Chapter 159 : The Reason For The Clean Cloth
After deciding to take Flora back to Rodania, Rio finished serving her breakfast and headed towards the kitchen. It was time to brew the after-meal tea.
「Well then, please wait for a while.」
The view of his back as he walked away made Flora’s heart tense up.
(Lord Amakawa’s home cooking is delicious.)
A sigh escaped her lips, relieving some of the tension inside her heart.
It had been a while since she last felt so full after a meal. She took a moment to soak in the blissful aftertaste of the congee.
After being poisoned and drifting between life and death, she couldn’t help but enjoy the warm and delicious meal along with the comfy room that made her feel so relaxed.
Also, aside from the wonderful accommodations, she had the opportunity to converse with the person who could conceivably be Rio. It would truly be unexpected if that person was the one she had been searching for. She would have never expected such a situation to occur during their school days.
Flora was unable to curb her delight and laughed a little.
She wondered why she was laughing by herself, but perhaps it was because her heart was content in basking in this blissful feeling she felt at the moment.
Naturally, she had many things to think about – including the matter concerning Rio. She was content to ponder about it all during her recovery period.
This train of thought brought up unpleasant memories forward.
(Going through such a cruel experience is like… a nightmare.)
The blissful feeling quickly disappeared when she remembered the recent events that befell her.
Roaming around in the forest wearing just a dress, having nightmares due to high fever, then being hunted by Lucius and co.
Everything came rushing back and she couldn’t stop the memories of Lucius’ voice from resounding in her head.
―― Ku, HAHAHA! Dear princess, are you conscious? You’re smelly, you know. That’s a given since you haven’t bathed in days, after all. And look at how she’s covered in sweat!
An involuntary twitch shook Flora’s body as she recalled that man’s nasty laugh.
That incident could leave a deep trauma just from recalling the fear and embarrassment she felt on that day.
Suddenly, an idea popped into her mind.
(Oh, why don’t I just think about the blissful moments after I was saved?)
Flora shook her head to drive those unpleasant thoughts from her head.
Taking a deep breath to center herself, she focused on cheerful memories only. Repeating the process, she continued pushing away the awful memories and thought only of good ones.
It was then she noticed an extremely important matter.
A matter that was closely related to her dignity as a maiden.
Sniffing around, Flora noticed a significant change in her body.
Flora’s face immediately reddened.
Pulling the stomach area of her clothing towards her nose, she took another sniff.
[ED1: She got a sniffing fetish now or something?]
(The awful smell is… gone?)
She felt relieved when she confirmed her suspicion. She really couldn’t bear to let Rio smell such a displeasing scent, especially since it came from her.
However, Lucius and co had definitely commented on her body odor. Her memories about that were very clear.
And yet, Flora couldn’t detect that odor coming from her body or her clothing anymore.
(My nose is still working, isn’t it?)
She sniffed her clothes again, but there was truly no unpleasant smell.
In fact, the opposite was true.
「It smells really nice, doesn’t it?」
There was a slightly refreshing scent coming from her clothing.
「My clothes were cleaned?」
Flora looked at what she was wearing and tilted her head, puzzled.
They were still the same clothes that she got from that village but, for some reason, they were now sparkling clean. There was only one logical conclusion to this mystery.
「Lord Amakawa was… The one who washed it, right?」
Since her clothes were clean, it was logical to assume her body had received the same treatment. However, to wash one’s body, they’d need to remove the clothing first and it would expose their immodest appearance.
In other words, Rio might have seen her naked.
Even her father had never seen her in such a state after her coming of age, be it naked or half-naked. As soon as she realized such a fact, Flora’s face flushed red instantly.
But she didn’t feel uncomfortable or awkward at all. At least there was no physical revulsion.
She briefly wondered if she was in a stupor.
「Me… By Lord Amakawa! 」
Such things just didn’t happen.
Her entire body became red at this point, feeling like it would spontaneously combust at any moment due to her extreme embarrassment. The loud throbbing of her heart that refused to calm down almost deafened her.
(W-W-W-W-W-WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?!)
In the blink of an eye, she started panicking.
If she knew that things would turn out like this, she would have preferred to continue smelling as bad as she did before.
No matter how much she sniffed her own clothing, she couldn’t find anything other than a slightly refreshing scent.
Even so, smelling fresh was far better than smelling like a dead animal.
Flora’s mind kept going around in circles, no longer able to process beyond her latest discovery.
(Did he see my body? He must have seen it, right? Uhhh… What should I do now?)
The grip she had on her clothes tightened further.
Flora had failed to notice that, when she pulled them up to take a sniff, she had inattentively bared her stomach. This resulted in a slightly risqué appearance.
