12 Years Old – J of Hearts
Note: Please don’t read it in the little pop-up for the reader. For some reason it doesn’t reflect my later edits (which I often make a lot of after publishing), so please click ‘view original’.
I think I became interested in Camille fairly quickly after we met.
Had I not, the young me would not have concerned himself with a stranger to that extent.
I gazed at Camille who was sleeping inside the carriage.
Her silky pink hair isn’t curled today, probably because of her job.
A small, well-featured face, eyelashes fine like smoke, and lips like cherry blossoms… No matter from whose perspective, Camille is a beautiful girl. Having reached twelve years old, her beauty has become outstanding, and overwhelms all the other girls.
Were it not for her unfortunate behaviour, there’s no doubt that she’d be considerably popular. I have fun watching the disappointing Camille, so it’s fine though, you see.
When I stroked her straight hair while she was fast asleep, she suddenly stirred. In surprise, I pulled my hand back, but Camille didn’t wake, and immediately her regular sleeping breath could be heard again.
“…Even though she’s alone with a man, she’s way too relaxed.”
I realised my feelings because of what His Highness said.
Up until then, she had been just an eccentric childhood friend to me, but because of His Highness’ unnecessary words, that day I became more conscious of Camille than necessary.
Honestly, I didn’t want to admit it. Getting wrapped up about a woman was something that a fool did, and I knew how to use the other sex… Even though that’s how it should have been…
I got close to Camille because I was interested in the position of marquis. Even though that’s how it should have been…
“Why did it turn out like this?”
This isn’t how it should have gone…
I was at my wit’s end. …But, this alone was something that was purely a matter of emotions, so there was nothing I could do about it.
After realising my own feelings, I was quick to act.
Since I was aiming to marry into the marquis family to begin with, wouldn’t it be fine to be positive about this?
And so, under the pretext of making sure Camille was studying right, I frequently showed my face at the marquis’ house.
I think I’ve caught the hearts of the servants… All of them see me favourably. In particular, the maid with the large build, Aimée, even went as far as telling me “Please become the groom!”.
…Just according to nerai [tl: nerai means “aim”]
As for the fact that I’m diligently removing the obstacles in my way, Camille hasn’t noticed in the slightest.
It was the day of the aforementioned dance party.
It was held in the banquet hall of the castle, and dressed up nobles and foreign guests were gathered there.
“Royce-sama… So wonderful, hahh hahh[/pant pant].”
After going around once and greeting everybody, Camille was glued to His Majesty. Without forgetting to threaten the other nobles’ daughters when His Highness wasn’t watching.
Camille whose breathing was rough as she licked His Highness all over with her gaze, looked like a degenerate no matter how you saw it.
“Huhu… You look very cute too, Camille.”
“Ehehe~, if you praise me that much I’ll get excited and have a nose bleed.”
What Camille, who was in high spirits at being praised, was wearing tonight was a navy blue dress with few puffy parts.
Since it’s Camille, she probably stressed ease of movement in her choice of dress.
The skirts of Déborah and Désirée who were at the other side of the room were super puffy, as though it weren’t already enough.
Once it gets that big, honestly, they’re just blocking the road.
“Ah! Déborah, Désirée!”
Noticing the two of them, Camille waved her hands while she approached the sisters who had turned into walking lanterns.
Mysteriously, those two were on good terms with Camille. It seems they became acquainted once Camille started visiting my house.
“Camille, the dessert that you love is over there, you know.”
“Shall we get some together, Camille?”
After the lively girls had moved away beyond a certain distance, I was called out to from behind, with calculated timing.
“Achille-sama, may we have a dance together?”
Upon turning my head, I found a whole line of young ladies… I’m feeling dizzy.
“Yes, of course.”
I wish they would give me a break, but I can’t just refuse. Among them are some nobles daughters that are higher ranked than I am.
I continually dance around like an idiot… How many people has it been now? After it’s done, shall I take refuge in the break room…?
While I was being fed up, in the corner of my eye I saw a man courting Camille.
To court Camille who’s plastered with magic tattoos as always, what an incredible hero.
Since I’m curious, I’ll take the lead of the dance and move that way.
…Doesn’t Camille’s expression seem kind of stiff?
“Like I said, I’m willing to partner with a woman covered in magic tattoos like you.”
