However, an hour after the first knock. Another hour after dinner, and it was almost time to go to bed now. There was no answer from Alexei.
She even went to the door directly connected to the next room – even though she didn’t want to use it because it seemed like a shortcut to hell!- The next room was still quiet.
“What? What if the next room isn’t Alyosha’s room?”
It was a reasonable doubt at this point. Asha stood between the doors connecting her room and Alexei’s room, pouting her lips. Then.
“What’s the matter… Your Highness Anastasia?”
Her long-awaited visit was finally open!
Asha looked up at the tall man with her eyes blinking. It was not Alexei who opened the door, but a strange man she had never seen before.
“Ah, my name is Cyril Schnine, the escort knight of His Highness Alexei. By the way, what brings you, Your Highness Anastasia?”
She thought the next room was someone else’s, not Alexei’s. Asha patted her chest down and fiddled with the scone in her hand.
“I want to see Alyosha…”
“Ah… His Highness Alexei is studying now. If you have a message, please tell me. I’ll tell him.”
Asha clapped her mouth. She wished she could think of it as a lie since she couldn’t see it, but she felt that what the escort knight said was true.
He couldn’t call him out if he were studying. But she thought it was better. It’s still too much to face that cool, smiling face.
“I don’t have anything to talk about… I was going to share this.”
Asha took out two wrapped scones and held them out to Cyril.
“I can’t disturb him if he’s studying… I’ll give one to the mister and the other to Alyosha.”
“Yes, thank you for Your Highness’ grace.”
Cyril bowed politely and closed the door. Asha stood before the closed door, patting the carpeted floor with her toes a little sullenly and turning.
Alexei, wearing a thin cardigan over his shirt, was sitting in front of a desk, lying deep in the room, reading a book. Then Cyril approached him and put down a tiny, wrapped scone.
“A little while ago, I heard a knock on that door, and there was Princess Anastasia. I said my lord was studying, so she asked me to deliver this.”
Alexei raised his head at the completely unexpected name.
Pink hair like peach and green eyes like a sprout. A girl of ten years old but small enough to look like seven at first glance. Alexei was a little embarrassed in front of the gift from his cousin.
Alexei grabbed the string that tied the wrapping paper and lifted the snack. It looked like a little biscuit in his hand.
“What do you want me to do?”
Alexei’s embarrassment was for a reason. It was tantamount to an insult to present such a sloppy and insincere object to Alexei, the Crown Prince.
And Alexei, never before had such an insult. All that came as ‘gifts’ to him were expensive and rare, sumptuously wrapped. If you gave him something he lacked, it would only incur the wrath of the next Emperor.
And what was in front of him at this time.
Wrapped in slightly crumpled paper and tied with a rough cord.
Cyril seemed slightly surprised by Alexei’s words that he would eat it, but he nodded gently. Then he called the servant to bring out the tea and took a silver needle from the drawer to check the poison.
Poison does not work for the Emperor and Crown Prince, who signed a contract with King Spirit, but some people tried it foolishly. The escort knight’s job was also to filter out such an insensitive force. Alexei stared at the scone with his chin resting while Cyril was preparing for the refreshment.
The silver needle slid into the scone and escaped without discoloration.
‘…I can’t figure out what she’s going to do.’
Alexei tapped the table with her fingertips and thought. Even after the ceremony, when he signed Fafnir, the Spirit of Fire, several spirit ceremonies were held for his relatives. But Alexei had always been denied expectations at all those spirit ceremonies.
He expects to meet a new family member to stay in the palace in the future. In other words, he had many relatives, but they usually looked at him with similar eyes.
Fear, envy, jealousy, envy, flattery, hatred…
Alexei sometimes wanted to ask them. Why are you so jealous? You have both parents, and you live with your family. Why do you hate me so much? Nothing he owned had taken away their share.
Why do you look at me like a god?
