46. [Day 6 (3)]
What should I do from now on…?
Lorona wandered aimlessly on the hill behind the nursing home, repeating such questions several times.
Having been bedridden, her legs were still weak. Soon, she was out of breath.
Despite that, her mood improved upon taking a stroll outside.
Her hair, which was loose, fluttered as it caressed her cheeks. It was such a strange sensation.
She looked up at the sunset-stained sky and tried to picture a peaceful life.
A life where she didn’t need to pull her hair up. A life where she didn’t need to tighten a corset around her waist.
…To live freely.
It wasn’t like she had never dreamed of it before.
What would it be like to have no family, servants, or people to protect and support? What would a life unburdened by the title of the crown prince’s fiancée be like?
Ever since the day she was born into an aristocratic family, she had been desperately trying to fulfill every single one of her responsibilities.
She had always thought of it as her raison d’etre.
After all, other than her, no one else would.
After all, if she were to run away or stop, many people would be troubled.
The people needed her. For that reason, she thought that it was worthwhile.
“—and now, they’re doing fine without me…”
Astel and Shesam told her that everyone had accepted her death.
In other words, they could still live on properly without her.
She felt a sense of emptiness for she had lost her place. At the same time, there was a sense of liberation because nothing was required of her anymore.
Lorona vaguely stared at the sunset.
“…The sun is about to set. It’s time for you to return.”
Looking back at the gentle voice, Astel stood there with a coat in his hand.
He draped it over Lorona’s shoulders to prevent her from getting cold.
“Thank you very much.”
Because no one had treated her that kindly before, she didn’t know how to respond.
Lorona felt sad. At the very least, she should brightly laugh like a normal lady.
When she saw Astel’s gentle, crimson, eyes, she felt like a small creature that wanted to flee.
However, she also felt a desire to stay with him despite all that.
Lorona was befuddled.
Why is he so kind to me?
When they were young, they had only spent a short time together. As such, Lorona was dying to ask why.
Under the disguise of the name ‘Aslan’, he had come to find her.
What was more, he had prepared a new place for her.
She couldn’t believe that anyone would go that far for her sake. She wanted to ask why he was treating her so generously.
“…May I stay here a little longer?”
“Of course. May I stay beside you?”
She wanted to refuse, but words would come out. Lorona nodded softly.
In response, Astel laughed from delight.
Her cheeks were hot while her heart was beating strangely fast.
Even when she was with her fiancé, Velbutte, she had never experienced any such emotions.
“…What’s wrong? Your face is flushed. Has your fever returned?”
“No, that’s not necessarily the case…”
Lorona hurriedly lowered her face.
She was aware that she wasn’t good at expressing herself. She was sure that she had an ugly expression.
As such, she didn’t want Astel to see it.
“Am I bother, after all?”
Due to his sad voice, Lorona immediately raised her face.
Astel’s expression mirrored his sad tone. It was as if his crimson eyes were grieving.
“…I don’t think Astel is being a nuisance.”
“Then, I’ll always stay by your side.”
How long was he planning to stay?
Astel tilted his head as he rushed to open his mouth.
“I’m sorry. I’m just wondering if you’re feeling troubled.”
“If I don’t put it into words when we’re close like this, you may not believe it. Therefore, I will convey it to you properly.”
Astel softly took Lorona’s hand.
If she were to put an ounce of strength into it, she would easily be able to shake him off. However, she found herself unable to do so.
Then, as he lifted her hand, Astel pressed his lips against her fingertips.
“Lorona, I fell in love with you at the first sight. I fell in love with you for the second time when you disguised yourself as Lorna. As of the present, I find myself falling for you all over again.”
“I yearn for your kind, honest, and noble heart. I always want to see you.”
Lorona couldn’t muster a word.
As if time had stopped, she could only stare at Astel in bewilderment.
“Let’s go to my empire together. I will help you prepare for a new life. I won’t force you to reciprocate my feelings. I only want to be with you.”
As her heart thumped, Lorona bit her lips.
“Why do you go to such lengths for me?”
