In the sofa corner of the living room, a golden-haired girl crossed her arms and had a troubled expression.
“Your Highness, how is it that you spread your ribbon like that?”
Lilia couldn’t help but ask with a smile at the too-cute and reluctant face.
The crown princess she serves, Arthirea, recently celebrated her thirteenth birthday. It’s very cute to see a girl who is more mature than her age, perhaps because she is already married, pondering her thoughts and looking absent-minded. It makes the viewer want to smile.
“Yes…I’m trying to decide which ribbon I want to wear.”
The ribbons that Arthirea uses to tie her hair is spread out, invading not only the low table, but also part of the sofa she is sitting on.
Normally, everything is neatly ironed and neatly rolled up and laid out, but today they are spread out, filling the table and sofa.
“Are these the ribbons for the day?”
Today, Arthirea’s braided side hair was held in place with an enamel hair clasp that formed the shape of a lily before hanging down. Perhaps she didn’t like the fact that the motif of the hairpiece was a lily.
“Don’t you like the hairpiece?”
The royal flower is the Rosephilia, and the lily is the flower of Feldie. Arthirea has little to do with the Feldies.
“Nope. Not really.”
Hmmm, Arthirea is worried again, picking up various ribbons and looking at them, closing her eyes and imagining something, then tilting her head and nodding.
Some are simply dyed in one color and one color only, while others are dyed in advance and then woven to a specific thickness. All of them are quite expensive, and there are a few items in Arthirea’s possessions that cannot have a price put one it.
For example…the white winter ribbon near Her Highness’ hand over there…
The base is a shiny white silk taffeta, with beaded embroidery of snowflakes. This embroidery was specially done by the Countess of Alderia, a well-known embroidery master.
Snowflakes are a very popular motif, so everyone wears trinkets and clothing with this pattern in the winter. However, this item for Arthirea is made of white thread and transparent beads on a white background, so at first glance, it looks like just a white ribbon, but under the light, the embroidery sparkles like diamond dust.
I say “beads”, but it’s true that they are not just normal beads, but actually diamond beads…
It is laden with multiple tiny diamond beads that the artisans made for cutting practice.
If it wasn’t His Royal Highness the Crown Prince who had it made, I’d ask what kind of an idiot would make those things.
Of course, it doesn’t look like just any ribbon…It’s worth a price that makes Lilia doubt the sanity of the human beings who made it, but of course Arthirea didn’t know that at all.
And because the Crown Prince only said they were ribbons…I don’t think the princess would ever think those beads were diamonds…no matter how famous the Reefid lineage is for their jewelry.
Her husband, Crown Prince Nigel, may not have intended to give her anything so expensive, but he seems to always want something worthy of Arthirea, and tends to put too much effort into it every time.
If Her Highness was a selfish girl, the nation’s treasury would be tipped.
Arthirea is a girl who does not have a strong interest in dresses or jewelry.
She loves beautiful things, but she is not very possessive. She takes special care of this ribbon because it was given to her by the Crown Prince, and it is an item she was told would look good on her.
The Crown Prince seems to be looking forward to how many things he can give her when she comes of age. When Arthirea comes of age…In other words, when the ban on giving jewelry is lifted…it was both funny and scary to think of how much the crown prince would give her.
“…What do you think of this?”
Arthirea picked up a thin black and silver striped ribbon. When she put it on, it emphasized the sharp impression.
“It’s neat and nice, but if it’s Your Highness’ attire for today, wouldn’t it be this one?”
Arthirea’s gown today is a slightly pale orange, and to match the earth’s color, Lilia picked up a ribbon with an orange rose embroidered on a white background. While giving the impression of being slightly sweet, the precision of the embroidery gives it a pretty look that is not too sweet.
“That’s a little…”
“Then how about this one?”
I pick up the one on the couch and recommend it. It’s a modern piece of ultra-thin black chiffon with a square pattern stabbed in gold thread.
“…Wouldn’t it be strange for a man to wear that?”
“What? It’s for a man?”
“Yes, that’s right…Oh no, Lilia, you didn’t hear me, did you? You see, I’d like to give it to His Highness…I’d like to make a ribbon that matches His Highness.”
“The same as the Crown Prince?”
Arthirea laughed unbendingly. It’s a smile that says she doesn’t think her wish will be refused at all.
…As expected of Her Royal Highness!
No one in history has ever asked that Crown Prince to do such a thing before.
