Zero no Tsukaima:Volume4 Chapter8
Chapter Eight: Reunion with Falsehood
Henrietta, nearly naked, was lying on her bed. The only thing she was wearing was a thin chemise. The room she was in belonged to her father, the deceased King, but she had begun to use it after becoming Queen.
Beside the enormous canopy-included bed was her father's favorite table. She quietly reached out with her hand and took the bottle of wine. Pouring it in her cup, she drank it all down in one gulp. Before, she lightly drank alcohol when she ate... but after becoming Queen, the amount she drank had increased.
To Henrietta, who was nothing but a flower ornament for the government, being asked for decisions was something she felt anxious about. Most resolutions were brought to her in a decided state, but even so, the one who gave approval of those was her. What was more, even though a state of reduced activity was being kept, the war was still going on.
Even though she was just an ornamental ruler, numerous responsibilities for her had already occurred. Henrietta was still handling that pressure. She couldn't sleep without drinking. She couldn't show this to her attendant court ladies or chamberlains, so she drank the hidden wine in the dead of night. Once again, she poured wine into her cup. I might have drank too much. She thought drowsily through her intoxication. She quietly chanted a rune and swung it down at the cup she had poured wine in.
Water overflowed from the tip of her wand and filled the cup. It was a spell to return water vapor in the air back into a fluid. It is a rudimentary spell of the Water-element.
The water overflowed and spilled out of the cup. Possibly because of her drunkenness, she couldn't control the amount she poured. She drank it all.
Henrietta, whose cheeks were dyed pink in color, fell on her bed once again.
When she was drunk, what she remembered was... the fun days. The glittering days.
The few times where she actually felt she was alive.
The short time of the summer when she was fourteen years-old.
The words she wanted to hear just once...
"Why did you not say it at that time?"
Henrietta asked, covering her face with her hands.
But, the person who would say it is no longer here. Nowhere in this world.
She felt that victory might heal sadness.
She thought that the exhausting work of a queen might let her forget about it.
However, she couldn't forget. Brilliant victories, words of praise, the shouts of the people who respect and love her for being a saint... cannot match just one word.
She unconsciously shed tears. Oh no, she thought. Tomorrow's morning will be early. There are negotiations with Germania's ambassador. To Tristain and Henrietta who wanted to end this foolish war as soon as possible, it was an important negotiation. I can't show them my face wet with tears. I can no longer show my weak side to anyone anymore.
She wiped her tears. And when she reached out for her wine cup again...
There was a knock at the door.
Who could it be so late at night? Did something troublesome come up again? It's annoying, but I can't ignore it. Albion might have dispatched their armada again.
Henrietta put on her gown in a weary manner and asked from her bed.
"La Porte? Or are you the Cardinal? What's wrong, in this dead of the night?"
However, there was no reply. In exchange, there was another knock. If it isn't the Grand Chamberlain or Cardinal, then just who is it?
"Who is it? Identify yourself. For people who visit the Queen's room so late at night, there is no way one cannot name themselves. Now, speak. Otherwise, I will call someone."
The moment those words entered her ears, Henrietta's facial expression disappeared.
"It seems I drank too much. This isn't good, to hear such hallucinations so clearly..."
Murmuring that, she placed her hands on her chest. But, the intense palpitation of her heart would not stop.
"It's me, Henrietta. Open this door."
Henrietta rushed over to the door.
"Prince Wales? No way. You should have died by a traitor's hands..."
In a trembling voice, she said that.
"That's a mistake. And I, am alive."
"That's a lie. A lie. How?"
"I had run away. The one that died... was my impersonator."
"That... Even though, the Ruby of Wind is..."
Henrietta checked the ring, a memento of Wales, that was on her finger.
"To deceive the enemy, you have to start with your allies, right? Well, it is understandable that you do not believe me. Then, I will let you hear the proof that I am me."
While trembling, Henrietta waited for Wales's words.
"In the night when wind blows."
