Chapter 96 – With Great Slowness And Care (2)
She didn’t want to fall in love with him and have to worry about it. But it was a feeling that had already happened, so all Louise could say was,
She just sighed.
“…You don’t want me to go.”
“It’s official business, isn’t it?”
“But you don’t like it.”
“Am I giving that kind of look?”
“It’s alright. I’m glad you made that kind of face for me.”
“But it’s so mean.”
“I know. But it’s fine.”
“By the way, Louise.”
Ian glanced up for a moment. The loyal Sweeney maid stood firmly by Louise. The maid had taken care of Louise since she was a child, and knew Ian’s face. She was the same one who changed Louise’s clothes when Ian was hiding. In any case, this was not a flexible person. She was probably worried that Ian prey on Louise if she left her charge alone with him.
But of course he would.
“Please lend me some interesting books. It’ll be boring in the carriage.”
“Yes. I’d like a book that has a great knight as its main character. I want a story with a happy ending even if there is a lot of hardship.”
“Oh, there are some books just like that in the study.”
Louise clapped his hands and whispered something to the nearby maid. The maid nodded and finally left the drawing room, with a comment asking her to wait.
“Now I realize why I have to cherish my time at the Academy.”
Ian stood up and grumbled somewhat disappointingly.
“Because this is very rare.”
He leaned down, resting both of his hands on either side of the chair where Louise sat. His face was silhouetted darkly by the window.
“Because now there’s no chance.”
In a moment, his face became near. So close that she could feel him breathing.
“I won’t see my fiancée for the next few weeks.”
“You regret it?”
Then he kissed Louise lightly on the forehead.
“I had a plan. I was going to say the most perfect words that you would love.”
“I wanted you to pay attention to it.”
“I don’t want to lose it to the sly princes from the fairy tales.”
“The princes in fairy tales aren’t sly at all.”
“They are because you like them so much.”
He had a pouting expression and Louise laughed.
He spoke to Louise again before she could continue laughing. There were still as close as ever.
“I might be gone for a while.”
Finding out the cause of the flood damage to the process of determining punishment would take quite long, not to mention overseeing the repairs.
“I didn’t want to keep you waiting too long.”
“If you say that, my heart hurts because I feel like I’m on my own.”
“Well, I’m on the edge too–ha.”
Her remaining words died away with the touch of their lips. Louise was glad it was a rainy day, otherwise the embarrassing noises she made would be heard in the room, such as the wet noises as their lips touched, or the sound that she made deep in her throat. Maybe the heat was different than usual as the heavy rain roared around them.
He whispered her name as their lips were still touching, his breath hoarse.
“I’ll leave it to you for a while.”
She wanted to ask what he meant, but she couldn’t open her mouth easily because their lips were still touching. However, she soon realized that his lips whispered something in silence, with great slowness and care. She couldn’t see what he said, nor hear it. But from the touch and warmth on the tip of her lips she knew.
It wasn’t until the moment they fell apart that Louise managed to speak.
“I’ll take care of it.”
He gave her a light kiss on the smiling corners of her eyes.
“Because it’s only the one, so it will be quite difficult if you lose it or don’t give it back to me.”
“I might not want to return it. I’ve said it before that I love it very much.”
Louise answered with a smile, and he pinched her cheek.
“Really, this profane face will never go away.”
This profane face was unbearably good. How could one stay away from this cute thing?
“…driving me crazy.”
He didn’t know if he was being impatient or not. He lowered his head again. No matter how much he thought about it, it was ridiculous that they only would kiss once in the next few weeks. Even though there was a circle in the calendar today…
Ian heaved a deep sigh and sat back calmly. Every time he met with Louise in the future, he was worried that Mr. Sweeney would come in and a terrifying situation would follow. Mr. Sweeney would be miserable to be demoted to be the second most important man to Louise in the world. The door opened, and the maid entered and left several books on the table.
“Don’t forget to read them and return them carefully.”
“I know. I can’t leave the book open facedown, or read while eating cookies.”
Ian gave a dull reply. If he knew this would happen, he should have asked for something else other than a book. Something that would take a little more time to retrieve.
“Don’t forget to circle the calendar.”
Louise smiled. She must be in a good mood.
“You’ll circle it with dark blue. Right?”
This girl! He wanted to draw in about five circles.
…And he’d like to draw two more in purple.
The day had arrived when he had to leave for Count Lapis. Fortunately it wasn’t raining, which lightened the workload of the servants.
“It must be a long way.”
Ian shook hands lightly with Simon, who had come to see him off.
“It’s okay. I borrowed some books.”
Ian opened the door of the carriage and showed him a neat stack of reading on loan from Louise.
“I hope you’ll come back safely.”
Simon hesitated, debating whether to speak. Ian stared at his friend’s strange behavior. Simon’s continued to stay silent, and eventually, Ian couldn’t stand it anymore and tried to encourage him.
“It’s all right, talk comfortably.”
“…The former queen…”
Simon could barely open his mouth.
“Our paternal grandmother?”
“She arranged a marriage proposal.”
Ian grimaced. Marriage talks by the adults were usually arranged according to the interests of the family.
“You don’t have to be swayed by that, Simon. I don’t know who you like, but you have the right to meet who you want–”
He spoke a very familiar name in a very faint voice. Ian could almost hear sweetness to the way Simon said it, but it must have been an illusion.
“My partner is Louise Sweeney. And I–”
Simon spoke clearly, not avoiding Ian’s gaze. It was a completely different manner from the way he was speaking previously.
“I accepted the offer.”