Episode 28: Loveable (1)
“Are you here for an audience with His Majesty?” Hamill began.
“May I ask why?”
Aristine looked up at Hamill. There was a smile drawn on his soft face.
“Yes, you can.”
Everyone would know about it soon anyway. Nephther must have sent out a message as soon as she left. After all, she told him it was a battle against time.
‘And I’m sure it will soon reach Hamill at manastone mine.’
Or maybe he had already been notified and was exchanging correspondence with his advisors in the royal capital. Whichever it was, no one could overturn the king’s decision.
“I asked to be sold manastones,” Aristine said.
Hamill’s arm, which Aristine was holding, flinched for an instant. But a smile was soon planted on his face and he asked, “Manastones?”
“Mhm, I need them.”
Considering her situation, her request for manastones was surprising to anyone.
But Aristine’s response was casual as she looked over the garden.
The white roses looked beautiful as they bloomed over the carefully trimmed vines.
Hamill studied her sun-kissed face then he opened his mouth, “Aren’t manastones being managed by Prince Hamill?”
“Then why did you ask His Majesty?”
Aristine raised her head and looked at Hamill.
“You could have talked to Prince Hamill.”
Hamill’s eyes were staring intently at Aristine. As if his gaze was dissecting her step by step.
“Do you think Prince Hamill would have obliged if I asked him to sell me manastone?”
Hamill paused for a moment, then he smiled deeply, “I do not.”
“Right?” Aristine chuckled and sent him a look.
The outcome is obvious so why would I go to Hamill?
—It was that kind of look.
“But still, you never know.”
His voice was stubborn, and it almost sounded like he was sulking.
Aristine stopped walking and turned to Hamill.
He looked straight at her, not avoiding her gaze, “Prince Hamill’s decision might be different depending on what Princess Consort is doing.”
His voice was as clear as the light of the summer. His blue eyes stayed on Aristine for a while.
Aristine gazed at Hamill who was looking at her, then she tilted her head.
‘Why does he look disappointed?’
He looked like he was disappointed that she went to Nephther without talking to Hamill.
Before Aristine could figure anything out, Hamill turned away and started walking.
“What else did you do?”
It sounded like he was changing the subject, but Aristine obediently went with it.
“We played cards; it was quite fun. It was my first time too.”
“Did you win?”
“What do you think?” Aristine grinned.
Her confident smile sparkled clearly under the summer sun.
Hamill’s elegant eyes narrowed.
The wind scattered Aristine’s hair so Hamill gently swept it back.
“Next time, play with me,” He whispered in her ear.
* * *
Aristine entered the room, stretching her limbs. She had a busy day, so she was tired.
While she was discussing with Nephther, Ritlen began preparing for the electric-powered furnace, no, the mana-powered furnace.
Ritlen was more knowledgeable about the smelting process so he would be overseeing that aspect.
After talking a walk with Hamill, Aristine had dinner and listened to Ritlen’s report.
Ritlen looked down the whole time he was giving his report.
Aristine was puzzled because his invisible puppy ears and tail looked like they were drooping.
According to his report, the preparation for the mana-powered furnace was going well at every step.
He even said it wouldn’t take too long to improve the existing equipment because it could be constructed with the help of a magician.
‘Then why does he look so down like a puppy in the rain?’
Just as she was thinking that, Ritlen made a determined expression and asked:
《Princess Consort, do you not trust me perhaps?》
Aristine was startled by those unexpected words. She didn’t think she could find an employee more reliable than Ritlen in this world.
Even with her attempts to comfort him, Ritlen’s dropping tail showed no sign of revitalization.
《I heard you collapsed yesterday.》
《Ah, yes. 》
《Why didn’t you tell me? Sure enough, you can’t rely on me…》
Aristine was taken aback.
It couldn’t be…was that why he looked so depressed right now?
《I heard it was overwork. Not knowing that, I was just nodding earlier when we were talking about work instead of stopping you…It is all my fault that Your Highness was overworked in the first place. If I took care of everything, you wouldn’t be facing any problems…》
Aristine felt bad when she heard Ritlen’s serious tone, but she couldn’t hold back her laughter.
In the end, she burst into laughter then tried to persuade this hurt puppy that she was fine.
Only after confirming that Aristine was healthy, and nothing was wrong did Ritlen’s tail rise again.
‘My employee is oddly a handful.’
For some reason, she was surrounded by people who were quite a handful.
‘And the worst of them is my dear husband.’
Aristine closed the bedroom door with a clack.
The biggest handful in the world was currently sitting on the bed, looking at her.
When she saw Tarkan’s face, she suddenly remembered.
‘He and Dionna are not lovers.’
But on the first night, he nodded when she asked him to keep his chastity for his lover.
《She is my lover.》 
He even said it himself.
If that’s the case, which woman was his lover then?
That question arose in her mind as if it was always there. It was just pushed aside because of work but it had always been lurking in her chest.
‘No, regardless of who it is, what does it have to do with me?’
Aristine shook her head to clear her mind.
Aristine said as usual and walked over to the bed.
Tarkan called her with a complicated look on his face. He seemed spiritless and almost like he was trembling.
His expression lacked confidence. But at the same time, it was hesitant and hopeful.
“I have nothing to do with Dionna.”
Aristine chuckled. She thought he was going to say something else.
“Mn, I said I know.”
Tarkan stretched out a hand to Aristine.
Seeing Aristine naturally take his hand, he fell silent.
At some point, it had become natural to touch each other like this.
He sat on the bed, both of his hand intertwined with Aristine who was still standing then he opened his mouth.
“It’s not just Dionna. I am not in a relationship with any woman.”
He lifted his head and looked straight at Aristine.
“If there is someone, then it is you.”
His golden eyes, soaked in the candle haze, seemed to be whispering words she couldn’t hear.
“Because we are a couple.”