23. A Prelude to Happiness
The duel between Grave and Allen ended with Grave’s victory.
Towards Rigard, who refused to give in to Allen’s threat and would gladly partake in the war to come, Allen became speechless.
“You’ll regret this…”
He returned to the royal capital while spouting such a pathetic line.
I was wondering what kind of report would he make, but the turmoil had subsided for the time being.
The onlookers also disbanded, and we returned home.
Everyone had gathered on the first floor.
The moment I returned home, I bowed down and apologized to everyone.
“I’m sorry for the trouble…”
“Don’t apologize, Liliana.”
“That’s right! Liliana didn’t do anything wrong, that hero is just a jerk!”
Rigard and Anna comforted me.
“…What if a war does happen?”
“It’s okay! The kingdom won’t be able to stand against us! Even if they do attack us, we’ll make sure give them plenty of payback! Right, guys?!”
“Indeed!!” “As if we’d be scared by the kingdom!”
“See? There’s no need to worry.” Said Rigard.
Everyone also made sure to say gentle words to me who was depressed.
They were really kind and friendly.
That made my guilt feel even worse… I had involved them, after all.
Teresia called out to me while I was deep in thought.
Then, she proceeded to ask me.
“Rather than an apology, isn’t there something better to say?”
“Something that is better for me and everyone.”
I didn’t understand at first—
—nevertheless, I immediately grasped Teresia’s implication.
That was right.
I hadn’t said those words yet.
As Teresia said, I should had said those words before apologizing. I should had mustered my best smile—
“—Thank you for your help!”
The moment I thanked them, everyone smiled.
‘Thank you.’ ‘You’re welcome.’
From just those two words, I could already feel their warmth.
“Well, to be honest, you’re mostly indebted to Grave.”
“That’s right, more than half of your gratitude should’ve gone to Grave, right?”
My gaze met his.
“That’s right. Thank you for fighting for my sake.”
“That’s alright, I did it out of love.”
That word reminded me.
“What I said before the fight, do you still remember?”
Grave had given an immediate answer to Allen’s question.
He said that he was indeed in love with me.
I remembered it clearly.
Those words were more impressive than any that had been spoken so far.
Somehow, an awkward atmosphere took root.
I couldn’t see his face due to embarrassment.
“What about you, Liliana?”
“That, how do I say this, how do you feel… towards me?”
Grave asked me.
Seeing his blushing cheeks made me think that he was cute.
It turned out that Grave, whom was always composed, could make that kind of expression, too…
“What do you think about me?”
It wasn’t the time to be shocked.
Just to ask me that question, Grave had to endure great embarrassment. I had to answer his question properly.
How do I feel about Grave?
I looked back on what he had done for me.
He had always helped me—today, as well.
I was at peace whenever I was with him, and talking with him was fun.
As I thought… however—
“I’m sorry, I… I’m inexperienced, in love, I think.”
After hearing Allen’s merciless words, I met Grave—and that was how I realized it.
The feeling I had for Allen until now wasn’t love.
I only felt reverence towards him.
He was strong, kind, and recognized by everyone… he was so dazzling, I wanted to be near him.
Grave was… different—and so were the feelings I had towards him.
But I was uncertain if it was love.
They probably weren’t.
There was also some fear left within me.
I was scared of being betrayed once again.
I knew it was unlikely, but in the back of my chest, I was still terrified.
“Then… do you hate me?”
“That’s impossible! There’s no way I can hate you!”
“Oh, I see… that’s a relief.”
Grave, chuckling, replied.
“To know that you don’t hate me is already aplenty. It’s been less than a month since we got to know each other. For me to confess to you out of the blue, it’s only to be expected that you’re surprised.”
“I understand. I was quick to fall in love with you, but that doesn’t mean you’re responsible to reciprocate my feelings. I’m aware of that.”
Grave took a deep breath.
With a serious gaze, he looked at me. He was full of determination.
“Liliana, I fully hope what happened today won’t occur again. However, if you’re in danger, I’ll absolutely protect you.”
With that said, he held my hands, and gently enveloped them in his.
“That’s why… I’ll show you what I’m capable of—I’ll definitely make you fall for me!”
Somehow, I felt clarity.
I felt the warmth of his hands and his words.
I clearly felt that I’d end up falling for him.
***T/N: Wow, yeah, of course you will fall for him. It’ll be, in fact, surprising if you don’t, especially when his male lead halo is that big.
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