Chapter 80 – Keep Being Sweet (2)
“It’s alright, Miss. Hesse is a very loyal knight, and he will be a great count in the future.”
“W-well, Sir Hesse and I are–”
What was their relationship? Louise was troubled for a moment that she could not be put it to words.
“You confide secrets with a friend.”
They weren’t really secrets. However, she wouldn’t have been able to lend her shoulder to him if there was another servant in the room. So…was it a secret?
“Yes, we share secrets.”
“Sir Hesse is a very honorable knight, so I won’t worry about you.”
“Thank you. And please stay silent about this.”
She didn’t want to worry her parents. Her father, especially, would be extra scrutinizing to Louise’s male friends.
Louise exchanged a brief acknowledgement then headed for her room.
“It’s a mess. My master is a mess.”
If even Hesse said Ian was a mess, how bad was it? Simon and and Hesse had given her only grave news, and for that she was deeply worried.
‘Tonight I hope he can cry, eat and sleep as much as he wanted.’
It was a pity that not every human being had a right to it, no matter how terrible the situation.
“Miss, after I finish cleaning the drawing room, would you like me to help you dress into your nightgown?”
As Louise was about to enter the room, the usual maid who helped Louise get ready for bed approached her. Louise nodded.
“Thank you. I’ll be quick.”
“I won’t fall asleep right away, so you don’t have to rush for me.”
When she came back into the room she saw the candle extinguished, the room darkened. Maybe someone blew it out when she went down to the drawing room. Or perhaps it was the capricious summer breeze?
However, even the darkness could not hide the silhouette of the person who was standing by the window. Louise was surprised, but only momentarily. She approached the weary-looking figure with slow steps.
“…Perhaps you’ve been with Hesse for too long.”
His voice was weak. Louise couldn’t find much to say, so she just narrowed the remaining distance between them. His leaned against the window frame as he turned his head to look at her. He was still wearing the black suit from the funeral today.
“I’ve been waiting for you.”
His voice cracked a little. Louise brushed her finger next to his eyes, and found the skin was dry.
“You didn’t cry.”
“I didn’t cry.”
His eyes fluttered close and Louise swept his long eyelashes gently with her thumbs.
“It’s because it’s so awkward. I haven’t cried since that day.”
That day, perhaps, was the day his mother died.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to push myself. There was just nothing to cry about.”
The blue eyes reappeared and looked at Louise. These were the eyes of the crown prince, which held with so much strength. Louise now understood Hesse’s story. The need for the devil’s words. Please keep being sweet.
Louise patted his hair, like he had done for her.
“Isn’t it uncomfortable to sit on the window sill?”
“Have you eaten?”
“Was it for survival?”
“May I hold you?”
No reply was returned this time, so Louise changed her words.
“…I’ll hold you.”
It was strange. She thought it would be quite embarrassing, but she could say it without any hesitation. Maybe it was because she could tell he really needed it.
Louise took his head with her hand and drew him towards her, settling him into her chest. His face and gaze remained stiff. Louise stroked his short hair and his eyes fluttered to a half close, and there was a sound of deep breathing. Was he sleepy? Well, Hesse had said he had not been able to sleep for quite a while, and Ian could not have been different either.
At her question there was a sigh.
And he gave an answer that had nothing to do with Louise’s question.
“I wanted to talk to him once more.”
He blinked slowly, his gaze bearing some far off look. Louise realized that the person that he meant was his grandfather.
“That’s why you’re angry.”
“Yes. If my father had also told me the news when he called Mr. and Mrs. Sweeney, then I would have gone right away.”
“You love him.”
“He’s my mother’s father. I can’t help but love him.”
Even though they didn’t share many memories together.
“I don’t know if Count loved me, though.”
Louise thought for a moment, then repeated something from long ago.
“…Not a count.”
He quickly understood what Louise was saying.
The word came out awkwardly. While his lips moved, making a sound was a different matter. The unspeakable words clung at his mouth before it finally became a sound.
“…My grandfather. ”
He closed his eyes.
The struggle to say those awkward words caused tears to course down his cheeks.
“I wonder if he loved me…”
His father was always a sinner in front of his grandfather. Even though Ian’s father was king, he would not raise his head in front of his father-in-law, and they became naturally distant. Because of that, he had not seen the affectionate side of his grandfather that his mother used to tell him about, and he always remembered his grandfather as a wicked old man.
Until he passed away. His grandfather’s last expression was filled with anger as he held his mother’s portrait in her arms.
His grandfather embraced his mother’s portrait, as if he couldn’t recognize that Ian was the fruit of his father and mother and seemed to hate him until the end. Yet another round of tears streamed down Ian’s jaw and touched his neck.
“…And now I can’t ask.”
He closed his eyes. The tears that flowed now were probably left behind by a twisted childhood, and a twisted relationship between adults. The boy suppressed his feelings in order to not cause trouble and was praised for being polite.
Louise pressed his head into her chest a little firmer. Tears soon pricked her eyes, and it didn’t take long for her to cry with him.