Chapter 234 What happened to the flag?
“I get it. I get it reaaaally well that if you were a man, you would have been so unsociable that people would feel like punching you.”
Ratoka said, folding his arms and looking down on me with an imposing pose. To which I reflexively ended up trembling a bit.
After all, even though there’s a smile on that girl-like face, no matter how I look at it, Ratoka was clearly angry.
This is what I get after talking about all the conversations I had with Emilia when Ratoka wasn’t there.
“….Was there something that made you angry?”
This conversation is supposed to be about how to deal with Emilia, not about Emilia and definitely not about Ratoka who wasn’t there, so I have no clue what he’s angry about.
“There is. You don’t understand a woman’s heart, at all!”
“I am a woman, though……”
“Shut up! You might be a female but at the moment, you’re no woman!”
Eh, what? That is… a difference in the heart’s gender or something? I am pretty sure I identify as a woman, though.
Seeing me perplexed, Ratoka retracted his anger and, instead, sighed like he was utterly exasperated.
“…..Seriously talking here. You should stop taking feelings towards yourself in a twisted way already.”
Seeing how seriously he said that, I interrupted him by raising my hand.
“Prepare some tea and sit down. I will listen to your warning since you’re ‘another Eliza’.”
Ratoka nodded like he was relieved. And then, smiled bashfully and smacked me on the head lightly.
To think I would be smacked by him.
…The last time my head was patted was probably when I ran away to the Cil family’s tent. Maybe because I was stiff as a child back then, I was patted quite frequently.
Ratoka went down to the kitchen to prepare tea. Feeling weird just sitting there ‘cause there were just two of us, I also went down to help.
We were using garden tiger moths’ hardened scales as a luminous stone — which is supposed to be very rare — without frugality, and so when you pull the string hanging on a side of the entrance, all the lights light up at once for about an hour every other hour.
And so, you would normally transfer the fire to a candlestick while it is on. Ratoka and I transferred the fire to the stove and lit a fire, heated the water and brewed tea, and also took a few white bread from the storage while I was at it and put some smoked meat and vegetables in it. It’s an impromptu roll sandwich.
I left a signed note for the cook to handle the clean up and left the room.
“—Couldn’t even think about this before.”
Ratoka muttered while arranging the food on the table.
“About everything. When I had met you, it was impossible for me to even imagine this.”
I didn’t know how to react to his weird laugh.
But remembering him smacking my head earlier, it is true that I couldn’t have imagined before that our relationship would get so close. And of course, we couldn’t really ask for white bread for dinner at that time in Kaldia territory.
Ratoka’s expression loosened up a bit and he sat on the other side.
“….You are, you know, how do I put it, well, not stubborn but you have this strong thought that you’re like this.”
He started out with confidence, not even confirming. I stayed silent and urged him to continue.
“To be straight forward, the thing that I, the ‘other Eliza’, thought is that you’re not thought to be as bad as you think. Do you know that?”
I stayed silent this time as well.
Not thought to be as bad—?
“No matter how things were before, without a doubt, you changed our, the Kalidia residents’ lives, as fast as you could. Of course, I know it isn’t something you did by yourself. But, everyone knows that you did what you had to do…… I was able to understand that much so there’s no way other people can’t, right?”
Shrugging his shoulders, Ratoka said casually.
…… Well, that is true. After all, the one who threw a rock at me is the guy in front of me. Although the residents didn’t really have the energy nor willpower to resist back then, it is also true that Ratoka was a part of the anti feudal lord extremist party.
“Of course, I understand that the residents have forgiven me and acknowledged my efforts but–”
Before I could finish, Ratoka smacked the table and shouted.
“You’re a step ahead of that! The residents love you, you know?!”
“There’s no mistaking it!”
I still didn’t say anything. But I decided to stop for the time being.
“You do this thing, where you try to guess others’ feelings from the situation and stuff, right? To be honest, that’s a bad habit, you know? You should start looking eye to eye with everyone and directly feel what they are feeling. If you don’t, that would be just sad for the residents who love you so much. Believe in them. They are your people, right?”
