Episode 4: Customer, I mean, Husband-nim (1)
Tarkan glanced at the top of Aristine’s head while she walked onwards without looking at him.
‘She’s completely different from earlier.’
When they were in the tea-room a while ago with the King, she kept turning to look at him as if to say, ‘I’m good, aren’t I? My ability is not bad, right? What do you think? You feel like teaming up with me now?’ or at least, that’s what he could read from her gaze.
But as soon as they left the tea-room, she did not glance at him, even once. She still didn’t look at him even after they reach Tarkan’s palace.
‘I know what she wants.’
She wanted him to reach out to her first.
She wanted Tarkan, who declared that she wouldn’t be able to help him in any way, to ask her for help first.
A skewed smile rose onto Tarkan’s face.
Normally, he certainly wouldn’t try to stop her from leaving. He had always resolved everything by himself without help from anyone.
However, Tarkan stopped Aristine.
“Can we talk for a bit?”
Aristine looked up at Tarkan for a moment, then her eyes curved lazily.
“I am a very busy woman.”
She was saying he should fret a little more.
Tarkan couldn’t help but chuckle for some reason.
“I only need a minute.”
“It will be very quick.”
The purple eyes staring at him rolled in acquiescence.
“As long as it’s very quick; I am busy, but I shall allow it specially.”
“Why, thank you for that.”
And so, a tea table was prepared for the two of them.
This was her third tea set in a row but Aristine was definitely not tired of it.
With the first tea, she only took a proper sip and downed the rest when it was cold because she was annoyed, and the second time, she didn’t even bring the teacup to her lips because she was busy feeding the King jelly.
So she was inwardly happy about it.
“I admit it.”
Tarkan spoke as the court ladies were laying out the tea.
“That you can help me.”
Aristine smiled sweetly.
Seeing her cover her mouth with a hand as if to say, ‘that is so unexpected’, made Tarkan’s lips twitch.
“At the very least, it will be entertaining to watch you make a spectacle out of my siblings like you did today.”
Somehow, he didn’t want to say what Aristine wanted him to say.
“There should be something else apart from that, shouldn’t there?”
“Perhaps. I wonder what that is.”
When he feigned ignorance, Aristine’s lips tightened in a hard line.
“Did you not see what I can achieve? You heard me tell His Majesty what I wanted today, right?”
“But how is that useful to me.”
“To stabilize your support while you are away perhaps? Don’t things get messy because you’re often away due to the demonic beasts?”
“I can settle those things when I return.”
“And I can stop the members of the royal family from attacking those under your wing without cause.”
“They all know what they have to bear.”
“Can you stop the other nobles from using that opportunity to push policies while you are away?”
“I can deal with it later.”
Aristine’s face was expressionless but her gaze on him seemed to be scowling.
She was definitely cursing him inside.
Tarkan was amused even though he really didn’t know why.
“That is called a waste of time. What you are essentially saying, is that you will be cleaning up first thing after you return to the palace. But I can reduce that wastage.”
Aristine grumbled incessantly.
Tarkan watched her talk without saying anything.
The evening was drawing closer, so the sky had gotten a little darker and the wind was charged with moisture, filling the air with the scent of the garden.
Aristine, who was grumbling, stopped talking and lifted her head. Because she realized she was the only one talking too much.
“Alright then, why did you call me since you don’t think I am of much help?”
When he heard that sour statement, Tarkan thought about it for a moment before replying.
“As you said, we are both partners in this political marriage so I thought it might be a good idea to get to know each other to some extent.”
“Ah, you must be wondering why I came here looking like a clump of dust.”
Aristine nodded and crossed her legs.
Somehow, Tarkan felt like his words were perceived in a different way but she wasn’t exactly wrong, so he nodded his head.
Aristine took a sip of her tea then she looked down at the tea-table. Her long eyelashes cast an elegant and deep shadow over her eyes.
Her gaze was unintentionally fixed on the enticing raspberry compote and scones that were on the plate.
She wanted to eat it but there was only one plate of scones.
Aristine quietly drank her tea.
‘Is it a good idea to tell this man about my situation?’
She knew the answer to that right away.
Even though she had lived in confinement and didn’t have much experience with interpersonal relationships, she knew she could not trust someone that she had just met.
After all, she had seen many human relationships with the Monarch’s Sight.
‘How much does he know about me exactly?’
First things first, he probably knew about how she was treated in the Imperial Palace.
The Emperor of Silvanus did not hide his cold treatment of Aristine. Of course, there was no benefit to letting the world know of the unseemly circumstances in the Imperial family.
So the official statement was that Aristine was being treated for her illness.
However, since most of the nobles in court and palace servants knew the truth, it was pretty much an open secret.
‘From what I saw earlier, all the other members of the royal family seem to know, so Tarkan naturally knows.’
While she was considering how much she should say in this situation, Tarkan suddenly opened his mouth.
“I thought you were crying.”
“When I got there. The other royal family members were…”
Tarkan shut his mouth. He turned away and mumbled.
He had never comforted anyone before. Nor had he ever tried to care for someone who was dejected.
However, he felt like he was awkward and unfamiliar to himself because he didn’t know why he was bothered about her and even saying things like this.
But when she looked down softly just now, he thought she was sad and downcast.
Aristine looked at Tarkan, who was trying to organize his thoughts, with absurdity in her eyes.
Why would she cry over something like that?
Tarkan frowned once he read the look in her eyes.
“You’re the princess of Silvanus so this must be your first time experiencing this sort of thing.”
“I am familiar with it though?”
Not only that, she was ready to hear all sorts of nonsense about how terrible she looked.
Aristine watched him carefully, then she sneakily put some raspberry compote on the scone.
Tarkan didn’t say anything. He didn’t even look like he was paying attention.
Somehow, it seemed like his mind was somewhere else.
Encouraged by this, Aristine went ahead and applied clotted cream to all the scone slices. Then she threw a piece straight into her mouth.
It was her first time eating such delicious bread.
Maybe she had tried it when she was very small. But she didn’t remember anyway.
When she took a mouthful of tea together with it, she was mesmerized.
Aristine was so happy that she had to wonder if this was really alright.
‘Should I offer some to Tarkan too?’
However, the scones were very small and there were only 3-4 pieces left. Honestly, she wanted to eat all of it.
She glanced at his face and noticed that his expression was stiff.
Well, she could understand.
There was only one plate and strictly speaking, the scones belonged to Tarkan.
‘It’s my fault for eating it without asking.’
Despite that, she was still hesitating on whether she should offer it or not.
Just when Aristine was about to sullenly open her mouth…
“You said you’re familiar with it?”
She heard a remarkably low voice that seemed to be scraping off the ground.