Author’s note: hello hello~ another chappie out today before I leave to explore Yokohama! everyone in Japan is so polite. They keep bowing their heads and I’m influenced as well! At least I could say Japanese words/phrases without feeling weird now xD P.S. I got neko stockings and they’re super kawaii!
Despite being The Princess’ Knight, Luce was oftentimes dispatched for subjugation missions in the countryside by his father, as they all relied on his elemental mastery. A few mages had their own style of fighting, but none ever saw a beautiful sword and element mastery from someone other than the Knight Luce. As the years passed and he finally turned fifteen, his mana continued to grow until it seemed almost limitless. He was able to use all his elements continuously for a month without even batting an eyelash. He became the idol of both mages and Knights everywhere.
While Luce was not around the castle, one would find Princess Alenaire with her nose stuck in a book; but it wasn’t the usual books a young princess of fifteen would be seen reading. What she read were political, fiscal and other government books that she loved reading in order to help her father. She had already spent her time listening to courtly affairs, and sometimes she would even add suggestions during the times where her father, the general and his men, and The Council, would commune for military strategies and other national matters.
Once Luce was back after subjugating a nest of demon bees that had infiltrated the surrounding villages, he went straight to the south wing of the castle just as the sun had begun to set. While traveling on his horse, he had been molding a miniature rose from red Earthen clay, molding it to look as much alike as the rose he had plucked in one of the villages. The village boasted of having the best garden that could even rival that of the castle.
Luce climbed up the trellis with swiftness; he had done this so many times that he could maneuver up the balcony with his eyes closed. Although he could fly up instead with his winds, he liked to exercise his muscles more. The clouds drowned the setting sun, its rays casting an orange-red tint on the castle walls, also happening to illuminate a lone figure who stood idly in the middle of the balcony.
“Woah!” Luce, who was about to grasp the railing and leap over, was shocked by the appearance of the princess who stood looking at him with a raised eyebrow.
“I’ve wanted to catch you for the longest time, but you were too elusive,” Alenaire said as she placed her arms over her chest. She had been waiting for him to arrive all night, and was almost tempted to go back to bed until she saw him coming through the castle gates with his steed. As it was already time for bed, she covered her nightgown with a long embroidered silk robe to preserve her modesty.
After Luce had calmed his heart, he jumped over the balcony rails to stand before the princess, his red satin waistcoat almost the same tinge as the setting sun. “How’d you know I’ve been leaving sculptures?” He asked as if it weren’t so obvious.
“Who else would be leaving behind sculptures but you?” Alenaire rolled her eyes.
“Um, your father?” Luce guessed, looking deep in thought.
Alenaire exhaled her frustration. “You honestly drive me up a wall.”
Luce chuckled. “Hey, I scale walls myself.” He motioned to the wall at the side of the balcony, the purple wisterias hanging off the wooden frames of the trellis.
“Agh!” Alenaire looked like she was going to tear her hair out, and Luce laughed out loud as he clutched his stomach.
“By the way, I made another surprise for you,” Luce said as he touched the bulky object inside his inner pocket.
“Oh?” Alenaire tried to keep the curiosity out of her voice. She loved everything he made, and had a whole cabinet full of them in her room.
“But you have to close your eyes,” Luce said.
“Why?” She demanded.
“For the thrill,” Luce said as he smiled, engaging her to give in.
To prevent herself from staring at the dimples that appeared whenever he smiled, Alenaire decided to comply and close her eyes. After a while, she could feel his warmth as he drew closer, smelling the scent of sweat and earth. He had certainly just come from the battlefield, and her heart warmed when she realized he came to see her right away.
“Your nose wrinkled. I smell, don’t I?” Luce asked, his tone wary.
Alenaire’s lips twitched, but she kept her eyes closed. “What smell do you mean? If I were to lie, I’d say you smell like roses. But I’m an honest person~” Alenaire could already visualize Luce rolling his eyes.
She felt a hard object press against the side of her head, and a long stem hooked behind her earlobe to keep it in place. “What’s that?” She asked as she turned her head to the side, her lips directly smacking against flesh. Her eyes popped open. She had collided with the edge of Luce’s lip, and both of them flushed almost simultaneously. It even seemed that the roots of her hair were dyed red in embarrassment.
