Lady to Queen - Chapter 125
Chapter 125 – [Side Story] Ch. 17 The Prelude of Tragedy
Janet calmed her quaking heart. This wasn’t the way a servant girl should feel and act. Thinking that she needed to get out of here quickly, she hastily took off the cloak that the Emperor draped around her shoulders and placed it back around his before bowing.
“Your Majesty, I apologize for interrupting your time of rest. I shall take my leave…”
The young Emperor hurriedly grabbed Janet. Her eyes widened at the unexpected touch. This was truly something that she could never have predicted. Her duties were forgotten as she looked at him directly.
He looked surprised as well, as if he didn’t expect himself to act in such a way. However, he seemed to have no intentions of releasing her hand. The Emperor slowly loosened his grip, but he didn’t fully let go.
“Your Majesty, I must be going now,” Janet pleaded. “The other nobles might be looking for—”
“And what if I need you?” The Emperor asked in a shaky voice. “If I said I needed you, would you still go?”
“Er…” The Emperor quickly racked his brain for an excuse. That way, she—no, Janet would not leave. He fidgeted before giving a preposterous excuse.
“The servant girls who are attending me right now are too short.”
What does that have to do with anything…? Janet stared at him with a dumbfounded expression, unable to comprehend the logic in his words, and the Emperor continued to ramble aimlessly.
“As you can see, all of my belongings are rather large and tall in height, so if the servant girls are too short, it will be difficult for them to properly attend to me.”
“Aren’t you tall?”
In truth, she was. Janet was 172 cm, putting her in the top one percent of heights for women. She nodded, and the Emperor looked elated.
“That’s why you need to attend to me,” he explained.
“Excuse me?” Janet looked dumbstruck. “But I have already been assigned to attend the nobles that have accompanied you, Your Majesty…”
“Even so, that can easily be changed under the Imperial order of the Sun of the Empire, can it not?”
That was true. Janet dazedly nodded her head, and the Emperor put on a satisfied smile.
“The night air is cold, so it’s best that you go inside,” he said.
“Yes. Then I will take my leave…”
“Did everything I say go through one ear and out the other?” the Emperor asked in amazement. “You need to follow me, too.”
“…So you were serious?”
“Then did you think it was a joke?”
At the question, Janet looked up at the Emperor, who gave her a fresh grin. She could feel the life and health emanating from the young man. For a moment, Janet felt dizzy from that pure smile.
‘Did I really needed to be reminded of what Avery said earlier?’
Though she thought this, it was too late. Before she knew it, Janet was hurriedly following the Emperor back to his room, her wrist still encased in his hand.
When the Emperor arrived at his room with Janet in tow, he ordered the other servant girls to leave the room, leaving only Janet.
As Janet stood in the Emperor’s room, all she could think of was how to explain this situation to Countess Amo. This turn of events was completely beyond belief.
The Emperor seemed to sense her bewilderment. “You seem to be worried about something.”
“Pardon me?”Janet asked, startled, before lowering her voice and responding. “No. It’s nothing like that.”
“Is that so? Then…”
With those words, the Emperor began to take off his clothes. Shocked at the sudden behavior, Janet couldn’t even let out a cry of surprise as she reflexively turned the other way. The Emperor looked at her oddly.
“Why are you acting like that?”
“Huh? I-I just…” Despite the pounding of her heart, she managed to reply calmly. “I… just thought that I shouldn’t be allowed to look at your precious body…”
The work that Janet did at the reserve palace was considerably formal in nature. When the Emperor or the nobles weren’t visiting, she cleaned the empty rooms with Avery and the other servant girls, and when they were visiting, she was either handing out refreshments or organizing their luxurious items. She did help with bathing and changing clothes once, but they were all with women. This was the first time that she would be seeing the body of a man without any clothes.
Of course the Emperor couldn’t possibly have known about this, and he thought Janet’s behavior strange for a servant girl.
“But don’t servant girls help with the bathing?” he asked.
“Well…” Janet said hesitantly. “I have only assisted with baths for women. It’s the same with changing clothes… If you are worried about an inexperienced person assisting you, it might be better to call in another…”
“No. It’s not to that extent.”
After donning a robe himself, the Emperor put on a thoughtful expression before offering a solution in a clear voice.
“It’s not that difficult. Men and women are both people. Just do as you have done before.”
“And you can turn around now.”
Janet slowly turned her feet. “Am I the only one who will be assisting your bath, Your Majesty?” she asked.
“Is it too burdensome? If you can’t…”
“…Not at all, Your Majesty.”
