My jaw almost hit the floor, I was so unbelievably surprised. E-Excuse you? Does he seriously think Abigail tried to kill herself? I couldn’t deny that Abigail’s done some crazy stuff in the past for attention, but being suspicious right off the bat is too much. Yes, she pretended to be sick in the past! Yed, she tried to drown herself! And yed, she drank some poison too, but!
… I stand corrected… Yes, it’s totally understandable to come to that conclusion. Even I was starting to get suspicious of her. Why the hell do I have to clean up all these messes Abigail left behind? Despite my annoyance, I kept the anger at bay, not wanting it to impact my efforts to improve my future. “I admit, I am guilty of a couple…creative ploys to obtain your affection in the past…”
“N-nevertheless! This time, that was not the case.” I did my best to maintain an image of composure.
Even so, the man’s eyes belied his utter doubt of my sincerity. “No matter your ploys, I will not be able to give you the love that you desire.”
I wanted to dump cold water on that stupid face of his. When did I say anything about that just now? It was like he was trying to preemptively dump me before I could confess. “That’s all well and good, in that case, as I do not desire your affections either.”
This wasn’t a joke or a taunt, I was being completely serious. I no longer wanted anything to do with a man who behaved this way. But Sabelian’s aura of suspicion remained. I spoke once again with complete honesty. “After my near-death experience, I finally realized how useless all of it was. No matter how much I sought your attention, all you gave me was pity. Well I don’t want your pity.” Just like how Sabelian felt no affection for me, I also didn’t feel any affection for him. I admit to being attracted to his face at first, but his personality immediately ruined that. “You may be suspicious of me, but I swear to you upon my family’s name that I have uttered no falsehood.”
“I seem to recall you swore on your family’s name last time.” God damn it, Abigail! You couldn’t throw me a single bone?! What is it with you and lying about everything?!
I took a moment to gather my thoughts, and choose my next words carefully. “Then riddle me this, if I truly used this situation to once again garner your attention, would I not have immediately accused one of the maids of poisoning me?” The real Abigail would have done this for sure, I’m 100% confident. She would have chosen a relatively pretty maid, and had the poor girl’s entire family killed for the false offense. “Yet I told you I knew nothing about whatever perpetrator might have committed this crime, fully aware that suspicious would then shift to me. Had I blamed someone else from the start, the situation would turn in my favor.”
“……” Sabelian didn’t say anything, but the suspicion hadn’t fully dissipated either. The distrust we held for each other didn’t diminish at all.
“I fully understand your hesitation to place your trust in my words. But I guarantee you’ll see the truth of them from this point on. In fact, I have a proposition right now to start atoning for my past misdeeds.”
“Why don’t we,”—I mustered the kindest smile I possibly could with my current face—“sleep in separate rooms?”
I could see Sabelian’s eyes widen just a tiny bit. It was much the same as the moment I came back to life after being assumed dead. “Separate… rooms?”
“Yes. Separate rooms.” I spoke slowly and clearly to get the message across. Although I made it sound like the suggestion was for Sabelian’s benefit, it was as much for me as it was for him.
Currently, Sabelian and I were sharing a bed together. That… made me uncomfortable, to say the least. I wanted to sleep soundly, but I couldn’t get 3 winks lying next to someone I didn’t even know. At the end of the day, he was a stranger. We might be a couple on the outside, but on the inside we were little more than acquaintances.
Sharing a bed with a man I don’t know? Every night I suffered through stress induced sleep paralysis, and I was getting sick of it. So… my brilliant solution: separate bedrooms. I’d be happy, he’d be happy. And on the plus side, it might start to improve his opinion of me.
He still looked skeptical. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally managed to nod. “Fine. I’ll make arrangements for that later.”
“Wonderful. Oh, and one more thing… Before was a suggestion, but now I’d like to make a request.”
Ugh, turn the sharp gaze down a notch, would you? I quickly explained before he could get any weird ideas in his head. “You don’t have to worry, it’s not about fulfilling your duties as a husband. Rather, I would like you to fulfill your duties as a father, at the very least.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You’re not the least bit interested in conceiving another child, so shouldn’t you dote on the one you have, even a little bit?” Sabelian seemed more confused than anything. A small sigh escaped my lips. “Earlier, when Blanche was hurt, your response was very cold.”
“I called for a doctor, didn’t I?”
“More importantly you should have asked if she was all right first.” Not even a twinge of guilt crossed Sabelian’s face. What an unusual man. My initial assumption behind his odd behavior was that Blanche was a daughter and not a son, but that didn’t appear to be the case. After all, if he really wanted a son, he would have slept with Abigail already. Well, it’s entirely possible he didn’t do so purely because he disliked Abigail, but even so, it’s still strange that he he didn’t get a divorce or a second wife to have a son.
Or… could it be that? Spartan education? His way of trying to raise Blanche to be a strong girl? Bah, bullshit. Ignoring a girl and being strict with a girl were two totally different things. “She’s your daughter. You should at least pretend to love her.”
