I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but ever since we’ve arrived at the temple, being with the emperor during the day was nothing but a rare occurrence.
He was so busy that whenever he came back to our room, he would not say or do anything but wrap his arms around me until he fell asleep.
And when I woke up the following day, the bed was already empty.
From what Lina had told me, she said that the emperor had been too preoccupied ever since we stepped foot here in the city of Evaron.
He had a lot to discuss with the church of Theres in regards to the upcoming festival, thus his overwhelmingly hectic schedule.
Being busy was only normal for the emperor who ruled the continent’s largest territory.
Even when we were at the palace together, the number of times he was in the bedroom with me during the day was only a handful.
I sighed and brushed my clothes.
And I’m sort of glad that we don’t have the time to face each other that often, seeing that it was not easy to adjust to his sudden change of behavior.
From the day I regained my voice, however, I noticed there’s a slight change in his embrace, like it was much more intimate, making it difficult to fall asleep at night.
My heart was beating fast from being wrapped up in the emperor’s embrace.
There were times when I would wake up in the middle of the night after being hugged even more tightly.
With no inch separating us throughout the night, I felt relieved I didn’t have to see him in the early mornings.
What does he want me to do I sighed heavily.
My mind was filled with thoughts and Lina was right next to me, sewing quietly ever since the day started.
We are making a decorative fabric befitting for the upcoming festival.
Usually, embellishments like these were prepared by the temple’s workers but they needed twice as much for this year’s festival, and they needed all the help they could get.
Since Lina being my own personal maid was kept secret, she juggled both roles of being my maid and a helper for the ancestral rites.
I felt sorry for her.
I tried to make her feel better but she just shrugged it off and said that she was glad her salary was twice as much now.
It was a rite required by the state so the imperial family made sure to pay extra.
Being an aid entailed sewing the fabrics by hand as part of the preparations.
Lina couldn’t leave my side so she had to work in the emperor’s bedroom all day long.
I was entranced by Lina’s skilled hands as she worked with the needle in swift, rapid motions.
I basically memorized the handiwork and thought that maybe I could do it too.
“Can I help you”
Lina’s expression crumpled.
I asked her why and she let out a soft sigh.
“I can do it myself, Iona.”
“I think I could do it, too.”
Lina grinned slightly.
“I actually saw your maid’s uniform before.” She didn’t say anything else, but I understood exactly what she meant.
I smiled sheepishly.
“… I’ll stay quiet, then.” I didn’t think she would notice how bad my sewing skills were.
I threw my hands up in surrender and I know for a fact that I’m not good at things that require précised and careful strokes.
Looking at the fabric closely, it looked like it was not just an ordinary material like cotton.
This one appeared to be of high quality fabric that I wouldn’t be able to fix once I made a mistake.
I scratched my cheek slightly.
“I just wanted to help because you look so busy.”
Lina raised her eyebrows.
You should just rest.
It hasn’t been long since your throat got better, you know.”
“I’m alright now.” I assured.
When Lina found out I could speak again a few days ago, she was so delighted that we spent hours talking and treating each other like friends, foregoing the formalities as we conversed.
Questions after questions poured out of my mouth and Lina answered all of them with equal enthusiasm.
It didn’t take long until we knew of each other’s life stories and the boring days passed by in an instant.
What a blessing it is to finally speak again.
I was so engrossed with Lina’s sewing that I muttered without realizing, “The emperor is acting strange.”
“Iona!” Lina panicked as she alarmingly looked around to see if anyone’s nearby.
I quickly shut my mouth.
It was not long since I was able to speak again, so I spoke whatever that came into my mind without much thought.
Whenever I’m with the emperor, I was too nervous that slip-ups like that didn’t happen.
But when I did loosen my guard, even just for a little bit, slips of tongue kept on happening.
I should be more careful.
I plucked a green grape out of a branch and popped it into my mouth.
The emperor never failed to remind me that I should eat more, hence the snacks in my bedroom.
This bunch of sweet green grapes was one of them. Does he want to fatten me up and then eat me later
I looked out of the window as random thoughts swirled in my head.
The sky was painted with soft blues, and I thought the weather was great for a short walk.