Chapter 176 : Just The Two of Them
Hiroaki squinted his eyes as he looked at Flora. Roana who stood beside him noticed such change immediately and so――,
「……………. Well, Flora-sama. This way please.」
She took the initiative and invited Flora to leave the office again. Almost at the same time, Vanessa who was standing near the door opened it for them.
Flora moved her gaze from Rio and went toward the door, completely ignorant of Hiroaki’s gaze on her. On the other hand――,
Hiroaki stood still as he looked at Flora’s back.
「Shall we go then, Hiroaki-sama? 」
When Roana arrived at the door where Flora was, she called Hiroaki with an extremely puzzled tone.
After heaving a sigh as if venting his frustration, Hiroaki replied with an even smaller voice than normal.
「Well, we shall excuse ourselves now, Christina-sama, Amakawa-dono. See you later.」
As Roana left the room, she bowed politely to Christina and Rio who were still in the room.
「Yeah, take care.」
When Christina said so while sending a wink to Roana, Roana bowed deeply toward her. Which then left only Rio, Christina and Vanessa inside the office, but――,
「Vanessa, would you please standby outside. No one is allowed to enter my office till we are done with our business.」
Christina ordered Venassa to leave the room and to prevent anyone from entering.
Vanessa replied promptly and left the room immediately. Which left only Rio and Christina alone in the office.
◇ ◇ ◇
On the other hand, Roana and co who were walking along the passage.
「If you please, shall we get back to your room, Hiroaki-sama? I mean we need to come to meet Flora-sama after she has changed her clothes.」
Roana said so to Hiroaki who was walking behind her while she led the two of them.
「………. Ah, yes, you’re right. I’m a little bit tired. I’ll sleep for a while in the room.」
Hiroaki replied coldly with an apathetic look on his face.
Originally, the one who proposed to have a talk and left the office was Hiroaki himself. And what he wanted to do just now was a complete change of what he had said before they left the office, and Flora ended up puzzled by his demeanor as well.
「But………… Oh well, I understand. Please come to Flora-sama’s room if you change your mind. As besides Hiroaki-sama wouldn’t be able to enter her room.」
Roana who guessed the reason for him changing his mind decided not to probe too deeply into it. Because Christina had requested Roana to look after Flora in her place.
（It seems I still need some follow up to appease him later.）
Roana thought as she heaved a sigh.
「Well then. We’ll be heading out first.」
After saying so, Hiroaki ended up leaving first. ――、
「Uhm, is Hiroaki-sama in a bad mood today? Did I do something that hurt him? 」
Even Flora noticed that there was something wrong with Hiroaki today, thus asked Roana in an anxious tone.
「…………. Nope. He should’ve felt relieved when he found out that Flora-sama has returned. Maybe because his tension cleared up right away, he has become physically exhausted.」
Roana replied with a smile to smoothen the situation, and then urged Flora with 「This way please」 to follow her lead. Because she felt that she couldn’t tell the true reason to Flora.
◇ ◇ ◇
On the other hand,Rio and Christina who were left alone in the office――,
「My deepest apologies. I think I should at least express my apologies for the conduct and the speech of hero-sama.」
Standing up, Christina expressed her apology for Hiroaki’s conduct and speech from before to Rio before they resumed their conversation.
「Don’t worry, I don’t mind it at all. He has a powerful awareness of his own position as a leader and is trying to lead people starting from the royalty and the titled nobilities. Should I say that it’s a sign of his wonderful creed.」
Rio replied with a reasonable answer in this situation.
Though he knew that as Haruto, he had no choice but to respond in that way―― though she might not really feel that way, ―― he thought that Christina was more accomplished and had a better grasp on the noble societies than him.
「………… Aren’t you a noble yourself, Amakawa-dono?」
「Come to think of it, I even forgot about that. How embarrassing, it seems I’ve almost no awareness of me being a noble myself.」
Rio replied in a bright voice in response to Christina who asked him while chuckling herself.
