A rounded moon was floating in the sky.
It wasn’t an incomplete sphere that needed another day, like that night long ago. This was a full moon worthy of taking center stage in this cloudless, star-studded sky.
Unlike the sun, there was something mystical about its silvery, cool light. It was a light most fitting to illuminate a genius such as I.
And there, I and Charles sat side-by-side.
“Huh? So that plan to separate from your sister actually worked?”
“Of course it did. It was the plan of a genius. There was no way it could ever fail.”
The only sound that could be heard in this deserted garden was music that leaked from the dance hall and our own conversation. We were sitting on the bench set in the garden, stretching our feet and leisurely chatting away.
There was a different sort of charm with talking in the garden at night to playing at the mansion. Along with the first time two years ago, last year and tonight, it had been three times in total. It had become sort of a natural tradition for us to meet and talk here on the night of the ball. Aside from the mansion, this empty garden was really the only place where I could talk to Charles without reserve. If I met Charles in the dance hall, for instance, I would in no way allow my ladies disguise to fall. And so, it was likely that I and Charles would find ourselves here again next year; just to talk.
It was refined and pleasant.
I imagined the future that had practically been decided for us, and smile quietly.
“Hmm. I wouldn’t have expected you to be able to do it… But if you say that Mariwa even praised you, then you must have really done it… But how?”
“What a silly question. Don’t you doubt me. I worked hard towards it, and you should praise me.”
I stare reproachfully at Charles’ doubtful eyes. For I and Mishuli’s sake, I had planned and executed. Mariwa had even praised me. This was clearly an achievement that left no room for doubts, and yet he acted like this. Charles was not very considerate of others.
I puff out my cheeks in annoyance.
Our conversation was revolved only around the festival. I told him how we had entered the city in disguises, Charles spoke of his public duties. And as we talked, the subject naturally moved to that moment during the parade.
“I’m so impressed that you were able to find me in that crowd of people. You didn’t even know that I would be there, I don’t think most people would have been able to do it.”
“I could find you no matter where you are. You’re Chris after all.”
I break into a smile at this incomprehensible explanation.
There was no logic to support it, and yet Charles’ honest words sent my heart racing. I didn’t know why, but it made me so happy. It was a different happiness from when I was with Mishuli, but it was also uncontrollable. I stand up and grab Charles by the head and tousle his hair.
“You say the most pleasing things, Charles!”
I had praised him and patted his head as a reward, but he didn’t seem too happy. Mishuli loved to be patted on the head, but Charles was different. If anything, he seemed discontent. Well, he was a boy. Perhaps he was now at the age where he didn’t like having a girl lock his head in such a grip.
But even so, we were good friends. Such things were only a type of playfulness and there was no need to hold back. I continued to pat him on the head for a while before I sat down again. I was in incredibly high spirits.
“You’ve grown a lot too, Charles.”
“What do you mean?”
“Hmm? It’s nothing.”
He looked at me with suspicion, but I rebuffed him as I hummed a tune. My balance of happiness had not depleted at all yet, there was still plenty of it in my chest.
“Grow… By the way, Chris, you seemed a lot taller at the parade. How did you grow? Was that your third form?”
“So, I grow when I change to my third form…?”
What on earth did he think I was? He had gone from looking quite dissatisfied to suddenly looking excited. His eyes were bright with expectation now. I smiled wryly at this childish side.
“Unfortunately, that is wrong. I haven’t even received my third form yet.”
“Is that right…”
His shoulders drooped in utter disappointment, but this nonsense about forms was something I had originally blurted without thinking. I wasn’t some demon lord, I hadn’t even thought past what my second form was.
“Well, leaving my third form aside. I was actually riding on someone’s shoulders.”
Charles’ eyes blinked in surprise.
Why indeed, was he looking surprised at such a mundane thing as riding on someone’s shoulders to gain a little height? If anything, him being surprised was odd to me, and I tilted my head in confusion.
He must not know the meaning of the words. It was most strange, but perhaps not impossible considering Charles’ upbringing. Just as I was thinking about kindly explaining to him what it meant to ride someone’s shoulders, Charles started to move again.
“Ride, shoulders….ah, ahh… I see. You were riding on Mishuli’s shoulders, right. Or was it Miss Mariwa? I understand then…”
“Ahaha, what are you saying, Charles?”
I could not help but burst into laughter at his hopeless guesses.
Well, I did do it with Mishuli, actually. But that was after the parade. And I was the one who was carrying her. Mishuli would be crushed if I rode on top of her. And there was no chance that Mariwa would diligently allow me to ride her. Surely, he knew such obvious facts? Why would he even ask?
Charles was smiling as if in a desperate attempt to fool someone, and so I corrected him.
“You know, I told you that I saw the parade with a commoner boy named Leon, who is the same age. As it was most convenient, I had him carry me on his shoulders that time.”
Charles’ smile froze.