Title: I Asked for a Divorce, but My Husband Refused
Author: 四季夏果 Shiki Natsuka
Summary: Two years had passed ever since Petrona and Claudio agreed to an arranged marriage. Despite cherishing her husband, Petrona, the daughter of a nouveau riche merchant, was unworthy of Claudio, an earl. With the help of Petrona’s father, Claudio managed to restore his earldom. In other words, the true purpose behind their marriage had been fulfilled. Thus, Petrona decided to get a divorce, but for some reason, Claudio tried to persuade her against it.
A divorce turmoil between a pitiful husband and his wife who believed she was unnecessary.
I looked out of the window of a swaying carriage. A marketplace expanded in my view, filled with the hustle and bustle of people. When I saw the wide grin plastered on their faces, I was tempted to show them my own, too. The feeling was similar to when I saw the fields some distance away from the city. The ripe vegetables and grains in the lush, green field had been harvested and were now lined up in that very market.
I can’t believe it’s the same territory as before!
I was truly grateful I had the opportunity to witness it.
“Would you like to take a look around?”
When I saw someone beckoning to me from across the street, a certain voice regained my attention. A gentle smile spread on the calmness that was his countenance.
“I can’t, I’d just be burdening you…! Besides, Lord Claudio, aren’t you busy?”
“Didn’t I say that I’d make time for you today? Since Petrona requested for it herself, there’s no way I’d renege on my words.”
In the end, Claudio’s smile was the one that succeeded in making me do the same. Then, when I nodded, he ordered the carriage to stop, escorted me, and the two of us went to the market.
“My lord! Oh, and ma’am, too…”
After Claudio alighted from the carriage, he received a warm welcome from the people. The same couldn’t be said about me, perhaps because I seldom appeared in public.
I didn’t feel particularly hurt or lonely about it. Rather, it was a relief, because I did it out of my own accord.
“This is my wife, Petrona.”
“I see. I’m always grateful to the lord.”
The townspeople and merchants said the same to me. After that, they engaged in a joyful conversation with Claudio about the recent state of the city. Not only did the crops in the field improve, the tax had been reduced, and the trade had also gotten easier. Everyone spoke of their current situation with a smile, and at the end they thanked Claudio before leaving.
“You sure are popular.”
“My apologies, I’d intended to take a leisurely stroll with you around the city. Next time, let’s visit incognito.” Claudio smiled as he went on. “You were so preoccupied with practical work, you’ve hardly seen the territory, right?”
“No, this is enough.”
I was telling the truth. I could witness the prospering territory with my own eyes. I could see him being welcomed as the lord. Seeing his smile was already enough for me—
—Hence, we needn’t make another appointment.
After sightseeing around the market, we returned to our carriage. It drove straight down the road to the mansion.
…Somehow, despite being relieved, I was also somewhat lonely. As I stared outside the window, my tears must’ve overflowed.
“Petrona? What’s wrong?”
Only after Claudio asked such a question did I register it. After wiping my tears away, I turned to look at him.
“It’s nothing.” I smiled wryly. “Oh no, how unsightly of me. I should’ve used a handkerchief…”
Even though I had a handkerchief, I didn’t use it. To wipe my tears using my finger, it was uncouth of me. At the end of the day, no matter how much time passed, I was still unworthy of being his wife.
The carriage stopped. Apparently, we’d safely arrived at the mansion. I returned to the mansion along with Claudio, who seemed concerned. I stared at him as he entrusted his cloak to the steward, before uttering his name.
“What’s the matter?”
I desperately gathered my courage so that my voice wouldn’t tremble. Perhaps because I was crying, his eyes were filled with concern. Upon seeing that, I couldn’t help but burst into tears again. Pretending as if nothing happened, I smiled.
May his final memory of me was that of me smiling.
…I didn’t want to burden him with my lowly existence anymore.
“Let’s get a divorce.”
At my words, he stiffened as his eyes went wide—
—Did the meaning behind my words finally reach him?
From the start, it was just a political marriage.
