The Reason for Marriage - Chapter 12.1
Iveca turned her eyes away, hiding her lack of confidence. Her father seemed to have grown tired of talking to her. Iveca wondered whether she had said too much and as she did, he stood up quickly, pulling his jacket across.
“I think enough for today, I’ll be leaving now,” came his parting remark, which was followed by a more curious one. “At the morning meeting, I saw Anriq guarding his Majesty’s side. It’s a relief that you have an old friend in the palace.”
Iveca wondered why her father even remembered she had been friends with Anriq, then wondered what he would make of how she had loved him. For all intents and purposes, he thought Anriq as just a childhood friend, with whom Iveca grew up with in the Count’s estate. Now, he recognized his status as an escort guard, who had entered the royal palace as soon as he reached adulthood in recognition of his outstanding combat abilities. Iveca responded calmly to his words, as calmly as she could muster.
“I didn’t really get to see him.”
“Shouldn’t Your Majesty always have him around? He always accompanies him. In fact, I’ve never seen one without the other. He must have been guarding the door.”
Iveca paused at the ramifications of Anriq on the other side of either bedroom door.
“Sorry? I had just assumed that if he had come to my palace, Anriq would have returned to the King’s.”
Her father snorted. “There’s no way. Guardians are always around. That’s what they’re paid for, after all.”
Iveca’s mind was torn. Of course, she should forget about him. That was her first thought. No matter how much she loved her first love, it was a sin to have another man in her heart when she was a married woman. Also, Anriq was someone who had a history of rejecting her. Her heart quickly shifted both rationally and emotionally to her husband, who was pouring consistent warmth. But on the other side, she remembered how Anriq was the only person who had ever made her feel utterly understood – something even her husband couldn’t do.
“Please take care.”
Iveca was shaken from her daze by her father’s remark. She bowed her head and said her own farewell before he left through the grand doors in a rush. For some reason, it felt like his frame leaving her vision marked the last time she would ever see him, especially if his line of reasoning about her usefulness to the family still stood. Iveca looked at her dark hair in the long mirror for quite some time.
“Now, you are a family…” she muttered to herself.
Iveca shook away the feelings of resentment and rejection. Even though she had not met the absolute condition for becoming a family because she still did not know the reason for the marriage, she thought she could think of various moments when Daniel had confirmed it for her. They were a family, no matter what her father had to say, or not say.
At the same time, the name “E.J” engraved on a dark blue pen clouded her determination.
Daniel came to visit again around sunset. Iveca had abandoned the pursuit of memorizing the genealogical trees that had been left for her; after all, he himself had said it wasn’t important, instead focusing on learning the codes that a royal family member must follow. Daniel took the seat in front of her. He was already grinning at something he would no doubt share with her.
“You must have memorized everyone’s names, birthdays and the amount of coins in their pocket at this rate,” he said.
Iveca did not reply. She was now, thanks to her father, conscious of the fact that Daniel never entered her palace without his guards. If that was truly the case, then Anriq would be outside the door. How did it feel to hold your wife and hug her while her first love was standing outside the door? Did Daniel think about it? Was it really okay? It was only then that Iveca realized that her husband was more complicated than she thought. He was a man that, to some extent, was confident enough to use a pen given to him by another woman in front of his wife. He was a man that was accustomed to secrets and silence. Iveca wondered if becoming a King meant that sort of thing happened naturally.
“Code of law, eh?” said Daniel, interested by the papers strewn in front of her.
“It’s only been a month since I moved to the Judicial Affair Bureau. I’m not familiar with the work yet, so I have to look at it from time to time to remind myself of it.”
“I see,” Daniel grinned again, “You will do well, I’m sure.”
Daniel was a friendly, sweet, and kind king who smiled with his eyes. A man who spoke sweetly and politely. A person who whispered sweet words in bed and gave her encouragement that Iveca had never had before. But Iveca was occasionally embroiled in a strange sense of being out of place. The kindness that he showed might be just for show. She was an eighteen-year-old with memories of being mistreated and experiences of failures; she was indeed a target for anyone looking to use. Still, she liked this unusual affection. She had turned down Ewill’s offer today for it.
“If you are not in any hurry to read the codes, would you like to see another secret passage?”
Iveca quickly closed her book. Of course, it was better to go somewhere than to read these boring law books. He gently took her hand.
“This one is a bit of a back and forth trek, Iveca. Wear comfortable shoes,” he suggested.
“Where are we going?”