Although the healers looked troubled, they seemed to be somewhat relieved when Erna said she would take care of Kalion.
“He will sweat a lot, so pour water into his mouth regularly. You can occasionally wipe his body with a damp towel so that his body doesn’t get sticky. We will stop by once in the evening.”
As the healers had said, Kalion sweated profusely. She thought there would be no more pain, but at night he groaned softly. He occupied most of the bed, and Erna tried to fall asleep on the sofa instead. Should I ask the servants to bring another bed?
She thought that they would bring her one if she told them that she was tired due to nursing, but when Erna walked down the corridor, she saw that most of the beds were occupied by injured people. Eventually, Erna gave up on the idea of asking for a bed, thinking it would be a bit selfish of her as there was already a big bed in her bedroom. She didn’t need mana in a hurry, but when she laid down on the soft sofa, she was comfortable and soon dozed off.
She took care of Kalion in between resting, wiping his body with a damp towel, and dripping freshwater onto his dry lips. It wasn’t a difficult job to do, but she wanted him to wake up. Resting her chin on her hands, she watched Kalion as he slept. She’d never looked at him for such a long time before, and now she noticed how sculpted his face looked. He had a broad forehead with thick eyebrows above big eye-sockets that looked sunken in, which gave his face a sculptural feel. She didn’t think that his long eyelashes suited him as her gaze moved to his chiseled-looking sharp nose.
Lazily, she got off the sofa to attend to him again, and the face she saw up close while wiping off the sweat was much better-looking than Erna had been aware of initially. I see why young girls flock to him.
Once a year, the Archduke’s Castle held a big banquet at the end of the year, hosting it with the people from the council. At the start of the banquet proceedings, the nobles and legislators, and especially young women, flocked to Kalion. The older women took a step back and looked at Kalion with big smiles on their faces, muttering about how they wished they were ten years younger!
When people who didn’t know Erna’s situation and then envied her, saying how lucky she was to have such a person like Kalion to be her husband, she had to try desperately not to spit out the wine she was drinking. But now that she was looking at his face, she understood a bit more why they made those comments. He was good-looking enough to be left in the corner, if he could keep his mouth shut, to look like a magnificent stone statue.
While Erna was thinking about that, she noticed the faint traces of the demon’s claws on his neck and reflexively clicked her tongue. Of all places, why did it have to leave a mark there? It was such an eyesore, and Erna shook her head. What am I thinking now? Why do I care where the wound is on his body?
After a while, she stood up, feeling irritated because she felt sorry for him whenever she saw the wound. Before she knew it, Kalion began to let out a low moan. As expected, the sweat rolled down from his forehead, and Erna wet the towel with water, squeezing it above his eyebrows and then gently wiping his face. She then proceeded to wipe his cheeks, neck, hands and arms, and even his muscular chest.
Climbing onto the bed, she stretched out her hand and unbuttoned the rest of his pajamas. Initially, she’d regretted volunteering to take care of him, but after about three days, she’d gotten used to it enough to stretch out her hand without hesitation.
At first, she’d been embarrassed by the fact that she’d touched another person’s body, but now it was a bit of fun for her. She’d also felt oddly shy because his body had firm muscles, which she’d only seen in the book she’d read. Every time she touched his statue-like muscles with the towel, she was simply amazed that a human body could become so hard, and she couldn’t believe that a man could feel like this. Erna had only ever seen drawings of men’s bodies, and it was the first time she’d seen one up close, so she observed it freely because she thought that she would have no other chance to do so. It wasn’t just his chest, arms, and legs that Erna was able to observe as much as she wanted while meticulously wiping him. There was also the secret place between his legs, and her eyes were constantly drawn to that area.
She looked carefully at the shape of the long thing between his legs, underneath his thin pajamas. Of course, she didn’t know exactly what it was. It’s already big! It wasn’t the terrifyingly large size that she’d seen the other night in their marital bedroom, and she now wondered if what she’d seen was only a fantasy. She did recall thinking that it was something too big to be on a human!
No, I shouldn’t! Erna giggled to herself, tempted to touch the thing as she stared between Kalion’s legs.
She focused instead on wiping away the sweat on his body, thinking that it was almost like sexual harassment. Still, her gaze remained on his thing. If Kalion stared at her with such a gaze, she would slap him.
“What was that?” Startled, Erna noticed that his thing moved slightly. Not sure if she’d seen it correctly, she stared at it intently. After a moment, Erna realized that she wasn’t seeing things because the thing slowly rose, unlike its master, who was lying still. Curious about this strange thing that was moving, she bent forward to get a closer look.