「I don’t think it’s almost zero as you claim though. It’s just my own opinion, but I can see that you have a solid base that is needed for someone to be a noble.」
She praised Rio.
「…………. It’s my honor to receive your praise.」
Rio bowed his head as he thanked her. Things were smooth sailing up until this point, but――
「Nevertheless, it’s really been a while since it was just the two of us alone like this, right? I recall that along our journey, there were several occasions where it was just the two of us alone, but those moments were relatively short. It can be said that this is the first time we were left alone, just the two of us.」
Christina said so out of nowhere.
「Yeah, it seems to be so.」
Rio who was a little bit puzzled by her sudden remark agreed to her as he looked at her expression. ―、
「To be honest, I was somehow aware that I might need to spare some time to talk, with just the two of us, when I called hero-sama to this place. ……. Naturally, I had planned to tell hero-sama regarding this matter earlier than everyone else.」
Christina explained frankly to him.
「……… Do you really need to go that far just to be alone with me? 」
「Naturally, I have something to discuss with you too. But if I have to say, I wanted to have a private conversation with you without anyone disturbing us. Thus, I’ve controlled the timing of him coming to my office rather than having him barging in the middle of our discussion on a whim, which I’ll use at today’s banquet as well. Because this conversation is rather privy.」
Christina replied with an impish smile on her face when Rio asked her.
Rio let out a smile as he understood her intention.
「Even so, the topic of our conversation won’t stray too far either. First of all, please allow me to express my deepest gratitude for saving Flora. Thank you very much for saving not only me, but also Flora when we were in such a predicament.」
Christina took a ceremonial pose as she bowed to express her gratitude toward Rio.
「Please raise your head, Christina-sama.」
Rio said so to Christina with a surprised look on his face.
「No, as much as I hate this, someone of my standing isn’t allowed bow to our heads recklessly in public, in fact, it was ingrained into me due to the education during my childhood. But, I felt that I should use this moment when it’s just the two of us to bow my head to express my gratitude to you.」
Christina calmly said so with her head still bowed at Rio.
「……….. I understand and accept your feelings. That’s why, please raise your head.」
Once again, Rio asked Christina to raise her head.
Maybe because she didn’t want to bother Rio any longer, she raised her head after expressing her gratitude to Rio.
「Since it’ll be bad for my heart, please refrain from doing the same thing in the future.」
Rio said with a troubled face.
「I understand. …………. By the way, the matter that I wanted to discuss with you this time is regarding your reward, is there something that you wanted to ask from me? 」
Christina asked such a question to Rio with a smile on her face as she tried to change the topic..
「Then, am I allowed to refuse?」
「…………….. No. Because eventually I will be forced to do so by the others.」
When Rio asked with a wry smile on his face, Christina replied back troubled.
「Forced to do so? 」
So Rio asked her.
「………In fact, some of the nobles of Restoration told me that they wanted to entrust their daughters to Amakawa-dono.」
Christina told him with an even more troubled look on her face.
「I am really honored to hear such an offer, but……….」
Rio was trying to come up with a good excuse to reject her offer.
「That kind of talk has yet to come to surface, but I expected that the situation will change once they know of your achievement in saving Flora. Naturally, you might be an honorary knight, but due to the influence of his highness Francois, marriage with you needs to be considered to tie the relationship between the two kingdoms. Nevertheless, let’s just take it as a suggestion for now. But then……. That would mean I have to choose another kind of reward for Amakawa-dono.」
Christina said the last part in a self-mocking tone.
「……. In short, may I assume that I’m gonna get an offer for political marriage if I choose to refuse whatever reward you choose for me? 」
Rio tried to confirm the underlaying meaning behind her statement.
