“Too much blood has been stained on these things,” he had said.
Gareth eventually stopped wearing his armor when the weather got warmer and summer began. Elena could still remember how he had awkwardly touched his casual clothes, his expression uncomfortable and his face flushed. He had looked like a little boy shyly asking if he looked presentable in his new clothes.
“Alright, shall we go down then?” Gareth held out his hand once he finished getting Elena ready, to which she placed her hand in his.
“The farmers must be harvesting crops in the Townsend estate as well. I miss Rowena and Marina.” Her family far away suddenly crossed her mind. Recalling the letter she had received from Rowena a few days ago, she added, “Rowena told me that Marina has found a man she likes. She wants us to visit so we can meet him.”
Gareth remained silent.
“I know how you feel about not letting me travel to faraway places, but I’m very healthy now. I don’t think it’ll put too much stress on my body as long as we travel slowly.”
“For now, let’s stop talking about this, Elena.”
“But I want to meet the man who made Marina smile.”
“We can do that later after you give birth and take some time to take care of yourself. And we don’t have to go all the way there, we can just invite them here.”
Elena pouted, but she didn’t say anything more. From the time Gareth had learned that she had conceived a baby again, he treated her like a small bird that might get blown away by the wind. Even though Gareth’s once isolated land was becoming crowded as it communicated with other territories, Gareth did his best to make Elena comfortable by paying attention to the duties in the castle before she could.
Feeling slightly guilty, Gareth took a glance at Elena and said, “It’s just because you and the child are my top priorities.”
Elena nodded lightly, following Gareth’s lead out of the room and to the hallway. ‘Yes, this man and the child are my top priority as well. Although I miss my sisters… I’ll wait.’ Rowena, Marina, and William had left for the Townsend estate around May, and Gareth was generously supporting them to rebuild the ruined castle.
“Okay, I will stop asking for the impossible. I’m sorry that I kept nagging at you.”
Gareth smiled faintly and lowered his head to smooch the top of her head. Gareth and Elena went downstairs, sitting in the chairs in the hall while breakfast was served on the long table.
“By the way, are you sure you don’t want the title as the duchess? You can change your mind now if you want,” Gareth asked.
Elena looked into his graphite eyes in response. After taking the throne, Ethan had suggested reinstating Gareth’s once lost title as he was the heir to Duke Garcia. However, Gareth had turned the offer down, saying that he wanted to live a normal life as Elena’s husband.
“I’m happier living as your wife than a duchess,” Elena said.
Gareth’s ears turned slightly red as a smile came to his face. His heart fluttered every time Elena said she was happy; such words made him excited and smile without reserve just like he used to when he was a little boy. She made him happy.
“Okay, then. Let’s all eat!”
At Gareth’s words, his men who had been waiting sat down in unison.
* * *
Gareth lifted Elena and placed her on the horse to go see the first harvest of the year together. Even though he had offered a carriage, Elena had said she was not that heavy yet and that she wanted to ride the horse with him. Gareth climbed onto the horse behind her, then he grabbed the reins with one hand and carefully placed his other hand on her belly.
“Everyone must be excited for the harvest,” Elena said.
“I suppose so.”
Gareth slowly drove the horse toward the village, where everyone was told to be waiting. He had tried his best so that Elena would not find out about the surprise. He simply wanted to make her happy, and at the same time, he prayed that she wouldn’t be too surprised.
“Huh? Where is everyone? Did they already go out to the fields?” Elena asked in surprise once they reached the town.
“That’s possible. I guess we’re a little late.”
It was true that Elena had spent more time getting ready in the morning than usual. As a result, her new dress and black hair were shining in the sun.
* * *
The place Gareth stopped his horse at last was an unexpected one. Even though he had mentioned multiple times that he did not believe in God, it was a monastery. Murmurs could be heard from the tiny monastery from outside the walls surrounding it.
“Oh, are you planning to pray for God’s blessing?” Elena guessed. It seemed that way since today was the first day of the harvesting season. The war had ended, and communication with other lands was being restored. All the circumstances pointed to an assumption that Gareth must be asking for blessings from the heavens.