41. Point of No Return (5)
William was awakened by a loud call.
When he lifted his face, he was sitting in a carriage. Beside him was Lewis who stared at him in concern.
“We aren’t even halfway there, yet… Do you feel terrible? I’m sorry, I should’ve prepared a better carriage.”
Lewis moved his gaze to the outside scenery.
It had been one hour since they left Etania. It was about time for the forest and lake they visited the other day to come into view.
Lewis probed if William had motion sickness, but William only shook his head.
“No, I’m fine—or rather, I’m worried about the fact that we’ll be using this carriage to transport Amelia home. Will she be alright?”
William laughed with self-ridicule. Lewis sensed that it had something to do with Arthur. Lewis narrowed his eyes and stared at William.
“…I’m terribly sorry.”
Lewis sounded tormented.
“Why are you apologizing? It was me who ordered for the carriage.”
“No, that’s not the case…”
Lewis’ serious expression immediately told William of what he was really saying. Lewis also looked sad.
“…It’s alright. Sooner or later, I knew this would happen. After all, my relationship with Arthur has been estranged for a while, now.”
Contrary to his words, William seemed to be thinking a lot about it.
William slowly dropped his gaze at his feet.
“…Who would’ve thought?”
William muttered. He looked anguished, which was quite unusual for him.
William was in dilemma—I couldn’t—I don’t want to believe it.
Lewis said that Arthur had humiliated Amelia.
Lewis stared at his Master—at this moment, it was as if William’s pain was his own.
Lewis slowly opened his mouth, as if pleading.
“William-sama, I’m entirely responsible for this. If I didn’t recommend Amelia-sama to you, then none of this would’ve happened. It’s my fault that she lost her voice—it’s also my fault that you fought with Arthur-sama. So please, don’t look like that.”
“I beg of you. Such a face doesn’t suit you. You must stay strong. After all, right now, Amelia-sama is hurt. Yesterday, when I saw her, she definitely smiled at me—however, no trace of her dignified strength could be seen.”
Lewis’ eyes swayed.
“William-sama won’t love her, I know that well. She also doesn’t love you. This entire marriage is just a contract—however, only you, William-sama, only you can stand beside her and protect her.”
Listening to Lewis, William’s eyes widened.
He was convinced—Lewis’ gaze held strong feelings for Amelia. When Amelia fell into the river the other day, Lewis was also upset like never before.
“…Lewis, you love her.”
William said that with a severe expression.
Lewis’ expression quickly went taut—it appeared that he never wanted to be told that.
Lewis stayed silent.
“It’s okay. I’m not blaming you.”
William still looked grim, but he tried to appear as gentle as possible.
Lewis finally answered, his voice was so low—
“—…since ten years ago.”
“—TEN YEARS AGO—!?”
William suddenly screamed at Lewis.
“Y-you’ve known her for ten years…? Then, could it be, the reason that you picked her as my fiancée…”
William realized the possibility and his eyebrows furrowed again. Lewis squeezed out his words, expecting such a reaction from his Master.
“—I’m sorry, William-sama. I have no right to involve you in my personal affairs…”
“…I really wanted to get closer to her…”
Lewis’ eyes finally met with William again. However, William found difficulty in thinking when he saw how serious Lewis was.
“Does, does she know about it?”
“I haven’t told her.”
“No, not that! I’m one hundred percent sure you haven’t! What I’m asking is, is she aware of your feelings?”
Lewis was at lost for words.
“Honestly, be it you, or Arthur—both of you are troublesome…”
William finally seemed to give up. He put his hand on his forehead and closed his eyes with severe expression. Then, he frantically shook his head.
“This is bad. Very, very bad. Amelia told me that night, in the evening ball, that she had a man she loved in the past. She said she couldn’t forget him, hence, she didn’t want to be with anyone else. Before officially getting engaged, she stated her condition—I must never fall in love with her. I haven’t broke the oath, but…”
William was worried.
—there must had been something else she wanted to convey.
She probably didn’t want to be intimate with anyone other than her past lover. In other words, for the engagement to ensue, she made an oath to protect her own chastity. …but, Arthur hurt her.
Arthur was his friend—and Lewis, whom was his attendant, loved Amelia.
…He had no doubt every ounce of this was William’s responsibility.
If she found out about this, the engagement would be finished for sure.
Which was a problem. If his—the Marquis’—engagement was broken, it would tarnish his reputation severely. The reason she lost her voice must had been because of Arthur… In order to avoid the worst possible scenario…
“—it seems that my only option left is to beg Lady Amelia for forgiveness…”
***T/N: Is Lewis truly concerned of William’s well-being? Or is it perhaps just part of his act? …Lewis got the most development in this story, I think.