“Not a single person wants to marry you anyway, right? If you hand over the marquis’ seat to me, I don’t mind making you my wife yanno?”
“So what do you think?”
Camille was looking at the man like she had found some strange new organism. The man’s words and behaviour was probably incomprehensible.
I recognise the face of the guy talking to her; he’s the recently upstart baron…’s delinquent second son.
With glittering clothes of bad taste, and a greasy pimpled face, he’s probably around sixteen or seventeen, huh…
Truly a nobody.
From a while ago, he’s been smirking at Camille while appraising her. …It’s incredibly unpleasant.
“I decline! I too have the right to choice, after all. I do not like arrogant men.”
Said Camille, casually replying with cruel words. But, well done.
“What was that!? Even though you’re covered in tattoos, you’re going to refuse my kind offer? If you refuse me, not a single man will approach you for the rest of your life, you know!”
The indignant man grabbed Camille’s arm.
Even like that, Camille is still the daughter of a marquis, though. If you do something violent like that… things will get scary afterwards, you know?
“Soorry to say this even though you love me so much, but please look for somebody elseee.”
Aahh, Camille has started having fun by provoking the man. It looks like the guy’s attitude has woken up the sadist in her.
Déborah and Désirée have been watching the whole thing from a little distance away. Those two enjoy watching others fight, after all.
“Looking down on me!”
The man’s face was bright red, and he tried to twist Camille’s arm, but she didn’t move at all.
And little wonder, since among Camille’s magic tattoos is one that has the effect of automatically defending herself.
Automatic defence, automatic regeneration, high speed strike reinforcement, magic reflection… etc. etc. Right now Camille who’s smeared all over in tattoos is close to invincible.
Only I, who gets shown them each time she gets a new tattoo, knows this.
The young noble lady who’s my dance partner looks up at me confused. With good timing, the dance’s song ends.
“No, it is nothing…”
I reply with a smile to reassure her, but… If you asked me if that was on my mind, then yes it was.
“Please excuse me for a moment.”
After leaving the ring of dancers, I head towards Camille.
“You damned woman! I’ll freaking send you flying!”
The man grabbed at Camille. It looks like he’s finally run out of patience. It’s something very brave to do to a woman who killed a dragon by herself.
But, because of the power of Camille’s automatic defence, the man couldn’t do a thing to her. Everything was blocked by an invisible barrier.
Having noticed the noise, there were people gathered there and watching. It’s about time that I have to stop this, huh…
“Camille, what are you doing? Looks fun.”
I walked straight into the group of people. Seeing me, she smiled happily.
“Achille! …It seems that this person wants to be my fiancé, but I refused him…”
Looking from up close, the man looks increasingly of bad taste. All of his fingers are covered in glittering, gaudy rings.
I approached the man, and announced something to him.
“I am sorry, but she’s already taken.”
” “Eh?” ”
“The marquis’ daughter, Camille Rhodolite, is my fiancée.”
Camille blinked her eyes.
“That’s how it is, so please excuse us.”
I pulled her by the arm, and immediately left the scene.
The man was still making a fuss, but the people in charge of security had an eye on him and dragged him away somewhere.
At this rate we’d catch the attention of others in the hall, so bringing Camille along, I headed to one of the break rooms prepared for today for a rest.
Camille and I entered the small-ish room. In the corner of the room was a white sofa and table prepared.
For now, I had her sit down, and took the seat beside her.
“Achille… What’s going on what why?”
While tilting her head blankly, Camille asked about my earlier words.
“It was an excuse to shut him up, you know? But I sure said it in front of a huge group of people huh… I wonder what will happen.”
Of course, I declared it in front of a crowd on purpose.
Camille lost her words. It seems like the composure she had while dealing with that baron’s second son has been blown off somewhere.
“Achille… You… At this rate, isn’t it possible that you’ll end up my fiancé? This isn’t the time to be acting so carefree, you know!”
It seems like she’s truly worried about me. But, it’s misdirected.
“I don’t really mind, even so.”
“That’s no good! If it’s you Achille, you can aim for any number of better girls, so you mustn’t settle for me!”
“I’ll, try talking to father[/otousama] about this! Don’t worry, it’ll be alright, okay!?”
After making some sort of determined expression, Camille strongly grasped my hand.