Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
When I woke up the next day, the figure of the man which was supposed to be right next to me was already gone. I knew that he has his duties as the court magician as well as Klanven’s bodyguard, but I really wanted to see his face in the morning. Why couldn’t I get even this slight privilege as his wife?
I get changed into my maid uniform, go to the kitchen to make breakfast together with the palace’s cooks and then carry the food into Klanven’s chambers in the Red Rose Court.
Klanven is that kind of man who doesn’t eat all that much in the morning. He eats small portions, but I make sure that everything is fresh. While I was busy with setting the table for his meal, Klanven came out of his room, rubbing his sleepy eyes.
「Good morning, Your Highness.」
「Ahh, morning. You’re as early as ever, I see.」
Responded Klanven while sitting at the table and yawning, still rubbing his watery eyes. He wasn’t much of a morning person.
Still seeming to be half-asleep, Klanven claps his hands and says a short prayer to the Goddess, then he reaches his hand for the bread and puts it in his mouth. Personally, I thought that it was bad manners, but seeing how I spent a night with that man in one bed I think I’m in no position right now to criticize anyone on their habits.
Keeping that in mind, I pour the tea into Klanven’s cup, add some milk and honey and stir the mixture, putting it on top of the table. Klanven takes a sip and then praises it as usual.
「Filmina, about my tea……」
「There’s only a slight drop of milk in it. Just like you like it, Your Highness.」
「What’s this, you’ve already took care of that?」
「That is because today marks the final day of the preparations for the festival. You need your strength and concentration today more than ever. I can’t really do anything about your eating habits, Your Highness, but I can at least support you with a cup of tea.」
Klanven’s eyes glittered with joy as he brought his cup to his mouth. He then looked at his tea and resumed drinking it without any complaints.
「By the way, Your Highness?」
「Hm? What is it?」
Asked Klanven while raising his eyes from his cup, looking straight at me. I took a deep breath and opened my mouth.
「Why did you helped me out there, in the market?
「Now that I think about it, that was the first time we met, isn’t that right?」
He appeared seemingly out of nowhere back then, helping me out when I got mixed up in the turmoil that ensued in the market at that time. I would like to believe that he simply did that because he likes to help people, but that may have been just my opinion after spending some time together with him. The truth could be that he had no trouble with injuring his allies if need be.
To my words, Klanven closed his eyes, his long eyelashes casting shadows on his white skin. I thought he was just going to ignore me, but then he laughed shortly, and regained his composure.
「Honestly, I did help you out purely on a whim. You know, even I get in the mood to do some good deeds from time to time.」
「…… Is that really true?」
「That’s right. That is why you don’t have anything to worry about. 」
Hearing his words, I had no idea if they were true or not. I simply couldn’t grasp it. But still, I just lifted the hem of my skirt just a little and bowed in a show of gratitude.
「I may be a little late with saying this now, but thank you very much for helping me at that time.」
「It’s fine, really, nothing happened to you at that time, so no real reason to thank me.」
Klanven smiled at me and then laughed a little. He may have said that, but I was truly grateful. Thanks to him no harm came to me that day. So it was because he helped me out that I must never forget this.
「This is this, and that is that. I was able to take back my precious thing, so it made me really happy.」
「Fuhn. That bookmark, right?」
Klanven said while starting to eat his salad. He was having a hard time understanding how a simple thing like a bookmark could be considered “treasure” in my eyes, and I highly doubt he is ever going to understand. But for me, it was more precious than any kind of gemstone out there.
「…… Umm, I was thinking, wouldn’t it be a high time for you to return it to me? Of course, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up my duties as your caretaker, but……」
Certainly, it would be a good reward for all of my service thus far. However, to my desperate plea, Klanven smiled playfully, seeing just how much I cared for that simple item.
「No can do. But rest assured, once the festival is over, you are going to have it back.」
「Thank you so much for your kind words.」
Not good, not good. I was about to say something really rude there, but I stopped myself in time. That “No can do” was so annoying that I almost ground my teeth in anger. Sometimes that man was said such ridiculous things that I just couldn’t help myself.
In times like this, I can’t really help but to unconsciously touch the ring that was on my finger. Unlike the bracelet on my hand it didn’t contain any magic, but I could definitely feel a connection with that man this way. It was the same with that bookmark.
Klanven spoke to me, and I was brought back to reality. I realized that he was staring at the ring at my finger, so I let down my hand, trying to hide it.
「That ring, isn’t that the same ring that Agedilus has on his hand?」
The ring reflected in his eyes, I could hear Klanven mumble “Now won’t you look at that” with a surprised expression.