Two years ago, the territory ruled by Lord Claudio was struck by an unprecedented, massive downpour. Rivers overflowed, houses were washed away, while public roads and fields suffered great damage. His parents, who were on their way to assess the damage, were caught in a landslide and perished. When it happened, Claudio was only 20-years-old and was set to attend an aristocratic academy at the royal capital. But instead, he had to return to inherit both the desolate territory and the title.
Although the country lent its support, the damage was simply so extensive that not even his distant relatives dared to try and usurp his position. All of the sudden, Claudio found himself alone with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
My family, who’d started a business and was planning to expand it, responded to his plight. As for my family’s business, we tweaked the metalworking technology of other countries to craft ornaments.
In this country, where the standard of living was relatively high, many people, including commoners, had a penchant for such ornaments. After all, they weren’t only affordable, but also exquisite.
Seeking to expand the sales route to the aristocracy, my father shifted his focus to Claudio, an earl. My father’s business continued to thrive by marrying me into the aristocracy and launching a new branch intended for nobles.
My father wanted to be known by the aristocrats, while Claudio needed money to rebuild his territory. Both negotiated, and it led to the classic marriage of convenience.
“Petrona, why did you say that all of the sudden?”
As his eyes went wide in surprise, Claudio left the steward and approached me. When he saw me retreating back a step, he halted as his expression distorted in pain.
—Please stay away from me.
If not, I might not be able to maintain this smile.
“Did something happen?”
My own maid asked, her voice quivering.
Two years ago, when I’d first gotten married, I overheard her talking behind my back.
“—I’m sure she’s only coveting his title!”
I’d sneaked out of my room, then. Surely, that opinion was shared by all the other servants.
However, in the two years I lived at the earl’s residence, none of them ever confronted me directly.
Despite their disdain for me as the daughter of a nouveau riche merchant, they were skilled at presenting a kind façade.
…It’s simply too much.
“No, not at all.”
I smiled reassuringly, but for some reason, the maid seemed about to cry.
Why, what’s wrong?
“…Petrona, let’s have a meal for now. After that, we shall discuss this calmly.”
I nodded at Claudio’s words. It was my fault for not minding the place and time.
Once again, I was reminded of my frivolousness. I must’ve given both Claudio and the servants a lot of trouble. In order to not drag Claudio’s name through the mud, Although I’d studied etiquette, I knew better than to compare myself to a noble, as my behavior could only be seen as a cheap imitation.
…I’m really sorry.
Afterwards, I had dinner with Claudio, but a heavy atmosphere hung over us. Somehow, it was much heavier than when we’d just gotten married. In spite of having invited me to dine, Claudio didn’t have much of an appetite, and his food stayed untouched. For some reason, the servants also looked alternately between me and Claudio with an indescribable expression.
It was as if they were being considerate.
…Wouldn’t it be better if I’m gone? So why is the atmosphere like this?
Thus, the dinner concluded with me not understanding anything. Later, I went to the couple’s private room together with Claudio and sat on the sofa. He silently sat across from me as I took a sip of the tea brought in by the maid. Dejectedly, he hung his head as he struggled to find the next word.
If so, I initiated the conversation.
“Lord Claudio, I think it’d be better if we proceed with the divorce settlement as soon as possible. Tomorrow, I’ll submit a notification to the church. If I paid them using some money from my parents, I’m sure it’d be accepted immediately.”
“Hold on, your parents? Does your father know about the divorce?”
“I was told to do as I pleased. I think he’s made enough profit.”
When I said that, he seemed taken aback. My father, a competent businessman, had established his own brand among the aristocrats during the two years I spent with Claudio rebuilding his estate. Some might call him shrewd, but I didn’t care since he offered the earl’s family financial support.
“…Why would you want to get a divorce? Did something bother you?”
“No, that’s not the case at all.”
“Then why? The territory is doing well. Soon, we’re going to reap the fruits of our efforts.”
I tilted my head at his words.
“—Exactly, which is why we’re getting a divorce.”
“…I’m sorry, come again? I don’t really understand.”
We were both amazed at each other.
“—You don’t need me anymore, do you?”
“…I, don’t need you?”
