“Your highness,” Harris says as he rises. “Your highness, don’t you dare-”
It’s too late to stop him though. Derek is already standing.
“Just for a bit,” he says, batting away Harris’ hands when they reach for him. “I’ll stay within earshot.”
“How many times do I have to tell you,” Harris says, standing in the carriage as well and making a weak attempt at blocking the door. “It is not appropriate for a prince to go riding around the countryside on a horse by himself!”
“But I can ride on royal hunts?” Derek challenges, not bothering to look up from where he’s shucking his fine coat. Underneath he is wearing well-made but plain riding clothes. They are the only set of reasonable clothes he’d managed to sneak in his luggage this entire month-long trip.
“Royal hunts are different,” Harris moans, flicking his hand at Derek’s shirt in disgust. It may be a bit worn after a solid month of hard use. But it’s not Derek’s fault that Harris had threatened to throw them out enough times that Derek only let him clean it when Derek had the time to watch. “There are guards and you’re dressed properly and… guards! You need guards!”
“We have guards,” Derek points out, taking a moment to wrap a strip of cloth that he keeps for just this reason around his sword hilt. He is smart enough to know that riding through the forest with a jeweled hilt is asking for trouble. “Though they will just slow me down. They can stay here with you.”
“Your Highness,” Harris says. “Please, you know there have been reports of thieves in this area!”
“We’re only half a day’s ride from my uncle’s,” Derek scoffs. “And Peter hasn’t officially reported any thief problem to my mother so I’m sure that’s just a rumor.”