How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 19. Singing Along
This chapter has been re-worked by Regan, we have picked up the novel from chapter 64
At Annette’s sudden, panicked silence, Ludwig’s eyes followed hers to the empty box.
“Isn’t that your gift? Did its lid break? Don’t worry, I’ll have…my attendants…”
Ludwig’s face hardened as he belatedly saw what the box contained. The previously tender atmosphere evaporated in a very heavy silence.
Annette closed her eyes. It would have been better if it was an illegal aphrodisiac. At least then, she could have made some excuse, and claimed it was perfume or lotion. She couldn’t possibly explain a choker and a whip.
One of Ludwig’s attendants approached in silence and with great professionalism, gathered up the box and contents, reassembled them, and set it back on the bench. He returned to his original position as if absolutely nothing had happened.
Annette could only close her eyes and pray that the world would somehow explode immediately. But of course, it did not, and before she could offer an explanation, Ludwig rose from the floor and looked at her, his eyes quivering.
“You–your…no way,” he stuttered. “Raphael…does that sort of thing to you?”
“No. No, absolutely not!” Annette’s voice shrilled with fright. The feeling of imminent disaster made her spit out whatever excuse came to mind, the first time in her prudent life that her words outpaced her mind. “It’s–we have a really big dog! It’s almost the size of a house, I’m sure even Your Highness has never seen such a large dog, and I wanted to educate myself about how to train such a ferocious dog, so I had placed a special order…it’s a really, really big dog.”
The more she spoke, the more uncomfortable she felt. It was obviously a made-up excuse, but somehow she felt like she was insulting Raphael. Annette closed her eyes guiltily. At the end of this lengthy, excellent excuse, Ludwig accepted it with an uncertain look, as if propelled into this conclusion.
“Well, I see.”
“…Yes.” Annette replied weakly. She was still hoping the world would explode, but unfortunately she had no power to make that happen. In fact, she wondered if she had any skills at anything at all.
Another awkward silence fell. Ludwig, standing uncertainly, soon handed her back to her seat.
“Let’s sit down, for now…let’s sit and talk.” He stumbled over his words. Annette sat on the bench silently, wanting to die. She wanted to pick up the box and run away, but leaving without permission in the presence of royalty was an insult, and punishable as a crime.
Fortunately, Ludwig was also not eager to discuss the subject. He looked desperately worried about something.
“I was composing a new song for my lute when we last spoke, remember? I finished it a few days ago. Would you like to hear it?”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Whatever it was, it was fine. If only she could escape this mortifying place. Annette nodded soullessly.
Ludwig beckoned, and one of his servants hurried to fetch his lute. Ludwig often tried to calm his mind by playing the lute, and even in this situation, his performance was remarkably good. Annette closed her eyes and listened, trying to calm herself down.
From his delicate fingers, a beautiful melody filled the room, like a celestial song. Once it was over, he spoke with a much more relaxed expression.
“It reminds me of old times, when I would play and you would come sit by my side to listen. Do you remember?”
“Of course, I remember.”
Music did have a miraculous effect on shifting the mood. Annette felt a little nostalgic. Recalling those memories, her lashes lowered, and her beautiful face was poignant with reflection. Ludwig looked at her admiringly.
“Annette, I have a request. Will you grant it?”
Looking up at him, she did not immediately accept. Oh please, don’t tell me he’s going to say something else dreadful, like that I am his only queen. Annette was nervous at what else might come out of his mouth, but fortunately Ludwig wasn’t so greedy.
“If you don’t mind, would you sing along like you used to?” Under his silver lashes, the blue eyes, so much like Raphael’s, shone brightly. It was an unexpected request, but not a difficult one. Annette quickly agreed.
Ludwig was very afraid of his father, and King Selgratis hated to see Ludwig playing music. Ludwig used to use Annette as an excuse, so he could spend time playing his favorite lute. With the door and windows tightly closed under the pretext of private conversation, he could play music without his father knowing.
Which was probably how the rumors that Annette had been sleeping with him to become Crown Princess had begun. It was an obvious misunderstanding, if a grown man and woman closeted themselves away in a room for hours. Most people would assume they had that kind of relationship.
Annette clicked her tongue at her own foolishness, and added one condition to his request.
“Of course. Since it will only be one song, let’s play it here. But then I really must go, it’s already very late.”
“I understand,” Ludwig said, looking at her with sorrowful eyes. “Thank you for granting my request, Annette.”
When this song was over, she would go back home. To her husband Raphael, and her husband’s house. After this, Ludwig and Annette would be strangers forever.
Ludwig bit his lips. He had been so sure he would be Annette’s husband, and he still wanted to be. Not Raphael, him. Ludwig should have been her husband, but it seemed Annette had already accepted and acknowledged Raphael.
He felt indescribably bitter.
That man has not only stolen Father’s affection, but Annette, too. He has taken everything.
A shadow passed through his blue eyes. But now was the time to focus on her. Composing himself, he began to play, just as he had in better days, when he dreamed of placing the Crown Princess’s crown on Annette’s blonde hair with his own hands.
Annette closed her eyes, humming gently along with the tune. It was something she had already sung before many times, and at first it was nothing but a faint melody, but then grew into a song.
The point of your sword is the color of cold winter
The roaring boil of the battlefield is the color of red lava
Like the leaves of evergreens is loyalty to royalty, colored green,
When the world turns round and round and all these colors are one
I will stamp my feet, and march freely away…
Annette liked to sing. She wasn’t terribly skilled, as it was just a hobby, but her voice was soft and gentle, and pleasant to listen to.
When she used to visit the royal palace, she had often joined Ludwig like this, and though her singing was not quite as good as it used to be, it was fun, after such a long time. So Annette didn’t notice at first, when Ludwig stopped playing.
I will march freely away…
At the last verse of the song, she opened her eyes and was startled to find Ludwig lying on his bench with his eyes closed.
Wait, did you actually faint? Was my singing that terrible?
Frightened, she rose hurriedly and went to shake him. She was worried that he might have collapsed again in another episode, or somehow hit himself in the head with his own lute. This was possible. Ludwig was that clumsy.
“Your Highness! Your Highness! Did you hurt yourself? Are you sick?”
Fortunately, he opened his eyes quickly. She had no idea whether he fainted or had just fallen asleep, but there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with his body. Ludwig blinked a few times and yawned drowsily.
“I guess I was so tired, I drifted off. I’m sorry, Annette. Why am I so sleepy? It’s strange…I guess I’m not feeling well. I’m ashamed to fall asleep after holding you back to talk to you. Go home, and please be careful on your way…”
He waved goodbye, his eyes half-closed as he mumbled. His delicate eyelids were crinkled as if he were already dreaming, in deep sleep. Annette was bewildered, but she wasn’t going to question it. Quickly, she said goodbye.
That was weird…
Annette tilted her head, watching as he disappeared into his palace. With his sensitive temperament, Ludwig did not sleep much, but he had still managed to fall asleep while playing his lute, which was his favorite thing to do. It was not like him.
Even more surprising, Annette turned back and found the four attendants she had requested a short distance away. A few moments ago, they had been standing up straight, but now they were slumped against each other, sleeping upright, just as Ludwig had been.
What on earth is going on?
Annette stood frozen, her mouth hanging open in surprise.