“Lord Claudio, we got married because you needed funds to rebuild your estate. Now, the damage caused by the massive downpour two years ago has mostly been repaired. Moreover, ever since we began cultivating the fields using the fertile soil brought in by the flood, the harvest has improved. Employment increased as part of the reconstruction project along with the number of immigrants. The trade has begun in earnest. I don’t think you need the support of my house anymore.”
“I-I see… Was it because I depended on your family for help? Since we’re now making a profit, I didn’t intend to rely on them from now on. I’ll be sure to return their money, so—”
“—Eh, if you divorce me, you don’t have to return it?”
“…? Would you like me to work a little more for the territory at the mansion without attending the social events? I’ve told Lord Claudio all of my knowledge, know-how, and connections. There is nothing I can do anymore…”
In order to restore the territory, I had used all the knowledge and connections that I acquired from my father. Not to mention, I also taught Claudio everything I knew. In the meantime, I abstained from public gatherings as much as I could, so that everyone would think that Claudio was the one who did all the work.
Still, just for today, I wanted to see what I’d achieved so far before making my call, so I went around the territory.
“Of course, no words can describe how grateful I am for the efforts you’ve made for my territory. Regardless, I won’t ask you to work harder. I don’t want to get a divorce!”
Sorrowfully, he implored me. Then, he left his seat, knelt down, and took my hand.
“I don’t want a divorce. I don’t want us to separate. I’m in love with you, so I’ll have to turn it down.”
“—Wait, Lord Claudio, you’re in love with me?”
When I retorted, he went pale and bowed his head in dejection.
“…I see. So, that’s how it was.”
Afterwards, Claudio told me to be honest with him, so I did.
“Once, my family and I resided in this territory, mostly due to my father’s business. At that time, many people died in an epidemic, and unfortunately, my mother was one of them. Amidst the chaos, the former earl ensured that everyone received the medical attention they needed to the best of his ability. Despite her treatment, my mother passed away. However, the fact didn’t change that your father arranged for us outsiders to receive medical care.”
“I do remember that. I was still young at the time, and I attended the mass burial with my parents.”
“Indeed. The former earl made arrangements to mourn the dead of poor families and outsiders like us all at once—and that was where we met. I was sobbing at the time, and you comforted me. You were probably just being respectful to the people of the fief. Shortly after, I left this land alongside my father, but neither I nor him have forgotten that time.”
“I see, the death of your mother must’ve struck you hard.”
“No, by that, I was referring to your kindness. Hence why, after hearing about the disaster and the subsequent demise of the earl and his wife, I asked my father for a marriage of convenience. He told me to do as I pleased, so I married you.”
As he kneeled before me, Claudio tightened his grasp on my hands. At the firm sensation, my cheeks began to be dyed in color. I asked him to sit on the sofa, but he softly shook his head and urged me to continue.
“The main reason for my marriage… was because I wanted to help you. My father agreed to it under the condition that I’d assist him in expanding his market. Of course, I had a personal agenda, as well. I was glad to be able to marry my first love.”
“—First love… No, keep going.”
“S-so, I regretted it right away. I wish we hadn’t gotten married. Hence why, I thought of getting a divorce once everything settles down.”
“W-why did you change your mind?”
Once again, the strength of his hand became stronger. Was it my imagination, or did his hands and voice truly shiver? I caressed his hand with mine, before smiling at him.
“Well, being ridiculed for being a daughter of a merchant was one of them, but…”
“Who? Who said it? I thought I’d silenced everyone.”
“Huh? Uhm, certainly, I haven’t heard anyone say such a thing as of late…? Lord Claudio, did you do something?”
“N-not at all, please continue.”
While tilting my head at the somewhat flustered Claudio, I went on.
“I didn’t want Lord Claudio and his family to suffer any ridicule. I’m a rowdy individual, and no matter how much I studied, my manners didn’t improve in the slightest. Since I got my hands full with reconstructing the territory, I didn’t have time to study. If I were to remain as your wife, I’d only cause everyone trouble. I didn’t want that, especially when everyone has been so kind to me. Thus, I decided to get a divorce and marry someone of my stature.”
