Author: alyalia

The negligee was made of thin fabric that made her entire body visible when viewed under the light. A thin string of ribbon was tied behind her neck, and the middle of her back was open.


His fingers slowly scanned her back and headed down. Then, the fingers that were tracing along the gently curved back stopped.




His middle finger traced a long diagonal line slightly along the faded scar. His finger, which was slowly following the scar, moved to the open part of the cloth. Edward’s fingers hesitated for a moment at the end of her cloth and soon landed on her bare skin.


Luize took a deep breath at the vivid feel of his fingers touching her bare skin. When her back was lifted slightly, his hand followed her. His fingers were precariously touching as if they might fall off at any moment, yet he didn’t easily let go of her back.


While he was tracing away one large, long scar, deep and shallow scars continued to pass by around it. It seemed like an old wound. It was hard to even imagine how many fights she had been fighting with such a large number of scars on her back.


Despite spending nearly a year at Perils, Edward never suffered this many injuries. Thanks to his natural constitution of not leaving scars, there were no scars on his body.


“No one knows how big the scar is if you just explain it through words.”


Before she got married, she also told Reiad that she had scars on her body. Reiad was taken aback but seemed to think it was no big deal and brushed it off.


“Sometimes, I think of Reiad’s face when he first saw my body.”




“Maybe I was trying to be happy.”


Luize recalled the first night she spent with Reiad. He looked visibly embarrassed when he saw her bare body and spoke sweet words in her ear as if it didn’t matter. But he never looked at her body during the night duty.


He only looked at her face or avoided his gaze in another direction. Even after turning off the light, Reiad consciously turned away from her body. Instead of Luize’s body, his hand was directed to the bed sheets, pillow, and wall.


Luize was convinced when she saw Reiad avoiding her when she asked to have a child. She had a different body than most women of her age, and it was clear that this body left a terrible impression on Reiad.


Luize thought that her body was no different from a poorly grown flower. She was a flawed flower that no one would have picked if they had known her wound from the beginning. It’s no different from a common flower that has no scent, so bees and butterflies don’t land on it. Even though it sheds all its leaves as the seasons pass, it doesn’t bear fruit and disappears into time.


Luize turned her body around. “It’s okay not to comfort me. No one likes a flawed flower.”


Edward, who noticed her tuning around, retreated his fingers.


“Miss Luize.”


Edward slowly opened his eyes. The red eyes he revealed between the black eyelashes seemed to resemble the red sun rising through the veil of night.


“In my opinion, it’s far from flawed.”


He bent over, picked up Luize’s nightgown, which had fallen on the floor, and put it around her shoulder. Edward fastened her nightgown and knotted her waistband without a mistake, just as he had tied the curtains. It was obvious that he was trying not to touch her body with his hands.


“At one point, my surroundings were full of beautiful things. Since I was young, I have been obsessed with beautiful things. I fill my surroundings, including people and things that only look aesthetically pleasing. Some people even expressed concern that I might grow up to be a bastard.”




“Of course, it went away naturally after I grew up a little. Thanks to that, my surroundings became filled with skill-oriented people and objects of practical value. Everyone was relieved, but in fact, they didn’t notice. My standard has become more sophisticated, and I’m no longer interested in beauty in general.”


Luize’s gaze turned downward. Even without explaining his view of beauty in detail, she knew better that her body was ugly.


Edward paused for a moment. Long eyelashes cast shadows over his pupils. His stiff mouth opened gently. “…When I came of age, you were the first person I found beautiful.”


Edward’s eyes turned to Luize’s hair. It was exactly this hair. The silver hair resembled the moonlight that landed in the snow in the middle of the night. He first noticed it on the day she treated his wounds.


She raised her head with a puzzled look and stared at the man in front of her. His expression was not disturbed at all.


“There are so many beautiful things in the world…”


“As you know, my tastes are somewhat unusual, just like the rumors say. Maybe that’s why.”


“…Edward, didn’t you also not want to touch me? You just tried not to touch me.”


“Well, it can’t be helped.”


Edward approached her and put his right hand on her backside. In that state, he pulled Luize close to him. Her clothes were two layers deep, but the large scar he traced with his fingertips was still deep and large enough to be felt by his fingertips.


Luize reflexively raised her hands as their bodies became closer to create a distance between his body and her own. Through the thin shirt, his well-muscled torso rested directly against her palms. Every time his heart beat, Luize felt an echo transmitted through her hands.


“What are you doing?”


“I’m not supposed to touch you like this without permission.”




