Hokuou Kizoku to Moukinzuma no Yukiguni Karigurashi: Chapter 23

Chapter 23: Closer Distance
Volume 1 — The Temporary Snow Country Life of the Northern Nobleman and the Raptor Wife

“Then, shall we go back.”

After preparing the reindeer sleigh, I told Sieg that the preparations for going back were done.
When we were coming here with luggage, the two sleighs were connected, but during the long polar nights I made a sleigh with a bed that the two of us could ride.
I got on first, and then stretched out my hand to Sieg.

“What’s wrong?”
“Eh? No, nothing.”

It must have raised her suspicion when I turned around immediately after I checked up on her. To not see my wife’s face, I turned my head.

Unlike the previous sleighs, this one has backrests so our bodies aren’t touching each other, but because Sieg’s words of “It’s fine if it’s back home” did not leave my head, I moved awkwardly.

“……”
“We’re departing.”
“I’m in your care.”
“Yes.”

……Oh no. I’m being too conscious of it.

I regretted that I should have just ended it with a kiss on the cheek.
Of course, if Sieg says yes, I would gladly do so. However, the regret was from my own state right now.

When I stared up at the sky, there was a clear blue sky. To get back before the sun set, I ordered the reindeers to move.

The scenery is still wintry. The forest is still dyed in white.

“Ah, deers.”

A few ways from the sleigh’s route, there were deers running on the snow-covered plains.

Having the same colour as the snow, there was a herd of seven deers. Normally, I would gladly pursue them, but since in this period I didn’t hunt I moved alongside the deers.

When the sun was draping over the horizon, we arrived home. I relaxed at the fact that we were able to return before dark. Miruporon came out to greet me. I gave her the spiced bread I brought as souvenir, to which she pounded her chest as a sign of gratitude. Though her facial muscles did not twitch a bit. To my ever unchanging servant, I said, “I’m back,” and went inside.

Since the bath was prepared, I offered Sieg the bath first.
As I waited in the living room, Ruruporon brought me a warm berry drink.

“Thank you.”

Ruruporon smiled refreshingly and pounded her chest as she went away.
It’s hardly necessary to say, but Miruporon really did take after her father.

When I was left alone again, I rolled up my sleeves and felt the exquisite tin ornament with my fingers.
I remembered that my father boasted about his bracelet that he got from mother a long time ago.
Mother was a good crafter in the village, and made a tin ornament in the shape of snow flakes.

I was envious of that, so I asked him many times to give it to me, but father’s reply would always be, “Ask your wife when you marry,” a cold rejection. He definitely must have been unpopular.

While I was deep in thought, Sieg finished her bath.

“Sieg.”
“What.”

For the person of merit today, I offered her my seat. When I gestured, she put a hand on her chest, bent her knees slightly and then sat down.

“Thank you for today. Making goods, looking after the stall.”
“Not really, it’s something expected of a wife.”
“……”
“You don’t need to thank me every time.”
“……Okay.”

From Sieg’s blunt but warm words, I felt much calmer.

As for her, she might just be holding up her contract as a temporary wife. However, that did not stop me from hoping that she might be seriously become my wife through her efforts.

I had so many things going on in my head, but what came out of my mouth was something ridiculous.

“——Hey, Sieg, remember what you said at the market?”

The moment she heard that, Sieg’s face froze. There was only regret in my head.
I was anxious that she might call it out as a breach of contract.

However, her response was completely unexpected.

“Of course I do.”
“……Yes?”
“Didn’t you hear me?”
“No.”

D-does this mean kissing is fine!?

When I slowly extended my hand and touched her cheeks, which were soft and tender from just coming out the bath, I was stared by those raptor-like eyes. However, now, even that gaze excited me.

Well, if she didn’t like it, wouldn’t I have been kicked away like Emmerich. As if my weak state just then was a lie, I sprung into action.

“Sieg, please close your eyes.”
“……”

Today, my wife was obedient.

After confirming that she closed her eyes, I approached. Since it would be dismal if I got hated from kissing her on the lips, I kissed right next to them.

When I pulled back, Sieg too opened her eyes.
Her beautiful grey eyes were dyed in a mysterious shade.

“Sorry.”
“No, no need for an apology.”
“……”
“……”

I couldn’t even laugh off this awkward mood.

When I came back to the living room after taking a bath, Sieg behaved as usual, so I felt deeply relieved that we could return to our usual enjoyable life tomorrow.

◇◇◇

It was a refreshing morning where the clear sky laid itself out. After finishing our meals I went out to the forest with Sieg.
Even deep inside the forest, the snow started melting. The silver world was thinning away.

This time, the purpose is not hunting. Since it’s a season when most animals give birth, there’s an unspoken rule that we do not hunt in this period.

“Ah, this is the tree.”

At the birch tree I was looking for, we stopped.

“Is there something different about this?”
“Yeah. It’s thicker than the other trees.”

Today we are here to tap tree saps.
Considered as a gift of the forest, the precious saps are created from trees absorbing water from melted snow. These saps can only be tapped in this season, during only one month.

The method is simple. The surface is cut, and a pipe connected to a container is put on that cut. Just by leaving it for a night, quite a large amount can be gathered.

“How are these saps used?”
“The women use it for beauty. It’s also used as an ingredient for creating powder for brushing teeth, and it’s sometimes boiled and used instead of sugar.”
“Hehh. So it’s a panacea.”
“Yeah.”

What was that, I remember father researching the substances in the birch saps.
Ah, xylitol! I think that was it. It had an effect of killing the germs in the mouth, and it is also used as a sweetener in foreign countries. Considering that people of old times did not realise that there were such substances, I thought that ancient wisdom was amazing.

After setting up many containers to collect tree sap, we left.

The next morning, when we went back to that birch tree the containers were filled with sap. Trying to not spill, we carefully returned.

Of course, sap can’t be used as is. With a fine cloth, the impurities have to be filtered out.

I spent a day filtering saps.
As saps aren’t preserved for long, we have to work fast.
The saps can be used as beauty wash for only a few days. Thus, they are combined into soap, drank as is, or used for cooking.

“Can I get some?”
“Of course.”

I handed over a small bottle full of birch sap.

“Beauty wash?”
“Aa. I was thinking that my freckles might disappear.”
“Eh!? You’re getting rid of your freckles!? Why!? They’re cute!”
“……”

Sieg narrowed her eyes. It was as though she was denouncing me.

“……Your freckles, it’s very light that you have to get close to see it, so I don’t think you need to erase them.”
“……”
“Hey, Sieg, is drinking sap tasty?”
“……”

Sieg still looked at me with a stern gaze.
I couldn’t say that Sieg worrying over freckles was cute even if mouth was to be torn.

“When did you check my skin?”
“I wonder when~”

Slowly backing away, I planned my escape.

“Then, I’ll be taking my leave.”
“Wait!”

I turned around and was about to exit, but I was seized by the scruff of my neck.

And then I received a strict interrogation from Sieg who returned to being a soldier.

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