“Ah, my deepest apologies. I had gotten ahead of myself and said something troubling you”
Shizuru felt as if his surroundings had gotten dark and he was suddenly put under a spotlight with the woman in front of him.
Complete with an accompaniment of soft violin music from god knows where.
“But that was simply how you make me go mad for you. This passion that makes my chest feel like it’s going to burst, please accept”
An affected, theatrical way of talking.
But from her point of view, it was neither an affectation nor a joke, it was a completely serious tone.
Having lost most of his memories of anything prior to coming to this world, Shizuru often found himself at a loss for words everytime he was about to utter a word that doesn’t exist here.
Therefore, even though he knew how to accurately describe his impressions of her in simple terms, he would be unable to immediately recall it every time.
Even though it should’ve come to his mind many times already.
“At least for now, please accept this, doctor. I had picked them from the palace gardens this morning for you”
“A … ahaha, thanks …”
For now, Shizuru took the bouquet of lively red roses with a cramped smile.
Thei woman who was on one knee presenting it to him elegantly picked herself up.
She was surprisingly tall.
She was taller than Casca or Richelieu, who were already tall as women go. Shizuru himself wasn’t short either, but even he found that he had to face slightly upwards at her.
She was well over 180 centimeters tall.
Complementing her height, she had short hair that might have had gotten her confused for a man if seen from behind.
But she wore make up and had good fashion sense, and her hair was also done in a feminine way despite being short.
She had an androgynous face and smelled faintly of perfume. She’s the kind of person who would turn heads from both genders when walking around town.
The red clothes she had on, the same color as her hair and eyes, and the silver armor she wore over it gave her a noble feel, engendering an air of aristocracy, in the good sense.
Or rather, she actually was a woman of nobility.
Drawn on the left breast of her armor was a coat of arms well known throughout the capital and the whole kingdom.
It symbolized one of the four knightly orders defending the capital, the East Blood Knights.
They were an elite guard of knights that only sons of nobles or a select few
She was a member of — no, calling her a member might be a little inaccurate.
The word that was caught in Shizuru’s throat suddenly came out.
“Takarazuka …” 1
“Did you perchance say something, doctor Shizuru?”
“Ah, no no, it was nothing”
Her name was Rosa Cranberrie.
The Knight Commander of the second order of royal knights of the Kingdom of Si Lvain, the East Blood Knights.
“Ah, such sweet flavor … this must be the taste of ambrosia poured down from the heavens …!”
Sipping on the tea Shizuru prepared, not really a high grade one at that, Rosa reacted in such an over-the-top way he was at a loss on how to react. She even had tears streaming down her face.
Shizuru was normally from the coffee faction, but considering the knight, he made tea.
“As expected from my Shizuru … you are even magnificently skilled in making black tea”
“I only made it normally though …”
Shizuru answered with a wry smile.
But then Rosa for some reason opened her eyes wide.
“… you didn’t object to ‘my Shizuru’ … may I take this to mean that I have a chance … ah!”
He merely found it hard to retort so he didn’t mention it.
Rose’s fittingly called beautiful face reddened as she put a hand to her cheek.
Her gestures were definitely womanly.
— Such a lofty person as to be the commander of a royal order of knights was showing so much favor to Shizuru.
As for the outcome, or rather the beginning of their romance, he decided to put it on the corner of a table for the moment.
“A, anyway Rosa? What will you be needing me for today?”
“Hair black like spun from the night, voice like the sound of a flute by the lake shore … ah, such beauty you have”
Please listen to people before you start running pick up lines.
And I’m not sure you can say it’s a praise to call a guy beautiful, thought Shizuru doubtfully.
“It’s rare for you to come visit my clinic isn’t it, Rosa …?”
Why was it in the form of a question.
He was probably caught in the atmosphere.
“… haa. Ah, I beg your pardon doctor Shizuru. I thought I might be getting in the way of your work, so up until now I have avoided being such a nuisance by coming here even though I wasn’t injured. … however! Ah, however!”
As she went on with her speech she looked up to the ceiling as if lamenting. She then came up to Shizuru and took his hand.
Then from point blank range, she gazed into his face.
“— may I have the honor of a kiss?”
Shizuru rejected Rosa’s appeal by reflex.
While he certainly did not dislike the woman, but he was rather not good at these sorts of things.
“Ah, is that so … I, was worried”
Rosa continued just as abruptly.
“I heard from the garrison guards that they found several corpses early this morning”
The speech delivered in a sad tone made Shizuru’s eyes open wide.
Unrest filled his chest. He went back to normal within a moment, but whether or not Rosa noticed it, she continued.
“The bodies were killed in cold blood. Not enough of them were left to even identify”
“… that’s, a tragic story”
I don’t want to hear that from you!
Shizuru’s heart said to him.
“Attacks like these have been conspicuous as of late. I was worried and worried, what if this happens to my Shizuru …”
“I, I’ll be fine … there’s no one out there who’s out for my life, so there’s …”
“You who practically gives away medical treatments for free aren’t well liked among your peers. Can you still say the same?”
He couldn’t. Not few people held goodwil toward him as a physician, but there were also a considerable number of people who don’t.
In particular, his fellow physicians. Shizuru knew very well that there were no small numbers of them who resented him.
In all things, doing one thing will set you back on others.
“I had come to hear the name of the assassins Black Maria lately. Does doctor Shizuru know of them?”
“Y … yes, well … the rumors that is”
He affected a nonchalant nod, but Shizuru was not at all calm inside.
Within the capital, Black Maria wasn’t the only group to commit crimes.
When the name came out so specifically, he began to imagine the worst case scenario where the fact that he was a member became noticed.
“Should you encounter the lawless bunch, please call out my name as loud as you can. If it’s you doctor Shizuru, I will be certain to hear no matter when and where you are. On my honor as a knight I promise to come for you!”
“A, ahaha … then I’ll be counting on you when the time comes …”
But Rosa didn’t seem at all like she was suspecting Shizuru. Instead, she was actually worried for his well being.
Then, since she seemed to have made time when she was busy, she went and left after half an hour.
After Rosa left, Shizuru exhaled the contents of his lung as if expelling all the nervousness he had been holding.
… rather, when one thinks about it, no royal knight commander under heaven would come out for the sake for a member of a criminal organization.
Now that it’s passed, Shizuru scratched his cheek, wasn’t I worried too much?
“Still, that was bad for the heart … in any case, she’s stronger than Cassie and Lady put together, isn’t she …”
As an assassin, he could generally figure out the strength of the person in front of him.
In Shizuru’s opinion, among the almost 50 members of Black Maria, only Richelieu could fight Rosa on even terms.
“Which means, I’m right out of the question. Being able to hold her own against that monster, Richelieu’s a real demon”
A Commander of a royal order of knights wasn’t someone one can get to know just because one wanted it.
The risks were high, but for that, the returns were immeasurable.
If it comes to it, do consider ensnaring her, Shizuru remembered Richelieu say again and again.
“AAaaah … I’m really in a black business …”
He hates himeself for not being able to say no.
Shizuru stared at the ceiling and thought, I want to go pet Lady’s fur and release all this stress
His groans echoed again and again throughout the clinic until the doorbell signaling a new patient sounded.
- TN: Takarazuka is the name of an all-female acting troupe who came from a city with the same name in western Japan. This likely refers to how Rosa acts in an androgynous manner similar to how a female actress would play a male role. ↩