During the Tea Party
“Father, thank you for coming with me!”
“To only take you halfway there… are you sure you’ll be alright on your own?”
As we stepped out of the carriage, Laurier’s face lit up happily.
“Yep! Because I have the yummy sweets father made!”
“I see… Well, when you’re done we can go home together, so enjoy yourself.”
I smiled at that angelic daughter of mine, but… how should I put it, children really do grow up fast, don’t they?
I’m glad to see Laurier so happy and confident, able to smile not just to put up a front but because she’s truly joyful, but… there’s a part of me that feels a little lonely, knowing that the more she grows, the sooner the day will come when she will leave the nest.
Well, that’s all part of becoming an adult of course, but… as a father, there’s still something deeply disturbing about the thought of having to one day give her hand to someone else as a bride. I’m probably going to become a seriously weepy mess at her wedding, won’t I? So, Sasha would have to comfort me… but, wait, wouldn’t that just begin the whole depressing cycle of raising a child only to become separated from them all over again…? Ah, but, well… Sasha’s too cute, so it can’t be helped!
As my mind wandered, we soon found ourselves in the castle’s interior. I’ll have to see off Laurier here, since I’ll take this opportunity to take care of some businesses I needed to see done in the palace and Laurier shouldn’t keep a Princess waiting.
“Then… take care of yourself today.”
“Yep! Father, do your best too!”
If it weren’t for her words, I’m not sure I would have been able to release Laurier’s hand.
Call me overprotective if you like, but… I have to make up for the lack of love that she received before now. And it’s not as if I trust my daughter to be safe, but… Laurier is the type of girl who will smile even in a bad situation or she’s out of her depth, so it’s important to be careful.
But, with that, Laurier happily made her way towards the tea party with the sweets I made in her hands.
“Now then… let’s get this job over and done with.”
After seeing her off, I headed into the depths royal palace in order to polish off that errand of mine.
“Haa… Finally finished…”
It took a little less time than I thought it would to finish that business of mine, but… honestly, why is everyone so troublesome when it comes to nobility? Even if you can delegate certain tasks, they’re still such a pain…but, it’s not as if I have much say in the matter, so there’s not much use complaining.
“But, what should I do now…”
Whilst it’s good that I managed to finish off that business of mine quickly, I hardly want to disturb Laurier’s tea party if they’re still having fun… for the time being, I suppose I’ll stroll around the gardens?
With that decided, I made my way to the small royal gardens on the other side of the palace. Unlike the gorgeous gardens that bring the palace’s courtyard to life, these gardens were less often strolled by the ladies of the court… but, even though it was smaller, they were still impeccably cared for, so they were perfect to kill some time in.
As I strolled through the garden, I caught a glimpse of something next to one of the flowerbeds… it was a small child, looking down at their feet. A blonde boy… I think? Either way, he looked to be the same age as Laurier, or perhaps a tiny bit older. It wouldn’t make sense for any ordinary child to be left alone in a place like this… perhaps he was some nobleman’s son? At any rate, I couldn’t just leave them be.
“Won’t your clothes get filthy if you play around here?”
When I said that, the child jumped with a start at my words, then quickly turned to look at me. That neatly featured young child had tears in their eyes. For some reason, that face seemed familiar… was it just my imagination?
Clearly, the child wasn’t in a good mood, and after peering at my face, they talked.
“…It’s fine. It doesn’t matter if anything happens to me… father has lots of good children, so I’m not important…”
“Hmm… Well, I’m not sure what happened, but… to your father, I’m sure you’re irreplaceable?”
“…What does that mean?”
Bending down, I spoke softly as I looked into the child’s eyes.
“Because, to their parents, children are treasures. No matter how many you may have, each and every child is precious.”
“…But, I… I can’t do anything… compared to my brother, I’m useless…”
“Why do you think that you have to be like your brother?”
I smiled as that young child looked at me in surprise.
“It’s only natural that you’re not the same as your brother, since you’re different people, after all. You are yourself… so, you should find something that only you can do.”
“Only I can do…”
“You’re the only one who can find out what that is… but, from now on, you’ll go through a lot in life, and get plenty of experience.”
“…Can I really do it?”
I gently ruffled the boy’s hair with my hand.
“You’ll be fine. You have an excellent brother, don’t you? Then, I’m sure that in your own way, you can become just as great.”
With that, the boy’s face had a bit of colour return to it as he shot to his feet.
“I… I’ll do what I can! Thank you very much!”
“Right… please do your best, then. But, I’m out of time, so I’ll have to go now, okay?”
Just as I turned to leave, I suddenly heard a shout of “Ah, um…!” from behind me, so I turned around… after a moment spent fiddling his fingers, the boy finally managed to speak.
“M-may… may I ask for your name?”
“My name? Well… you can call me Callis.”
I wondered for a moment about what to say, but… I was still a little awkward about using my title, so I decided to leave him with just my name.
The last thing I remember seeing on that boy’s face before I left was a look of respect in those sparkling eyes of his, but at the time all I could think about was picking up Laurier, not realizing just how well I’d come to know that boy in the future… but, well, it can’t be helped.