“That was an accident. Unintentional,” Alenaire quickly said, as she tried not to be so fidgety.
Luce cleared his suddenly dry throat, “I know. Anyway, I shall take my leave now. It’s not proper for me to be seen with you at this hour.” The sun had completely set, although there were still trails of purple and blue that enveloped the surroundings.
Alenaire didn’t want him to leave yet, but her pride didn’t allow herself to say it. She touched the object on her ear, tracing the figure with her fingers.
“It’s a rose,” Luce said, tucking it firmly in her hair. “I thought you’d like it.”
“I love anything you make,” Alenaire confessed, staring straight into his eyes.
Luce smiled at her adoringly. This wasn’t the first time Alenaire said such sweet and honest things to him, but today out of all days, those words she said tugged at his vulnerable heart.
He was suddenly drawn into the amethyst pools that were her eyes, and his body involuntarily moved forward on its own, as if she were a magnet he could not pull away from. Alenaire’s eyes fluttered close, and he advanced a bit closer…and closer, his lips hovering above hers.
He paused, stopping himself just in time before he could do something that he knew would hurt them both. He could never be the one for her. Their social standings were too different.
“Good night, princess,” he said huskily, the clogged emotions surfacing in his voice. He walked away, jumping over the balcony to grab the frame of the trellis at its side.
Alenaire opened her eyes slowly when she felt his warmth disappear. Her disappointment was almost palpable, and her heart felt like it hung heavily in her chest. She blushed as she realized that she honestly wanted him to kiss her, and she covered her reddened cheeks with her hands as if she could hide her indecent thoughts. Why did he not kiss her? She wondered. Was it because she was the princess who would be married to another? She squashed the thought. Although the chances were slim to none, she hoped her father would forget arranging a political marriage for her.
She sighed and looked over the balcony, dejectedly staring at the tall figure walking into the night.
One afternoon, Luce’s father decided to give him the afternoon off after seeing that he had nothing else to teach his son who was already as proficient in the art of sword-fighting as he. Or perhaps, his son was even more proficient, as he held his sword or double swords as if they were another body part.
Hence, Luce was left with basically nothing to do with his time, and so he decided to pay his princess a visit in the King’s study, where he knew she loved staying at in order to spy at him in the courtyard.
He imagined this scene quite vividly in his head, and he started chuckling to himself.
There were no pageboys who stood in front of the large oak doors of the study, and so he pushed the heavy doors himself, the hinges creaking as it opened.
Unfortunately, the person he wanted to see was sprawled asleep on the King’s study table, her extended right arm used as a cushion for her cheek. She was snoring softly, her eyelashes fluttering against her cheeks.
Bastian also happened to be sleeping, his snores overpowering his mistress’, as he forced himself inside a wooden box much too small for his corpulent body.
Luce shook his head at Bastian, and muttered, “Fat cat”, under his breath.
He took a chair from the corner and sat in front of the table where Alenaire snoozed. He pressed his cheek against the wood as he gazed at her face; the thin eyebrows, the curled lashes, the slight blush on her cheeks…her lips…
Luce looked away immediately.
It was improper of him to think of the princess that way…but then again, he could not help such thoughts from surfacing.
He wanted to keep his feelings locked to himself, as he knew that he could never have her, not in this lifetime. These feelings would just burden her. She was a princess born to marry a prince, not some knight. She was born to lead, born to become a Queen, born to live in the lap of luxury which he himself could not give. However, he would not trade anything to be anywhere else but by her side.
He could not even remember the days where she was not there. It seemed her presence could always be found even in the deepest recesses of his memories. In truth, she, in essence, composed his life.
In the stillness of the study, he leaned over the table to press his lips gently against her head.
“…if we were to be given another life,” he whispered almost inaudibly against her golden hair, “I wish for it to still be with you.”
As the doors closed behind him softly, the princess’ right arm curled inwards, hiding the crystal tears that slid down her cheeks.