Even if Claudio himself said that he loved me, if I list the “pros” like this, his small crush for me would disappear, and he’d agree to a divorce.
“While the daughter of the baron next door is younger than Lord Claudio, she’s also beautiful. Do you have any old flame in the aristocratic family? Since she lives in the royal capital, I’m sure she’s a beauty! In any case, I think there are many nobles who’d want to marry an earl whose honor has been restored.”
“…I have no intention of marrying anyone other than you.”
Claudio spoke in a subdued voice, yet his gaze pierced me, who was confused, straight.
“Two years ago, after I lost my family and my territory was in shambles, the only people who reached out to me were you and your family. Upon learning about the tragedy that struck my territory, the young ladies who supposedly fell for me left. Even if they were to have a change of mind, I won’t feel anything for them.”
“But, they’re better than me…”
“When we first got married, I may have mistreated you due to the circumstances. I’m truly sorry if I offended you in any way.”
“No! Lord Claudio was always very kind!”
I panicked and shook my head. I couldn’t even imagine how he must’ve felt back then. On top of all that trouble, I imposed our marriage on him. In spite of that, Claudio was anything but discourteous. Therefore, he shouldn’t apologize for anything.
“You were a great help. If not for your vast knowledge, I wouldn’t be able to rebuild my territory. If not for your kindness, I’d have succumbed to despair. I’m in love with you. I don’t want us to get a divorce.”
“Aren’t you in love with me? You said it yourself. If you still care about the earldom and I, stay with me. I need you.”
His sincere tone made me realize that he was being sincere, and I grew even more confused.
Lord Claudio… is in love with me?
“I didn’t know you see me that way…”
“You didn’t…? Do you not trust me?”
“Uhm, I just figured that your words came from a place of kindness… Besides, why would you fall in love with me?”
I knew it was a troublesome question, especially when asked out of the blue. True enough, Claudio fell silent and his gaze wandered. After a while, he spoke while fighting his embarrassment.
“…You have devoted yourself to me and the territory. At the same time, you didn’t blindly follow my words, but even when you disagreed, you tried to discuss and come up with a better plan. Also, you said that you’re rowdy, but to me, you’re simply trying your best to fit in. If anything, I found my heart racing when you let your guard down, and your true self shines through. When I saw that, I just thought that you were cute…”
“How am I supposed to not fall for you? So please, don’t tell me that you’re divorcing me.”
His ardent words of confession made me blush. When I fell silent, he took my hands and asked.
“…Do you finally understand?”
I gave a small nod.
Upon hearing his earnest words, I could no longer doubt his words and thoughts.
“I’ll have to inform my father…”
“I told him that I was divorcing you. Then, he sent me a letter saying that he’d find a suitable partner for me.”
Claudio blanched. I was confused when he stood up in a panic. “No, I’ll go meet him right away!”
“No, there’s no need for you to be in such a hurry…”
“—I experienced first-hand how much of an opportunist your father is! What if he found an ideal and made you second guess yourself!?”
When I saw him so flustered, I couldn’t resist the urge to smile. So, I called his name, causing him to turn at me.
“No matter how perfect the other party seems, you’re the only one I love, and that’ll never change.”
I said so with a smile, which in turn made him blush.
“Are you truly in love with a man as pathetic as me?”
“You aren’t pathetic, but kind. I fell in love with the kind-hearted you.”
I just sent my father a short message, and invited my husband to go see him first thing tomorrow morning. The sky outside the window was already dark, and upon seeing that, Claudio nodded. If we went to visit my father now, it’d be midnight by the time we arrived. As such, we decided to postpone it until the next morning.
“Then, we should head to bed early tonight.”
I stood up and was about to ring a bell to summon a maid and request her to prepare a bath—
—Only to be stopped by Claudio.
I stared questioningly at him.
“Just once, can we do it today…?”
In spite of his hesitation, a flame of passion burned in his eyes. My cheeks were flushed at the sight of them. But the moment I registered that my beloved yearned for me, joy occupied my heart.
