Amidst the resounding sound of a pipe organ, I walked down the beautifully polished aisle with my beloved. Father, who had been walking with me until a moment ago, was now sniffling and wiping his tears, causing a distracting noise that scattered my concentration. But once it became quiet, that silence brought its own sense of tension.
The sight of Theodore, dressed in formal attire, his military uniform adorned with a morning coat, was unusually captivating. I wanted to gaze at him indefinitely; he looked so incredibly handsome. He resembled a prince straight out of a fairy tale. No, even a prince would likely run away barefoot in the presence of Theodore’s indescribable grace. If I didn’t love Theodore, I would have surely been overwhelmed by feelings of inferiority and fled.
With the sound of heels tapping, I ascended a few steps, supported by his arm, until we reached the front of the altar. Instead of a priest or a pastor typically present at a traditional wedding, my mother stood there. Prompted by her, Theodore began to speak.
“I, Theodore Kieza, take Esterize Alessa Acardi as my wife. I vow to love and respect her, to support her in sickness and in health, in wealth and in poverty, and to devote my heart to her as long as I live. I will protect her no matter what.”
As he uttered these words, Theodore placed a ring on the ring finger of my left hand and another on his own right hand. His insistence on protecting me so fervently made me wonder if he truly understood just how much he had already protected me. No, I must express it in words so he can truly grasp it.
“I, Esterize Alessa Acardi, take Theodore Kieza as my husband, to love, honor, and cherish him in sickness and in health, in wealth and in poverty, and to devote my heart to him as long as I live. . .above all else, I swear.”
Upon hearing my words, Theodore’s eyes widened in surprise. Of course, as the future queen, the Arcardi family was important. However, what I truly wanted to convey was that I wanted to treasure Theodore, who I loved more than anything. I smiled and, together, we placed rings on each other’s previously empty ring fingers. They were identical rings, differing only in size, with the gemstones nestled side by side.
My mother signaled, and everyone present bowed their heads as Theodore lifted my veil.
“Ester. . .you’re really beautiful.”
As Theodore gazed at me with eyes that seemed to say he cherished me like a treasure, I wanted to tell him that he looked handsome too. . .but before I could, our lips met.
When the kiss, which was longer than I had expected, ended, I felt like I heard God’s voice in my head.
“Esther looks adorable even in her sleep. Ah… It makes me incredibly happy to think that I’m the only one who gets to see this face. We’re really married now. The overwhelming happiness hasn’t fully sunk in yet… But to wake up in the morning and find Esther by my side, that’s a truly blissful thing. I want to touch her, but I wonder if it’ll wake her up?… Oh, she made a slightly troubled expression. So cute. Those droopy eyebrows are really cute.”
“Mmm. . .it’s noisy. . .”
I thought that the morning after the wedding would be awakened by the chirping of birds or the morning sun shining in, but. . .
“Am I dreaming?. . .I held back last night because it was the first time, but I don’t know if I can control myself from now on. Maybe it’s better for me to rest now. . .”
“What are you talking about?!”
I sat up abruptly and was momentarily stunned, but then he smiled innocently like a child, making a sound effect like “funya-ri.”
“Good morning, Ester.”
“Is he still half asleep? How cute.”
No, I’m not half asleep. I was about to answer when I froze. What was that just now? I didn’t need to be so cautious, but my gaze slowly shifted, filled with uncertainty.
There was Theodore’s kol, looking at me lovingly, as if he was holding my hand with his small hand.
“Ester’s eyes are beautiful. . .”
“Um, well. . .”
ISince I’m not wearing a face veil now, it would be suspicious to avert my gaze. Although it was because of a curse, Theodore’s kol’s eyes were always cold, so I couldn’t help but be surprised and stared in astonishment at this completely different sight.
After hearing the voice of the god at the wedding, Theodore’s kol suddenly fell silent and stopped moving on his shoulder. I was worried that the curse might not have been lifted properly or that Theodore’s true heart might be empty, but. . .
“Ester? Is something wrong?”
“Are you hungry? Or maybe thirsty? Shall I bring you some water. . .but I don’t want to leave your side. I want to stay close to you. . .no, if possible, I want to hold you forever.”
Though his Col, about three times smaller than him, seemed to be clinging rather than hugging, Theodore’s kol embraced me while murmuring such things.
Now I finally understand Mother’s words. I endured the harsh voice of the Col, but this is embarrassingly… It becomes too burdensome to eventually confess about this magic to him.
Oh, I remember when I first saw Theodore’s kol, I was speechless and visibly shaken.
“Um, good morning. . .Theodore.”
“Hehe, yes. Good morning.”
Now I’m shaken for a completely different reason.
I never doubted Theodore’s feelings. I never doubted them, but. . .
Theodore sat up and whispered softly, his face close to mine. His voice completely overlapped with his arms.
“I love you.”
The curse was finally lifted, and I finally realized the depth of his love for me.