67. Reunion (7)
If only Lionel could be honest to William—
—why did you take your eyes off her—!? Why did you not firmly hold her hand—!?
Just looking at William’s guiltless, carefree smile made Lionel want to beat him up.
Don’t laugh at the pain she’s painstakingly trying to hide from you—!
But Lionel desperately shook that urge. Because he had promised her. He would never tell anyone about the grievous wound she had suffered. Especially William.
Not to mention the fact that William was the Marquis’ son. A single misstep would spell his demise.
That was why, Lionel faked a gentle smile.
“I’m undeserving of your gratitude.”
Behind the smile, he desperately buried his dark, heavy, thoughts.
William smiled happily towards Lionel’s attitude. He lowered his glance to the girl who was in his arm, clueless about her injuries…
…Such was the truth that Amelia wanted William to believe.
Therefore, Lionel locked his true emotions deep into his heart and smiled further.
“Alright, I shall guide you back to the main street.”
—he wondered if he could muster a laugh at that moment.
With that in mind, Lionel repositioned Nick—whom was about to slip—and took the lead. Then, Lewis came beside him.
Lewis expressed an uneasy look, then bowed to whisper to Lionel in a voice inaudible to the other two.
“Sir Lionel, there’s something I’d like to ask you…”
“What is that…?”
Towards Lewis’ somewhat cloudy face, Lionel asked back. His clerical smile had already vanished at that point.
“Yes… actually, when we were about to search for Amelia, Lord Conrad blocked us from proceeding ahead. It seems that Sir Lionel knows nothing about that, however, do you have the slightest clue of what’s happening?”
Lionel widened his eyes because of Lewis’ words. Conrad prevented Lewis and William from looking for Amelia…? The reason for their lateness started to resurface in Lionel’s mind. Lewis squinted at Lionel’s profile and continued.
“Sir Conrad said it would be dangerous to proceed. I certainly can understand where he’s coming from… But then why didn’t he stop Amelia from chasing the boy? Why did he need to let only Amelia go, why was William stopped?”
Listening to that, Lionel shut his mouth as he began to ponder. His feet kept walking without stopping.
William’s gentle voice resounded from behind, he was apparently caring for Amelia. Lionel opened his mouth again, thinking about Lewis’ implications, despite the discomfort in his voice.
“Because I’m but a low-ranking soldier, in the first place, I wasn’t even told that the search target is Amelia. I also wasn’t informed that you and the Earl were there. All I know was I had to protect the aristocratic lady who disappeared along with the pickpocket boy. You already know this boy is a pickpocket, right?”
Lionel looked at his toes and asked, then, he continued without waiting for Lewis’ reply.
“Hey, Lewis… you know of Amelia’s identity, right? She, to protect this boy, on the boy’s leg…”
Lionel supported the boy with his left hand alone, and pulled her hair ornament out of his inner pocket using his right hand. Then, he dropped it into Lewis’ left hand. Lewis stayed silent.
Lewis muttered, examining the sharpness of the hair ornament. He immediately put it inside his breast pocket, while smiling in annoyance.
“…Ah, so even you noticed it… yes, indeed it’s true—Amelia is no ordinary lady.”
“But, you’ll have to forgive me, as any further talk won’t guarantee your personal safety.”
Lionel gasped when he heard Lewis’ whisper.
He understood what the Earl’s attendant meant by that. Whether it was a bluff or a mere joke, Lewis’ profile as he walked beside him was so serious, it was scary…
…what appeared in Lionel’s mind was the breathless figure of Amelia.
“…No way, then, does the Earl…?”
“—the Earl doesn’t know. It’s because Amelia-sama really loves William-sama.”
So she didn’t want to involve him…?
Lionel narrowed his eyes to Lewis’ dark eyes, before staring straight forward again.
Before he noticed it, they were already on the crowded street. That meant they were already safe.
Moreover, the talk just now wasn’t heard by the other two, whom were busy listening to the chattering in the street.
Lionel opened his mouth, keeping his gaze straight forward.
“Hey, Lewis, do you remember the words I previously told you?”
Lewis seemed to recall those words immediately. He answered without hesitation.
“Yes, as if it’s only yesterday—you told us to come to you if we encounter any trouble, that you’ll gladly help.”
“Precisely… and, my intention is true… that’s why I researched further about the Earl and Amelia… and the more I know, the more concerned I’m towards her. When I meet Amelia today, my concerns basically become reality. However—I have no title, nor power. I don’t really know what I can do.”
“…So you’re basically saying you’re yearning for Amelia-sama?”
“—! N, no—! No way! Such, an outrageous thing…”
But, through denying, Lionel realized it.
The true nature behind that uncertain feeling that kept swirling in the back of his mind—he hadn’t yet fully comprehend it. He also couldn’t deny it was love. But, if it was indeed love—
—then that feeling was disallowed. As such, he kept on denying it.
“You’re mistaken. I did this because I’m her friend. I’m not a knight, yet. As such, I can’t serve her yet. But, if I’m allowed to be a little egoistic, I truly wish I can be with her as her friend—even if it isn’t allowed.”
Lionel’s firm gaze earned him Lewis’ squint. Lewis continued as he gazed at Lionel’s side profile. “If so…”
“Will you prove your determination and sincerity? Although I’m a tad unwilling to admit this, I think the grace of different persons in his life would serve William better in the future. Sir Lionel, if your intention is genuine, then I’ll recommend you to him as the friend of Amelia.”
Lionel paused for a moment before starting to walk again.
If Lewis was really able to do that, then Lionel would be able to stand beside Amelia. Just as a mere friend—but still—Lionel inquired further,
“…by determination and sincerity, do you mean—“
“—easy. By that, I mean for you to train that child on your back with your own hands.”
What? Wouldn’t that be against the law, then?
Lionel was stunned.
“That’s what it means to be Amelia’s friend. So, are you prepared for that?”
“Betray the country, betray the law, betray even your own family—you may even lose yourself someday, do you still want to stand beside Amelia?”
Lewis’ jet-black eyes bore inside Lionel’s eyes. They were as dark as bottomless swamps. Deep, it penetrated Lionel’s heart. Lewis was measuring the strength of Lionel’s heart. Then Lewis—
“I’ll give you two weeks to think about it. If you truly are prepared, take the boy to the Marquis’ estate. The Master and his wife aren’t home right now, so don’t worry.”
“But, if in that two weeks you fail to show yourself, then this talk is no more. You may as well consider today as having never happened. In addition, never again you shall approach Amelia—and of course, William. Keep this in mind.”
Unexpectedly, it was as if all expression had been erased from Lewis’ profile. Lionel gasped involuntarily to Lewis’ cold, black, eyes. However, such a thing only lasted for a moment—
—Lewis paused and a smile returned to his face as he turned around.
“William, I shall go fetch the carriage. Please wait here for a moment.”
Lewis rushed away. The carriage stopped by immediately. Lionel glanced silently at Amelia’s delicate back, who stepped into the carriage right after William.
If he didn’t take Lewis’ suggestion, that would be their last meeting.
His eyes wavered.
Amelia got into the carriage and turned back at Lionel. She was smiling gently, but once her gaze landed on Nick, it was as if she were grieving.
Lionel, when he saw that expression on Amelia…
…leaving Lionel and Nick behind, the carriage slowly started moving. Lionel kept staring at the carriage until it disappeared beyond the road.
***T/N: How funny would it be if Lewis turns out to be a mere chunibyo with god complex, and everyone would be flabbergasted and be like, “omg, we let him fck around with our lives!”