We watched the boatman sail away before stepping into the pavilion.
Being here felt like stepping into a giant floating ship in the middle of the lake; the only difference was the lack of swaying and rocking motions from the current.
As if to test the pavilion’s sturdiness, I tapped the stone floor with my foot and it did not budge at all.
The emperor smiled at my behavior.
“So, do you like it”
I nodded, “It’s beautiful.
I didn’t know there’s a place like this within the palace’s vicinity.”
He smiled even more at that, “You can come back here anytime.
Just say the word.” He paused before adding, “with me, of course.”
I felt blood rush to my face from the emperor’s words.
Feeling flustered, I turned my head to the side so he would not see how red I am.
It also didn’t help that my complexion is pale so that alone could easily give me away, which always prompted the emperor to smile triumphantly every single time.
Oh how I wish the bracelet’s still with me.
He pulled a chair stowed underneath the table situated at the center of the pavilion and had me sit there.
Refreshments and an assortment of biscuits were already prepared in advance.
“Do you want some tea” The emperor asked.
I noticed that he often asked for my preferences and he would prepare something new everyday, and ask me whether I liked it or not.
But why was he being like this
He was different from the man I first met in the beginning; he no longer threw things at me in a fit of rage, but wholly catered to my needs instead.
Whether it’s books, a simple stroll in a garden or offering snacks, he had made sure to provide exactly just that.
As someone who was easy to please, I certainly enjoyed the simple yet beautiful things life has to offer.
“Yes.” I answered belatedly.
Tea and coffee were something I couldn’t live without during the days I was still working.
For me, nothing could be more pleasant than having the first sip of fresh tea any time of the day.
Since having a vacation or a short break was nothing short of a fantasy due to my hectic schedule, tea and coffee would have to suffice.
The emperor stretched his arm to reach for the large golden kettle.
His hand circled around the handle, then he froze, completely motionless.
“My Lord” Upon calling for him, he let his hand drop and lifted the adjacent white teapot.
“Hmmm.” He muttered under his breath as if in contemplation.
He placed a few tea leaves into the teapot and judging from his obviously slow and unsure pace, it seemed like he was not used to making tea at all.
It was clear he was deciding about the appropriate amount of tea leaves and before I knew it, he filled the teapot to the brim.
Horrified, I took the teapot from his grasp.
“I’ll do it.
Give it to me.”
“You know how to brew tea”
“… Why didn’t you have a maid come with us” He should’ve brought a maid if he had no idea how to make tea himself.
I wondered what was going on in his mind as I emptied all the leaves from the teapot.
But the pot had to be heated up first.
Is there any hot water around I looked everywhere but there seemed to be no means of producing flames here in this isolated pavilion.
Not knowing how to proceed, the emperor handed me the large golden kettle.
“Are you looking for this”
Just as I was about to tell him that we actually need a flame and not a kettle, a slight steam was emitted from the kettle’s spout, which meant boiling water was inside.
“But how is this possible” Then I recalled the emperor resting his hand on the kettle’s body, “Did you heat this up with magic” I asked, dumbfounded at the turn of events.
He nodded in confirmation, and I could only stare at him in response.
“Wow… Magic really is strange.” I snapped out of my senses when he brought the teapot close to the large kettle.
Without barely any effort, he poured the water into the pot as if it didn’t weigh a thing.
Steam simmered above the pot and as I stared at it dazedly, I realized there’s no need for an electric kettle anymore.
When the teapot was warm enough, I poured water into a cup and threw in a sufficient amount of tea leaves inside.
I refilled the pot with boiling water and after three minutes or so, the tea was finally ready for consumption.
The emperor kept his gaze on me the whole time.
Trying to ignore his blatant staring, I poured him a cup before taking a sip from mine.
I smiled at the herbal taste and I owe it to the quality of leaves that exuded an aromatic flavor.
“This tastes lovely.”
“Have some biscuits, too.” He placed three floral-shaped sugary biscuits on my plate.
It was such an honor having the emperor with me in this beautiful pavilion surrounded by the lake.
I took a biscuit in one hand and nibbled, making the emperor smile in my direction.
“You’ve always exceeded my expectations.” The emperor said suddenly.
I lifted my gaze to look at him, wondering if I heard him correctly.
“I beg your pardon”