Immersed in her own thoughts, she also failed to notice that someone had knocked on the door. Since the door was open, her current situation was visible to the one waiting at the threshold.
It was none other than Rio.
(… Should I knock again?)
A stiff smile accompanied the slightly troubled expression he wore as he stood at the door. He had finished brewing the tea but had refrained from entering the room due to Flora’s slightly immodest appearance.
Rio had witnessed the entire scene. Flora would sniff her clothes, blush furiously, then sniff again. She apparently was unaware he was at the door since she repeated her actions for a while.
She gave no sign of noticing him, so he raised his voice a little to grab her attention.
「… I’ve made the tea, Flora-sama. May I enter now? 」
「… EH? 」
As expected, she had only noticed his presence and the wide-open door the moment he spoke.
Now that he had been detected, he asked for permission again.
「I have brewed some tea, may I enter?」
Flora twitched and answered by reflex.
Rio couldn’t stop himself from sighing heavily.
「Please excuse me.」
Rio entered the room and briefly wondered if he should give her some time to put her appearance in order. Flora’s clothes were still pulled up even after he had entered the room and she gave no indication that she would pull them down.
She still sat frozen and stared at Rio, face burning red in embarrassment.
「… Are you in the middle of changing your clothes?」
Averting his eyes, as he asked her pondering about her state.
Although he hadn’t prepared another set of clothing for her, he couldn’t find another appropriate reason for such behavior.
Those words were enough to bring Flora back to her senses.
She finally noticed Rio had witnessed all her actions.
Her face flushed even redder as she thought of how she must have looked to him. She hoped he didn’t think she was a weirdo.
「N-No, i-it’s a misunderstanding!」
Tucking her clothes back in place in a rush, she tried explaining herself in a panic.
She did not expect him to go along with her words.
However, Rio was puzzled as to what to say to Flora, so he had no other option.
「Yes, I’m aware of that.」
「You… You’re not misunderstanding me? 」
Seeing how her eyes opened wide in surprise, Rio became even more worried.
From “certain” actions of hers, he could tell Flora was worried about how she smelled. There was no way he would ask her about it, though. His only option was to clumsily ask in another way.
「Nay, uhm… Do you want to change your clothes?」
「N-No, I-I don’t mean it that way, but… Uhm, Lord Amakawa. Were you the one who… washed my clothes?」
Afraid of offending her benefactor, she was quick to refuse his offer.
Gathering her courage, she asked what was on her mind with an embarrassed tone.
It was unavoidable for Rio to not be honest with her on this part.
「… Yes. With all due respect, I did so since I considered the necessity of a clean environment for your medical treatment.」
「T-Thank you very much. Uhm… I didn’t smell strange, did I?」
「… No, you didn’t have any strange smell at all.」
The effort Rio put in maintaining a poker face as he answered her was tremendous.
In his opinion, she should have been more concerned about him washing her body rather than her body odor, but he stayed quiet.
It was best not to remind her of that. She already looked embarrassed enough and he didn’t have any suicidal thoughts.
Rio replied with a smile on his face.
He had no idea what facial expression would be appropriate in such a situation.
Flora seemed relieved by his answer, only to pale as if something had just occurred to her.
「T-Thank goodness… AH, then…」
She seemed to be panicking again as she looked at his face.
(She’s an unexpectedly expressive girl, huh?)
Rio calmly analyzed the girl in front of him.
He had expected her to be a reserved and quiet girl, but she turned out to be quite different. It made him change his view of her. He was a bit embarrassed for assuming.
「Ah, uhm… Since you washed my clothes, does that mean… My body…」
Flora had mustered up enough courage to ask, but it waned with each word and her voice lowered towards the end.
It did not mean Rio hadn’t heard her loud and clear. Since she kept pursuing that matter, there was no way to avoid it. Believing his words or not would be left up to her.
「It was part of the medical treatment. Nevertheless, it would become an international scandal if I were to peek at the body of a royalty that is unconscious. Thus, I washed you along with your clothes. I swear I did not do anything strange to you…」
「I-Is that so… Thank you very much.」
Flora expressed her gratitude even though her head was lowered in embarrassment. Apparently, she accepted what had happened. Or maybe she accepted it because she couldn’t ask a bolder question.
「It was nothing. Your body isn’t fit enough to bathe yet, but I’ll give you a towel and some hot water later. I have no clothes for women at the moment, so I’ll lend you my clothes for now.」
「Y-Yeah! T-Thank you very much!」
Rio took the opportunity to quickly change the topic, lest she ask anything else regarding how her body was cleaned.
Flora agreed with him and did not ask any more questions.
Her sight kept swimming all over the place, maybe because she was too embarrassed to look at him.