7 Years Old – J of Hearts
“Don’t get so cocky, you fucking brat!”
“Why the hell was he left a job higher than ours!?”
Hahh… The boys who were my co-workers were picking a fight with me.
Whereever you go, there are idiots like these, huh. Are they slightly older than me…?
They’re a bunch that ignore their own shortcomings and use reasons like social status and age to discriminate against others.
They’re gunna pick a fight with a seven year old apprentice?
“Ahahahah, you have it tough too, huh~”
After meeting with Camille for the first time in a while, she had a huge laugh. It seems that she saw what happened just now.
“Just because it’s someone else’s problem…”
“I get told that too, you know, “Connected Girl” they call me… P-Pfft… Since I’m the daughter of a marquis, it’s true though.”
Seeing Camille talk about it like it isn’t a problem, I start feeling like an idiot for getting annoyed.
“Royce-sama says that he’ll come once his classes are done, you know.”
“It seems it’ll take a little longer, huh…”
Because I had business at the castle today, we all decided to meet today.
Camille and I are candidates for his future aides, so there are a lot of chances to meet with His Majesty during the breaks between our work.
There are times when I meet him alone too, but there are also days when I’ll be meeting him together with Camille.
“Achille, you’ll help Royce-sama with his studies, right?”
“When he asks me, yeah. His Highness has a number of talented private tutors, so I think it’d be quicker just to ask them, but…”
“But you explain things easily, right? I mean you immediately remembered the political science stuff you were taught the other day.”
It seems that Camille is bad with studying. It wasn’t like that in the past, but recently there’s been an obvious trend towards it.
She’s concentrating on magic too much.
In exchange for the neglect of her studies, her ability in magic has recently been growing at a strange rate.
Both her arms and her legs are marked with magic tattoos now, and she’s done for as a woman.
However, Camille doesn’t care about the eyes of society at all, and just keeps marking herself all over with her custom made tattoos of strange patterns like butterflies, or hearts, or angel wings.
And I just wish she would stop stripping her outerwear each time and trying to show me.
That time when she tried to show me the rose or whatever tattoo on her chest, I had no idea what to do, you know.
Suddenly, a dark skinned girl came running out of nowhere. She’s somebody I’ve seen.
This woman was… one of the followers of the royal prince’s son, wasn’t she?
“Oneechan, even though I asked you to come play, how come you won’t come?”
“Sorry, Meichan. There are some grown-up reasons behind it.”
“Really… Then, it’s okay if I come to play?”
For some reason this woman has gotten close to Camille, even though they’re supposed to be enemies.
“Indeed, of course it’s no good. …Geez, just when I was wondering where you ran off to…”
From behind the woman named Mei appeared the son of the royal prince, Raiga Transbaal.
“Nooo! I wanna play with Oneechan!”
“…You mind not luring my attendant?”
Raiga glared at Camille with a cold gaze, but Camille wasn’t concerned in the slightest.
Just when did she become acquainted with Raiga? Even though the two of them are supposed to be completely avoiding each other.
Even for the areas they’re active in, the King Faction are in the eastern building, whilst the Royal Prince Faction are segregated in the western building, so except for work, there are few places they’re together.
Speaking of which, this was the central building, wasn’t it?
The central building has a lot of workplaces, so both factions come and go.
“Sorry, Mei-chan, your bully of a master said that we couldn’t play… I like Meichan, but there’s nothing I can do, huh…? (In regards to this and that.)”
“Raiga-sama you idiott!”
With that, Mei ran back towards the western building. Camille is snickering away happily.
“Youu… This is the seventh time. I told you not to get involved with Mei, didn’t I?”
It seems that the two of them come into contact surprisingly often. Despite the fact that they’re hostiles, it kind of seems that both Raiga and Camille are relaxed around each other.
“Mei-chan is the one that comes to me, so I can’t refuse.”
With a sour expression, Raiga swiftly disappeared in the direction of the western building.
Camille fluttered her hand in a wave. She really doesn’t know fear.
Expensive tableware and small, round tables that seem like they would be popular amongst females, were lined up in the wide garden.
A garden party in name only, it was a gathering to strengthen the bonds of the King Faction. Of course, the members were all nobles of the King Faction.
Since a few years ago, the Rhodolite Marquis family and the Jade Viscount family were able to be invited here as well.
Today’s party was one that invited the children of these nobles as well. Camille and I were invited as well, so we attended.
“Kyaa~, please look this wayy!”
“Aahh! Just now, our eyes met!”
I’m ridiculously popular with the young ladies of around my age.
It’s annoying but, I can’t forget to be sociable. After all, this might come in handy one day, right?
I suddenly felt a gaze, and when I turned around, I found that Camille was, black tea in one hand, looking this way with a smirk.
She mocked me with words that might come from my drunk father. …It’s kind of irritating.
Camilla has no males around her.
Since her whole body is marked with magic tattoos, if you ask me if it’s natural, then it is, but…
When Camille made her debut, she was surrounded by a huge group of men. Like me, they were second and third sons aiming to marry into her family.
Probably being fed up with this, she decided to try attending with all her magic tattoos on. It was shallow thinking, but super effective.
Still, backing away so easily just because of magic tattoos, what a bunch of useless guys.
“Kyaaaa! How wonderfull!
“Haah… That smile, is so dazzling that I’m dizzy…”
His Highness is popular too. Wherever he went, high-pitched voices would call out.
