Armored Girl and Glittering Princess 3
The rooms prepared for each of us could only be described as splendid with their large beds, fine furnishings, and decorated paintings that told anyone how expensive they were at a glance. If this were peacetime, I would have sighed in admiration for the pure luxury of it all.
However, even though I would be staying in this gorgeous room for the time being, no emotions sprung up, and all I could do was vaguely look around me.
On top of a desk all of my and Gina’s luggage was gathered together in one large pile. The servants in the mansion could not have known specifically what belonged to whom, so for now all they did was separate what would belong to the women and the men.
“I should separate Gina’s and my baggage…….”
Understanding the situation, I reached out to the baggage on the table.
However, even though in my head I understand that I should divide our things, my body doesn’t really want to do what my mind is telling it to, so rather than dividing it all up, I end up just blankly staring at it all instead.
Meanwhile the sound of a light knocking on the door echoed inside the room. My line of sight changed from the bags towards the door, and I slowly rose up from the chair. My movements towards the door were sluggish and slow, and it seemed like soon I would move forward, but my body would be left behind.
I’m awake, but my body and heart and everything else feel wrong.
When I opened the door, it was the figure of Percival who should have been guided to a separate room standing there.
The effects of the previous story were clearly a drain on him, yet when I opened the door, he still managed to make a gentlemanly smile and shook the box he was holding in his hand. The white colored box had the words, ‘First-aid kit’ scrawled across the front.
“Miss Monette, let me treat you.”
“Mmm, you hurt your hand using magic in the royal palace right?”
I nodded my head slightly now that Percival mentioned it.
I certainly did hurt my hand using magic in the royal palace. After that I did received some light first aid at the time. Although, I’m sure a doctor would argue that wiping away the blood with a handkerchief and blowing on the wound would not necessarily count as first aid.
Because of that, pain was still pulsing through my hand. However, I am not worried about such a paltry excuse for hand pain. My heart aches far more.
But there is no way I can say such a thing, so I put my hand out to take the kit from him………….and my eyes go round when he instead asks for permission to come in.
“I want to treat you…….is it no good?”
“It’s no good.”
“An immediate reply.”
“Even if you did come in to treat me, you would have to remove part of my armor.”
I diverted my eyes away from him as I muttered my excuse.
Even though it is just my hands, I am still afraid to expose my skin. I am like this even though I now know it was all caused by a witch’s curse. My sister’s curse. I’m my own cage now.
However, going completely against what I said, Percival narrowed his eyes slightly and gently grabbed my hand.
“We can darken the room, and I will try not to see as much as possible.”
“I won’t call you ugly. I promise.”
Percival’s voice was deep and resolute enough that I was almost about to believe him. It almost felt like he was rubbing my hand and whispering in my ear without an iron shell obstructing him. My gaze inevitable fell towards my hand.
It was the back of the hand that was spilling out pain as if it were pain that was pumping through my veins instead of blood. Through the iron, I could not know the depth of the cut, and no matter how hard Percival held me, I would be unable to feel the warmth from his hand on my skin. Looking back at the backpacks littering the table, I felt slightly lost…….and invited him into the room.
Crossing the room together, we each took a seat on a chair facing each other.
Percival extended his hand outwards, and I replied in kind by reaching my hand out as well………..towards my shoulder.
With a little hesitation, I heard, “Miss Monette,” being called after my hand stopped completely when I heard the *conk* of my finger hitting iron.
“…….I, I know. My heart needs time to prepare though.”
“Alright, then I’ll wait.”
At Percival’s words, my thoughts returned to the armor covering my chest once again.
I oftentimes hear the sound of metal scraping against metal as I move around, but this time the noises were coming from my flesh, from the echoes created by my heartbeat. I feel restless; I can’t calm down.
Still, I pull back the leather clasps, and the color of skin begins to peek out through a gap.
It is not a face, it is not a body, it is only a hand. Even so, a paralyzing tension spread up and dominated my body. Cold sweat traveled down my back causing my skin to stick to the inner parts of my armor, and it took everything I had to resist the urge to immediately reattach it. Alexis’s former words, “ugly,” run through my mind. But that word……..I shake my head and slowly remove my gauntlet.
My arm is a slightly pale flesh color with not a speck of silver in sight.
……..ah, my manicure is peeling off.
It’s because of this heavy air that I’m so fixated on such a tiny mistake.
While mentally trying to repress my heart from beating right outside of my chest, I stroke my exposed arm once before extending my hand to Percival without covering it back up.
Slightly trembling, I hesitate to allow him to actually touch my exposed skin, so my movements are slow and dull. But Percival must have sensed my unease, and he waited to take my without hurrying or forcefully moving.
After a moment, my hand lightly touch his large, robust ones.
The tension and worry running through me ebbed away slightly, and I was able to relax to an extent despite my still trembling hands.
Percival picked up on my still lingering nervousness, and as he used the first aid kit to start treating my cut, he made sure to continue with a light touch without any sudden movements.
On the contrary, he even tried telling me a joke saying, “Just don’t curse me if it ends up stinging a little.” This was of course to try and calm me down even more.
“Sa-Saying such a thing……Even if I tried to cast a curse on Percival, i-it would not work would it……….?”
“Oh yeah. So I guess it will be fine to not hesitate and tighten up this bandage.”
“If you do that, I’ll hit you with a brick……”
I countered him with a voice to overturn Percival’s joke.
Tightening bandages, what a terrible treatment this is! However……..I gazed down on my hand. His hand was holding mine quite tenderly despite my own still slightly trembling.
Contrary to his words, he really was handling my treatment very gently…….
His way of holding my hand as if he was holding a first-class artifact caused my eyes to narrow inside my helmet.
