* * *
Most of the ingredients we still had were vegetables. I took some potatoes, a pumpkin and a few onions and placed them in a basket. Then, I stared around the pantry and thought hard.
We skipped lunch, so I’m planning to cook the pancakes that I was supposed to make earlier. Then, I’ll also make another main dish.
The pork caught my eye. The portion wasn’t going to be enough for even one serving, but that’s not going to be a problem.
“I should add the meat in and make red pepper paste stew.”
Bringing together pork and red pepper paste was always a winning combination. Veggie pancakes were delicious on their own as they were deep-fried, but then it might get too greasy because of the oil. It’s a good idea to have it together with spicy soup. I also usually crave soup whenever it’s raining…
After deciding on the menu, I took all the ingredients I needed and placed them in the basket, then I went out of the pantry.
And there, I found Albert sitting on a chair in the kitchen. He was in the middle of a staring contest with Blanc, who was sitting on the kitchen counter.
“Prince, how did you come in here?”
With a shameless expression and with his head tilted to the side, Albert replied.
“I came here because I got upset about the fact that I couldn’t come here all this time.”
“Is it so strange that I can go inside the kitchen when I can even leave the tower?”
“…But you said that you can’t come into the kitchen.”
He couldn’t come into the kitchen all this time, but how could he come and go now…? As I asked myself, Albert smiled brightly.
“The mages that are supervising the tower had been called in to prepare for battle. I can go in here now because the barriers were loosened.”
Certainly, since Rosteratu was set on mobilizing everyone he could get his hands on to kill Albert, it’s only natural that the mages were called in as well.
His explanation was reasonable enough. But I could tell—Albert came here because he was bothered by Blanc. That staring contest was proof enough of this.
Blanc also stood up against Albert, and so he glared at the prince as much as he could. He wasn’t avoiding Albert anymore.
…I wonder. Were they going to continue on with their lives while treating each other like enemies?
I thought about it seriously, but Albert just took the basket from my hands and carried it to the table for me.
“Rosé, I want to watch you cook.”
Albert’s gentle voice echoed in my ears.
His voice was like music to my ears, but I snapped out of it and thought that I should finish cooking right away so that we can eat. It’s going to be difficult to mediate between the two of them if they break out into a fight while I’m cooking.
“There’s not much to see. I’ll try to cook as fast as I can then.”
Fortunately enough, the staring contest between the two stopped as soon as I started cooking. It was just burdensome to have eyes watching me while I was just cooking the usual food of a single woman, but… It’s better than them fighting.
I started chopping the vegetables and then rinsed them in water. I started with the potatoes. After that, I cut up the pumpkins and also peeled the onions.
Tears soon welled up in my eyes because of the onions. I looked up high, but the tears flowed down nonetheless.
Uuugh, my eyes hurt. Seeing me wipe away the tears with the sleeve on my upper arm, Albert’s expression grew serious.
“…It seems like cooking is a difficult thing.”
“No, not always. The onions are just especially strong today.”
“Who doesn’t shed tears while peeling and mincing onions?”
It’s impossible unless you wear goggles. As I replied to him, I blinked a few times to stop the tears.
But Albert didn’t seem to like even that.
“Let me do it.”
“No, you don’t have to—”
Where on earth can you even see a prince who cooks! It’s a huge burden to watch your own boss cook!
I shook my head and tried to stop him, but Albert moved much quicker than I could react.
Taking the knife in my hand, Albert then stood beside me. The entirely peculiar image of Albert inside a kitchen with a knife in his hand finally became reality.
“Please give it back…”
I pleaded for the knife, but Albert was much taller than me and he had longer arms.
As I huffed and puffed, my eyes grew wide, trying to warn him.
“…Prince, you can’t. Just having the Prince here in the kitchen is already a tricky enough combination, but how can Your Highness even go as far as cook?”
“I’ll be able to finish it faster than you.”
“I’ve been cooking far longer though.”
I’ve lived alone for a while now and I’m good at wielding a knife! What’s the big deal about tearing up while peeling an onion!
I muttered to myself and tried to push him back, but there’s no way on earth that I could beat Albert in strength. Blanc helped me out and tried to snatch the knife back from Albert’s hand, but even with the both of us, we could never beat Albert.
…I don’t want to witness the strength and agility of the male lead in a situation like this!
“I-I’m going to help!”
“You, dragon fledgling?”
Albert dogged Blanc’s white front paws with ease. And the dragon cub’s face gradually flushed red.
“I can do it later… If I turn into a human being, I can help Rosé…”
How can Blanc know only pretty words? I patted Blanc on the head because he was being so kind to me.
After that, I looked back at Albert and said with determination.
“Then, Prince, I’ll leave it to you.”
Honestly, I don’t know how well Albert could wield a knife. In the first place, the way he was holding that knife right now was kinda weird, so I wasn’t expecting much. The kitchen wasn’t exactly his usual haunt, and this was only natural.
However, compared to the awkward knife-handling posture, he managed to slice up the onions perfectly, as if he was an artisan whose main medium was a knife for all his life.
“…I didn’t expect that Your Highness would be perfect even in a place like this.”
“A blade is a blade after all.”
…I never thought that a munchkin’s power could also translate in a place such as a kitchen. More than that, he didn’t even shed a single tear.
“It’s too bad I couldn’t see you cry, Prince.”
“I didn’t know you wanted to see me cry.”
“…I mean, a little? I have this thought that you’ll be pretty when you cry, Prince.”
It’s the same as how it’s mesmerizing to see a beautiful woman cry. Albert stared at me for a moment, then with the knife still in his hand, he whispered into my ear.
“Unfortunately, Rosé, you should be the first one to cry.”
“…Are you telling me that you’ll give me a hard time once we leave the tower?”
“No, I meant while in bed.”
…Albert spoke with a hushed voice. Paired with my favorite smile.
My entire face flushed bright red in an instant.
¹ munchkin – an overpowered character ↩
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