of a delay, but I’ll be trying to get chapters out as consistently as possible 🙂
“Show me your claws too.”
「They’re dangerous, though.」
Once again, Aymon nicely handed over his paw.
Pulling back just in case, Belinda began to fiddle with his claws as soon as he let them out. Like big hooks, they were hard, heavy and looked like they could tear apart flesh with a simple snag.
However, even seeing them, he was still a lovely, big cat to Belinda.
She played around with the leopard’s front paws as if she’d never been scared of him. Now that she was used to him, they were more interesting than scary.
Aymon, purposefully observing her, asked a question.
「Well, Breedee. Aren’t you scared of this form now?」
“No. I was a bit at first, to be honest, but…. I’m really okay now. It’s nothing. Maybe because I met Nordi.”
Big bodies used to scare her because of the abuse she experienced as a child, but when she went back with Aymon, those fears stopped controlling her.
Aymon is Aymon. Of course I’m not afraid if it’s him.
Her feelings for Aymon were too deep to be afraid of him, and the knowledge that he thought of her as a precious friend even more so.
She turned around and hugged him with a smile.
I like you, Aymon. I hope we can stay together forever.
Aymon gasped. Belinda felt his body stiffen under her arm. As if he’d forgotten how to breathe, he was as still as a statue. He finally took a deep breath.
Belinda rubbed her cheek against him with a sigh of relief.
The texture of his fur felt so nice. The warm, affectionate touch made her feel like she was melting into peace.
On the other hand, the panic-stricken Aymon was barely breathing.
When Belinda pulled him further into her arms, he suddenly sprang up.
She stumbled, with nothing to lean on. Aymon propped her up with his paws and gently laid her onto the floor.
Then, he ran outside without a single word.
He leaped over the table, knocked over a chair, and dashed straight ahead. Aymon, supposedly the specialist in sneaking around like a shadow, was now more violent and noisy than anyone.
“Aymon? Where are you going?!”
Aymon ran on without answering her agitated question until he hit the door. Seemingly, he couldn’t open it with his paws.
The heavy door, now crushed, was open, allowing Aymon to run off.
Only awkward silence remained in the darkness. The door, about half of it gone, swung in with a creak. It looked like a hurricane had struck it.
“Is your head okay?”
Belinda was concerned for him after his altercation with the door. It was obviously the door that broke first, but she was still worried.
After some struggling to get the broken door closed, she approached the window and stared out at the hunting grounds just in time to spot Aymon running towards the Shinsu forest.
He crashed against a big tree, sending shattered bits flying everywhere along with the startled birds that had been sleeping in it. There were a few more crash sounds here and there.
A Shinsu who was supposed to protect the forest, the chief none less, was recklessly destroying it.
After some time absentmindedly looking at his behavior, Belinda laid onto the bed. Did Aymon ever do anything that made sense? He’d come back sometime.
Soon, Aymon carefully pushed in the broken door. He was still panting, but looked calmer.
“You’re back? What happened all of sudden? How’s your head?”
He wandered around the room for a bit, embarrassed, before laying down next to the bed again.
「It’s just that I’ve grown up.」
He said, as Belinda brushed through his fur with her toes.
Of course, it was again the magic word that could explain anything.
While Lart and Lucy were on a date at the hunting grounds, Belinda played chess with Mazetto.
After she moved the white knight, it was Mazetto’s turn to scamper over the board and peck a square.
“Here! Here! I’m moving it here!”
Belinda grinned as she moved the piece over.
It felt a bit strange to be playing chess with a talking sparrow. Anyone would think she was crazy.
She was friends with the talking leopard and the talking sparrow.
“I really have made all the strange friends…”
She muttered, staring through the window out of habit. It was where Aymon used to jump in as a little leopard.
However, the beast she was waiting for wasn’t there. The only thing to be seen were leaves on the drooping branches outside.
That day he ran off and wreaked havoc in the forest, he wasn’t able to sleep after he came back and left before the sun rose.
That was two weeks ago.
I miss you, though.
Belinda was lost in thought.
“Why aren’t you moving anything? It’s your turn!”
Mazetto’s chirping suddenly brought her to her senses and she moved the white knight again.
Then, a strange sound rang through the wind: wooden wheels against the ground. Someone seemed to be approaching the palace.
Since they were coming from the other direction, Belinda turned to the door.
The maid’s voice sounded, as expected, announcing a visitor.
“Princess, you have a visitor.”
“Who is it?”
A slightly unfamiliar name came from the maid.
“Duke Phillip Rodson.”
It was still somehow familiar.
Duke of Rodson… Phillip Rodson… Belinda mumbled the names. She’d heard them somewhere, but she wasn’t sure who it was.
Before Belinda could recall him, Mazetto was already flapping around shouting.
“Phillip? Who is it? Who’s Phillip?”
Only then did Belinda come to her senses and pinch his beak shut.
“Mazetto. You can’t talk. It could be dangerous if someone finds out about you.”
Although she was used to it by now, wouldn’t a talking sparrow be considered a rarity? If rumors spread, the little sparrow might be put in danger.
The MInistry of Magic might want to dissect him to find out how the hell it’s possible.
When Belinda put a finger to her lips to shush him, Mazetto replied loudly.
“I got it! No talking!”
“I just said you can’t…”
Mazetto was already itching to talk again.
In the meantime, Phillip strode inside, the handsome young man covered by the huge bouquet of roses he was carrying. Belinda was only then able to properly direct her thoughts to him.
Oh, it’s Phillip. He invited me to his birthday party once.
Phillip got down onto one knee and offered her the roses, then bowed to greet her.
“Greetings to the great blood of the Empire, Princess Belinda.”
“Nice to meet you again, Duke Phillip.”
Belinda thanked him for the flowers and took the bouquet.
What’s all this for?
The visit was already surprising, but him getting down on one knee was even more so. Wasn’t that for proposing?
When Belinda took the flowers, Phillip flashed a smile that could make anyone’s heart flutter.
Then, a voice rang from the corner of the room.
“What? What are you doing? Are you crazy?”
It was Mazetto.
Surprised, Phillip turned around, followed by Belinda. All she asked was for him to stay quiet for a while, but he couldn’t resist.
Mazetto, startled, hid in a large potted plant.
“Didn’t you hear something strange just now?”
Phillip asked in a serious voice.
He’d heard a cute child’s voice, but there was no child to be seen, only a sparrow babbling next to a pot. It would have seemed strange to anyone.
“I didn’t hear a thing, though.”
Belinda replied brazenly.
“Oh, is that so….”
Phillip dragged out the word, consciously fixing his expression and turning back around.
He’d come dreaming of a dramatic romantic reunion, but for some reason, the atmosphere was a little strange.
Phillip stepped back awkwardly, but soon smiled again.
‘Why don’t we take a walk together, to celebrate meeting again?”
Belinda glanced over at the pot.
Just a walk wouldn’t be difficult, but Mazetto was bound to follow them to chirp around and meddle. She didn’t want to deal with that, for the sake of Mazetto and the sake of her sanity.
Belinda gently refused, putting the roses in a vase.
“I can’t. I already have plans.”
Those plans were playing chess with a sparrow, of course.
Taking a sniff of the flowers, she continued.
“Well, get home safe.”
Phillip was met with a firm refusal before he’d made any progress. He was clearly embarrassed – no one had ever rejected him.
He was rich, handsome and powerful. He never expected to get such a determined rejection when he was being the savior for a low-blooded woman.
He soon came to his senses and softly smiled.
“I’m sorry. I’ll ask in advance next time.”
“Yes, please do.”
Belinda, with all her attention already shifted to Mazetto, gave an insincere answer..