Chapter 1. The fiancé is back
Thanks to Sir Hiltine’s help, I was able to arrive at the office on time.
I put the documents to report to Kalian in my arm, and ‘it’ in my pocket.
And, as usual, I greeted Rahel, who was guarding the door, then entered the emperor’s office.
Kalian was sitting at his desk, looking at the documents.
I bowed slightly to him, and then put the report I had brought on the desk.
“This is the report on taxes from each territory.”
Kalian’s gaze shifted from the document he was looking at to the report I had put down.
He picked up the topmost document and scanned it quickly.
“Since taxes have been lowered because of the war, there are opinions that it is okay to raise it again now.”
Kalian smirked a little and put down the document again.
“It hasn’t been long since the war ended, and the overall situation is still unstable, but to raise taxes? Do they want to skin a flea for its hide?”
[T/N: skin a flea for its hide means to exploit very little profit by unfair means.]
I agree with that, but…
“Still, I think we need to raise the tax.”
Then Kalian looked at me. He looked surprised.
“I didn’t know you’d say that. Why do you think so?”
“Because of the budget.”
I chose the budget part of the report and put it aside so he could see it well.
“As you can see, the budget is being spent more than expected due to successive events, relief projects, and issues with the bereaved family.”
Kalian’s expression became serious.
Of course, it was.
The state of the national treasury was also serious in my opinion. The six-year-long war was a problem.
However, the situation of the people of the Empire wasn’t very good to pay a lot of tax.
As Kalian said, it was nothing but skin a flea for its hide.
However, as shown in the data, the situation in the national treasury wasn’t good, so we had to collect more taxes.
Of course, we’ll have to take it from those who have it, not the fleas.
“If I dare to say something…”
As I was about to express my opinion that I had prepared in advance, Kalian suddenly grabbed my hand.
It didn’t stop there, but he rolled up my sleeve.
All of a sudden, what…
I panicked and tried to pull my hand from him.
But Kalian didn’t let go of my hand. Rather, he pulled my hand closer to him.
As a result, my upper body leaned on the desk.
I put my other hand on the desk and supported my body so that I didn’t fall.
“Did you get hurt?”
Huh? Did you get hurt? What… Ah.
I finally realized why Kalian was doing this and exclaimed quietly.
He saw the wound from the fall earlier.
It would have been difficult to see because it was covered with long sleeves, but he had good eyes too.
“It’s nothing. It was just a little scratch when I fell earlier.”
I meant to let go, but it seemed to have had the opposite effect as he tightened his grab.
“Did you fall?”
When I nodded, the question ‘why?’ followed.
It would be better not to say that the ladies who caused me to fall, right?
I did promise that, too.
“I was in a hurry so that I could arrive on time, but my foot got tripped…”
Kalian’s eyes slanted obliquely.
“That means it’s because of me.”
…huh? Is that how he interprets it?
When Kalian said sorry, I shook my head in bewilderment.
“It was because I was in a hurry without seeing the floor like a fool. There is absolutely no reason for Your Majesty to apologize.”
“It’s my fault that you came here right away without getting treatment even though you were injured.”
“Your reply was late.”
Kalian smiled slightly and stood up from his seat.
Still holding my hand, I had no choice but to follow him as he moved.
Kalian sat me on the sofa and rang the bell.
The attendant, who was waiting outside, came in. It wasn’t Rahel.
“Bring the Doctor.”
Calling the Doctor when it’s just a scratch?
“That’s too much. Just bring the ointment. That’s enough.”
“But it’s better for the Doctor to treat it rather than ointment, don’t you think so? ”
“Just ointment is enough.”
When I didn’t bend, Kalian clicked his tongue as if he didn’t like it.
“Bring the ointment.”
Still, he took my opinion into account.
After a while, the attendant came with the ointment. Kalian took it and sat down next to me.
“Be sure to roll up your sleeve completely, I’m going to apply the medicine.”
“Should I call the Doctor?”
He threatened to call the Doctor if I didn’t do what I was told.
There’s nothing I could do. Reluctantly, I rolled up my sleeve and let him treat the wound.
“Tell me if it hurts.”
Kalian meticulously applied the ointment to the wound.
He was so careful and meticulous that it didn’t hurt at all.
“There are bloodstains on your skirt as well. Did you hurt your leg too?”
Ah, come to think of it, my knee was wounded, too.
Seeing my expression, Kalian asked as if it was ridiculous.
