Chapter 74 – Just Like That Night (2)
A beat, then Louise cracked open her eyes at voice whispering in her ear. It was still dark. When did she fall asleep? She was sure she had been sitting on the bed, picking a card to put down. She must have been unable to stay up. Louise rubbed her stiff eyes, and when her view cleared she saw Ian looking down at her.
Louise made a small protest, but Ian shushed her with a finger on his lips.
Be quiet? Why? As she pushed herself up slowly she saw the answer to her question. Claire was slumbering peacefully right next to her. Louise could also see Dean curled up in a chair some ways away. It looked like everyone drifted off while playing. Louise nodded to show that she understood.
Ian lifted his hand towards her.
This early in the morning? Why? She looked puzzled, but all that came back was a smile–a soft smile that seemed to melt everything away. Louise had no choice but to take his hand.
Ian gingerly opened the door and swung it shut with almost no sound. She wondered if he was holding his breath. When the door clicked closed at last, they both released a relieved sigh. Now that they were out of the room, she hoped that Ian would explain himself to her. Ian walked silently through the dark hallway while Louise tailed behind. His pace was a little too fast, and their arms stretched out between them.
“Where are we going?”
Ian didn’t say anything. Louise had asked him a question, but somehow he found it difficult to open his mouth. He continued up the stairs without slowing down, steadfastly and sincerely. Louise finally realized where he wanted to go.
The rooftop. The rooftop of the dormitory, where all the work had been completed yesterday afternoon. But why at this hour?
Ian pushed open the iron gate. Unlike before, the view opened up to a rooftop encircled with high-speared bars. This new change was unfamiliar. Louise released Ian’s hand and gripped the bars firmly with her hands.
There was the cold, cold like a wind that ran away to the night every summer. Louise looked upwards. As always, there was the sky.
She remembered that her father once said there was a special heaven above the land where humans have disappeared, where a light illuminates the darkness and various sounds drown out the silence. A pure sky that never touched anything. Louise heard the story cradled in her father’s arms as she dozed off in the deep darkness. The sky right now was just like that. The sky, where even a feeble star shone its colors.
At Ian’s voice, Louise looked to her side. Ian was leaning against the bars, raising his head high.
“It was always cloudy, so I thought this day would never come.”
“You’ve been up here…every morning? Like this?”
He nodded his head.
“It’s not often that I’m allowed to be without people or light…”
He always had light. It was not a metaphor or a figure of speech. The servants would always shine a light at his feet.
“Then this must be your first time seeing the stars like this.”
“Yes. I’ve never seen the sky like this before because of the brightness of the capital. And you?”
“My father never misses this view.”
Ian nodded. Mr. Sweeney would have taken Louise anywhere to show her something beautiful. He valued it.
“Thank you for inviting me to your first stargazing. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this view.”
Louise smiled happily. However, Ian’s expression was not as bright.
“I’ve been thinking.”
“You and Dean Crissis are very close.”
“Don’t worry. That doesn’t mean the best friend position will be taken.”
“It’s not that position I’m worried about.”
A light remark brought on a very serious response. Louise swallowed down the question she wanted to ask. Her mind was a mess of thoughts again–the original version, the promise. Something like an undefined kiss.
Turning back, Louise saw that Ian looked a little upset.
Oh my god, President. Are you jealous now?
“…Of course I will leave you free for a year.”
He added an excuse.
“My territory is quite wide. It would take my lady a year or two to walk it…”
He rested his forehead against the cold bars for a moment as if he were trying to cool his head.
“…Reason and emotion are fighting.”
“I can’t help it. I promised.”
He answered with a slight twist in his face at the unfairness. Louise smiled a little. At this point, she couldn’t help but admit that the years of her efforts were unfair. The fact was that Louise Sweeney was attracted to him. She should say it. Ugh, but it couldn’t happen. But having such an ambiguous relationship…
“Is your reason and emotion fighting?”
His face was closed to her before she realized it. Now it was Ian who smiled.
“I can’t help it…”
“What can I do? You’re the one who tied my hands and feet.”
She had tried to do the best that she could. Really.
“I have my reasons.”
“Yes, very rational.”
“That’s a relief.”
Relief? She stared at him in puzzlement, and he replied confidently.
“Louise Sweeney’s emotions are stronger than anything else.”
Louise barely spoke the first word and couldn’t bring forward the rest.
Ian held the bars over Louise’s shoulders and drew a little closer. Louise knew the meaning of this distance. I’m trying to reach you. Just like that night. And in no time, I’ll sort out what that kiss meant.
What was the relationship between the two? Louise was well aware of his stubborn personality. Once his mind was set in a direction, it was not easy to divert it. Even if one day his mind changes with the original work and he chooses someone else.
However, Louise will not change. Just like the original Louise.
‘…What should I do?’
Her heart sank when she thought of the word “original.”
She heard a voice whisper to her. Louise realized that she had squeezed her eyes shut, and she slowly opened them again. He was here in front of her, and beyond that there was the sky. Silver hair that looked beautiful even in the dark. The reflection of Louise in his blue eyes. The honesty in his gaze.
She was a bit upset about it, but he was right. Louise’s emotions were stronger than anything else. When something beautiful filled up her heart, any lie or excuse would shrivel away. Even the reasons for supporting it.
Louise raised her toes a little. The distance closed up at last. The moment their lips touched, she felt it all over again. Really, really did.
There would be no turning back.