He should’ve left for the North.
As she wiped her eyes thinking it might be her imagination, the low voice indicated that it wasn’t a dream.
Why are you here Weren’t you going to the North” Her lips dried up in surprise and she felt an odd sense of joy.
Lia buttoned up her shirt again and moved as far away from him as possible.
“Don’t do anything strange and come here.”
“What do you mean strange I’m just putting on my jacket,” Lia said, puzzled.
“Your maid should be doing that.”
I think she went to the market.” She chuckled at answering quite nonchalantly.
He looked better than she had expected.
He wasn’t being crushed by sadness or rage.
Was he okay She felt a little relieved.
She finished buttoning her jacket up and sat across from Claude, who was staring at her.
She felt a little strange as she had just come back from the Marquis, declaring that she will stop living as a man.
“I came to apologize.”
“Pardon What about”
He stared into her eyes and spoke with a sigh.
“I did something terrible to you because of shallow curiosity and impulse.
Lia stared at him with a blank face.
He seemed to have grown a little thinner these past few days and the beard he grew made him look angular.
“What are you talking about”
“I’m sorry,” he said.
His apology hit her in the heart, but it was a pain different from what she had expected.
Lia held her shaking hands and waited until Claude said something.
“What took place that day, was very rude and lowly of me.
So, forget it.
Or you can blame me.
She felt she was being sucked in, as if she were on the edge of a cliff and someone was about to push her off.
Her clenched fist was trembling slightly.
The two of them were looking at each other, but there was a difference in their emotional states.
What is this feeling Claude taught me so much.
Joy, sadness, pain, suffering, craving, trembling, shame, and love.
Wasn’t this too many emotions that one person could teach
Lia quietly bit the inside of her trembling lips.
He stood up, picked up the sword case that was on the table, put it on his waist, and lightly patted her head.
Her sunken heart came alive at his touch.
She didn’t know why the simple touch of his hand on the top of her head felt so kind.
It seemed like she did have a fever.
She shook her head while fixing her gaze at where Claude was sitting.
“No, it’s because it’s hot.”
“No, you have a fever.
Your maid—” He reached out to touch her.
Lia stopped Claude from continuing.
She felt hypocritical, but her calm refusal made him pull his hand away.
He let out a long and slow sigh above her.
He then placed his hand on Lia’s shoulder briefly and left.
The door closed shut and the lavender scent was whisked away by the breeze coming through the window.
He left the house without leaving any trace of his scent.
She stared at the empty chair, scoffed, and removed her uncomfortable uniform.
Then off came the tight undergarment and socks.
As she put on her white pajamas, there was a lady with short hair reflected in the mirror.
Is it an annoying dream A mirage A fantasy She was excited that she thought she had met someone that recognized her regardless of her gender for a moment. So stupid.
There was no way…
Lia climbed into the bed and pulled the thin blanket up to her chin.
Her eyes stared at the ceiling as though there might be some answers there.
She noticed that her eyes were welling up.
She waved her hand in front of her eyes in an attempt to stop the tears.
It didn’t work.
She pulled the blanket over her head and swallowed her tears.
“What were you doing that you came now”
No, Your Majesty the Duke,” replied Pepe, correcting herself.
On his way out, Claude bumped into Pepe, who had just returned to the house.
He brushed his bangs annoyingly and pointed at the house.
“Your master is sick.
He has a fever, so go bring a doctor.
Or get medicine!”
“Young Mis—Master” asked Pepe, once again, correcting herself.
Lian is sick.”
Pepe was surprised and ran into the house.
Claude’s eyes sank as he followed Pepe’s steps.
As she seemed to have finished checking on Lia’s state, Pepe quickly came outside and spoke to Claude.
“I’ll bring a doctor now, Your Majesty.”
“By the way, you—.
What do you usually call Lian”
“Pardon Young Master—”
“Is that so”
Lian’s maid mumbled with her head low.
Then departed like she was running away.
Claude couldn’t tear himself away from the front of Canillian’s house.
He couldn’t make himself get in the car.
Inside, he was crying for sure.
He didn’t show his tears, but Claude knew.