Citadel of Desire - chapter 21
The weather at the manor was quite severe. It’d rain every seven days—dark clouds would blanket the sky every two days. Even if the sun got the opportunity to shine brightly in the morning, by the time afternoon would arrive, the rain would cool down the grounds.
Whenever the sun came out, Rei would take the opportunity to go out for a walk, a wide-brimmed hat resting on her head. Mary always accompanied her, following Rei around with a basket full of sandwiches in her hand as she admired the rows of flowerbeds that the gardener had carefully planted.
But today, Clodan was the one accompanying her. The walk wasn’t as peaceful as the previous ones, since the master of the house seemed agitated, irritated even with his surroundings. Nonetheless, he wanted to accompany Rei.
It was then when she realized that Clodan disliked the sunlight and preferred the cool shadows of the thundering clouds.
Rei smiled delightfully as she saw Clodan finish a sandwich, a frown forming on his face as the sunlight hit his face. He loudly declared he was bored and demanded a kiss from her. His eyes softened as he watched her lean close to the flowers and smelled them. Rei took one look at his face as he began to say,
“What’s making you so happy?”
As Clodan held his hand up to his forehead in an attempt to hide his face from the light, Rei sat down next to him. The privilege to stay so close to him, she was the only one with it. And she sure used it as much as she could.
“Well… This might not be a pleasant answer.” Said Rei as Clodan nodded and shifted his body to accommodate her. “No one’s ever done this for me before.” She continued.
“Put up with something they don’t like.”
Rei vividly remembered her seventh birthday. Her cousin had snatched her previous wool doll and refused to give it back. So, Rei ran to her mother, who was busy talking to her aunt, to complain. But her mother didn’t pay her any attention and simply pushed her away.
To the adults, her problem was trivial but to a child as young as little Rei, the doll meant a lot. She insisted, turning to her aunt, and requesting her to get her cousin to give the doll back to her. But nothing changed. Instead, Rei’s mother turned on her and scolded all day long. On that day, her mother drilled this lesson into her head. Never ask people to do things that they wouldn’t like to do.
“But you…you put up with things you dislike for my sake.”
Her old memories were like scars that showed no signs of fading. Rei could never forget them. But little things like these made her extremely happy.
“I like it when you do that.” Clodan raised his hand and began brushing her hair with his fingers.
“Do you have anything you dislike, Clodan?”
“Why? Will you endure it for my sake?”
“Well, as long as it’s not something like eating raw carrots whole.” She jested.
“Saying things like that is a bad habit of yours.” He smirked, clearly understanding her words se*ually.
Rei was used to his vague manner of speaking now. It was something he did often. Aside from his hot temper whenever he was in a foul mood, Clodan was usually extremely sweet-natured. She often found herself comparing her past to her present life and reached the same conclusion. Her current life was much, much better. Each day, Clodan’s existence became more and more important for her. She wanted to repay his kindness, but she had nothing to give him.
“I would want to do anything to repay you.”
“You’ll do anything?”
“Don’t say things like that so casually.”
But Clodan never answered her. He got lost in his thoughts, contemplating over something. When he came to his senses, he cleaned up the leftovers and wrapped up the picnic. Rei was confused by his sudden actions but didn’t know what to do.
“Let’s go back.”
“Would you like to stay out here for a bit more?”
“No, it’s fine.” Rei hurriedly put on her hat as she pulled away from his embrace. Clodan held her hand on the way, just as he’d done a while before, but this time, he was too absentminded to notice anything.
He seemed distracted during mealtime as well. He was quiet the entire time, and it made Rei uncomfortable. And thus, the strange picnic came to an awkward end.
For the next few days, Rei was unable to see Clodan. He was too busy carrying out his duties as a lord. Mary was occupied with baking apple pies and even Philip, the only one with the time to greet her, stayed out all day. Rei was bored—she had nothing to do!
She picked up another book, intending to use the free time to brush up reading skills. With Clodan’s help, she was able to master the basics and could now read simple history books. But there was one problem. There was no joy in reading about countries and stories about plants. She found it dull. and soon her attention began to stray from the book.
Rei’s gaze wandered towards the window and suddenly noticed a blue rose blooming in the middle of the flowerbed, its petals drenched with raindrops. She let out a loud gasp and leaned in to take a closer look. She patted her cheeks, unable to believe that the flower she’d been secretly dying to see was now right in front of her eyes.
She quickly got up and looked for an umbrella. She needed to go out and check for herself. After all, what if it was an illusion? Entranced by the rose’s beauty, she stepped in the muddy ground without a care. As she neared the shrub, she slowly held out a hand and caressed its petals. They were real. It was almost as if someone had taken a white rose and dyed it blue.
“But… Blue roses don’t exist…”
That’s what Heish had told her when she’d begged for a bouquet of blue roses as a child. He’d chastised her for being ignorant about the world, and soon Rei had come to accept the reality; a rose as blue as the ocean was a mere fantasy.
“It’s almost magical.”
Only a while ago, Rei had muttered her wish to see a blue rose under her breath as she stood amongst these very flowers. It was a ridiculous notion, but Rei couldn’t help but think that one of the seeds had listened to her wish and dressed up just for her.
A low voice suddenly called out to her. Startled, Rei jumped into the air. The umbrella in her hand dropped and splashed mud all over her neat dress. She lost her balance and fell to the ground.