"M-my lady, if I may...?"
Zoemi's bashful voice somehow didn't show the full extent of the desperation that was filling him while trying to correct his mistake.
Miriette glared at him with squinted eyes for a few seconds during which Zoemi could feel cold sweat emerging on his neck.
...could it be that he was already hated...?
But then Miriette smiled and nodded her head with a magnanimous smile, she was clearly trying to act like her father now.
The relief that Zoemi felt almost swiped him off his feet.
The rest of the breakfast passed in a friendly atmosphere...
...for everyone except the utterly terrified Zoemi...
On a side note, in the Bellcephora kingdom, there were many nuances, and one of them was a particular table-manner that Zoemi wasn't aware of since Mizoe hadn't expected his son to eat with high nobility – or any nobility beside him for the matter - so soon and hadn't taught him about it yet.
If it's done by servants - pouring a drink is just that, an act of refilling the glass and nothing more. But the situation changes when a noble offers to pour a drink for another noble.
Done to one's spouse or fiancé meant the pledge of love, accepting, and drinking it would mean the returning of the feelings while refusing it was equal to declaring the end of the relationship.
When the noble of a higher position offered it to the noble of lower position - it meant that he or she favors them greatly.
Accepting it was a sign of loyalty, and refusing equaled a revolt.
If the act of pouring the drink was done between the nobles of the same rank it meant friendship and support - accepting was a sign of true friendship but refusing it was like slapping the face of one who offered to pour the drink.
And if it was done by a noble of lower position to a noble of higher status - it meant the utmost respect and the pledge of loyalty.
If accepted, it meant the goodwill towards the one who poured the drink - and refusing meant irreversible hostility.
Zoemi might have been young and might have not been aware of those rules since he might have only been adopted into the noble family - but nonetheless - he was a noble now, and all the rules applied to him whether he was aware of them or not.
As it is often the case, children finished eating early and were allowed to go play in the gardens under the watchful eyes of the knights and maids, but before the duke and the duchess were left alone...
"I can't properly describe how grateful I am for the honor of eating together, I'll be returning to my father..."
Zoemi bowed deeply towards the duke, his family, and the prince and wanted nothing more than to return to his father - but to his great shock, his right hand was grabbed by Horeo and his left by Miriette.
"What are you talking about? We're going to play! All three of us!"
"Yes, that's right!"
The prince exclaimed excitedly and Miriette accompanied him.
Once the children left, duke Espine took a jug and filled his wife's glass.
"Mizoe mentioned that this child has been trying his best and isn't particularly bad with the sword, he's also surprisingly smart and quick-witted."
The man with flaming-red hair, whose mana pool was said to be equal to the amount of mana that light attribute magicians would usually have, stroked his chin deep in thought.
"I can't help but notice his shy suggestion that that boy could become Miriette's attendant."
"He seems to have good character, but isn't it too soon for such a decision to be made?"
Duchess Misena calmly responded and took a sip of the juice.
"But aside from that... I never expected that a boy could look so adorable in a ponytail!"
"I know, right? Zoemi is such a cute child!"
Zoemi spent the rest of the day playing tag, hide and seek, and many, many more normal children games that he never expected the noble children to indulge in.
The three of them would only stop for meals and sleep, and that sort of activity continued for a whole week until it was time for the first prince to return home.
"I don't want to go back..."
The blond prince was sulking in front of the royal carriage, the official send-off was over but Miriette and Zoemi were still accompanying him.
"I would like for you to stay, too."
Miriette was looking down, sulking just a little bit.
But Zoemi, on the other hand, couldn't be happier.
Not because of the prince leaving, of course – mind you.
The black-haired boy barely contained himself from pumping his fist from wild joy.
Those two hit it off great!
What else could he wish for?!
Everything seemed like Miriette of this world would not have just a normal happy ending – what awaited her would be a royal happy ending!
"My prince, don't worry, maybe you will find some time to visit again - and if not, then lady Miriette can go and visit you in the palace! There's no reason to be sad!"
Horeo looked adorable when his expression became serious and he solemnly nodded at Zoemi's words.
"That's right! Miriette and you can visit me anytime you want!"
Somehow Zoemi's attempt to give those two some alone time resulted in an invitation for both Mirette and him...
...but anyway, the most important part was for the first prince and the little lady Espine to see each other as much as possible to build a strong foundation for their future love was apparently proceeding smoothly, so the black-haired boy didn't mind.
"I'll write you a letter."
Miriette blushed and looked away, hearing her words Zoemi almost started applauding!
|Good job, my lady!|
He cheered in his mind.
Horeo cheeks reddened a little as he nodded, giving his consent, but then he became serious again and turned to Zoemi.
"Zoemi, keep Miriette safe for me."
Zoemi barely contained laughter – the young prince was making such a straight face that it would be extremely rude to laugh at him.
"You can count on me, my prince, I'll protect her no matter what, so the two of you can be together."
The black-haired boy took a deep breath to calm himself and said his honest feelings out loud.
After all, in his mind being with the first prince, was the best option to give Miriette all the happiness that she deserved.
And in such a way Zoemi became a play-companion of both the main capture target and the villainess of the Kampf um die Liebe.
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