I could feel through my skin that the temperature of his hands was just a little higher than mine. That warmth of his hand felt like it was enveloping mine despite my hand only resting on his palm; is it because Percival’s hand is so big?
……….Ah, it’s warm when you touch someone else.
I remembered something from such a long time ago.
At the same time, I was overcome with a tremendous amount of self-pity that I had forgotten such a thing. I was afraid to go out in public during the day, hid myself away, and in the end I locked myself up in a huge full set of armor. It was a pathetic life, the feeling of warmth and touching another person’s skin were just memories of a distant past.
Resentment that could not be put into words started to swell up in my chest, so much so that I had to shut my eyes tight. I’m glad that I’m wearing a helmet right now because I cannot even imagine what I must look like right now.
Then the treatment was finished, and Percival slowly took his hands away from mine.
At first glance, it looked like a carefully wrapped bandage done by a professional doctor, but at the same time, it felt strangely cold.
“Let’s change the bandages at night.”
I returned Percival’s concern with a nod of my helmet, and Percival nodded in turn……..then he took a deep sigh and muttered, “All a witch’s curse,” underneath his breath.
“…………yes. That was all.”
Percival did not specify what he was talking about, and I did not give a clear answer.
Because the answer really was all of it.
Everything was because of Emilia’s magic, to make her wish come true.
The curse of Alexis’s bad luck, me secluding myself inside the old castle…….
And why I always wear a full suit of armor.
Even those words Alexis said that day…….
“As if I’d marry an ugly woman like you!”
Once I heard those words, I was fated to confine myself to a heavy suit of armor until today.
A vivid scene with Alexis would come up, his appearance at that time, the words he said echoing crystal clear, everything was still up there crowding around in my memory.
It was all caused by magic.
It was the first step in Emilia’s road of becoming a ‘sparkling princess.’
Then what is the life of the heavily armored noble girl who spent most of her life wearing a full suit of armor………?
Lost in my own thoughts, I started to stroke my own armor.
I heard the iron rubbing against itself. A single hand made dyed silver…….I stared at it for awhile and smiled underneath my helmet despite myself, for the arm dyed silver so long now had the color of flesh and blood instead.
It was then that the large hand that had wrapped me up in bandages this time reached out and held the back of my hand. It was, of course, Percival.
I raised my helmet to look at him and saw his blue eyes staring directly back at me.
“Even if everything is a witch’s curse, my feelings will never change. I want to be cursed by you.”
“Percival, but……there is no reason for me to curse you.”
The feelings of guilt Percival held towards me boiled down to, ‘I involved Monette who was living peacefully in a bothersome affair and forced her out of the old castle.’
However, that ‘peaceful life in the old castle,’ itself was just me being stored away like a pet by Emilia. Percival had actually saved me from ending up as just a puppet with a role to play.
In other words, there is no reason for me to curse him, but when I told him this, Percival made a soft and bitter smile.
“Still my feelings won’t change. Please curse me.”
“……..In the first place, Percival can’t be cursed by a witch.”
“Then beat me with something similar to a brick.”
“What’s similar to a brick…….?”
“What on earth should I beat you with,” I laughed bitterly from inside my helmet, but then Percival slowly moved forward……..
And with arms wide open, he pulled me in for a tight embrace.
“Miss Monette, I, you……..that, you are a good witch.”
“Terribly, that……you are a cute, wonderful witch. I want to be cursed by you. ……..if it were to come true, forever.”
I twisted around in his arms and looked up at Percival’s persistent words.
A gaze that cannot his red cheeks and embarrassment. He said I am a good witch and continued to praise me by calling me cute and wonderful shamelessly. Even so, he continued to hold me in his arms and started to slowly stroke the armor’s back.
It was just like when we were in bed……..oh. I tried to call his name, but before that, “Miss Monette,” he called mine.
“Miss Monette, I am sleepy right now.”
“This is only an ‘annoying act of the bedridden,’ so you don’t have to think about any of this too deeply.”
So, with Percival talking in a deep, calm voice, I diverted my eyes away inside my helmet.
So, what am I supposed to say?
If I say a word, then I feel like the thing that I have been desperately trying to endure up until this point will give way in an instant. An unrelenting feeling inside my chest was getting stronger, and I thought to relieve some of this pressure building up inside me with a light joke and some small jabs.
He doesn’t want to be exposed in public, or so I tell myself, but when I move to try and say something, his arms just tighten around me all the more.
“Percival, let me……..”
“I am sleepy. Please wait for fifteen minutes.”
“Such a thing, if you are actually sleepy then……”
“I won’t tell you to not cry, but don’t cry alone in that armor. Miss Monette, go ahead and cry now. I’m sleepy, so I will never let you get away.”
His words were like a flash of lightning, and my eyes opened wide in surprise. “Please cry.” His words easily pierced iron and melted into my ears and chest.
It all slowly melted away. The intentions and walls I’d built that were sturdier than any suit of armor. His arms hugged me all the more tightly as if he were trying to hold up the resolve that was melting away from me.
Ah, it’s useless…… Feeling my emotions overflowing from within my heart, I grabbed hold of Percival’s clothes with my silver fingers.
And for the first time since that day that everything began long ago, I took the time to say the words that I had never told anyone–only allowing them a slight whisper from within my heart.
My voice was severely blurred, weak, miserable, and it disappeared inside my iron helmet.
But still Percival hugged me even more tightly, and I felt a sense of comfort from his arms.
Still, the sense of the hug could not be transmitted through the armor. The movement of his hand stroking my back, and the heat from his body, it was all obstructed by a welded wall of iron.
I thought it was painful, but even though I think that it hurts I will not take off this armor making me feel all the more miserable creating a lump in my throat, and a stream of tears cascading down my cheeks.