Aquasteed wiped off the crumbs on her lips and smiled with satisfaction. And then he picked up Tiararose and shouted while using the ring of the Fairy King of the sky.
“I am sure that you all know that it is Tiararose who is to thank for this event. She received the blessing of the Fairy King of the forest and brought the plants back to Marineforest. Will you please give my beloved wife a round of applause?”
Aquasteed said. And then everyone that was there clapped and cheered. They called her name and sent words of gratitude for organizing this event.
“The cake was very delicious!”
“We look forward to next year!”
Tiararose waved her hand at them in reply. And at the same time, a feeling of happiness washed over her.
She was glad that she was able to protect this country. She felt this from the bottom of her heart.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Prince Aqua. I’m going to go and take a bath with Queen Lilia.”
“Aye. You must be very tired. Take your time and relax.”
The Sweets Tournament had ended with deafening applause.
Aquasteed was the winner. The team who came in 3rd for their ice cream won the special prize. Akari was not too pleased by this, but it was difficult to award the special prize to someone in the royal family.
As for Pheles’s team…well, there was no need to say anything about that.
“Tiara. Your cake was very delicious.”
“Thank you, Queen Lilia.”
Both of them soaked in the bathtub and talked about the day. Liliarge seemed to have had a lot of fun. And her eyes shone as she talked.
“We’re going to do it again next year and continue after that, right? I’m so excited. …But, the cupcake that Pheles made was not very good.”
“Oh, it wasn’t…?”
She chuckled at Liliarge’s words and suggested that he just needed a little practice. If Aquasteed could win, then Pheles had a chance if he spent enough time practicing. But then again, it would probably become harder, as the competition was likely to get tougher every year.
“Oh, that’s right.”
“Tiara. A month has now passed since you took in some of my power. Have you felt any changes to your body? You must tell me even if it is the smallest thing.”
Tiararose thought about it, but quickly said, ‘I’m fine.’ She had felt quite dizzy when it first happened, but she didn’t feel anything unusual now.
“I see. That’s good. I feel like I should be fine for a few hundred years, because of you. Thank you.”
Along with her words of gratitude, Liliarge climbed to the edge of the bathtub and bowed in front of Tiararose.
“Please don’t bow like that to me, Queen Lilia. …I’m just glad that I was able to be of use to you.”
Tiararose was very happy that Liliarge was cheerful like this again. As they both had rings of the starry sky, she wanted to continue and build a friendly relationship.
While Tiararose smiled, something that Liliarge had said suddenly hit her.
‘I feel like I should be fine for a few hundred years.’
That meant that Tiararose had absorbed hundreds of years worth of power. She didn’t feel any different now, but she became worried. Was she really all right?
—Maybe one day…I too will…
The day might come where she herself would turn into a monster. The thought entered her mind. And she felt that the possibility was not as far-fetched as she might have hoped.
But then again, she would not live for over a thousand years like Pheles and Liliarge, so perhaps she didn’t have to worry. Still, the anxiety remained within her.
“Tiara? What is it?”
“Oh, it’s nothing at all. I just felt a little dizzy from the heat, I think.”
“You worked very hard today. I heard that Pheles has prepared a feast for us. So we should get out now and eat.”
Tiararose nodded and picked up Liliarge before getting out of the bathing room. Philiane was waiting for them. She immediately wiped Liliarge with a towel and then handed Tiararose her clothes.
“You must be very tired.”
“Yes. Philiane, can you give me a massage later?”
“Yes, of course.”
She had made a lot of cakes in a rush, and so she was more tired than she had thought she would be. Still, she had to go and have dinner with the others.
“Are you out, Tiara?”
“Prince Aqua? Yes, I am. Is something wrong?”
Tiararose heard Aquasteed’s voice and then put on her bathrobe before going to him.
“Hey, you’re still wet. You’ll catch a cold.”
“…Oh, uh. Thank you.”
Aquasteed chuckled as he used wind magic to dry Tiararose’s hair. Then he brushed her hair with his fingers and enjoyed its softness.
“I want to be touching your hair always. It’s quite a problem.”
He said gently as he kissed it. Tiararose closed her eyes and basked in the pleasure of it. Then he added that she let her guard down too much.
“Prince Aqua. Recently, I’ve been enjoying touching your cheeks!”
“I didn’t know that.”
“When you are asleep.”
“Then I must have my revenge the next time you are asleep, Tiara.”
“You touch me enough while I am awake. Consider that notion dismissed.”
Tiararose added that he should touch her while she was awake if he intended to at all. And that’s when he wrapped his arms around her.
“We have a dinner to attend. And so you must refrain from saying such adorable things. Or else we might have to delay it.”
“Oh… Forgive my rudeness.”
They laughed together. Then she suddenly noticed that Liliarge and Philane were gone. Her maid always knew when it was a good idea to leave the room.
Tiara and Aquasteed moved to the window and looked out at the starry sky.
“Marineforest really is beautiful.”
“Yes. From now on, it will be you and I who must protect its beauty.”
That they would be happy here forever.
They stared up at the sky for a while, as if saying such a prayer.