Well then, the progress after all that. Just where should I start?
First of all, it seems I completely collapsed there due to the utmost mental strain as well as my still unclosed wounds, and then I was taken to the White Lily Court. When I finally opened my eyes again in the medical office of the White Lily Court, I was surrounded by my parents, my brother, and my wet nurse. It was just like that incident when I was 9 years old, and I couldn’t help but be so confused, ‘what happened?’
My usually calm parents had their eyebrows raised; in contrast to that, my usually strict wet nurse was moved to tears, scolding me, 「Depend on others more!」 I moved my gaze to my silent brother, seeking help. He put on a soft smile on his face that is undoubtedly very popular with the ladies, and then, said, 「Please reflect on what you’ve done, Sister.」 How did he have the nerve to say that……. No, nevermind. There’s no way I was wrong for thinking ‘isn’t it fine to just stick up for me at least in times like this?’ Hey, brother, your sister is sad.
Apparently he sharply noticed my objecting gaze, deepened his smile even further and continued, 「Please calm down. I’ve already punished the person who should regret this even more.」 What was that? ‘What do you mean?’ I asked with my gaze, but he only smiled, saying nothing.
‘Just what does that mean?’ I internally tilted my neck in puzzlement when all of my family members reluctantly went home, saying, 「Visiting hours end.」 Lying on the bed, I looked at their retreating figures. With nothing to do, I absentmindedly leaned on my pillow, idly looking up at the white ceiling.
‘What happened to Lunamerie? What’s Celves doing?’ Even though I couldn’t know the answers to that despite how hard I thought about it, I couldn’t help but wonder.
With my eyes closed, what came to my mind was Lunamerie’s cloudless smiling face. Had she always wanted to kill me underneath that lovely smile, sweet as a violet flower? And not out of emotions like hate or loathing, but just because I was a simple obstacle in the way.
……I think in the end, she was just a child. An immature, childish kid that didn’t understand the difference between right and wrong, that didn’t know the importance of life. Just because she wanted it, she would try to take someone else’s life for just that reason alone. I can’t understand that heart of hers, and I don’t think I want to. But, even so.
「Am I too soft?」
Even though she made me go through all that, I couldn’t find it in my heart to hate her.
I mean, isn’t that right? Is there someone who can truly hate a child throwing a tantrum? At least, I don’t think she’s detestable. I just pity her. She probably wouldn’t want someone like me to pity her, she probably wouldn’t even understand why she’s being pitied in the first place. But even so, I can’t help but sympathize with her. The reason she was like that was because the people around her allowed her to do those things. The blame also goes to the people who didn’t show her the right path to walk on in the first place.
But that’s that. The many words she said to that man are the only things I can’t forgive. Certainly, his magical power towers above everyone else’s, and he possesses beautiful looks. But so what? That’s all there is. Besides that, he’s nothing more than a living human being. And he can’t be called perfect by any standards, he’s a human being as complex as a ring of tangled wires. But despite that, Lunamerie only looked at his appearance and said she wanted him. How could I accept that? It’s no joke. There’s no way I could have given him up.
Ah, enough already with talking so indirectly, I’ll say it frankly. In the end, it’s just that I didn’t want to hand him over, all the other reasons are just postscripts. I can do nothing but scornfully laugh at myself for being like this. No matter what anyone says to me, no matter what anyone does to me, right now I have no intentions to give up the right of standing beside that man to anyone.
I opened my closed eyes at the sudden voice that hit my ears. That beautiful voice, unusually filled with worry, so pleasing to the ear. I look there to see as expected, that gorgeous androgynous face, beautiful like a night fairy. There isn’t a single flaw on that perfect fac—……. Wait, what?
「Don’t shout, it’ll hurt your wounds.」
For a moment I doubted my own eyes. I blinked countless times, checking the face of the man standing beside me, but there’s no change. I instinctively tried to raise my body up but he stopped me; but I can’t be so easy going now. I forcefully manage to raise my upper body from the bed. My wounds hurt incredibly hard but it wasn’t the time for that.
「H-how can I not shout at this?! What happened to your face?!」
I was shaking so much I ended up stuttering. That’s how surprising it was. It was a shock.
