41. After the Night
I was prepared for a night of not being able to fall asleep. However, I seemed to have fallen asleep before I knew it.
By the time I noticed, it was morning.
As I got off the bed and opened the window, I realized that the sun had yet to rise. Nevertheless, the outside was already bright.
A while had passed since I last had such a good night’s sleep.
My limbs felt a little sore, but my body no longer felt sluggish.
“Even though I should be ridden with anxiety… How did I manage to sleep so peacefully?”
I unintentionally muttered out.
As I thought, the difference between me and a cute heroine of a romance novel was akin to the earth and sky.
I had to change my clothes. I directed my gaze towards a nearby cabinet. Yesterday, a servant had told me I could get a change of clothes from there.
Apparently, I could even wear a dress made of high-quality fabric. Full of gratitude, I borrowed the dress and combed my hair.
Usually, I’d still be asleep around that time.
Staying in a room for a while might have been for the best, but my spirits were too high to let me relax.
I went to the door so that I could go out to the courtyard.
The room was locked from the inside. I made sure to open the door gently so as to not make any noise.
The corridor was quiet.
I could hear a very faint noise in the distance. The castle’s servants might have been busy preparing for the morning.
I decided to head outside so as to not get in their way.
Upon trying to take a quiet step, I froze.
Phil was leaning against the corridor wall. I hadn’t noticed him at all.
There were bags under his eyes. I could easily see that he hadn’t slept.
But that wasn’t what surprised me the most.
Water was dripping from his clothes. His silver hair was damp.
“W, what’s wrong with you?”
“I bathe myself in water to clear my head…”
“Is that why you’re soaked?! Come here!”
I grabbed Phil’s arm and proceeded to pull him into the room.
Phil had a gloomy expression. He was a bit surprised, but he let himself be drawn in by me. The moment before he entered the room, he seemed tense. However, in the end, he still went inside without saying anything.
“Sit here. Well, I’m pretty sure there’ll be one here…”
I told him to sit on a chair while rushing to find a spare cloth.
When I returned with a soft cloth and a washbasin, Phil was still quietly sitting there.
I approached him from behind before wiping his damp hair. The ears I touched for a moment were cold.
“How long have you been in the corridor?”
“…Since the sky was still dim?”
“That long ago!? Phil, what if you catch a cold!?”
After saying that, I suddenly closed my mouth.
I inadvertently spoke to him like how I usually would. I had forgotten that he was His Highness Philaude.
“Uhm, Your Highness Philaude, I…”
“Since there’s nobody around, you may call me Phil. If anything, I order you to refer to me as Phil.”
His Highness Philaude—Phil, looked down and smiled a little.
I stopped wiping his hair.
Finally, his silver hair had dried.
However, his sturdy back looked truly lonely.
…I stared at his silver hair and back for a while and exhaled.
“Then, I’ll call you Phil. After all, if I were to treat you differently, I won’t be able to say what I want to say.”
While moving my hand to wipe his hair once again, I continued speaking.
“Doesn’t it feel cold?”
“Compared to those nights in the North, this is nothing.”
“Is that so? Well, if you needed something, you should’ve called out to me.”
“I tried to do that a few times, but… I thought that since Alves had a drink with you last night, he’d have strictly told you not to open the door.”
Incidentally, he did.
However, I inadvertently invited Phil inside the morning after.
“…But, well, it’s not night anymore. I don’t I’ve broken my promise with my brother?”
Not to mention, I left the door open.
When I muttered that, Phil chuckled.
“No, I just thought that was such a Lucia-thing to say. The knights also treated me like usual. They said that it can’t be helped because I’ve ordered them to do so.”
Phil laughed and then sighed.
“…As I thought, I love Lucia-chan. If I can’t see you, everything is meaningless.”
“I, I haven’t decided, yet…!”
“But, surely, you don’t mean to say that you don’t want to meet me anymore? I was aware of how awkward it was going to be, so I waited for you to come out into the hallway.”
Phil stared at the floor.
“…I hate seeing Lucia-chan cry. Every time I remember, it’s as if I’m being crushed. I’m grateful that you treat me as usual. Thank you very much… I’m so happy, I wouldn’t mind if I were to die at this moment.”
By the end, his voice was barely audible. It could be taken as a sigh.
I stopped wiping his hair.
I roughly threw the damp cloth onto the table and faced Phil.
“Phil, please raise your face.”
***T/N: It’s Phil in his Labeouf mode.
Please also consider donating to my ko-fi! It’ll greatly support me in action, no matter the amount!