「—Okay, I'm done!」
Alexis closed the last book and stretched out.
It was more progress than he had expected. He had expected it to take a few days to wash all the books, but it was done in a day. It was thanks to Maria.
「Maria, thank you very much!」
Alexis said to Maria as she was starting to stack the books.
「Thanks to you. It was done」
Maria looked surprised for a moment, but then her cheeks flushed and her gaze drifted down, and she murmured, "It's nothing..."
「I just did what I could do...nothing special」
Alexis chuckled, thinking that her reply was as usual blunt.
「No, you say that, but I think it's great, don't you?」
「...I don't think so.」
Maria was still cold toward Alexis.
—Though it was much better than her initial timid attitude....
（or... is it getting worse, here?）
For some reason, Alexis don't have a good relationship with Maria.
But that doesn't mean she can't say something about it. At least it is true that she has made a contribution.
Alexis stepped out and started to bundle the books, just as Maria had done.
「I'll help you. It's faster if we do it together, right?」
Maria raised an eyebrow.
「...But, prince-sama, please bundle them in the same category. Otherwise, you'll have to do it twice」
Alexis had hurriedly taken his hands away from the book.
「Please don't do anything prince. You're in my way」
Maria said without looking at Alexis as she continued her work.
As Alexis was drowsily working, a stack of books was suddenly thrust out in front of him.
「Take this. Please take it to the place I told you」
Alexis looked at Maria's face.
「You're going to help me, aren't you?」
Maria's cheeks flush slightly and Alexis says in a brusque voice.
Alexis nodded broadly and accepted the book from Maria.
Thank goodness. There was something I could do. Alexis thought with a smile on his face.
Seeing such an attitude of Alexis, Maria's eyes drifted away, as if she felt uncomfortable.
「P-Please go away as soon as you understand...!」
Then, Maria said with her words getting stronger, and Alexis calmly responded, "I need you to tell me where it is first."
「Oh... yes, that's right. The location...」
Maria was explaining the location to Alexis.
After that, she watches his back as he leaves and sighs.
（...Why is he acting like that? I'm the vassal, he's in a better position than me...）
Maria is angry. On top of that, she's restless. She's embarrassed and out of tune.
（P-Pull myself together! He's... he's a pervert who uses that weird male organ to seduce a lot of women!）
She reminds herself of that, but also unintentionally remembers. What he did to her before.
（...S-Such a great thing...）
One moment she remembers alexis thing, and the next moment, she wants to have it. She thinks that she wants it.
Her body becomes hot, and she is so absorbed in her thoughts.
But soon she comes to herself and shakes her head.
「Wh-What am I thinking..!?」
She has to concentrate on her work. With this in mind, Maria continues to clean up the mess.
* * *
Soon, the books are all put away neatly.
As Maria was talking with the librarian after leaving the basement stacks, Alexis came in, having finished putting the last book on the shelf.
「Y-Your Highness. Thank you for coming...! Forgive the trouble...!」
After a brief greeting to the librarian who was standing so respectfully next to Maria, Alexis said.
「Maria, let's go out for dinner」
Maria was taken aback when he suddenly said so.
「Yes. You must be hungry. I'll treat you」
Alexis smiles and urges Maria to go to dinner.
「Come on, let's go.」
Maria hesitates and looks at Alexis and the librarian alternately.
The librarian looks formal, and Alexis is still smiling.
She wonders if it would be wrong to refuse. Maria nodded her head. But she had no choice! she reminded herself inwardly.
「...I understand. But being nice won't give you anything...?」
Maria reminds him.
Alexis is puzzled.
「I'm not trying to... ingratiate myself. I'm just saying, you know? You've done a great job, and I just want to thank you.」
「...—I-I know it!」
Maria was so angry that she became more forceful in her words. After she does so, she wonders why she is angry. .
But it's his fault. It's the prince's fault. Maria says to herself again.
「Come on, let's go!」
Maria nods her head "I...I understand," as Alexis urges her to go.
* * *
Alexis took Maria on a night walk through the town.
They could have gone to an ordinary restaurant, but it was already late in the evening when they were putting away their books. The only places open were those that served alcohol.
「Hmmm. What should I do?」
「I don't mind going anywhere. I don't mind drinking. You don't drink?」
「No, I don't mind a drink either.」
Is that right? Alexis thinks.
Maria is very wary of men. If he took her out for drinks, she might think that he has ulterior motives and not like him.
However, if she says it's okay, then it's okay.
「Okay, let's go in here, shall we?」
Finding a bar with reasonable food, Alexis pointed to it.
Maria nodded, so they decided to go there.
* * *
The bar was already crowded with ready customers.
All the tables were occupied, so Alexis took Maria to the counter.
It must be unusual for a quiet and ladylike looking woman like Maria to come to a bar—And for a moment, the customers in the vicinity glance at her.
「Welcome, customer. What would you like to order?」
The owner prepares a menu for them.
「We don't serve water for free. It's a place to drink」
「Yes, I know that.」
Alexis nodded and opened the menu list to show it to Maria.
Maria hesitantly asked for a sweet drink. It was a honey wine. She also ordered an omelette and grilled chicken.
「You're going to buy me a drink, aren't you? If so, I won't hesitate」
Maria whispered, and Alexis nodded.
「Yes, don't hesitate. Owner, I'll have a whiskey, water, and some meatloaf」
「Water? What are you going to do with such a modest attitude?」
Maria's voice is provocative.
「...Is it okay?」
In that case, he doesn't have to be so reserved.
So Alexis asked again for the rocks.
* * *
Maria was unusually talkative as she and Alexis chatted with each other, partly because of the alcohol.
She seemed to have a surprisingly strong drinking ability and seemed to be at ease without changing her color. However, she is drunk, judging from the fact that she talks a lot and does not show any caution toward Alexis.
That was Alexis' judgment.
Thanks to this, they were able to finish the meal without getting into a bad mood, which was rare.
Now, they leave the bar and enjoy the night breeze.
「...It's getting cold...」
Alexis murmurs, and something warm touches his arm.
Maria's arm is intertwined with his.
「Hmm... it's a little cold, indeed...」
She hugs Alexis' arm.
Alexis was a little nervous.
This is something she would never do in her normal life. She would never have voluntarily made contact with a man.
「Are you drunk?」
「Hmm... What do you think?」
「...I don't know」
I think she's drunk. And from that judgment, Alexis started to walk around the town at night.
The area was quiet, a complete change from the daytime. Few people pass by.
The scenery seemed lonely, in proportion to the size of the streets.
Staring up at Krangal Castle in the near distance, Alexis muttered.
「Let's go home.」
Then Maria blew up.
「Somehow...that's funny. That's weird. Why would you say we should go home after seeing the castle?」
「But... you're right. You're a prince. But it doesn't look like a prince」
Maria seems to be deeply moved. Is it because she's drunk?
「Let's go home...」
After saying this again, Alexis decided to take Maria back to the castle.
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