First Year First Semester – Q of Hearts – Mansion (Part 7)
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’.
“Huhu, I’m glad, Camille. You and Achille like each other, right?”
I get the feeling that information gets leaked to Royce-sama, each and every time. How mysterious.
Did Achille tell him about it?
No matter how good it is, even Royce-sama would find it impossible to actually peep on what happened inside the carriage.
Having returned to the castle, right now I’m having tea with Royce-sama who’s finished dealing with the post-processing of the incident. Achille was apparently busy with work or something, so he isn’t here.
The tea I have in Royce-sama’s room is very delicious, and each time it feels like I’ve gained a little something for free. Today’s black tea is exquisite as well.
“I’m glad… you say? You are, Royce-sama?”
“Of course. The two of you are my important friends, after all… That you two are openly in love with each other feels like a load off my back, you know.”
“…Was there some sort of burden that you had in regards to this, Royce-sama?”
“There was, you know. You were having trouble graduating from me, after all. I got watched pretty badly by Achille…”
Achille? He did that sort of thing?
“G-, Graduate, you say…?”
Speaking of which, at the count’s hideout he said the same thing as well, but… Just what does he mean?
“I said it earlier, right? That you overlapped me with somebody else, and adored them through me. For a long time now, I’ve always been wondering about it, but am I really that similar to that person…?”
“Something like overlapping somebody similar to you, I wouldn’t do…”
Having thought that far, it suddenly hit me. Could it be…
Just one person, comes to mind.
He’s incredibly similar him… But, I’m certain that he’s different to the one that’s before my eyes in real life.
“It couldn’t be…”
Is the person that Royce-sama talked about, the in-game him?
I unconsciously, unwittingly, overlapped and compared Royce-sama with the in-game him…?
While I was aware that this world was real, I looked for points that were similar with the game’s characters, and without realising it myself, compared them.
What I’ve been holding onto for these ten years, were love for the game’s Royce… No, a yearning for him. I sended up stacking those feelings onto the real him.
And Royce-sama who’s good at reading other’s feelings, has probably always noticed this.
What a rude attitude I’ve taken towards him for almost ten years. Instead of the real person, I’ve been yearning for a fake existence of my own convenience.
“Camille, did you like that person?”
“…No, rather than love, it was just yearning, I think. I understood that being with them was impossible, after all.”
I mean, it was a game character. And someone completely different from the current Royce-sama.
Royce-sama gazed at me.
“I’m sorry. It must have been uncomfortable, right? To have an imaginary person like that overlapped onto you for so long…”
I’d definitely hate it. To be seen through the filter of the in-game Camille.
However, inexpectedly, Royce-sama shook his head.
“That’s not true. The fact that you’ve always been by me, and protected me, is because of that imaginary guy after all.”
“Royce-sama… You’re too kind.”
What a magnanimous prince.
Accepting even me, who was holding onto selfish delusions, and always keeping me as a friend.
“From now on as well, I intend to protect you, Royce-sama. Because you’re my friend, and an older brotherly, or perhaps younger brotherly… important person to me.”
Royce-sama softly smiled. Even now, after he’s grown up, that smile is still the same as always.
“Me too. You’re my important friend, and though older sister is impossible… I think of you like a little sister, you know.”
He just declared that ‘older sister’ was impossible for meee!
After my chat with Royce-sama, I turned up to work for the first time in a while and was discovered by Achille, and he speedily walked towards me. Has he already finished work or something?
He stopped in front of my eyes, and with a grave expression, placed his hands on my two shoulders.
Since that incident in the carriage, I feel that the sense of distance between us has shrunk again.
It seems that Achille is completely in boyfriend mode. He’s been treating me even more protectively than before… I can’t get used to being treated like this, and it’s embarassing.
“Achille, what’s wrong? You’re making such a serious expression.”
“Who’s the person that you yearn for?”
“Yearn for? Ah-, could it be…!”
Achille… Didn’t you hear about this too quickly?
Even though I only just told Royce-sama, what a formidable guy.
Maybe Royce-sama and Achille don’t hide anything from each other. The friendship between men is a mystery.
