20.2 The Princess Enchants the Witch (4)
Since she has to extract the moonlight from the water, Roze immediately returns to her dwelling.
It has to be top quality, thus, she focuses her entire being—to the point of completely ignoring Harij.
As Roze stirs her witch’s cauldron, she feels someone staring at her. She keeps stirring, pretending to ignore it. However, it’s a hard thing to do.
“I would prefer if you don’t stare too much.”
—my hands become shaky.
She can’t just tell him to go home. Because she doesn’t want that—if she orders him, “Go home.” That would go against her real intentions and would count as lying.
Witches’ number one rule; never lie.
Harij feels Roze’s seriousness and gently turns away.
The silence between them is unnerving, thus, Roze opens her mouth again.
“Your silence make me nervous. Tell me something—anything.”
“What a troublesome person you are…”
It seems that he can’t come up with a story.
Roze stirs the cauldron. The floating light is caught and is spun into the spindle.
“I’ve never seen witch’s magic before.”
“There’s no point in making a show out of it.”
Even though the jerk called her ‘troublesome’ just a moment ago, Roze still replies to him, although they don’t share eye contact.
“I see. Come to think of it, don’t you always know when a customer arrives, Roze?”
“What about it?”
“Is it because you always peep through the window?”
The moonlight is being spun into a fine thread.
Roze skillfully gathers the light with her hands before threading it into the spindle.
“Although my eyes can see across very far distances just fine, it’s not only because of that… Ancestry magic resides in this area—one of them inside the bell outside. Whenever there’s a visitor—be it human or beast, it’ll never fail to ring.”
“So, you’re saying… you already know there are customers even when they are still on that shore across the forest?”
“Roze, are you listening?”
“Sorry. Cease the talk, I need to focus.”
In the end, Roze’s reply comes after the work is done.
“…Sorry, what were we talking about?”
Roze tilts the spindle over a big glass bottle, pouring the fine thread made of moonlight. Harij becomes the spectator to the entire scene. He looks truly mesmerized.
“Thanks for reminding me that you have your own world.”
“…So, will the bell ring regardless of the time?”
“Huh? Yes, why?”
“…No way, you’re saying it’ll ring even at this late at night!?”
“…Does a customer who stays until this late have any right to say that?”
This time, the one who’s amazed is Roze.
She didn’t realize it, either, that they’re this deep into the night. The day must’ve changed.
“Regardless of the time—morning, noon, or night—it’ll absolutely ring. Because customers usually visit this kind of place at night, my body is accustomed to waking up around this hour. I’m the only witch around here, after all.”
Harij, after being called out for staying this late, looks uncomfortable. However, he gradually turns stern.
“…In short, for years, you’ve been neglecting sleep?”
“I do sleep, you know. I just wake up earlier, is all.”
“That’s basically the same—you’ve been neglecting sleep.”
Harij groans and stands up from the chair. While she’s still amazed, he pulls her hand. Inside his large palm, her thin hand looks like a rose branch.
It’s the first time Harij—who’s a noble—displays such an uncouth behavior.
Then, he picks the still confused her up.
The Witch’s dwelling is a narrow place. The rooms are not separated. Her ‘bedroom’ is basically just a concealed space near the wall’s corner. It consists of just a small bed.
She’s carried to the place where Lau once sat.
He gently places her on top of the bed. However, the moment Roze tries to get up, Harij prevents her—
—by trapping her beneath his body.
She’s pinned between his elbows—which are both a protective cradle and a firm prison.
He’s right on top of her. She can no longer move easily.
Harij’s unexpected behavior and her outrageous position leave her no choice.
“Every day, you’re dealing with ingredients that are potentially toxic. You have such a thin body because you don’t eat much. Now, you would also neglect sleep?”
Towards Harij’s frontal argument, Roze can only lower her eyes. It feels like at any moment, her forehead will touch Harij’s.
“B-but, a Knight’s lifestyle is basically like that, too!”
“I have colleagues that are ready to substitute for me at any given time—on top of that, I also have holidays. Unlike you, who always does everything alone—“
Harij stops talking. It seems that it has finally dawned on him—regarding their current position…
At such a close distance, Roze is staring straight into Harij’s eyes. She’s treated to her own reflection off Harij’s eyes:
The Witch, with her crimson hair, struggles to move her lips. Her eyes tear up, showing both surprise and confusion.
They keep their silence, which seems like the wisest decision at the moment.
A few seconds later, Harij slowly draws back, as if he’s in front of a ferocious beast.
So careful, as if the slightest slip of movement would tip the world’s balance and ruin its center of gravity.
Harij’s legs, which are on top of Roze’s bed, climb down to the floor.
Then, as if the destruction of the world had been avoided, they both exhale at the same time.
“…this might be the worst timing ever to say this, but, believe me—I won’t take advantage of a sleeping woman.”
“…I know that. I’m not worried.”
Roze nods tensely towards Harij’s words—which sound strange to her. There’s a slight movement on his temple, but it seems like he’s satisfied with Roze’s response.
“Well then—sleep. When a visitor comes, the bell will ring, right? Don’t worry, I’ll take your place and pick them up with the boat.”
She has a lot to think about;
Like, how can she fall asleep when he’s in her presence? How can she let herself be spoiled by Harij again? Harij surely is tired, after escorting Lau back—
—and, if she accepts his offer, here and now—what will happen from now on?
This night is special, with him alongside her. But, what about the other nights she would be spending alone?
Surely, no night would ever be the same again.
Surely, every night when she’s alone without him, would be excruciating.
“Stop thinking and sleep peacefully.”
Due to how secure his words make her feel, Roze can no longer retaliate and chooses to ride the boat to dreamland.
***T/N : O BOI. WHAT JUST HAPPENED.
how I expect some of my readers might react :
(…you, yes you, Gabe, I see you.)
Other than that–SHE HAS BEEN NEGLECTING SLEEP TOO!? FOR MANY YEARS?! COMBINED WITH POOR EATING AND DUSTY HOUSE?
That’s the only reason she’s still alive.