Chapter 92 - Making Up
Cecile stared at Estian, then asked, “About what?”
“What are you sorry about?”
According to custom, Cecile should’ve prostrated and humbly urged the emperor against uttering such words; to begin with, it was a sin to have the emperor apologize. Of course, she didn’t have the slightest intention of following custom. Cecile remembered the advice she’d received long ago from a maid at her royal villa in Navitan.
“Princess, there is something you must bear in mind for later when you are old enough to have a relationship.”
“What’s that?” Cecile already had a pen and paper out, ready to diligently take notes.
The maid continued with a solemn face. “If you have a quarrel with your lover, he might say ‘I was wrong.’ When he does so, you mustn’t let it end there with an apology, but instead ask this…”
“Ask what? What is it?” The young Cecile had questioned.
“Ask whether he knows what he did wrong. If your partner is the sort of man who talks back, declaring, ‘I apologized, what more do you want?’ then…” The maid wore the gravest and most austere expression. “You should ditch that swine, on the double, and break it off cleanly.”
In response, Cecile had nodded at the maid’s resolute and somber counsel, as she jotted down and bolded every tidbit of advice. Now in the present, she gazed at Estian with an anxious heart. He had apologized, and going by his standards that alone was a huge offering of kindness. ‘Will he ask what more do I want and get angry at me?’ Cecile contemplated what to do next. ‘If so, how am I supposed to break it off cleanly? Is that even possible?’
While Cecile was brooding over a way to break it off cleanly with an emperor, she felt a hand gently caress her face; Estian had reached out to wipe away the tear marks near her eyes and on her cheeks. He draped a cloak around her shoulders, which enveloped her with a light flutter. Cecile had been so incensed that she hadn’t noticed the cold; it was only after she was covered that she began shivering. “I’m sorry that I kept you in the dark. I should’ve explained everything,” Estian began.
“I should’ve explained everything to you the minute you dashed over like that… I made you act first without consideration of your feelings because I wanted to end things quickly.” Estian regretted the choices he had made; his attitude had been too lax, even though he could guess what had driven Cecile to rush to the banquet hall. He assumed that she would trust and understand him, which was why he had simply instructed her to attack Princess Yuliana. Seeing how Cecile had done an excellent job of following along with the script, he’d assumed she had fully grasped the situation.
“I am very sorry. It was my fault. I’ll make sure nothing like this ever happens again.” At these words of apology, Cecile began to shed tears once more. Estian was visibly at a loss upon seeing her resume crying. “Cecile?”
Cecile had feared that Estian would react with an irritated attitude. She was clueless about what she should do if he had. Breaking it off cleaning was easier said than done; how could she get away when she was the empress? More importantly, she didn’t want to. Regardless of what Estian thought of Cecile, to her, he was her husband; the very family that the maids of the royal villa had said she would make.
* * *
“Do you feel a bit better now?”
“… Yes.” Cecile’s eyes were swollen, and her voice was hoarse. She looked terrible from all the crying. Cecile hung her head low. The heat from warming her body in hot water rose towards her face. Though, it wasn’t just from the hot water. Cecile took a slight peek behind her.
“What’s the matter? Did I pull your hair?” Estian was sitting behind her, toweling her hair dry.
“Let me do it,” Cecile said. ‘It’d be fine to just call in the attendants…’
“It’s fine. I’ll do it, so just stay still.” Estian had taken the sobbing Cecile into the bathroom, soothing and comforting her, and it was only after a long while that she emerged, securely bundled in a large towel. She felt languid and tired, but her mind was refreshed. Or rather, it was more apt to say her senses jolted her awake each time she felt Estian’s touch on her hair. He had not only apologized, but had also patiently taken in all her complaints, and washed her to boot.
‘Uuugh… How humiliating.’ Cecile wanted to search for a mouse hole to hide, but how would something like that ever be found in a gorgeous palace for the empress? When Estian put the towel down, Cecile touched her hair; it was almost completely dry thanks to his meticulous toweling. “Do you feel very tired?” Estian asked.
“No, it’s not that…” Cecile did feel weary, but not so much that Estian needed to worry. She merely felt a little embarrassed to look him in the eyes.
“Then, I’m really sorry, but do you mind if we go out for a bit together?”
“Yes. I think the best way to explain why I was going to meet Princess Yuliana is to show you in person.”
* * *
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