With ambiguous, indescribable feelings, I decided to talk about Claudia.
I could have talked about the Shiru children as well, but daily life with them is so far removed from the noble lifestyle, I felt like it wouldn’t be a suitable topic for the boy in front of me. Talking about Ratoka with how far apart we’ve drifted would be even more terrible. I’ve never had even a moment with him where I can use the term “friendship” to describe. So he’s out of the question.
Then, the only other children around me are Elise and Paulo. ……And although there’s a bit of a gap in our ages, there’s Claudia, and even Kamil.
Kamil may have been the closest person to me I could call a friend up until the point where I started distrusting him. He sometimes praised me or made fun of me depending on the situation, and when we were alone together, we were equals. But, I’d feel uncomfortable talking about him with someone I don’t even know. Now that I think about it, I’ve never spoken about Kamil with anyone else before. I’ve never felt like talking to anyone about him before, either.
Since Paulo’s a soldier in the Kaldia army, I don’t have much contact with him, and Elise is so sickly that I mostly only talk to her through letters, telling her stories.
So, that means I’m only left with Claudia to talk about.
She’s a noble girl that’s staying in my mansion as my playmate…… When I told him this, I noticed that it didn’t feel strange at all to say it out loud. Even despite the age gap, I enjoy her antics. As for her daily life, she’s really enthused about swinging around her spear every day, she’ll talk to anyone despite whatever the atmosphere is like, she loves riding horses, and just generally running about everywhere, even jumping out of second story windows, that sort of thing. Although sometimes she will bother me, she always tries her hardest at everything she does, and she doesn’t act her age at all.
Talking about all these silly things regarding Claudia, somehow it felt as if with her childlike innocence, she was actually younger than me.
“She seems like quite an energetic girl, your playmate.”
The boy who was listening to me all this time seemed to be half smiling, he probably thinks Claudia is similar to my age or younger than me, since I didn’t mention her age.
And after I just finished talking about Claudia, the person herself gathered her emotions together and came to find me. Unlike me, she’s incredibly skilled at switching gears quickly when it comes to emotions. She now looks like a handsome knight with no sign of tension at all, and the boy next to me seemed quite shocked at her appearance.
He would probably never imagine that this handsome knight in front of him is that “energetic girl” he just heard about.
“Is this the, new, knight that’s going to serve under you? This is so…… How to say it, dignified……”
“This knight has always been the most skilled in my domain, and has been aiming for the goal of becoming a knight for such a long time.”
“Mmm, I see.”
The boy nodded. Has Claudia ever acted dignified before, I wonder, although perhaps her behavior is also that of a warrior’s, I always felt like she acted more like a cat than a girl her age. But I suppose she can be dignified as well.
“I see…… It’s great that your knight was able to have a wish granted……”
In a tiny voice, I heard him muttering that to himself under his breath. I felt it was unfortunate that I heard this, since he obviously didn’t mean for anyone to hear that. I didn’t really understand what he meant by it, so I glanced at him, and immediately regretted doing so. If only I hadn’t seen his expression.
It seems that Claudia, with her sharper senses than normal people, heard him as well, as she also took a quick glance at him, before meeting my eyes and keeping her gaze fixed on me.
“……Shall we return?”
I called out to Claudia, wanting to leave here in a hurry, and rose up from the bench. The boy also raised his face, and said “it’s good that you were able to find each other, see you later.” I made an appropriate response, and hurriedly left the garden together with Claudia.
“……That boy had a terrible expression on his face.”
After confirming to make sure nobody was around, Claudia whispered that to me in a tiny voice. She was looking directly at the garden we had just left.
Indeed, what a terrible expression it had been. His face had been empty, desolate, or maybe it was despair. He was probably a noble before with a high position, but he had been forced into the monastery before he could attend noble school, so he could no longer do as he liked, that’s probably the reason behind the expression on his face when he said how nice it was that my knight got a wish fulfilled.
“He must have his own circumstances.”
I made that comment, and Claudia tilted her head as if she was thinking about it, then she nodded in agreement. Well, everyone has their own circumstances. Such as Claudia who’d always wanted to be a knight, even knowing how difficult it would be.
She’s really lucky. Her parents allowed her to do as she wished until she reaches 20 years of age, I really need her existence by my side, Earl Terejia being able to set up the knight order for me, all these things led to her today being able to wear a knight’s uniform for the first time.
He definitely isn’t a lucky one. And I’m sure that just like him, there are countless other “unlucky” people out there that aren’t able to fulfill their dreams.
“……I can’t do anything for him.”
I have my citizens. For someone like him who has barely any connection to me, I don’t have the spare time to worry about him.
“I understand, Eliza-dono. Got it.”
Claudia didn’t say anything else and just nodded. She was looking at me with an earnest look in her eyes. Honestly, even though she’s clumsy in so many aspects, she’s also surprisingly astute in others. For just an instant, even though we didn’t exchange words, Claudia was perhaps acting more seriously than I was.
I hope that her beautiful heart won’t be tainted by malevolence one day. -Yes, I think that I should protect it.
“……Oh right, I almost forgot.”
Indeed, there’s something I haven’t said to her yet. As she tilted her head questioningly, I took both of her hands in mine.
“Congratulations, Claudia-dono. You’ve always been such a great help to me. Thank you. I’ll be relying on you in the future as well.”
As my knight, but there were some things I still wasn’t able to say out loud, and I kept it in my heart instead.