“My situation. I don’t think it’s a good idea to let everyone know what I’m doing right now.”
Eugene expressed her concern before Marianne.
“Yes, I agree.”
“Then I need someone to help me relearn everything I’ve forgotten. Marianne, you can help me, right?” she asked, concern clearly written in her eyes.
However, Marianne seemed hesitant as she began to shy away.
“My queen, I lack enough knowledge…” She started, but Eugene took her hands and grasped it on her own…
“I hope you don’t refuse. I need your help more than anyone else.” She begged.
With that, Marianne’s tensed expression eventually eased as she continued to observe Eugene in silence.
“If it’s within my power then I will gladly do my best.”
“No. I must be the one to say my thanks to Her Grace. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.” Marianne stated, bowing slightly towards Eugene.
Eugene noticed that Marianne was referring to her and Jin Anika’s uncomfortable past but pretended not to know. She just wanted to get along well with Marianne and squeeze out any help she could get.
“My queen, I’m a woman who has already left the castle. I need your permission to rebuild my position.” Marianne continued.
“I see. Then shall I speak to the king?” she asked her.
Marianne shook her head.
“I don’t want to be a burden to you, my queen,” she said, “You must speak to the king, only by your behest, and no one else’s. Not even for others like me.”
Eugene pursed her lips together, as she thought for a moment.
“You are right, on second thoughts, it would be better if you talk to the king instead.” She answered within a heartbeat.
Marianne studied Eugene, trying to see whatever underlying motive she may have had, but only came to one conclusion.
“Are you uncomfortable with the king?”
“That’s not it.”
Eugene smiled awkwardly. She was still confused when she woke up in the morning.
The night they shared was not unpleasant by all means, but it wasn’t what she expected. Her cheeks grew flushed at the thought of last night. She didn’t know how to face the man again which was why she wanted to avoid him for the time being if possible.
“He’s a man of few words, that’s why. I think it would be better if you talk to him.” She came up with this excuse hoping that would be the end of that.
“He may be aloof and callous on the outside, but the king has a very warm heart. He is just bad at expressing his feelings.” Marianne explained.
“I can attest to that. The way he speaks is harsh and his temper…”
Eugene recalled the day the king barged into her room, yelling at her. She let out an involuntary wince as she recalled the unpleasant experience.
“Yes, Your Grace. His temper, I’ve dealt with it all his life,” Marianne said softly, the ghost of their past echoing in her eyes.
She looked so sentimental, so nostalgic, that Eugene couldn’t help a voluntary smile. She was like a hedgehog’s mother, whose child was covered in spikes, who bared them to anyone that threatened him. But even so, only she could see beyond that tough exterior, inert goodness lay within the king’s heart.
“He confided in me.” Marianne added, looking at Eugene. “He told me you’ve lost your memories.”
“That’s…” She wanted to make an excuse, but instead, she let out a sigh. “I understand if you’re suspicious and disbelieving in me,” she said.
Marianne’s gaze on her was unwavering.
“True, I know the queen before, and she had no qualms in lying,” Marianne said, “But right now, I don’t think you are lying.”
“Then I have a question.”
“I’ll tell you everything I know.”
“His Majesty and I, how is our relationship perceived as husband and wife?”
Eugene knew they weren’t real couples but wondered how they appeared to the public.
“In all honesty, my queen,” Marianne said, looking a little saddened, “It didn’t look good. Not at all. But when attending formal events or council meets, the two acted very differently.”
“Oh, we’ve been pretending to be good to each other, aren’t we? For appearance’s sake?”
Marianne gave a cursory nod.
Then there aren’t many people who know they’re not getting along. Well, Jin’s not that stupid. It wouldn’t be a good thing to openly show that you’re having a bad relationship with the king.
“And just before I met Marianne the other day. His Majesty was furious. But he didn’t tell me why. Do you happen to know anything about it?” She continued to ask.
“The king was angry that the queen left the castle without saying a word. I guess that’s why he lost control of himself and stormed here furiously. He was only worried about you.”
Eugene thought that Marianne was keeping the full truth. Would he have been worried about Jin? Or was he only worried that she wouldn’t fulfill the contract?
The angry king came to complain that something was missing. When she said she lost her memory, she remembered the king’s expression of disgust. He didn’t feel worried at all about Jin Anika’s wellbeing.
Marianne didn’t seem to know what the kingdom had lost at that very day– or the maids whom Jin Anika brought with her to the desert.
Eugene grimaced inwardly. It’s like everyone was feigning ignorance about them. They had been quiet since then. She heard no words about the maids as if their lives were only insignificant.
“The maids… They went to the desert with me and went missing…”
Eugene felt heavy in her heart when she thought of them. She felt sorrier for not being able to feel their absence due to the fact that she had not met them.
“Is there really no chance of them still being alive?”
Eugene knew the real answer, and it troubled her so. Yet, she had to ask. She needed to ask.
“The king said that they’re lawbreakers who won’t escape death even if they come back alive.” She added, the quietness in her voice giving way to the fear in her heart.
“Is that how he said it? Word for word?” Marianne asked, looking a little disappointed with the king’s decision. She’s not in approval of that decision then.
“So, you’ll help me?”
“What can I do for the queen?”
“I don’t remember, so I don’t know their personal circumstances. One of them could have been married, one of them could have been the head of a family.”
She began to speak frantically, worried about the family left behind by her servants she couldn’t even remember. The queen was not interested in their personal affairs from the start. She wouldn’t have thought of that, after knowing how she was before. However, Marianne did not bother to point out this fact. She listened without a word to Eugene’s ramblings.
“I want to make amends if they are having a hard time. I don’t know what the procedure is, and I don’t think the king will allow it. Is this a difficult favor?” she asked.
Marianne couldn’t help but smile at her earnestness.
“Your Grace, issue the order and I shall take care of it.”
“Thank you,” Eugene said in relief, and the tension from her shoulders eased away.
Marianne couldn’t help but feel a slight pang in her chest. This was a miracle before her, for a person cannot change their ways completely. The loss of memory was an excellent way to start anew.
They always did say bad things come with the good. Two sides of the same coin. Marianne could only hope that this time, things would begin to change and prove beneficial to the kingdom.