“Actually, spiders have already come out. And… hmm, that’s true. Upon closer inspection, it seems like the laundry is overdue.”
“…If only you didn’t say that!”
“Oops, sorry. You’re the one who got mad at me. I didn’t say anything wrong.”
The timid Prince suddenly stood up and pointed his finger at me. Intrigued by his unexpected display of assertiveness, I cautiously closed the distance between us, catching a distinct aroma of invigorating soap that hung in the air; as if he had just taken a bath. Come to think of it, I didn’t notice due to the darkness, but his hair was still wet.
I gently held his extended finger in my hand. He stiffened noticeably and tried to pull his hand away, making a whimpering sound.
“You’ve never held a pen before, have you? Your hands are incredibly soft. The joints are thick and long, but they are still beautiful hands.”
“Wh-who, who asked you that? Y-you’re in big trouble. I don’t feel comfortable in my room anymore.”
Whenever he was flustered, he stumbled over his words. I guess it was because he lacked confidence and doesn’t speak much.
Well, I thought it was better this way. I never expected the prince to decide that he couldn’t stay on the top floor. It was undoubtedly clear that he was still mentally stuck in his childhood. If I handle it well and comfort him, I might be able to bring him down to the lower level today.
“Look at that. Even you feel uncomfortable in your bedroom now. Then, why do you keep eating in your room instead of using the perfectly fine dining hall? Don’t you think it’s strange?”
“It’s always been like that until now….”
“But there’s no rule that says it has to be that way. If you come down with me, I won’t have to climb the stairs every day, and you can live in a clean environment.”
“…Is the lower level clean?”
“Yes, I clean and tidy it up every morning.”
I can arrange a separate room for the prince later. Honestly, except for my room, Janiche’s room, and the dining hall, the lower level was not much different from the top floor. However, I want to narrow the distance between the prince and me no matter what, including the physical distance.
“What do you think? Would you like to come down with me? Let’s have dinner in the dining hall. It’s much nicer in a bright place.”
“I… I’m not sure if I can really do that.”
“You said you can’t stay here anymore. You’re not thinking of sleeping in the corridor, are you? Come on, let’s go.”
The prince pondered, holding his head. And he didn’t forget to steal a glance at his finger that was held by me. By the way, now that I’m looking at him up close for such a long time, the prince was indeed incredibly handsome. It would be great if he could do something about his disheveled hair, which seems to have a life of its own.
“I’m really curious, so I’m going to ask now. Why are you so good-looking?”
The speechless prince looked at me properly for the first time with slightly parted lips and slightly trembling eyes. It was an interesting sight, he looked divine despite being barely illuminated by the moonlight filtering through the window.
He made an incomprehensible sound, and then suddenly… poof! He transformed into a puppy.
“What are you trying to do? Are you asking me to take you away comfortably?”
He wagged his head as if to say that was not what he meant. It seemed that communication was not entirely impossible with a puppy. I learned something new. The prince was much easier to handle in his puppy state compared to when he was human. Moreover, I could hold him as tightly as I wanted, and he couldn’t say anything to me.
“Woof, woof, woof!”
“Oh, was that too much just now? Are you having trouble breathing? I’m sorry.”
His fur was still soft and moist. I tightly hugged the puppy that smelled of soap and slowly made my way down the stairs. He resisted with whimpers, but we couldn’t stay in the corridor forever.
“When we get downstairs, I’ll give you a gift. How about the chocolate you didn’t get to taste earlier?”
“For dinner today, we’ll have a delicious veal steak. The steamed carrots that came out nicely are especially tasty… huh, Prince?”
I stopped abruptly while descending the stairs despite feeling triumphant. The puppy in my arms was emitting intense heat. Could it be because of me? Did I overdo it?
I held the prince tightly and gently tapped his cheek. However, he just squirmed in my arms, avoiding showing his face.
So cute. No, no, it wasn’t the time.
“Why are you suddenly acting like this? Did you wander around too much yesterday and today? Are you tired”
There could be various reasons why he was like this, but that could be one of them. It was also a chilly season. I hurriedly went down the stairs, but the prince didn’t seem to regain his senses.
The same thing happened when I ran to his room before. I was afraid to put him down on the bed, but he came down on his own and closed his eyes. His small body was warm.
“Oh, what should I do? Prince. Prince?”
I kept calling him, and the prince merely lifted one eye as if he found me annoying. He moved his furry ear as if to say, ‘Leave me alone,’ and turned his back to me.
Then, his body quietly moved up and down. It was as if he had fallen into a deep sleep right then and there. Read ahead here.