Chapter 53 – Together Until Dawn (2)
Ian washed his face several times then sat on the bed. He supposed his stress must be serious if he was dreaming of memories from long ago.
“She used to be so smart and cute when I was young…”
Of course Louise Sweeney was still smart and cute now. But now the appeal changed subtly. He didn’t know how to say it…
He used to laugh about it before, but now his hands were getting restless. He had a hard time resolving things only through words.
Come to think of it, maybe it was Ian that changed, not Louise. That was probably right. After a long sigh, he picked up a card that he carelessly tossed to the floor. It was delivered from the palace yesterday and was decorated with a golden border and bore a message in neat script. Maybe this was why he had the dream.
“How old are you now? …I want you to come home for your birthday.”
Of course, the crown prince’s birthday was a holiday (although not an official one) that should not be passed lightly. Still, someone receiving a card that said “Come home for your birthday” on their adult birthday would make anyone feel uncomfortable.
“And it’s exam period too.”
He briefly recalled his crude plan to skip the party under the excuse of having exams. However, as fate would have it, his exams would be completed just before the party.
He had no choice but to go. He would try to be happy about this.
After sitting up, Ian immediately left his dorm room with the card in hand. He didn’t like it, but he would have to inform the dean.
“That’s why I was chosen?”
In the student council room, Louise fixed Ian with a suspicious eye.
“Yes, you’re a great student, and you have enough qualifications to be a student representative.”
“Why would a student representative go to the president’s birthday celebration?”
“I told you. I am president of the student council, but I cannot assist the dean, so you’ll be his assistant as a temporary representative.”
Something still didn’t seem right. Louise continued to look suspicious. The Academy was full of students from aristocratic families who were more accustomed to these lavish affairs. Why would he choose Louise, a commoner, and send her to Ian’s birthday celebration?
“I’m in trouble anyway. I have an exam on the day of the party.”
“Don’t worry, the banquet is in the evening. And I will prepare a room where you can spend a cool summer’s night away from the heat.”
“I’m staying overnight?”
“That’s because the birthday celebration for the crown prince won’t be over till dawn.”
Louise made a face.
“…There must be a debauched crown prince in this country.”
“Don’t worry. You don’t have to prepare for anything. All you have to do is come and have fun.”
“But I’ve never been to a banquet before.”
If Louise made a mistake as a student representative, it would disgrace the Academy’s reputation.
“Don’t worry. Your dance teacher said he taught you perfectly.”
“But you’re my dance teacher.”
“That’s even more reliable, don’t you think?”
Louise worried expression didn’t fade away, so Ian lightly took Louise’s hand. According to their agreement, her hand was approved territory for Ian. He drew Louise’s hand towards him and spoke with a crestfallen expression on his face.
“Are…are you sure you’re not coming to my party?”
Where in the world did he learn to look so cute?
“It’s your friend’s birthday. Simon won’t come. I’m the only one.”
Simon didn’t like to go where the nobles gathered. Apparently, making friends would be misunderstood as gathering a support base for himself to claim the throne.
“W-well, of course I want to congratulate my friend.”
“Yes, in person.”
“Excellent answer. Then, what shall we have as the birthday cake? Maybe bittersweet chocolate with a thick texture.”
“I don’t think it would go well as the crown prince’s birthday cake.”
“Why not? They all won’t eat it anyway.”
He showed off a smile that made him look like the boy from long ago.
“It would be nice if you came. We can dance together until dawn. We can eat cake, too.”
“To be clear, we’re going to be eating bitter, sticky chocolate cake together.”
“That’s right, it’ll be so sticky that it’ll stick to the corners of your mouth.”
It was quite interesting to think of that as a post-examination reward. Besides, she wasn’t really interested in the royal banquet itself anyway.
“Is Sir Hesse coming?”
“Hesse? Of course he’ll come. Why?”
“I just thought it would be reassuring to have Sir Hesse with me.”
“I’m glad there’s at least one person I know there. Right?”
Ian had a troubled look on his face for a moment.
“That’s right. Hesse’s will be there but–“
“Uh…um…according to the security plan Hesse will be quietly hiding in a corner out of sight. You can’t just go up to him and talk to him.”
“It is his duty and honor to protect me from all danger.”
“Well, I don’t think I won’t have a chance to talk to Sir Hesse. Who came up with the security plan?”
Ian shook his head regretfully, holding his hand near his heart.
“Well, I don’t know who planned the security. Hesse is the knight closest to me.”
A little stone flew in from the distance and hit the window.