“Yes, you’re right. That is my child…” Oh? Is he finally listening to me? Despite my hopes, though, Sabelian’s voice was as cold as the arctic wind. “It’s mine, not yours. I’ll be the one to make the decisions regarding Blanche’s upbringing.”
What? ‘It’? D-Did he just refer to his own child as an object? If the real Abigail heard this admission, she would have jumped up and danced for joy. Nothing could have made her happier than witnessing the relationship worsen between Sabelian and Blanche.
But not this Abigail. I couldn’t turn a blind eye to a child being ignored so heartlessly. I grit my teeth and quickly stood up from my seat. It made the table shake a bit from the sudden motion, and as a consequence, spilled a little tea. “My name is Abigail Friedkin. Blanche is also a Friedkin. I believe I am well within my rights to intervene.” I shot him a glare with all the disgust and hatred I could muster. Sabelian didn’t bother saying anything.
“My request remains the same. Please love Princess Blanche as your daughter. I’ll sleep by myself from now on. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” I left the room in a hurry. Taking my leave before the king is considered impolite, but I didn’t give a rat’s ass. Again, Sabelian didn’t bother saying anything.
* * *
“Clara, are you sure you heard right? The queen’s really sleeping separately from the king?”
“I did, I did, Miss Norma!” The maids serving under Abigail were whispering to each other in a hushed tone. The woman called Norma was far and away from what anyone would call beautiful. She was quite tall, and had a hawkish nose to boot. Clara, too, was just an average looking girl, with brunette hair and a few freckles.
Clara lowered her voice even more, in the most secretive of tones. “And get this, it was the queen who suggested it, of all the crazy things.”
“Just what is she up to now…?” Rumors were flying all over the palace the last few days. The cause of all this was, of course, Queen Abigail. She was the talk of the palace right now. After all, she died and came back to life. And after she revived, she continued doing one crazy thing after another.
“What do you mean what is she up to? Weren’t you the one who said they were on bad terms to begin with?” Clara asked out of confusion. Norma, on the other hand, was biting her lower lip out of nervousness.
“There’s no way it’s that simple, Clara. She’s definitely plotting something, mark my words. This is Queen Abigail we’re talking about, after all.” Norma had been in Abigail’s employ since the queen first came to the palace. In just the first year of serving the queen, she could spend a whole week complaining about the things she’d been forced to endure.
Their clothing spoke volumes for her harsh treatment of the serving staff. Only nobility could directly serve royalty, thus these servants commonly dressed according to their noble status. But Normal and Clara only wore a normal maid’s uniform. This again was thanks to Abigail’s obsession with beauty. You could expect to be scolded immediately for looking even remotely pretty. So the servants wore their drab uniforms to escape her ire. Makeup and accessories were also taboo.
“Do you really think someone can change that easily? Just you watch. She’ll be back to her old ways scolding us like always, just you wait. And don’t let your guard down.”
“Hmm, all right. I’ll be careful.” Clara nodded, but still didn’t seem fully convinced. Norma just sighed.
After Abigail’s death, many servants had been replaced with new ones. Poor Clara, being one of the newer servants, didn’t know the true fearsome nature of Abigail. At this rate, she’d be chased away in a matter of days. But before Norma could give the girl any further warnings, a bell rang from the room outside. Abigail was calling for a servant.
Afraid of getting reprimanded for being even a second late, the two quickly made their way out. But Abigail already looked to be in foul mood. She glared at the table in front of her with pursed lips. Damn it. We’re screwed. Norma swore in her mind. She braced herself for another of Abigail’s hysterical fits.
“I want to ask you two something.”
Norma felt a chill run down her spine at Abigail’s tone of voice, and tried to respond as politely as she could. “Yes, Your Majesty?”
“Which of these do you think suits Blanche the best?” Abigail pointed to the table, upon which were two petite pairs of shoes. One was a traditional black mary jane style shoe. The other, a white shoe with a kitten heel, and a cute ribbons decorating the back.
Were these for Blanche? Norma assumed it to be another plot to harass the girl. Probably planning on putting needles inside or something. The problem lied in how to respond to the Queen’s question. Should she say they’re both too gaudy for someone like Blanche or…?
As Norma mulled over how best to answer, Clara piped up with a warming smile. “I think both are very pretty.”
Norma stared at Clara with absolute shock. How could she come up with such a foolish answer? The queen would surely explo…!
“Right? I think both would absolutely adorable on her.” Abigail brightened immensely, but then her complexion immediately darkened again. “Hmm… But what if she doesn’t like it?”
“Why don’t you let the princess choose which one she likes better, then?”
“That would the for the best, wouldn’t it?” Abigail fell into deep thought.
Norma, in the meantime, was still trying to recover from her shock. ….Was she actually seriously deliberating about what present to give to the princess? Especially when her face looked like she was thinking about assassinating someone…
TL: Soju Jimmy
Editor/QC: Solistia Cosmopolitan