Lady To Queen - Chapter 121 – [Side Story] Ch. 13 I Will Never Abandon You
It was the day of the Emperor’s birthday banquet. After donning his favorite navy-blue tailcoat, Rothesay climbed into the carriage along with his parents. As they headed towards the Imperial palace where the banquet was being held, Countess Bradington turned to speak to her son.
“Will you be meeting with Lady Petronilla today?” she asked him.
“I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see her with the sheer number of people that will be attending the banquet, but I will do my best to see her,” Rothesay responded. Having said that, a giddy smile crossed his face, as if he suddenly thought of something.
“What’s with that silly smile?” Count Bradington asked when he noticed it.
“I’m just happy.”
“Goodness, you are such a handful. Have you thought about what present to give her?”
Countess Bradington looked around confusedly. “Present? What present?” she said, completely unaware, and Count Bradington explained the situation to her with a hearty laugh.
“Dear, our Ro has been contemplating on what to give Lady Grochester in commemoration for their relationship.”
“Oh my, really? How is your son the same as you? You really can’t fool blood relations.” A soft smile spread on Countess Bradington’s lips as she recalled the past. “You were always so kind, even back then. Thank goodness Ro’s taken after you.”
“My dear, what is the meaning of those regrettable words? He has such a just personality because he’s taken after you,” Count Bradington said flirtatiously.
“My goodness, you’re quite something else.”
As usual, Rothesay looked upon his lovey-dovey parents with soft, pleasant eyes before answering the previous question.
“I’ve taken after both of you. But anyway, I don’t know if Lady Petronilla will like the gift I’ve prepared.”
Count Bradington noticed the insecurity in Rothesay’s voice, and did his best to encourage him. “Don’t worry, Ro. So long as it’s a sincere gift, it’ll be fine.”
The first thing Rothesay did when he arrived at the banquet hall was look for Petronilla. However, finding the red-headed woman in the midst of a crowded banquet hall proved to be a more arduous task than expected. After some time, Rothesay began to grow anxious. She definitely said that she would be better in time to attend the banquet, yet he couldn’t find her anywhere. Could it be that she’s still feeling unwell?
With the power of love urging his search forward, he eventually spotted Petronilla speaking with another woman. He smiled widely upon achieving his goal and waited for the two ladies to finish their conversation. When Petronilla was finally alone, he slowly approached her.
But Rothesay wasn’t able to finish his sentence. Petronilla was suddenly running elsewhere with an urgent expression on her face.
Did something happen? Rothesay stared at the direction Petronilla ran towards with a grave expression on his face. It seemed quite serious. I wonder what’s wrong?
Though he wanted to follow her and ask her that immediately, he held himself back for now. There was a lot of time left.
It was long after Lucio’s birthday flower presentation had ended that Rothesay found Petronilla leaning against the way, sipping at a cocktail by herself. It was after the commotion with the birthday flower presentation.
Is that why she rushed over there so urgently? Was it related to that incident? He squashed down the multitude of questions he had, and carefully called out to her.
At the sound of his voice, Petronilla turned around. Thankfully, her expression didn’t look too dark, but she did seem to be contemplative. Masking his worry with a smile, he walked over.
“Rothesay,” she said to her.
“I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” he replied.
“I apologize. There was something urgent.”
“I assumed so. Is it related to Her Majesty the Queen?”
Petronilla quietly nodded her head, and a look of understanding crossed Rothesay’s face. He told her that he noticed something happened during the flower presentation ceremony.
“I am not reproaching you. I was just worried,” he said.
“I know, Ro.”
Rothesay looked dazed. He quickly looked at her face. She looked slightly bashful.
“Is it alright if I call you Ro?” she asked.
He couldn’t be more grateful. Her calling him by his nickname meant that she had fully opened her heart to him. He was now someone special to her. It was impossible for Rothesay to not realize that. He gave a shaky smile.
“Of course, Nilla. I’m so happy,” he gushed. Finally, he was able to also call her by her nickname. “I wished to dance with you,” he said with a voice full of emotion.
“Ah… now that you mention it, this would be our first dance.”
“Yes, our first. However, it’s alright. We have plenty of time ahead of us.”
So long as you’re alright with it, Nilla, I wish to spend much more time with you.
Unless you tell me that you’re sick of me, I wish to stay by your side. I’d like to be together with you for as long as possible, and I’d like for both of us to become each other’s precious memory.
“You’re right. We have a lot of time.”
Can I become that type of existence to you?
“Then shall we go?”
She smiled as she gently took his hand. As he squeezed his hand around hers, he felt his heart beating just like when he first laid eyes on her. With a big smile, he gently tugged her over into his embrace.
The tune of a waltz echoed from the main hall, and Rothesay automatically wrapped his arm around Petronilla’s waist. She was so thin, to the point that he almost got angry at how malnourished she seemed.
“You’re too thin,” he whispered into her ear, his tone upset.
“Is that so?”
Did I tighten my corset too much? is what he heard her murmur quietly.
I wish you didn’t put on something like a corset. Even if you don’t wear that, you’re still beautiful and charming.
