Due to some misplanning, I decided to swap out the ‘earring scene’ that was published in Volume 3 Chapter 1, as it’s needed as part of a transition in Volume 3 Chapter 5 (where it had been originally in the old version). Instead I replaced it in Chapter 1 with a short discussion between Pascal and Kaede on her clothing in the middle of the last scene (below). I’ve decided to write out a separate post for those who read v3ch1 prior to this posting date (5/22/2021):
“AHHH!” Kaede bolted awake again later that night.
Thanks to her anemia, Kaede had been feeling tired and drowsy the whole day. She had gone to sleep right after dinner, though even the safety of her own room did not help.
“<Another nightmare?>” Pascal’s concerned voice came over the telepathy.
“<Y-yes…>” Kaede struggled to calm down as she felt the cold sweat that rolled down her exposed back. She had already turned the lights on as it felt like she could see living corpses wherever darkness reigned, even in the back of her own eyelids.
“<Did you drink the herbal tea that Marina made for you?>”
“<I guess that does not help once you are asleep,>” Pascal thought aloud. “<Just how many times has it been now?>”
“<F-four…>” Kaede was almost afraid to admit it, as though not saying would void the fact she kept having these similarly awful dreams.
For a moment Pascal didn’t respond. The young girl wasn’t sure if he was disappointed in her, or simply didn’t know what to say. Then…
“<Do you want some company?>” He offered warmly.
For a moment Kaede couldn’t bring herself to respond. She could feel her cheeks burn up as her entire face blushed furiously. It wasn’t fair that Pascal was an insensitive jerk most of the time, yet in moments like these he could close the distance as though it didn’t exist.
She then felt a mild amusement from him, which immediately reminded her that he must have felt her embarrassment. Even though she was alone in her room and he was somewhere else in the house, the distance meant little as they shared an empathic bond.
Nevertheless, it still wasn’t the same as being in close proximity, and Pascal didn’t make fun of her in even the slightest as he kindly added:
“<All you have to do is say ‘yes’.>”
“<Y-yes… please.>” Kaede finally brought herself to say.
She could almost feel Pascal smile as he responded:
“<All right. I will be over in a few minutes. Just let me finish up here.>”
For the next minute Kaede simply laid back in her bed, taking deep, calming breaths and she hugged a heated cushion against her waist. She did reach for a knotted cord above the headrest and pulled, which apparently jerked on a rope that went through the house’s stone structure and ran a bell down in the servants’ quarters.
She was wondering who would show up first when she heard a knock on the door before it opened.
“Milady?” The petite lady’s maid curtsied politely as she stood in the doorway.
“Marina,” Kaede forced a smile onto her lips. “I told you, you don’t need to be so formal.”
“Sorry, Milady,” the maid grinned a little herself. “But the Majordomo disagrees with you.”
She’s totally doing this on purpose, Kaede sighed.
“Marina, could you make me another cup of that lavender-chamomile tea?” She asked. “Two spoons of honey again. I could use something relaxing right now.”
“Certainly, Milady,” Marina curtsied again before turning to leave. She hadn’t even closed the door before Pascal came into view.
“Your Grace.” The maid curtsied once more and received a nod in response. She then departed while he walked through the open door.
“Seems like you two are getting along,” Pascal remarked.
“Slowly,” Kaede made a faint smile. “I doubt she’s forgiven me for what happened back at the academy yet. But she is getting used to life here, gradually.”
“It helps that you are pampering her.” He commented as he moved over to her writing desk, where he put down the thick, leather-bound notebook in his hands. “A lady’s maid is one of the easiest positions in workload, while having the most to gain as they often receive their lady’s old garments as gifts. The only downside is that they do not exactly fit in with the other servants. And as such they are often the target of jealousy from the other maids.”
“Marina was never going to fit in squarely, given how she came here,” Kaede replied. “And I’m not sure how much pampering she can receive from me. I’m hardly the type to buy new clothes every season.”
“No, you are the type to keep wearing the same clothes until they fall apart on you,” Pascal said as he glanced at Kaede’s pseudo-uniform, which she left draped over the dresser chair.
“It’s not that bad,” the familiar protested. “I’ll get it repaired properly as soon as the tailors are back in business.”
“I did hear that Samarans tend to be frugal. I just never knew how much. Karsten already tells me that the servants noticed that you were not ‘dressed like a lady’.”
“I’m never going to dress like a lady. They might as well accept that,” Kaede retorted petulantly.
“Clearly not,” Pascal added with a laugh. “Most ladies refuse to wear the same clothes twice in a week. You have to be persuaded just to change your clothes! I did buy other clothes for you too.” he then reminded her as he walked over to the large, mahogany wardrobe. He opened it to reveal two ornate dresses. “Why not wear one of these until then?”
“I am not wearing those dresses unless I absolutely have to!” Kaede declared with annoyance. “They’re awkward, heavy, and make me feel like an overdressed peacock!”
“But you looked beautiful last time,” Pascal was all smiles as he pulled out the garnet-red, victorian-esque dress which she had worn to the state dinner with King Leopold. “You should know that most girls in this country would love to wear a dress like this.”
“Well I’m not ‘most girls’!”
“Does your world not have an equivalent of the proverb ‘when in Arcadia, do as the Arcadians do?'” Pascal asked as he put the dress back into the wardrobe.
When in Rome…
Kaede’s thoughts conjured those words in reflex before she kicked them out from her head and shot back: “just because I accept the fact I’m a girl now doesn’t mean I’m going to start fawning over dresses!”
She then grimaced and pressed her heated cushion against her stomach as yet another bout of stomach cramps began.
“True, you fawn over books,” Pascal remarked as a sympathetic look replaced whatever else he had to say.
At that moment, another knock came from the door before it opened.
“Milady, your tea,” Marina entered carrying a tray with a large mug, which she set on the bedside table.
“Thank you, Marina,” Kaede forced herself to say as she was still suppressing the pain.
It wasn’t until after Marina left when the familiar resumed fuming:
“I thought you were here to keep me company, not to annoy me!” The snowy-haired girl complained as the pain had finally subsided enough. She took the tea mug between her small hands and took a deep breath of its herbal aroma.
This really is calming…
“All right, all right. I will stop teasing you. Though I suggest at least wearing your white outfit until your black one is fixed.” Pascal noted the white pseudo-uniform with black lines that Kaede wore back in Rhin-Lotharingie.
He then grabbed the notebook he left on the writing desk and moved to her bed. There, he sat down on top of the covers before leaning back to sit at Kaede’s side.
“I still need to finish some work. But I will be right here. So rest and, when you can, sleep. I will do my best to keep your nightmares away.”
Kaede couldn’t help but feel a tug at the corner of her lips. She leaned slightly into him as she slowly sipped her sweetened, herbal tea. The smell of lavender and chamomile was definitely having an effect on her as she felt her head grow foggy. Her eyelids soon started to feel heavy as a relaxed drowsiness slowly spread through her body.
In hindsight, Pascal had always been selfish, from the moment he summoned her to the way he tried to ‘decorate’ her even now. Yet, he also proved to be a reliable pillar whenever she needed him, regardless of whether that was protection in this new world or support as she adapted to her new life.
This, in turn, made it impossible for Kaede to not rely on him, which also left a concern as sleepiness slowly overtook her thoughts:
Just what kind of distance should I be maintaining in a relationship like this?Author's Comment
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