「No, let’s just say that even if you accepted the reward from me, the marriage proposals are still bound to find their way to you. But, by accepting the reward from me, you’ll have an excuse to reject the marriage proposal. That way it will make things easier for both me and Flora. My apologies but that’s the simplest way to solve this situation for both of us.」
Thus, Rio realized that Christina had spoken to him honestly that it was just a pretense. Though her actions seemingly took Rio into consideration, it in fact served as a stopper for those noisy nobles who were always bugging Christina.
「Nevertheless, do I need to receive the reward to make things easier? 」
Rio asked even as he felt Christina’s troubles.
「If possible……… I want you to accept the reward that is proportional to your deeds. Or, how about making things far more easier by announcing that someone has won your heart? Naturally assuming that you do have someone in your mind, but even without that, it’ll have some effect on those pesky nobles.」
Nobles usually had more than one wife, but at least that announcement would stop those aiming for the position of the legal wife. Christina looked at Rio’s expression.
「……… Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find such a person. [TL : F$CK, YOU HAVE SUCH BEAUTIFUL LOLI RIGHT BY YOUR SIDE!!! ED: …This is Rio we are talking about] But, I think your method will have some effect indeed.」
Rio replied after a brief pause.
「Yes. If possible, please choose one as soon as possible before things become more troublesome. Amakawa-dono might have received such an offer before, but this matter will definitely become the topic for tonight’s banquet.」
「The political engagement of nobles and royalties are troublesome in many ways.」
Christina said as she let out a tired sigh.
「My apologies for using this common expression but, that matter is troublesome indeed.」
Rio softly smiled at her.
「Thank you very much. In fact, I used the disappearance of Flora to break her engagement with hero-sama, I guess it’ll cause no small amount of trouble with her return.」
Christina let out a bit of her worry.
「Is…….. That so?」
Rio was surprised when he heard such news. He felt that they can just engage the hero with Flora again, but he felt that it wasn’t a simple matter. It might become a source of conflict between fellow nobles. But, such matters weren’t his problem at all.
「My deepest apologies. You ended up hearing my complaints.」
Heaving a sigh, Christina said with a smile on her face.
「Nope. Feel free to let out your feelings as long as you’re okay with me.」
Rio said in a bright tone.
「……. That’s quite a tempting offer, but maybe another time when we are alone like this time, let’s get back to the story. Our time alone is really limited right now.」
Christina looked a little bit surprised by his offer, but she rejected it with a thin smile on her face.
「Certainly. Please do tell me when you need one.」
Rio placed his hand on his left chest as he said so.
「Yeah. By the way….. We have to tell Galwark kingdom regarding this matter.」
This matter that she referred to was naturally the matter regarding him saving Flora and the possible betrayal of Rubia kingdom.
「I……. Will head towards Galwark kingdom in few days.」
「Then, shall I go with you? After the attack of that dragon-like lifeform, the transportation using airships were severely restricted, but I guess it’s just the right time. I mean, I also have some business in Galwark kingdom and this will be treated as a test flight too.」
「Thank you very much. would be reassuring to have Amakawa -dono journey together with us.」
Christina expressed her gratitude with a sweet smile on her face.
「It would be my honor to do so.」
Rio replied with a smile on his face. ―、
「………. By the way, since our conversation ended faster than I expected and no one is to come yet, shall we take a peek at Celia-sensei’s lecture? I’ll lead the way.」
Christina suddenly suggested they attend Celia’s lecture.
「Naturally I have no reason to decline such a fine suggestion, may I ask your assistance in showing me the way then? As for explaining this matter to everyone of the top echelon…….」
Rio replied in surprise.
「Yeah, I feel like letting loose today. That’s why, please accompany me for a little break.」
Christina let out an impish smile.
In fact, she had to take care of Hiroaki who was currently in a bad mood and then explain the situation to those nobles of the upper echelon.
But, she simply didn’t feel like doing such troublesome matters on such a great day. If Hiroaki was present, he might jest Christina by saying that she forgot about her being a royalty.
Later, after confirming the situation with Vanessa, and since they were lucky that no one had asked for an audience with her,Rio decided to ask Christina for a walk.