Monette and Percival
I was reading a book while drinking some tea when I heard the faint cry of a horse in the distance making me raise my helmet.
Closing the book and laying it on my desk, I hear a pitter-patter……along with the clank of metal rapping against my door. When I got out of my seat to open the door in response to the knocking, there was Percival wearing a suit of armor waiting for me.
It was as if he were visiting the old castle for the first time all over again. At that time, the sound of him knocking on my door echoed in the old castle just as it did now. And then when I opened the door and saw Percival and Alexis standing behind it, I had immediately slammed the door closed in front of their eyes.
Oh how nostalgic it all is. As the memories came back to me, I tried closing the door again now with a mischievous little laugh, but Percival bitterly held the door open before I could. He smiled and said, “There might be wolves out here, so please let me in,” telling a joke to show he remembered the old days as well.
Both of us laughed at the small bit of fun, and once we were done I opened my door and welcomed him inside.
I invited him inside the room I was reading in earlier, and we sat in opposite chairs facing each other.
I stuck out my hand to him when we got seated, and understanding what I meant, Percival nodded his head and placed a bag of sugar confections into the palm of my hand.
The sugar confections all looked sweet and delicious while wrapped up in a lovely ribbon. Looking at them for only a second, my helmet quickly snapped back up in attention.
“……This isn’t it.”
“I know. Please enjoy them while waiting for a second.”
The bitter smile Percival mixed into his light laughter annoyed me for a second, but knowing that there was nothing for it, I shrugged my shoulders and undid the ribbon wrapped around the bag.
A sweet aroma melted in my mouth after popping the first one in. It was so deliciously sweet. While enjoying that sweetness, Percival took a look around the room.
“Robertson, is Robertson here?”
Not seeing him anywhere, Percival absentmindedly called his name, but I did not answer his question and continued to silently taste these sugared confections for ten seconds when…….
a spider came crawling down from the ceiling.
It was the aforementioned Robertson. Today too he was looking particularly plump, and as he stopped crawling down his web right in front of Percival’s face, I marveled at just how dreamlike and handsome he was looking today before greeting him.
Towards such a Robertson Percival presented a letter. Then he said just the one word, “Please.” He spoke in quite the serious voice.
Robertson heard that voice and received the letter……or not because of his size, so he instead jumped on top of it. He crawled around the letter as if wary of what it could contain, creating a small rustling sound as he stuck his forefoot into the gaps of the envelope.
After investigating the letter for awhile, Robertson jumped back onto his thread as if to declare that he was finished, and then began twinkling in a light slightly brighter than usual. What is with that dazzling light?
“Yosh, then it’s alright?”
“You’re worrying me.”
I smiled bitterly from inside my helmet as I watched the common sight of these two interacting as such.
Then I decided to move my hands and received an envelope from Percival.
The name of the sender written there………Emilia Idira.
Emilia once lived inside the royal palace as the Prince’s fiancee, but after this case was resolved, she was moved away from the kingdom by Ordo’s will. She now resided in the remote area of the country that Ordo had been banished to, an area still almost quarantined by the rest of the country.
But now all the might Ordo had built up to control the country was now being focused inward to hold the power of a single witch. Would that be irony?
Emilia resides in a small mansion that is isolated even in that place, living with a few servants to take care of her needs.
Quietly, frugally, free from glamour. It can be said that she was truly living a life the complete opposite of what she had lived inside the palace.
Of course, even in that quiet life she was being extensively monitored. Ordo, his men, and even some of his knights were constantly watching Emilia and taking countermeasures so thaht they could respond immediately if ever something were to happen.
It was the witch slayer Percival who took command. Emilia’s surveillance and reporting, Alexis’s escort……he was much busier than before.
Everyone was still very much wary of Emilia.
If she were to ask, they would not allow her to have any gems or decorations, and it was even forbidden for her to eat from silver dining ware.
As they knew that her magic had previously used glittering decorations as a medium, it seems that even shiny glass fragments have been forbidden to her.
Amid such thoroughness, it would be natural for Emilia to feel cramped from Ordo, Percival, and even the watchful eye of Gina’s magic……always living knowing that at least one other person would be watching how she moved. It’s so different from her life up until now I’m sure she wants to scream at the top of her lungs.
