The passing week had slipped away from Erna’s grasp, leaving her melancholic at the thought of returning to the Grand Castle on the morrow. Initially apprehensive about how to fill her days, the time at the villa had flown by so quickly that her previous worries felt futile.
As she reflected on her time here, Erna regretted not having been more productive from the start, chiding herself for not having made better use of her days. Meanwhile, Kalion bustled about the villa, blissfully unaware of her thoughts, tidying every nook and cranny with unbridled enthusiasm. Erna had assumed that the task of cleaning would fall to the butler, but to her surprise, Kalion had taken it upon himself to meticulously spruce up the entire place. Observing him at work, Erna realized how much this haven meant to him and was grateful to have experienced it by his side.
“I suppose half of it is mine, too,” she mused, reminding herself that while the duke held ownership over the villa, she had an equal claim to it.
As Erna contemplated her departure and return to the Grand Castle, she resolved to scour the estate for a list of other properties and create her own private sanctuary, much like this one. She couldn’t imagine undertaking such a venture without Kalion, and the thought of his company on this new adventure brought a smile to her lips.
Erna’s resolve solidified as she clutched her fists, declaring, “The person who cooks for me is precious, so I must bring them along,” prompting Kalion to cast a fleeting glance at the wardrobe while tidying up. The remainder of the afternoon sped by, and the sky transitioned to a deep red as the sun began its descent.
“Erna, come up here,” Kalion beckoned from the second-floor bedroom.
“Why?” she inquired, puzzled by his sudden summons.
“Hurry up,” he insisted.
Erna hastened her steps, leaving her lakeside perch to investigate the unusual call. As she entered the cottage, her eyes surveyed the spotless kitchen where no remnants of their meal remained. Puzzled, she ascended the stairs, where Kalion gestured for her to enter the bedroom.
“Why?” she queried once again, her confusion mounting.
“Just close your eyes for a moment,” he urged.
Erna raised a skeptical eyebrow at his request. Close her eyes? Was he plotting something untoward?
“…What are you planning to do?” she challenged, uncertain of his intentions.
Despite Erna’s suspicious gaze, Kalion placed a hand over her eyes, signaling for her to close them. Resigned, Erna complied, and before she could comprehend what was happening, Kalion began removing her shirt, prompting a mix of emotions to flood her mind.
Erna’s thoughts were in disarray as Kalion’s soft moans accompanied his slow movements in undressing her.
“You…” Erna began, unsure of what to say.
“It’s not like that. Just wait a moment, please,” Kalion pleaded.
“What do you mean?” Erna inquired, confused by the sudden change in his demeanor.
After the incident where he had pretended to be Marius at the Duke’s castle and caused a commotion, Kalion had been unable to properly touch Erna. Especially any touch that might feel even slightly inappropriate was off-limits.
“I thought we were going to be subtle if we came here,” Erna mused to herself.
Nearly a week had passed since they arrived at the villa, and Kalion had only held her hand until now.
As Erna was lost in thought, Kalion swiftly stripped her of her clothing with expert movements, impressing her with his skill.
“He’s really talented,” Erna thought, her lips pursed.
Before she could dwell on her thoughts any further, something was draped over her head, causing her to let out a surprised “Huh?”
Kalion had instead begun dressing her, the material of the clothes slightly rough but crispy, and incredibly lightweight and cool. As Kalion’s hands moved around her shoulders, Erna couldn’t help but wonder what he was up to.
With a soft smile, Kalion said, “That’s it. You can open your eyes now.”
Erna opened her eyes immediately, her gaze falling on the clothes she was now wearing.
“Oh, this is…” she said, trailing off as she took in the unique garment.
It was a piece of clothing that she had seen sold here and there in Haldis during her travels. The fabric was cool and lightweight, and the bright, colorful, and vivid pattern was eye-catching. It was a skirt that could be worn by tying a knot on both shoulders, with the overall shape resembling a dress.
Erna’s surprised expression softened into a smile as Kalion explained where he had gotten the garment. He said, “I bought it when you were shopping for souvenirs. It looks better than I expected and suits you well.”
As he brought her over to the mirror to show her the clothes, Erna’s eyes sparkled with delight. The vibrant colors of the fabric complemented her skin tone and the fit was comfortable yet flattering. Kalion’s genuine pride in his choice made her feel even more special.
Erna turned to Kalion and asked, “What about you?”
Kalion chuckled and replied, “I have my own clothes.”
Kalion retrieved his clothing from its hiding place in the closet, a summer shirt made from the same fabric as Erna’s attire, with plenty of room to move. It was an expertly fitted garment that he had purchased. Just as he began unbuttoning it to change, Erna beckoned him over.
“Come here,” she said, taking his hand and pulling him close. She then lifted onto her tiptoes and covered his eyes with her hands.
“Close your eyes for a moment,” she instructed.
Kalion let out a sigh, already anticipating what was to come. Erna blinked his eyes as if she had found a new toy, and he followed her lead without objection. As expected, Erna quickly stripped Kalion of his clothes. Despite his grumbling, he sat in a nearby chair to make it easier for her to undress him. After a few moments, he felt her unbuttoning just one button at his neck and then fastening the rest.
When Kalion opened his eyes, Erna was perched on his lap, whispering in his ear. “Thank you for the clothes,” she said, and he felt something soft and warm brush his cheek before falling away.
Kalion opened his eyes slowly, greeted by the sight of his smiling wife embracing his neck. He longed to return the gesture and tumble onto the bed with her, but he had other plans in mind.
“Where are you going?” she asked as he began to move away.
“To a place we must visit today,” Kalion replied, his steps determined.