27. The Third Prince is Too Dazzling! I Can’t Look at Him Directly!
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Holding Hands and Making Up
Having arrived at the garden where I usually meet with Gilbert, I look for him at each bench where we sat together in the past. He isn’t at any. Finally, only one remains to check, so I head there.
It is the one in the most secluded place, the best place in the garden if you want to be alone. If he’s still in the garden, it’s got to be there… but if I don’t find him there, what am I going to do?
The place in question is at the last hedgerow’s very end, under a rose arch. There is a discreetly placed bench there you can miss at first look, and when I get near enough, I can see the profile of a gorgeous, and by now, all familiar face. I am relieved that my hunch was right.
At that moment, Gilbert looks back at me but immediately averts his glance. I guess it makes sense his ill mood won’t clear off so quickly. I am secretly hoping that while he is out here alone, his temper will have cooled off, though.
He doesn’t flinch. Let’s try again.
“Um, Lord Gilbert…”
Ignoring me completely, I see. Now, what am I supposed to do?
“Lord Gilbert… I mean, um… Gil?”
“Do you mind if I sit beside you?”
Without uttering a word, Gilbert slides over a bit and lays a handkerchief on the bench for me to sit. Quite the conscientious feminist, huh.
His continued silence means he hasn’t forgiven me, I think. What a pain.
“I’m really sorry. How can I make up for it?”
Looks like Gilbert doesn’t seem to be in a forgiving mood. The stubborn silence remains unbroken.
“Your anger is very justified, Gil. I’m sorry for being a person who can’t follow simple instructions.”
“I will take care not to do these things in the future.”
“Um, I’m really sorry. Can you forgive me?”
Only the birds’ singing and the leaves’ rustling are heard. The wind brings the scent of roses towards us and makes our hair flutter. Lightrays filtering through the swaying cover of leaves above us seem to dance on the ground around our feet.
Give me a break! Stop playing the sullen contrarian. It’s not like I made a mistake that put us in danger or something! Guys aren’t supposed to be this pigheaded!
“Gil! Stop acting like a sissy!”
“What did you say!?”
Gilbert, who hasn’t deemed to meet eyes with me this whole time, suddenly raises his face in a flash and looks at me straight. Nice to see his reflexes are working quite properly, I guess. But I won’t flinch either.
“Well, am I wrong? Are you going to keep throwing a tantrum forever just because of such small things?”
“Funny how these small things keep happening to the point that I’ve already lost count!”
“Well, maybe you need to learn some numbers beyond one because it’s happened twice!”
“Twice!? You idiot! Do you have any idea how many things I have endured because of you since last night!?”
“Calling people idiots is what dumb people do! How am I supposed to know what is wrong if you never tell me!”
The tit for that goes on for a bit. By the end, I find myself standing up with my fist up to my chest and staring from above at Gilbert.
I am totally on the right, though! I can only rely on verbal communication when it comes to Gilbert to understand his feelings. With other people, I can learn their feelings by noticing the subtle changes in their auras during a conversation. Obviously, that’s a non-starter with Mr. Eye-Melting Aura.
“Just tell me why the reason you are so angry at me, please.”
It turns out that raising my voice and yelling out loud my feelings had a calming effect. My tone has gone back to normal, and I return to my seat, though with still agitated movements.
So, your turn, Gilbert. I wonder for a second if he will sulk back into silence. Should I revert to the shouting match?
“Well… first of all, I didn’t like how you were dressed up so well that all the men at the soirée were looking at you.”
Wait, what? That’s a misunderstanding on his part, for sure.
But I’d rather not start arguing again, so let’s just wait until he’s done talking. I finally managed to break the silence, and if he sulks back into giving me the cold shoulder, it’ll have been for nothing.
“And even though I gestured to you with that last look I gave you before we were separated to go find Glenn, you went to talk with a bunch of guys.”
So that’s what that look meant! I had no idea. How was I supposed to know that?
“Afterward, you seemed to be having so much fun with my older brother… Then you made me worried sick when you suddenly confronted the Queen, even though you were crying.”
