It was the same day as any other.
It was a peaceful and calm afternoon with no incidents and no problems, at least as far as I knew, and Nadi had come to my palace.
I live in the rear palace and Nadi lives in the princess’ palace, which is in a corner called the eastern palace, so even though we live in the same royal palace, we almost never see each other in our daily lives.
Furthermore, Nadi has official duties as the second princess and I have official duties as the queen, so due to time constraints, it is not easy to see each other.
Nevertheless, from time to time, we spend time together over tea.
There aren’t many people with whom we can open up and talk to each other. For me, Nadi is one of the few friends I can really talk to.
“…I knew Ruti would look good in white too.”
Nadi places the white silk fabric on my shoulders and nods approvingly.
“Is that so?”
“Yes…Why don’t you make more white gowns?…Oh…but my brother might not like it.”
“Luthy is scary when she wears white, because I’m afraid she’s going to disappear.”
Nigel looked at me and narrowed his eyes a bit.
Come to think of it, Nigel-sama makes this kind of expression a lot too.
“I’m not that fragile.”
“…Right. That’s true when we talk like this, but you’re a very ephemeral type of person when it comes to appearances. There’s your mother too. Everyone has a strong impression of her.”
“Is that good or bad… and suddenly what’s going on? You’ve brought so much cloth with you…”
There are piles of cloth on the sofa and on the low table.
Although automatic looms have been developed and non-hand-woven cloths are beginning to appear in the world, the kind of cloth we use for things we wear is still hand-woven. Cloth is a kind of art, a craft, and, in fact, an asset.
“I’m giving Luthy a new gown for her birthday.”
“My birthday’s not even close by.”
“It’s not the official birthday. It’s the day you were born.”
I nodded, ‘I see.’
“But that’s still a long way off, though?”
“As a matter of fact, I will be giving my brother a gift as well for his real birthday. I’m going to have them all made together…”
If that’s the case, she’ll have to hurry up a bit.
“…I still find it kind of strange that I have two birthdays… the day I was born and my official birthday.”
From the moment I became queen, I had two birthdays. In this country, only the king and queen have two birthdays.
“Yes. But it’s not that great, though. That’s why real birthdays can be celebrated only by the family members…My birthday is going to be a horrible day for me, with an audience, a lunch, a tea party, and a series of evening parties. It’s the toughest day of the year.”
It seemed like a pretty terrible schedule just thinking about it.
“…Oh, I have a request for Luthy.”
“What is it?”
“…The birthday reminded me, but do you have a cake I can make?”
Plenty of sweet stuff for your birthday! It seems to be the same in every world.
“Huh? Nadi makes them by hand?”
“Yes…Actually, my mother’s birthday is next week. So I wanted to give her some homemade sweets…”
Nadi’s mother—Her Royal Highness Princess Argenna, the former second queen, has a sweet tooth.
The expression on Nadi’s bashful face is very cute and I want to help her. I’d like to, but there’s a serious problem.
I frowned, lightly raising my eyebrows, and asked Nadi.
“Nadi, have you ever cooked anything for yourself, even if it wasn’t sweets?”
It’s not that Nadi is clumsy. But she’s a born princess.
Nadi’s eyes swam. It seems that she also realized the problem.
“Why would you suggest that you want to make homemade sweets with that…isn’t it too reckless?”
“Homemade isn’t that special.”
We can get most of the things we desire if we want.
If we want to give something special in such a situation, we have to devise it.
Looking for something very unusual or very high-class…Unless there is only one in the world, it will not be ‘special.’
In that respect, something handmade is nice.
It is a ‘special’ gift that only you can give.
“…Nadi, instead of making it alone, why not make it at an orphanage?”
“Why don’t you arrange the time and make it at the orphanage? We can get the children and the friars to help us with that.”
Nadi and I were thinking of the same person.
“He can make holo-holo cookies, so he’s a lot better at it than Nadi.”
“Yes, I’ll do that. I’m sure my mother will be happy to hear that…and I wonder if my brother will forgive me?”
It will surely be the only unique and special gift of its kind in the world.
“I don’t think it’s a problem because it’s just a matter of going to the orphanage…I’ll tell you about it in the evening.”
Nadi’s eyes watered and she smiled.