“B-but don’t we have to wake up early for tomorrow?”
“Indeed, hence why, once is fine. Is it not good? I want to reaffirm our love.”
If he put it that way, I couldn’t refuse. I looked at him and nodded slightly. I could hear him gasping in return.
Before I realized it, we were kissing. Since we got married, we’ve been partaking in nightly activities many times. I, who was convinced our marriage would end with a divorce, decided against having children. He, who agreed at the time, must’ve thought that it’d be better not to pass the dilapidated estate onto the next generation. Although we agreed on contraception, our reasons differed.
The faint kiss eventually deepened…
Utterly believing it was merely a marriage of convenience, I didn’t dare to step out of the line—even during lovemaking. But today, I put my arms around his neck as our tongues intensely seek each other. Sensing my hands on him, Claudio’s eyes went wide in amazement. But soon, he responded with an even stronger embrace, so much that I was suffocating.
A sigh spilled from my lips as the kiss came to an end. Claudio, staring deeply at me, growled.
“Is it okay if we don’t use contraception today?”
His words caught me off guard.
“Why?” I asked, and in turn, Claudio smiled bitterly before kissing me again.
“After losing my parents, I was so overwhelmed with the dire state of my territory. I came to believe that it’d be better if there were no children to inherit this territory. What if something were to happen to me? I thought it’d be better to return the territory rather than letting a young child shoulder the burden of it. But it all changed after I met you. We did our best, and as a result, the territory gradually improved. Looking at the growing territory and the smiles of the people, I finally realized it. This is probably what it means to be a lord. At last, I understood the importance of working for the territory rather than shirking the responsibility. My parents did their best for the people, and even though they perished because of it, I could finally put myself in their shoes.”
Claudio’s smoldering gaze captured me. While his hands on my cheeks were warm, my cheeks were probably just as hot.
“I want to have a child with you. Despite my immaturity, you willingly married me, and even helped rebuild the territory. It’s not for the sake of the earldom, but because I love you and want to start a family with you.”
“Petrona, what is your answer?”
I had no reason to refuse. In fact, I was glad that he managed to overcome his past grievances and was looking forward to the future.
“Me too… I also want to start a family with you…”
He sealed my words with a kiss. While I was enraptured by the ferocious kiss, I was carried to the bed. Claudio disrobed, revealing his muscular chest.
Until now, he’d never shown such a salacious sight to me. After all, we’d always make an appointment in advance, and after taking a warm bath, we’d carefully remove our clothes. As such, seeing the impatient Claudio made my heart pound…
…Then, I was reminded of something else.
“T-that’s right, a bath! Lord Claudio, I haven’t taken a bath yet!”
“I know, but I’m sorry, I can’t wait any longer…”
The next moment, I was pushed down by him. In no time at all, my breasts were barred as he sucked on the tip. Inside his warm mouth, my nipple was endlessly tormented by his slippery tongue, and my back arched in pleasure. With his free hand, he fondled my breast, before teasing the tip with his fingernail.
“Aah, Lord Claudio…!”
I shivered as I tightly embraced his head, inadvertently pushing him to my chest. As if scolding me, he lightly bit my nipple. Unable to withstand the sudden rush of pleasure, I groaned.
“Petrona… Haha, look at how wet you are.”
Burying his face in my chest, Claudio’s hand slid underneath the hem of my dress, traced my thighs, before pulling my underwear to the side. His mouth curved with satisfaction as a slippery sensation greeted his hand.
Then, an obscene noise could be heard through my dress. Already soaking wet, I easily swallowed Claudio’s finger, craving for more.
“Does it feel good, Petrona?”
“Mm… yes, very…”
For the past two years, even though we’d been consummating our love, I was never frank with my thoughts. I also wasn’t proactive. Instead, I always restrained myself so as to not grow attached with him. Upon realizing that I didn’t have to hold back—that I could touch him, and be honest with how I felt towards him, I was overcome by an indescribable urge.
“Lord Claudio… I love you.”
