And the curtain rises
I am no longer surprised to find a theater in the same hall.
I don’t understand what the rich think, I thought to myself.
By the way, it is a “Music Concert” that is going to be held at this theater. That is, if the schedule I heard in advance has not changed.
The stage curtain is down. I can discern what is happening there all the way from here.
The orchestra seems to be preparing, and looking closer at the stage, I can see someone close to them.
“Those over there are―”
Dominique follows my gaze. On a specially customized seat are three people sitting.
It’s hard to see because of the distance, but they are Benedict and two escorts who are standing right next to him.
The general seats to which we, invited guests, are seated are ordinary seats, but each one is high in quality, and the space between them are quite wide.
It is natural that the royal family has guests often and places like this are thus prepared. The place here is so good it seems rude to even compare it with a university auditorium or hall.
Some seats are not empty, but there are roughly one hundred people… No, maybe a hundred and fifty.
Although smaller than Nippon Budokan, it is more than good enough to invite a large number of people.
“There are more people now than at the garden party.”
“Being ‘invited’ in itself is really meaningful. It also implied that people who are less important than those at the garden party are invited.”
So it’s like that.
We are guided to our seat at a corner near the doorway.
Just three seats are vacant, and Dominique, Eileen, and me, are seated in order, with Dominique to the side nearest to the entrance.
The seat to our back already had a guest and we bowed, but he seemed busy reading a newspaper, he looked down with his hat hiding his face and did not reply.
Then, -kuchi- I heard a soft sneeze from Eileen.
“Are you okay?”
“It’s a little cold.”
“I’ll lend you my jacket.”
Sure, the room temperature feels a little lower. I put my jacket on Eileen.
Eileen’s reply to that is not a “thank you” but rather, “good dedication.”
And she hands me her bolero.
“I can lend you my jacket.”
“Ah, I don’t need it.”
Thank you for your consideration, but a man’s jacket doesn’t really match with a dress.
Accepting just his feelings, I put my arms through Eileen’s bolero.
Dominique looks frustrated for some reason.
“His Highness is in a separate seat from the guests. Since he is isolated like that, we won’t easily reach him again this time――”
“I guess so?”
We heard the voice from the seat behind Eileen.
The unfriendly man with a hat from earlier. He raised his hat a little, put his finger on his lips and laughed.
I close her mouth in a hurry.
There is Benedict right here with us!
I quickly look all around. Front seats, rear seats, left and right to us… And I noticed.
Everyone in the surrounding seats are dressed in a specific way, and their identity can only be one― His escorts.
I slowly released my hands from Eileen and said, “quietly” just in case.
Eileen commented, “I was just testing your reflexes!” in an almost upset mood.
“Your Hi… Beni-san, why are you here?”
Even if I make a mistake, the average guests should not be aware of him.
He looked a bit bewildered, it is the nickname Dominique used though, then he nodded several times in a seemingly good mood.
“Yes, yes. That’s a good name. Thank you, Konomi. ――They are my shadow guards. I know I’m being targeted, so I have to have them here.”
“Can’t you just not bother coming to the venue at all?”
“I can’t just submit to the intimidation!”
This Prince is a strange prince indeed.
And there is one man who did not react even after seeing the strange situation here. I glared at him.
“Gonneau-senpai, did you know?”
Why didn’t he explain in advance?
He however simply shrugged.
“I didn’t know.”
“I just thought it would be possible if it is him.”
“Geez, the world here really is just weird.”
“I don’t want to hear that from you.”
I tried to immediately return a retort to Dominique… But I decided not to.
I am a very common modern Japanese student, but I may seem strange to them. Yup.
I am convinced what I was thinking is right, and Eileen suddenly drew me closer to her.
“Konomi, substitute with me! I want to talk to him too!”
I tried to retreat as her eyes are shining, probably because she’s plotting something, and our seat forcibly got swapped.
We have to change places. Eileen is next to Benedict, and I am next to Dominique.
When Benedict greeted Eileen, she laughed happily.
Is she that interested in Benedict? …Probably not.
It’s Eileen we’re talking about, I shouldn’t easily think of the possibility of a flag.
There is no doubt at all.
She even said it earlier, “a great opportunity to make the third prince of this country owe us.”
……However, they are chatting with a smile, and she doesn’t seem to want to drop a bomb.
If she is not planning to make a fuss, I can leave her be.
I stop listening to their conversation and lean back with my arms crossed.
I look around.
Not only are the seats around us already occupied, the others are also steadily getting filled.
“Are you lonely?”
“Beni took your friend.”
Dominique called out, and I felt a bit surprised.
What does that mean―― I look to where he is glancing with a grin on his face, and on seeing Eileen still talking to Benedict happily, I realize what he meant.
Friend. It’s not exactly that…
But the explanation is long-winded and I don’t have the extra capacity for that now.
And more than anything else,
“No. That’s not it at all.”
“Don’t pretend to be tough.”
However, Dominique does not pull back. How insistent.
“A woman doesn’t become prettier just because she gets stronger. If you however are so inclined, I would―”
“Saisho wa guu― Janken――”
(TN: rock paper scissors)
I go rock.
“Turn that way, go on!”
“Do you think you can be my opponent with such skills?”
Dominique, who had just lost, said to himself, “why can’t I beat this girl?” In a whisper.
This will keep him silent for a while.
――But, before it completely quieted down,
“Thank you for gathering here today――”
A woman stood on the edge of the stage where the curtain does not yet cover.
Perhaps she’s the host… I thought to myself. However,
For just a little, I felt as if the world is tilting――
At that moment, a hand lands on my shoulder and my whole body gets agitated.
“Look closely, you’ll see me as a different man after this.”
I returned to my senses with Dominique’s low sounding voice.
I recalled the woman from the garden party for some reason.
Let’s take a deep breath.
I then bowed a little and spoke in a whisper to Benedict who was behind Eileen.
“Aren’t you going to say your greetings, Beni-san?”
“I’ll do that after the performance, before the curtain closes. Until then, I’ll enjoy the music from here.”
He crossed his legs and sinked himself into his seat, “the ordinary seat is quite comfortable too,” he commented.
He seems to be calm despite currently being the center of a great turmoil.
He seems to already be accustomed to it, or should I say, he is indeed a “Prince.”
――I don’t think the host was waiting for him to first calm down, but the greeting is over.
“Please enjoy the performance.”
The lights on the audience dimmed, and at the same time, the curtain on the stage parted in the middle.
The line-up of instruments are exposed.
Before the stage curtain is fully opened――
I hear a voice from a very close distance.
Shortly after I register the meaning of the word, someone grabs my head and forcibly bends me downward.
I hear a plosive sound.
Hearing Eileen’s scream, I looked towards her and saw her in a similar position.
And there is something on my back. It’s heavy.
Is it an enemy attack? ――No, it’s different.
I can hear the sound of a groan.
On top of me is, Dominique.
“Turn on the light!”
My voice calling for Dominique and the voice of Benedict ordering overlapped.
My eyes get dazzled.
When I am in the middle of blinking to restore my eyesight, I hear a voice telling me, “don’t look at me” that is nearly a scream――
But I’ll check on him.
And I am at a loss for words.
Dominique, his left shoulder is dyed red, his eyes are tightly closed, and he is groaning.
Thank you very much to my patrons 『Lan Hoang』 and 『Isabell Zultner』
(✽ ﾟдﾟ ✽)