Chapter 60 – You Are Right (1)
Come to think of it, Ian wasn’t usually so friendly. The friendly one was always Simon. He would cheer up Louise on gloomy days and give her the appropriate advice on complicated problems.
It was always Simon. Then whenever she was invigorated by his encouragement, without fail it would be Ian who would go up to her and pinch her cheek. Don’t bother my dear cousin Simon, he would say. Louise, of course, used to yell and protest because how annoyed she was at Ian.
“Prince Simon is very, very sweet, unlike you.”
“Sure. But that’s because Simon’s patience is very, very deep.”
Even at the slightest confrontation, Louise hated losing. In any case, their small fights always ended with the advent of snacks. Like most kids, they had a normal childhood.
Louise gripped the hem of her skirt tightly. Ian’s arm, which was wrapped around her, pressed her deeper into his embrace, hoping that they could reach each other perfectly.
Louise closed her eyes and relished his touch on her. If there was a form of trust, then perhaps it looked like this. Something big and strong enough to hold her body.
A sigh of relief flowed slowly out of her lips, but the end of her breath trembled, as if she were about to cry. She didn’t understand. This was the kind of trust she had been hoping for, so why couldn’t she smile? Instead of this…
Louise bit her lip to hold back the tears that threatened to burst. It was then that the sound of voices were heard echoing at a distance.
“Where could His Highness be?”
It was the voice of an elderly-sounding man. The use of the phrase “His Highness” likely meant that he was a man from the palace that entered the Academy with urgent permission.
“I don’t know. I’m not allowed to follow him after he enters the Academy.”
Hesse’s voice answered in reply.
“You have to find him again, understand?”
“…Yeah, well, I’ll do my best.”
Judging by his annoyed tone of voice, he most was unlikely to do his best. Their voices were getting closer along with their footsteps.
‘Don’t you have to go back?’
Louise was about to ask, when by a sudden force Ian lifted her body into his arms.
She was too startled to shout. He swung them into Louise’s room and pushed the door shut with his back. Maybe because it was night time when everyone was asleep, but the door seemed to slam shut exceptionally loudly.
Ian and Louise listened to the noise in the corridor and heard Hesse grumbling.
“Ugh, I don’t want to do a search on the day of the party…”
“Enough of that. Look everywhere! You are a knight of the crown prince!”
“That doesn’t mean I, a future count, can enter the girls’ rooms.”
“And you won’t be able to enter the girls’ rooms either.”
“So why don’t we go somewhere else?”
“But I think there was someone on this floor…”
“So that’s it then?”
Hesse grinned and chatted a little louder. It was almost like he was expecting Ian to listen.
“You’re saying he had a drink at an adult birthday party, and then he broke into the room of his favorite female student? Right?”
“That’s not possible! Don’t speak such words about the upright prince!”
“So you say.”
Hesse flashed a wicked grin. At this point, Ian was convinced that Hesse gave a knowing laugh. Ian didn’t know if he should get mad at his teasing.
“So, by walking down the hallway of the girls’ dormitory we’re guarding the prince’s discreet activities.”
“No, how dishonorable! Get out now! We’ll search somewhere else!”
“Oh, why? I think I can smell a secret date somewhere…”
“What kind of absurd smell is that?”
“Ow, don’t push! It’s real! Haven’t you ever been in a relationship?”
Fortunately, Hesse’s complaining gradually faded away. It was almost as if he was herded off from his constant calls to stop hitting or pushing. A little later, only silence remained.
Ian released a sigh. He leaned his back against the door and slid down, bringing Louise down with him. As he sat down on the floor, Louise ended up perched on his lap.
It would have been nice if the moon were out on a night like this, Ian thought. He wished he could see Louise’s expression, but he had to rely his on other senses besides vision to guess what she was feeling. Such as the sound of her slow breathing. The shuffling noises of her clothes.
‘She’s still fighting.’
After fighting with everyone all day, she was now fighting her own feelings. As his eyes became accustomed to the dark, her silhouette started to become more visible.
Her frame was small and light. But in it was a desire so strong that no one could touch her. A desire that was unshakable. On a windy day like this she may be tossed violently to and fro, but even she gets bruised and wounded, she would not change her course or find a shield to keep her from the wind. She would accept all of the injury done to her. Ian respected Louise’s path. So all he can do was this.
…Just this. He was useless. He pulled Louise to allow her to lean against him. Her head gently tucked over his shoulder, and he started to stroke her hair. After a small while, a broken whisper came from his arms.
“I’m not crying…”
So I don’t have to pat your head? Ian chuckled.
“I know. I would have called Simon. It’s his specialty to console you.”
There was no reply to his quip. Ian shouldn’t have said anything, and he felt a little regret. He thought if he said something to her, she’d have the energy to push back.
He cradled Louise in his arms, apologizing a little. The apology had a number of meanings. He showed up late in front of Louise, as well as all the other words he couldn’t think of.
He slowly patted her back. He was afraid she would hate being treated like a child, but Louise began lean her weight on him more fully. Ian started to rub her back with his hands, hoping he could reach her emotions.
The emotion that she tried to swallow down started to flood her eyes. All the control Louise had been trying to recover had started to unbalance.
It was useless to bite her lip and clench her fists. Her tears slipped from her eyes against her will and wet her neckline and dyed her clothes hotly…Clothes? Louise quickly looked up and wiped her face with the back of her hand.
“Your clothes, Your Highness…”
She didn’t know why she called him by his royal title. Maybe it was because he was wearing his outside clothes. Or maybe it was the habits of childhood.
“It doesn’t matter.”
He pulled Louise’s head back into his arms. If it didn’t matter, then it meant that it was okay to mess up his clothes.
“Really…it doesn’t matter.”
He seemed to be trying to convince Louise that her understanding was not wrong. He kept whispering the same word in her ear with a warm breath. The large tears that were barely hanging on Louise’s eyes began to fall again. And again, and again. It ran down for a very long time.