“Do you like it?” I asked.
Albert was staring at the rose, but as he heard my question, his eyes widened faintly. This was what Albert frequently did whenever he thought he did something wrong.
Bravely, I asked first.
“How did you bring this here when you’re invisible to other people? Did you steal it?”
“…No. I worked for it. Honest.”
My voice dropped in volume as I answered.
In turn, Albert looked baffled.
“I’m telling the truth, really. I’ll show you later. I’m doing my best moving stuff around… You know, to help prepare for the festival.”
Blinking once, Albert then rested his chin on one hand, looking bored.
“I hate festivals.”
“Why do you hate them? There’s so many fun things you can do there.”
When I was as young as Albert, I was excited about going to just the marketplace, so I couldn’t understand why he hated festivals that involved the whole town. There must be some reason behind it.
“…Because I have to work as the Young Count. I have to meet people and greet them, and I also have to ask them for help because of the current situation.”
“I need to borrow money.”
I couldn’t believe that a detailed explanation like that was coming from a child’s mouth.
Meeting people and greeting them seemed fine enough, but what? He needed to borrow money? Ugh, I could feel a fever coming on.
Parents weren’t just parents for the heck of it. Where were Albert’s parents and what were they doing?
“But what are your parents doing?”
Albert looked up at me with disinterested eyes, asking with perplexity.
“You know who I am by face, you claim that you can read my true feelings, but you don’t know about my parents?”
“Yes, because you’re the only one who matters to me.”
Momentarily speechless as his lips opened and closed without saying anything, Albert replied quietly.
“They’re at a gambling house.”
“…There’s a gambling house in this place too?”
“No, they’re in the capital. I came here to see if I could get any help from the nobles and mages who’ll flock to the festival.”
As it was written in the original novel, Albert’s parents seemed to be racking up their debts by going around gambling houses.
Albert mentioned nobles.
It might be better if I could find out who was coming here, so I asked again.
“Who are the people coming to this festival?”
“The important people include the Lord of the Magic Tower and Duke Masen. Marquis Evnen’s coming, too. And the rest…”
Albert recited the names of the nobles one by one.
I didn’t know who the current lord of the magic tower was, but if it’s Duke Masen, he must be talking about Liam’s father.
That aside, Marquis Evnen was Rosteratu’s right-hand man, and I remembered seeing him at the banquet last time.
The festival in this estate seemed to be more popular than I had expected, seeing as notable people were gathering here.
All I knew about this place was that Liam was planning to send me here during my supposed one month away, but I didn’t know this was such a famous place.
Going over the list of nobles, it felt like I was about to have a headache. I wanted to make sure that Albert would enjoy the festival.
I wanted to give him every enjoyable experience that a child could have in a festival.
But I had to be careful here. One little thing that I did in the past could change Albert’s future.
“Albert, after you meet those people, would you like to go around the festival with me?”
“…Go around the festival?”
He was still looking at the rose, but as he heard my question, Albert raised his head.
“Yeah, we can go out together in the evening before the festival begins. It’ll be fun to go see what everyone has prepared.”
“Eat well, rest well, and once your fever goes down, let’s go hang out in the evening. I’ll come with you.”
Albert’s eyes glistened with excitement.
“Before that though, can you lend me the magic tomes here in the villa?”
To make it possible that Albert and I could have an enjoyable time at the festival, I would have to make several preparations.
At my words, Albert tilted his head as he was perplexed, but he soon answered, “Sure.”
* * *
A few days later, Albert recovered from his cold as though he had never been sick in the first place.
In the meantime that I waited for him to get better, I managed to memorize a few other useful magic circles through the magic tomes I borrowed. I also checked whether they were working properly.
[ Blanc, how are you going? I’m going to a festival with the young Albert today. ]
Today as well without fail, I sent a telepathic message about my current situation to Blanc. I looked out the window to gauge the weather.
It was the perfect day for an outing.
Greten’s surveillance remained steadfast, but she knew that Albert was on edge, so she didn’t bother him whenever he was asleep.
Under the pretense that he wasn’t feeling well just yet, Albert was laying down on his bed. Soon, the lights in the room went out.
As he confirmed that Greten had gone to her own room, Albert sat up and went down from his bed.
I opened the window. It wasn’t snowing tonight, so the countless stars embedded in the night sky could be seen clearly.
Albert took out his coat from the closet and put it on.
“You have to bundle up properly.”
I snugly fastened the buttons on Albert’s coat one by one. I didn’t want to see him get sick again.
This was the third time that I witnessed Albert falling ill. I never wanted to see this happen again in the future.
As though frustrated, Albert frowned.
“Am I a kid?”
Well, I’m only stating the obvious. After answering immediately, I added.
“You’re a kid, but also a very handsome Young Count.”
Coughing dryly after hearing my words, Albert took a step closer to the window and reached up to take my hand.
I held his hand firmly. Even though I couldn’t feel his warmth, I liked the feeling of his hand in mine.
Just like Albert did before, I soared high into the night sky.
The young Albert and I walked across the sky together. He admired the scenery with a look of wonder.
The way he reached out to touch the stars in the sky was so cute. In the end, I patted Albert on the head.
“I’m holding it in only because the night view is cool, okay?”
With a slight side-eye, Albert murmured. I laughed for a long time.
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