The watchword she heard often at Ragdorian Lake.
Forgetting to even answer, Henrietta threw open the door.
The smile she had dreamed of many times stood there.
"Ooh, Prince Wales... You really are safe..."
What followed could not become words. Henrietta tightly hugged Wales's chest, and she placed her face there and sobbed.
Wales tenderly petted her head.
"You are the same as always, Henrietta. What a crybaby."
"That's because, I had completely thought you were dead... Why did you not visit sooner?"
"After losing, I escaped on a cruiser. I was hiding in Tristain's forest the whole time. I could not have the enemy finding my whereabouts, so I changed my location many times. I came to the lands of the castle you live in two days ago... It took time to investigate on when you would be alone. There is no way I could just stand in the waiting room as an audience in the daytime, right?"
Saying that, Wales smiled teasingly.
"As always, you are so mean. You don't understand... how much I grieved... how lonely I felt."
"I understand. That is why I came to see you."
For a while, Henrietta and Wales embraced each other.
"You can come to this castle as much as you want. Albion does not have the power to invade Tristain right now. After all, their reliable armada is gone. This castle is the safest place in Halkeginia. The enemy can not lay a single finger on you."
"It can not be like that."
Wales smiled cheerfully.
"What do you plan to do?"
"I have to return to Albion."
"What a stupid thing! That is like pointlessly going to throw away the life you barely managed to keep!"
"Even so, I have to return. I have to liberate Albion from Reconquista's hands."
"What a joke!"
"It isn't a joke. For that reason, I came to meet you."
"Your powers are necessary in order to liberate Albion. There are cooperators in the country as well, but... Even more, I need a person I can trust. You will come with me, right?"
"No way... I am happy for those words, but that is impossible. I could have gone on such adventures when I was a princess, but I am now a queen. Whether I like it or not, the country and the people are placed on my shoulders. Please do not say such impossible things."
However, Wales would not give up. With even more zealous words, he tried to convince Henrietta. "I know it is impossible. But, you are necessary for victory. In the middle of that lost battle, I realized it. About just how much I needed you. I need the "Saint" who will bring victory upon me and Albion."
Henrietta felt something hot welling inside her body. She was needed by her beloved person. Drunkenness and loneliness accelerated the urge welling inside her.
Even so, Henrietta desperately answered.
"Do not trouble me any more. Please wait, I will have people come and prepare a bed for you. Tomorrow, again, we can discuss this topic, slowly..."
Wales shook his head.
"We won't make it in time tomorrow."
Then, Wales easily said the words Henrietta had always wanted to hear.
"I love you, Henrietta. That's why, come with me."
Henrietta's heart started beating in the same rhythm as the times where she and Wales rendezvoused at Ragdorian Lake.
Slowly, Wales drew his lips near Henrietta. To Henrietta's lips that tried to say something, Wales' sealed it up.
In Henrietta's mind, she recalled all kinds of sweet memories.
Because of that, Henrietta did not notice the sleeping magic cast on her.
Still feeling happy, Henrietta fell into the world of sleep.
Meanwhile, at the same time...
In one of the rooms in the girls' dormitory at Tristain's Academy of Magic, Montmorency was trying her very best at mixing something while Saito and the others watched her.
"Doneー! Fuu! Still, that really was difficultー!"
While wiping the sweat from her forehead, Montmorency flopped onto her chair.
Inside the pot on top of the table was the cancellation drug that she just mixed.
"It's fine to just drink it like this?"
Taking the pot, Saito brought it to the tip of Louise's nose. Louise grimaced from the smell.
"Well then, Louise. Drink this."
"No. It stinks really badly."
Louise shook her head. Crap, I should have mixed it with something and have her secretly drink it. In order to have children eat carrots, you chop it and mix it into a hamburger.
"Please. Drink this."
"If I drink this, will you kiss me?"
Saito nodded, realizing he had no other choice.
"Got it. If you drink this, I'll kiss you."
Louise answered, "I understand", and took the pot.