Yes, on his face, his face that always attracted everyone regardless of gender, on that face was a scar as if he’d been hit. It looked too difficult to joke about, far too painful for me to laugh it off and say something sarcastic like 「You’ve turned into such a handsome man now!」 His left cheek seemed to have been hit, the left end of his lips were cut and bleeding. His cheek was clearly red, it seemed like it’d turn into a bruise if left alone. The man himself looked calm but it must hurt. Despite that, far from using healing magic – he hadn’t even put ice to it or anything, just ignoring it. Then, he sat down in the bedside chair, meeting my gaze and replying to my question.
「Fernan hit me.」
Shock attacked me for the second time. He said it like it was no big deal, but it was intolerable for me. The ‘Fernan’ he speaks of is my brother that was just in this room earlier. Was the 「punishment」 he spoke of, this? This man has above average skill in martial arts too, not just magic. So that means he simply resigned himself to his fate and took my brother’s punch.
「He said to me, ‘Were your wedding vows only all lies?!’」
My eyes widened at those words, I blinked. ‘Wedding vows.’
The typical so-called ‘wedding ceremony’ practiced in our country goes like this: standing in front of the idol of the goddess being prayed to in a temple, the man asks for permission from the woman, she grants it, and then they take their vows in front of the goddess. One of the vows for the man is 「I will protect you.」 I looked at him, ‘It’s that one, isn’t it?’ He wrapped both his arms around me, just tight enough not to hurt my wounds.
「Don’t look at me.」
I twisted my body in his arms, trying to look at his face, but he stopped me before I could. But even so, it’s human nature that if someone says not to look, you end up wanting to look even more. His arms tightened more but I forcibly separated from his body, looking up at his face. I couldn’t help but murmur, 「Oh dear!」 He tried to turn his face away from me but I forcibly aim it towards me, smiling.
「Oh you, what kind of a face are you making?」
That grieving face, as if he’d start crying any second. Even I knew it’s not because of the pain from being hit. I had much more serious wounds than him, but he made an even more miserable face. I couldn’t help but smile wryly. He really is such a hopeless man.
Then, I was the one that brought my face to his shoulder, combing through his glossy black hair with my fingers. It felt so good to touch, it made me angry. I’ve always liked touching his hair for so long. I half-close my eyes at the sensation of his hair smoothly sweeping between the gaps of my fingers, nothing’s changed even a little since we were younger. With my other hand, I clap his back.
「It’s alright, Edi.」
I snuggled closer to him, speaking as he gulped. ‘It’s alright. I’m alive, I’m here. I’m in none other than his arms. Hey you, you get it, don’t you?’ I slowly kept patting his back with those thoughts, when that warmth suddenly went away. He looked into my face, tenderly caressing my cheek. His deep, thick eyelashes bordering his sunrise-colored eyes faced downward; my smiling face was reflected in those eyes. He murmured:
At those words, I blinked once again, reflected in his eyes. He once again carefully embraced me, not trying to say anything else.
The apology he said, was it for using me as a decoy? Was it for how in the end, he left me alone and let me get captured by Lunamerie even though he said he’d be beside me? Of course, it’s not like I hadn’t thought about that.
Liar. I was scared. I really thought I might die, and what were you doing when I needed you the most?
When that thought crossed my mind, I really wanted to say it out loud. But watching the sight of him now, I couldn’t say a single thing. Well, how could I? If he had made any excuse, I could have freely blamed him. But he didn’t say anything like that, just obediently accepting anything I said. Just what could I say to him if he is being like this?
I remembered the words the leader of the knights said to me in that jail. He said that this man was against using me as a decoy until the very end. Then it’s fine. Just that is enough. But if I said that to him just like that, I’m sure he wouldn’t understand. Should I praise him for his faithfulness or curse him for being difficult, which one is it? As I thought about that, I gently separated myself from him.
From then onwards, I was going to try doing something really sneaky. If I didn’t ask at that time, he certainly wouldn’t listen to me. I was going to freely use this opportunity. Whether he heard the unspoken voice of my heart or not, he furrowed his brows dubiously. I smiled at him.
「Well now, Edi. I have a request for you, would you please listen to it?」
It was something I really wanted him to do for me at all costs. Something I couldn’t do with my power alone, I needed to borrow his power. Normally he would say something like 「It depends」 but this time was different. It really was so sneaky of me. It was a rather cunning act, if I do say so myself. Even though I knew that, especially because I knew that, I was going to say it there.
He silently urged me to go on, and I continued speaking.