“You seem to have forgotten that you got hurt there?”
He clicked his tongue and pointed the tip of his chin to my skirt.
“Roll up your skirt, too.”
Roll up my skirt?
I stared blankly at him. Even if it’s an imperial order, I couldn’t readily follow an absurd order like that.
And as if he realized what he had said, Kalian looked bewildered.
There’s an awkward silence for a moment.
It was Kalian who broke the silence first.
His earlobe that’s exposed as he bowed his head was slightly red.
Kalian couldn’t see my face directly and apologized while looking elsewhere.
“I didn’t mean to make fun of you.”
“Yes. I know.”
I already knew that Kalian said those words purely to heal my wounds without any other intentions.
So, although I was a little embarrassed, I wasn’t angry or anything.
Even that had just been cleared up by Kalian’s apology.
As I nodded my head calmly, Kalian frowned.
Why is he like that? What mistake have I made?
I had been pondering over what I had said so far, but there’s nothing that I could think of.
Still, seeing Kalian looking at me like that, I must have said something wrong, right?
“If I made a mistake, please tell me. I will fix it right away.”
At my answer, Kalian frowned even more and grabbed my shoulder tightly.
“Leila. I think you’re misunderstanding something, but I made the mistake, not you. It’s me who should apologize, not you.”
“And when something like this happens, you can’t forgive easily even if the other person is sorry. You should be angry.”
“But there’s no malice…”
“How do you know if there’s any malice or not?!”
A roar echoed loudly in the office.
It was so loud that it was deafening for a moment.
It was the first time I saw Kalian yell like this.
That meant I did something wrong… What on earth did I do wrong?
“Your Majesty, is there something wrong?”
Rahel, who was waiting outside, asked carefully as if he had heard Kalian’s roar.
“Nothing! Everyone get out of the door!”
Kalian simply dismissed them and looked back at me.
His blue eyes were stained with anger.
“You, did you understand what I was saying?”
To be honest, I didn’t understand at all, but I nodded because I thought he would get angry again if I said that.
“Yes. I will keep that in mind.”
Only then did the wrinkles engraved on Kalian’s forehead fade.
Perhaps his anger had completely subsided, he let out a deep sigh. He took his hand off and took a step back.
“Sorry for yelling.”
Kalian sighed a few more times as he scratched his head. And then, he put the ointment in front of me.
“I’ll take care of the report, so go out and have your leg treated.”
The aftermath of his yelling still hadn’t gone away, so I leaned forward to grab the ointment and bowed to him.
Kalian turned around and spoke bluntly.
“It happened because of me, so you don’t need to thank me.”
Kalian, who sat down at his desk again, beckoned me to leave.
As I was about to go out as he told me, I suddenly remembered something I had in my pocket and stopped.
I had no idea what I was thinking. But I had to give him this.
I turned around and stood in front of the desk where Kalian was sitting.
Kalian put down the report he had just picked up and looked at me.
“Do you still have anything left to say to me?”
I took out the box I had in my pocket and held it out to Kalian.
“It’s a gift.”
There was wonder in his blue eyes that looked at me.
“What special day is today?”
“There’s no special day as far as I know.”
“Then why are you giving me a gift?”
“I want to express my gratitude for what I have received so far from you, Your Majesty.”
Kalian leaned against the backrest and looked up at me.
“I don’t remember being kind enough to you to receive a gift like this.”
And not just one, but many. There’s enough reason for me to give him a gift.
“So please accept it.”
I put it down in front of Kalian as I didn’t think he would ever take the gift.
“Then, see you later.”
After bowing my head to Kalian, who wanted to say ‘hold on’, I left the office as if running away.
Rahel, who saw my urgent behavior, opened his eyes wide and looked at me. He looked as if asking me if something had happened.
I smiled lightly in place of replying that nothing happened. And hurriedly entered the aide’s office.
I leaned against the closed door and exhaled loudly. My heart was beating so fast that it felt like it was about to burst.
It was my first time giving a gift to someone other than Philen personally.
It was also a handkerchief that I embroidered myself.
It was a gift that I never gave to the previous Duke and Duchess Williot.
Because it wasn’t a good skill to be shown anywhere else.
Although I was worried about what would happen if Kalian laughed at it, I felt a subtle feeling.
I felt like someone was gently tickling the inside of my palm with a feather.
It’s really weird.
The unknown feeling was so unfamiliar that I held my hands tightly together.