She looked at the contents with a disgusted expression for a while, but she closed her eyes resolutely and drank it all. Montmorency, observing this, poked Saito.
"For now, shouldn't it be best if you run away?"
"Because the memories of the time when she was madly in love with you after drinking the love potion don't disappear. She remembers everything. That Louise remembers everything she did and was done to her."
Saito flinched in shock and looked at Louise.
"Buhwa!" went Louise who drank the whole thing, and then she hiccupped once.
After that, as if an evil spirit had left her, her facial expression completely returned back to normal. Seeing Saito in front of her, her face suddenly turned red. Chewing on her lips, she started trembling.
Saito muttered, "Oh god," and tried to sneak out of the place.
"Sorry, but food for my pigeon..."
"You don't even keep a pigeonnnnnnnnn!!!!"
Louise's voice resounded. This is bad. I'm going to be killed.
Saito opened the door and ran down the stairs as if he was tumbling down.
However, the present Louise moved at lightning speed.
Jumping from the landing of the staircase, she aimed a kick downstairs at Saito's back. Saito somersaulted, rolled down to the first floor, and struck the floor severely.
Suitably, it was the entranceway of the girls' dormitory. He tried to escape by crawling, but, as usual, the scruff of his neck was firmly stepped on by her foot.
“I, I didn’t do anything wrong! It couldn’t be helped! It was that drug’s fault! We were both unhappy!”
Without answering back, Louise pulled up his parka. Then she lifted his t-shirt. Finding a lot more kiss marks, her face got even redder. She made these herself. This is, this is-this is... For me to do such a thing... She traced the back of her neck with her finger. The same mark made by Saito was there.
With shyness and anger at herself mixed, Louise’s reasoning snapped. In the end, the thing that received her unreasonable anger was Saito’s body. Saito’s screams sounded into the air.
On a bench in Austri Plaza, Saito was laying on it limply. He was hurt to the point of dying, and was half dead. He occasionally twitched, so he wasn’t dead. Beside him was the finally calmed-down Louise, sitting on the edge of the bench, who was blushing and thinking about something while pursing her lips out as if she was angry.
The two moons had risen and were shining on the two gently. However, the atmosphere running around the two was far from gentle and was awkward, hot, and numbing. In other words, the atmosphere between the two had returned to normal.
“Do you feel satisfied now?”
“I-if I had been normal, I definitely wouldn’t have done something like that! Really! Hmph!”
“I know that.”
Saito muttered in an exhausted voice. By that time, finally, Louise realized that it was not Saito's fault at all. Even so, he let Louise do what she did and received her outrage. His cheeks are swollen. Is he okay? Despite inflicting the wounds herself, she was impelled to take care of him. But… It really was embarrassing. The memories of the moments after she drank the love potion kept her from approaching Saito.
But why did this familiar just let himself get hit, I wonder?
“You are you too. You didn’t have to be obedient and get hit by me until you ended up in such a state, right? Sheesh! Resist a little! I went too far, you know!”
Saito muttered in an exhausted voice.
“Why is that?”
“…Because if I did so, you wouldn’t feel satisfied, right? I understand how you feel. After all, you followed a guy you don’t even like around so closely, and you even did those things and these things. For someone so prideful like you, there’s no way you could forgive it, right? And still, looking back, I have a little responsibility for angering you… Anyways, don’t worry about it.”
Well, aren’t those kind words. Even though I hurt him so much. It came to her firmly.
But, the words that came out were the opposite.
“I-I’m not worrying about it. Really I just want to hurry and forget.”
Haa, why can’t I be honest? She thought. Then, Louise asked about one thing that was bothering her.
“Hey, can I ask you something?”
“When I was, well, in a state where I couldn’t live without you thanks to that drug… why didn’t you, um, d-d-do anything?”
Saito answered frankly.
“That’s because, that wasn’t you. I can’t do something to you when you aren’t you. I can’t leave myself to lust and defile a person important to me.”
