She hadn’t had a single sip of alcohol. None of the food she had consumed contained alcohol, either. So how…? Even now, Abigail’s voice was only getting louder by the second. “If I were you, Your Majesty, I’d have Blanche on my lap and I’d pet her every single day! Princess Blanche! Come over here!”
“Ah, yes!” Blanche shuffled over to her nervously. Abigail put the girl on her lap and hugged her tightly. Still holding her, she started lightly rocking the girl to and fro in excitement, “Ahh, Blanche, just how are you so lovely…?”
“…Abigail?” Abigail completely ignored Sabelian calling out to her.
“Blanche… You’re the prettiest in the whole wide world…I wish you’d like me, but I don’t know what I’d have to do for that…”, Blanche looked up in surprise when Abigail said that, her voice suddenly sad, but then… “Blanche is cute. Cute means bunnies. Bunnies are cute, cute means Blanche…”
“M-Miss Abigail? Are you all right?”
“Oh dear! How’d a fairy end up in my arms?”
Sabelian stood up and took Blanche out of Abigail’s arms. When he did, Abigail looked like she had lost her entire world in that one second. “Ahh, my fairy!”
“Take Blanche back to her room. Bring a doctor on the way back.” The maid exited the room with Blanche in tow. In the meantime, Sabelian took his time observing Abigail. “Are you all right?”
“Of course I’m all right. Abigail’s all right. Abigail’s pretty. Pretty means Blanche…” She didn’t look fine at all, if he had anything to say about it. Abigail stopped speaking all of a sudden and stared at Sabelian; the intensity of her scrutiny was very unsettling. Her purple, almost gem-like eyes had a strange charm to them. Sabelian stared at his reflection in her eyes.
At that moment…
…Abigail grabbed Sabelian by the cheeks.
Sabelian froze in utter surprise. The woman closed in, looking almost as if she was about to kiss him. Sabelian was in shock. He was stunned in place. He couldn’t even think about getting away if his life depended on it. All he could do…was shut his eyes for the inevitable. But then, instead of closing in any more, Abigail’s lips parted.
“You…. You shouldn’t live like this!” Sabelian’s eyes flew open. He was greeted with a very angry Abigail.
“You think you have it all because you’re handsome? You think you can break someone else’s doll if you’re handsome? Do you know how much time and hard work I put into making that thing? You think you’re hot stuff because you’re a king?” Abigail yanked at Sabelian’s cheeks. Whereas Sabelian…was just staring at Abigail, still in a state of utter shock at the completely unforeseen turn things had taken. “Abigail?”
“You really shouldn’t have…and threatening to lower my budget?! Dude! You were the one at fault! And you don’t even eat with your daughter! Are you in the wrong or not, you tell me?!” Abigail started indiscriminately squishing Sabelian’s cheeks like they were made of play-doh. Sabelian’s brows creased in annoyance at her cheek but before he could express it, her next words brought him pause. “You two are still family…why can’t you have a decent relationship with each other…?”
Sabelian swallowed back the words he’d been about to say. He couldn’t bring himself to say anything mean to her, especially not when she sounded so sad. Right then, Millard entered the room with the doctor following behind. Sabelian put up a hand to stop Millard when he made to step forward to tear Abigail away from him, “I’m fine. Let the doctor come first.”
He noticed that Abigail’s mumbles had completely stopped by this point. Was she finally starting to get better? Unfortunately for everyone in the room, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Abigail began to wheeze, her face scrunching up in pain.
“Your Majesty, are you all right? I think we might need you to…” Just as the doctor was about to start his diagnosis, Abigail jumped up abruptly. The entire world spun madly around her, “I…I’m going to go.”
She wanted nothing more than to lie down in bed. Before anyone could stop her, she ran out of the dining hall. Her vision was getting weirder by the second. The halls were turning completely red and everything around her was melting away like a dripping candle. She was scared. She wanted to run. But she wasn’t able to go far. Before long, her vision went completely black.
Abigail didn’t even notice that she’d fallen onto the floor. She was dizzy, she hurt, and it was getting hard for her to breathe. I’m scared, I’m scared. I feel like I might die. Her consciousness began to fade. As she lay down on the floor just struggling to breathe, a voice from afar called out to her, “Abigail!”
Who’s this, now? Who was it, looking for Abigail so urgently? She wanted to open her eyes, but her lids were getting far too heavy to lift. She heard her name once more but the next moment, her consciousness had faded away completely.
“Yes. The queen only… a large amount of…she’ll be fine.” I could hear several voices through my splitting headache. Ugh, where am I? My head feels like it’s getting stabbed by needles… After a moment of struggle, I managed to crack open my eyes. Sunlight streamed into my vision and…I appear to be in my room.
Why am I here? It felt like I was going through a really bad hangover. Did I drink? No, no I didn’t. I was eating with Blanche and Sabelian. And then, and then… Oh Lord, I remember now. I remember it too well. Aghhh! Ahhh! I kicked away my sheets in pure shame. Holy heck, I must’ve been crazy! What the heck were you thinking, me?!
