< — I love you — > (4)
T/N: chapter split is lopsided
The next day, Lucia received a message from Katherine in the morning. It was an invitation to meet in the afternoon. Yesterday, Katherine had been very satisfied with the successful completion of the party. Her expression as she sent Lucia off was filled with pride.
‘If she’s a little gentler when speaking, she could easily get along with more people. But I suppose that is her charm.’
Yesterday at the party, some noblewoman secretly spoke to Lucia when Katherine was too far to hear.
[This is my first time seeing someone who can treat Princess Katherine so comfortably.]
Instead of saying it directly, the noblewoman expressed it in a roundabout manner saying that Lucia was able to put up well with the head-strong Katherine. It was very rare for someone to say such things to Lucia directly and many people looked at Lucia with pitying or admiring gazes. They seemed to be thinking, ‘she is enduring well’. Right now, there was no way to resolve their misunderstanding, but as time passed, they would soon realize the truth anyways. Lucia had never once thought that she was ‘enduring’ Katherine.
Katherine was someone who grew up well-loved and there was nothing crooked about her. Her words were straightforward, which could make the listener uncomfortable, but she wasn’t an irrational snob.
‘If I had grew up as a well-loved, noble princess, would I have become such a confident princess?’
A life like that didn’t seem too bad. Lucia was envious of Katherine’s immature self-confidence, a result of growing up without hardships and living unaware of the scariness in the world. Lucia wished for Katherine to keep on living happily and carefree even until old age.
“I don’t know how she heard about it, but Her Highness the Queen sent a message that she would be imposing on us. I have to reschedule our tea time for next time.”
Katherine greeted Lucia who was visiting the Palace and grumbled to her. The pair moved to the Queen’s Palace. Beth had already finished making all the preparations and was waiting for them.
Even without merry topics to discuss, the small talk was enjoyable. Lucia was comfortable spending time with Beth and Katherine as if she had known them for a long time.
‘Is it because they aren’t strangers to me?’
Lucia didn’t associate with a lot of people, so she was amazed at the comfort she felt from the both of them. They hadn’t even exchanged words until recently.
‘Is this what a family is like?’
If one were to delve into their personal relationship, Katherine was her sister, and Beth was her sister-in-law. Lucia didn’t give that relationship any meaning, but there was something that was different from others.
“Earlier, the handmaid carried out an embroidery tub. Since when did you have an interest in embroidery?”
Beth gave a wry smile. In her time as a maiden, Beth scoured the social circles and played hard in her own way. She wasn’t someone who enjoyed static activities such as embroidery.
“Tell me about it. I’m doing something I’ve had never had an interest in my entire life. His Majesty asked me to embroider his handkerchief.”
Katherine burst out laughing. “Embroider his handkerchief?”
“This is all thanks to the Duchess.” (Beth)
Lucia was surprised by the unexpected comment.
“Why is it ‘thanks to the Duchess’?” (Katherine)
“The Duchess gave an embroidered handkerchief to the Duke of Taran. His Majesty saw that and wanted one too, so he asked me to make one.” (Beth)
Katherine roared with laughter and Lucia’s face turned red.
‘How did His Majesty happen to see it?’
There was no way her husband bragged about receiving that kind of gift. Lucia couldn’t even imagine such a sight.
“I’d like to see what kind of handkerchief it is.” (Katherine)
“Only if the Duchess is fine with it. I happen to have it with me. His Majesty borrowed it for reference.” (Beth)
“Oh my god. I want to see. Can I look at it?”
When Katherine looked at her with sparkling eyes and asked for permission, Lucia nodded her head with a red face. She was embarrassed to show the handkerchief that she made with her paltry skill.
“Don’t be hard on your husband when you go back home, Duchess. His Majesty told me he snatched the handkerchief away.” (Beth)
Looking at her husband snickering away as he told her that the Duke of Taran’s expression was quite spectacular when he took it away, Beth thought to herself, ‘When will this man grow up?’
“Elder brother is doing all sorts of things now.” (Katherine)1
A little while later, a handmaid brought in the embroidery tub. Beth pulled out a white handkerchief from inside and handed it to Katherine.
Katherine looked surprised to see it was a cotton handkerchief. And she started laughing again. Her laughter carried the meaning of, ‘the Duke of Taran carries this stuff around?’ and Lucia’s face grew hot.
“The embroidery is cute. Flowers, huh.”
Lucia’s flushed expression stiffened slightly.
“…Can I see that for a moment?” (Lucia)
“Of course. You’re the original owner.” (Katherine)
Lucia’s eyes quivered as she checked the handkerchief that Katherine happily handed to her. She thought the handkerchief was the one that she gifted to him a while ago with his name embroidered on it. This handkerchief had a flower embroidery at the corner.
The clumsy embroidery work was a trace of the time when she had just started making handkerchiefs, a very long time ago. So he had one of the handkerchiefs that she had made for sending to Damian? Since it was a handkerchief with flower embroidery, it had been several months since she made those.
‘This…what does this mean?’
Her heart began to race.
1. The sentence here is said when someone does something ridiculous.