Chapter 59 - Stoan Delegation
Estian made his way to the audience room. Cecile, who had arrived first and was waiting, got up to greet him. After getting the attendants to leave, he approached Cecile. “Why do you look like that?”
“I’m feeling nervous.”
When he thought about it, Estian did recall that Cecile was trembling in this manner right before meeting with his officials for the first time… though she was just fine after going inside the hall, as if she was never tense.
“Still. You seem more nervous than before?”
“But they’re foreign envoys. Last time I was facing officials of the nation at least, so I thought they’d control themselves somehow, but if something goes wrong this time, it’ll lead to an international issue…” Cecile trailed off.
“What, you were concerned about such a thing?”
“I do have that much common sense!”
Laughter fell from Estian’s lips at the sight of Cecile talking to him even as she shook. Why was it that she felt nervous about such a thing, yet she felt nothing of the sort toward him?
Kane had stood by Estian’s side so long he had grown accustomed to his presence, while Irene felt no fear due to their shared blood and so she could talk all she liked. Cecile, however, did not fall under either case, which was why he found it curious every time she acted so normally toward him.
Estian lifted Cecile by her waist before seating himself in a chair and placing her on his lap. They were so close that the warmth of their bodies could be felt through the thick clothes they wore. But as Estian pulled her in even harder towards him, feeling satisfied, Cecile burst out in alarm. “The dress will crumple!”
“Shouldn’t you be feeling surprised and confused first, in moments like this?”
“Because I’ve already grown used to Your Majesty doing this… so not really?”
It was understandable, seeing as Cecile knew best how much Estian had clung to her in the Empress Palace during the week following their wedding.
“Is that right? Then, shall I try something less familiar?”
“What are you going to do?” She asked cautiously.
His hands unhesitatingly climbed up her body and, startled, she slapped them away with audible force. “You can’t! If you want to do it, be patient until night!”
For the life of him, Estian could not figure out why she looked even prettier in moments like this. Had somebody else slapped his hands in such a manner, they would have already lost those limbs. He would not even lay his hands on them in the first place. The more he thought about it, the stranger he felt, yet for all that he was pleased. “What did you think I’d do?”
“Well, of course…!” Her words trailed off then and Cecile’s face burned red in an instant. She could not bring herself to continue, not in broad daylight. Estian took advantage of her hesitation to pester her hips with his hands again. He was rather pleased that she did not slap them away this time.
“And why do I have to be patient?”
Cecile found his question ridiculous, but still answered him. “Because the audience with the delegation will be starting soon.”
“And? What of it? It’s not even a problem to postpone the audience for an hour or two. I could put it off until tomorrow or next month if I so wished.”
“You’re right, but…”
“Shall I just do that? Truthfully, I don’t want to meet them. May as well say the emperor wants to spend more time with the empress and send them back on their way.”
“But then I’ll be the one taking the hate again,” she whined.
“So what? Isn’t that what we planned? It’s even better if you can gain some notoriety without having to do anything bothersome.”
It was indeed as he said. When Cecile flung the Aled of Leafy Woods in front of the officials, she felt like she was throwing her heart along with it.
It was a chance to easily gain some infamy without doing anything like that, but… why did she feel it so unfair? Cecile looked at the paper still in her hand. She figured she was upset because of all the hard work she put into memorizing its contents, yet her efforts seemed in vain now.
‘It’s not just me. Tania too!’ She also remembered how Tania was reading through a paper over and over to the extent of turning pale. Tania had tried so hard as well, so she could not turn all their efforts to vain in an instant.
It was then that the door to the audience room was abruptly jerked open without even a knock. Startled by the arrival of someone else, Cecile pushed Estian’s chest as hard as she could, resulting in her immediately falling onto… his arms.
“You surprised me. What were you thinking?”
“Forgive me, Your Majesty. The matter is that urgent.” Kane hurriedly bowed in apology at Estian’s reproaching words, but it was only then that Estian turned to him.
“Ah, Kane. I wasn’t talking to you so don’t mind it. Are you all right, Cecile? That’s why you shouldn’t have pushed at me.” Estian said, having just barely caught Cecile, who had almost fallen to the floor. After lightly taking hold of her waist with one hand, he pulled her completely into his embrace as if telling her not to move anymore, then turned his attention to Kane. “I won’t forgive you if the matter is of no consequence.”
“I am truly sorry for interrupting your good time, however…”
Normally, Kane would have said something along the lines of ‘I shall tell you later’ and taken his leave, but he did not go away even as he hesitated. Moreover, he was glancing at Cecile, not Estian.
Realizing that what Kane had to say was more important than he thought and that Cecile was concerned, Estian let her go with a discontent face.
“So, what brings you, then?”
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