I Thought It Was Betrayal
The first thing Selenia did while staying at Edwin’s house was to write a letter to Evangeline, the one most concerned about her. While she was away, she needed someone to take care of the palace. However, the problem was financial. Like Edwin had said, it costs two gold coins to send a mere letter.
She found it ridiculous. This one letter costs as much as one dress. Besides, it wasn’t like the Imperial Family would be affluent of a few gold coins, which only meant someone was receiving them.
Edwin held out a small pouch made of old leather, and she slowly grabbed it. Two shiny gold coins clinked in her hand.
“Gold coins? I thought you said you didn’t have any?”
“My … sister is getting married soon.”
Edwin glanced at the gold coins in Selenia’s hand, then continued meekly.
“It’s money to buy a dress.”
If it was money for his sister’s wedding dress, it was very important money. Selenia handed the gold back to him. Although she was quite desperate, it wasn’t like she was out of options. She only had to find an alternative way.
“I can’t spend … that kind of money.”
“Don’t you have something important to do?”
Edwin’s eyes locked with Selenia’s.
“For my sister to get married, to have a child, and for that child to live happily ever after…”
He closed his eyes as if in a happy dream.
“I want to make this world a better place.”
Selenia was clever, she knew exactly what he meant only by his expression.
“… I will pay you double of this.”
Selenia squeezed his gold coins. She was not the kind of person to make his sacrifice in vain. In determination, her eyes glowed.
“Even in spring, it is still chilly at night. I will lend you my robes.”
The same fresh scent flowed from the robe on her. Selenia put on his robe and headed downtown with him. She went to the post office to post a letter to the imperial palace, then strolled the streets, gathering information that could help her. She didn’t know it was easier than she thought.
The townspeople answered her questions without hesitation. But it was also bittersweet. They complained of what they’re undergoing with though she was just a stranger. It was obvious that their grievances had reached to an extreme.
It was a bitterness so bitter it was hard to swallow.
What went wrong?
Her heart felt heavy as though it was her fault for being incapable. Selenia returned to Edwin’s house carrying the bitterness with her. Upon arriving to her room, she had gathered each information through writing.
Edwin watched her enter the room with concern. Her expression hadn’t been good since earlier. Concerned about her, he headed out to the orchard and knocked on her door while carrying goodies. She was frantically shuffling through her goal, oblivious to his entrance.
Edwin momentarily stared at her, then spoke up.
As Selenia moved her quill quickly, something fell in front of her – it was a ripe plum.
Selenia alternated between looking at the few plums rolling around on her desk and at Edwin, who was looking at her as his eyes shone. No one had ever offered her fruits like this before. It was a brazen gesture, perhaps because he didn’t know who she was, but it was refreshing.
Selenia smiled lazily at him and lifted the plum, taking a large bite. Its sweet juice oozed from the tart flesh.
Her tone was stiff, but the corners of her mouth curled up in a satisfied arc. Surprisingly, the fresh and fruity aroma lifted her spirits. Suddenly, a cool breeze mixed with a hint of spring blew through the open window. Her golden hair fluttered with the white curtains and Selenia tucked her golden hair behind her ear as it fluttered in the breeze.
This is such a peaceful place. She could almost live here forever. Without realizing it, Selenia’s mouth curved into a wide smile and Edwin blushed at her mesmerizing sight.
“Hhm, tonight I’m going to give you a taste of my specialty stew, so look forward to it!”
“I look forward to it.”
Selenia’s softly folded eyes were adorable. In a dash, he left her room while hearing his heart beating so hard. Through their days together, after dinner, he’d always sat in front of the campfire with her and talked. As they gazed up at the shooting stars across the night sky, he found himself drawn to her. He had never felt anything else for a woman in his life.
But this woman was different.
Aside from being beautiful, as if sculpted by a god, she was also extremely intelligent. She knew medicine without being a doctor, and she had a knack for gathering information and organizing them into documents. Edwin, in his own way, was also called a genius in his hometown.
But Selenia knew literally everything.