Yes, I was having a nice chat with Jerik, but isn’t that normal? My interaction with the Queen has important details that I’ve yet to explain to Gilbert, so I guess it can’t be helped that he has been confused about it since yesterday. And he says he was worried sick… Still, I appreciate how he embraced me and tried to protect me back there!
“And after I escorted you to your room… even though I wanted so badly to talk with you, you just went to sleep like a log.”
I do apologize for that. However, since I was doing so many things I’m not used to, isn’t it natural to be tired?
“I thought I could meet you first in the morning, but then the Queen got ahead of me and summoned you first, followed by a meeting with my elder brother. What’s that about becoming his consort princess?”
Well, if the Queen summons you at the break of dawn, isn’t making it the first thing in your day what’s expected? And I refused that whole consort princess thing too, by the way.
“Although I endured all those delays and waited patiently for you in my room, you still wouldn’t come.”
Well, the princess candidate ladies should answer for that, you know? Wait, could this be…?
“Gil, are you jealous?”
Gilbert, who has been blurting out all these things with his hands on his knees, looks at me through a gap between his soft blonde hair.
“Damn right I am. Aren’t you supposed to be my princess… I mean, princess candidate?”
Gilbert turns his whole body to face me, capturing me with those azure eyes of his.
So this is what this is all about. In short, he held in secret all these little self-inflicted fears and wounds until they festered.
“I lacked in consideration and awareness… I’m sorry.”
I may be below Gilbert in terms of years on this Earth, but mentally, I consider myself a full-fledged adult. Otherwise, would I be apologizing even though I’m in the right!? I’m being the bigger person here! Too much assertiveness would lead to further arguing and misunderstandings. Let’s just make up and move on.
“So you admit you were making light of me?”
“Huh? I-I guess? Sorry… about that.”
Gilbert grinned weirdly at my reply. Um, did I pick the wrong option?
“Close your eyes.”
“Such was the promise, right?”
Stunned, I freeze up in surprise when Gilbert moves over closer to me, staring at me from up close.
Unable to look straight into the eyes of that transcendentally beautiful face, I lower my head. But, as if expecting that reaction, his hand gently picks my chin and raises my face.
I can’t believe what is happening as Gilbert’s face comes closer and closer. In the ensuing mental state of turmoil, tears start to flow from my eyes. I close my eyes as if to stop myself from embarrassing myself any further. Oh my gosh, his nose! I can feel his nose!
“What an ugly duckling.”
“W-What a-are yo-you d-doing, L-Lord G-Gilbert!?”
Smiling from ear to ear, Gilbert is pulling my cheeks outward, flattening my face.
How rude! Trampling on a girl’s innocent feelings like this! I totally thought… he was gonna kiss me!
Without much regard to the further damage to my cheeks, I twist my neck with Gilbert’s hands still playing with my cheeks and brush his hands away. I gaze away from him.
“Lina, look at me.”
“I… don’t want to! Huh!?”
Ah! He blew into my ear!
I hurriedly try to cover my ear, but he catches my hand and lifts it. And then I feel something very soft on my fingertips…
Yes, Gilbert’s lips press on my fingertips. Raising his eyes, he is looking straight at me.
Oh no. I’m gonna have a cardiac arrhythmia!
Gilbert flashes me a malicious smile as he watches me freezing like a statue and taking little short breaths. Then he removes his lips from my fingertips and, still smiling, stands up. Without a pause, he pulls me up by the hand he hasn’t let go of, and I am forced to stand up from the bench.
“Let’s go back, shall we? Glenn is gonna have a fit from all the delays.”
We start walking, or rather, he starts walking, and I am dragged along by the hand he is still holding. I don’t feel like holding hands right now, though! I shake that hand with the force of a hundred handshakes, but Gilbert is unfazed and continues walking cheerfully.
Geez, come on! This is not some fairy tale scene where two love birds just prance about holding hands with starry eyes.
I don’t give up, though, and continue to try to shake my way to freedom. You can understand why I would want to let go of that mean hand! After a little while, it seems that Gilbert can’t contain himself any longer and burst out into laughter. He’s toying with me again! How vexing!
But that only makes me even more obstinate, and I keep trying to shake and twist out of that handhold all the way to the room. But Gilbert isn’t an opponent I can defeat easily… and he seems bent on keeping that little hand of mine all to himself.