Chapter 318 – The Teddy Bear And The Lady (1)
Mirabelle, who was sleeping in bed, opened her eyes in a cold sweat. The sound of heavy breathing escaped her lips even though she had already emerged from the dream.
She brushed her arm against her damp forehead and looked around. The room was still dark. Ever since she left the Ruford Empire to study in the Freegrand Kingdom, she had had countless nights like this.
She turned to the familiar toy tucked next to her bed. It was a teddy bear that was an unusual bluish-black color, and was wearing a large jacket meant for a man. It was the last gift her mother had given her, but it also reminded her of someone else. The bear was the exact color of a certain person’s hair, and wore the jacket of that very same person.
Mirabelle mentally repeated the name that she could not say out loud. Even when she closed her eyes, she could see him beneath her eyelids. She even remembered the words she said to him.
— I’ll let you go. I won’t blame you if you don’t come back. Wherever you are…I wish you all the best.
It was true that she let Kuhn go that day, but the words she spoke were clearly a lie. Because she never let him go. Three years had passed since Carlisle became emperor of the Ruford Empire, since Paveluc died from the rebellion, and since Crow was born. Even after more than three years of separation from Kuhn, Mirabelle’s heart longed for him. He continually appeared in her dreams and prevented her from having a good night’s rest. She hoped this longing would gradually disappear, but strangely, it only deepened every day.
Mirabelle pushed away her blanket and raised her upper body. Though she was a delicate girl, the maturing of her womanly figure was evident beneath her nightgown.
She sat on her knees and stared at the teddy bear. She hoped that Kuhn was happy, like the last farewell she left him. Truly.
She wished he was unhappy. She wanted him to come back to her.
After a moment, Mirabelle inwardly scolded herself for even thinking of such an idea, and went back to wishing for Kuhn’s happiness. Three years later, Mirabelle still had trouble arranging her feelings regarding Kuhn. She spoke in a low mutter.
“Today…I had a dream that you completely forgot me and passed by me like a stranger.”
While she waited for her emotions to die down, Kuhn probably already forgot about her. But there was nothing she could do. Mirabelle looked at the teddy bear with a sad smile.
“Would you come if I waited…?”
Ironically, even in a dream, that did not happen. Mirabelle understood it was hopeless. Still, this was all she could do.
Presently, Mirabelle was an aspiring fashion designer in the Freegrand Kingdom. Although she started as an apprentice, she soon rose to prominence and was now leading the fashion world with every outfit she made.
As Mirabelle worked a sewing machine, a maid approached.
“My Lady, Master Harry Krauss has come to see you.”
“Really? Please let him in.”
Mirabelle quickly put aside the dress she was making and stood up from her chair. Krauss and Freegrand have been dealing with clothing-related businesses ever since she came to study here. As a result, she naturally became close to Harry, who was similar in age to her.
The door opened and Harry came in. He, too, had grown out of his boyish looks, and had a slender, masculine face. In fact, Harry was very popular in the social circles, as there was nothing he lacked, including family, ability or character.
Harry greeted Mirabelle with a playful smile.
“How have you been?”
“Very well, thank you. I know you traveled far away for work, so I didn’t expect you to come in person. ”
“The timing was right, so I stopped by to see you.”
“Have a seat. Do you want some tea?”
“Not at all. I only need to look at your face.”
Mirabelle couldn’t find the words to reply. Unlike her, however, Harry calmly went to the table and spoke again.
“All the dresses commissioned from you were sold at a higher price than expected. Well, the dresses are in style in the Freegrand Kingdom, so it’s natural.”
At the same time, Harry took out a coin purse and set it on the table with a heavy sound. Mirabelle approached the table and checked the contents of the purse. Her eyes widened when there was more money in it than she thought.
“You made this much profit?”
“There were many ladies who wanted to wear the dresses you designed.”
Harry spoke in a modest tone, but no matter how many people wanted a dress, he never would have made this much profit without his business skills as well. Mirabelle couldn’t hide the joy in her face.
“Thank you. Because of you, I can prepare next season’s clothes without any worries.”
“You’re welcome, but there’s something else I’d like to ask.”
“Tell me, what do you want?”
“I would be honored if you would accept my request for a date today.”
“Oh, don’t joke.”
Mirabelle tried to playfully pass it over, but the expression in Harry’s eyes turned serious.
“If I said this was not a joke, would you take it seriously?”
Mirabelle couldn’t hide her embarrassment. If Harry had made this offer to another woman, she might have danced with joy. His pedigree was excellent after all.
But Mirabelle didn’t feel that way. There was someone else she couldn’t forget. She smoothed her expression and spoke in a level voice.
“You’re the successor to the Krauss family, so you must constantly be getting requests from social circles. Why are you saying that to me?”
