Chapter 16

***

 

I was wrapped in a blanket, and Theodore patted my head with a smirk as if I was cute.

 

Theodore remembered me.

 

He dispelled the curse left on me and called my name. And he loved me.

 

….Theodore loves me.

 

I stared at him as if this were all a dream.

 

Then I felt him licking my wrist and realized that this wasn’t a dream.

 

“Since when did you know?”

 

I suddenly asked. It was a question I had to ask before kissing.

 

“What?”

 

“That I am Yvonne ….”

 

“Ah.”

 

He smiled sweetly and ruffled my sweat-drenched hair.

 

“From the moment we met again.”

 

Then he looked into my eyes, and without warning, he grabbed the back of the head and kissed my forehead.

 

“Actually, from the first day I saw you, I’ve never forgotten you. I’ve been looking for you for a long time, Yvonne.”

 

He gently removed his lips from my forehead and then kissed the tip of my nose and lips. I felt overwhelmed by his unstoppable and outspoken affection.

 

“I thought, of course, that Your Majesty would not remember me…”

 

“I’m not so stupid as to not remember the woman I love.”

 

I was filled with joy at the words he brought up without wavering.

 

“Then why didn’t you recognize me in the beginning?”

 

“I’m afraid you’ll run away. It seemed that you would disappear the moment I called your name.”

 

 I paused for a moment at his answer.

 

How did he know?

 

Of course, at that time, I was preparing to run away the moment he recognized me… 

 

“Actually, I was going to approach you a little more slowly, but your eyes looking at me were so pretty, I couldn’t stand it.”

 

“Then, how did you do this? Obviously,  Rudolph Ferdinand had put a curse on me.”

 

I had a lot of questions, so I couldn’t stop asking them.

 

Theodore’s eyes, looking at me like that, contained countless affections. 

 

“It’s divine power.”

 

He clasped my hand and pulled it towards him. Then he rubbed his cheek on the back of my hand.

 

“Divine power?”

 

“No one knew that Leobrante’s power had passed on to me.”

 

Suddenly, I remembered the story of the great families in the empire, which Julia, my sister told me a long time ago.

 

Chernicia, a master swordsman who had trained great swordsmen from generation to generation.

 

Ferdinand, who produced excellent wizards. And Leobrante, who blessed the empire with a wonderful divine power.

 

Theodore’s mother was Leobrante’s daughter.

 

“How much would the old woman of Leobrante be upset if she knew this?”

 

The old woman he was talking about was Theodore’s stepmother.

 

“Sacred power and sorcery essentially originate from the same source.”

 

Theodore explained, pressing down on the spot where the old scar was on my now clean wrist.

 

“The difference is that, unlike Ferdinand’s magic, which digs into weakness, Leobrante’s divine power heals pain.”

 

“…”

 

“From the first day I saw your wounds, I wanted to heal you. So when we met again, I practiced hard to get rid of it with my own strength, but..… ”

 

He couldn’t continue to speak any longer and blurted out the end of his speech. But I think I know the back story.

 

Summer 10 years ago. I showed him the scars, but we couldn’t keep our promise to meet again.

 

“I didn’t believe you were dead.”

 

Ten years ago, he said he had been searching for me, who had already died, for a long time alone. I was so engulfed in my sadness and depression that I couldn’t think of him.

 

My heart was pounding hard.

 

“I heard that Your Majesty is preparing the reinstatement of Chernicia.”

 

“Yes. I will restore your family. And after that, I will greet you as my wife.”

 

“…”

 

“So, be patient a little more.”

 

He whispered as he kissed the back of my hand and wrist.

 

I held my breath at his pouring affection for a moment before I could barely answer. 

 

“….… Thank you. Your Majesty.”

 

I smiled brightly at him for the first time since I kissed him.

 

But was my smile strange?

 

Instead of smiling, he just stared at me. Then, suddenly, as if displeased, he narrowed his eyes.

 

“Then why do you keep treating me with respect?”

 

“Your Majesty?”

