“Spring,” Bjorn whispered quietly, ‘Autumn, Winter and Spring,’ when he remembered that nearly half a year had gone by, he felt strange.

   “We met, nearly a full year ago, before the National Foundation Festival Ball, remember?”


   “Yes, it was the day I had come up from Buford and you showed up at the train station that day.
I remember the crowd had shoved me all the way to the front and I saw the Grand Dukes procession.” Erna smiled and Bjorn captured that satisfied smile.




   He was generally happy with the wife he chose because of that, although, as he got to know her, she wasn’t very quiet at all, but she was definitely beautiful and harmless.
Being such a noisy woman, but only to him, was not as irritating as he thought.

   “I saw you on Tara Boulevard quite often, Lisa had to tell me who you were.”

   “Your maid? Hmm, I bet that must have been a curse.”

   “Oh, no,” Erna shook her head.

Bjorn’s lips curled softly as he looked at his wife, who held no talent for lies.

   “You should have come and spoken to me,” Bjorn said.


   “If we often crossed paths, why didn’t you say hello?”

   “If I did, would you have greeted me in return?”

   “Maybe, maybe I could have done more.”

   “Would you kindly not tarnish my memories with those kinds of thoughts.”

   “What, why? What did you think I meant with ‘more’?” There was a playfulness to his tone.


   “I meant a handshake.”

   “You did not.”

   “Or, what then?”

   “It’s…that thing…” Erna’s cheeks turned red, like the blossoms of the apple tree.

   “Oh, that thing.”


   “What’s that.”


   “Congratulations on becoming a lay about, Grand Duchess of Lechen,” Bjorn gave a mock applause to the woman that had become just like him.
Erna became flustered.

   “Next time, I think I would like to make an apple flower for my hat,” Erna said after a long moment of staring down at the table, attempting to change the subject.

   “Do you still have a vacancy on your hat?” Bjorn said, with his chin propped up on his fist.
Her wide brimmed hat was already adorned with countless artificial flowers.

   “Of course, there is so much left to fill,” she grouped at her hat, “I’ll make you one too.”

   Erna was excited and started laying out plans to make Apple Blossom corsages.
She seemed the same when she was planning on paying off her debts by making artificial flowers.

   Bjorn habitually bit on his cigar, still between his lips, as Erna spoke.
He was still not going to light it, he didn’t like the sound of a coughing woman braking this tranquility.

   “How is the flower? The token of our promise.” Erna asked, eyes sparkling with anticipation.
A vague smile came to Bjorn’s lips, recalling the little white flower that had been thrown away into an ashtray.


   Erna smiled brightly at the small, reasonable answer.
It was just a fake flower.

   Bjorn looked at Erna with a strange thirst.
The irritation at not being able to light his cigar had changed into something more exuberant and lethargic, like the spring sun.
Again, any kind of addiction was dangerous.
He put the Cigar into the ashtray with a sigh.
Again, his wife was studying the flowers.

   Bjorn studied the cigar, then Erna, one after the other then back again.
He looked about the garden, there were only two servants left.
He rose from the table and approached Earna.


   Even when he met Erna’s surprised eyes, he calmly untied the ribbon of her hat and tossed it onto the table.

   “W-wait, no, people can see.” Erna shook her head as he lowered his to kiss her.

   “No one is here,” Bjorn said calmly.

   He pointed to the empty waiting area, where the servants had quietly slipped away.
The garden was visible from the bedroom window, it would have been the same as then.

   “But here…”

   No I don’t want to do it here.
Erna thought to herself, instead of saying the unfinished words out loud.

   Against her will, her body rose to meet his and by the time she came to her senses, she was pressed up against the tree and Bjorn’s body.
Before she could protest again, Bjorn’s lips were on hers and she drank deeply of the passion he poured into her.

   She was nervous that someone might see, pretending to give in to Bjorn’s kissing lips.
She thought it might be okay, because of the tree blocking line of sight to the palace.
It wasn’t until Bjorn’s large hands rolled up her skirt, that she didn’t know what Bjorn was thinking.

   “Bjorn, what are you thinking right now?”

   “Thinking just like a lay-about,” he said, looking into Erna’s wide eyes.

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