|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: ScribbleHub|
The hands that held that pot of water trembled as Anne tried to keep her composure. Her heart threatened to jump out of her mouth. Despite her efforts, she still almost wanted to drop the pot and run into the campsite and hug Fleur. Fleur was going to accept her feelings!
She didn’t know what had caused her to hide behind that tree and eavesdrop instead of just walking in when she saw Fleur and Camilla talking, but now she was glad she did. If she had interrupted their talk, who knows what would have happened. At the very least, Fleur probably wouldn’t have decided to give her a chance.
Perhaps…Camilla wasn’t so bad after all. She had been too harsh and rude to her…she’ll have to apologize later.
Anne wetted her dry lips and mouth as she calmed herself down, trying to act like she had before—a sulky expression that scarcely matched how she felt. But she had no choice; she couldn’t show any signs that she had overheard their conversation.
After an appropriately long amount of time, Anne walked into the campsite from the forest, deliberately stepped on some branches to announce her presence. Fleur jumped a little and turned around to look at her.
Anne had to bite her lips to stop herself from making a huge smile. The pain and her resulted in a rather twisted expression that made Fleur’s brows furrow.
“Are you okay, Anne?” Fleur asked.
Yes! Yes! “Yes…um, where’s Camilla?” Anne asked. She already knew that Camilla left, but she had to pretend she didn’t. She really didn’t know why Camilla left, though. Her departure had been rather sudden and inexplicable.
Fleur shrugged. “I don’t know. I kind of asked her what kind of person she liked, and afterwards, she kind of lost her composure and left. Ah…by the way, I…”
Anne clutched the handles of the pot in anticipation. But what she expected never came, as Fleur seemed to deflate when she was on the cusp of spitting out the words she was holding in.
But although Anne was a bit disappointed that she didn’t hear the words that she wanted to hear, she didn’t mind. She could afford to wait. She had patience to spare, since she’d already waited for so long, especially since she already knew what Fleur’s reply was.
She set the pot of water down on the rack over the fire before she took a small knife from the supplies and began to cut up the rabbit meat. Despite her desire to hide her happiness, she couldn’t stop herself from humming as she worked.
As an orphan taken in by the Church, the only songs she knew were hymns and other songs of ceremony, and soon, she found herself quietly singing little parts of a certain song.
“…the door to my heart…a blessing in my life…to paradise we both go…never do us part…”
The song was quite long, and it’s been so long since she had done any real ceremonial work that she had forgotten most of the lyrics, yet she still remembered bits and pieces of it, and combined with the tune in her mind, it was enough to make even the monotonous and tedious task of carefully carving up the rabbit something to be joyful about.
As she raised her knife to start another cut, she suddenly heard Fleur’s voice by her ear.
“What are you humming?”
“Yaah!” She jumped, and then pain burned in a line on her finger as she drew her hand across the knife. Blood poured from the wound and fighting back her tears, Anne moved her hand away from the chopping board so the blood didn’t fall into her meat. Fleur gasped in horror.
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“Anne! I—I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“No, no, it’s fine! It’s just a cut. Something like this is easy…”
Although wounds on the hand looked scary since they bleed so much, that was only because there were a lot of blood vessels on the hand. Behind all that blood was usually just a small cut…Fleur should know this. Fleur was panicking because of her…
She shouldn’t be happy because of this.
Fleur grabbed her hand, and in seconds, her clean hand was covered in red. But Fleur ignored the blood and soon, Anne felt the pain throbbing in her hand disappearing as a warm, golden glow that felt like sunshine on a pleasant day covered her hand. She could almost hear the birds calling.
When the glow disappeared, Anne’s hand felt empty.
“Sorry, Anne,” Fleur repeated, grabbing a water skin and began to clumsily uncap the container with one hand, getting blood all over. Anne couldn’t watch anymore and took the container.
“It’s fine. Hold out your hand, Fleur. Ah, I mean…please hold out your hand,” she said, correcting her attitude, hoping that Fleur didn’t notice. Fleur held out her hand and Anne put her own under it after opening the container. Cool water poured onto their hands, splashing onto the ground.
Feeling emboldened by her knowledge, Anne grabbed Fleur’s hand, ignoring the girl’s flinch, and rubbed all over it. Fleur soon reciprocated. The motion, combined with the pouring water, washed their hands clean of blood. Fleur used the last of the water to clean off the outside of the waterskin itself, leaving them with a wet patch of dirt and an empty waterskin.
Their eyes met for a moment, seemingly for whole minutes yet at the same time less than a second, before Fleur broke eye contact. She took the empty waterskin from Anne’s hands and ran to put it away, leaving Anne standing alone.
