When she opened her eyes in the morning, Amethyst found herself alone. She always woke up alone, for that matter, but today was different. She knew Alexcent hadn’t come to sleep at night. The space beside her didn’t hold his warmth at all.
That didn’t make her feel good. Are they still involved? She thought. Don’t be silly, he must be busy with the meetings for the annual festival. She looked at the space next to her, she glared at it, more like. Oh, why? Why did I ever instruct Pon to make the arrangements exactly like last year? Amethyst let out a sigh.
Even though she had resolved not to let these things bother her, seeing the space next to her so empty of human warmth bothered her. She lay on her bed, unwilling to get up.
A thought occurred to her. When they had agreed on this contract marriage, they had agreed to use different bedrooms. When had it become normal for Alexcent to just share the same room as her? All the clauses of the contract had become meaningless as they began spending more time together. She shook her head to clear the thoughts. She shouldn’t be pining for him. She mustn’t. She won’t.
She had always been observant of her surrounding and the people around her. No matter how many times she convinces herself that she would live as she pleased, damn the consequences, she always was considerate to other people. She tried to think of the whole thing from Alexcent’s perspective. To Alexcent, no matter how things escalated, the contract would be his priority. I am his wife only for a period of time until the expiry of the contract, I shouldn’t expect more from him. I shouldn’t cross the line.
She brushed her thoughts aside and got out of her bed. She pulled on the service bell to call the maids. The maids soon entered with the breakfast tray. After a light meal, Amethyst picked up her sword. With her thoughts all jumbled inside her mind, she needed something to distract herself. Just as she was stepping out of the room, Lunia and Roma barred her way.
“Madam,” said Lunia, “Where are you going?”
“The training ground,” said Amethyst, “I already missed the morning practice.”
“Absolutely not,” said Roman.
“Why?” asked Amethyst, genuinely confused.
“Did you forget that tonight is the great feast, Madam?” asked Lunia somberly.
“Of course not, nobody even lets me forget it for one second,” snorted Amethyst.
“And yet, you are headed to the training ground,” said Roman.
“Oh, come on,” retorted Amethyst, “It’s just a dinner. Do I have to be stunted from living my life just for one dinner?”
“It is only the most important dinner that could ever happen in this lifetime, Madam,” said Lunia, “It the first time you will be dining with the other relatives. They will be assessing you from head to toe. They will find the smallest detail to criticize about. Please don’t tell us you plan to wear just something plain for this dinner. Please tell us you have planned something to wear.”
Amethyst didn’t respond. She had planned nothing. Alexcent had been in her mind, bothering her. She meant to practice her sword with great gusto so she would be tired enough to be not bothered by him. Count Glacia will be present at the feast as well…. She will definitely be compared to her in every aspect. Amethyst groaned.
“Alright! What should I do first?” she asked Lunia and Roman.
Lunia seemed relieved that Amethyst wasn’t forcing her way to the field anymore. She led Amethyst by her hand to the bathroom. “First, a bath,” she said.
The bath was filled with flowers of all kind, it gave a nice fragrance. The maids then massaged her skin with all kinds of oils she hadn’t seen before (‘to bring out the glow, boost blood flow, and brighten skin tone’ according to Lunia).
There were more gibberish massages. It took half a day to be done with them all. She followed everything Lunia and Roman instructed, but she felt exhausted already. The sword training was looking more appealing by the minute. She sighed.
“Lunia, I’m hungry…” she said.
“No,” said Lunia briskly.
“Why the hell not?” Amethyst protested, “It’s past lunchtime and I haven’t even eaten.”
“Just bear it a little longer, Madam,” said Roman, “Soon it will be the feast and we’ve still not chosen a dress.”
Amethyst looked at them both with the saddest look she could manage. “Are you two trying to kill me by starvation?”
“At this rate, I will be dead by dusk, then nobody will have to bother with me any longer,” said Amethyst, miserably, “I should have eaten a bigger breakfast.”
Lunia softened a little. “I can ask for some snacks, instead….”
“Yes, please,” said Amethyst, “Anything.”
Lunia instructed some maids to bring up tea and snacks while she pretended not to notice Amethyst’ disappointment. Roman looked worried.
“Now, which dress shall we choose?” said Lunia as she wandered among the enormous amount of fabrics that had been ordered. Amethyst, for her part, thought she could do away with this fanciness. A feast was a meal. The only thing people should be worried about is good food, and whether they could have enough space in their belly to cram said food. Lunia was of the opinion that a feat was fancy business. She needed to choose a dress that was beautiful but not so over the top. After all, it was a feast not a ball.
So Lunia said no to a very pretty red dress. “The dress looks a bit fanciful for just a feast. It would be fit for a ball.”
“What about the pale blue one?” suggested Roman.
“Hm,” mumbled Lunia.
The slip-style pale blue dress was of soft, silky texture with jewel encrusted around the plunging neckline. “I don’t think that will be appropriate,” said Amethyst, hurriedly. She didn’t want to spend her time making sure the plunging neckline was revealing anything it wasn’t supposed to. She ought to be enjoying her food.
“Yes. I agree,” said Lunia.
Amethyst couldn’t help thinking that the dress would look spectacular on Count Glacia. She had the appropriate bosom for it. That made Amethyst feel even more sad.
“What about the pale ivory dress with the green ribbon? I think it will match well with the color of your eyes,” suggested Roman.
“Yes, that will be perfect,” agreed Lunia.