Chapter 9. Between Friendship and Love (5)





Huge thanks to OnitaChan for the kofis! (3/3)




Chloe began to read the letters. Her dignity as a Marchioness wasn’t important in that moment.


“Huh? What is this?”

And she soon couldn’t help but cry.


She knew for a long time that Gerard loved Leila. She’d read his desperate love letter several times in the book inside her dreams as she watched them from afar.


However, it was shocking to read the letters that Gerard wrote with his feelings conveyed through each word.


[Forget what others say, Leila. You shine the most when holding a sword. But, do others’ words matter more than mine?]


[Frederick Anata, are you sure he’s a good guy? They say you shouldn’t judge people by rumors, but I’m concerned.]


[Congratulations, Leila! Such a perfect diplomatic answer deserves praise from Her Majesty the Empress. I’m so proud of you!]


He didn’t just say he loved her. The letters were full of affection, adoration and caring, which she was jealous of.


Chloe only shed more tears as she read her husband’s letters, which reeked of fresh love. It was miserable, because she compared her situation to Leila’s, who was so easily loved like this.


Chloe wiped away her tears, being careful not to let them drop on the letters and create a stain.


“I hate you so much.”

“Why are you making me read this? Why are you making me look through this? Why are you making me feel so miserable? This is… all your fault.’


“I hate you.”


Chloe read Gerard’s letters, which were many, and cleared her blurry vision several times. However, she couldn’t read the letters well, whether it was because she was drunk or anxious.



Chloe took a deep breath and tried to concentrate.


She was a mess. She was anxious because of her friend who was sleeping behind her, because she couldn’t stop crying, and because her mind was hazy due to the alcohol.


However, Chloe eventually found the letter that caused the problem. The letter was distinctly different from the others on first glance. It seemed uncharacteristically short.


Knock, knock.


Then, someone knocked on the door. Chloe was startled, so she hurriedly closed the letterbox and put it back in its place. She did it in such a hurry that she hit her finger, but she couldn’t afford to feel the pain.


Knock, knock.


In the meantime, the person knocked once more.


“Y-you can come in.”




It was Frederick.


“She didn’t come no matter how long I waited.”

He glanced over at his wife, who was sleeping against the sofa, and then to Chloe, who was standing awkwardly in front of him. The atmosphere in the room was unusual.


“My wife is drunk, but the Marchioness seems okay.”


“…Oh, I just woke up, too.”

Chloe avoided Frederick’s eyes and equivocated.


“Hm. I guess you both drank away your troubles.”


Frederick guessed while glancing at the empty bottles that Leila and Chloe had consumed. Actually, they were almost all emptied by Leila.


Frederick gently shook Leila’s shoulder.


“Leila, let’s go to our room.”


“Yes, it’s me. You know you’re not good at drinking, but you still drank so much.”


“Hehe, Derrick. Hug me.”

Leila smiled and stuck her tongue out. Frederick chuckled and hugged Leila.


“You should return to your room too, Marchioness.”

Frederick spoke to Chloe. Chloe nodded and followed the ducal couple out of the study.


The great hall during midnight looked elegant yet eerie. Chloe walked quietly alongside Frederick.


Three people, or rather the two people who were walking, stopped at a crossroads after having walked without saying anything for quite a while. The ducal couple’s room was on the right, while Chloe’s room was on the left.


“Then, Marchioness. Have a good rest.”


“Yes, have a peaceful night.”


The moment Chloe was about to turn around after bidding him good night, the Grand Duke, whom she thought had already entered his room, suddenly spoke to her.


“But, Marchioness.”

“Pardon, yes?”

“…Have you been crying?”

Chloe covered her mouth in surprise upon hearing Frederick’s question.


“Uh… Yawn! Maybe it’s because I yawned.”

Chloe gave a sloppy excuse. Frederick’s gut said that the Marchioness was lying. However, he decided not to push his wife’s friend any further.


“I see.”

Frederick turned and headed into his bedroom. Chloe was inwardly relieved.




She put her hand in her skirt pocket and touched the crumpled paper. It was the letter that she read earlier before being startled by the appearance of Frederick.