Being told she was important, Louise blushed. However, she couldn’t show him such a face. Louise turned her face away. But, she was really bothered. Why am I important? Hey… why?
“Wh-wh, why am I important?”
She asked in a trembling voice.
“Well, you provide food and a place to sleep.”
"Haa..." She felt disappointed. Well, that makes sense. I'm embarrassed I even got excited for a moment. Louise had turned her face from Saito, so she didn't realize he had purposely said that while blushing.
Still, he's a familiar that still calls me, his master, "important" after being hurt so much. Becoming a bit more honest, Louise apologized in a pouting manner.
"...I'm sorry. I won't get angry anymore. You have the right to do stuff freely too."
To be truthful, she didn't want to say this. She remembered the time when the love potion was in effect. Those might have been her own true intentions, she thought.
"It's fine. You aren't you if you don't get mad. Do what you want."
Then, the two fell silent.
Unable to endure that atmosphere, Louise ended up changing the topic.
"Haa, still, how nostalgic... That Ragdorian Lake."
"You've gone there before?"
"Eeh. When I was thirteen. There were occasions where I accompanied the Princess. An extremely grand garden party was opened... It was really lively and showy. It was fun."
Louise pulled at the bottom of her memories and began to talk.
"You know, that Ragdorian Lake was where Prince Wales and the Princess met. In the dead of night, the Princess told me 'I want to go out for a walk, so I need to sneak out of bed. I'm very sorry, but Louise, can you lay in the bed in my place?' and I acted as her substitute. Thinking about it now, that might have been when the two rendezvoused."
When Louise said that, a loud voice sounded from behind the bench. From the mole-dug hole Louise once used to watch over Siesta and Saito, Kirche's red hair poked out. Tabitha was beside her.
"That's it! I remember now! It was Prince Wales!"
"Wh-what are you talking about?!"
"What! You two were eavesdropping?"
"Ehehe," Kirche crawled out of the hole while grinning.
"Iyaah, I wanted to see you two reconcile with each other... The melodrama after you hit him so much. Doesn't that seem interesting?"
"Like hell it would."
Saito and Louise blushed. Kirche came up to the bench while nodding.
"That's right. I thought I saw his face somewhere before. Iyaah, so that's how it is. That was Albion's lady-killer, Prince Wales."
Kirche had seen his face before during Germania's Emperor Inauguration Ceremony. At that time, he was sitting in a guest seat, brandishing his noble and charming smile around him.
She finally remembered just now, so Kirche was satisfied.
“What do you mean by ‘That was Prince Wales’?”
Kirche explained to Saito and Louise. How they passed a group of people riding on horses while heading towards Ragdorian Lake. How she remembered seeing that face somewhere before but couldn’t remember very well.
"But, I remember now. That was Prince Wales. There was an announcement that he died in battle, but he was aliveー."
"That's impossible! That prince should have died! I was there to see it myself!"
Kirche did not see Prince Wales die, so she had not actually felt his death firsthand. Therefore, she asked Saito in a joking manner.
"Oh? Is that so? Then, who did I see?"
"Didn't you mistake him for someone else?"
"There's no way I could mistake that handsome guy for someone else."
At that moment, something connected inside Saito's head. It seemed that was the same for Louise. The two looked at each other. The words that the Water Spirit said... There was a peculiar man named "Cromwell" in the group who stole the Ring of Andvari.
"The Ring of Andvari... So, Reconquista really did..."
"Hey, Kirche. Where was that group heading?"
Louise asked out of breath. Being pressured by the two's serious attitudes, Kirche answered.
"He passed us, so, let's see, towards the capital city, Tristain."
Louise ran off. Saito also chased after her.
"Wait! What's going on?!"
Kirche was flustered.
"The Princess is in trouble!"
Kirche and Tabitha did not know about Wales and Henrietta's secret relationship, so they did not understand the meaning behind those words. But, bothered by Saito and Louise's unusual actions, Kirche and Tabitha followed them.
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