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When Yukari came to take Noa back to her village to be buried, Youki asked the princess if he and his newborn daughter could go with her. It was absolutely unheard of for a Konpaku to abandon their charge, but there were extenuating circumstances, after all.
Deep inside, she could not bring herself to deny him his mourning in private. Not when she was at fault for his grief.
She had thought a single day of waiting between servants was uncomfortable; but after ten, and then a hundred, she had revised her opinion of solitude.
It was not merely uncomfortable. It was torturous.
She tried to cook meals for herself to pass the time. It wasn’t as if she didn’t know how. After all, not every Konpaku arrived in her domain as an expert in every single field needed to fulfill their position as her servant. And while Yukari could always bring in tutors for things like carpentry or gardening, the one skill that the princess would have to teach herself would be cooking, as only she truly knew her own tastes in cuisine.
But without anyone to share the meal with, the food might as well have been ash. Her appetite shriveled to nothingness.
Could she have asked Yukari to keep her company? She could have, and knowing her friend she would have caved to the request. But doing so would mean asking favors But she grit her teeth and suffered through it, staring out at the endless fields of cherry blossoms that without a companion to appreciate them with seemed dull and lifeless.
Eventually, she gave up on the gardens altogether. She attempted to immerse herself in the works of former servants: paintings, sketches, ceramics, poetry, stories. But walking through the mansion only reminded her how empty it was, of the absence of people who had made each and every brushstroke whether on canvas, porcelain, or parchment, and the pain, the crushing loneliness, was simply more than she could willingly bear.
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