Her eyelids became hot. It became difficult to see. Before she knew it, something had spilled from her eyes.
“Lorona, don’t cry.”
It wasn’t until Astel told her that Lorona realized she was crying.
No matter how painful or sad she was before, she couldn’t cry.
“Forgive me! I didn’t mean to make you cry!”
“No, that’s not the reason why…”
She wanted to reassure him, but Lorona didn’t know how to stop her tears from spilling.
Astel, who took out a handkerchief from his bosom, wiped Lorona’s tears.
His warm and gentle touch made her tears overflow once again, panicking Astel.
“Should I leave? I will summon Kaiser—”
Lorona grabbed the hem of Astel’s clothes as he was about to leave.
“I’m sorry, I don’t even know why I am crying.”
As she shook her head, her tears dripped.
The back of her chest was tingling—it was both hot and painful.
“I no longer have anything. No title, no position, no fortune—I may be of no use to you. Is Astel truly alright with that?”
“…No way, were you worried about that?”
“I don’t know if I am worth it…”
“Yes, Lorona, you’re worth it. I love everything about you. Just by having you by my side, my life will be brilliant.”
Astel enveloped her hands within his.
It wasn’t a gentle grip like before. Her hands were being firmly grasped by him. Lorona was sure that she wouldn’t be able to break free.
“Lorona, as long as you’re happy, I will be happier. Please be happy for me. If possible, please be happy beside me.”
The back of her chest hurt as it constricted. She couldn’t breathe.
But for some reason, it didn’t feel bad at all. Her entire body felt hot while tears spilled from her eyes.
At the same time, Lorona felt that she wanted to live for that person.
She wanted to be near that person.
Ah, I see…
Lorona understood the feelings within her chest.
From the moment they met, a seed was planted inside her chest. Then, as they spent more time together, it began to sprout.
Due to Astel’s gaze and words, the seed had finally reached full bloom.
I’m attracted to this person…
Her feelings were still unclear to her. She wasn’t sure if it could be called love. Lorona couldn’t be sure because she didn’t know what love was.
Those emotions she felt for the first time were too subtle and ambiguous.
However, there was one thing that she felt certain about.
“…I will stay by your side.”
“I want to stay beside Astel.”
She had known for a long time.
Of Velbutte’s lack of delicacy which resulted in her loneliness. Lumina’s scheme to approach Velbutte and frame Lorona as a villain.
She was also aware of her father’s heartlessness. Despite his boasts about her, he refused to stop wasting money no matter what she said. Belverassa also looked down on her.
She also noticed that Zerio was becoming increasingly unfaithful to her advice.
Still, she remained in denial.
She had hoped that they’d someday open their eyes.
She wanted to believe so hard that they wouldn’t betray her to the point that she justified everything.
But, to think that they had accepted her death…
…To think that they were rejoicing because they had been ‘freed’ of her.
…If such was the case, then she should be free, too.
“Astel told me that I can be free. To be honest, I don’t have any idea what that means, but if I can be with Astel, then I’m sure I’ll be happy.”
Astel screamed at Lorona’s words and squeezed her hands.
Before she realized it, he was also weeping.
Towards his straightforward, sincere, appearance, Lorona’s heart pounded loudly.
“As long as you make me happy, I will also do the same.”
Lorona laughed at Astel, who nodded with a serious expression.
With an awkward smile on her tear-soaked face, Lorona felt she had been able to express her emotions for the first time in her life.
By the time the two finally stopped crying and went to return to the nursing home, the stars had begun to shine in the sky.
While they were holding hands, they spotted Kaiser coming to fetch them.
Lorona looked up towards the night sky as Astel tugged her along.
The full moon floated up above.
While sensing that that would be the last full moon she’d be seeing in that kingdom, she thought of the faces of her family.
Surprisingly, she didn’t feel any regret or longing. The only thing that filled her heart was hope for the future.
Lorona narrowed her eyes, convinced that they were feeling the same.
“Now that I’m dead, are you satisfied?”
***T/N: Now all that’s left is the extra(s), peeps! Hey, checkout, I have fiverr, now!
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