65. Reunion (5)
“Amelia—!! Amelia—!! Answer me, Amelia—!!”
The man was no longer there. No, to be more precise, the man had escaped. The man who was strangling Amelia, once he noticed Lionel’s arrival, along with his blue knight coat of arms, fled at a glance.
Lionel too, was distracted by Amelia’s unconscious body. He couldn’t follow the man.
“Amelia, Amelia—! …Damn—! Why is this girl always—!”
In Lionel’s arms, Amelia’s face was pale. He didn’t fail to notice the painful red bruise on her neck. Her breathing was shallow. Lionel stared at the unconscious Amelia, growing more panicked per second.
There were trace of tears on her cheeks. It wasn’t hard to imagine how tormented she was. Moreover, Amelia’s breathing was too shallow—which wasn’t good.
“I’m sorry, Amelia!”
Lionel muttered and reached for Amelia’s back. He lower the zipper on the back of her dress, and then lowered her dress to about her upper arm. Then, he loosened her tight corset—due to being unfamiliar with it, he fumbled with the string. At the same time, color gradually returned to Amelia’s cheek.
“…you’re alright now, Amelia.”
Lionel whispered to her. He gently put Amelia’s body on the ground. Then, he looked at the boy who was lying beside her.
There was a silver hair ornament piercing the boy’s thigh. Lionel knew who it belonged to.
The thing stuck in the back of the man who fled earlier was also the same.
Lionel pondered—perhaps it was Amelia’s serious resistance, or perhaps it was intentionally prepared, considering that she was there without a companion. Either way, it wouldn’t be good to leave the hair ornament stuck as it was.
Lionel gently touched the hair ornament. Once he felt sure it hadn’t pierced the boy’s thick blood vessels, he slowly pulled out the hair ornament. At the same time, the face of the unconscious boy distorted momentarily. There wasn’t too much blood, but it must had hurt a lot.
After Lionel had successfully pulled the hair ornament out, he wiped away the blood using the hem of his coat. Then he observed said hair ornament. It seemed like a normal hair ornament. However, it was noticeably sharper than ordinary ones. It was as if it was intentionally sharpened so it could be used to pierce something.
When Lionel noticed so, he narrowed his eyes to think for a moment. Then, he put the hair ornament in the inner pocket of his coat.
“What kind of person are you, exactly…” Lionel stared down at Amelia and muttered quietly.
When he first met her two months ago, he felt that something was odd about her—now, he was certain of it.
When she found out she had lost her voice, she wasn’t fazed at all. But, the moment after she had cut her arm with glass, she had a momentary breakdown and cried in fear, as if it was the end of the world. Carrying such a pointed hair ornament, she probably planned to stand up against opponents she otherwise wouldn’t be able to beat through sheer power alone.
Lionel knelt next to Amelia and gently stroked her cheek.
“For what reason did you do all this…”
His expression, albeit seemingly basked in compassion, was also very stern. He himself may not had noticed he made such face.
“I wonder if you’re truly happy…”
William’s face flashed across Lionel’s mind. Amelia’s fiancé—Earl Falmouth. Lionel had investigated William—or rather, he was just asking around for rumors regarding him—
—and what a thing he found—! Earl of Falmouth—William Cecil, had no bad rumors.
Everyone kept saying he was a great guy, sharp-witted, attentive, impeccable… William was in everyone’s good book. Even though such a thing usually shouldn’t be possible.
No matter how great the other party was, or how high his stature was, there should be one or two bad rumors regarding him.
The same went for Amelia. The stark contrast was, all the rumors circulating about her were bad. Listening to them, he almost reached for his ears. However, everyone also didn’t fail to add—“but, she seems to have changed recently, perhaps due to Earl Falmouth’s influence.”
Lionel couldn’t believe it at first, and doubted that perhaps they were talking about two different people. But the rumors were indeed about Amelia Southwell, Earl Falmouth’s fiancée.
Lionel kept recalling the moment he received hush money from William. He was a child no longer, as such, he knew what it meant. Due to that, he grew even more anxious, and started gathering rumors about the two—that was how he was able to meet Amelia again.
Lionel distorted his face regretfully. His subordinates would soon arrive. When that moment came, he had to pretend he didn’t know Amelia. He had to behave as if it was their first meeting—such a notion was unbearably depressing for him.
“Amelia, please, wake up.”
