“Are you done crying?”
She was crying and ran out of breath, but that was it. She couldn’t cry anymore.
When she wiped off her eyes with the back of her hand, he held her hand and prevented her from doing so.
She couldn’t believe he touched her so casually like that.
As soon as she thought they were completely open to each other, she heard a small laugh next to her.
He had a faint smile on his face, whether he was unaware of the situation or was not entirely in his right mind.
“Why are you laughing happily like that?”
When she asked with a glance, the man smiled and raised the corners of his mouth.
“You’re angry at me now. I guess you’re getting more comfortable with me now.”
“… Weren’t we close with each other?”
She was a little taken aback by his words and answered with that.
She thought they were in a state where they had gotten more than just comfortable with each other.
Even though his face was close enough to reach her, no one was taking the initiative to withdraw.
They were holding hands and their shoulders were brushing against each other.
The man nodded in affirmation.
Seeing that, Hazel felt relieved on her own and heaved a sigh of relief.
Though, she felt guilty to be sorry for him.
The man added that he was okay because he chose her on his own accord, but he was sure that he would have made a different choice if she had not entered the library and he wouldn’t have seen her as well.
She just realized why the Emperor summoned her here. In a word, I was the bait to catch him. In short, she was bait to catch him.
She wondered why he locked up the man in this room.
“The sun is rising.”
His murmur made her jump up from her position quickly.
When she looked at the window, the sun was really rising. As the world started to brighten slightly, they thought about the same thing simultaneously.
It was time to bid farewell to each other.
Leaving behind the feeling of disappointment, they made a brief eye contact. In the end, Helen was the one who got up first.
“Then, see you tomorrow night.”
His voice was filled with sorrow.
Helen put back the robe on her body and opened the door. The man, who she thought would cling onto her, followed her suit and didn’t say anything.
“There is something I want to ask you….”
Helen, who almost walked out of the room, suddenly turned around.
She didn’t want to leave with the unanswered question lingering uncomfortably in her mind.
“In the forest… So….”
Helen was unconsciously hesitant to ask him.
‘Did you happen to meet me in the forest?’
The reason why it was so hard for her to ask this was… because the behavior of the man she saw back in the forest was strange, as if he was a different person.
Eventually, a different question came out of Helen’s mouth instead.
“Are you mad at me?”
The man’s answer came out fast. Moreover, it sounded certain.
“Why are you so fast to answer it?”
“Because I’m not angry.”
The man seemed to be curious and wondered why she thought that way.
So, is the encounter in the forest really just my imagination?
But then, it was difficult to imagine that he treated her that way.
It’s nice to see you. It’s a man who even shakes his tail in the fantasy. He was the man who would wag his tail in joy in her imagination when seeing her.
“Don’t think like that. I’ve never been angry at you.”
The man carefully raised his hand and caressed Helen’s face.
The man had a hunch. That he has to make it through the day with this one last touch.
That might be the reason he touched Helen’s face with a more earnest touch.
“Don’t think about anything and return safely. When you have time on your way back, wave your hand at the window, I’ll be there.”
The man, who had been holding her as if he wasn’t going to let her go, took off his hand first.
Helen let out words of protest after contemplating for a bit due to the guilty feeling she felt inside.
“You didn’t see me.”
She waved a few times ever since she met him in the library. But she has never seen him.
He spoke as if he was ashamed.
“…Right. I’m sorry.”
The man blushed slightly for some reason when he answered her.
It was her first time seeing him again since he had been out of her sight for a while, and now it was too late to postpone her departure even for a moment.
“I’ll go now.”
Helen put on the robe again and left the room.
The sound of footsteps running through the hallway echoed, and the man put his forehead on the door to concentrate on the sound.
Step, step, step.
Listening to the sound of the small footsteps running away, the man kept back his sorrow.
Meanwhile, Helen held the robe tightly with her hands, keeping the hood on her head.
She pressed her cheeks, which were burning pleasantly with the back of her hand.
“Why are you acting so sweetly like this….”
He really didn’t know the boundary.
There was a boundary for acting sweet too…!
Helen stopped running and turned around, looking at the empty hallway where there was no one and waved her hand.
She didn’t see him again this time, but today she believed that he was listening to her.
It became a milieu where she was able to meet him comfortably during the night.
Although it felt awkward to come all the way here while being in the arms of a stranger.
[t/n: she most likely refers to the knight who help her cross the wall.]
Nonetheless, she was lucky to be able to avoid people’s watch.
She also already learned about the name of the knight. His name was ‘Van’.
He didn’t say anything about what the Emperor did. Other than telling her that she shouldn’t leave this room for sure.
“Are you really fine with this?”
While sitting on the sofa like usual, the man asked Helen while twisting her hair in his finger.
“You are alone in a room with a stranger.”
At that moment, he grinned when Hazel stiffened.
It was a captivating smile which was enough to hypnotize others, but Helen was taken aback for a different reason.
“How can I consider you as a stranger?”
The man was speechless for a moment.
Did she have no idea what he was trying to say?
He knew that the woman was slow-witted, but he had a strong hunch that he would have to try hard to make her realize it.
“…You have a knack for making people speechless.”
Helen tilted her head because she didn’t understand what he said.
Then he let out a brief sigh.
“What if it’s not in the library? You said you liked books.”
Oh, that’s what he was trying to say.
So the point wasn’t about a stranger, but the room.