Chloe’s steps towards her room grew quicker and more eager. She eventually broke into a run. A knight escort of Blanchett who was guarding the front door seemed surprised, but Chloe paid no attention to him.


Creak, click. 


Seeing that Abel was sleeping, Chloe closed the door as quietly as possible. Luckily, Abel was asleep with a comfortable expression on his face. She approached Abel, who was afraid of the dark, with a dim lamp and placed it on the nightable.


Chloe kneeled down once again in front of the dimly lit lamp. She took out the crumpled letter from her pocket and opened it.


[To Leila,


I understand what you mean. If that is what you really wish for I will comply.


Your old friend, Gerard]


Tears that Chloe had held back with all her might flowed down her face. The tears eventually fell onto the letter and smudged the ink. It was then that Chloe’s last hope vanished without a trace.




The two noblewomen had gotten drunk. Leila had a headache and Chloe had chest pain, but the similarity between them was that they both suffered a stomach ache.


The picnic, where they were supposed to go to the frozen lake, was naturally delayed. The children seemed disappointed, but they couldn’t complain because their mothers were ill.


However, the children’s patience wasn’t bound to last that long.


“Mom, when are you going to get up?”

Chloe woke to Abel’s anxious voice calling for her. Her swollen eyes were cold.


Abel spent his morning reading books with the Anata siblings in the library and practicing swordsmanship in the training hall.


However, his mother hadn’t woken up even when afternoon came around, so he began to feel anxious. Everyone was kind to him, but the Archduke’s castle was an unfamiliar space. The child gradually felt alone.


After lunch, Abel didn’t step out of the bedroom where Chloe was resting. The child would sit beside the bed, fidgeting with his mother’s face and hands, and even occasionally talking to her as if she were awake. 


“Young master, it’s because your mother is tired. Do you want to enjoy refreshments with me until the Marchioness wakes up?”


Jane, the maid who followed Chloe to the North, tried to comfort Abel, but it wasn’t enough.


“No! I’ll stay by mother’s side.”


The child’s anxious voice woke his mother up. Forcing her eyelids open, she could see Abel’s worried blue eyes that resembled hers.


Chloe cried herself to sleep last night with a heavy heart.


“…My child.”

Chloe called Abel in a hoarse voice.


“Mom, have you woken up? Are you sick?”

When Chloe woke up, Abel began to ask her questions. This was because his mother’s swollen face was deemed as very sickly in the eyes of the child.


Actually, Chloe wasn’t sick, she was just exhausted from crying so much last night.


“I don’t think it will hurt as much if you hug me, Abel.”


Chloe said while opening her arms. Her son hurriedly ran into her arms.


“Please don’t be sick, mother.”

His blue eyes were moist and watery. He was very worried about his mother. Chloe patted Abel on the back.


She also greeted Jane, who was standing beside him, with an awkward expression. Jane must have been struggling to comfort Abel.


“Madame, are you hungry? I’ll bring you a meal right away.”

Jane left the room to prepare a meal for her master.


“Abel, were you worried about your mother?”


Abel nodded in Chloe’s arms. Chloe gently pushed back the child’s hair and kissed his exposed forehead.


“Sorry for making you worry. Also, you were upset that we couldn’t go on a picnic today, weren’t you?”


Abel was upset that he couldn’t go to the frozen lake. She explained to him.


“I’m really sorry that I couldn’t keep my promise. Let’s go tomorrow.”

“Sure. Don’t get sick, mom! I promised father that I’d protect you.”


Despite Abel’s admirable remark, Chloe couldn’t smile as brightly as she used to. Everything that reminded her of Gerard only caused pain.


Nevertheless, Abel’s lovable side brought a smile to Chloe’s face.


“Also, mother…”

Chloe suddenly felt like choking and struggled to clear her throat.


“I’ll do anything to protect you.”


‘Thanks to you, I have no regrets. Even if I went back to the past… I’d choose Gerard all over again so that I could meet you, Abel.’


Abel, who didn’t know what else to say, tried to check on his mother, who seemed to be crying. However, Chloe held Abel tighter, so that the child couldn’t see her face.


“I love you, my baby.”

“I love you too, mother.”


Abel murmured a reply in Chloe’s arms. The confession of her child was more than enough to strengthen her resolve.




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