Chapter 18: Do You Want to Go Back?
“Phyllis, we have another job for you.”
“Thank you very much. I accept.”
“I still haven’t told you what it’s about.”
“Isn’t this a job for Minister Morgen? If so, I can accept it because he’s taken my health into account.
His Highness and I spend time together at our regular tea party, relaxing and talking about work.
Since then, Minister Morgen’s requests have been coming in on a regular basis.
I believe he trusts me more now that we’ve had the chance to talk and observe my grantmaking technique up close.
I am happy to say that I have a good reputation among the Knights.
And neither the minister nor the commander ever asked me to do work that would endanger my health.
I don’t even have to ask what they want from me if they ask me to do it again.
“I’ve recently begun to enjoy my work a little more.”
“Was it ever different before?”
“Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit it.”
Even though I chose the job, I never thought it was enjoyable.
I couldn’t afford it.
partly due to the workload, but also to the fact that I was in debt.
The only reason I can still keep going on is because I owe money.
I need to pay off my debt as soon as possible.
This sense of urgency was always present in my mind.
There’s no need to worry about it right now.
Nobody would blame me if I declined the job.
“If you’re having fun, you don’t have to stop. So do me a favor.”
“Yes, with pleasure.”
“I appreciate that. I’m gonna go now.”
His Highness rises from his seat.
The tea party has a set start time but no set end time.
It is always at least an hour long.
However, time has been getting shorter and shorter.
It’s especially early today.
“I’m sorry. I still have a lot to do, and if I don’t return soon, I won’t be able to complete it.”
“I understand… I wish I could help.”
“It’s the prince’s job. It’s not something he should leave to others, and it shouldn’t be.”
My heart aches.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
“Yes, don’t push yourself too hard.”
As I watched him walk away, I placed my hand on my chest.
Why was my heart ache?
I thought about it, and the answer came quickly.
“Like a stranger… I think…”
That remark saddened me.
Despite the fact that we were married, I was still a stranger to him.
I thought we were getting to know each other.
I had the impression that we were getting closer.
However, in the end, our relationship was…
“…I suppose it’s just a formality.”
When I think about it, I get sad for no apparent reason.
Didn’t you realize it?
That day, we joined hands for our mutual benefit.
A union of interests.
A union founded on logic rather than emotion.
You become husband and wife because you love each other.
That is the definition of a normal relationship, and we are far from it.
And we’ll be doing this for the rest of our lives…
“I’m not sure if it’s a luxury.”
I consider the future.
because I’m happy now.
It appears that I am more of a luxury seeker than I previously thought.
because I expect a happier time than now.
“Thank you for your hard work. The knights were very pleased.”
“I’m glad I could be of service.”
I happened to run into Minister Morgen as I was walking down the corridor.
We struck up a brief conversation, during which the minister complimented me on my work.
It’s a little embarrassing to be standing in the middle of the corridor, but it’s nice to be complimented.
“Please let me know if you need me again.”
“Yes, it’s great to have Phyllis-sama here in the country; there aren’t many people with her talent.”
“I’m just doing my best.”
“Please don’t be modest. I’ve seen many talented people in my line of work, and Phyllis-sama is one of them. She’s also a hard worker who excels at developing her talents.”
I’ve never received a compliment like this before, and I’m too embarrassed to respond.
As for me, I have only done my job, which is natural.
In court, I was always reprimanded and never praised.
So I’m even puzzled at being praised for doing something that I should be able to do.
What exactly is normal?
The only thing that is certain is that…
The more praise you receive, the more enthusiastic you will be about the next task.
“Our neighboring country must be in trouble with all this talent gone.”
“…What do you think of that?”
“Oh, you didn’t feel very comfortable there, did you?”
How I’ve been treated at court.
His Highness Prince Rayne is the only person in the country who is aware of the full scope of the situation.
The minister knows nothing.
As a result, this question is not asked maliciously.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“…I was just wondering if you wanted to go back?”
The question catches me off guard, and my body reacts accordingly.
“Go back to…?”
“Yes—I can’t discuss this kind of topic in front of His Highness, but Phyllis-sama recently worked in a neighboring country. Her life has drastically changed since then. You must have had acquaintances in your home country. You have attachments to your birthplace. It’s not surprising that you want to return.”
I never wanted to return.
That country has left an impression on me.
There are more painful memories than pleasant ones.
The majority of them are court memories.
On the contrary, with the exception of my time in court, it may not have been so bad.
There were definitely times when I was happy with my parents.
I sometimes wish I could go back in time.
But my real family is no longer with me.
and can only reminisce about our time together fondly.