No matter what the topic, her mouth blurted wisdom. She would even explain events and academic arguments that he didn’t know about. He had never talked to someone who could communicate so well with him. But it was Selenia’s smile that won him over. He gave her plums but her smile was sweet, and his heart raced like the sea in inclement weather just by witnessing her.
It was strange indeed.
They had only just met, and yet he felt drawn to her, as if she were telling her she was his destiny. Edwin shook his head and headed for the storeroom.
For some unspeakable reason, she was no ordinary knight. No ordinary knight would be so eager to investigate corruption in a place like this. And even if she was, she was probably from the capital’s nobility. Even if she could fake a name, she couldn’t fake an embodied elegance.
‘A country doctor like me shouldn’t dare to cross a noble lady.’
He went to the storeroom and sighed, picking up a bunch of vegetables to make a stew. Even if he couldn’t tell her how he felt, he wanted to make her the best stew he was skilled with. He went to the kitchen, put the crockpot on and started slicing potatoes. As soon as he finished organizing their meal, Selenia came out of the room.
“Can I help you with anything?”
Selenia walked over to Edwin, who was slicing potatoes.
“It’s okay. Take a rest.”
Edwin urged her on with his skillful chopping, but she had no intention of backing down. She was indebted to his house, hence she couldn’t afford to lay back and watch him serve her food.
“It shouldn’t be hard, it’s just like swordplay.”
Selenia fumbled around, then found a knife and grabbed it.
“Can I slice this?”
He smiled gently.
‘She has a cute side.’
Selenia coughed and picked up the cleaned carrot. She placed it on the chopping board and began to slice it very carefully while Edwin stared at her as she did so. Her lips were slightly pouted in concentration, looking so adorable. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, mesmerized.
“There, that’s it.”
While Edwin was distracted by her, Selenia smiled proudly after finishing slicing the carrots. For a moment, Edwin’s warm green eyes met Selenia’s golden ones. When she realized that Edwin was seriously staring at her, she involuntarily averted her gaze.
Edwin snapped out of his senses and turned his attention back to the carrots Selenia had sliced.
The carrot had been mangled into a mess. Unless there was something wrong with the carrot, it couldn’t have been chopped like this.
“…. Do you, perhaps, hate carrots?”
“Huh? No. I don’t have any food dislike.”
“Maybe carrots are your parents’ enemies, or maybe you’ve wanted to kill them since for a long time…”
“… Are my knife skills that bad?”
She’d always been praised for her skills, but this was the first time in her life she’d ever been criticized for failing to do something.
“No, as long as it’s edible.”
Edwin said gently and shook the carrots she had sliced, no, diced-into the pot. It only made her more miserable.
“… I can’t stand it.”
“I’ve never felt so miserable in my life.”
“Maybe there’s something you can’t do.”
Already, Selenia’s eyes were burning with passion.
“While we are here, teach me how to cook.”
“Pardon? But, I’m not that expertly trained either…”
Certainly, his food would be shabby compared to what she ate at the Palace, since the imperial chefs were some of the bests in the capital. But Edwin’s dishes were strangely suited to her taste buds. She wasn’t usually a heavy eater, but Edwin would serve things that were only lightly seasoned with pepper, not salt.
It was as if he knew all her tastes.
“No, no. Your food is my favorite.”
At Selenia’s slightly raised eyebrows, Edwin finally granted her unasked-for favor.
“Well, I am not educated… but I’ll teach you to what I know.”
Selenia smiled faintly at the sight of Edwin’s uncertainty but still smiling warmly. The sight of his smile made her feel at peace.
When had she ever felt so at ease?
Since she was born, she had never been able to relax. She’d always been weighed down by her duties and responsibilities to the empire, her heavy shoulders straining to keep up. With the exception of Evangeline, she had no friends. Her noble birth made it difficult for everyone, and even those who approached her in a friendly manner had their own agenda. Selenia had always had to play the part of the princess they wanted her to be.
But this man was different. She’d seen a lot of people in her life, she had also taken pride in her competence. However, he wanted nothing from her, but sincerity. In front of him, she could be herself, Sera, not Princess Selenia.
‘How could I feel so comfortable, like I’ve known him for so long?’
Unaware of her future fate, Selenia’s affection for him spread like paint on a canvas.