Still, it should be better than being tried as the root of all evil. In this regard, I am thankful for Ordo’s poor nature who longed for the long-term cease-firing based off of the people’s guilt which allowed Emilia to live.
“How is Emilia?”
“Her condition has improved a lot. I was touched the morning she got up early to see me off.”
Percival laughed while remembering Emilia’s state at that time. There was no deceit in that expression, so surely Emilia really was showing signs of recovery.
The wish, ‘I want to be a sparkling princess’ had been felt so strongly that it became a curse, changing everything to make Emilia capable of being that princess. Now that everything has melted away, Emilia has returned to being a sickly girl once again.
I had an inkling when they took her away that day, but she got worse than I would have thought. At times it being difficult for her to walk, she spent many days coughing in her bed.
Still, the condition described in the sent letter described a remarkable improvement, and it is said that she is able to freely cook and paint without depending on anyone else’s help. Sometimes she sends me one of her pictures along with the letter. –Although the first time she did I overheard Percival muttering, “The drawing power of two sisters is genetic……” before he had quickly left in a panic when he realized I was looking towards him at the time.–
“Emilia seems to be doing well and good.”
I let out a sigh of relief as I slowly opened the envelope.
Then moving one of my hands outwards, Percival gave me a bitter smile and wrapped my hand up in both of his. They were large, manly hands, and they made my expression relax underneath this helmet.
Although a year has already passed, my heart still hurts whenever I read a letter from Emilia. I had decided not to forgive her, to judge her; but the letters of apology and regret that pour forth from the pages my sister sends me while isolated in a distant land pierce my armor and cling to my heart.
That’s why whenever I read a letter from her I try to have Percival’s hand in my own. The body temperature from his skin transmitted onto my own, the feeling of his skin rubbing against mine, warms my chest and makes me melt.
Enraptured by such warmth, I carefully unfolded the stationary.
Her current situation with family and things. What kind of days she has, the visits from the occasional witches, and sometimes letters from Rodel.
Such things were scrawled across the simple paper letter.
“She seems to like the brooch Miss Monette gave her quite a bit, and I always see her wearing it.”
“Really? I’m happy, I tried my best when making it. ……Well, at the time I was designing it I had received quite a few strange looks.”
I started grumbling my resentment towards everyone I could think of one by one with Percival still holding my hand, smiling bitterly knowing that he was one of the people on my list.
The brooch Percival was talking about was something that I had made for Emilia. It was natural for Emilia who had used an accessory to work her magic to not be allowed to keep an accessory, but this was something that I hand-made for her.
I prepared a plain brooch using wood and carefully engraved the handle. It was a job that required perseverance and dexterity. At the starting line of the design stage, I decided to make a cute kitty-cat brooch…..when I was finished, everyone had something to say.
“Miss Monette, something like this is far too fashionable to give as a gift………”
“Is this a curse?”
“That’s some good wood. Hey Concetta, quit picking a fight with it!”
“Wow, what is that? It looks so bad!”
It ended with everyone saying they really liked it. –There is no need to explain certain things, like who said what, in detail. Especially that last one was way too severe. Just remembering the look on his pompous face as he laughed makes me want to scream inside this helmet.–
Alexis was still thinking seriously about the design though even in that strange situation.
Even though he knew it would be given to Emilia when it was completed, he still drew up a beautiful kitty-cat and flower drawing.
I carved the brooch based off that, took the time to paint the whole thing, and then gave it to Emilia. I cannot put any glittering jewels on it, but I still think that it was a pretty brooch.
Emilia said in the next letter she sent that she loved it, and she apparently wears it every day.
I cannot see the figure of her wearing that brooch, but I can still smile happily at how easily it is to imagine Emilia’s shining appearance while wearing it.
Putting the letter down on my desk when I had finished reading it, Percival held one of his hands out to me again.
He wanted to hold both my hands in his. I allowed it, and had my other hand slowly overlapped by his.
“I will make another brooch by the day I see Emilia again……”
“Matching, I’m sure she will be pleased.”
“I will wear it and go see Emilia……will you go with me at that time?”
