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Translated by Tam
Edited by Genie
This was the first time in 27 years of life that Serwin was sincerely afraid of losing someone. Even if he felt a little heartburn when he lost his beloved subordinates, that was all. He thought grieving and the sense of loss was an emotion long destroyed in his heart.
But lately, Serwin has been struggling to endure an unfamiliar fear.
After the Imperial Palace party, he became uneasy when Amelie disappeared from his sight. He couldn’t stand it because he was worried that she might be in danger if he wasn’t watching. The same was true even if he was within yelling distance.
His anxiety was so great that he had to hug her tightly or he would be unable to sleep. In such a state, he couldn’t have left her alone to do anything. When he was apart from her, he couldn’t even see the letters on the documents he was reading. Even if he was in the same space, even if he continued to feel her presence, if he couldn’t keep her in his eyes, he was anxious and kept looking for her.
Of course, he knows that Amelie is special. She wasn’t as fragile as he thought. She had the power and the brain to protect not only her own body but others too.
Nevertheless, it was Serwin’s own problem so he suffered his anxiety alone.
The disaster deliberately enticed Renia to attack Amelie and dragged her into the lake. Serwin clearly saw Amelie’s blood spreading through the lake.
It wasn’t a coincidence or a whim that the disaster chose that lake and used Renia in a cumbersome way. Disaster, as always, this time, he wanted to bring utter despair to Serwin.
‘That way the disaster would be able to break free.’
It was clear that the disaster had deliberately touched on Serwin’s deepest fear.
He clenched his hand in disgust.
‘I’ll never lose Amelie that way. Never.’
He wasn’t only worried about Amelie’s safety.
‘Did you see it? Under the lake? The corpses?’
Pretending to ask what it was all about, Serwin wasn’t confident enough to trick her skillfully. But he couldn’t ever tell her frankly. If she knew the truth she would surely hate him. She was so bright and upright, it was clear that she wouldn’t forgive the atrocities he had committed.
While he was lost in thought, the flames in the metal bowl gradually subsided, and the room returned to its original brightness. All the parchment and potions were burned away, leaving only ashes in the brass bowl.
“It’s a success.”
Amelie smiled brightly. Hermessage sent through magic should be delivered to any witches. No matter where the witches are, whether Amelie knows the place or not.
Serwin looked at her and smiled. Anxiety had disappeared from his face in an instant. Because hiding emotions on his face was one of the things he was most familiar with.
The next day, Amelie did not rush Serwin to work. Instead, she expressed her intention to follow him.
“To the office? You’re going to stay with me the whole time? People who come and go will look at you.”
Serwin seemed surprised. Amelie shrugged.
‘If I’m not there, you will be anxious, and you work, so I’ll have to follow along.’
However, she seemed to be wary of her just following him. She didn’t want to hear that they were now dating in the sacred workplace.
So Amelie transformed into a hamster again. When he saw Amelie, he opened his eyes wide.
“It’s not a mouse, it’s a hamster.”
Milena corrected from next to them. Serwin reached out his finger to Amelie with curious eyes. Amelie wasn’t a real hamster, so she didn’t bite strangers hands, but she thumped his finger to meet Serwin’s expectations. As the pink nose twitched, the long-stretched beard also shook.
“You always transform into something like yourself.”
Amelie frowned hard.
‘I’m transforming into something small and timid? Is this an insult or a compliment?’
Serwin smiled and held Amelie in his hand.
‘Let go of me, let go!’
Amelie struggled with her eyes wide open and her short arms outstretched. Aside from believing in Serwin, it felt bad to be gripped by his hard hands. Serwin tickled Amelie’s chin with his index finger as if this was cute too.
‘It’s a crime to touch someone like that. I’ll bite you!’
Amelie’s small but sharp teeth touched Serwin’s finger. In Serwin’s eyes, even threatening him seemed cute.
“I can’t understand animals, but I think you behave more freely when you are an animal.”
Oh, she got caught.
Amelie smiled awkwardly. How does he know that? Is he a ghost? Anyway, he’s very witty. Amelie rubbed the spot where her teeth touched out of slight guilt at being caught.
“Shall we go then?”
As Amelie nodded, Serwin put her in the pocket of his jacket. The pocket on the chest was a little narrow, but the front was white and easy enough to see through. Amelie wriggled and positioned herself comfortably.
When Amelie stretched out her arms, Serwin set off for the Imperial Palace with light steps after a long time of being grumpy.
For the next few days, Amelie went to work with Serwin. On one side of Serwin’s desk was a small, fluffy cushion for Amelie, and she could lay around and eat snacks whenever she wanted. The snacks changed little by little every day, from dried sweet potatoes to crispy snacks.
‘It’s comfortable, but I’m bored.’
Amelie rolled around on the desk. It was good to be lazy, but she was very bored. She couldn’t read or chat while she was a hamster.
She ate snacks, took naps, and became lazy. When she got tired of even that, she climb Serwin’s body and played. He was so huge that it was fun to climb to the top of his head.
Despite Amelie’s interruption, he worked hard with great concentration. It was thanks to having Amelie sit in front of him, which made him feel at ease.
‘It’s a relief that there are results.’
Amelie climbed to Serwin’s both shoulders and then came down to the desk. And for no reason, she wandered around near the paperwork Serwin was looking at.
‘The event of the hunting day schedule?’
Hunting Day was a celebration that involved staying up all night eating hunted meat and drinking alcohol once a year.
It was an event made in the early days of the Empire, during the devastating days, and now it is a day to buy meat and eat it without hunting.