But still, Royce-sama, you’re too loose-lipped… Even though you’re a prince.
I’d decided that I would also tell Achille the truth.
I-, It’s not perfect, but we are lovers, so I’d like to avoid weird misunderstandings.
“…I’ve said this to Royce-sama too, but it’s not a person that exists in reality, you know.”
Ah, he’s giving me a weird look. I might look like a cringeworthy woman right now.
“What kind of person are they?”
“Mnnnn, an ideal prince. He’s a little bit like Royce-sama, but… As expected, I’ve understood that they aren’t the same.”
“Hmmn… I wonder if it’s like the princes on white steeds that Déborah and Désirée have spoken to me about. Girls seem to like those types of stories, don’t they?”
“R-, rightright! He’s like that! An existence you yearn for!”
It’s a little different, but the point about being a prince that you yearn for is the same, so I’ll just go with this. If I don’t, it seems like things will get complicated.
Achille didn’t look like he was accepting it, but it looks like he’ll spare me more questioning, which saved me.
“Then, you really do like me back, right?”
When he asks me face to face, I get shy no matter what, and end up being stiff.
“Other people that you long for…”
“D-, Didn’t I say that there aren’t any!?”
No good, I was panicked and accidentally let out a bit of a loud voice. So embarassing.
“Really? You won’t cheat on me?”
“I said that I won’t, geez!”
To begin with, since it was the imaginary Royce-sama from the game, it’d be impossible to cheat anyway.
Achille… Surprisingly, I’m sort of seeing elements of a possessive boyfriend just under the surface, you know.
“You should know it too, right? I don’t have someone like th-… Ah-!?”
When I glared at Achille and was trying to refute him, I saw from over his shoulders a pair of blue eyes, sneakily watching us from a corner of the hallway.
It seems that Achille noticed the presence behind him as well, and turned around.
“Wh-… Royce-sama, what are you doing spying from the shadows!? Do you have business in the Magic Building?”
Even though he should have been resting in his room until just a moment ago. Honestly, he’s a prince you can’t let your guard down around.
“No, I was just watching over you two. I want to use you guys as a reference later, okay?”
I’m hugely questioning what exactly he plans on using this as a reference for.
“Not, ‘okay?’! Even though you’re a prince, aren’t your information gathering skills getting too good? Why was there no hint of your presence!?”
Achille tsukkomi’d Royce-sama. But, I also don’t think that Royce-sama’s presence erasing abilities are ordinary.
…But still, we sure showed him something embarassing, huhh.
Looking at the three of us together like this, I start to think that we’ve grown quite a lot since that time.
Each of us, in different directions.
The first time we met, we chatted in this Magic Building as well, huhh… Our personalities were completely different though.
Now, Achille is using his genius intellect in his job, and is going fullspeed down the path to becoming an elite.
The competence that he had when he was Royce-sama’s right hand man in the game was plenty as well, I think. The calculating side of him that was laid bare when he was a child has also calmed down, but he’s good at hiding what he doesn’t want to show, so I have no idea what he’s actually thinking though.
Royce-sama was originally a prince whose kindness was his only merit, but lately, perhaps due to Achille’s influence, occasionally he shows a highly calculating side of him.
Also, he erases his presence and moves about stealthily like a ninja, so it seems that he’s making various secret manoeuvres in places I don’t know about. I’m sure he’s already got a hold of my weaknesses. A secret intelligence-type prince… He’s ended up growing in a surprising direction, huhh…
I’m developing in the direction that I originally aimed for, and became a professional magician who’s mastering magic.
Right now I’m a student, as well as a “Red” magician, but in the future I plan on becoming a “Black” magician who can guard Royce-sama.
I’ve also g-, gotten Achille as a fiancé and lover… so my future as the daughter of a marquis also seems stable for now.
To think that I’d end up in this kind of relationship with that Achille… I wouldn’t have thought it when I first came to this world, huhh. The world is a mysterious thing.
But this world isn’t a game; it’s reality. Achille, and Royce… and I as well, are people living in reality.
Through our choices, the future is something that changes unendingly.
/First Semester END
Author’s Note: The Mansion Arc has basically finished.