30. The Witch, the Knight, and the Love Potion (3)
The effect ends abruptly.
—Roze notices it immediately.
After all, Harij’s voice is now the splitting image of the lake’s tranquility at dawn.
“Thank you. I’ve calmed down.”
—Ponpon. Harij pats Roze’s head.
His touch is now subtle, telling her that the effect of the potion has indeed subsided.
Until now, Harij was talking to her to distract himself. But, he suddenly grew silent—
—the next moment he opens his mouth, he has already returned to normal—
They slowly distance themselves. As Harij stands up, Roze slowly follows suit.
The parts of her body that were once in contact with Harij are still hot. A breeze passes through her clothes, and it somehow feels colder than usual. Roze trembles.
Until just a second ago, their bodies were overlapped with each other’s—as if at any given time, they would melt into one. However, now, not even the tip of their fingers touch.
What was once the usual, natural, distance for them now feels incredibly lonely.
—she’s surprised at herself.
Even though she knows her potion won’t last forever. Even though she knew the fake happiness would soon be over…
…from the bottom of her heart, Roze is truly discouraged.
Her name is called with a familiar voice, a familiar tone—
—standing face to face, Roze can’t bear to see Harij’s face.
“I want you to marry me.”
Roze raises her face—she can’t comprehend what she has just heard.
But, Harij’s face that Roze sees is serious, and completely devoid of confusion caused by magic—
“—I, I said it before, the potion will confuse you and make you say irresponsible things—“
“So I’ve heard.”
His mind is probably still suffering under the residual magic. His feelings are still messed up by the love potion—
—any way, it seems that Harij gives a deaf ear to Roze’s advice.
Roze repeats it slowly.
“I’m a witch. Distorting someone’s mind with magic is neither good nor bad for me since it’s just part of the job, but—“
—Roze finds her throat clogged with words, however, she’s still determined to deliver her true intentions.
“—but I want Mr. Customer to be happy. I truly wish so!”
To tell Harij to be happy is the single most courageous thing Roze has ever done in her life.
Even more so when Harij already knows that every single words of Roze’s is her honest feelings.
“Yes, I’ll be happy—if I marry you.”
“Even if so, it’s still no good. I’m a witch.”
When she refuses him, Harij lifts his eyebrows.
“Why is it no good? What does it have to do with you being a witch?”
“Why, you ask… witches are different from humans…”
“Yes, they’re different because they can’t utter a single lie, but that’s it.”
“T-that’s not the extent of it—!”
“Then what are you trying to imply?”
Roze is befuddled.
Born and raised as an aristocrat, Harij is just trying to confirm all the facts he has known until now.
“As you’ve probably known, witches don’t belong to the kingdom. We don’t abide by the laws of people. Are you ready to live a life where your wife doesn’t belong to a kingdom? Even though you work to support said kingdom?”
“I don’t care at all. Some people are marrying into different countries with different laws and religions.”
Roze never imagined such reply would come.
For the patriotic Harij, Roze thought that her being a witch that isn’t part of the kingdom would immensely be a problem for him.
“W, well, other than that, witches don’t really get married, per see…”
“Then how was Roze born?”
“Uhh, my mother got a magical baby seed somewhere—so did my grandmother, and her mother probably did also… when the time comes for me to inherit my magic someday, the same would probably happen to me—“
—Roze can’t finish her sentences. It’s because Harij is staring at her with an extremely bewildered face.
Harij, who notices the speechless Roze, gently exhales.
“I don’t have any problem with that, either. Back to the main topic—marry me, already.”
“But, the witches…”
Harij, who doesn’t know what to say, is at loss. Roze, utterly embarrassed, opens her mouth.
“People are delighted when witches die.”
Truth, again, slip from her lips—thanks to her special constitution.
—she covers her lips with both hands.
She had completely forgotten about that. She really thought it was already over.
“Now, we can relax! We have nothing to worry about anymore!”
Those words from seven years ago still sting until today.
“Delighted, if die…?”
Roze shakes her head. She almost said something troublesome and unnecessary.
Harij is concerned for a while, but then stares at Roze as if remembering something—
“—seven years ago, at the capital…”
His face distorts in pain, as if he had recalled a terrible memory.
“Those words from that time… so you overheard them…”
Even though it should be a trivial matter to Harij.
Roze nods, pondering bitterly how he could still remember.
“Then, you’ve heard some hurtful things…”
The gentle voice that comforts Roze touches her old scar.
Yes, Roze was definitely hurt at that time.
The pain which was too immensely hurtful for her to even forget.
Even though he initially was repulsed by the idea of using the witch’s secret potions, never once did he take it out upon Roze.
