Chapter 41 – In Danger (2)
After the trip to the grocery store, they went to the ribbon shop next door where Ian bought a purple ribbon and placed it in Louise’s hand. In a small voice he said, “Do I get one too?”
Louise stared vacantly at the cookies she had in her hand. Did he buy a ribbon so he could eat a cookie? She thought he complained that they were too hard. Maybe he actually liked them. If he had told her immediately, she would have bought two packages from the beginning.
“Is there anything else I should buy?”
As they left the ribbon shop, they saw a candy seller selling colorful candies in front of them. Louise looked at Ian, and Ian looked at Louise. They were in agreement. Shopping was a tiring job, and sweets were medicine for any kind of fatigue. They each placed a lemon lollipop in their mouth, apparently colored with banned pigmentation. They bought the biggest ones they could and their cheeks bulged out in circles.
The streets began to get more and more crowded as the day progressed to late afternoon. The competition became fiercer and Louise received seven promotional flyers from various cafes and restaurants. Ian looked disapprovingly at the flyers in Louise’s hand as he sucked on his lollipop. The meaning in his eyes was clear.
‘Why are you taking everything?’
Louise, who had a lollipop in her mouth, grinned at him. This was what it meant.
‘Because you don’t have magical abilities.’
Louise began to fan herself with the flyers. It wasn’t summer yet, but it was still hot at this time of the day. Ian looked at her with approval, then bent down close to her.
‘I’m hot too.’
That was what he seemed to say. Normally Louise would have been willing to fan her friend, but today she was a villainess and simply handed him two flyers.
‘Do it yourself.’
Ian responded with a slightly disgruntled face while Louise grinned, rolling the lollipop in her mouth. After strolling down the street they eventually saw a wooden sign board in the shape of a pen, and Louise made towards it. However, it was not easy to walk quickly because of the slightly higher heel of the shoe and somewhat uneven ground. In addition, the new shoes were pinching her feet, but they were so pretty she didn’t want to take then off.
A large hand stuck out and blocked her. Louise stopped and looked around for a moment. Her wizard, who had been following her about two steps behind, was now holding his hand out in front of her. The hood that had been on his head for a while had slipped off.
‘You can take my hand.’
That was what the gentle expression on his face said. Louise did not reply immediately. Instead, she quickly lifted herself up to her toes and pulled down his hood.
‘You stand out!’
Louise gave a warning glance, but he just smiled and held out his hand again.
‘I’ll help you.’
Of course she was grateful for the offer, but she took the lollipop out of her mouth and spoke to him in troubled voice.
“But if you do this, it changes the scenario, doesn’t it?”
“The scenario doesn’t matter.”
“…Is that the answer of the man who made me say vicious things?”
“Okay, then. The fiancé is disguised as a wizard while his fiancée pretends to be a villainess and they’re both eloping.”
That whole sentence was filled with horrible words. Louise frowned and bit the candy in her mouth.
‘That’s not a good scenario.’
Ian took Louise’s hand regardless. A little firmer than usual. Well… Louise turned sideways to look at Ian’s face. He had a new expression she hadn’t seen on him before. She didn’t know the exact meaning, but she knew he was having a lot of fun.
‘You like this weird scenario. I knew you had a bad taste, but…’
Before long they arrived at the stationery store. Ian asked for a quantity of ink and paper which amounted to three large boxes. The generous shopkeeper said he would bring of two boxes to the carriage for free. He was such a sweet fellow. Of course, Ian’s face wasn’t so cheerful when he lifted the other box box.
“Let’s go back.”
He frowned under the weight of the box. Come to think of it, carrying a heavy load while wearing a hot and cumbersome robe would be very difficult, and Louise decided to ease him of some of his trouble. She took the student council money purse and fanned him with it, though had little effect because of the hood on his face.
“Finally, you’ve become a porter.”
He grumbled at her, and Louise simply smiled and was about to place another lollipop in her mouth.
Someone brushed past Louise’s left shoulder. She stumbled a bit but soon caught her footing. At that moment the money purse slipped out of her hand. Very naturally. And quickly.
