“Knowing how to brew tea that is mostly consumed by royalty is quite a skill.
You always catch me by surprise.” The emperor paused before adding, “Like the things you do while you’re asleep.” There was a slight teasing in his tone, his lips curling into a playful smile.
“T-that’s…” I can’t believe he said something so personal! I wanted to at least defend myself but I shut my mouth instead, knowing for a fact that doing so would only be futile and if anything, the emperor might just tease me even more.
Amused by my reaction, the emperor chuckled quietly before sipping from his cup.
“Hm.” His expression hardened as he stared at his drink, not at all fond of the taste and I assumed he’s not used to the strong flavor of black tea.
Right, I remember how he opted to eat candies instead of proper meals.
He gently placed the teacup back onto the table.
Without missing a beat, I flicked two teaspoons of sugar to his tea to dilute its bitterness.
The emperor slightly frowned, perhaps thinking that I was treating him like a kid and he said, “There’s no need for that.”
“The best way to drink tea is however you like it.
Everyone has their own preferences that suit their taste.”
His ears reddened at my words.
To see the tyrant flustered and transparent with his emotions, despite how unintentional, was really surprising.
I didn’t expect that such a side of him existed.
Seeing my words had affected him in some way felt like witnessing a miracle with my own eyes.
To ward off the awkwardness, the emperor took a sip once again, and this time he looked more satisfied than the first time.
Seeing him pleased and content brought a smile to my face.
Our relationship really had progressed; from just being a tyrant and a doll fulfilling our own duties evolved into this, where he is greatly considerate of me that he made sure that both of us took the time to relax and in the process, we also found comfort in each other’s company.
Being with him like this, I was able to see a side of him I haven’t seen before.
I am honestly thrilled being here in this place where we indulged in aromatic tea and delicious biscuits surrounded by the lake.
I haven’t felt this peaceful in both my past and current lives and even though I am still the emperor’s doll and nothing had drastically changed, I still felt happy nonetheless.
Human beings need their time in the sun after all.
Fully immersed in my surroundings, I unconsciously began humming a silent song to myself.
I didn’t even notice the emperor was looking at me as he enjoyed his tea, since I was transfixed by the lake shining brightly under the sun.
“On a lake gleaming with sunlight
An angel appears, riding its golden waves
I longingly extend my hand
Closer, just a little bit closer
To you, one that is so full of light
Although I am far from good enough
Step by step, one day…”
It was a song I’ve heard quite often back in my previous life.
I forgot what it’s called, but it was a song I find myself singing whenever things get a little bit rough.
I turned my gaze and saw the emperor with his eyes closed, as if he was completely lost and entranced with my singing, a soft smile pulling his lips.
At the same time, a strange object caught my attention.
Huh What’s this
I thought it was a dandelion seed at first.
But upon closer inspection, I saw it was actually a small, fluttering particle of light.
I gently brushed it with my finger and it stuck to my skin before gradually disappearing.
It didn’t feel like anything, but it was still a nice sensation, like touching the rays of the sun itself.
Is it like a firefly
Then as if to answer my question, the pavilion was instantly surrounded by the said particles of light, numerous in numbers like floating dandelion seeds breezing in the wind.
It was like a foam-like cloud of light slowly ascending up in the air, my mouth parting at the breathtaking sight.
I found myself asking if what I’m seeing is actually real, and not just a figment of my imagination.
It’s beautiful… Was the emperor behind this
I turned to look at him and I noticed right away that he was flustered.
Mimicking my action, he also carefully stretched his hand out and touched one of the particles as it absorbed through his skin.
He took a closer look at his finger where the particles had disappeared.
I hope to be by your side.” The song I’ve been humming drifted to an end.
By now the pavilion was surrounded by the particles of light floating atop the surface of the lake.
I was about to ask the emperor if he did this when I noticed the rigidness of his expression, making me shut my mouth.
Was he not behind this
“Yes, my Lord”
“Are you hurt”
I looked at him in surprise, “….No”
“Okay, then everything’s fine.” I tilted my head to the side, confused at his unexpected question.
Was he trying to criticize my voice in a subtle way
But judging from his still rigid expression, it didn’t seem to be the case and it appeared like something else was bothering him entirely.
His fists opened and closed at his sides as he stared at a far off distance.
Few seconds, minutes passed, and the particles of light eventually disappeared without a trace.
What’s going on
The emperor kept his lips firmly shut, unwilling to share what’s on his mind.
The air between us now took an awkward turn, but the hardness in his features eased after a while as he poured me another cup of warm tea.
“Try this cake, too.” The cake he handed over seemed to contain seasonal fruits.
While it had a sweet taste, it wasn’t too sweet that it’s off-putting, synonymous to the time I was currently sharing with the emperor, I thought to myself as I chewed.
It… actually tastes good.
He kept his eyes on me the whole time I was eating the cake.
While being the subject of his rapt attention was quite uncomfortable, the majestic pavilion with the warm rays of afternoon sun made me breathless, and I shifted my attention to that instead.