After knowing she wasn’t an old woman like he suspected, he treated her with the same respect he would any women.
He helped by lifting her up to hard to reach high places; was and is always concerned about her health; and kept bringing her delicious sweets.
Seven years ago, what had started as a mere crush was encouraged enough to bloom into actual love.
“—let’s return to the topic at hand.”
She’s so utterly shocked, she lets out a yelp.
Now Roze will have no choice but to finish her story. If Harij remembers—then it’s good. It means he’s aware that many people despise witches.
“What are you surprised about?”
“Did you listen to me properly? People find it pleasing when witches die…”
“—listen to me. If there’s even a single person who’s happy about your death, I’ll chase him until the end of earth and pummel him.”
—pummel, he said…
Roze is taken aback when Harij utters a word he usually won’t.
Looking at such a Roze, Harij is also amazed.
“You keep repeating ‘witch this, witch that’. Do you honestly think I would come here and propose while forgetting the fact that you’re a witch? I’ve known that since the beginning. I’ve never asked you to try and be more lady-like—after all, I like the Witch, Roze. Just be yourself, that would be enough for me.”
“You truly didn’t understand? You never considered why I rushed here without even changing my attire?”
—only now does Roze realize it.
Come to think of it, last night, the villagers should have still been awake. Yet, he came and visited her in his full-set of knight armor. Did he not care about how others would perceive him?
He didn’t even wear his usual incognito cloak. Instead, he wore a cloak that spelled his profession as clear as the sun.
Roze blinks a few times.
“Listen to me well, Roze, and remember—“
—Harij explains, in a voice dripping with patience like speaking to a toddler.
“The Witch is kind and full of compassion—she even risked her life in an attempt to cover for me—”
Harij inches closer.
Roze stirs slightly.
“—there exists not a single man who would jump into the winter lake to help a woman who isn’t even drowning.”
Although his smile is bitter, his gaze is serious.
He approaches her slowly, as to not frighten her, and then places his hand upon her cheek.
“You just have to answer this one question of mine—do you love me?”
Roze is a witch—
—and a witch doesn’t lie, Harij understands that perfectly.
Realizing his true intentions, Roze’s face turns red. He then kneels and peers straight into her teary eyes.
“I don’t want to answer because it’s going to be a lie.”
It’s the trick Harij taught her out of his kindness.
That she could just say, “I don’t want to answer because it’s going to be lie”—and he would believe her completely. Because it was indeed the truth.
The words that would only be understood by Harij, who understood the witches’ secrets.
The words that she could only said because she trusted Harij.
“You truly are something else. You’re being mean, you know?”
Harij laughs heartily at Roze—
—after all, if she indeed disliked him, she would say so immediately.
Harij gently touches the apple-colored cheek of Roze.
Even though the potion’s effect has disappeared, his burning, passionate, eyes remain—and they are approaching.
Roze closes her eyes—
—well, he said not to close my eyes only until the effect disappeared—
—now should be fine.
“Eat this—!!! Mud bomb—!!!”
A mud ball is thrown at Harij’s back.
Roze and Harij, who stop breathing at the same time, slowly look at the entrance.
There stand children with mud balls in their hands. There are also adults with pans and hoes with them. The adults stare at him with apologetic faces.
“Uh, we’re sorry… the children said the Witch is being assaulted by a man… we rushed here to help…”
It seems that the children were truly grateful for the roasted potatoes, and summoned the villagers as a way to express their gratitude.
Towards the villagers’ awkward apologies, Roze turns away with an extremely red face.
“Get away from the Witch—!!! Even if she’s a witch, she’s a girl, too, y’know—!!!”
The children start to flail around as Roze runs away on spot.
A CHAMPAGNE TOWERS MADE OF GAZILLIONS CHAMPAGNE GLASSES IS AT YOUR SERVICE FOR SUCH JOYOUS OCCASSION!!!!!!!
WE CELEBRATE!!!!!!!! WE LAUNCH THE FIREWORKS!!!!!!!!!!!
—don her sales cap again, this time it looks even more premium quality ofc each glass of champagne is paid, and so is each stick of the firework. PRE-ORDER STARTS NOW! LAUNCH YOUR HAPPINESS TO THE SKY!!!! DYE THE SKY WITH THE COLOR OF YOUR JOY!!!!!!
Back to the main topic—marry me, already.”
-a certain chivalrous knight, 2019
^^^ LMAO THIS THO, SUBTLETY OF THE HIGHEST ORDER YOU GOT THERE, HARIJ.
…and one last thing,
there you go. Thanks for making this universe a less puzzling place, Harij. Have a nice day.