19. The Princess Enchants the Witch (3)
Lau—or, Bilaura—did mention she needed a Love Potion.
—but, did she mention of needing two…?
So it was revealed, Harij ordered the Love Potion from such a shady place because someone requested him to—someone he couldn’t refuse.
Roze wouldn’t pry into her customer’s life—it’s her principle. But, it’s a whole different story if the information inevitably leaks to her.
In front of her, Harij flares up. At this rate, he’ll explode, for sure.
However, despite her queasiness, Roze believes he won’t do anything unreasonable.
Harij is so angry, he doesn’t even notice that there’s more garbage than usual. In front of Lau, who sits gracefully on the quilt, he furrows his brows while trying to maintain his composure.
“Are you aware that the castle is in discord? Everyone is panicking. They’ve been relentlessly searching for you…” Harij’s voice, trembling with anger, abruptly stops.
Sensing something, Roze, who is watching the fireplace, turns around.
The two people are facing each other in a seemingly endless staring contest. Neither of them say anything. The flickering fire reflects off their cheeks. Their shadows stretch to the wall.
Looking at Harij’s menacing face, Lau laughs for an unknown reason. Her shoulders look very relaxed.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry.”
Roze thinks that the smile Lau currently has doesn’t befit her age. Her smile, although seemly relenting and pleading for forgiveness, also has the penchant to be forgiven for anything.
Her words are genuine, devoid of any excuses. Whether it’s because of Lau’s attitude or he has just calmed down, Harij relaxes and sighs bitterly—before suddenly kneeling down.
“I’m also in the wrong. I apologize profusely, including about the fact that I wasn’t there during the day to protect you. I’m glad you’re safe.”
To the voice that exudes deep regret, Lau nods while smiling.
“I’m sorry for causing you trouble.”
“Save that words for everyone later when you return home.”
“You don’t need to worry, after all, I was just about to return.”
Lau laughs cheerfully and pats the head of Harij, who’s still kneeling.
Roze feels like she’s seeing a loving, trusting, profound interaction between a horse and its owner.
“Witch, I apologize for my nosiness today.”
“…Next time when you visit, I’ll brew you a cup of tea.”
Although, for Lau who’ll soon be married away to another kingdom, do the words ‘next time’ exist?
However, Roze still hopes for Lau—who ordered for the witch’s secret potion—to come and see her again. Even if Lau doesn’t request anything, it would still be nice to spend some time with her, is what Roze thinks.
—even if Roze knows she isn’t in a position to wish such.
Lau, considerate of Roze’s feeling, smiles.
“Yes, next time would be nice. Alright, time for me to go home.” The moment Lau stands up, she truly seems gorgeous to Roze. Lau has shed her ‘noble lady’ charade, and returned to her true identity—the Princess.
Her sudden, overflowing aura gleams even brighter than fire. It’s such that Roze is unable to look at her for too long. She lowers her eyes, and meets Lau’s feet—the Princess’ feet. They are no longer wearing those beautiful boots caked with soil and grass.
“Please wait a moment.” Roze utters. “It should be here…” She searches through the pile of her mess. The mountain of clutter collapses—Harij quietly frowns as he finally notices the chaotic mess of the room.
“—here it is.”
Roze takes out an item wrapped within a hemp bag. She brushes off the dust with her hands and unties the string.
Inside are a pair of boots.
Tien said they’re a special boots made from the leather of a creature called ‘seal’, an animal whom’s habitat is all the way in the North. Roze hasn’t used them yet because her current boots had yet to wear out.
As expected, Lau’s boots are no longer wearable since they’re soaked and dirty.
Besides, Lau was a good customer and Roze had received a great sum from her. Roze is also the Good Witch of the Lake.
After confirming there’s no mold on the boots, Roze gently hands them to Lau.
“At night, the forest is a dark and dangerous place.”
“I’m ever so grateful for your kindness.”
Roze helps her wear the boots, and tightly ties the strings so they won’t come off.
The seal boots—which are simple and devoid of any decorations—seem unworthy of the Princess’ feet. While they certainly can’t compare to the specially tailored boots from the palace, they can protect her feet from the frosty winter night.
As Lau walks to the pier, Harij follows behind her.
However, when he passes Roze, his face inches closer to her own, before whispering something to her ear.
“—I’m sorry for the inconvenience. This kindness of yours—I’ll surely make up for this in the future. So—
—look forward to it.”
In this dark of a night, his single whisper mercilessly sends her thoughts racing. Her imagination runs wild—Roze has to cover her ears with her hands.
Harij frowns, while Roze tries her best to conceal her rising excitement.
This man is a beast!!!
Compared to when he’s with the Princess, isn’t he too tame!? Roze doesn’t know how many times he said ‘Sorry’ today. Even though he gets angry on a daily basis with Roze…
Every time Harij shows the kind of faces he could make when he interacts with people of his environment, Roze’s heart aches—as if being chopped to pieces.
…it hurts so much to the point I can barely stand it.
Because to Roze, it’s akin to a reminder that Harij is absolutely unattainable.
“…Would you like me to finish your second order soon?”
“What—?” He mutters in a whisper so it doesn’t reach Lau.
“Is the deadline before Lau is married?”
In her heart, Roze scolds herself. She’s breaking her own rules as a witch—that is, to never get involved in customer’s circumstances. She is terribly embarrassed by the ugly words she spat just now.
She knows she’s saying foolish things, however, her mouth refuses to stop.
“If your intention with the potion is to make sure Lau never forgets you, even after she gets married, then—…”
“—then, oh my, are you planning to elope with her?”
“I said, you’re mistaken.”
Harij grabs Roze’s cheeks with one hand. Suddenly, both of her cheeks are being squeezed together by his fingers, causing her lips to puff out like fish.
She’s so relieved, because it stops her meaningless ramblings—and her tears.
…Now, don’t say anymore stupid things…
Taking his hand away from Roze’s face, Harij grabs Roze’s hood and fixes it properly.
…She feels like a cat being grabbed by its neck…
“You’ve never talked like that before…”
She feels dejected. The ignited passion in her heart goes cold.
Roze is a witch—
…is he disappointed with me, now?
…Somehow, right now, that possibility terrifies her more than getting rejected.
However, at the concerned Roze, Harij laughs.
Harij releases his hand from Roze’s cheeks. Of course, he makes sure to gently stroke it, as to not let the place he grabbed to turn red.
As he does that, she feels a different kind of chill run down her back.
“Whatever the matter, let’s talk about it next time. I’ll come to visit you soon.” Saying so, Harij immediately returns to Lau’s side.
Lau, in a place not too far away from them, watches the entire scene unveil and laughs.
***T/N: LOL, our top-tier pokemon Harij had stepped up his game, at last. He went from this-somewhat-stern-knight to that-riajuu-overcharged-with-riajuu-knowledges. And damn, it was effective as hell to Roze.