I’m just like you…
But he didn’t have a chance to speak, and Alexei’s expectations were once, twice, thrice… It collapsed one after another. So Alexei abandoned all his thoughts and hoped even before the ceremony. However, she appeared only now when he was not expecting it.
One of his cousins was quite different from those he had ever seen.
Little Anastasia, who was little and young. Every time she saw him, her expression would change.
At first, she opened her eyes wide with surprise when she saw him. She was a loss, like a kitten with a puddle of water before her. Yet recently, she used to express as if she had taken all the world’s worries.
“I heard she came four times today alone.”
“…Anastasia? To me?”
Alexei asked back to himself, but he already knew the answer. The answer was on the plate. He came to the empty room several times to deliver one of these scones.
‘Really… I don’t know.’
He knew little Anastasia wasn’t trying to flatter or ingratiate herself with him. It’s not because Anastasia was only a ten-year-old girl, but because he’s seen “such people” all his life, he knew how to distinguish those who were not.
“And even if it’s flattery, it’s just this?”
That’s what the girl gave him. There would have been no naive person who would buy the Crown Prince’s favor with a piece of crude scone, even during the Otroph Kingdom a thousand years ago.
“…where did she get this snack?”
“I didn’t ask you that… I’ll see.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
Alexei shook his head and split the scone into his mouth.
The savory taste of cheese, the flavor of butter, and the delicious taste of bacon tugged at the tip of his tongue as soon as he chewed it. To guess the ingredients in it, it felt like it had a lot of oily ingredients, but when he finished eating one scone, the taste was clean and filling.
Alexei closed his eyes slowly. His hands and feet, which had been a little cold due to the fatigue of study and training, felt warm. Alexei slowly realized that his cousin’s sloppy gift, like a little kitten, was not “something like this.”
‘Does it seem to have some effect?’
It’s already been a week since she fed Alexei a scone every evening. Asha smiled inwardly today, standing before Alexei’s door with a cheese scone in her hand.
<What effect do you mean?>
‘Don’t you think Alyosha’s vigilance has eased a bit? Well, it’s kind of weird to say that he likes me. But to the extent that he started to hate me less?’
Wasn’t it a snack that showed a terrifying effect even when fed to Dimitri, who was running wild because he didn’t want to see her? Of course, she didn’t expect such a dramatic result. Friendship begins with a conversation, so she thought it would be fortunate if they could at least communicate with each other.
In fact, Asha thought it would be no big deal if Alexei threw the scones right away.
‘A snack has been given by a cousin who has the right to succeed to the throne…’
It’s obvious that it’s suspicious! Yeah! So I can understand even if Alyosha didn’t eat it and threw it away!
‘Then I’ll have to think of another move then,’ said Asha, promising to herself.
However, when she saw Alexei the next day, the glacier wall surrounding him was even lighter.
He must have eaten it!
Asha seemed capable of blowing her trumpet, setting off firecrackers, juggling with her three balls, and blowing her elephant flute while riding her unicycle with just that. For the next week, Asha was excited, made scones daily, and sent them to Cyril’s side.
‘Okay. Let’s try hard to show that I’m only interested in baking snacks, so let’s dissolve some doubts. When it’s time for Alyosha’s girlfriend or fianceé to appear, she cheers for their relationship. Then it’ll work, right?’
In fact, this was the only thing Asha could do right now.
<Well, in the first place, the landlord’s eldest grandson didn’t really…>
Asha tried to knock on Alexei’s door at the words of Phoebe, who was somewhat obligatory and tilted her head. The door opened first before she could move her hand.
Asha looked up at her opponent with only her mouth open in surprise. The person who opened the door was Alexei, who was smiling softly.
“I was about to knock.”
After ten years as a child, she thought that the childish way of speaking was already over, but when she stood before Alexei, she felt like she was talking more like a child, perhaps because of the tension.
“I thought you might have come, so I opened the door.”
For some reason, Asha swallowed her saliva in nervousness. Until now, they always handed snacks through Cyril around the middle of the afternoon. It was the first time Alexei had opened the door himself.