23. By the Lakeside (5)
Arthur’s eyes followed Amelia’s back. After she was out of sight, gone were all the expressions from his face—he stared sharply at the depths of the overgrown trees.
“To call this ‘eavesdropping’ isn’t really accurate, it is not? After all, all you did is stand there—it is us who didn’t notice, due to your fleeting presence.” After Arthur proclaimed so, from behind the thick bushes, someone finally announced his presence.
“—as one would expect of Arthur-sama.”
The voice owner said in an indifferent tone clear of hesitation as he walked out.
“First of all, I humbly apologize. No matter how it may seems to be, it truly wasn’t my intent to eavesdrop.” The man, Lewis, smiled.
Arthur didn’t even bother masking his disdain.
“One foot out of that hiding place of yours, and you already have the courage to speak about humbleness and whatnot to me, huh?”
“Indeed. After all, I did what I did out of my utmost consideration of you two. It is not my place to hinder a conversation between two people. This is just my way of not being a bother.”
“I’m asking if you did this per William’s instructions.”
“—no way. There’s no reason for William-sama to do so.”
“Ahh, so it’s just part of your personality, then.” Arthur felt a little annoyed at Lewis’ total indifference.
“I don’t feel compelled on repeating something that all of us know already—Amelia-sama is the fiancée of William-sama. It is my duty to protect her, even if it means turning you—the kingdom’s prince—into my enemy—“
“—ha, yet more ridiculous nonsense. Do you think that I didn’t know? The one who arranged Lady Amelia to become William’s fiancée was you, wasn’t it? It is also you, who desired Lady Amelia, and not William—!” Arthur’s right eye turned red again. The shine rivaled the intensity of his thoughts—hence, it turned a dazzling, brilliant red.
Facing Arthur’s gaze, Lewis didn’t even flinch.
“—haha, what is this? You’ve become noisy.” Instead, he made a fool out of Arthur. “—more importantly—” He added, in a tone uncharacteristic of himself.
“—it’s useless to even try to fight me, you do know that, right? …Other than that, everything that you’ve summed up until now is correct. As expected of someone who possesses the power to [read people’s hearts]. Still, I’ll have to applaud you, nonetheless. Because I know that even without that, you’re a true genius.”
“—is this your true nature…?”
At the end of Arthur’s sight, Lewis was smiling—or to be more precise, his lips crooked, showing a faint, disturbing replica of a smile.
“It is, indeed. In truth, I wanted to appear and introduce myself all along—but you looked at me with an extremely scary face, my fear stopped me—it has been a decade, hasn’t it? Time sure flies.” Lewis’ smile turned meaningful.
“You monster, stop with those barrages of lies.”
“…A monster? Surely, that isn’t true. I’m a human, and so are you—not to forget, Amelia-sama, as well.”
Arthur glared at Lewis begrudgingly, and bit his lip.
Lewis stared at Arthur with his dark eyes.
“Haa… it seems that I truly am hated. Well, if you truly know anything, then I suggest you against doing anything reckless. My one and only aim is Amelia-sama. It’s alright, I won’t do anything to your precious William—after all, he’s also precious to me.”
“You won’t be able to lay your hands on Lady Amelia—after all, she too, has her ‘one and only aim’—it’s William.”
“I’m a hundred times more aware of that than you. That’s why—if one pair of hands isn’t enough, I’ll get as many pairs as it needed to claim her. Hence again, I advise you to not do anything needless. Otherwise, I’ll show you what I’m truly capable of, Your Majesty.” Lewis’ voice was so cold, it felt like it could freeze anything.
Towards Lewis’ words, Arthur’s face distorted in confusion.
“Lewis, what’s your actual purpose? Why would you go that far just to get her?”
“Is there even a need to ask? You do realize she’s the same as us, right?”
“…But, when I use my power before, she didn’t notice it.”
“But you can’t [read] her, can you?”
“…We might be the same, but at the same time, we’re also different. I’m the only one who can understand her pain, her suffering—everything that she isn’t willing to share with anyone else. You’ll never understand her—William, too, won’t.”
For the first time, Lewis’ expression—especially his eyes—showed genuine sincerity, undoubtedly because of his profound feelings towards Amelia—seeing that, Arthur’s mouth involuntarily shook.
After staring at Arthur with satisfaction, Lewis turned his heels.
“I’ll have to excuse myself—I’m going after Amelia-sama.”
Lewis disappeared quickly, leaving the still baffled and unsatisfied Arthur behind.
At that time, near the cove—…
“Where do you think you’re going!?”
As soon as the boat arrived on the shore, Edward and Brian had to deal with their sister storming into the forest without saying anything whatsoever. They approached William, whom was tying the boat to the pier, and inquired;
“…I saw her crying—William, you finally told her, huh?” “Gosh, things truly became troublesome in the end.”
William’s face was clouded. He was troubled.
“…Sorry. I might’ve gone too far…” William appeared to be conflicted, which was unlike his usual carefree-self.
The twin stared at William’s face.
“…How unusual for you to be apologizing like this.” “Yeah, this is the first.”
William frowned. “What kind of person do you think I am? I, too, am capable of feeling guilty!”
“No, no, I don’t mean it like that…” “Yeah, usually, you won’t apologize for this kind of thing.”
“…Is that so.”
“Yes, yes, you didn’t realize that?” “It might’ve been because you’re now in a serious thing!”
“What are you guys even talking about right now…”
The twin shrugged their shoulders.
“This is why relationship newbies are—” “Y’know! The serious thing between you and Lady Amelia! Now that you’ve been engaged with her out of love, you’ve decided to be committal and all that stuff, right?!”
William listened and his eyes widened for a moment. To avoid suspicion, he immediately answered. However, his countenance suggested that his mind was somewhere else at the moment.
“—Aah, yes. I …love her.”
“—it is as I thought!” “Oi, oi, spill it! How did you make that tomboy lady fall for you?” “Yes! Share with us all the juicy details! You might not know this, but we are her old friends!”
Hearing the two, William felt a bit of unrest.
“…Did you guys talk to her?” Then, at last, he noticed. “Speaking of which, where is she? Where’s Lady Amelia?”
It had been a while since William arrived, and still, Amelia had yet to appear. Not only Amelia, but Arthur and Lewis, as well.
—a revolting premonition rose in William’s chest.
“Edward, answer me. Where’s Lady Amelia?”
“Dunno. It could be that she’s talking a walk…” “…Right, I do recall her walking with Arthur on the way here.”
“What…?” Hearing that, William grimaced and immediately took his leave, running to the forest.
Edward and Brian muttered as they saw William off.
“Too bad for you, Arthur. Time’s running out.” “We too, want to see William happy, y’know?”
William’s retreating figure was no longer visible.
Nevertheless, the two kept staring at the forest with serious expressions—as if foreseeing the unprecedented happenings of the future.
***T/N : Gosh… 23 chapters in and Lewis got more spotlight than our Male Lead, William. The cold and warm type who won’t hesitate to burn the whole kingdom to ashes just for the sake of his love, huh? Can’t say I love him, but can’t say I hate it either.