This is How We Live.

Lord Adal von Walde is older than Cecilie for over one hundred fifty years, his hair already graying at his temples. He served in the army with her father, a hero to the last great war, and very respected by most mazoku, which is the reason why Stoffel thinks that they make a great match.

Cecilie knows that she is too young to be the Maou, and she never paid enough attention to what her father talked about politics. Who was to know that her Maryoku would be enough, and that the Original King would call for her, and that barely two years after she was crowned, her father would die?

"Lord von Walde," she starts, letting go of his arms so that she can look at his face, even though she has to look up. But she corrects herself almost hesitant, the way she almost never used to be, back before she was queen: ".. Adal."

This is not the same thing as before, when she used to flirt with generals and soldiers at the parties before she was a queen to how it's now. She has to be aware of who might want to flirt with her just because she is the queen, and those who actually see her.

"I want to know... if I wasn't the Maou, would you consider this marriage at all?"

"No," he says honestly enough, blue eyes serious, which is something that Celi finds herself grateful for.

"Then, why are you asking for my hand?"

And then he smiles, just a bit. It's almost imperceptible, just the way his face softens and his mouth curves.

"Because, lady Cecilie... Celi. I think that you need a friend."

She takes a deep breath. Adal continues.

"I don't expect to rule. The Original King chose you, and I follow his command now and always. But if possible, I would like to be your support."

Celi finds her smile widening, and she thinks her heart might skip a beat or two.

"Would you like to have dinner with me, tonight?" She's not agreeing just yet, but so far, Adal looks much better than most of the proposals she has had for the past few months.

Adaln bows his head, a hand to his chest. "It would be my honor."

Gwendal keeps on looking down. His hands are fisted by his knees, and he feels like such a child for acting like this, but he can't help it.

"I know you miss your father," his mother says, her voice soft. She moves closer, puts an arm around his shoulder, and Gwendal allows her to embrace him. "Everyday I pray that he is able to see how handsome and smart our son is. And I miss him too, Gwen."

Lies,Gwendal doesn't say. He has always been aware that his parents marriage was a convenience one. He clenches his jaw, glaring at his fists.

"... why are you marrying a--" he changes his words at the last minute. "Why are you marrying him?"

He doesn't see at his mother's face, but he can picture the way her eyes would be a little sad.

"Because I love him," she says simply, no other declaration needed than that.

The human had grinned at him, when he met him the first time, as if he was telling him 'I'm here to stay'. He had called him 'son', which Gwendal might never forgive. His father has been dead for less than four years, and if that Weller thinks he will forget his father after such a short time, he's sadly mistaken.

"Gwen, I hope you can grow to like him," Celi ends up saying in a sad tone of voice.

Gwendal avoids huffing, but his fists tighten on his knees.

Bearbees will grow out of trees before he likes Dan Hiri Weller.

Conrad is old enough and his father has taught him enough to learn how to differentiate between a genuine smile and an artificial one. And since he turned thirty he has seen a lot of fake smiles directed at him from the people at the court, something that has to do with the fact that he decided to keep his father's name, rather than the Spitzburg's family name.

Whenever Fritz von Bielefeld, mother's beau, smiles at him, is with that artificial smile.

"Gwen, Conrad," their mother smiles, and she reaches to touch lord von Bielefelt's hand. "Fritz and I have something to tell you."

It's not, he supposes, about marriage. Mother has never made inquiries about the validity of her marriage with Dan Hiri, not even though Stoffel has told her that surely it has been invalidated by now. And her relationship with the younger von Bielefelt has caused more than enough gossip, for him to second guess what it is.

When he glances at Gwendal, he is frowning in the way that means that he knows what to expect and that he's not quite sure he likes it.

"I'm pregnant," Celi says. Conrad is surprised enough that he gasps. "In some months, you'll have a new brother or sister."

She hasn't said anything about marrying lord von Bielefelt. Conrad does his best to mask his surprise, and instead he smiles.

"... congratulations, mother. Congratulations, lord von Bielefelt."

Lord von Bielefelt looks at him with such a soft disdain that Conrad is sure that his mother hasn't noticed. Gwendal's eyes are cold, but he stands by his side, which make it a little bit easier for him.

Lord von Bielefelt smiles smiles, but his eyes still hold the same contempt.

A human. A human was to become their new king and lead them.

Lead them to destruction!

He dodges Edgar's sword easily, knocking the weapon from his hands with little to no problem. He glares at the soldier.

"You're not paying enough attention to your sword. If this was serious, you'd be dead by now. Again!"

And half the court acting as if this was a good thing. Günther, gushing about the wonderful, wonderful maou that the Original King had sent to them, a Dark One to lead them against the humans, as if this new king wasn't coming from a human land, if Weller is to be trusted on this one. Weller himself has been weird, twice as annoying as usual. Mother is happy that a perfect stranger will succeed her, instead of her son!

He can swear that only brother Gwendal remains sane on this topic, rejecting this notion as much as Wolfram does, if not as loudly. But that's okay. Gwendal just has to remain calm and he's sure that as soon as the half breed arrives, he will show himself completely incompetent and they'll manage to overrule even the Original King's command.

Because, quite frankly, if anyone is expecting that just because the new Maou is supposed to have black eyes and black hair he's going to accept him, they are sadly mistaken, and he's going to make sure they realize that.