“Are you awake?” Sabelian quickly approached my bedside. At the sight of him, I remembered how I had played around like crazy with his cheeks. Oh God, it feels like the blood inside me is going ice-cold… I’m in so much trouble… Am I going to be executed for this? Or am I gonna get thrown out of the castle? “I-I’m so sorry…!”
“Stay in your bed.” Sabelian stopped me from getting out of my bed. Sob, is he implying that he’s going to make me lie down forever? I sneaked a tiny glance at Sabelian. He didn’t really seem mad or anything. To be precise, he actually looks worried…? Why isn’t he mad? I said all sorts of stuff to him… He sighed when he noticed my gaze on him. “I know you weren’t in your right mind, so don’t worry about me being mad. Even you wouldn’t say stuff like that when in possession of all your faculties.”
Are you trying to console me, or are you trying to attack me? Why don’t you just stick to one, hmm? But thank God he isn’t mad. “Even so, I’m very sorry, Your Majesty. I don’t know why…”
“There was something wrong with the food.” Sabelian interrupted me. Food? What was wrong with the food? What? Sensing my confusion, the doctor stepped up to explain. “There was a lot of nutmeg in your food, Your Highness.”
“…Nutmeg? Isn’t that just a normal spice?”
“Normally, yes. But consuming too much comes with some side effects. It puts a person in a mild state of euphoria, and also has some hallucinogenic properties.” Ah. So that’s exactly what it was. So the reason I saw Blanche as a fairy was because it was hallucinogenic… Well, as weird as this is for me to say, thank God I was high. Unlike me, though, Sabelian had a very worried look on his face. “It seemed to be a mistake on the chef’s part. I’ve decided to punish him after a week.”
I didn’t like the sound of that, “…By punishment, you mean?”
“Endangering the life of a royal is punishable by death.” Sabelian’s voice dripped with ice. He spoke of execution as if it were a mere triviality. I was reminded of just how cold of a person Sabelian was. I raised my body from the bed. “That’s too much! He just made a mistake… Can’t you do something else?”
Sabelian looked at me quietly, his gaze one of someone observing a fascinating thing. “Even though he’s harmed you?”
“He didn’t do it on purpose, and…I’m fine, aren’t I? Please change your decision.” A life wasn’t something so worthless. I couldn’t just let him take one away willy-nilly. Sabelian stared at me for a few more seconds before turning away. “Fine.”
Whoa, really? Thank goodness he agreed just with that. I managed to protect that poor chef’s neck…
“I’ll think about the punishment some other time. Aside from that, Blanche wanted to see you. Would you like to see her now?”
Ah, Blanche. She must’ve been shocked as well. When I gave my assent, Sabelian called the maid outside to enter. In no time at all, Blanche was in the same room as me, her face painted with worry. She approached my bed carefully, and grabbed my hand with her tiny ones. “Miss Abigail, are you all right? Are you hurt?”
Don’t make that face, Blanche. It’s just a hangover, so why are you so worried? I pat her hands lightly with my other hand. “I’m not hurt. But I’m a little ashamed that I showed such unsightly behaviour in front of you.”
I know I wasn’t in the right state of mind, but dear God do I still feel ashamed about it. I’ve done all sorts of weird stuff in front of her…
“I’m sorry. I surprised you, didn’t I?” I apologized and reassured her, “I’m fine. I’m really fine.” The girl’s fingers tightened around my hand. They were warm and soft. Blanche glanced at me for a split second before looking down at the floor. “U-um, Miss Abigail… I’d like to ask you something…”
“What is it?”
“You said you liked me back there…”
Ah, I did. Sob, to think I’d be outed as a total otaku for Blanche right then and there…
“Were you…telling the truth?”
“…Yes, I was.” There’s no way to hide at this point. I have to confess. I snuck a nervous look at Blanche. What if she looks scared? What will I do then?
Contrary to my doom and gloom thoughts, the girl’s face took me by surprise. She had on a very happy expression. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her this blissful before, not even when she was eating the cookies I’d given her or the eclair she had for the first time. She looked like she simply couldn’t contain the sheer elation she was feeling that it just had to come out. I felt like I was being cured of all the diseases in the world in the face of that smile.
“Um, then… Miss Abigail, I’d like to ask you for something….”
“What is it?” I can do anything for you, dear. I’d even slap the hell out of Sabelian’s cheeks! Blanche hesitated a little in embarrassment. “W-when you recover…w-would you go…on a walk with me?”
Her ears were turning completely red. She must’ve mustered all of her courage just to say that… Man, this isn’t a request. This is a reward! Oh man, I feel like I’m going to cry. I fervently took Blanche’s hands in mine. Her big eyes were incredibly lovely to me. “Of course, Blanche. I’ll be up and about as soon as possible.”
Blanche’s face shone with happiness from just that simple sentence. Forget diseases…her smile surely had the power to save the entire world.
TL: Soju Jimmy
Editor: Midwinter Gimlet
QC: Solistia Cosmopolitan