“Royce-sama… Shan’t we have a chat over there?”
“No, Royce-sama will with I…”
“No! With I!”
“You vixen! Step away from His Highness!”
“What! You’re the one…! Ah! You over there! Would you mind not stealing a march on us!?”
A battle between five, six women unfolded around His Highness.
“Royce-sama will be eating cake with me!”
“What was thattt!? You damned tattoo woman!”
“What!? You make-up monster…! Even though you’re just a little kid!”
At some point, Camille joined the battle.
That one area alone turned into chaos. I don’t want to be near such a weird place.
His Highness unsteadily walked over to me. It seems that his spirit was shaved down upon seeing that ugly dispute between the women unfold before his eyes, and he came here to escape.
After I offered him a nearby chair, he basically collapsed into it.
“That seemed rough.”
“Mn… I’m a little tired. All of these young ladies sure are energetic, huh.
“For women like those, couldn’t you just use Camille like insect repellent”
She’s an overly loyal guard hopeful and holds goodwill towards His Highness, and yet doesn’t desire to become queen. While I’m saying this, I should mention that she isn’t acting in self-interest either, and neither is she looking for repayment.
Truly, an overly devoted and convenient partner.
“Mmmmmn, but you know…”
“What is it?”
His Highness looked like he was having trouble saying something, while he made eye contact with me. It’s like he’s trying to get me to say something.
“…Achille, are you okay with that?”
“Sorry…? To begin with, why did you ask me something like that?”
Hearing my words, His Highness let out a huge sigh. It’s rare for him to take such an attitude.
He’s kind to everybody without distinction, and is a person who is in a sense the very model of a ‘prince’.
“You know, Achille. You shouldn’t have the girl you like, do something like that, you know?”
‘like’…? I, like Camille?
Even though I’m in front of His Majesty, I let out a foolish sound.
“You’re always thinking about Camille, right? When Camille is paying attention to me, your mood turns bad after all.”
“That is not the case.”
“Wasn’t it you who reacted first when Camille was stabbed? You gave her first aid too, and afterwards you were looking after her the entire time, after all.”
“That was just coincidence… That time the Marquis was stuck with dealing with the aftermath, and Your Highness couldn’t leave the room, after all.”
His Highness sighed again. Just why?
“Does Your Highness not feel anything about Camille…?”
Unconsciously, something other than the words I prepared came out of my mouth. Even though I had no intention of asking such a thing.
His Highness made a surprised expression, but it’s too late to take back my words now.
“Me? About Camille?”
“I mean just now, she participated in the ‘Struggle for His Highness’, didn’t she?”
Even though she has such obvious good will towards him, His Highness didn’t look swayed by Camille in the slightest.
“I… wonder if it’s that kind of “good will”. Camille absolutely never crosses a certain line, and… it’s because of that that I can continue being around her, though.”
With those words, His Highness fell into thought. Camille’s good will had no effect at all.
“Are you saying that you do not feel anything for Camille, Your Highness?”
“I like Camille, but I don’t think these feelings are romantic. She’s somebody who’ll succeed her marquis house, and I’ll probably have a fiancée before long as well.”
It’s a standard answer, huh. And Camille said this earlier too.
Why on earth am I asking questions with such obvious answers?
I feel annoyed at myself for having said something needless. Besides that, somehow the area near my chest feels bad…
“Camille is strong, isn’t she…?”
While gazing at Camille who was even now doing battle with the other young ladies, His Highness suddenly muttered this.
She’s wrapped up in an intense all-female battle at the table on the far side of the room, but… that’s probably not what His Highness is talking about. …Moreover,
“Camille is, strong?”
――――There’s no way that she is.
“Mmn, even though she’s a girl, she’s trying hard to become my guard. Because of me, she got stabbed once, but… despite that, even now she’ll stay by my side.”
His Highness spoke of the past painfully. When our conversations come to that topic, his beautiful face always warps bitterly.
Certainly, Camille is different to the other daughters of noble families. Occasionally she’ll have a strangely mature face on, and she’s good at handling magic too. If it’s to protect His Highness, she won’t hesitate to fight either.
But how can he declare that she’s strong just because of that?
Even in the incident from a year ago, she was trembling and crying by herself on that bed in the infirmary.
If I weren’t there, there probably wouldn’t have been anybody who’d have known.
Camille is just acting stronger than she is, and is by no means strong.
Why won’t he notice this? His Highness, of all people.
Even though Camille has been trying that hard, all for the sake of protecting him.
If it were me…
Having thought that far, I was suddenly struck by lightning.
――――Just what on earth would I do, if it were me?
Many of the noble daughter fangirls use ‘watakushi‘. If you don’t know what that means, again, don’t worry.
‘Sorry…?‘ is ‘ “Okay” or anything else…’ → implies idea of ‘even if you ask me “okay” or whatever, that has nothing to do with anything/’okay or not’ has nothing to do with me/the situation anyway. Those words don’t fit the situation to begin with.‘
It’s a really common Japanese phrase, but afaik we don’t have an equivalent in English. Would usually just say “Huh?” and skip to the second part, which is “Why did you ask me something like that?”
‘who is in a sense the very model of a ‘prince’‘ Gunna assume she meant 鑑 and not 鏡, though apparently it’s become common to use the former even when they mean the latter.