 

“Don’t call me that.”

 

He said with a stubborn expression.

 

“Theodore. Call my name like you did before.”

 

“Ah…oh no…… ….”

 

Our position had changed now, but how dared I call him that?

 

As I hesitated and couldn’t answer easily, he clasped each of my interlaced fingers and kissed them.

 

“Theo. Can you call me that now?”

 

His lips gave my ten fingers a fair share of love, but his golden eyes stared straight at me.

 

“Yes?”

 

He murmured with a pretty smile that I couldn’t refuse, as if he begged until I gave him an answer.

 

“Theo…… ”

 

In the end, I couldn’t defeat him, and as I carefully called out his name, a bright smile spread across Theodore’s face.

 

Arguably, it was the first time I’ve seen a man smile so beautifully.

 

“I love you, Yves.”

 

He gently brushed my hair.

 

Then, as if he had suddenly remembered, he pulled something out of the drawer and held a small headdress in my hand.

 

“It’s a memento of my deceased mother. My mother used it when she got married to the imperial family. Please accept it.”

 

 It was a hairpin with jewels and splendid craftsmanship that stood out even though it was small but precious.

 

“But…… .”

 

I hesitated, stroking my short hair.

 

My hair, which was cut haphazardly while staying at Ferdinand, was so short that it did not even reach my shoulders.

 

“But your hair will grow quickly.”

 

He smiled as he kissed my hair.

 

“How about growing your hair long? You’re pretty now, but  you’ll be prettier with you long hair like before.”

 

I never thought of growing my hair again. But when he said this, I really wanted to grow it out.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Ah… Yves….”

 

When I answered shyly, he suddenly groaned and hugged me tightly.

 

I didn’t know where he got excited, but I had to give him the whole night because of his tireless stamina.

 

And from that night on, my relationship with him changed.

 

Since I was his knight, of course, we were always together. We spent more and more time together, and we became more and more daring. We made love wherever there was no one around.

 

Time passed like that.

 

****

 

Chernicia’s reinstatement was not as easy as one might think. Theodore seemed to have a headache from the problem.

 

But he didn’t show it, so I just waited.

 

My hair grew pretty long in the meantime. It was long enough to decorate with the hairpin he gave me.

 

“You look good, Yves.”

 

Theodore stroked my hair with a proud face.

 

“How about your cold?”

 

“I’m getting better.”

 

I answered with a hoarse voice.

 

Last weekend, I spent the whole night taking a walk in the garden with him.

 

As a result, I caught a bad cold and couldn’t get out of bed like this.

 

Theodore said it was all his fault, but to some extent he was right, but I didn’t say anything.

 

Had he not kissed me in the dark, I would not have forgotten the cold and shared his affection.

 

My cold was worse than I thought and I couldn’t get over it quickly.

 

Thanks to this, I was on vacation and was conserving my energy in the Imperial Palace.

 

And Theodore stayed by my side every day and nursed me all night long. The tiredness that couldn’t be hidden was on his face, who stayed by my side even last night, unable to sleep.

 

Being attached to the Imperial Palace in the name of his escort, I felt a little sorry for the situation of receiving his care.

 

“Sorry, Yves, I have an appointment today, so I have to go.”

 

“Shall we go together?”

 

“Um, I want to make you very small and put you in my pocket.”

 

He whispered as he kissed my hot cheek.

 

“It’s okay, Yves. You just need to rest and get well and hug me when I come back.”

 

“But…….”

 

“I love you, Yves.”

 

However, contrary to saying that it was okay, Theodore turned around with regret only after leaving small kisses on my face.

 

I was worried because I knew that he hadn’t slept properly for several days because he was taking care of me. I looked at his distant back endlessly, and then fell asleep in the drowsiness of medicine.

 

***

 

I had just fallen in love for the first time, and I was so smitten with the love he poured out for me that I gave him all my heart and body, foolishly. 

 

Misfortune came quietly. 

 

He looked at me with eyes I had never seen before in my life. In a cold voice, he asked me who I was.