“…Then, Your Highness, it’s a bit flashy, but wouldn’t it be better with this one?”
Lilia recommends an item with a scripture verse stitched in dark blue thread on a golden background.
“…Isn’t that too flashy?”
“It’s a scripture to pray for the blessing of the Mother Goddess, so there’s no problem.”
Although she said so with her mouth, Lilia also thinks it’s somewhat flashy. And since he is a crown prince who doesn’t like that kind of glitter very much, it’s assumed that he’ll reject it.
…But if…If His Royal Highness the Crown Prince accepts this, that means he has a soft spot for and will be quite sweet to Her Royal Highness.
“What’s wrong? Lilia.”
“No, it’s nothing.”
Lilia smirked with an innocent look on her face.
The next day, wearing a dark blue silk taffeta gown that matched the ribbon, Arthirea picked up the same ribbon, slightly wider than the one she had tied, and went to morning tea time.
Lilia, who had gone to the trouble of picking her up, couldn’t help but feel her cheeks loosen when she saw Arthirea not only tying it, but also tying the ribbon that Nigel would have originally used, on her left hand.
Oh, there’s no doubt about this anymore.
Moreover, the knot was almost loose, so she re-tied it back in her hand.
Tying your own ribbon is obviously the same as saying they’re yours!
Had there been other maids and attendants, they would no doubt have sought each other’s consent and shared this unspeakable sweet feeling.
Moreover, this would have been an exchange of their own beloved items.
It would be a great way to show how well they got along.
There is no doubt that they are close to each other without needing to appeal to each other, but if they don’t appeal to each other, they will get unwanted side effects.
This is a matter that should be spread to various places secretly and quietly.
“Well then, Your Highness, tomorrow I’ll wear a gown that matches this ribbon you gave me.”
As usual, Nigel had few words, but he wouldn’t be in a bad mood because he would come all the way to see her when he left.
When Nigel is with Arthirea, he doesn’t have that usual smile for the public, and he tends to be rather quiet.
But Her Highness knows when he’s in a good mood today, or if he is smiling.
Apparently there are some things that only Arthirea can understand.
Come to think of it, I remember Phil-Lynn saying that too…
He is Nigel’s foster brother and childhood friend. She remembers the face of the most trusted confidant, the consul.
Phil-Lynn, former apprentice retainer to the Crown Prince’s Palace and now acting householder to Her Highness Princess Arthirea of the Rear Palace, often visits the corner of the Rear Palace where Arthirea is temporarily residing, taking advantage of his ever-present, half-human title.
Most of the time, it’s a confirmation that Arthirea is spending time without any problems, so he often just exchanges light information with Lilia and the other female ladies-in-waiting before leaving.
Phil has often said that Arthirea was special to Nigel, and he was certainly right about that.
Although there’s definitely a difference in appearance…
But looking at the two of them when they are having a conversation, it seems there isn’t much of a difference between them on the inside.
“Hey, Lilia. For Nigel-sama, don’t you think that was a good fit? These ribbons still look better on Nigel-sama.”
Arthirea gently touched the ribbon that tied her hair, which was a bit narrower than Nigel’s.
“It can’t be helped, as the gold in the ribbon would be outshone by the color of the lustrous hair of Her Highness.”
“That’s not the case…But Nigel said he also liked the matching ribbons, so now he’s going to have it made in a forbidden color, which is typical for Nigel.”
Knowing that such extravagance sustains the lives of those who make it, Arthirea doesn’t say anything unless it’s too much.
I don’t think it’s the ribbons that he likes, Your Highness.
What Nigel said he liked was the ‘matching’ ribbons.
If the color of the matching ribbon is forbidden, the person who gave it is obvious. Personal belongings…Giving each other matching items to wear and use together on a regular basis…It gives one an extra strong sense of the fact that Arthirea is exclusive to Nigel only.
On the contrary, it’s sweet to the point of being dizzy (*** The word used in japanese is “derodero” which doesn’t really have an english translation. I think it means something along the lines of having trouble keeping conscious or on one’s feet, or etc. Not too sure, but this was the closest translation I could get to.)
It’s more sweet than Lilia expected…on the contrary, it’s a few steps higher.
“Which colors do you think Your Highness would have them make ribbons for, the Crown Prince’s forbidden colors or the King’s?”
“Hmmm, I wonder which…both colors would look good with my hair color so…maybe both. A stripe or checkerboard square would work with both…But it might be difficult because His Majesty the King’s gold color changes the warp and weft colors.”