“What are you doing?” Kalion asked.
“Aaaah!” Erna screamed, startled by the sudden sound of a voice. When she turned her head, Kalion was staring at her with a quizzical look on his face.
* * *
“I’m going to sleep here today,” Erna said matter-of-factly.
Orpé was bewildered at the sight of Erna sitting on her bed, “Here? Is there something wrong with the Archduke’s room?”
“No, there is nothing wrong with the room,” Erna replied, wanting to add that she had a problem with the man in the room. But she kept quiet instead of trying to explain the embarrassing situation that she’d found herself caught in.
“Then why do you want to sleep here?”
“Oh, um. Kalion woke up. So I thought that it would be good for his recovery if he rests by himself. You know you get distracted if someone else is there?”
“Right, I heard that Archduke Kalion has woken up. Does he have any problems with his body?”
“No, there seemed to be none.”
Erna remembered how the room had looked before she’d walked out. Food had been piled up, like a mountain, on the wide wooden table, and Kalion had eaten fiercely. The common knowledge of starting to sip soup to ease a stomach that hadn’t eaten for days hadn’t seemed to phase Kalion.
Once he’d finished eating, the healers had left the room saying that he could rest on his own. And when they were alone, Kalion had lifted his arm and sniffed his armpit, pulling a face. He hadn’t liked the smell of his body after not being able to wash properly for days. Grabbing a towel, he’d headed to the bathroom.
“You, wait here and don’t go anywhere,” he’d said as he’d glanced back at Erna, who’d sat quietly on the sofa. After saying that, he’d gone into the bathroom and closed the door. When she heard the sound of water running, she’d bolted out of the room and raced to Orpé’s bedroom and then claimed that she was going to sleep there.
His eyes were not joking. Erna could understand that no one would let it go that easily once they’d found out that their crotch had been stared at while they were unconscious!
Erna buried her face in the soft pillow on the bed. Crazy, crazy. Why did I do that? And why did he have to wake up then? Lying on Orpé’s bed, Erna let out a silent scream and kicked around.
“Ma’am! You’re blowing dust everywhere! Why are you doing this?” Orpé, who’d been wiping the dust with a cloth, asked. Then suddenly, a cool sensation was felt in the room as the door opened, startling Erna, and she quickly raised her head from the pillow.
“Orpé, why are you… Oh!” Kalion, whose hair was so wet it was dripping, was staring at her with his arms crossed. Then he said in a calm voice, “Come to the room.”
I’m sorry, I apologize. I will never do that again. Erna wanted to say these things, which she’d read in a book that had also explained that there would be no situation that one couldn’t get out of if they used those three phrases well. But right now, she couldn’t speak with confidence. The person who’d written the book could claim such things, but that person had never met someone like Kalion.
If there are kind eyes that look like they could stab you to death, would they look like his do right now? Erna desperately turned away from Kalion’s glare and stared at the open door longingly. If he raised his fist, she’d immediately run out. Or, perhaps she should I block him with a spell?
Out of the blue, Kalion asked, “Why are you looking at the door?”
“To run away,” Erna replied honestly.
“As I’ve said before, I hate being hurt. So, I have no intention of being hit and taking it calmly.”
Hearing Erna’s answer, Kalion frowned, “Why do you think I will hit you? Have I ever hit you?” His face was full of displeasure as if he had heard something very insulting. Then suddenly, his eyes lit up. “Or did someone dare to attack the Archduke of Hessenguard with that kind of a threat?”
“That’s not it. I say this because your eyes look like you are going to beat me to death right now.” Erna couldn’t say that she’d said it because she’d remembered her childhood momentarily, so she replied moderately, but Kalion’s eyes were still angry. She looked at him and then opened her mouth as if she had a good idea. “You did it once, and I did it once, so let’s pretend it never happened.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You… you touched my body. We exchange this for that, so let’s forget about it as if nothing happened.”
“I am at a loss with your thinking. You slapped me on the cheek that day, didn’t you?” Erna raised her eyes without averting her gaze any longer as Kalion persisted.
“But you touched me. I was only looking,” Erna replied as her cheeks flushed.
“Staring at it is also s*xual harassment,” Kalion stated.
“In terms of the gravity of the sins, yours is heavier.”
It would be ludicrous to call it an adult conversation between the two Archdukes who supported Hessenguard. The two of them, who had been arguing childishly, saying that one was more at fault than the other, and also that one was more shameless than the other. Finally, they spit out the last words, huffing.
“Earthworm,” Erna spat.
“Pumpkin,” Kalion replied bluntly.