Chapter 19 - It Was A Bit Strange
Cecile drew the words and lay there giggling, but then suddenly heard a low voice behind her. “What are you doing?”
She splashed water in surprise, which erased the words on the wall. Cecile looked back and cried out, “Your, Your Majesty! Ho-how did you come…!”
“Where in the imperial palace can I not come and go?”
“Ah, I see.” Realizing she had asked a foolish question, Cecile discreetly reached out to the side for a towel. She had taken a look at herself before entering the bathroom. Putting aside the marks on her body, her forehead, which she had slammed to the floor last night, had become bruised black and blue with a slight lump, to boot.
For some reason, she felt twice the embarrassment at the sight of the emperor standing proudly before her. She needed something to cover herself up with. But the moment her hand was about to grab hold of the towel outside the bathtub, Estian’s hand moved faster. He snatched the towel Cecile was going for and tossed it far away. She heard the towel strike a flower pot in the corner of the bathroom, tipping it over.
She did not know what wrong she had committed, but seeing the broken flower pot, she got the feeling of needing to beg for forgiveness, even if she had to make up a sin. Estian shook his head at her apology and said, “It’s fine. Next time, don’t cover up when you’re in front of me.
“I understand. But I really don’t have anything dangerous on me. The attendants checked me over before I got in.”
She remembered the conversation she had with the attendants before entering the bridal room the day before. She had asked, “Why are you putting me in nothing but these revealing clothes? Isn’t there anything that covers up a little?” And to that the attendants replied, in an elegant fashion, ‘Who knows what you’re hiding on you’, telling her firmly there were no such clothes available. This was what she thought the emperor was likely concerned about just now.
Cecile jumped up from the bathtub and held her arms high in an appeal to prove her innocence. Her breasts were revealed along with the sound of spraying water, but she had no mind for such things. She had shown every nook and cranny anyhow last night; what was the point in hiding now? Estian bit his lips upon seeing Cecile stand up, then he searched around for something; he spotted a large towel, which he picked up and tossed over Cecile. “Changed my mind. You can just cover up.”
He says one thing one moment, and another the next. Apparently, he had judged she was hiding nothing. Not knowing when the emperor’s heart would change again, Cecile quickly took the large towel he had given and wrapped it around her body before turning toward him. Suddenly, he reached out a hand. But when Cecile stepped back, startled by the abrupt movement, his hand stopped.
“I’m only trying to see where you were hurt. I saw the court physician waiting outside, but I thought it best to have a good look myself first.” Having said so, the emperor reached out his hand again. Cecile closed her eyes at the cool touch of his fingers on her forehead, a contrasting sensation to the heat she had felt inside the bathtub. If he ever squeezed her forehead with his monstrous strength, she would be saying goodbye to this world at that very instant. She was full of tension, but his touch was unexpectedly cautious and gentle.
“It’s become more swollen than it was in the morning. The bruise has worsened, too.” He mused.
Cecile could not figure out why the emperor was interested in her forehead, even as she listened to his muttering.
She had heard the attendants gasp at the sight of her body before she entered the bathroom. It seemed they thought the injury on her forehead was caused by the emperor as well. Well, she supposed, that explains it. He’d want to take a look, affronted by the false allegation. He was labeled a woman-beater out of the blues, after all.
“I’ll be going, then.”
“What?” Cecile grew wide-eyed.
“What’s the matter?”
“No, I was wondering if you had come because you had something to do…”
“I’ve done what I came to do.” His finger pressed ever so softly against Cecile’s forehead and finished, “All that’s left is to do some dicing.”
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