…I’ll share this information with Phil-Lynn later.
What information would she extract in exchange for it?…Lilia began to make some bullish calculations as she smiled at Arthirea.
Nigel’s unrelenting mood when he returned to the office made the aides there think that something was wrong.
His gait was light, and he didn’t sigh or look unpleasant when he saw the pile of document boxes on his desk while he was away.
None of them have said a word, but their hearts are undoubtedly the same for all of them.
Unfortunately, Phil-Lynn, who normally takes the initiative to plunge into the minefield himself at times like these, is away.
Raymond noticed it.
And now that he had noticed the mood, he couldn’t help but ask.
“…Um, Your Highness.”
As he calls out to him timidly, Nigel gives him a cold look, which is his normal style.
He doesn’t feel the need to treat his aides as the gentle Crown Prince, nor does he feel the need to be affectionate at all.
Raymond, who is not so well thought out as to think that his heart is allowed to do so, gets a little frightened every time.
“…The ribbon is different than it was earlier.”
The situation of changing ribbons is often somewhat colorful.
The reason is that untying your hair is directly associated with a nighttime bedchamber.
“…Because Luthia wanted a matching ribbon.”
Nigel calls his young wife by her own unique name, Luthia.
Everyone knows that the sound is very soft and somehow sweet.
The young princess is the only one for His Highness Nigel’s.
“That’s it…It suits you, Your Highness.”
Envisioning a smile, Raymond smiled warmly.
Everyone was relieved to see that Nigel’s good mood was due to an abnormal situation.
“…What happened to the original ribbon?”
Suddenly Nigel smiled a reminiscent smile, and then said,
“I tied it to Luthia.”
“What?…To Her Royal Highness?”
“Yes…on that wrist.”
A laugh and a small smile.
For some reason, a shiver runs down my spine.
“…Is this something that should be called a monopoly?”
No one had any words to reply to those muttered words.
Perhaps Nigel wasn’t looking for anyone’s response either.
Since she seems to like matching ribbons, I’ll have several made. Let me choose a good workshop.”
His voice flips over.
“…A workshop, is it?”
“Yeah. I’d like to have them make something elaborate. Whatever you need, just throw it to Phil. When I had him make something for Luthia last time, he had a couple of workshops to choose from.”
In the world empire of Dardinia, aristocratic engagement was established by tying matching ribbons together in the public eye.
In an empire that was annexed to several countries and territories, the need for a common law was urgent, especially in Dardinia, where the law of marriage and the preceding betrothal was considered important due to the strict rules of inheritance.
The origin of this betrothal ritual is said to have originated from His Majesty Nigel and Princess Arthirea, but there are no anecdotes to attest to this, and the custom is no longer explicitly documented in the current laws of the Empire.
However, in honor of the couple, who are said to have had a close relationship, the custom has now spread to the general public.
When I asked my wife to marry me, I also prepared an elaborate matching ribbon to the extent that I could.
I couldn’t prepare special ribbons of such high quality as sewing jewels on them, but my wife received them with a smile and wore them.
More than a quarter of a century has passed since that day I asked her to marry me, and our marriage has overtaken that of His Majesty Nigel and Queen Arthirea.
I don’t know if I was indebted to the king and queen, who are still said to be so close to each other, but my wife still keeps that faded ribbon in a safe place, and I still remember the joy I felt at the moment I saw her wearing my ribbon, and the trembling fingers of her as she tied it around my wrist.
It’s strange, but no matter how badly we fought, remembering it soothes my heart.
I feel that it was at that moment, not when I registered my marriage, that I was imbued with the awareness of a husband to my wife.
His Majesty Nigel and Princess Arthirea, who line up in the scrapbook cards and portraits that remain today, are almost always depicted wearing similar matching ribbons.
Many of the individual portraits and cards of His Majesty Nigel, who is said to have had a difficult disposition, seem somehow cold, while the ones depicting him and Princess Arthirea together always seem to have a softer expression.
And in every portrait or card, Princess Arthirea is always smiling at her husband beside her.
For posterity, we are taught or made to think about what happiness means to a couple by the radiant smile of that young and beautiful queen.
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One thought on “Story 14: Ribbon of Happiness”
No one commented that he said his marriage is more than a quarter century pass (25+ yrs) and it’s overtaking Nigel+Luthia’s?