“I do not wish to give up my beloved Grand Duke, so I shall agree to the union!”
* * *
The people of Erestein demonstrated remarkable efficiency. However, I had anticipated that the union would occur after Camilla’s departure.
To my surprise, preparations for the union commenced as soon as night fell, with Camilla leading the arrangements. I found myself immersed in a luxurious bathtub filled with rose petals and milk, and my body was pampered with alluring fragrant oils.
Amidst the warm reception from many, I entered Reinhardt’s chamber, catching glimpses of Camilla smiling as if she could envision herself as a future grandmother.
Reinhardt, whose skin had become smoother, hung his head deeply.
“Why are you like this? I must admit, it is beyond embarrassing. Despite the firm clause of a 42.195km prohibition, I can’t even maintain a mere 1 meter away.”
“Though among the additional clauses Reinhardt added, there is one that excludes ‘unavoidable reasons.’ It is something I also agreed to.”
“Why did you agree?”
“I already told you. I don’t want to give up the Grand Duke I hold dear and love.”
When I mentioned that, his face stiffened.
“Now that we have slept together once, what shall we do in the future if we still use separate chambers? Even the attendants will find it strange. So, what’s your plan?”
He stared at me with a strongly determined expression. Given the circumstances, even the stone-hearted Reinhardt seemed somewhat tense. Then, swiftly opening a water bottle, he gulped down water with force.
That was when I spoke up.
“Well, we have to continue sleeping together in the future.”
Reinhardt, who was swallowing water, spat it out in a fit of coughing. After a long bout of coughing, he looked at me with a strange gaze that said, ‘Are you mad?’
“Are you deliberately planning to fall for me?”
“Narcissistic? No, it was you who included the 42.195km prohibition, fearing that you might fall for me…!”
Seeing him defend himself earnestly, I clicked my tongue and continued.
“Of course, it would be best not to get too close, but even if we are close, I believe I can refrain from falling for you.”
“What do you mean?”
“As long as I don’t look at your face, I can simply turn my back and sleep.”
Reinhardt had an incredulous expression on his face as if he couldn’t believe the absurdity I was uttering. Nonetheless, after contemplating for a while, he let out a sigh and muttered.
“…Are you only interested in my face?”
“Regardless, as long as we don’t look at each other, it should be fine. No problem. Sigh…”
After enjoying a warm soak and returning to my room, sleepiness swiftly engulfed me. Given the circumstances of being confined due to the union, there was little else to occupy my time, so I settled onto the bed while feeling the urge to sleep.
In addition, I deliberately turned my body towards the wall, making sure to avoid any sight of Reinhardt when I would woke up later.
“…W-what are you doing right now?”
Reinhardt, who was not one to stumble over words, stuttered.
“Since we can only leave when morning comes, there’s nothing to do but sleep for now.”
The soothing effects of the bath quickly overcame me, and within seconds, sleep enveloped me completely. As I surrendered myself to the call of slumber, I didn’t hear any of Reinhardt’s subsequent words.
* * *
“…You might be fine, but I am not.”
Reinhardt, despite his naivety, was still a man at the end of the day.
The presence of his ‘wife’ sleeping in the very bed he used to lie on couldn’t help but create an awkward tension, even if she were his contractual wife.
And that wife happened to be Iroval.
Iroval possessed a captivating charm that drew endless praise, with a voice as warm as a spring breeze and a countenance that was cold yet beautiful. Her perfectly balanced figure, confident posture, and ability to express herself without hesitation revealed her bright and cheerful personality.
Furthermore, she had the courage to reveal her feelings openly. All these qualities must have surely captivated numerous men. Despite the countless unrequited loves she must have experienced, in the end, many must have become mutual feelings.
Still, Iroval firmly asserted that her heart would not be directed towards him.
‘…What could be the reason?’
Did she lack confidence in herself?
Reinhardt chuckled softly. If she truly lacked confidence, she wouldn’t be able to display such a diverse range of expressions with such ease. Surely, Irovel must be well aware of her own charm.
If that was the case, why would she so firmly assert that he would not fall for her?
Reinhardt found her exasperatingly annoying, lying there so carefree and comfortable while he was still wide awake. Of course, there was no intention for them to sleep side by side in the bed, regardless of whether they faced each other or not.
While Irovel might be fine, he was certainly not.
He eventually settled down on the far corner of the spacious bedroom sofa, however, even after doing so, he couldn’t shake off the persistent tension and ended up not falling asleep at all.
* * *
I woke up from my slumber and sat up slowly. In the distance, I could see Reinhardt lying on the sofa, gazing at me with an unspoken concern.
‘He must have slept on the sofa instead of the bed.’
He was so old-fashioned that sharing a bed with a woman he didn’t love must have felt quite awkward to him.
“Did you sleep well on the sofa?”
Instead of answering my words, he instead posed a question.
“Did you sleep well?”
I went on, shaking my head.
“I don’t think I slept deeply.”
“You couldn’t sleep deeply? You slept until the moon set and the sun rose.”
“Ah, is that so? Strange… how could I sleep so long?”
Lost in thought, I suddenly realized something and clapped my hands together.
“Oh! Maybe I didn’t feel nervous because I didn’t see you! There was nothing to captivate me, so perhaps there was no reason to feel nervous!”
Hearing my response, Reinhardt seemed to be at a loss for words as his eyes blinked slowly. Then, he sighed and asked.
“Can I be honest with you?”
“The truth is, I didn’t sleep a wink all night.”
I found myself gazing into his languid eyes as if I was bewitched. In the slow passing of time, he moved his lips deliberately.
“Why do you think that might be?”