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1612-chapter-21

“His Majesty the King is on his way to the Solar Palace.”

Late at night, Elfreda, who was sitting at her desk with a somber expression, was startled by the unexpected news. Since receiving an apology from Serina in the audience chamber, he hadn’t visited her even once.

Caught up in the issues with the tea party, Elfreda had momentarily forgotten about him. She quickly adjusted her dress, preparing to welcome Ejnar.

Soon, unfamiliar footsteps grew closer. She forced the worry from her face.

‘…Does he know about the failed tea party?’

She wondered if he was coming to blame her incompetence. Elfreda felt anxious. It wasn’t the fear of being scolded that bothered her. But rather hating her for concerning him with such matters.

Elfreda promised not to show her distress during their meeting.

“I greet the shining sun of Machi.”

As she greeted him formally and lifted her head, Ejnar stood there with an unknown expression. Elfreda smiled awkwardly and broke the silence first.

“…How have you been?”

“Are you complaining that I haven’t visited in a long time?”

“Not at all.”

She almost added that she, too, had been so busy with her work that she hadn’t had time to think of him but quickly stopped herself. Instead, she spoke worriedly.

“You look tired. Are you sleeping well?”

“Perhaps you should worry about your own face first.”

“Yes?”

“Don’t you look in the mirror? It seems your face gets thinner by the day.”

Then, he approached her with a displeased look.

Startled, Elfreda tensed up slightly. Suddenly, he was right in front of her, examining her face closely. Elfreda watched him nervously as if she had something to hide.

Ejnar didn’t stop at just examining her face. Suddenly, he raised his hand and gently touched her cheek. As his long fingers made contact, she flinched like a sensitive plant. Wherever his fingers touched, it felt scorchingly hot.

“Can’t sleep either?”

Or was it ticklish? She felt a tightening sensation in her lower stomach. It was a strangely embarrassing feeling that made her shyly avoid his gaze. Ejnar, unwilling to let her look away, grasped her chin and made her face him.

Elfreda’s surprised eyes widened slightly.

“Ah…”

“It seems more like you than me.”

Ejnar asked with one eyebrow slightly furrowed.

“Do you have any worries lately?”

Elfreda slowly moved her stiff lips as if she felt like she was being interrogated. His sharp gaze seemed to pierce through her. She was unable to move and just looked at him, struggling to voice a lie.

“…Not at all.”

“And yet, you look like this?”

“Just… I’m worried about Marchioness Magnum’s illness.”

Elfreda hastily found an excuse to add.

“She has been on leave for three days now. It seems severe, and I’m concerned.”

“Is that so? It must be disrupting the palace’s works.”

Elfreda felt as if she was being interrogated, although the words were surely not meant that way. It was just that she was feeling guilty…

She smiled awkwardly and lied again.

“The other maids are helping out well.”

“So,”

Ejnar concluded.

“There’s no issue you’re feeling troubled about.”

“I…”

She was still unable to tell what he was thinking from his expression, Elfreda muttered with a faint smile.

“I’ll do better, so you don’t need to worry about the palace.”

“….”

Ah.

After the silence, she thought she could finally read his expression a bit.

He seemed displeased. However, it was still unclear. She couldn’t understand what about her response had displeased him. She thought her reply had been perfectly exemplary for a queen, but she was suddenly gripped by an ominous feeling that she might have been mistaken.

“Right.”

Ejnar said as he pulled the corner of his mouth.

“You must try harder to ensure I don’t have to worry.”

“…”

“Then, I must also make an effort in other areas.”

“Yes…?”

Before she could ask, Ejnar’s large hand reached forward and grasped the front of her gown.

“Ah…”

Elfreda looked at him with a bewildered face. His face was expressionless, yet he clearly looked upset.

What might have seemed a tender gesture was purely mechanical. Her chest, which had swelled more than usual ahead of her cycle, was crushed in his hand. Elfreda gradually felt her body becoming wetter as she accepted his touches without moving.

Umm…”

As Ejnar skillfully moved his hand, the strength began to drain from her body. His hand gradually moved lower, from above her navel to below, slowly tracing a path before his other hand, seemingly annoyed, began to peel off the dress draped over her shoulders.

The dress slipped loosely downward, and Elfreda increasingly struggled to stand upright. She wanted to move to the bed, but for some reason, Ejnar remained still. His feet didn’t move at all, only his hands.

Ah…”

Despite her making strained noises, he was still. Finally, as the dress could no longer fully cover her and slipped down, Ejnar slid his hand to the flowing gap.

Elfreda couldn’t resist and looked up at him.

But Ejnar met her gaze calmly. His face was dry and did not match his actions, as if he would not do anything more until she spoke directly. Her legs were so weak that she almost stumbled, and she managed to speak with difficulty.

Huht, Your Majesty…”

“Yes.”

He responded quietly.

“Say it.”

“Could we… move to the bed?”

Ejnar’s eyebrow twitched at her crying voice. He twitched his lips and murmured.

“You’re good with words.”

“Yes?”

“I thought my Queen..,.”

Ejnar pulled his hand lower without hesitation.

“Was a simpleton who couldn’t even speak her mind.”

Ah…!

“Fortunately, it seems that’s not the case.”

But why won’t you say anything else, huh?

Ejnar swallowed the rest of his words.

When he first learned that Elfreda was facing difficulties, he observed her actions quietly. As expected, no one came to assist his queen, and it was clear she now had only one person to turn to.

He waited.

Still, she did not come. Perhaps she felt embarrassed to ask for help, so he came to her directly and even asked explicitly.

Yet, until the end, this woman didn’t seek his help.

Why was that? She was someone who ended up speaking her mind when cornered, so why wouldn’t she ask for help in this situation?

He was filled with curiosity to the brim, but his pride was hurt. It seemed demeaning to offer help to a woman who didn’t even think to inform him of her situation. Why should he go to such lengths for this woman? No, why was he even showing kindness to her to this extent?

To a fake queen who dared to swallow up his Machi.

Suddenly, a sense of rage surged within him. It was unclear whether this rage was essentially about the woman’s mere existence, about her keeping silent to him specifically, or about his own feelings for giving so much concern to such a woman.

He didn’t want to keep this rage to himself any longer.

Ejnar suddenly lifted Elfreda off her feet. Elfreda screamed softly and flailed her hands in the air. She tried reflexively to grab his shoulders but quickly clenched her fists instead. Despite being high enough to make one fear fall, she held herself bravely.

Ejnar’s expression twisted at her.

Aahh. So, she didn’t want to talk about her situation to her husband and didn’t want to touch his body, was that it?

 

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