How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom: Volume 10 (Premium), page 17part #10 of Realist Hero Series
“Hee hee! That’s the spirit, Hal!”
“Make sure you escort us well, darling.”
Kaede and Ruby kissed Halbert on the cheek from both sides.
“H-Hey...” Hal objected.
“Hee hee! Your face is bright red, Hal.”
“We’ll save the kiss on the lips for the main event.”
Halbert’s face felt like it was going to melt, so he shook his head.
Kaede chuckled as she watched him, but then something seemed to occur to her. “Come to think of it, Hal, there was a message from His Majesty Souma to everyone getting married this time.”
“From Souma?” Halbert cocked his head to the side.
Given that they were ruler and servant, it was normal for messages to come, but he didn’t understand why it would be restricted to those getting married.
Smirking, Kaede added, “Apparently, ‘Depending on the political situation in the north, the country may become quite busy going forward. Therefore, during this period of comparative calm, make sure you get on with the baby-making’... That’s what it said.”
Hearing the words “get on with the baby-making” from Kaede’s mouth, Halbert was so surprised that he took a step backwards despite himself.
Ruby may have been embarrassed, too, because her cheeks reddened.
While smiling wryly at their reaction, Kaede explained Souma’s intentions. “Those of us getting married today are the retainers His Majesty especially relies on. He’d like to avoid pregnancy or childbirth overlapping with any event that leaves him shorthanded.”
“R-Right...” Halbert said, his voice cracking slightly.
For a man who had been in the military, Halbert was awfully innocent about these sorts of things.
That was because, though it was normal for the seniors at the officers’ academy to take the younger men out to places where they could fool around with girls to blow off steam, Halbert had been with Kaede even back then, so, out of concern for how she would see him, he hadn’t experienced any of that.
Even when they were split up, with Halbert joining the Army and Kaede joining the Forbidden Army, his colleagues had known he had a cute childhood friend, so if he’d ever so much as looked lustfully at a woman, they would have reported him to her.
Naturally, his colleagues weren’t acting out of genuine affection for Kaede, but jealousy towards Halbert for having a cute childhood friend.
As a result, though, Hal had no experience playing around with women.
After Hal’s transfer to the Forbidden Army, they’d been together with Kaede again, so the situation stayed the same as back at the academy.
This was the reason that, for all his crudeness, Halbert was rather innocent.
Kaede approached Halbert, and said with upturned eyes, “I’ll do my best to fulfill my duties as wife. So, please, Hal.”
“M-Me, too... Okay?” Ruby hesitantly tugged on Halbert’s sleeve.
These two were so cute, they made him feel grateful, embarrassed, and... happy.
Halbert, with his face bright red, slapped his cheeks to reinvigorate himself.
Then, taking both of their hands, he walked towards the door.
“Oh, whatever! Wheat, gravel, bring it on! Hell, come with spears and arrows, too! If you think you can get in the way of my happiness now, just try it!”
Filled with emotion, Halbert couldn’t help but shout that.
◇ ◇ ◇
At the same time, in a different church in the capital, the former slave trader Ginger Camus and his former slave Sandria were having their wedding.
“Now, you shall swear your oath, in the name of Mother Dragon,” a priest intoned.
Under the watch of the teacher’s and research staff of Ginger’s Vocational School, where Ginger was the principal, and under the watch of Sandria’s family, who had been invited from the Empire, the two were about to say their vows.
“O Ginger,” said the priest. “Do you take Sandria to be your wife, and swear to share your whole lives, in times both good and bad?”
“I do.” Ginger gave a firm response to the priest’s question.
There was no sign of the usual, slightly weak-willed Ginger here now.
This was the result of his deciding: I need to be a man for today, at least. If I’m not, I’ll make Sandria uneasy.
The priest nodded, then turned to Sandria.
“O Sandria. Do you take Ginger to be your husband, and swear to share your whole lives, in times both good and bad?”
“...I do,” Sandria responded, tripping over her words a little bit.
The reason it had taken a moment for the words to come out was not because she was feeling tense, but because she was verklempt. That was because, upon hearing the part about their whole lives, everything that had happened so far was racing through her mind.
Her father being deceived and saddled with a debt. Her being sold off to this country as a slave to pay it. Meeting Ginger after she had given up on everything.
From there, things had gotten better and better, like when the rain suddenly lets up.
Being freed from slavery. Making it to this fine day where she was now Ginger’s wife.
“Now, seal your promise with a kiss,” the priest said.
The two turned to face each other.
“Lord Ginger... I’m so happy,” Sandria said, beaming.
Ginger said with a wry smile, “I’m your husband now. I think you can drop the Lord business, you know?”
“But... Ginger... no, that won’t do. It only feels right with the title.”
“Well, if that’s what you want to call me, so be it.”
“Would you prefer if I went all the way, and called you Master?” she asked. “You’ll be master of the house, so it doesn’t seem too out of place, right?”
“That makes it sound like I’m forcing you into some sort of roleplay, so stop it!”
Sandria chuckled at how earnestly Ginger was begging her.
