Editor: Gold Swallow
Listening to my story, Captain Ballam let out a sigh.
「You’re an honest and dependable man, but in the past, on that front, you’ve been, should I call it, indecisive…You get carried away.」
「In addition, you are nervous and don’t go ahead with it. You don’t let your guard down even in front of a lover. In fact, you’re even more careful around them.」
「That’s exactly it…. I treat my family, too, as outsiders in a way. As I’m like this, I’ve wondered how I can form deep relationships… Because of this I’ve even doubted if I could carry out my duties as a Captain.」
When I hung my head, Captain gave a wry smile and scratched his chin.
「You have quite the troublesome personality. But, you’ve always exceeded my expectations when it came to doing work. That, I can vouch for. It’s because you know your own shortcomings and work hard to make up for them that you can, on the contrary, maintain a smooth relationship with people.」
At the obliging words, I once again lowered my head. Captain Ballam was not a person who’d compliment someone easily, and to receive such words from him gave me unparalleled relief.
「Then, getting back to the topic, You don’t like him, but he likes you. And you did what you did.」
「If even you have propositioned him, is it good? Your bodies’ compatibility?」
「Does the other side know that you don’t hold any feelings of love towards him?」
「He knows. That’s why he even said to deny the rumours.」
「Could he have spread the rumours?」
「No, that’s definitely impossible. He too seems quite troubled, and he even apologised.」
「What did he have to apologise for?」
「That he got me involved and such…. Um, he was concerned about my position, and was quite worried about the rumours spreading. He said, ‘I’m sorry I made a pass at you and caused you trouble’…」
When I explained in bits and pieces, Captain Ballam let out his biggest sigh yet.
「Oi, Legato. Don’t make your partner apologise for such a thing.」
「You, think of it as if he was a woman. Going out with a woman who loves you, despite you not holding any feelings towards her, enjoying doing this and that, making the woman apologise herself saying ‘it’s my fault’ when rumours run about; you’re quite the scumbag.」
The words of Captain, who seemed astounded, stabbed my chest hard. No, even I knew it. I did something quite low for a man.
「…I know that the problem lies with me. That’s why I don’t know what to do…. The atmosphere in the Royal Palace is such that it seems inevitable that we will get married, and my hands are tied.」
「That’s because everyone loves such gossip. Do you not intend to get married, or should I say, go out with him for real? Well, there’s the fact that you’re both men.」
「Personally, it’s not because of the the fact that he’s a man that I dislike it. It’s just that there’s the issue with my house and I originally always had intentions of getting married to a woman, so I’m confused.」
「That’s bound to happen.」
While thinking, I carefully searched for words.
「Nidel-dono is an important person. I’m happy when I’m with him, and I like his personality too, and um, we’re compatible in that manner too…. He’s really important as a friend. It’s to the extent that if ordered to marry him, I wouldn’t think it’s a bad thing, but I don’t know if that’s love…. I’m worried if it’s fine even if I don’t hold the feelings Nidel-dono holds towards me.」
「That’s because you’re honest.」
Captain Ballam gave a wry smile. And then he contemplatively folded his arms.
「Well, I’m not one to talk about people, but when I got married, I didn’t particularly love my wife.」
Captain Ballam’s sudden words shocked me. Captain Ballam was well known to be a devoted husband.
「My wife was my childhood friend, you see. She liked me since childhood. That, even I knew. But I dreamt of being a knight because I was a commoner. I actually thought of taking the hand of a woman of high status and getting further promoted by using her influence.」
「Is that so?」
I was surprised to find out about Captain Ballam’s resolution. However, in the end, he succeeded by his own merits.
「My type of women were flashy beauties, and my wife was definitely not like that. Frankly speaking, I didn’t want to make her my partner, but my wife proposed out of the blue. Saying, ‘I want to get married’. I rejected her then, but after I rejected her, she promised to marry a man her parents had chosen for her. The man her parents had chosen was someone I hated a lot. Thinking of her marrying such a man made me angry, and I decided to marry her after all.」
Captain said thus, and laughed with a ‘wahaha’.
「At that time I felt sympathy and assistive rather than love, but now, I feel glad I married my wife. Not just as a childhood friend, I feel happy being with my wife.」
It was well-known that Captain Ballam loved his wife and kids. I wondered how to take Captain Ballam’s story.
After Captain remained silent for a while, he laughed at me while toying with the glass in his hands.
「These are my own thoughts. I don’t know what you think, but I’ll state my opinion.」
「You do not mind your companion’s status, and think it’s best to be together with a person who suits you the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s Nidel or not, search for them carefully. It’s because you have such a personality that it’s all the more important. It’s better to stop a life where you remain guarded around your partner and return home tired. You spare no effort and also have talent. You can climb to the top just with your strength. You don’t need to borrow a partner’s strength. If you have to be guarded even at home, it’ll just drag your feet. Everyone feels lonely so you can’t escape from it. You and I too feel great loneliness. That’s why, be together with someone who doesn’t amplify your loneliness.」
Captain Ballam honestly told me his opinion with a straight face. And then, Captain let out a chuckle.
「Well it’s a good thing you’re away from the Royal Palace. You’ll get a chance to think peacefully here.」
「…That, even Nidel-dono said it.」
「I see, haha. Your partner’s quite a sensible fellow.」
「Yes, Nidel-dono is a much more mature person than me.」
「I see, I see. To hold such a high opinion of your partner, and doing this and that, yet you say you don’t hold any feelings of love towards him.」
Captain Ballam, while grinning, patted my shoulder as if to encourage me.
And then, he turned to another topic. Thus the hour became late, and we brought the meeting to a close. Because Captain Ballam said he’d return to his home near the fortress, I saw Captain off at the door, and then returned to my room.
When I returned to my room, it was freezing inside, and my body trembled. The room was cold because I had left the window open.
Letting out a breath, I sat on the bed. I looked at the sky through the open window.
Ever since I came to this fortress, the window had always been left open. Even I thought it was stupid to do so in this cold.
Even if I keep it open like that, this is the north. Nidel-dono will by no means visit. I knew that, but I felt as if closing the window would be like rejecting him completely.
Moreover, I felt he hadn’t denied the possibility of him absolutely not coming here, and I’d leave the window open in spite of myself. Even though it was not like that.
I wonder if Nidel-dono is doing well in the Royal Palace.
While I reminisced of him, before I knew it, I turned hot and bothered. I could only think of his audacious figure after he joined bodies with me.
He’d make a pained face while taking in my thing, but he’d still sleep peacefully—it’d always entice me.
I want to embrace Nidel-dono.
I, who thought so every single day, was a scumbag after all.
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