Should would assist the bath of not just anyone, but His Majesty himself—alone. Something definitely went wrong somewhere. Even if she was a servant girl of a secondary palace, Janet knew that this wasn’t normal. She couldn’t understand what the Emperor was thinking at all.
However, the people of the kingdom were to follow any and all orders of the Emperor. And that included Janet.
Having no other choice, Janet went into the bathroom. There was a tub already filled with hot water, as if it had been prepared beforehand. A few moments later, the Emperor entered the bathroom wearing only a silk robe before he nonchalantly stepped into the tub of water.
Janet worried that she would make a mistake while attending the bath of such a noble person—the most noble person of all the kingdom—but she decided to think of him as just another aristocrat to bathe. It would be worse if she made mistakes she normally wouldn’t make out of nervousness.
Neither of the two spoke, and since they were the only ones that were in the bathroom, silence filled the room. Of course, Janet was so busy attending to the Emperor’s bath that she wasn’t concerned about the silence, but the same couldn’t be said for the Emperor. He kept on staring at Janet as if he had something to say. It was only after the bath was nearly finished that Janet noticed his persistent stare.
“Your Majesty, you may now come out of…”
She was hunched over in work, and when she straightened out her body, she was met with the dark eyes of the Emperor. His face after a bath looked even livelier than when he was under the night sky. His slightly flushed yet clear complexion was proof that the beauty of his appearance was no lie.
Janet gave an involuntary gulp. Even as she thought, ‘I’m truly insane,’ she was happy that she was given the honor of assisting the Emperor’s bath, even though she didn’t let it show on her face.
His patient gaze continued to be focused on her, and after some time, Janet became flustered.
Why does he keep on staring at me?
When she looked into his eyes to ask him, she strangely couldn’t bring herself to do so. Unsure of what to do, her lips didn’t budge, and it was then that the Emperor suddenly lifted a drenched arm from the tub. The wet robe that he wore practically melded against his skin, revealing the muscularity of his arm. As she continued to stare at him, he used his hand to tuck away her disarrayed strands of hair behind her ear.
“You worked hard.”
“Ah…” Janet’s face turned bright red. “I apologize if it was an unpleasant experience.”
But the Emperor neither accepted nor denied her apology. Just when the silence was starting to become suffocating, the Emperor spoke.
“You said your name was Janet?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
The words that came after that were quite shocking to hear.
“Do you have any desire to come to the Imperial palace?”
Thinking that she misheard the question, Janet forgot her manners and asked in surprised. However, as she looked at the Emperor’s expression, she concluded that she did hear him correctly.
Going to the Imperial palace. There was only one meaning for that.
“Am… am I correct to assume that you mean it in that way, Your Majesty?” Janet asked in a stunned voice.
“But why would you choose someone like me…”
“There doesn’t need to be a reason for Imperial grace. Just as there doesn’t need to be a reason for how the Emperor feels.”
“If you don’t want to, I will not force you,” he said in a gentle voice, and Janet continued to stare at the Emperor with a stupefied expression. His handsome face smiled at her, and Janet nodded her head as if she were under a spell.
In that moment, there wasn’t anything particularly profound that went through her head. The Emperor that stood in front of her took a liking to her, and she in turn took a liking to him.
That was it.
She didn’t even think about the things she told Avery before she met the Emperor. As if she was confident the things that she warned her friend about wouldn’t apply to herself.
The Emperor gave a beautiful smile before kissing Janet. It was awkward for her, but she sincerely accepted the Emperor’s kiss.
In that moment, Janet, who had felt love for the first time in her life, was happy.
That night, when Janet forwent her normal duties to share a bed with the Emperor, she was no longer affiliated with the servant girls of the reserve palace. Many congratulated and envied her, who was the recipient of Imperial grace, and just as many glared at her out of jealous spite. As Janet was not one who dwelled much on what other people thought of her, she ignored the latter reaction and focused on the fluttering of her heart as she prepared to leave for the Imperial city.
The next day, she entered the Central Palace with the Emperor as a servant girl.
There was no way that the servant girls would be happy to see the sudden appearance of Janet. However, once they realized that she had the Emperor’s favor, their initial scorn and hatred towards the lower class servant couldn’t be maintained.
That didn’t mean that Janet abandoned the person she was and became arrogant. She quietly assisted the Emperor by his side and performed her duties. In turn, the Emperor continued to cherish her without any qualms.
Then, one day, the news that the Emperor will be officially taking a Queen spread across the kingdom.