What greeted Marianne was the king’s back, standing before the door to the balcony. She cast a fleeting glance at him and slowly approached. Before coming in, she had intended to nag him to soften his approach towards the queen, but Marianne felt weak as the monarch looked somewhat disconcerted from behind.
Kasser turned his head.
“You visited the queen.”
“Yes, Your Majesty, I seek your permission. For the time being, I’d like to serve Her Grace.”
“And whose idea is this?”
“The queen said she wants my help.”
“What does she want you to do? You don’t have to obey her if you don’t want to,” he said dismissively.
“It’s not like that. With the queen’s condition, someone should be beside her as her guide.”
Kasser let out a soft laugh.
“You want to get along with her this time, don’t you?”
Marianne smiled awkwardly.
“If you allow me, I’ll be the queen’s nanny while I’m in the palace.” Marianne then added. “I will report to the king what I have seen and heard while I am serving Her Grace. Besides, I ought to not disrespect her by turning down her order.”
He trusted her more than anyone else, so his reply came without a hint of displeasure.
“Do as you please.”
Marianne smiled and bowed. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“But remember… they say it could be a temporary condition.”
Instantly, Marianne’s expression saddened.
“… Yes, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes. I don’t think she changed because she lost her memory. And besides, regardless of her condition, she is still the queen.”
Kasser could not agree with Marianne, that the essence was the same person. Even though they lived in humble circumstances, they had been married for three years. Marianne, who had gone out of town as soon as he got married, had many things she didn’t know.
“Then, does this mean that you are going to stay at the castle?”
“It seems so, Your Majesty.”
Kasser nodded. “When are you going to start?”
“I’ll wait for Her Grace’s call…”
“Don’t mention the national treasure..”
When he first found out that the treasure was missing, he, in the fit of anger, accused the queen fiercely. And when Eugene asked him the thing she was accused of stealing, he refused to tell her.
“Don’t mention the missing national treasure to the queen unless she asks about it. I’ll issue a mass *gag order if I have to.”
*T/N: A gag order means restricting information from being made public or passed onto any unauthorized third party.
Marianne almost asked why but reined in her curiosity and shut her mouth. The sovereign’s will was resolute, what the king had already decided was to follow.
“It will be as you will, Your Majesty.”
The next morning, Marianne sat before Eugene. After much thought, the latter had decided to learn the ins and outs of being a queen.
To learn Anika’s quotidian details and royal responsibilities, she needed a step by step approach. So, she began by walking herself through the queen’s routine, that is, her way of life before she lost her memory.
Eugene had a hard time keeping a straight face. Not because there was a lot to do, but because Jin Anika didn’t do anything!
“Um… the study… so you confined yourself to your study except for the time you ate and slept.”
“Are there other things….”
“No, if anything else, I’ll make room for you once a quarter”.
“Tea with the noble-women, attending an official banquet about twice a year, apart from these there are a few other small events where you grace the occasion–about five times a year if you put it together.”
Eugene was too dumbfounded to speak.
Aren’t villains always diligent? How could she play so coy? No wonder I am so idle. The servants didn’t mean to let me rest. It’s just that, Anika didn’t do anything at all!
If you’ve been at parties day and night, you could at least claim to have made a hundred concessions and worked hard on social activities. However, Jin Anika rarely met people.
“Isn’t the queen supposed to do anything?”
At a loss for apt words, Marianne could only smile vaguely. I don’t think so.
“I spent most of my day in my study, don’t you really know what I was doing there?”
“Nobody but you could enter the Queen’s Study.”
“Have I been reading all day?….”
Like a recluse, Eugene imagined Jin Anika reading books in her study. It was a far cry from the image that she had vaguely painted.
Marianne picked up her teacup and brought it to her mouth, concealing a sneak smile. She felt like she was talking to someone who had never been here.
“Your hobby was collecting old books. The luggage you brought along to the kingdom was filled with books.”
“Collecting old books… I’ll have to see the study first.”
“Yes, my queen.”
Marianne then summoned Zanne and instructed her to lead Eugene to the library.
The said study was quite far from the sleeping chamber. With a maid in tow, she walked up and down the fleet of stairs a few times, passed along winding corridors, and only then did she arrive. Eugene wondered whether the study was an important place for Jin Anika, or it was just that — a study.
This was because, until Marianne brought it up, Anika’s study had never crossed her mind. Sure enough, the way to the study was unfamiliar. When the corridor took a turn, two guards came in sight. They stood before a tall daunting door, looking very domineering.
Zanne, who was guiding Eugene, stopped and bowed her head. “The door at the end of the hallway is the study, my queen.”
The change in address didn’t go unnoticed by Eugene. This time around, everybody ended their words with “Queen”, perhaps to test if they’d suffer an upheaval if they failed to address her thus.
“Why are there guards here?”
“You kept a lot of ancient books inside, and ordered that they be guarded at all times.”
“I may take a long time. You can leave.”
“Yes, my queen.”
Standing before the closed study, Eugene drew a deep breath. When Marianne had apprised her of the Queen’s Study, it struck her as though it might be Jin Anika’s secret base. However, she was uncertain. Nonetheless, access to her study was too easy for it to be a place where she practiced her dangerous tricks. No one else was allowed in, but it was impossible for someone, even Anika, to ignore the person who possessed the highest power, namely the king. Kasser could certainly go in as many times as he pleased.
Slowly turning the handle and pushing the heavy door, Eugene’s eyes widened as she looked around. It was wider than she’d expected. The first thing that caught her was the distinctive smell of books floating in the air. The room itself comprised high ceilings and built-in shelves that were full of books. A solid wooden ladder stood in the middle to help reach the top shelves. It was an antique study, the kind one would only see in pictures, a heaven for those who loved books.