In response, Ginger gave her a shy smile.
The former slaver and slave.
Ginger had always been in the higher position, but he had also always been the one being swung around. That relationship wasn’t likely to change going forward.
Ginger lifted the veil hanging over Sandria’s face. They stared into one another’s eyes up close.
Ginger spoke. “Even now, I remember your eyes from the time back when I was still a slave trader.”
“My... eyes?” Sandria stared blankly at him.
“Back then, you had this ‘It’s because I’m a slave’ look in your eyes, as if you had given up on the future entirely. I wanted to give you hope.”
“Hope... for the future, you mean?” Sandria asked.
“Yes,” Ginger said. “How am I doing? Can you imagine a bright future now?”
Sandria closed her eyes and meditated for a bit. Opening her eyes, she smiled and said, “There’s a big house with a big yard. You and I are living there. We have two children, a boy and a girl. Maybe we’re raising a large pet, too. That might be nice. I hear that raising animals is good for the children’s education, too. In that house, I wake up early to prepare breakfast, have the children wake you up when you sleep in, and then after all of us eat the meal I’ve made, our family holds hands and goes to school together. That’s what I imagined.”
Sandria’s story was eloquent. Ginger was taken aback by the amount of detail.
“I-Isn’t that a bit specific?”
“For me, it’s the happiest future imaginable.”
Standing on her tiptoes, Sandria planted a kiss on Ginger’s lips.
She was already able to imagine a bright future.
Ginger happily accepted her feelings.
◇ ◇ ◇
At the same time, in yet another church, Ludwin and Genia were in the middle of exchanging the kiss that sealed their vows in front of the priest.
Because of the height difference between the tall Ludwin and petite Genia, Genia stood all the way on the tips of her toes, and Ludwin leaned forward as far as he could for the kiss.
There were shrill cries from the ladies in the audience.
In among them were their fellow researchers, Merula the high elf, and Taru the engineer from the Republic of Turgis.
“Congratulations, Genia, Sir Ludwin!” Merula called.
“Congrats!” Taru added.
They congratulated the couple with raucous applause.
Incidentally, Merula’s keeper, the bishop Souji, was carrying out the wedding in the castle as a representative of Lunarian Orthodoxy. Because Merula was a wanted woman, having been declared a witch by the Lunarian Orthodox Papal State, and she couldn’t be allowed to appear on the broadcast, she couldn’t accompany him.
Well, even if she had been able to go, she probably would still have put her fellow researcher Genia’s wedding first.
Even Trill, who was attending the wedding in the castle as representative of the Gran Chaos Empire, had said she would be coming as soon as her responsibilities as ambassador were complete.
Because of the connections between all the houses involved in this multiple simultaneous wedding event, many families had to run back and forth from one ceremony to another. Though it was causing some confusion, the festive mood throughout the capital was turning even that chaos into a good time.
In the middle of that celebratory atmosphere, Genia pulled her face away from Ludwin’s and giggled.
“I knew it! You sure are big, Big Brother Luu. It makes kissing hard.”
“I’m on the tall side, sure. But I think how small you are has something to do with it, too, you know?”
“Hm... It seems I could do with some additions to my body to be a fitting wife for you. In terms of height, and... if at all possible, chest.” Genia laughed wryly at her disappointing physique.
Ludwin gently scooped Genia up in his arms. Genia cried out in surprise at suddenly being put in a princess carry.
“Uwah?! Big Brother Luu?! What’s this, all of a sudden?!”
“Well, I was just thinking the height difference makes it easier to do things like this.”
Having said that, Ludwin winked at the dumbfounded priest.
The priest snapped back to his senses, and turned to the attendees to say, “Here, a new husband and wife are born. I would ask all in attendance to go out in front of the church, and celebrate with them as they first go out the door.”
It seemed Ludwin wanted to leave the church with Genia in his arms.
The priest, picking up on that, was having the attendees leave the building, even though it was not the standard procedure. He would wait to greet them outside. He was quite the flexible priest.
Once the attendees filed out and only the three of them remained in the church, Genia looked to Ludwin with eyes that were, naturally, as a result of her position in his arms, upturned, and asked, “You’re sure you want to disregard protocol like that?”
“You’re the one always breaking established patterns, right, Genia? I just want to show everyone how cute my wife is. Let me let loose once in a while, too.”
Genia’s face turned beet red. “Big Brother Luu, you can be a bit mischievous at times, you know that?”
“You’re the one who incited me. By the way, am I still getting called Big Brother now that we’re married?”
“You’ll always be Big Brother Luu to me. I can’t change the way I call you now.”
“Well, fair enough. Okay... let’s go, Genia.”
Ludwin started to walk with Genia in his arms, and they passed through the church door together.
Once they were outside, the attendees stood on either side of the carpet, throwing wheat.
When Ludwin finished walking down the middle of the attendees, Genia threw the bouquet she was holding backwards behind her.
In this world, too, there was the superstition that the person who caught the bouquet would be the next bride. The bouquet sailed in a high arc, towards the women hoping to catch it.
