I walk with Isabella into the ballroom. While I would rather be working I understand it is required for me to attend our Independence Day. The guests constantly come up to compliment me on my uniform. Something about our design industry being the best in the world.
I have to hold back from informing them it is based on the Allonian style.
“I see you have been well.” I look to see Giovanni greet me. I try my best to smile at him but I admit that I am fooling nobody. Perhaps I am fooling the Allonian diplomat but that is merely because he can’t understand Arrian facial expressions.
Isabella chats with her father for a short while before I pull her on the dance floor. A small hole seems to dig itself inside my stomach. “You seem to have improved the last time we danced. I remember you not being a good dancer.”
“I hadn’t practiced in years.” I simply say. My face doesn’t show just how happy I am at the compliment. Matteo had been teasing me about my dancing for a while now. The only small reprieve I got was when I sent him away to Ante.
The song finished and I walk off the floor.
“You two looked splendid. Perhaps you will save a dance for me later.” Rosa gives a small curtsy. I look beside her and see a small boy with Giovanni’s face. My eyebrow twitches. “Perhaps you wouldn’t mind watching him while I dance with Giovanni?”
“It would be my pleasure.”
I look down upon the rascal. While the judgment might be unfair, to a kid of his age that I have hardly met but he is Giovanni’s son. He looks up to me in wide eyed idealism. It is almost too blinding for me.
“Brother Michael?” Leonardo asks tentatively. Almost as if testing the water before he goes into it. I look at him deciding how to respond. One shouldn’t be punished for the actions of their father.
“Yes?” Upon hearing my response Leonardo begins to perk up. He gives me such a smile that I almost forget whose child he is. I seem to have given him the desired response.
“Do you... really have the Imperial Sigil on your back?” His question causes me to raise my eyebrows. While I know he is referring to my birthmark I don’t like where this is going. I simply nod my head. “Can I see it?”
“This is hardly the time or place for that.” I can hardly contain my laughter. This kid wants to have the Emperor strip in public so he can see a simple birthmark. “Do you see the flag?”
“That is exactly how my sigil looks, minus the crown.” Leonardo gasps in awe. He then bombards me with a wave of questions. It seems as if the more he asks the faster he asks them. I try my best to answer each and every one but the speed causes me to struggle.
“... Brother Michael, is it true that you can lift a boulder?” I merely nod my head. I feel as if the only thing stopping him from hugging me is the fact we are in pubic. I had thought him to be shy at first but I now understand he takes after his father. He is quite gregarious.
My eyes move from Leonardo towards Isabella. She is walking over in a huff. It seems she has been going around the ball in an attempt to find her younger brother. “I hope he hasn’t been too rude.”
“It is fine.” I reply before sipping my wine. I hardly meet any kids within the palace and therefore the experience has been refreshing. It isn’t often that one can talk to somebody without any hidden intentions when they are the emperor.
“Leonardo, do I need to teach you how to act in public? You cannot be rude to the Emperor, understand?” She scolds Leonardo. I look down at the kid to see him hanging his head.
“Brother Michael didn’t mind me asking questions.”
“That is no-wait, brother Michael?” Isabella stops mid-sentence upon realizing the term that Leonardo has been using to address me. To his credit he just nods enthusiastically. “You called the emperor by his name?”
“Of course, he is family. He is married to you and thus he is my brother!” I almost spit out my wine. That is an oddly simple way of seeing things. Isabella begins to scold even harder than before but I get lost into thought.
I have never once heard her call me by name. I start to imagine her calling me Michael. Though I doubt it would ever happen it seems like one of those sweet dreams people talk about. I can’t really understand, most of my dreams are either peaceful or bad.
When will this ball be over? I have plenty of better things to be doing at this moment. I guess I will have to resign myself to simply work harder tomorrow. The song stops and people begin to leave the floor. It seems Rosa and her husband will be joining us soon.
Perhaps I can escape to a balcony.
A/N: Michael is pretty isolated. Both Luca and Matteo are older than him but relatively similar in age. He doesn't really have friends or family. All of his family are potential threats to the crown, all of the people he knows are potential threats. That is why the closest thing he has to a friend are members of his royal guard.
Leonardo is a small character, he won't play any real role until perhaps later in the book. 3 chapters before more is revealed about Michael's magic, it is a small reveal. Nothing too exciting about it.