translated by myonnie
On top of being welcomed as the empress of my homeland empire, I will be the husband of my little protégé. This is crazy!
But the first thing I felt is 'relief' and 'joy'.
Above all, I'm happy that Felix, my cute protégé, has grown up healthy and won against his older brothers to become the emperor.
Remembering the precious time I spent with Felix in the past makes me somber. I look up and stare at him.
"How's your health?"
"...Nothing wrong in particular?"
Such a question comes out of my mouth without warning, yet Felix still politely answers. Great relief washes over me the moment I hear him reply.
Felix suffered from a curse when he was young. And the curse seems to have disappeared properly, which is really great.
He stares at me with an unreadable face, but before long changing to his friendly smile again.
"Please have a seat. We have a lot to discuss."
Felix beckons me to the sofa, with us seated facing each other. Marielle hurriedly starts preparing tea next to me.
(He's really grown up now. He should be around twenty-seven... Wait, ten years older than me...!?)
I'm seventeen at present, so Felix is ten years older than me. 'What a surprising turn of events!' I think, as I take a sip of the tea Marielle has brewed for us.
He's grown to be a splendid man... It's hard to stop immersing myself like a proud parent. Felix, who notices that I'm staring at him again, smiles.
But I soon realize that the smile has no emotion, like it's pasted on his face.
(Felix never smiled like this when he was young.)
He must've gone through a lot of hardships before he became the emperor of the empire. I'm sure he has it hard ruling this country, which is now called, 'Cursed Land'.
It's only natural for things to change. Perhaps, it's a necessary change as well. Nevertheless, the realization makes my heart ache.
"Once again, I thank you for coming to our country."
"No, I'm afraid I can't be of any help..."
Then I feel a strong pressure from the blond man standing behind Felix, clearly eager to agree with my words.
(Oh. So he also knows my incompetence, hm?)
In return for their desperate plea for help, they are gifted an incompetent woman who can't even use magic properly. What a funny development, they must've thought. His reaction is natural, but it makes me feel sorry.
"So what am I supposed to do?"
"All you have to do is stay in this country as my wife, the empress, and as the saint, a symbol of peace."
"...Meaning, I don't have to do anything?"
"Yes. It'll be helpful if you can at least show up with me on public occasions as the empress. Other than that, you're free to do as you please."
(I can just live in this country without any obligations... isn't that too good to be true!?)
Perhaps, they know that I can't use magic, hence why I don't need to do my duty as a saint.
"Because the people sincerely long for 'the existence of the saint'."
The mere existence of a saint is enough as emotional support to the people.
Above all, Reavis Empire had many excellent saints in the past. Which is why the absence of a saint in the country causes more unrest to the public.
(But in truth, I'm sure they're so angry that they want to kick me out right now.)
They definitely know that Fallon Kingdom, the one that offers 'Hollow Saint' Tiana, is looking down at the empire.
Yet the situation is so bad that they can't afford to be offended and have to welcome a powerless saint as an important being. I feel my chest tightens once again.
"Please think of our relationship as a contractual marriage until I stabilize the country. Once this ends, I will free you from being my wife only by name, and guarantee you no hardships for the rest of your life.”
"Naturally, I won't touch you. Please rest assured."
In other words, we're going to have a white marriage.
And on top of that, he'll guarantee me a good life and eventually set me free. Even generosity should have its limits!
"I'll do my best to make your life in the royal castle as satisfying as possible, so..."
"T-Thank you, very much...?"
The offer is far too convenient for me that I start to suspect if they have any hidden purpose.
However, they should also know that 'Incompetent Tiana Everett' can't grant them anything.
(Anyway, I should take this good offer, or else I'll be an idiot. I mean, I was extremely busy in my previous life, and was abused in this life! I deserve a rest!)
Being able to live with no fear of violence or cruel words and no cold tasteless food is enough for the current me.
(Be it with that contract marriage or whatever it is, I'll fully enjoy my life!)
My mind is about to depart to the possibility of sleeping on a soft, fluffy bed, but then I notice that Marielle's in deep thought.
"Please forgive my impertinence. Saint Tiana is actually..."
"Marielle, may I have another cup of tea?"
She definitely wants to correct their perception that I'm completely incapable of using magic. However, she also senses that I want her to keep silent just with a simple exchange. She's quite quick-witted, I'll say.
I'm sure it will be revealed soon since the knights also saw it, but it's convenient for me to have them see me as incompetent now.
(I can move freely that way. I want to investigate this country in my own way.)
With that in mind, I smile and meet my gaze to Felix's.
"I understand. I'll do everything as His Majesty says."
"Thank you very much."
I do cherish my home country, the empire. Though I am only an empress and a saint by name, I plan to do something to break the "empire's curse" in my own way.
(And then I will be completely free, Felix will be able to find a new empress, and everyone will be happy!)
I want Felix to find a wonderful partner he truly loved, not this kind of unwanted marriage.
"Else, have you ever been in love with someone?"
"What do you think about marriage?"
"By what age do you want to get married? What age of men do you like?"
(We often talked about romance and marriage in the past. I'm sure he longs for a loving marriage more than anyone else.)
When I'm thinking about that, I notice that Felix is staring at me this time.
"Is there something wrong?"
"...No, I just thought you have a very unusual eye color."
Except for "Tiana" and "Else", it's unheard of to have these rare rose-pink eyes, which shade changes depending on the light.
"I know another person who has the same color."
"Oh, so it's like that!"
Perhaps Felix is remembering Else? The idea makes my chest warm.
Just remembering me once every few years is enough.
(Even if I tell him that I have my memories as Else, it'll just trouble Felix with how he should treat me.)
Above all, I don't have Else's power anymore.
Coming forward as his former master without having much power myself will only be a condescending move. It's better to keep it a secret.
The moment I make up my mind, I suddenly catch glints due to the sunlight at the end of my vision.
And what I saw is an item ostentatiously decorated, but it makes me frown for an entirely different reason.
(Wait a minute. That tattered wand is a bit too familiar... Isn't that the wand I used as Else...?)
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