When Louise realized what happened, she opened her mouth in surprise. As if in slow motion the lollipop that had barely brushed her lips began to fall, and the money purse was snatched from her. Her opponent put the purse in his arms and began to run. He was a man. Young, tall, and swift. Louise swirled around and looked at Ian with a shocked face.
The reply was immediate. She hadn’t realized that Hesse was nearby.
“Louise of the Greenhouse needed a rescue for something she lost.”
Hesse waved the lollipop that Louise dropped. Judging from the fact that the candy was not contaminated with dirt, he must’ve quickly caught it before it hit the ground. Before Ian could say anything more, Hesse quickly added his excuse.
“I only protect your precious things.”
Ian had no choice but to put the box on the ground.
With that brief warning, Ian started to run after the man who disappeared in the crowd.
“W-what should we do? Will he be okay?”
“It’s no problem. His running is superb.”
“The man just came up so suddenly to me…”
As Louise fretted, Hesse patted her comfortingly on the shoulder.
“I know, I saw. That’s why I came. But something more important than money was in danger.”
“Money is more important than my candy!”
“I think so too.”
Hesse ruffled her hair and sat on the box that Ian had put down.
“But the boss doesn’t always know it.”
Hesse put the lollipop he had rescued in his mouth.
“Well, I’m just a humble salary man who has to follow my boss’s values. Wow, this is delicious. When you buy me a thank you gift, always gets me this candy, okay?”
He began to suck away at the lollipop. It was then that Ian, who had recovered the money, reappeared with a dark expression on his face.
“Look, I told you it would be all right.”
Hesse smiled as he waggled his finger. In a flash Ian’s hand shot out and grabbed the neck of Hesse’s collar.
“Why is that candy in your mouth? “
“I can’t say. It’s not a story for a virtuous man’s ears.”
Hesse looked at Louise as if to say, “Isn’t that right?” Louise nodded automatically. Ian let go of Hesse’s collar and sat on the ground for a moment, breathing hard. He seemed to have sprinted all the way here.
“I’m sorry, it’s because of me…”
Louise crouched in front of him as she apologized. He carried on panting without giving any particular answer. Instead he gave a sweaty-faced smile and patted Louise over the head.
“Why didn’t you just walk when you came back? Sir Hesse was guarding the box.”
Hesse lifted the box and answered.
“He was worried.”
“Heh, because I’m a manwhore who likes all women.”
Ian ground his teeth. Hesse rescuing Louise’s candy instead of the money purse was Hesse’s revenge for that comment.
As Ian began to glare at his bodyguard with murderous eyes, Hesse slowly began to move away.
“I’ll take the box to the carriage now. I’ll make sure it’s very safe! I’ll put all my heart and soul into it!”
Hesse disappeared in a hurry.
Louise located a tea room via a promotional flyer. Rather than taking Ian right to the carriage, she wanted to treat him to something cool. She was sure he was exhausted. Luckily, he didn’t refuse Louise’s offer to drink something before they went back. Maybe he was too tired to refuse.
The tea room was small and cozy and the staff was friendly. Louise ordered a cold fruit tea as well as cookies since Ian seemed to like them. After that, they sat quietly and rested. She wanted to hear the story of how Ian caught the thief, but the lingering exhaustion of his sprint seemed to tire him for quite some time. They soon emptied their cups, not because they amount they had been served a small amount, but because they had drank in deep, thirst-quenching gulps.
“We’ll have to get back before it’s too late.”
“Of course. We don’t want to get found out.”
“Yeah. I don’t even have enough time to study for the exams, let alone punishment.”
She didn’t want to give the professors a bad impression. The two stood up from their seats. At that moment, a new customer entered the tea room, and Ian and Louise quickly threw themselves behind the couch with terrified expressions. They were hugging each other, but that wasn’t very important now. The two looked at each other with identical expressions, their foreheads touching.
‘Why on earth is Professor Lassen here?’
Juliana Lassen. The one who prevented Louise from attending the new semester party. The professor.