Claudio’s eyes widened at my sudden confession. Suddenly, his gleaming eyes were much closer, and our kiss soon resumed. As we locked lips, he toyed with my stiff nipple while teasing with my cunt. In-between kisses, I let out a gasp as I desperately clung to Claudio and responded to his touches.
“I love you, Lord Claudio, I love you…”
I knew that Claudio, who raised his voice and ruffled his hair in frustration, wasn’t angry but excited.
As if in daze, he stared at me, before letting out a sigh. He tucked up the hem of my dress, and removed my underwear.
Afterwards, I was treated to a sight of him struggling out of his pants. In the meantime, I removed my own dress, and barred my soaked cunt to him. Despite knowing how wanton of an act it was, I couldn’t stop craving for him.
“Lord Claudio, hurry up!”
“You truly are—!”
Claudio’s erect dick pierced my soaked entrance. The suddenness of it rendered me breathless, and I bucked my hips. My insides constricted with joy at the shape of his twitching, hard cock.
“—A, ah!? Wait, so fast…!”
“I can’t stop…!”
Claudio, who usually waited for me to calm down, began moving his hips. As he continued to thrust into me, the maddening pleasure almost broke me. I had the urge to flee, but Claudio’s firm grip prevented me from moving. At the mercy of his rigid cock, I could only tremble as he continued to grind against my inside, merely accepting the pleasure.
“Aah, ah—! How intense—!”
As he slid in and out of me, I gyrated my hips, letting him reach my innermost part. Deeper—I wanted him to go deeper! My belly twitched with anticipation as I clung to his back.
We had never been so hungry for each other before. We were so passionate about each other; it was beyond the realm of senses. Being ravaged senselessly by him, whose eyes were glistening with excitement, while being able to hug him and profess my love, I was consumed by the excitement—
“—I want to have your child!”
“Please, knock me up—!”
Before I could say anything else, Claudio kissed me. He clearly understood what I wanted. After pounding me hard several times, he groaned while keeping our lips together. Then, he thrusted it as far as he could, before filling me with his seeds. I also came, tightening around him as if afraid to miss even a single drop.
Our labored breathing echoed in the quiet room. In the afterglow of the climax, I peered into his eyes. Unbeknownst to me, my cunt gripped his cock.
I could feel him growing bigger inside of me, and looked up in confusion. Despite being fully erect, Claudio reluctantly pulled out his cock, and stringy, cloudy liquid leaked out.
“Ah, no, it came out… My baby—!”
In a panic, I squeezed my belly, but instead, a copious amount of semen came out, so I rushed to plug my slit with my fingers. Claudio, who was watching the entire scene, sighed deeply.
“…I have to endure. I already promised we’re only going to do it once.”
I nodded in understanding. Not only did I accidentally spill his seeds, he also couldn’t fill me up again…
“Tomorrow, if I properly explain myself to my father, will you come inside me again?”
I asked in a coaxing tone, and Claudio wordlessly nodded.
“We only did it once, after all…” I muttered under my embarrassment.
I didn’t know if it was normal to want to engage in sexual intercourse more than once.
“Let’s take a bath and head to bed. We can’t afford to oversleep tomorrow.”
“I understand. Lord Claudio, can we take a bath together?”
When I said that and tilted my head, Claudio looked up towards Heaven for some reason, before saying. “I think it’s a wonderful idea.”
I was so glad I was able to take a bath together with him for the first time. Not to mention, I was spoiled by him. Although, for some reason, while we were taking a bath, Claudio kept muttering.
“Why can’t it be tomorrow night right away…?”
The next day, when I went to my father to cancel the divorce, my father glared at Claudio. “What a troublemaker.” Before turning to me and smiling. “Well, good for you.”
I was truly happy to hear that from my father, who knew that I had been yearning for Claudio since forever!
“I’m sorry for the trouble.”
“Anyway, why don’t you take a look at the list of your remarriage partners?”
When my father tried to hand me the paper, Claudio desperately tried to stop it.
After returning home, we didn’t come out of the bedroom for a long time. Before long, a life began to grow inside my belly. Thus, I was able to spend happy days with Claudio as a true family.
This story is thick with exposition dialogue.
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