Before it could touch down, one girl made a big jump to catch it.
“Sorry!” she called.
The bouquet was still about ten meters from the ground when it was snatched.
In the middle of the bewildered crowd, the girl who had caught the bouquet landed and bowed apologetically to everyone around her. Each time she bowed, her bunny ears shook.
“Sorry, sorry! The young master ordered me to catch it!”
“...What are you doing, Leporina?” Taru sounded exasperated.
It was Leporina who had caught the bouquet.
Leporina was supposed to have gone to the castle with Kuu, but it seemed he’d ordered her to come all this way just to do this.
With a troubled look on her face, Leporina handed the bouquet to Taru. “Urgh... The young master said, ‘It’ll be our turn next anyway, so let’s take it for ourselves.’ Oh! The young master will be coming here later, too.”
It seemed that Kuu couldn’t fully slip out of a ceremony where he was one of the guests of honor, either.
That must have been why he’d dispatched Leporina to catch the bouquet. And he apparently intended to slip away as soon as the royal ceremony was over.
“Master Kuu, honestly...” Taru accepted the bouquet, albeit with a wry smile.
Though she complained, she was using the bouquet to hide her mouth, which looked ready to burst into a grin, so she wasn’t entirely displeased.
Leporina was smiling, too.
Seeing that exchange between the next to be wedded...
“Is this what they call ‘sharing the happiness’?” Ludwin asked.
Genia grinned. “I’m not really sure if we’re the ones who shared with them, or they’re the ones who shared with us, though.”
Ludwin and Genia both laughed happily.
◇ ◇ ◇
“O-Okay, everyone, let’s toast! Yes.”
Meanwhile, around that same time, in the garden of the Poncho Ishizuka Panacotta mansion in the capital, Poncho was wearing a white tailcoat as he proposed a toast.
Poncho was dressed in his best clothes, but because of his rotund belly, his shirt looked even more stretched than usual.
Next to Poncho were a cool-faced Serina and a happily smiling Komain, both in dresses.
They had held their wedding ceremony in the morning, so Serina and Komain were already Poncho’s first and second wives.
“““Cheers! Ohhhhhhh!””” At Poncho’s urging, the attendees raised their glasses.
Then, in the next second, they all fell over one another in the rush to the tables covered with many large platters of food.
Because this was a party held by Poncho, widely revered as Lord Ishizuka the God of Food, all of the dishes were popular items from the Ishizuka’s Place cafeteria, and they looked delicious.
These Ishizuka dishes that normally only the night staff at the castle could eat were being presented in a buffet format. There was no way people wouldn’t crowd around.
More than that, though, Poncho was a rising noble, and many of the merchants he bought ingredients from wholesale, people from the marketplace, and members of the general public had been invited, too, so many were not concerned about appearances when racing for the food.
Even the knights and nobles, desperate not to have all the food snatched away, abandoned their shame to engage in pillaging the dishes, so of course it was going to be a riot.
As this war over the food unfolded, the brides and groom were left standing on the sidelines.
Despite all the noise, mysteriously the party wasn’t totally ruined.
On closer inspection, there were individuals smartly moving in among gluttonous guests.
“Roast beef is two slices per person,
“Madam, would you like something to drink?”
“The line for tatsuta chicken ends here.”
“There should be no fighting on this blessed day. Guests who cannot respect this will be asked to leave.”
They were all wearing butler or classical maid uniforms.
They deftly divvied out the food, served drinks, organized lines, and mediated when fights seemed likely to break out, all in an effort to minimize the chaos.
Their movements were truly professional. This was only to be expected. That was because they were a family that had produced many butlers and maids who served people of high status in the castle.
As he watched them at work, Poncho wiped away his cold sweat with a handkerchief. “Th-This has gotten incredibly boisterous, yes. If Serina’s family weren’t handling things, this would have been a disaster.”
The butlers and maids going around the event site were all members of Serina’s family.
They should normally have been here as guests, but they’d said that, by their nature, their house was better-suited to wait on guests than be waited on as guests, so they’d asked to be in charge of service at the party.
“I feel bad making Madam Serina’s family help out, too, yes,” Poncho admitted.
“Have no worries,” Serina said. “We take pride in our work as servants.”
Serina was as expressionless as ever, but there was a certain pride in the way she spoke.
“Even if we hadn’t asked, Father and Mother would have carried out the role of servants. They’re happily running around to all of the tables now.”
On the other end of Serina’s gaze was a gentleman in a butler’s uniform, carrying a tray with many glasses of wine on it with one hand.
It was Serina’s father. He would normally have been expected to sit quietly with the other relatives as the father of one of the brides, but he was moving around like a fish in water, carrying out the duties of a servant.
Watching Serina’s father, Komain smiled wryly. “My parents are gone now, but I’ve always assumed a father would weep for joy on their daughter’s big day.”
“Our work is our life in my family,” Serina said. “Because we’ve been educated for generations to put loyalty to our employer’s house first, we tend to put our own feelings second, or third, as we work. I’ve even been told I’m the most expressive member of the family.”