Chapter 17

 

Thank you kuroneko_chan for the kofi~!

 

***

 

Layla was absentmindedly watching the burning cabin while squatting down. She couldn’t leave, fearing that it may cause fire to the forest.

 

She picked up a thick branch, and she dug a furrow around the cabin to connect it with the stream to give it water. It didn’t matter if it burned or not, as there was nothing precious about it, but the forest was different.

 

It was a benefactor she was grateful to for providing everything that Layla needed throughout her life.

 

It gave her dry branches so she could have a fireplace in cold winter, and nuts when she’s hungry. It was this forest that served as a cool shade in hot summer and a windshield during the cold winter.

 

“It all burned down.”

 

The fire had gone out and the cabin had burned to the point of charcoal, but Layla did not leave its side and was staring at it.

 

She was looking at the charred cabin, and the dawn was getting brighter. Now there was no need to worry about the fire spreading. Still, Layla was sitting there.

 

She had nowhere to go.

 

“What happened here?”

 

At the sudden sound of a voice coming from behind, Layla turned her head. There stood a familiar face with his eyes wide open.

 

“Bioust…”

 

“Was there a fire?”

 

His approaching steps were urgent. And Bioust’s gentle hands grabbed Layla’s arms.

 

“Did you get hurt? Were you able to get out safely?”

 

His worried eyes looked at Layla.

 

“I wasn’t… hurt.”

 

Layla muttered faintly towards him.

 

“A happiness within misfortune.”

His eyes filled with worry, beautifully bent and he smiled. Seeing that smile, Layla felt her face warm up for some reason. Just like last night, when the torch came close to her face.

 

“Oh no… there’s nothing left. Everything was burned.”

 

Unexpectedly, only when Bioust looked into the cabin through the broken window, did Layla look into the cabin. She was only about the fire spreading, and didn’t even think of looking inside to see what’s going on.

 

With a slow pace, she approached the cabin and looked into it, and she saw, as he said, the charred inside of the cabin.

 

The bed that Layla slept in every night was especially charred, perhaps because of the straw stuffed in the duvet, nothing was left. Even at the table where she would eat or read a book, its legs burned and had collapsed. Even the closet, which did not close well due to misaligned teeth, was only recognizable by its shape.

 

Even though it was the house she had lived in for over 10 years, looking at it all burned down, Layla still did not feel any regret in her heart.

 

“Ah….”

 

It was then when her sight landed somewhere in the kitchen that she let out a groan-like sigh.

 

The pot for the stew, which was originally hung over the fire, was lying on the floor. Perhaps it was because the hook burned fire and could not support the pot.

 

Of course, there were no traces of the contents inside anymore, and the pot was so scorched by the fire that it was barely recognizable as a pot.

 

“Why? Is there something strange?”

 

Bioust, who was next to her, spoke.

 

“N-no.”

 

“You must be upset. Your house has become like this.”

 

“Not really…”

 

“Do you have a place to stay?”

 

“…”

 

Silence enveloped Layla. Bioust’s worried gaze rested on the top of Layla’s bowed head.

 

“Then, how about going with me?”

 

“What?”

 

“I have also said it before. I asked you to come with me.”

 

“Why should I go with you?!”

 

“But, you have nowhere to go, right? Your house has burned down?”

 

“Why do I have nowhere to go!?”

 

“Do you have a place to go?”

 

“There’s…!”

 

Nothing. In fact, there’s nothing. There was no place that welcomed a cursed witch.

 

“As expected, coming with me-”

 

“I’ll just go to my parents house.”

 

However, she was reluctant to follow this man. If she were asked why, there are many reasons. He was an unknown man, she doesn’t know what he does, and….

 

‘… I don’t know why you’re being nice to me.’

 

For the first time in her life she received another person’s kindness, she was happy and bewildered. Layla, seeing a hand that someone had held out to her for the first time, she was curious but wary of the hand.

 

Having never held someone else’s hand before, and not knowing how ordinary people hold a hand, Layla did not dare to grab it.

 

“So you have parents.”

 

Bioust nodded his head at Layla’s words, and said. But inside, he wondered if she could even set foot in her parents’ house.

 

Last night, Bioust already heard everything from Suli.

 

It was a witch-hunt conducted under the Baron’s approval. Will the said witch who survived the witch hunt be able to enter the Baron’s mansion as a whole?

 

Layla seemed naively positive, but Bioust wasn’t.

 

“Where is your parent’s house?”

 

“…”

 

“I’m worried, so I’ll take you there.”

