North x Northwest - Chapter 244
Volume 7 Chapter 244
Translators – Pru and Formidable
Despite believing it was impossible, Ed got back on his horse. The animal, having had enough rest while they were walking, climbed the hill with renewed vigor. In the meantime, the rain, although lighter, continued as if it was never going to stop.
As soon as Ed entered the front door, servants who were waiting with towels followed him one after another. Ed outpaced them all and ran up the stairs. Of course, he could’ve inquired with any of the servants, but he preferred to see for himself.
He made his way through the mansion all the while repeating words that should bring him back to reality, but they had little to no effect.
‘There’s no way… There’s absolutely no way…’
Ed’s body, heated by tension, trembled slightly with every step he took. Walking down the short hallway, his mouth went dry several times. His nerves, which had already withered from his feeling of abandonment and frustration, were mended and made his heart beat again.
Ed flung open the door to the bedroom Lil had been staying.
Illuminated by a single candle on the desk near the window, he saw a woman’s face. The small, yellow light shone on her forehead and the bridge of her nose.
Lil returned his gaze with a startled look.
‘Seeing the quill in her hand, she appears to have been writing something. And based on her initial reaction, she had no idea someone would arrive at any time. She didn’t even turn on the lights… probably because she sneaked her way in… No, none of this matters!’
Without being able to breathe, Ed just blinked his eyes and thought he was seeing something in vain.
Lil on the other hand, put her quill down, stood up, and walked towards the center of the room. Ed, for a moment anticipating that she would flee again, took a quick step forward, causing Lil to stop moving. Her face, now out of the range of the candlelight, was no longer as clear as it had been. Even though she didn’t explicitly invite him in, Ed entered the room nonetheless and the interior quickly darkened when the door closed behind them. With the fireplace off and the curtains closed the only source of light was the candlestick that Lil had moved away from.
The closer Ed got, the more he realised why Lil had hidden herself in the dark. As his gaze caressed her cheek, Lil started to stutter excuses even if he hadn’t said anything yet.
“…I let myself get hit on purpose. I knew that if I got hit, they would let their guard down, so… I just had to endure it once… It’s no big deal… Anyway, that’s how it ended up like this…”
Ed placed his hand on her hard, swollen cheek. Although Lil’s body trembled, she didn’t avoid him or shake off his hand.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to come here, but I thought I would die if I walked around like this… I didn’t have a single weapon and had to change my clothes… I should’ve brought them with me in advance… that way I wouldn’t have to come back here and this wouldn’t have happened…”
Lil immediately kept her mouth shut upon thinking that her words only sounded like meaningless excuses.
However, none of that mattered. To Ed, just having her here meant a lot.
Her breathing, her words, and even her smallest movements moved him. And Lil remained in front of him no matter how many times he blinked. Wet and cold from the rain, avoiding his gaze, and unable to finish her sentences. Still, none of it mattered and Ed simply muttered that he was relieved to have finally found the person he had been searching for.
Lil, who, till now, had been looking away nervously, finally faced Ed. He called her so sweetly that it made it difficult for her to look away. And as she had been pushing herself mentally and physically, even the smallest kindness from Ed’s voice felt so incredibly sweet now. But regardless of being drawn to his sweetness, Lil knew it was dangerous. And so, when the desire to collapse into Ed’s arms and in his embrace grew, she brainwashed herself numerous times to say no. However, the truth was that she wanted to lean on him.
“Huh? Uh… Uhm, yes?”
Ed didn’t respond, even though Lil gave him the answer he desired. So far, all he did was stare at the face he thought he’d never see again. With his hand still on her cheek, he gazed at her brows, eyes, and cheeks, not fully believing that she was right in front of him. Lil, on the other hand, felt that the only proper thing to do was to take Ed’s hand away from her, so she gently rested her hand on the back of his. Through their contact, Lil realized how Ed’s hand was much colder than hers, probably because he had been outside for a long time and got caught in the rain. Despite that, Lil believed that it was pointless for Ed to keep looking at her like this. So she tried to pull out his hand. But when Ed pointed toward the desk, Lil suddenly understood his true intention.
Lil followed Ed’s lead and sat down on the chair. Although she was clearly hit by someone, Ed didn’t initiate the question of where else she was hurt, nor did he bring up the usual nags of a doctor. Lil quickly drank the three bottles of potion Ed brought from across the desk, one after another. In fact, as soon as she arrived here, she tried to find her medicine, but not knowing which exact bottles to take, she endured the pain that stung her body.
“I searched for you almost everywhere… I never thought I’d find you here.”
Ed took a chair and sat in front of the drooping Lil, who experienced all of Ed’s emotions at once. The happiness, optimism, and hope implied in that one sentence. Everything. Lil felt the emotions in Ed’s voice the same way people can distinguish the emotions of a person close to them by simply listening to the tone of their voices.
Realising that, Lil straightened her back and chastised herself for sitting too comfortably.
“I’ve thought about it a lot, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to stay here. I’m already regretting it. I actually planned to leave before you came back, but…”
“The Bell Rock’s crew left safely.”
Lil had confirmed that herself earlier. Ed’s words were intended to assure her that the sailors left safely and that they now should talk about what they had been putting off, but Lil had no desire to do so anymore.
“I’m so sorry, you must be thinking about why I came here without any shame, but my purpose was purely…”
“Is it because of the Prince Regent?”
As Lil raised her eyes in surprise, her gaze fell on Ed’s wet and glistening face shown in the candlelight. It was then that she recalled Ed having just arrived at his mansion.
‘According to the view I can see outside the window, it’s already dawn… What did he do for so long outside? He probably forced Alain to confess… If so, he was told about the attack and immediately identified the suspect… In other words, there’s no denying it…’
“How did you know?”
“…I didn’t know you underestimated me that much.”
No matter how genuine she meant it, hearing Ed’s response full of sarcasm and self-talking, it was clear that he wasn’t affected by her words.
‘I was going to come and leave quietly because I expected this. But in the end, I’m here, sitting face-to-face with him... My plan definitely went awry and it starts to become even more complicated…’
“Did you meet him?”
Ed’s silence heightened Lil’s anxiety. His obstinate expression suggested to her that he was suppressing his rage and wouldn’t respond no matter how long she waited. Lil also interpreted his silence as him feeling betrayed and angry at her for trying to slip past him yet again. Despite knowing this, she still urged him, because she needed to know if he had met Venua.
“I thought you’d freely call me that by now.”
“…I don’t want to call you that anymore.”
“Because I don’t want to get any closer.”
‘If he searched for me even after meeting Venua, then Ed’s feelings for me are clear. I’m grateful for that, but I don’t want to accept it. If Venua has a purpose, he won’t mind going through fire or water*. If he were a sword, he’d tear his opponent apart and kill him no matter how badly he got himself injured in the process. For him, it would be satisfying to tear them to death. That’s how he compensates for his natural sense of inferiority. This personality, combined with his high status, will have disastrous consequences. Even if his boast of killing Ed won’t succeed the first time, he will obviously deal a fatal blow somehow… in one way or another… At this point, the only right thing to do is just to give up…’
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Going through fire and water; to experience many difficulties or dangers in order to achieve something.