Anne rubbed the hand that had touched Fleur before going back to the chopping board, wielding the knife with renewed vigour. Since Camilla—although she should probably call her Lady Camilla now out of respect since she’s not as close to her as Fleur was—still wasn’t back by the time she finished, Anne decided to just cook the meat too since the water was already boiling.
The reason why Lady Camilla woke them up so early was probably to speed up their pace. Anne guessed that as a former templar commander, there was no way that Lady Camilla wasn’t disciplined.
Since Lady Camilla wants to up the pace, then the meal has to be prepared ahead of time. That’s how it was at the outpost, with the cooks waking up the earliest of them all.
But that wasn’t the only reason why Anne decided to cook. It was because the stew that Lady Camilla made was…edible. A lot more edible than the bread from the outpost, but that was the extent of the compliments she felt comfortable giving.
“You can cook?” Fleur asked, walking up to stand beside her. This time, she approached from the front where Anne could clearly see her, which made sense, since if an accident happened this time, the consequences would be a lot worse than a mere cut.
“I help out at the cafeteria a lot.”
“Eh…?” Fleur looked at her, full of doubt. “But the food there is a little…”
“I think it’s amazing they made something edible out of what they had to work with,” Anne replied with a serious face, and she wasn’t kidding. Fleur paled, and Anne left the details to Fleur’s imagination.
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When Lady Camilla finally came back again, Anne and Fleur had already finished eating, and even packed up the tents and secured them to their cargo horse. They were sitting around the extinguished campfire when Lady Camilla came out of the trees. Her hair was laden with water, as if she had just washed it.
Why would an undead need to wash their hair? Although since Lady Camilla was formerly a human, and now a girl, it was understandable that she paid attention to her hygiene even if it wasn’t strictly necessary.
Anne also just noticed that what Lady Camilla wore was not the plain black dress she had been wearing, but rather the elaborately made dress plated with exquisite armor—the very same set that the lady had worn into battle that night.
So her guess was right, and Lady Camilla really was about to increase their pace. Her change from a civilian’s attire to something more suitable for battle surely marked that change in mindset. Anne wondered if Fleur noticed.
When she looked over to check Fleur’s expression, expecting Fleur to be looking at Lady Camilla, her heart skipped a beat when she saw that Fleur’s gaze was fixed on her instead. She quickly looked away and stood up.
She…she still wasn’t used to the reality that Fleur was willing to look at her. It was all too sudden, and she hadn’t adjusted yet. Swallowed, she made her way toward her horse.
Without a word, Lady Camilla walked past her at a brisk pace and swung up onto her horse, the very image of a military woman.
After Anne helped Fleur onto her horse, she climbed onto her own, and they resumed their journey along the narrow path.
Unlike the first day, Lady Camilla began to ride on further ahead to act as a scout for possible danger, only coming back now and then.
Although it’s already been Lady Camilla’s third time back and she still hasn’t spotted anything even remotely dangerous, she insisted on continuing. Anne couldn’t help but be impressed by her vigilance. Despite Lady Camilla’s suspicions, however, the journey remained uneventful.
Hours ticked by in mostly silence, usually broken when Fleur spotted something interesting and tried to get Anne to look as well. This deep in the forest, there were different birds that neither of them had ever seen before.
Other times, Fleur would look up at the sky and spot shapes in the clouds, and that seemed to be endlessly entertaining for her. And since Fleur shared her excitement and happiness, Anne was happy as well.
“Hey Anne, Anne. What does that look like?” Fleur suddenly piped up again, pointing up at the sky.
Anne nudged her horse closer to Fleur’s to better follow Fleur’s pointing and looked up, trying to find what Fleur was looking at. They were playing a guessing game where they alternated guessing each other’s interpretation of the clouds’ shape, and it was currently her turn to guess.
After sweeping the general area of the sky that Fleur was pointed at, Anne’s eyes locked onto the most conspicuous of the shapes, and her heart that had managed to calm down from the excitement that morning sped up again. The anticipation that she had suppressed came back with a vengeance.
Amazingly, floating in the sky high above, drifting among its peers was a cloud in the shape of a heart. Anne found it hard to breathe, and her throat was dry. Even swallowing was difficult, and it didn’t help.
Suddenly, the wind picked up, and the cloud began to lose its shape. She was helpless to stop it and could only watch, when Fleur’s cry startled her out of her trance.
“What is it? Anne, say it!”
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Anne looked down to see Fleur staring at her, a flame within her eyes. She took a deep breath. “Heart…it’s a heart. Fleur, I love you.”
At her answer, Fleur sat, stunned and unmoving. Despite already knowing how Fleur felt, Anne couldn’t suppress the twinge of worry that she might be wrong. But before her very eyes, a tear dropped out of the corner of Fleur’s eyes as she nodded. “I love you too.”
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