“Well, you’re in no position to talk. You’re the sister-in-law to the all-powerful Emperor of the Ruford, and the beloved sister to the Empress.”
“Shh! Someone might hear you.”
Mirabelle’s eyes darted around the area to see if anyone was listening. In truth, she hid her identity in the Freegrand Kingdom and worked under the pseudonym of “Belle”. If she didn’t, a large number of Freegrand nobles would have already come to her house and bothered her.
Since childhood, Mirabelle hadn’t socialized much because of her weak constitution, and very few people knew of her face because she went abroad. Nevertheless, she still ended up with countless marriage proposals.
“I won’t deny that your background is appealing. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only reason why I want to meet you. I like everything else about you as well.”
Mirabelle was already an attractive and charming young woman herself. She had a pure aura about her, and she had matured enough to start catching other people’s eyes. In addition, she had outstanding talent as a designer. Harry liked it all—Mirabelle’s personality, appearance, talent, background.
However, Mirabelle’s expression remained unmoved in face of Harry’s sincere confession.
“I…I still like to work.”
“You know you can’t just do designs here forever.”
Because Harry and Mirabelle were both nobles, they could not escape their duty of marriage. It was a fact that both knew without having to say it. Realistically, the two were a perfect match for each other, but Mirabelle was unable to accept the offer. She already had someone on her mind.
In face of Mirabelle’s unmoving refusal, Harry was forced to retreat. It would only be more difficult if he pressed any further. He responded in a light voice.
“Very well. Just tell me if you change your mind. If I may say so myself, I am an excellent man.”
“I must go now. There’s someplace I have to be right away.”
Even in this situation, Harry was always busy. Mirabelle gave a nod. It would only be more awkward to continue this conversation anyway. Harry stood up first, and Mirabelle rose to see him off.
“Thank you for selling my commissioned dresses as well. You must be very busy, and thank you for coming here in person. ”
“Not at all.”
After a final farewell, Harry strode out of the mansion. Mirabelle stared at his increasingly distant figure, then turned away. She went back to her room and sat at her sewing machine. Her heart tightened as she recalled Harry’s words.
Harry was definitely a perfect man. If she married him, she would be guaranteed a stable future. She would not only have wealth, but respect throughout her entire life.
However, Harry was not a man who made her heart beat. Mirabelle knew that. Harry seemed like the most obvious choice, but there was a hole in her heart that couldn’t be filled by him.
‘…Girls like bad boys.’
Mirabelle smiled at the sudden thought. Then, as always, she went back to work to forget her longing for Kuhn.
Mirabelle’s fragile constitution did not change completely while she was abroad. One day she would be bedridden, and another day she would be wholly devoted to work.
Then, one day.
A maid approached Mirabelle, the latter who was deeply focused on transferring a design from her head to paper.
“My Lady, there’s a man here from the Ruford Empire.”
A thought that had been lost in the business of her mind suddenly surfaced. For the past three years, Elena regularly sent supplies each year. Mirabelle refused at first, but like clockwork every year, Elena always sent fur and difficult-to-obtain medicines before winter came.
‘Is it already that time?’
Come to think of it, it had been quite cold lately. The first snow of the season would be soon. Mirabelle nodded to the maid.
“Put the luggage in the room, and provide warm food to the party who endured a difficult journey to get here. I’ll greet the man in charge myself.”
“Yes, My Lady.”
The maid obeyed swiftly, as she had also become familiar with this annual custom. Mirabelle returned to her desk and went back to sketching on the paper. Only the sound of the pen scratching filled the room.
Before long, there was a tap on the door. Mirabelle thought it was the maid with further news, or perhaps the leader of the party that brought the supplies.
“Yes, come in.”
The door opened and someone stepped in. Mirabelle was about to stop what she was doing and put down her pen, but before she even could even lift her head to see the person, she heard a voice that she had long missed.
“It’s been a long while.”
Mirabelle’s heart dropped to the ground. Her heart immediately recognized the person without him having to introduce himself. She slowly lifted her wide-eyed gaze to the person in front of her.
There stood a foreign man who looked out of place in this room, watching her. His shock of bluish-black hair stood in contrast to his pure white skin.
Kung kung kung.
Mirabelle’s heart started beating even faster than ever. Her pen unknowingly slipped from her fingers and rolled onto the floor. She struggled to force a word to leave her mouth.
“How have you been?”
At Kuhn’s casual greeting, Mirabelle still doubted whether she was still in real life. Kuhn coming to see her…was everything she had dreamed of.
He began to walk towards her desk.
Kung kung kung kung kung kung.
Mirabelle’s heart drummed madly at the sight. Having gone three years without seeing him, she thought she might have forgotten a little bit about him. But as soon as she looked at his face, she knew. Despite the distance and time, he had not changed one bit.