I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I let it all out when Percival resolutely nodded his head.
Since that one event, I had not met with Emilia……rather, I couldn’t meet with her. Ordo had forbidden it under his name as king.
Until we find a way to completely seal away the magic Emilia is constantly leaking out, only a witch slayer or a familiar are allowed to meet with her to exchange letters that have been checked beforehand.
Of course, this was out of concern since I had been driven by Emilia’s magic in the past, and at the same time it is Ordo’s idea for trying to gain a technique to seal witchcraft away. Although it is true that he is a greedy man any way you cut it, it is a fact that this incident would not have been solved if it were not for his desire.
Incidentally, Alexis and Rodel are in the same situation. Ordo has also forbade Alexis from going to see his brother, but he is allowing them to exchange letters. I remember the first time they were sent. The figure of Ordo laughing while saying, “It’s a fight between my two cute nephews,” is something that will forever be burned into my mind.
As for the technique to seal a person’s witchcraft, the research done by Gina’s Avalkin family along with a few acquaintances of hers had brought forth a few ideas.
Actually, recently the group of witches has been split in two as one group tries to discover the method to seal a witches magic while another seeks to find a way to block magic using magic. It seems that Emilia’s circumstances have already been forgotten, and the two sides are now just arguing about the best way to continue with their research.
Witches are beings who live apart from others where they can perform research on magic by themselves for a reason after all. In the meantime, the subject was dropped after Gina simply said, “It’s fine as long as results are made.”
“With that momentum, surely Miss Emilia’s magic can be sealed before too long.”
“I suppose. Until then the letters……”
“Even with the letters, Miss Emilia always cries out in joy, ‘Sister Monette has sent a reply!’ whenever she receives one.”
A grin floated across Percival’s face.
Surely he was remembering the first time I had written her, when I was unsure about what to write so I just wrote whatever came to my head. When I tried to justify myself and told him that, ‘Witches are busy,’ he surely misunderstood and tried to comfort me with a smile while rubbing my hands.
How awful……I muttered in my heart, but at the same time Percival called out, “Miss Monette,” as his mind had drifted to something else. His bright blue eyes looked more serious than usual and they were planted squarely on me. His hands felt hotter as well, most likely because of whatever was on his mind.
“Miss Monette, recently you’ve started exposing your hands outside……”
“Well, I’m fine if it’s my hands or feet.”
Unlike before where I refused to expose even a millimeter of my skin, I had started exposing myself little by little over this past year.
If it is only my limbs, I can show them as long as a reliable person such as Percival is nearby. But I get nervous if attention is drawn on me, and if there are many people, I shrink back and retreat to my shell.
Still, I recently started to be able to expose my hands and feet by myself. Like right now, I feel comfortable touching another person.
“I think that it is a good thing. I know that you are trying hard to peel back your armor, but……”
“When I watch your back as you remove your armor and try to touch someone, I…….that is…….I-I get jealous.”
Percival’s face got progressively redder as he spoke, but I was barely able notice when the words he spoke left me completely dumbfounded.
The hands I was touching were hot. The words he used penetrated my armor and caused my chest to tighten. If I could see it right now, I’m sure my face would be as red as his.
“Whether it be a gauntlet or a hand, I want to be the one holding it. I want to be the one holding this connection with you.”
“Such a thing, why……..”
“……..because I love you.”
While being stared at by that serious look, he said those words to me, and I felt a jolt pierce right into my chest.
His words blended into my heart, creating a rhythm at which it beat.
I could hear the sounds of my heart as if it were a song, and a heat traveled through my body. I felt comfortable as if I were laying on a fluffy cloud, and for a second I wondered if I was dreaming.
Love, I never thought someone would direct those words towards me.
“Is it the armor!?”
I found some unexpected words passing through my lips as a response.
“Hm? Ah, you are in armor.”
“I am wearing armor, so you can’t see my face!”
“True, I cannot see it.”
“Yet you love……… No way, Percival, you have an armor fetish.”
“No that is an extreme misunderstanding.”
Percival powerfully denied my idea, but a cloud of embarrassment was filling up my helmet, and I was unsure if I believed him.