Helen thought about that while shaking her head from side to side.
“I’m fine with this place, too. If it’s books, there are ones over there as well ….”
And because you are here, too. Moreover, it was bright here so the assassins wouldn’t be able to come.
She didn’t have the courage to spit out the last word, so she tried hard to suppress it and kept it back only to herself.
When her soft cheeks turned red at the thought known only by her, he poked at her cheek with his finger.
“What are you thinking that makes your cheeks turn red like that?”
“Hm… Book? You’re thinking about books, right?”
She was appalled and shouted at him when he was going to set fire in the library.
He remembered a memory of a quiet, fragile, vulnerable and sickly woman who was suddenly appalled and shouted at him.
She really liked books.
She couldn’t even read the books inside the library because she had to help him. Due to that, he felt kind of guilty for her having to go against her own wishes.
“I liked books but….”
“I also like other things now.”
“What is it?”
Helen’s eyes shook at the man’s question.
During the brief moment, the spring breeze blew gently through his heart.
“You’re not talking about me, are you?”
She turned her head away because she didn’t know how to respond to the man who had a bright smile on his face while asking so.
“S-Shall we talk about something else instead?”
“Talking about what?”
Why did he keep moving closer to her?
The man smirked while effortlessly leaned closer to her.
Now there wasn’t even a small gap between them.
The man stared at her and urged her for an answer.
“Hm? About what?”
As he pushed her as if trying to make her speak, Helen felt like her sight was spinning.
Why is this guy acting so sly like this…!
It wasn’t really difficult to deal with him when he lost his temper, or clinging childishly to her.
Instead, the sight of his smiling face while asking her if she liked him made her speechless and her face heated up.
“I like you too.”
Helen opened her eyes wide in surprise at the sudden confession.
Then the man smiled, lightly gathered Helen’s hands, clenched them, and kissed her on the back of her hand. Then, he smiled and gathered both of Helen’s hands together with his hands before pressing his lips on the back of her hand.
“I like you.”
It was a young love confession.
Helen’s face heated up helplessly.
She never told him about her feelings, but he acted as if he had received the answer to his confession.
“I really like you.”
The man kissed the back of her hand once again. And repeatedly.
Helen was completely swayed because he seemed so sincere while saying that.
A handsome and gorgeous man pressed his lips on the back of her hand while confessing to her.
It felt like something that would only appear in the fairy tales.
Their eyes collided with each other when he raised his head slightly. It seemed like his eyes were naturally asking, ‘We share the same feeling, right?’.
Helen couldn’t answer it.
It was because she felt guilty. However, the least of her conscience was telling her that she couldn’t nod here.
Because she was married.
She never saw her husband’s face, but she was obviously a married woman.
She didn’t quite remember, but he might not be married….
The problem would have been bigger if he was married.
In Helen’s head, the image of the Emperor was becoming a scum that went beyond the worst and couldn’t be discarded.
She was a scum, too. She seemed to have become a louse who hit on a clueless man.
It was when he touched and kissed each one of her fingers.
“Let’s choose your name!”
Helen pretended not to know and pulled away her hand.
The man’s eyebrows furrowed slightly.
His feelings were hurt when she took away his hand, but he didn’t have the heart to ask.
He knew what made Helen unable to accept him.
Besides, he too.
He didn’t intend to hold her back because he still couldn’t escape this room. Yet.
He replied apathetically.
“It’s unnecessary, I would prefer you to approach and poked me with your finger because I don’t have a name for you to address me, but I would like it if you give one.”
Helen’s cheeks turned bright red at his words. She didn’t know how to relieve the heat on her cheeks due to the man who said that he would like whatever name she would give him.
“What does your name mean?”
At that moment, Helen’s expression darkened.
Helen, according to the language of her homeland, meant ‘fallen star’.
It didn’t have a good meaning. Even worse because it was the name given to the Emperor’s daughter.
The star that was supposed to be high in the sky, but fell to the ground instead.
“Edith means the one and only sun.”
“That sounds grand.”
Helen didn’t sound pleased when talking about her name. He noticed it sooner and held Helen’s hand tightly.
“I guess you didn’t really like your name.”
“No way. The meaning behind it is great.”
It was her sister’s name. The one and only sun. Anyone could tell that she was born as a blessing from the moment she came out to the world.
To her father, and mother.
Edith was showered with gratuitous affection. Even now, she was filling the position of her sister in this palace.
Nevertheless, she didn’t even receive any affection in return.
“It seems like your name represents your homeland, doesn’t it?”
“Right. My father named me that way.”
“Then you should choose a name for me.”
“I don’t have any idea about names, so how can I choose one for you?”
Helen added while considering carefully, trying to think of any ideas.
The name that suited him.
His real name would be different, so she decided to choose a nickname for him to be used for the time being until she found the suitable one.
He seemed naive with a tall and huge body, and at the same time he also seemed good at using swords.
His hand was rough and filled with calluses every time she touched it.
He had firm muscles that she once saw when he took off his shirt last time. He must have trained consistently.
Moreover, his appearance, seen under the bright chandelier, was extraordinary.
He had thick eyebrows and sharp yet big eyes that made him seem like a warmonger, and she never saw a man with a more prominent nose than him in the capital.
Moreover… even his skin was pale.
Helen, who had been staring at him for quite a while, suddenly came up with one name.
“Mars… How about Mars?”