“It’s not good for your health if you make that too tight,” he softly chastised her.
“But everyone still wears them.”
“Nilla, you’re special.” He twirled her around in his hand. “Even if you don’t do that, you’re more beautiful than anyone else in my eyes.”
Her cheeks flushed pink, and Rothesay simply smiled. He could confidently say that he spoke not a single lie and only said what he genuinely believed.
“To me, your comfort is first and foremost,” he added sincerely.
“You will be quite the kind-hearted husband when you get married.”
“Is that a proposal?”
He then pushed her towards him, his hand on her back. Instantly, the distance between the two closed in. They were almost nose to nose. Hearing the sound of her breathing made Rothesay swallow hard, and as if she had suddenly gotten nervous, her breath hitched. Rothesay took a step back.
‘That was dangerous.’
They were in a public area. Thinking he needed to restrain himself, Rothesay quickly changed the topic. There was something he wanted to say.
“I have a gift for you.”
She looked at him with a childish expression. Rothesay swallowed hard again at the lovely sight. I feel strange today, he thought to himself as he smiled.
“Yes. I have something to give you.”
“Is it something I can look forward to?” she asked curiously.
“That, I don’t know. I think it’s a rather thoughtful gift, but…what will I do if you’re disappointed?’
“That won’t happen,” Petronilla reassured him with a pure smile, and Rothesay thought she looked like an angel. She possessed a face that could purify corruption, that could brighten up the darkness. The most charming of all women. To the point that he felt he didn’t deserve her.
“Thank you, .” he said in a soft voice.
She really needs to like the gift, he thought to himself worriedly.
After two more dances, Rothesay took her to the empty garden. Petronilla was wearing a nervous but excited expression, and he couldn’t help but feel anxious seeing it.
‘What should I do if she doesn’t like the gift I’ve prepared for her?’
Petronilla was a kind woman. Even if she didn’t like the gift, she would give the best smile she could and say, ‘Thank you, Ro.’ So that no one could witness that possibility should it come up, Rothesay sat her down on a bench in the dark and deserted garden.
Petronilla giggled quietly.“Since you’re being so secretive, it’s only making my anticipation grow.”
“I’m truly worried that you may not actually like the gift.”
“You’re a wonderful man, so I’m sure whatever you give me will be wonderful as well.”
Hearing those words, Rothesay smiled before meeting Petronilla’s eyes again. “Could you close your eyes for a moment?”
Petronilla closed her eyes with a cheerful smile. Thinking that to be so cute, Rothesay couldn’t help but stare at her for a while until he snapped out of it with a quick ‘ah,’ before he hastily took out the present.
“Can I open my eyes now, Ro?” Petronilla asked in anticipation.
“Mmn, before that…” Rothesay’s voice turned sweet. “What can you sense right now?”
“Hm…a fresh smell… Is it a flower?’
“You can open your eyes now.”
When Petronilla slowly lifted her eyelids, she was met with the present right in front of her and she smiled brightly.
“Flowers?” she said.
“Do you like them?” Rothesay said hopefully.
“Yes, I love flowers. Thank you so much.” Petronilla truly looked happy. “Ah, they’re so pretty. But what kind of flowers are they? I feel like I’ve seen them often.”
“These aren’t native flowers of Mavinous.”
“Wow, really? Then they must be very rare.”
“These are oxalises.” Rothesay knelt down near Petronilla and looked up at her. “Do you know the meaning of these flowers?”
“It means that I will never abandon you.”
“Nil, I…” Rothesay’s throat ran dry, and he swallowed hard before continuing. “I will never hurt you.”
“I can swear it, Nil. I…”
“Ro,” Petronilla interrupted carefully. However, there was a smile on her lips. Rothesay looked at her with slightly red eyes.
He hoped that she would never get hurt because of him. He hoped that she would only laugh and smile when she was with him. At the very least, he didn’t want to hurt her. That was all that Rothesay wanted right now. With an expression as if he was about to cry, Rothesay finished his sentence.
“…I love you, Nil.”
“I will never inflict wounds on the one that I love. I swear it.”
“I believe you, Ro. You…” Petronilla started in a trembling voice. “How could I not believe a person like you?”
“I thought you would be anxious. I was afraid of that. I want you to at least worry a little less about things like that when you’re with me.”
“Don’t you understand, Ro? You’re already such a wonderful man to me, much more than I deserve.”
“That’s what I should be saying,” he said with a smile. “You don’t know how blessed I am to be able to meet and fall in love with a woman like you,” he whispered.
“Who told you to say such sweet words like that?”
Petronilla carefully leaned closer and planted a small kiss on Rothesay’s forehead. As soon as she pulled away, Rothesay lifted his head and kissed right below her lips.
The kiss slowly crept up. When his lips finally melded together with Petronilla’s small, ruby-red ones, he felt as if he had obtained the entire world as he kissed her again, and again, and again.
He wished for time to stop. All he wanted was this moment to be shared with just the two of them.
“I love you so much, Nil,” he confessed in a hoarse voice.
And God heard his wish. In the midst of a dark and deserted evening, the two kissed for a very long time with only the stars above to witness it.