117. The Battle Maiden is Raising a Black Dragon (7)
“You fell into the pond!? Are you alright!?”
Due to Hadith’s exclamation, Jill stood up. Before the sun could set, Hadith had already returned to the palace. Near her feet, Rho, whom had been put into a wooden box with a fluffy cushion by Camila, was happily bouncing about. The wooden box itself had been provided by Zeke.
“Your Majesty, what about your duties—why are you in an apron!? When did you change?!”
“I went shopping in the city for a while!”
The emperor went shopping in the city…
Hadith squeezed Jill whom was frozen in place.
“That isn’t important. Are you alright!? How are you feeling? Did you get injured?!”
“Rho is okay, don’t worry! I properly gave him a bath afterwards!”
“How about you? Why did you suddenly talk about Rho?”
“I, I’m strong. Falling into a pond is nothing!”
“That’s not what I meant!”
Due to being scolded by Hadith, Jill was surprised. Camila explained from the side.
“Talk to her, Your Majesty. Jill-chan is feeling responsible. She feels that she’s to blame.”
“Rho, who attempted to escape, is the one who’s at fault. Do you want to eat some apples? There, there…”
“I, I’m alright, Your Majesty! I can properly take care of Rho!”
When she looked up at him, Hadith was quietly staring at her. Somehow, it was as if he could see through her strong façade. Jill lowered her face and muttered in a low voice.
“…You might think I’m unfit to raise him, but, but I can do it… so please, don’t take Rho away…”
Before she could finish pleading, she was hugged. Silently, she was lifted and carried to the nearby sofa.
After sitting Jill down, Hadith kneeled before her.
“I won’t. But you don’t seem alright, what’s wrong?”
“The usual Jill doesn’t needlessly overdo things—especially when it’s in areas you aren’t good at. Instead, you give your best in your areas of expertise. As of the present, aren’t you overwhelming yourself by trying to do everything perfectly?”
As Jill wasn’t saying anything back, Hadith took both of her hands.
“What happened? Please, talk to me.”
The voice was so gentle, Jill couldn’t help but lift her face.
Jill was aware of it—she was being impatient. Maybe it was because of that dream she had recently had.
While intertwining and unraveling her fingers, Jill replied with a small voice.
“…I’m not confident, be it about my current position or my feelings.”
“I see—and why is that?”
Hadith’s voice and gaze told her that he was trying to properly understand her. He didn’t force Jill’s feelings out, but instead opted to just listen. It was so that Jill could finally be honest.
“…It’s, am I truly in love with Your Majesty?”
While explaining, Jill didn’t realize that Hadith’s smile, and also the expressions of her subordinates, had frozen. Even Rho dropped his half-eaten apple.
“… …Eh—!? Did I mishear—!?”
“Before Your Majesty, I’ve loved someone else.”
“Before I proposed to Your Majesty, I realized that he was merely taking advantage of my feelings. Thinking that it won’t work, I proposed to Your Majesty as a means of escape. I didn’t regret that decision of mine—even now. I’m serious about my promise to Your Majesty. However, recently, I’m starting to become aware that I might have misunderstood that person. That he wasn’t merely taking advantage of me.”
She could no longer stop the words from pouring out of her mouth. She held both of his hands tightly and exhaled.
“I’m inexperienced in romance, so no matter how much I loved Your Majesty, I’m scared that I might be misunderstanding something… I mean, I don’t really understand Your Majesty! I don’t know whether you’re weak, or strong, cute, or cool! The only thing I understand about you is that you cook and look good! You’re also good at both martial arts and magic! Also, at wearing aprons…!”
“W, wait, hold up, Jill! That’s a lot of information for my brain to keep up!”
“Oh, forgive me.”
Hadith grabbed both of Jill’s hands and she regained ahold of herself. Hadith, whom was regaining his composure, heard the caring voices of his subordinates.
“Do your best, Your Majesty~ calm yourself down and talk it out like adults~”
“First of all, organize the information, and then devise a strategy. Do not self-destruct.”
“Uh, uuh, okay, first off, she loves me. O, okay, alright, I think!? Rave, you’re noisy. So, you were being taken advantage of, basically, you experienced a heavy thing—at the age of 10!? I, it’s nice that you are able to talk about it. You had someone you loved before me—okay, let’s not talk about that! First off, you’re bothered because you aren’t sure whether or not you actually love me!?”
“That’s right. Also, at the very least, I have clear answers as to why I might love you, Your Majesty. I’ve stated the reasons.”
“—As I’ve said, the amount of information is too large!”
She covered her face as she lamented and apologized reflexively. However, Hadith immediately shook his head.
“N, no. Forgive me for yelling at you. Anyway, I’ll listen properly, so please continue…”
“Well, those were only the beginning…”
“I love that you’ll listen to me properly—makes it easier for me to figure out what I’m supposed to do. Oh, and if it’s regarding your face and muscles, I’ve had a good impression about them from the beginning! I love strong people! I also love that side of you that cooks delicious rice. But what makes me love you the most is that you didn’t use me as a decoy to kill the Goddess back then. Even though that was what you were supposed to do…”
Before Jill, whom was counting what she loved about Hadith with her fingers, Hadith covered his face again.
“The, the amount of information is unexpected…!”
“…What are these guys doing?”
“Let’s just stay out of it~”
“…But, that too… what if the reason why I loved those sides of you is because I keep comparing you to that person I previously loved? After all, I don’t really have standards… Also, that person was truly dependable, as such, I could be at ease. In the meantime, Your Majesty… is not so dependable.”
Her subordinates were retreating in unison. That was only natural. Their presences would only cause Hadith to become more anxious.
Her voice diminished due to self-loathing.
“That’s why, I want to do what I can, without relying on you. To prove that it’s different. But, it turned out that I’m incapable… and I became impatient…”
Before Jill, whose shoulders had dropped in dismay, Hadith, who had a straight face, replied powerlessly.
“Sorry, but it’s a bit troublesome if you suddenly say something like that.”
“No, it’s fine. On the contrary, I’m regaining my calm. Yes, I understand what you’re talking about.”
“Really!? Then, what do you think I should do, Your Majesty?!”
No matter what he said, she’d accept it. Jill faced Hadith while swallowing her saliva.
***T/N: Hadith is experiencing proper, healthy, communication overload…
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