Lionel’s eyes wavered as he touched Amelia’s cheek. At the same time, fleetingly, Amelia’s eyelids fluttered. When Lionel noticed that, he widened his eyes.
In respond to his voice, Amelia slowly turned around and opened her eyes. Her eyes were still unfocused, but at the time being, it was more than enough for Lionel.
“What a relief. You have awaken.”
In response to Lionel’s voice, Amelia tilted her head slightly. When she recognized Lionel, the question became apparent in her face—“why are you here?”
“It’s my mission to locate you—ah, but, I’m truly glad you are safe…”
Lionel said so and smiled gently in reassurance to Amelia.
Amelia squinted as she realized something from his expression. She tried to slowly sit up, only to fail.
“—don’t, it’s better if you don’t try to move, yet. You were just strangled, after all.”
Even though Lionel told her to stay still, Amelia managed to lift her upper body. Then, she slowly reached for her neck. There were red finger marks there—painful-looking red bruises. Lionel inadvertently looked away from them—it’s too miserable, he couldn’t look.
Then, he muttered.
“Amelia… that’s, I, I just want to ask you one thing…”
Lionel lifted his face, only to be surprised at what Amelia had begun to do in front of him.
“What, are you doing…?”
Lionel was in utter bafflement. Amelia used her compact mirror—taken out of nowhere, to apply white powder to her neck, no doubt to cover the bruises.
This was just not normal—Lional was now convinced. The woman named Amelia Southwell was very peculiar. Even though she had been strangled and was on the verge of dying, she tried to conceal her bruises without crying.
Why would she need to do that?
What was she thinking?
Lionel had no idea what he could do—he was confused as hell.
But Amelia took no notice—more like, she didn’t care. She turned her attention towards the boy who was lying unconscious after she had succeeded on concealing her bruises. When she confirmed that her hair ornament was no longer stabbing his thigh, she took out a notebook and a pen from somewhere and started writing. When she was done, she showed it to Lionel.
Because of what was written there, Lionel’s eyes widened.
“…But this child is a pickpocket. I have an obligation to hand this child over to the authorities. It’s also my obligation to take you to somewhere safe, I can’t just leave? ‘Then capture me alongside him. After all, I was the one who stabbed this boy. This boy turned out this way because of my actions. Do you have my hair ornament?’ Amelia, what in the world are you planning—“
Amelia’s gaze pierced Lionel—it was both terrifying and serious. He became increasingly confused. She wanted him to leave her be and pretend that the whole-dying-thing didn’t happen.
***T/N : YES!!! LIONEL, IT’S LIONEL!!!!! OMG I MISS YOU SO MUCH, BRO!!!! AND BRO, PLS, REALIZE THAT IT’S INDEED A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP AND AMELIA IS BEHAVING TOXIC AF!!!!!!!!!
Like, I don’t wanna be that shipper who’s like ‘OMG LIONEL REACHED AMELIA’S FIRST AND NOT THOSE OTHER DUDES, THEREFORE HE DESERVES TO BE WITH AMELIA!!!!!’ but c’mon. At this point, I’m just gonna judge all the males through what they did and didn’t do. For example, there’s Lewis that basically screw around with other people’s life ‘FUHAHAHA YOUR LIFE(S) R ALL IN MY PALM’ just to get Amelia for his own oh-so-twisted-love, and even set up a scenario where she would have no choice but to be with him later. Then there’s William, who starts warming up to Amelia out of pity, doing it super self-servingly just so he could free himself from his feeling of responsibility and guilt–
— THEN THERE’S LIONEL.
This dude did everything purely out of his concern for Amelia. He dug around about her, actually run to her unlike a certain attendant who gave up 1/4 way, and their chemistry is top-notch! WHY CAN’T THEY BE TOGETHER. OH, OF COURSE, BECAUSE AMELIA LIKE IT IF THE LOVE IS FORBIDDEN AND EXTREME RATHER THAN ACTUAL LOVE BORN OF ACTUAL CONCERN, NURTURING FEELINGS, AND THOSE OTHER OVERRATED STUFF, OBVIOUSLY. IF IT ISN’T CRAZY, WILD, AND DANGEROUS, IT AIN’T LOVE, PPL!!!
but I could be wrong and the Author might be setting up William and Lewis to be the actual antagonist(s), in that case, I’m all in.