However, the Imperial family used to hold a hunting competition every year to celebrate the Hunting Day.
The venue of the competition was the mountains and forests in the imperial palace. In the past, it used to be done on an outside hunting ground, but Serwin changed the location of the hunt to the Imperial grounds.
‘Do I have to go, too?’
Amelie didn’t like hunting. She didn’t want to go unless she had a need to go, but she was pretending to be the Emperor’s lover, and she didn’t know if she might have to attend with Serwin.
‘I’ll have to ask you later while eating lunch.’
As Amelie raised her head, she made eye contact with Serwin. He stroked Amelie’s cheek with his index finger while holding a fountain pen.
‘Ugh, my beard is pressed.’
Amelie stepped back and leaned forward, and Serwin quickly caught her finger. The difference in size made it look like Amelie was holding his finger.
Amelie hit Serwin’s hand with all her might.
Tuk, tuk, tuk.
‘Hurry up and work.’
The sooner Serwin finishes, the faster they could go back, so Amelie urged him with her eyes, but Serwin didn’t want to finish his work quickly. With Amelie in front of him, things were going well and he felt good.
“Let’s hurry up and eat.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
On his orders, the aides put down their documents and got up from their seats. They left the room in a flash. After a while, the servants brought out the meal. The table was served with enough food that it seemed like too much for one man to eat alone.
Amelie returned to her human form after all the servants left.
“Huh! How frustrating it was to not be able to speak!”
Amelie enjoyed her meal the most. Today’s lunch was salad with smoked salmon, fried rice with a lot of southern-style spices, and grilled mushrooms. She began to eat with a happy face. Serwin ate slowly as if he were full just by watching Amelie eat.
“About the Hunting Competition.”
Serwin’s expression hardened slightly.
Amelie couldn’t see his expression closely because she was focused on eating.
“Do I have to go there?”
“If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go. You don’t have to attend.”
“Then I’ll think about it.”
Unlike his peaceful voice, Serwin’s gaze moved uneasily.
Amelie ate the grilled mushrooms with a fork. The aroma of the mushrooms spreading throughout her mouth was so rich that she allowed the flavor to linger and fully savored it.
“Oh, right. I have a favor to ask of you.”
“Favor? Say what you need.”
“I’d like to receive data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs on abnormalities in the imperial palace.”
Amelie took a big spoon of fried rice and ate it. Contrary to her expectation that spices would be burdensome, the savory taste was excellent.
Serwin explicitly hardened his face, but when Amelie raised her head, she responded back as if it was nothing serious. Amelie continued to talk without noticing his change in demeanour, focusing on her meal.
“There’s no way to know if something like Renia couldn’t happen again. Only this time, aimed at me, it would be big trouble if a person manipulated by a disaster attacks you, Your Majesty. Before that, we should investigate in advance and figure out countermeasures.”
“That won’t happen.”
When Serwin replied in a confident tone, Amelie looked at him with a strange look.
“Are you sure?”
“That’s— because I’m strong.”
Serwin blurted out urgently.
“But you can’t let your guard down.”
“Is it worth spending time on this? It hasn’t happened in a year or two.”
“So we need to find out more. It will be helpful in many ways to figure out when the energy of disaster is getting stronger.”
It was clear that there would be no need to live in fear that a person controlled by disaster might suddenly attack, and understanding the mechanism by which the energy of disaster was strengthened would be of great help in defeating the disaster.
Amelie eagerly explained her thoughts to Serwin. But Serwin was somewhat indifferent.
“Now that I think about it, did Your Majesty know that the abnormalities that occured in the imperial palace are due to the lingering effects of disaster?”
“I hope you weren’t too surprised when I first asked about it. You seemed very surprised.”
“Did it look like that? Well, I just thought it could be a dead end.”
“If you really want to find out, I will tell the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Are you getting ready to meet the witches?”
Serwin secretly changed the subject.
“I’m still thinking. What should I do to make a good first impression?”
“Does that bother you?”
“Of course! I’ve never seen anyone other than my grandma witch—. I have a lot of questions.”
Amelie took the paper out of her clothes pocket. Sbe wrote down what she wanted to ask when she met the witches.
Serwin leaned toward Amelie and read the words on the paper over her shoulder.
“How can I be good at transformation? Can I practice it alone or do I need a teacher?”
“If there’s anything to learn, it’s from a teacher. I want to transform into a bigger and cooler animal.”
“I think that’s going to be hard. Just imagine a pink bear.”
“It won’t be a pink bear! If I do it properly, I can change the color of my fur. But I always fail.”
“What is this? Are you going to prepare a snack?”
Serwin tapped a corner of the paper. Ginger cookies and cakes were drawn there.
“It’s not like I will treat them poorly. It’s like an invitation from my side. Speaking of which, how many servings are we preparing?”
Amelie was very serious. It is not good to lack food because more people came than expected, but it was not good to prepare too much food and have leftovers.
“You can meet them and bring them to the Imperial palace. The maids will take care of it.”
Amelie wrote down what Serwin said on her paper. Serwin looked still at Amelie’s lips, muttering along while writing letters.
‘But no one might come.’
Serwin thought for a moment whether to lower her expectations so that she wouldn’t be disappointed after expecting too much. He usually chose to lower expectations because he was cautious that nothing would happen and hoping for more was a useless and false expectation, but this time he chose not to.
“It’s a bit obvious, right?”
Amelie smiled brightly. She was so adorable that Serwin wanted to bite her cheeks seeing her eyes twinkling with anticipation.
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