Chapter 78 - Another Chance
A good person who listens to your story well, Clara was such a person to Cladis. She took on his three years’ worth of loneliness willingly. The reason why Cladis couldn’t leave sick Clara behind, even when his mind was already rushing to Ella’s debutante, was because he couldn’t ignore the kindness that she showed the past five months.
While Cladis explained about Clara as if he was confessing, Ella carefully glanced at him once more.
A young, 19-year-old boy. Not the adult Cladis from the novel.
He had been educated in disciplines of kingship and all kinds of higher education available in this world, but to him, a woman was something that he could only read from a book. Maybe it was worse than that. His relationship with his mother was forcefully cut off, and his mother, instead of getting him back, forgot about him by finding a new son.
All the women he met were those who only tried to court him. According to Ethan, even though he was hiding it, his life at the Academy wasn’t an easy one. Those noble girls that entered the Academy for a short-term had done something that only hardcore fans usually do to their celebrity. They made Cladis disgusted with women before he learned about them. Maybe that’s why he longed for Ella more, as she wasn’t a woman.
But Clara appeared in his world, listened to his problems, and healed his wounds that he himself didn’t even know about, unlike all the other women. She asked him if he was lonely when he wasn’t aware he was and revealed his loneliness by sympathizing with it, saying she was in the same shoes. Then she comforted him.
Clara, who approached secretly and with plans, found her place little by little while Cladis didn’t realize it. He didn’t give her that spot because he wanted to. She approached in a way that was hard to push her away, then increased her foothold. After time had passed, she got people around them on her side and made it clear that she should stand beside him.
Ella could understand his situation. The story Ethan explained to her last night infuriated her, but ironically, it also helped her to understand Cladis’s excuses right now. But the more she understood, the more it made her uncomfortable. He must be saying all of this, thinking she would accept him as much as she understands him.
However, understanding and accepting him was a different matter.
‘It would have been better if the real Luciella was standing here right now…’
If that was the case, just like how Ella is special to Cladis, Cladis was special to Luciella. It might have solved all misunderstandings, and they could have become happy. She still might have trust and affection left in her, that she can tend to her wounded mind and live with him.
Ella’s heart, however, was still cold. She didn’t have such affection in the first place. All she had was curiosity and anticipation. If he was the same as the novel, she would have opened her heart to him. But his actions from the past few days crushed all of her curiosity and anticipation.
Ranhee could sympathize with his stories, but it was just one of many sad stories, ‘Do I have to stop him from trying so hard to change an answer that won’t change?’
Someone had to stop him so he wouldn’t get any false hope, but Cladis’ eyes stopped Ella from doing that. Ranhee was held back by Luciella’s heart, which she could strangely feel from within her. No matter how much she wanted to look away, she realized that she was inside a character from a novel.
‘Is there no way I can walk away from being a character of the novel?’
There were thoughts tangled up inside Ella. Anyway, it wasn’t easy to decline his offer anymore. Cladis noticed her hesitation and looked at her with puppy-like eyes similar to before. He had a feeling that this was the only chance he could grab, which was what made him take such action.
His hesitant hand tried to reach out for Ella, stopped midair, and returned behind his back. Then Cladis said, “I know it’s all an excuse. But I still want to hold onto you. I wish for you to be with me. I don’t want a lot. I don’t expect you to like me now. But please give me a chance, Ella. I like you.”
Ella then pushed her body’s will to try to stop it and spoke the words that she wanted to say, “I don’t want to.”
She didn’t want to.
‘Why should I? I’m not Ella, so why?’ she thought. She snapped, thinking in such a way, but seeing Cladis in a look of despair made her soften again. ‘Do I no longer have control over my body?’ She thought to herself, but she knew that she could eventually make the final choice. But something came up in her mind, and she looked at Cladis in surprise, ‘He never once said anything about Bazel.’
Bazel appeared in every story that Ethan told her, but Cladis didn’t blame him nor use him as an excuse. It was Bazel’s idea to have Clara by Cladis’s side, and he was also the first to use the phrase “first love.” He almost brainwashed Cladis by pushing the narrative that Clara was special. It was almost obvious to put him as the mastermind of these events.
Acting as a strategist to Cladis, Bazel offered a solution while the crown prince was being called a eunuch, which could never be allowed to happen. There was no better excuse than to blame everything on Bazel in such a situation, but Cladis never brought up his name in the end.
‘Does he think that he has to take the responsibility because he was the one who made that choice?’
Ella let out a sigh of surrender in the end. She had learned about stories that were better if she didn’t know about them. She couldn’t be any crueler, so she replied, “I don’t want to, but I will give you a chance. I can do that.”
Cladis’s face brightened right as he began to walk up to her, but Ella brought her fingers up and stopped him. He stopped right there as she didn’t allow him to come any closer. Though she was forced to make this choice, her sulkiness lessened just by glancing at him, looking like a well-behaved puppy. Just a tiny bit.
But that wasn’t enough for a reason to change. Ella made a stern look, trying to pour out her thoughts. Then she declared with a stern voice.
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