I am almost completely covered in armor. From the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Although I have finally been able to work my way up to showing my hands and feet, he should not even be sure what color my hair is let alone what my face looks like.
Yes he is making some grand appeal that he loves me. To what extent……or so I tried to ask him, but he was sharply smiling back at me.
“What for……you are extremely kind, and I find you very cute as well.”
“So you’re sleepy.”
“I’m not sleepy.”
“Because I’m cute…….You know, sometimes my spirit enters some armor from the side.”
Perhaps I was misunderstanding something, so my gaze fell on the suit of armor standing at the corner of the room. It was the suit I wore inside the royal palace.
I thought about returning it to Ordo, but I had gained a strange attachment to it. Besides, it would be nice to have it if my main armor ever had to be put out to dry. It is a so-called spare.
But the designs of the two are completely different. Finding both armors cute would be unreasonable, but when I turned my gaze towards it, Percival’s eyes followed mine to the corner,
“At that time, that armor is cute.”
and declared such.
“What is with, do you just like empty suits of armor……?”
“I love Miss Monette. Whatever armor you wear is the cutest in the world so long as you’re in it.”
Speaking ever so gently, Percival slowly released my hands from his. Then he spread out both his arms in front of me.
When he hugged me just like that, I felt like I was being silently told not to run away, and a small grunt escaped my lips underneath my helmet. If he hadn’t embraced me and pulled me close, even I have to admit there was a chance I would have just run away, but like this, I learned a long time ago I can’t escape out of this.
I sat there silently while cursing his arms from inside my heart.
It is because I think to myself what a shame it is that I can’t feel how tightly he is embracing me through the armor, or what a waste it is that I can’t feel the warmth of his hand rubbing my back that I realize just how much I am drawn to him. Soon such a wish like me wanting him to embrace me even more tightly will rise up in me.
“If you take off your armor someday, will you come to see me first? I wish……No, I want you to remove your armor and hug me just like this.”
“Witches, curses, or even armor mean nothing to me. I love the Miss Monette before me just the way you are. Please marry me.”
Towards the heartfelt words Percival spoke out, a small sigh escaped my helmet.
“Perhaps, I will end up living my entire life just like this.”
“Even your armor is cute, so it’ll be fine.”
“…….Even if I take it off, I’ll be completely different from Percival’s preference……I might really be ugly, so what will you do?”
I understand that the words Alexis said at that time was because of the curse.
But what if I really am ugly?
There is a possibility that the curse took the shortest method for getting me out of my marriage which was to make Alexis vocal to my already hideous face.
That possibility still clung to my heart, and it was why I still wore a helmet even now. Whether I’m a witch or not, I can’t be confident in myself as just an ordinary girl.
My point only caused Percival no narrow his blue eyes towards me.
“I have only ever seen you with a helmet on, there is nothing that could top that.”
Or so he said with a laugh.
There was a little embarrassment in that laugh of his, and I found myself sighing once again. It is because he thinks in that sort of way that I…….
That I also want to take my helmet off and face you.
That I want to be hugged by him, without some lump of iron getting in the way.
Such a numbing feeling sprung forth from deep inside me, and I bumped the crown of my helmet against his wide chest.
My helmet rattled a little as it pressed into him, but it was overshadowed by Percival’s laugh as he started to call me an ‘amenable cat’. As part of the joke he started to stroke the back of my armor as if I really were a cat, but rather than be offended, I could only think once more about what a waste it was that I couldn’t feel his touch.
I put up some small act of resistance until wrapping my arms around his back in turn. Slowly, my embrace strengthened, and this time it was me pulling him in close.
The end result was him strengthening his smile all the more.
“I am strange indeed. However, I think something like that would work perfectly for a heavily armored noble girl.”
His softly spoken words caused a small smile to form on my face. Then I closed my eyes, and the tears I had been enduring until now started to flow.
The heavily armored noble girl. It had protected me, walling everything away from me, but now it was just a form of frustration.
I made a promise in my heart that the day I would remove it would someday come, but for now, I settled for tightly hugging Percival to me and quietly telling him, “I feel the same way about you……..”
Even those all-important words came to him through a helmet. How frustrating this is.