11. Fate of the Engagement (5)
Amelia and William went to the terrace. The chilling night breeze brushed against their cheeks. Behind the thick clouds, the moon was hiding.
Amelia leaned on the terrace fence and silently stared at the garden. Meanwhile, William stared at Amelia’s back.
Silence continued on, and it was William who broke it.
“Lady Amelia, what is currently on your mind?”
That was William honest thought.
Amelia answered William while her back was still turned on him.
“What it is, I wonder…”
“Why do you avoid people? I asked Lewis—the way you treated your servants is very different compared to your peers. What’s the reason for that?”
William kept gazing at Amelia’s back and continued.
“I understand your refusal towards this engagement. I honestly never expected you would accept my proposal. This may sounds rude, but, even if your words of acceptance are false, my happiness that you accepted me is real.”
“—happy, you say…?”
Towards William’s words, Amelia gave off an extremely displeased aura. Her eyes were glaring at him.
“Thank you, but your white lie is unnecessary. I have said this already—I hate being made a fool of.”
That silenced William. Amelia’s current expression wasn’t that of her dignified, calm self—nor was it of her at the tea party.
Neither cold nor ruthless;
Neither gentle nor tender;
The only thing he could feel from Amelia was a dignified strength.
“This is… your true self, isn’t it?”
“Indeed. We are engaged. You’re going to be my husband, aren’t you? Then, when we’re alone together, this is whom I shall be and forever will be.”
“That’s… uh, I’m a little happy…”
Amelia let William’s words slid.
“From now on, whatever questions you might ask, I’ll answer—but before that, I want you to swear something to me.”
William frowned. “And if I don’t?”
“You can just kiss your engagement goodbye, then.”
William hid his displeasure towards Amelia’s bluntness behind his calm expression.
Alright, he could at least listen to the content, first.
Amelia saw readiness on William’s face and proceeded.
“—never fall in love with me.”
“Swear it. You’ll never fall in love with me.”
William was puzzled by Amelia’s serious expression.
—we’re going to get married anyway, so what’s the point of making your partner swear that?
“Why not? The reason isn’t all that important. First of all; swear—the reason, later.”
William thought—there’s no choice.
Beside, this oath of never loving Amelia, William was confident he could keep it.
“I understand. I swear. I’ll never love you.”
“Good, very good.”
“—the reason is simple: there’s someone else that I love, from the bottom of my heart.”
The ordinariness and naivety of her reason were the reasons William found it unexpected.
“Fufu~ William-sama, no matter what some might say about me, I’m still an ordinary human, too—did you forget that? You shouldn’t rely too much on Lewis’ depiction of me—“
There was a fleeting loneliness in Amelia’s eyes.
“—I had entirely given my heart to him, and no one else. That’s why I didn’t want to be with anyone else. I turned my face away from the world. But lately, I found that I can’t keep doing so—and the reason is you…”
“I once gave you a chance to annul the engagement—yet you didn’t do so. So, I’ve decided to let you take advantage of it. You can do as much as you want, use me, it’s fine. I’ll play the perfect lady—after this much, you understand what I mean, right?”
William felt that Amelia’s ironic smile overlapped with Lewis’.
“I understand. But tell me this.”
“What is it?”
“Your lover, what is he doing now?”
At William’s question, Amelia narrowed her eyes.
“—he has passed away.”
“That’s why, you needn’t worry about me seeing him.”
“…that’s how it is, huh.”
He never thought about that. Feeling heavy, William swallowed his words.
Amelia was laughing—not a dignified one, and certainly not a refined one, either—carefree, Amelia laughed without a care in a world.
Such a laugh was unbecoming for someone who was raised as a lady—a laugh without reservation.
“Fufufu~ I understand, now. You’re truly easy to read. I’ve never met Lewis, but now I feel him”
“—that’s a first. No one has said anything like that to me before.”
“Of course, with that Marquis father of yours, who would dare utter something so outrageous to you?”
Amelia retorted while shrugging.
“Can I ask a question, too?”
“What kind of person is Lewis?”
William couldn’t figure the intent of this question.
“I also tasked someone to investigate Lewis, but I didn’t gather much—actually, nothing, nothing at all… Does Lewis truly deserve that much credit from you?”
“Well, that’s only natural. I picked Lewis up from the streets when he was nine and named him. This may not be the answer …but from my heart, I trust Lewis.”
No lie could be found in William’s eyes.
“I see, I hope so, too, then… Let’s return to the ballroom. I’m going to dispel all my misdeeds. William, I’m sorry to ask this of you, but I need your help.”
Amelia entangled her arm around William’s, and the bright smile of a maiden soon returned to her face once again.
William smiled bitterly at Amelia’s steadfast transformation. His premonition told him that his days of boredom had come to an end.
**T/N: You sure you can keep that oath, young un’?