Sometimes, Gwendal really hated his life.
He had attempted three times to explain to His Highness, the Twenty-Seventh Maou of Shin Makoku, the significance of Big Shimaron's embargo on Shin Makoku carp, and yet, judging by the fashion in which His Highness had buried his face in his hands, the information had yet to penetrate his abnormally thick skull.
"Forget it," His Majesty muttered, slumping further down in his chair. "Just tell me if anybody tries to start a war over it. And remind me to never ask about how our carp reproduce again."
It was supposed to be Gunter's responsibility to educate their ruler about these things, not Gwendal's. Gwendal would wonder what in Shinou's name Gunter was doing instead of covering major topics such as trade laws, but he knew the answer to that all too well.
Gunter's idol worship of their Maou was downright nauseating. Gwendal didn't have much patience for romantic nonsense to begin with, and he most certainly had no time to hear Gunter enumerate the various aspects of His Highness that would be most suited for verse poetry. It was getting difficult to talk to his old friend now without being subjected to at least one passionate litany of their ruler's best traits.
It didn't help that Gwendal hadn't thought much of the Maou in the beginning. He wasn't bothered by His Majesty's half-human heritage in the way that Wolfram had been-- he simply questioned whether someone from another world entirely could possibly understand their traditions and needs as a nation.
It had been a rough start, but Gwendal's irritation died down as he was compelled to spend more time with the young man. His Highness was, without question, young, impulsive, headstrong and… extraordinarily kind and generous of spirit. Perhaps not the Maou that Gwendal had envisioned, but unquestionably a Maou that Gwendal could support.
His Majesty squinted at the next petition. For the most part he had progressed by leaps and bounds over the last few years when it came to reading and writing, but there were still moments when Gwendal felt like a tutor rather than an advisor. "Antidisesta- what? What is this word? Is this even a real word? Is this a petition from the committee of words that no one knows how to say?"
Gwendal sighed. "They are against the abolition of the worship of Shinou."
The Maou frowned. "So, in other words, they support worshiping Shinou?"
Gwendal glared at him, and His Highness shrank back in his chair. "Okay! Okay! I'll read the rest!"
He had plenty of time to learn, Gwendal reminded himself. The Maou was far from stupid. Stubborn, yes, and less than highly motivated, but once he understood the necessity of it, Gwendal was confident that His Majesty would buckle down and complete his studies.
And then perhaps Gwendal could leave him alone with the majority of the paperwork and take the time to focus on important things like his estate in Voltaire. And knitting that pig. Maybe once Gwendal got the time to work on it properly, Gunter would stop referring to it as a pink rhinoceros.
"I think we're for these people-- we agree with them, right, Gwendal?" His Highness asked hopefully, waving around the petition. "Okay, I'll sign it."
Yes, he did get there in the end. It wouldn't have been nearly as frustrating if His Majesty didn't always put off reading everything until it had piled up beyond reason, or if he didn't insist on taking time to consider each one, or the past few years hadn't been outrageously kind to his looks-
Where had that thought come from?
The Maou squinted at him. "Gwendal, you look funny. Do you need to go to the bathroom or something?"
Gwendal didn't even know how to respond to the question, it was so wildly off the mark.
"Oh, fine, you don't have to look at me like that. I'm reading, I'm reading. Hey, this one actually makes sense!"
When His Majesty's face lit up with a genuine smile, Gwendal had to privately admit that there was some merit to Gunter's praise (if not his verse). The Maou's features had become more clearly defined as he grew into adulthood, his stance more assured, his body more- no, Gwendal was not going to finish that thought.
His Highness, blissfully unaware of Gwendal's inner turmoil, signed the request in his peculiar Earth letters and put it on top of the others he'd successfully dealing with. His fingers closed on the next document as he surreptitiously counted the remaining papers under his breath.
There, Gwendal thought, focusing on the childishness of the action. See how young he is? He's emotionally slightly ahead of Wolfram. And there was no one Gwendal wanted his potential romantic partner to resemble less than his little brother.
"Oh wow, they're asking permission to make a baseball field in Wincott!" His Majesty said delightedly. "Gwendal, we've got to go out there and see it when they finish!"
"Your Highness has many other tasks that may take priority," Gwendal pointed out, though his heart wasn't really in it.
"Unless somebody's life is at stake, this is absolutely my priority," the Maou insisted. "You can look after things while I'm gone. Conrad will want to see it too, I'm sure of it."
The idea of putting such a frivolous item so high on the social calendar of a person of actual importance was ludicrous. Gwendal intended to say as much and rather unsubtly hint that there were crucial duties that His Majesty was shirking in favor of this pet project to introduce the Earth sport to Shin Makoku.
It was only that His Highness looked so sincerely pleased by the idea. It gave Gwendal the rather unwelcome thought that if he himself could make time for knitting, surely there was time to indulge the Maou.
"We'll see," he muttered. This was tantamount to a 'yes', and His Majesty well knew it.
His Highness pushed away from the desk, leapt to his feet and, before Gwendal could object, flung his arms around Gwendal. "Thank you! Don't worry, we'll bring back something cute for you."
Gwendal looked away, silently praying to Shinou's mercy that the Maou didn't notice how hot Gwendal's face was.
Sometimes, Gwendal couldn't decide if his life was wonderful or terrible.