“Lord Weinberg, might I have a few moments of your time?” Princess Euphemia smiled pleasantly as she waited, patient in the knowledge that her target knew her words to be an order, not a request.
Gino had been waiting for such a moment to come around sooner or later. “Of course, Your Highness.”
The serene silence between them as they made their way to a more secure area was a heavy weight upon Gino. Princess Euphemia was a genuinely nice and pleasant person to be around, but few crossed her even among those who feared neither Euphemia’s sister nor her knight. Due to her charisma - an open mind and welcoming heart - Princess Euphemia was surrounded by allies that either never realized or never cared that they were within her perfectly manicured grasp.
Despite being one of the Emperor’s own knights, Gino had no desire to anger this particular princess. She was, after all, the one who held the loyalty of a woman beyond compare. And there was no surer way to kill the fragile connection between himself and Lady Stadtfeld than giving insult to her princess.
Euphemia knew she was on thin ice. If Kallen ever found out about this- Well, her knight was not the most even-tempered of people, no matter how she tried to hide it behind aloofness and frigid manners. Though Kallen would forgive her eventually, any crack in the trust between them would be an opportunity for their enemies to gain a foothold. And Euphie so wanted to keep their bond free of anything that might taint it.
But this Knight of Three had managed to carve out a place within her knight’s heart. Not an easy feat, by any means; Kallen had defenses that even now Euphie had yet to touch upon. Gino Weinberg was not a factor Euphie could afford to ignore, not with her own plans still so easily crushed in these early stages. And he was one of the Emperor’s knights.
The hall of portraits was open enough to keep at bay any scandalous gossip due to their proximity, yet secure enough for Euphemia’s purposes. Any other day, the play of colors and shapes upon canvas would be enough to enchant her. Any other day.
Without turning and with her eyes focused upon colors of the sky, Euphemia broke the silence.
“You have spent a good deal of your free time around my knight of late.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“I don’t have to explain to you, who are a knight yourself, just how important Kallen is to me.”
“…No, Your Highness.”
“Then I want you to understand this one thing.” Euphie turned, eyes bright and fierce as they met Gino’s own. “Keep these words close to heart and mind, if nothing else.
“You both have your own duties and your own loyalties. But if, in fulfilling those obligations, you exploit this bond between Kallen and yourself… I will not hesitate to turn any harm done back upon you with interest. No matter whose knight you are. Am I understood?”
Gino was not an easy person to rattle. He couldn’t be, not and still retain his position as Knight of Three. But there was something about the way Princess Euphemia looked at him. Her stance and gaze were so keenly intent, sharp; somewhere between protect what is mine and these lines will not be crossed. There was really only one response to her words; Gino knew that the princess would somehow sense any falsity in his reply. Truth was the only feasible option.
“I understand, Your Imperial Highness Princess Euphemia li Britannia.”