……… I couldn’t say anything back.
The words I was going to say had also vanished once he told me to believe in them.
As I slowly but firmly nodded, Ratoka also nodded. But then his expression changed to one of embarrassment.
“…….ah–we went off topic, didn’t we? By a big margin.”
‘As I thought’–I sighed exasperated. What we talked about now was important but we were supposed to talk about the stiff relationship with Emilia.
“No, it’s not like it isn’t related at all…”
Ratoka said while chewing his food, then swallowed and continued.
“In other words, well, right, this also goes for Emilia-sama. You’re probably interacting with her considering the situation and what not…”
“You are trying to tell me to consider her feelings too and have a better relationship, right?”
As I completed his sentence since he was getting sluggish at the end, Ratoka’s expression became sour.
Really, this guy’s expression changes so much. It tires me just looking at him.
“…I understand that you have to show that you’re not treating her that well to mitigate the tension inside the country but there’s no need to be that aware of it, is there? After all, you are pretty brusque even if you just act normal.”
“Pretty brusque even if I act normal.”
“And so, if you were to just act normal towards Emilia-sama in front of the people, your attitude towards her will be a bit more sincere.”
……I somehow feel like I have heard such a conversation. Yea, like in a corner of a classroom, discussing what a guy student has to do to make a good impression on a girl…….
“After all, that girl, she has no one else to rely on, right? But that is because she has no other choice, not because she wants to.”
Ah, I see.
Ratoka is seeing his past self in Emilia.
It is certainly true that it’s rough when everything you know changes when you enter a new environment and you have no one to rely on emotionally.
“I understand. I will consider her emotional instability and will work towards earning her trust.”
…….I did understand but, let’s see.
How shall I change this situation, where everyone thinks I am interacting with her because of my duty towards the king’s orders?
Looks like Ratoka could also tell what I was thinking as he also started thinking and then clapped his hands together as if he had thought of something.
“Ah, right. For now, if Emilia-sama does something well, just pat her head and compliment her.”
“No, like, I also talked with Aslan and the others and I think that child hasn’t yet been a ‘child’, you know?”
Pat a country’s archduchess’ head?
Seeing me doubt what I heard, Ratoka just casually said ‘you won’t be doing it in front of others so it should be fine’.
No…… is that really okay?
And while I was hesitating, this time he came scolding me saying ‘you wanna earn her trust, right?’
No, but still, you know……
And as such, Ratoka has been urging me silently to pat her head since this morning. Which also ended with me hesitating and him giving me a glare.
Am I really going to do it?–Every time I waver like that, the pressure from Ratoka’s glare just keeps increasing. It is true that it might be quite natural for me to compliment her dance and pat her head while at it.
I somehow feel like if I do that, I will have done something irreversible. It isn’t anything more than what my intuition is telling me but—No, wait a minute.
Such a word suddenly popped up inside my head.
What was it… I am pretty sure it was something related to otome games.
If so, I think it would be better to avoid it.
However, to make better of this situation, I must do something.
So that the conversation doesn’t feel unnatural, I had to reply immediately to Emilia–and in a situation like that, I felt my brain working at a really high speed.
And so, about the measure I worked out.
“Hmm, let’s see—Emilia-sama, would you mind if I forced a dance on you?”
“Next dance, with me. —It would be most easy to understand if you were able to do it like practice.”
So that she doesn’t misunderstand and relaxes, I told her with as much of a gentle expression as I could.
After turning into a quasi-adult, I have only participated in these evening parties a few times in knight’s formal dress and so I have never really danced in a party like this.
I had also told Emilia before her that I didn’t have my debut dance even though I acted as her practice partner.
Now if only this Emilia understands that I have the intention to work even without the king’s order.
Now then, about the partner’s reaction.
Emilia vacantly looked at me and then started turning red.
Umm… it’s hard to tell if she is happy or not… Will Ratoka accept me doing this instead of what he said?
“I-if you are fine with me…!”
Hearing her excited voice, what I did understand was that I must teach her how to hide emotions properly.
END OF CHAPTER