 

“There’s no need.”

 

“Don’t be like that, why don’t we go together? I have to go back anyway.”

 

“I said, there’s no need.”

 

“Which way are you going? First, I’ll go this way.”

 

Bioust, of course, pointed in the direction of the Baron’s mansion.

 

“…”

 

Seeing Layla’s frown at his fingers, Bioust slightly smiled.

 

“This way?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I have no choice but to go with you.”

 

Next to Layla, who started to walk first with an awkward expression, Bioust started to walk as close as he wanted to.

 

“Get away from me.”

 

“The road is too narrow, I might fall. I have no choice.”

 

“Why did you come here?”

 

“That, I didn’t eat all the strawberries when I came last time, so I went back thinking I might be able to finish them.”

 

“Who would leave some of it?”

Layla spoke indifferently, but she actually left some. If he ever comes back, she intends to serve a deliciously finished stew and strawberries.

 

It’s all gone now though.

 

“Well, it’s inevitable that they’re all gone.”

 

Bioust laughed like it was nothing.

 

“But why are you living apart from your parents?”

 

“Because I’ve grown up. I’m independent.”

 

“I See. So, how long have you been living alone?”

 

“Why are you curious about many things?”

 

Layla, who was forced into a corner, stopped her feet and said while glaring at Bioust.

 

“Did I ask too much?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I can’t help it. I’m curious”

 

Bioust smiled softly with a face that seemed to be full of affection. The wind fairy must have seen that smile and fell in love with Bioust as it hovered around him.

 

Bioust’s hair swayed in the wind.

 

“Your ear…”

 

The wind blew through his hair that was covering his ears, revealing red scars. It was like a burn from something hot

 

“Aah…”

 

As if he had forgotten, Bioust smirked at Layla’s point.

 

“Are you hurt?”

 

“Yes. I’m not as nimble as I thought.”

 

As if it was nothing special, Bioust smiled and said. He ruffled his hair with his hands and covered his ears as if he didn’t care.

 

“Come on, shall we go?”

 

Biost was the first to take a step. It would be faster if he was alone, but with Layla, he still had to walk a long way to the Baron’s mansion.

 

But Layla just stood still.

 

“Layla?”

 

He called out her name, who was standing on one side of the path and was holding tightly to the skirt of her old clothes.

 

“Should I treat it?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I thought you got hurt, should I treat you?”

 

At Layla’s words, Bioust stood still for a moment.

 

In fact, the treatment was already over. If he were to get hurt, Suli would make a fuss that he would be punished if a person of noble birth would come back to the Imperial Palace with a visible wound, and had already sterilized it and applied medicine.

 

It was an ointment made by the most skilled physician in the empire. There could be no better medicine than this.

 

Besides, the woman in front of him right now was neither a doctor nor anything, and she was rather a woman who knew nothing or possessed nothing.

 

“Yes. Since you also treated me.”

 

“Aah~”

 

Bioust’s gaze reached and touched Layla’s finger. Her fingernails were so short that it looked painful to anyone who looked at it.

 

There was no doubt that the treatment that Layla was referring to was the lie he had told her.

 

Licking it with one’s tongue.”

 

When he thought of that, Bioust felt a desire inside of him swell greatly.

 

“Returning the favor, or something like that?”

 

“If you hate it then don’t! Since I don’t care if a rogue like you is hurt or not!”

 

She really was a short-tempered cat. If he were to say a little something, the cat would hiss and sulk immediately.

 

As if she had never said anything, Layla closed her lips and started walking again. As Layla was about to pass by Bioust, he grabbed her wrist.

 

“The treatment, I want it.”

 

“What?”

 

“I said I want to receive the treatment.”

 

Bioust gently smiled again. This time, there was no wind.

 

It was never the wind that caused Layla’s heart to shake pointlessly.

 

Layla frowned as she looked up at Bioust, who was one one head taller than her. Somehow, she didn’t want to see his smiling face.

 

As if, That’s right! You got caught! It was saying that.

 

Especially when he lowered his head and put his ear in front of her face. She didn’t know what it was, but I kept thinking that I might have said something wrong.

 

“Should I go lower?”

 

Layla’s lips could barely touch his ear even when she tiptoed, so Bioust meekly bent his knees.

 

As soon as Bioust’s ears appeared in front of her, Layla hesitated for a moment. But when she saw the redness in his ear, she knew she had to get rid of it right away.

 

Layla slowly opened her mouth.

 

***

 

T/N:

 

Best actor award goes to Bioust!! Wohoa!

 

***

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