“…It doesn’t matter. You don’t need to apply to me to the extent of visiting any orphanage…as long as it’s within the royal capital.”
“Any orphanage, for that matter?”
My ears properly caught the nuances that Nigel-sama revealed.
“…Ah…but only in the Royal Capital.”
“Yes, that’s fine. I’ll make sure to tell her…By the way, Nigel-sama, would you like to have one more cake at the end?”
I was already used to making tea on the bed in the middle of the night.
Of course, I didn’t do this every night.
It was just a habit to prepare something for days like today, when I knew Nigel-sama had hardly eaten after a series of visits.
After a little bit of distress, Nigel-sama easily offered a plate.
“…I’ll have some.”
Plates of quiches and scones, made to a comfortable size, lined the silver tray that served as a table, and steam was rising from the teacups.
I took Nigel-sama’s plate and handed him a plate with a cake on it that I had taken out of the basket I had placed behind him instead.
“…I’ve never seen this cake before.”
“Tentatively, I’ve named it Le Cougou.”
“Le Cougou…? Does that mean a thousand skins?”
“Yes…I put a cream of fig liquor between the skins made of layers of flour.”
It’s a “mille crêpe” as they call it in the other world, but I couldn’t use that name, because it’s an archaic expression here. In this case, it’s an archaic expression, “mi le clef”, which means countless bubbles.
So I gave priority to the meaning and named it in our language.
Nigel-sama, who received it silently, cut it up with his fork and took the first bite. His expression relaxed slightly as he chewed as if he were savoring it.
…Oh, he liked it.
He took a second bite right away to see if it was to his liking. He cut it into larger pieces than the first bite.
“…It’s just a simple layer of cream and crust, yet it’s so flavorful.”
Watching Nigel-sama, who nonchalantly tells me that it’s good, is enough to fill my heart.
…Speaking of which…
I remember a girl who loved mille crêpes.
My memories of her in Japan are much more distant—Still, I couldn’t have forgotten her.
Shi-chan…how are you doing?
She was the daughter of the owner-chef of my part-time job at school, and she was very kind to me.
I don’t know what she thought about me, but I thought of her as a sister.
One of the things that helped us get to know each other was the mille crepes, which we made together many times.
…What happened on your path of life, I wonder?
Before my consciousness awoke here…she was still a high school student.
‘I want to be a chef, but what do I do with college?’ She was struggling with this, and I had been asked for advice a few times.
Well, no matter what path I took, I was determined to be a chef…
It occurred to me that maybe she’s taking over her father’s shop by now.
“…Luthia, what’s wrong?”
Perhaps I’d become quite pensive.
The next thing I knew, Nigel-sama was looking at me with a strange look on his face.
“…No, I was wondering how I could make a better cake…”
I shake my head as if to say it’s nothing, and put my fork in the mille crepe I’ve named Le Cougou.
As I brought a piece of cut up piece to my mouth, the sweet aroma of Fig wine filled the air. The natural sweetness of the rich cream melted softly over the top of it, overlapping the natural sweetness of the cream.
Yup. Good work.
Some of the dough is a little overbaked, but it’s nicely mitigated by the freshness of the cream.
This is now a matter of the accuracy of our oven, so I’ll have to bake in it again and again to get used to it.
“I think it’s delicious enough as is.”
It’s not even close to what I was making with Shi-chan back then.
Well, the work environment and materials are different, so it can’t be helped.
But someday I hope that Nigel-sama can have the taste that I remember.
“One day, I’ll treat you to the best Le Cougou I’ve ever had.”
I’m sure every time I make or eat this cake…I will remember Shi-chan—and the Japan that will never return.
And…maybe I will feel somewhat sad each time I do this.
Even if the memory is far away, that memory will never disappear from the ‘me’ who is Maya and Arthirea.
“…Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
Nigel-sama opened his eyes lightly and then laughed gently.
I was filled with a somewhat sentimental loneliness inside me.
—But it wouldn’t be so bad if Nigel-sama was here.
I slowly swallowed the almost melancholic pity of my feelings with my warmed tea.
T/N: For anyone who’s never had a mille crepe before, here’s an example of what it looks like (fresh strawberry flavor!). They’re so delicious and one of my favorites–highly recommend!
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