Chapter 111 – The Greater You Burn (1)
Louise had no difficulty recognizing Claire’s voice from above her. This was the first time Louise had seen her that day. Claire had been rather angry during the time Louise was unable to make it to the new semester party, but it paled in comparison to the way she was now.
‘What’s wrong with Claire…?’
As Louise worried over her friend, another voice cut in.
“I don’t agree with it.”
It was Dean Crissis.
‘Claire and Dean?!’
Louise turned to Hesse in surprise, and he nodded.
Shame on herself! Louise didn’t intend to eavesdrop on her friends’ secret conversation, and she hurriedly pressed her hands to her ears.
‘I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you.’
She chanted this repeatedly to herself, but the human hand was not known to insulate sound very well and she could hear every word they said.
“Well I do. And don’t ever do it again.”
That sounded so interesting. Louise was a little frustrated.
‘I really don’t want to hear it!’
She pressed her palms more firmly to her ears, but it didn’t help.
“I don’t approve, and if your fiancé doesn’t, neither will I.”
Louise couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with curiosity.
‘What did her fiancé do…No, I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you!’
As a last resort, Louise repeatedly clapped her palms on her ears. Fortunately it worked, and soon she could barely hear their conversation. Her arms ached, but for the sake of her friendship with those two she thought it was worth it.
“Oh…that’s a funny method.”
Hesse copied her a few times, then he reached out to Louise. She understood his intention right away. Her arms were starting to hurt, so Hesse was going to keep her ears shut on her behalf. Louise carefully took her hands off her ears.
“It’s none of your business!”
For a brief moment she heard an outburst from Claire, before Hesse’s hands came up to cover and pull away from her ears repeatedly. Because of the fast and muffled sounds she did not hear any more conversation between the two.
‘That’s great Sir Hesse.’
Suddenly, surprised crossed Hesse’s face and he looked up.
Louise called to him in a small voice. Instead of answering, he dropped his hands that covered her ears.
‘What the hell is going on?’
Louise looked up towards were Hesse’s eyes were riveted.
“Well, it was wrong that you kissed me!”
Louise froze as Claire’s voice pierced her ears. She looked back at Hesse.
“Why did you move your hand just before the big reveal…”
She complained to him in a whisper, but he just grinned. He thought it funny to block her ears again when she had already heard the most important words.
“Well, it was wrong that you kissed me!”
Claire shot him a stern glare.
“Well, what were you going to do then?”
“If I hadn’t kissed you, what were you going to do in that situation?”
Claire closed her eyes for a moment and thought.
That day there was a party with some close family members. Claire was present with her fiancé of course, but she hadn’t been exactly keen to go. The party was mostly for adults, and there weren’t many friends from the Academy there. However, as the couple were soon to be married, they followed the tradition of appearing together. If it weren’t for Dean who came on behalf of his parents, she couldn’t possibly have a personal conversation with anyone.
Claire waited until everyone else was deeply occupied in the party, then stood up quietly.
“May I go back first?”
After asking for permission from her fiancé, he nodded eagerly and saw her off to the hallway.
“Be careful on the way back.”
He gave her a perfunctory kiss on the cheek and then swiftly retreated back to the party.
‘I wonder who I will hear about tomorrow.’
She could tolerate almost anyone, but she thought, please, don’t let it be a married woman.
It wasn’t easy to deal with this kind of situation. Claire knew that her fiancé was not a good man. Their engagement was not a matter of love, but of a decision by their families. And her fiancé’s parents were pretty nice people. They promised to help the Iris family, and even signed a contract to allow Claire run the family business in the future. Their condition was their son.
When she thought about it, it wasn’t a bad marriage. Claire would have the opportunity to use her skill set, and that chance didn’t come by easily.
“Are you going back?”
Claire nodded as Dean Crisis approached her.
“I’m going to go to sleep. I’m a little tired.”
“You should drink moderately.”
“I don’t want to hear that kind of nagging from a boy who can’t even drink yet.”
Dean seemed to want to argue, but he soon became quiet. The one year age difference seemed even bigger between them these days. Claire smiled and opened a small fan.
“Are you angry?”
He shook his head. Outside, several elderly women were boarding their respective carriages. They were slow, and they seemed to drag out the time they were saying their goodbyes to each other. In particular, they wished each other good health several times. The butler approached Claire and Dean and apologized for the delay in the preparation of her carriage.
Claire shrugged lightly. She didn’t want to disturb the old ladies’ sweet separation.
“I’ll just go for a walk.”
She began to take a stroll along the brightly lit pathway, and Dean took her side without a word. Suddenly Claire broke the silence.
“Aren’t they cute?”
Dean quickly realized that she was talking about the elderly women.
“I wonder, will Louise and I be like that?”
Would they be friends that cared about each other’s sore joints?
“It will be like that with you, of course.”
There was no reply to this remark.
“Are you still upset?”
Claire looked at him. He used to be smaller than her, but he had grown up now. If she didn’t raise her head, she wouldn’t be able to see his expression.
Did he feel her gaze? His shimmering eyes turned towards her. There was a shadow of discontent in them. How could a child with such clear eyes then look like this now?
“You were cute too.”
Claire murmured sadly at the memory of the childhood Dean.
“That’s not a cute answer.”
“Oh, for real!”
“That’s really not cute.”
“Claire Iris! ”
Dean shouted and blocked her way, but Claire remained unfazed.
“When did you stop calling me by the cute title of sister?”
To her he was a cute little brother, no matter how he behaved.
“You know, I don’t have a brother. I really liked it when you called me that.”
” …Don’t satisfy your personal needs with me.”
“Why? You liked it too.”
“Who said I liked it!”
Claire looked away and laughed. Whenever she teased Dean, she always had that look on her face.
“When you used the magic word ‘sister’, I listened and indulged you in whatever you wanted, didn’t I?
She did. Dean couldn’t bring himself to argue. He used it several times when he wanted Claire to share her snack with him.
“That was a few years ago…!”
He had a disgruntled expression on his face, and he shut his mouth for a moment. His gaze was fixed somewhere beyond Claire.
The moment she said his name, she tried to turn towards him, but he gripped her arm in a hurry.
“J-just walk! Stop talking!”
The moment he grabbed her arm, Claire turned around. In retrospect, she should have listened to him. If she had not turned around, she would not have known what Dean saw.
There was a terrace, and on it she could see a pair of lovers hungering for the taste of each other’s lips. The light from the garden reflected from the wall and lit up their faces.