Chapter 12


Pretend to love.

 

For a while, I stared at Kwanach in silence. In the previous life, his army had invaded and trampled this land. He was Achaia’s sworn enemy.

 

But looking at him now, I didn’t feel any great hatred or vengeance. Perhaps it’s because it hasn’t happened yet in this life, and because I now have a more vivid object of hatred than Kwanach.

 

Diaquit Catatel. In effect, my brother was the culprit. My death and the war were all triggered by his dirty greed.

 

But that didn’t mean I could pretend to love him easily.

 

Moreover…

 

What is love in the first place? I didn’t know.

 

Kwanach stared at me with his lips tightly closed. His jaw was tightened and his body was rigid.

 

 

“Why? You don’t like it?”

 

Kwanach said in a voice that was at once crude and gentle, the opposite of what I wanted.

 

If I was a noblewoman dreaming of love, I probably would have been possessed by Kwanach. He was a rather rough but charming man. What woman could bear not to fall in love with him?

 

The problem was that I was an exceptional woman who did not fall into the “any” category. I didn’t care about love, whether it’s before or after regression.

 

I was an unusual woman, a woman who had experienced death.

 

I never had love in mind. It was a very distant feeling from me. Usphere Catateladon and love doesn’t go together like water and oil.

 

“Usphere.”

 

“……Yes.”

 

“I know you had to do the difficult thing that not only married a slave but now that slave demanded something else from you.”

 

I shook my shoulders and tried to deny it, but Kwanach’s words were faster.

 

“I can’t help it if you’re unhappy. We’re already married, and I intend to get along with you.”

 

“It’s not that I’m unhappy. You’re more than good enough for me. It’s not your problem, it’s mine. It’s just that I feel awkward…….”

 

“Then you’ll just have to get used to it.”

 

“…….”

 

“Give me your hand.”

 

Kwanach held out his callused hand to me. His hand was big enough to cover my entire hand. His fingers were long and thick with knots.

 

“What do you want to do with my hand…?”

 

“Please.”

 

Kwanach grabbed my right hand with a snap as I hesitated. His hand was hot. So hot that I suspected it might be human body heat.

 

“Let’s go like this until the carriage stops.”

 

“Do you mean to keep holding hands?”

 

“Can I ?”

 

“There’s nothing you can’t do……”

 

It wasn’t unusual for a husband and wife to hold hands. But it was embarrassing and uncomfortable. We wouldn’t be able to move our hands probably and they would get sweaty. It was something that only children would do.

 

A burning sensation suddenly struck my face. Even though I thought this was strange for a 24 year old couple  to do this, I was struck by a sense of deja vu.

 

My parents always held hands wherever they went. Their marriage also started out as a political marriage, but they became deeply in love with each other.

 

Did Kwanach want to have that kind of relationship? Why was it? Why would he want to do that with me?

 

I didn’t understand. However, I understood that my father was in love with my mother. She was reputed to be the most beautiful princess in the North at the time.

 

I lost my mother when I was very young, and my memory was fuzzy, but the thought of her always warms my heart. She was gentle, laughed a lot, and soft. She was also very charming. She was just like a beautiful princess in a fairy tale.

 

Compared to her, how am I? I didn’t want to speak ill of myself, but I was not the ideal princess.

 

I had a cold face and an awkward smile. I barely smiled. In my previous life, everyone said I was gloomy, but in this life, I’ve become more powerful and everyone has been hospitable to me.

 

Besides, I was also quite distant from the southern beauties. I was told that Southerners like women with sensual bodies, seductive and charming.

 

‘It’s the sixth sense……’

 

I couldn’t help but glance down at my chest and hastily turned my eyes over the carriage window.

 

‘If I were a man, I wouldn’t like a woman like me.’

 

 

Kwanach held my hand silently. The rough, hot skin kept my hand completely wrapped around his.

 

It was tight and I wanted to wriggle with my fingers, but I ended up letting it go. I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed and reluctant to stimulate Kwanach’s skin that was touching mine.

 

Kwanach stared at me as I turned my head and unexpectedly opened his mouth.

 

“You have very small hands.”

 

“It’s because your hands are too big.”

 

“No. You are too small and thin. It’s not just your hands, but your whole body. I’m afraid that if I grab you hard, you might break. Let’s go to the Imperial Palace and make healthy food. You’ll gain some weight.”

 

As expected, I looked unattractive in the eyes of a southern man.

 

In fact, I was sickly in my previous life. I never went out for a walk and stayed in my room, so it was only natural.

 

After that, I decided to take care of my body, so I ate well and went for walks in the sunshine every day. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I was now in the healthiest moment of my life.