“It’s not a consolation. I really mean it. I think flower is too weak to be compared with Miss Luize.”


Edward let go of Luize, and naturally, the corners of his mouth curved.


“As far as I know, there is no flower in the world that uses a sword like that. Honestly, I don’t think I can beat Miss Luize even if I train myself for years.”


“…Speaking of which, did you finish your training for today?”


“How could I dare skip it out of fear of my master? This diligent student plans to go back tomorrow, finish the portion that day, and then go to bed.”


“I see. You’re doing well.”


Luize made eye contact with him and smiled warmly.  For a moment, the smile disappeared from Edward’s face. He looked at her face blankly for a moment and gave her a brighter smile than ever before.


Looking at him like that, Luize opened her mouth. “Anyway, the servants will think we had that kind of time. Go ahead.”


“…Miss Luize, aren’t you underestimating me too much? I think it’s only barely half past the hour.”


“Isn’t that normally the case?”


“Probably not for me. It is a pity that there is no way to prove it.”


Edward replied with a face of injustice. Looking at him like that, Luize laughed.


“Well, if the room owner tells me to leave, I have no choice but to go. Don’t forget to close the window before sleeping.”




The images of them facing each other were shadowed by the candle and jumbled on the wall. The two shadows slowly moved away. Creek. The door closed, and deep silence fell in the room.


Luize slumped on the bed. Her heart pounded loudly as if the sound of his heart that she felt in her palm had been transferred to her.


After leaving Luize’s room, Edward went straight back to his assigned room. As soon as he entered it, he raised his hand in the air and waved it briefly. With a single gesture of his hand, all the candles in the room were extinguished in an instant.


He made his way across the darkened room to where his coat hung. Then he took a small bottle out of his coat. It was a stabilizer prescribed by the therapist for him, who couldn’t easily fall asleep on rainy days. Edward opened the lid of it and emptied the bottle in an instant.


“Has my condition gotten worse?”


Or maybe he finally went crazy.


His pounding heart showed no sign of getting any better. For some reason, he thought it would be harder to fall asleep than usual tonight.


“…It doesn’t matter since I didn’t come here to have fun.”


After quite a while, Edward quietly went out of the room again. He couldn’t come to his enemy territory to return empty-handed.


* * *

The rain stopped when the sun rose. Plants with raindrops glistened in the rising sunlight. Edward and Luize, who had breakfast the next day, walked through the garden together. As usual, the two exchanged casual conversation.


Luize’s steps stopped in the rose garden. Water droplets that had not yet dried were on the petals.


“Is this the rose?”




“How is it? Do you think they resemble my pupils, just like what you said yesterday?”


Edward smiled slyly and looked at Luize. She blinked quickly a few times and shook her head with a bewildered look.


“No. Now that I look at it, it doesn’t look like that at all.”


“That’s too bad. As you said, roses are beautiful.”




“But I’m glad it’s cleared up today, and we can come out to the garden together.”


“Do you like gardens?”


“Like I said, I like all beautiful things, but…” He turned his gaze towards the rose. “Now, whenever you see this flower, you will think of me.”


Luize agreed with him. From now on, she will think of his eyes whenever she sees a red rose.


Until they returned to the mansion, Luize couldn’t say that his eyes were more transparent than rubies and more beautiful than roses, just like society said.


* * *

The weather has gotten very hot. The swordsmanship competition was two weeks away. Thanks to the fact that participants were accepted up to a week before the start of the competition, the capital was more crowded with tourists than usual.


Finally, a letter with an imperial seal arrived at Edward’s mansion. As expected, it asked him to participate in the swordsmanship competition. Since he’s a talented swordsman who had returned from Perils, the emperor added that he would skip the preliminaries and join the finals. It was clear that the emperor deliberately delayed the invitation, so there was not enough time to prepare.


Usually, those who returned after making a contribution were given the role of judges or awardees at the competition. But no matter how you look at it, the emperor seemed to want Edward to be seriously injured or humiliated in public.


This was an expected result. Still, on the day of his visit to Cloette’s mansion, Edward was unable to retrieve any useful information from there. The only thing he gained was the marriage contract between Reiad and Luize. It was an unfair contract, completely full of provisions against Luize.


As the competition approached, Edward’s training was in full swing. The sound of metal blades clashing was heard every day on the training ground.


Luize and Edward seemed to have forgotten what happened the night he visited Cloette’s mansion. To the people who didn’t know them, the two seemed normal. However, some people noticed that a strange atmosphere was beginning to swirl between them. 


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