Without realizing it, I had started running.
I still couldn’t believe that kid had pickpocketed someone—it had to be some kind of mistake!
I wanted to make sure of it with my own eyes!
That was when I noticed I had chased after the boy without telling William.
The more I ran, the narrower the road.
Tall bricks and stone walls soar on my left and right. I was slowly going towards a place where the sun didn’t reach.
I felt like I had been running for a while, now—
—twenty, no, thirty minutes?
But the boy went without stopping. I didn’t doubt he was trying to outrun me.
What do I do now?
Should I stop? I should turn back, right? William is surely worried about me. He must be looking for me, who suddenly disappeared.
Aah, I must return. I mustn’t inconvenience him!
But I’m worried about that kid… as I thought, I can’t go home now!
“Why are you following me!”
The boy didn’t seem to recognize me.
It was unfortunate that I couldn’t speak, as such, I couldn’t call out to him.
—if only I could speak!
Then surely, everything would be much easier.
Even though I said it was fine that my voice didn’t return—it wasn’t a lie, but right now, I missed my voice so much!
In the last two months, how much I had changed!
Before, I could easily say that I didn’t need the ability to speak—I didn’t need anything else. I didn’t want to be involved with other people. I shunned the world. From the bottom of my heart, I truly thought it was unnecessary to even speak.
What about now?
—I wanted to utter William’s name.
—I wanted to convey my love to him.
—and I wanted to call the name of that child who keep running away from me.
If it was me from two months ago, I wouldn’t chase the kid like this. I wouldn’t even spare him a glance—like everybody else. It would be something that fade into the background. Something that everyone else would forget, including me.
—aah, how I wish it were a different person. I wish it wasn’t this kid. Then I wouldn’t need to go through such difficulties. Hey, I’m begging you, please turn around.
Please, please stop for a moment. Just for a mere second. Just once, turn around—please, just show me your face, even if just a mere glimpse!
“What’s with you—!!”
I wondered if my wish was granted—the boy finally turned around.
It was just a mere glimpse, but it proved to be enough—that was all I needed.
As I thought, I wasn’t mistaken. It was indeed that boy. The boy too, recognized me instantly.
The boy—Nick, stopped right away. His eyes widened, it was as if he was staring at a ghost.
The name he muttered with a dumfounded expression sounded nostalgic…
—aah, indeed. It’s Nick! Nick—!! Only he would call me ‘Miria’…
Right at that moment, nostalgia pierced my heart. My heart was instantly tinged by sadness and regret.
Reflexively, I reached out to him, who stood still.
There was no reason behind it at all. I felt like it was what I absolutely had to do.
“—don’t touch me!!!”
Nick slapped my approaching hand.
Nick stood in front of me—if I was right, it had been two years since I last saw him.
He still had some childish features on him, but his body, which used to be thin, was now muscular. He was about the same height as me.
…But. The kindness his eyes used to exude back in those days—the gentleness he possessed even though he was stricken with poverty—there was no trace of it anywhere.
“What do you think you’re doing!?”
The feeling that resounded within that voice—pure hatred.
He didn’t even bother hiding his hostility.
I was taken aback because of his piercing glare. At the same time, a deep remorse impaled my heart.
I see. He has changed.
No—I let him become like this.
When we met, this child and I were very much alike—we lived while hating the entire world.
So, this was the result of said hatred.
I recalled how we parted ways—it wasn’t well.
At that time, I just wanted to stay out of William’s sight—that was the only thing that filled my mind.
When the bad reputation I created myself became widespread, I withdrew more and more into my own residence. That was right, the last time I met Nick…
“What’s the meaning of your face? Are you pitying me? Did you chase me all the way here to deliver some kind of sermon?”
His reddish-brown eyes, which used to be gentle and warm, like a flame swaying inside a lantern, were black—as if plunged into darkness.
The glint in his muddy eyes let me know of the harsh days he had gone through—and also how much he despised me.
“If your still possess that, oh, heart of gold—then what? Will you give me some cash like you used to in the good ol’ days? I wouldn’t mind if it’s a week, a month, or an entire lifetime’s worth of money! After all, for a noble lady like you, it should be cheap, right?”
Nick’s mouth distorted in ridicule.
He probably didn’t mean those words.
He wasn’t actually asking me for money.
He just wanted to let me know that he was blaming me.
To let me know how he felt. To let me know how far he had fallen—he just wanted to make sure his feelings was conveyed through.
But that was wrong!
If you blame someone else and turn your gaze away, you would find peace of mind—but only for a while! It would never lead to true salvation!
Indeed, that was what I had learned.
It didn’t mean that I couldn’t do anything. The reason he became like this, undoubtedly, was partly because of me back then.
I had no excuse.
There was no room for justification. All I could do now was accept Nick’s feelings. I mustn’t look away, I would receive his every words.
“—what? Say something! For what reason are you chasing me, that you would even come to such a place?”
“You wanted to tame me once again? Just like before? Must be utterly pleasing to have a puppet that dances when you pull its strings. Too bad. No trace of me from those days remains. The ‘Nick’ that you knew is dead—don’t feel too bad about it.”
Having said that, for an instant, Nick’s gaze turned at some point behind me.
I felt a presence sneaking up from behind and approaching me. I chose to lift my head, to at least confirm the situation—but alas, nothing more can be done. In front of Nick, right behind me—
—a thick arm entangled my neck as I tried to turn around and check the person’s identity. My body turned rigid. Something cold was pressed on the back of my neck.
The man restrained my entire body, but it seemed that he only had eyes for Nick.
“What took you so long? Your acquaintance?”
The man’s voice was low and heavy—but it didn’t sound like he intented to finish me right away—for the time being, I was relieved.
“Sorry, I went to eat a little.”
“Is she yours? She does seem fancy, this woman. From which brothel?”
“She isn’t a prostitute, mind you, but an aristocrat.”
“Hoo? An aristocrat?”
Listening to Nick’s words, the strength of the man’s arms loosened momentarily.
***T/N : Umm, the author is still introducing yet another ‘new’ harem member…?