「Recently, there are more and more couples that want to exchange rings during their wedding ceremonies. It’s not really necessary, but we go out of our way and do it for those who really want to do it. We are really working to meet the demands of our devoted believers.」
Even though Klanven said that as if it was the most annoying thing in the entire world, I could see in his eyes that he was really quite happy about it.
I didn’t really think that this trend would even spread around like that. I felt as though I wanted to apologize to him for some reason, even though there was nothing for me to apologize to him for. It’s not as though it was my fault. I thought that, but there was no way I was ever going to say that out loud.
Instead, I summon my neutral expression on my face as I pour another cup of tea into Klanven’s cup.
「I’m sure it’s because everybody wants some proof nowadays.」
「Yes. After all, love is something that cannot be seen with naked eye, huh? So it’s small wonder people want proof of it. And that proof can also be a testimony of affection…… And if that testimony is sold, something you can touch, it can really help to ease your worries, right?」
「I don’t want to think that affection between two people is something that needs to be physically proven, but I want to believe that it is real nonetheless.」
Klanven took a sip of his tea and this time around I was the one to laugh, because some of his reasoning was seriously twisted and convoluted.
「Because you believe, you cannot help but to feel uneasy.」
「Hmm? Does that mean you feel uneasy as well?」
「Me? Yes, of course I do.」
I might be his wife, but there are also some days when I can’t help it but to feel anxious. Every time there is another woman right next to Edilka-sama, I start to feel worried and unsure, wondering if I really deserve to be the wife of someone as wonderful and magnificent like Agedilus Von Lancent.
「I believe that the ring symbolizes that the love is being reciprocated, not symbolizing the idea of love itself. It doesn’t really have to be a ring, but it could be anything that shows that the other party is thinking of you. So it can really be whatever. As long as it shows the affection you are being graced with, that is more than enough.」
In that sense, the bracelet would be more than enough of a symbol, but it was me myself who wanted the ring. It was my way of knowing that my husband was really loving me.
I touch the ring again, as if wanting to make sure that it was still there. It was slightly slippery and warm from my own body temperature. Klanven looked at me in astonishment.
「When I look at you right now, you somehow remind me of my mother.」
As I stared at Klanven, he took the old and worn out pocket watch from inside of his pocket.
The silver watch reflected the sunlight. You could tell that Klanven was taking great care of it. And also there was that emblem. Only members of the royal family were permitted to wear the rose emblem on their personal belongings.
「This is something that my father once gave to my mother. Even though she could have sold it to gain some money quickly, she never chose to do that.」
A present given to Klanven’s mother by a former member of the royal family. In other words, it was something of great sentimental value to Klanven, a memento of his family perhaps. Then Klanven spoke in a voice that was unusual for him.
「I really hate myself, you know? I’m staying here in this palace, whilst I don’t even know where my mother is at the moment. I cannot go back to my home and I have nowhere else to go. I’m truly a despicable man who only brings grief to the women he loves.」
「…… Do you honestly think that?」
Even though his smile was as gentle as usual, his eyes looking at the watch’s surface were full of sorrow and loneliness. Although I couldn’t be sure, I think I know what was going through his head at the moment. Then Klanven’s eyes slowly turned towards me. I smile back at him, which caused some of his usual gentleness and mischief to come back to his eyes.
「I don’t think that your mother would think of you like that, Your Highness.」
Klanven looks at me with surprise, and urges me to continue with his gaze. I do just that.
「Surely, leaving the house at a young age to be taken in as a Priest into the Temple was an unfortunate turn of events, but wasn’t it your mother who managed to raise you in such a way that you’ve managed to get by on your own, Your Highness? I am sure that your mother must be proud of you and would like to hear about these days you’ve spent away from home.」
–––– Why am I even talking about it? I know nothing about Klanven’s previous life, and I never really asked him about any of it.
I realize that I was overstepping my boundaries by saying something like that. In fact, the light that was shining in Klanven’s eyes was strangely cold, as opposed to his normal gentle and warm one.
Maybe I really shouldn’t have said that at all. Even if it was Klanven, there surely must have been the topics he would like to not speak of. Sure, I had no idea about Klanven’s relations with his parents, however, I do believe that the way in which he was treating his pocket watch spoke volumes about that. It was well maintained and carefully polished, so he must have held his mother and high regard and cared about her deeply. Not everyone would be able to think about their mothers like that.
「As I said before, “no matter the object, it’s the feelings that counts”. This pocket watch can be the proof of the love between your mother and your father, but don’t you think you can be that proof as well?」
That is why I think Klanven kept the pocket watch with him this whole time, and why he was still trying to find the whereabouts of his mother.