Chapter 13 – Clumsy Feet
“What was it that you just s—”
Thankfully, soft music began to fill the hall. I didn’t miss the chance to lift my right arm and intertwine my fingers with his left fingers. I placed my other hand on his waist.
Xavier didn’t press any further, either. Instead, he slowly began to dance. Not long after, however—
A pained voice echoed in my ears. I panicked and apologised. “Oh no… I-I’m so sorry, Your Highness,” I stammered.
“…All is well.”
He did not seem well, however, and to be honest, I wasn’t particularly well, either. I realized just now that I had not danced once ever since I came here.
Ah, I’m screwed.
“Does she not know how to dance? She keeps stepping on His Highness’ foot!”
“Oh my… I wonder if his foot would be all right. Being stepped on once would be painful already…”
“I started counting out of curiosity, and he has already been stepped on twelve times!”
“Oh my, I really hope his bone doesn’t break!”
“Why in the world is she acting like that? She was given the honour to dance with the Crown Prince himself. It would barely be enough even if she danced like the best dancer across the lands!”
“Could it be that she’s doing that on purpose to leave an impression on His Highness?”
No way. Unless this man’s a masochist, why would he ever be impressed by a girl who’s stepped on his foot a dozen times during a dance?
Not only that, but I’m about to step on it some more.
Oh—perhaps a terrible impression, yes…
I decided to come clean.
That’s right. As a person, I should value honesty. After all, I truthfully think that I will continue to step on this man’s foot…
My foot knocked against his once more. Ah, oops.
“W-What is it?” Xavier asked. I could almost feel the pain he was attempting to suppress in his voice that I actually began to feel bad. How in the world was I supposed to explain myself? It felt as if the amount of justification that I had to come up with was growing exponentially. I continued without hesitation.
“I have something to confess.”
“Urgh! A… A confession?” he asked.
“What confession are you trying to make in this situa—”
“No, Your Highness. I must confess right now.”
I firmly interrupted Xavier, and accidentally stepped on his foot yet again.
Gosh, that must hurt like hell. I wouldn’t have worn heels if I had known that this would happen…
Xavier’s forehead crinkled. “I… I’m not sure what that confession is, but can it not wait?”
“No, Your Highness. I must say it now.”
“What in the world is it?”
By now, he must also have realised that it was something serious.
I swallowed a dry gulp and announced:
“I actually can’t dance.”
Blood drained from Xavier’s already pale face. A wave of guilt washed over me. This man must have expected a lady of high class who was well-versed in dancing. I felt incredibly bad for shattering his expectations.
No, wait. Isn’t the fact that I stepped on his foot ten—fourteen now, to be exact—during this short time more than enough for him to realise that I am a terrible dancer?
“You must have noticed by now, but…I cannot dance,” I repeated.
“Dear Lor— gah!”
Again, I stepped on his foot.
Will that foot really be okay after today?
Although Maristella was petite, I was stepping on him with my entire weight. He couldn’t possibly be okay.
Feeling actually bad, I apologised to him with tears in my eyes.
“I’m sorry, Your Highness! I should have told you earlier, but I also only just remembered…”
“I suppose that is one question that I should ask you, My Lady. Do you really expect me to believe that, Lady Maristella?”
Of course, for this man—no, for everyone over here—this would be absolutely unbelievable. I continued to dance with my gaze shifted towards the floor in defeat. However, this wasn’t some minesweeper game. Even if I were to dance while staring at the floor, if my partner shifted his foot to where I was about to stand, there was no use.
After being stepped on once again, Xavier’s patience finally seemed to have depleted.
“Lady Maristella,” he said.
“…yes, Your Highness?” the sinner—I, that is—answered glumly. Xavier continued, looking somewhat resolute.
“I believe this is the only way to keep my feet safe.”
“What are you— wah!”
Suddenly, I felt my body lift off the ground. For the first time, I was looking down at this man.
My brain uselessly thought that he was just as good-looking at ever, whether you were looking at him from above or below. In fact, looking at him from above once again reminded me how defined the bridge of his nose was. It was an understatement to compare him to a statue.
Just then, an unfamiliar, warm breath tickled my ear.
“I will move, My Lady. Please just remain standing on my feet.”
Um… is he asking me to stand on his feet that I was stepping on all this time?
I was human, too. That would make me feel terrible.
“I’m really heavy,” I said glumly.
“You aren’t that heavy,” Xavier reassured. “Moreover, I…don’t think I could last any longer.”
That one sentence was more than enough for me to shut my mouth in shame. In other words, holding my weight with his feet was better than being continuously stepped on. The severity of his pain was understood better by him than me. He, after all, would know better which of the two was more bearable for him: supporting Maristella’s weight with his feet, or being stepped on by a grown woman’s full weight force. This man must have chosen the less painful option.
Wait, summarizing everything like this makes me feel really bad…
“Much better,” he sighed in my ear once again. The baby hair on my ear stood up all at once.
He could have just said it normally. Why is he whispering…?
“That’s great to hear, Your Highness. Though…I’m terribly sorry, but could you speak a little farther away from me? I’m quite ticklish, you see—”
“I have no choice, My Lady,” he said dryly. “It would be a different story if you were good at dancing, but I have no choice but to talk in close distance as we are now.”
“I… I see.”
What could I say, when he was telling me that it was my fault? I just decided to shut my mouth. However, contrary to my decision, Xavier continued to talk to me.
“But Lady Maristella, there is one thing that I would like to ask.”
“Yes, Your Highness. Do ask.”
“Why can you not dance?”
Anyone wanna tell me the correct answer here? How should I answer so he doesn’t think I’m a crazy woman?
I actually rolled off my bed this morning and lost all memory of my dancing techniques… sounded like a lousy excuse no matter what. If I kept up my attitude and went, I just wanted your attention!, he would definitely think that I was nuts. I might even go to jail for being an absolute disgrace and offending a Royal Family member.
No, but how am I even supposed to answer that?!
This was entirely my fault.
If I had known that there would be a party, I should have learned how to dance!
Unfortunately, the only time I learned how to waltz was during my first year of P.E. class in high school. Even then, I was so bad at it that I got a D on the practical assessment while everyone else got As and Bs and at least a C.
“I…well…“ I stammered, hunting wildly for an answer.
“Is this also part of your ‘social personality’?”
I blinked like an idiot, and Xavier asked once again with a rather serious expression.
“I asked if this was also part of your ‘personality’ as it were before.”
This was my only chance. In all honesty, I knew that I couldn’t think of a better answer with my far-from-intelligent brain. I hastily nodded.
“Yes, that’s right! It’s part of the social personality.”
“A personality for what?”
“You are the first woman to have ever stepped on my foot…”
“…let alone fifteen times.”
Oh, so you were counting? I guess it hurt a fair bit. I smiled awkwardly.
“Something like that?” Xavier said for me.
“Yes…” I replied in defeat. “Something like that.”
“What, is there something that you would like to request of me?”
“Request?” I asked in confusion. “What request?”
What was that? I asked because I was confused. The least he could do is clarify.
“You are truly a mystery, My Lady.”
It’s unfair. This is absolutely unfair! I’m not usually like this at all! Why do I have to be treated like this?