 

But it didn’t seem so to Kwanach’s eyes. Perhaps it’s my advantage to pretend for a while that I was too weak to have children.

 

“Yes. In fact, I’ve been sick since I was a child….”

 

My throat tingled as I tried to tell a lie.

 

“As expected.”

 

Kwanach’s face wrinkled and exhaled roughly.

 

“I will instruct the Imperial Palace to take exceptional care of your health.”

 

I nodded and passed Kwanach’s gaze. A hot dampness rose in my hand. 

 

I constantly checked the scenery of the road through the carriage window, trying not to be aware of it. And so I waited for the moment when I would approach the birch tree that I was a ghost for three years.

 

* * * *

 

‘Oh….’

 

We passed the place where I died without incident. I didn’t even see a single stray cat passing by, let alone the assassination attempt.

 

A sense of relief and bitterness washed over me at the same time. This gave a little more strength to my assumption that Diaquit was the real killer of me in my previous life.

 

He killed me once. There was no guarantee that he wouldn’t betray me again this time and forever.

 

Diaquit felt inferior to me and treated me like a pain in the neck. At any moment, he may change suddenly and turn on me.

 

As the clattering carriage passed by, I turned my gaze to the landscape. Now, a time I’ve never experienced was waiting for me. A time I couldn’t enjoy in my previous life.

 

“What’s the matter? You look a little pale.”

 

My face seemed to stiffen involuntarily.

 

He pulled my hand toward him with all his strength. There was nothing I could do but lean my entire body against his.

 

“Please roll up the veil.”

 

“…… No, I’m fine.”

 

I was just indulging in useless sentimentality.

 

“Hurry up.”

 

When Kwanach lowered his voice and said solemnly, I could not refuse. I hesitated, then surreptitiously removed my veil and placed it to the side.

 

Kwanach looked at my face with a boiling gaze.

 

“Are you in pain? We can stop the carriage and get some rest before continuing.”

 

“No, I’m just a little tired, that’s all.”

 

“…….”

 

“I got up early this morning to get ready for the wedding.”

 

I forced myself to sneak a smile to show that I was really okay. The muscles around my mouth stiffened a little as I tried to make a smile on the smileless face.

 

I regretted it as soon as I smiled, because Kwanach’s expression hardened even more.

 

Was it possible that my awkward smile had the opposite effect?

 

“No, thank you very much, but…….”

 

I mumbled in a small voice as I looked at his face.

 

Kwanach touched my forehead with his other hand and sighed heavily.

 

“I was not thinking clearly. I didn’t think about your health. I should have made a schedule for you who are weak. But I was impatient.”

 

I had to pretend to be weak, so I couldn’t blame him.

 

“Get some sleep. Lie down.”

 

“No, I’m not sleepy.”

 

Even though we were married, how could I lie down and sleep comfortably in front of a man I had never met before. It wasn’t easy to be alone with Kwanach in such a small space.

 

“It would be better:to arrive early, rather than biding our time on the road trying to make slow progress. You mentioned that we’ll have to transfer to a ship at the port.”

 

Kwanach frowned for a moment, but quickly nodded as if I was right. He pushed open the window and shouted out.

 

“Go faster!”

 

“Yes, Your Majesty!

 

The carriage began to rattle forward as horseman shouted back.

 

 

* * * *

 

I looked out the window at the scenery. Dark blue seawater and big sailing ships.

 

After a full day, we arrived at a nearby border shore. It was after midnight. An imperial sailing ship was tied up in the harbor, waiting for us.

 

Kwanach, who got out of the carriage first, extended his hand toward me and said,

 

“Come.”

 

It wasn’t so unfamiliar to hold that man’s hand now, because we held hands the whole time we were in the carriage.

 

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I said,

 

“Kwanach, I can’t even remember the shape of my hand. Now that you’re familiar with it, can you please let go of my hand for a moment…?”

 

Kwanach grumbled and let go of my hand. In a way, Kwanach’s attempt to “get me used to it” was a resounding success.

 

I grabbed his stone-hard palm fairly well and stepped out of the carriage.

 

The damp soil peculiar to the vicinity of the port touched the soles of my shoes. The knights lit up the darkness of the night sea with their lamps.

 

I let go of Kwanach’s hand and tried to stand alone, but I felt dizzy in a flash.

 

“Ugh…”

 

Suddenly everything spinned around me around and I felt nauseous. The motion sickness throughout the carriage seemed to have put a strain on my body.

 

When I stumbled, Kwanach was startled and grabbed my arm. My forearm fits completely in his large hand.

 

***