I didn’t expect I would meet Ian again.
“Leave whenever you change your mind.”
He said that he was doing something like this because he wanted to, but I was worried that he would be caught in danger just because of me. I knew that wouldn’t happen here, but my anxiety didn’t go away.
I couldn’t even ask how he had been. There were too many burdens I had given him. With nothing more to say, I stayed silent for a while, staring into the air so Ian’s eyes couldn’t reach me.
“Lady doesn’t have to worry.”
Ian’s words brought me back from staring into the air and looking at him.
“I didn’t come out of greed because I wanted Lady’s heart.”
“It’s just the purpose of my life is to protect Lady. And it’s always been like that all my whole life.”
“…You may have other purposes.”
“I haven’t thought of that yet. If another purpose comes up someday, I will tell Lady.”
Ian smiled as if he was telling the truth. I couldn’t believe I saw Ian smiling. He was really good at relieving my guilt.
I sighed to the point where I made a ‘Fyuu—’ sound.
Fyuu, it’s really frustrating.
“I don’t understand. I’ve obviously told you to forget about me completely and leave. You’re the one who brought this to yourself. You have no idea how boring and lonely this place is. Still, this place is good for me.”
I had nothing to talk about except for Kuren or Amaterin. This red hair would take a long time to turn back to silver.
Half of me wanted him to go so he didn’t make any fuss with the villagers, but I was a little worried that he was going to follow me again and live the same life. I knew he wasn’t the kind of person to get beaten up, but it was true that I had always been helped by him.
I got up from my seat with a feeling of confusion. Even if Kuren could find a place for him tomorrow, I needed a place for Ian to stay right away.
“I know a fairly neat inn.”
I was going to the door to lead him, but Ian stopped me instead.
“I’ve decided where to stay for a few days.”
“Yes. I was afraid Lady wouldn’t give me permission right away.”
He even had that in his mind? I looked at him with bewildered eyes.
“After that, I will look for a place to stay with Kuren. So Lady doesn’t have to worry.”
“Yes, just rest now. I will see you again tomorrow morning.”
Ian stopped me from coming out the door, then he went away.
* * *
Ian, who left Carbella’s house, leaned against the wall momentarily.
His breath, which he had pressed with tension while pretending to be fine, burst. He thought that he might never see her again, but seeing her again like this couldn’t help but burn his heart again. It was a force majeure.
Most of what he said to Carbella was a lie. Juri didn’t send him here, and the fact he was able to complete his mission wasn’t something he did on his own.
When he parted away with Carbella, he was caught shortly after that. It was a natural result since he was Shubart Rivaho’s hand and feet. Originally, he should have died without being able to do anything. Still, it was Crown Prince Valery who saved him from death.
Ian, who faced Valery with his limbs being tied, couldn’t find a familiar expression like when Valery looked at Carbella. He felt like Valery was a completely different person.
Ian knew Valery would ask where Carbella was. But he didn’t ask. He neither tortured nor killed him. The only thing he did was talk.
“If you ever want to see your master again, don’t even think about committing suicide.”
With that, Ian was imprisoned and couldn’t see the crown prince again. Several months passed while he thoroughly couldn’t hear the information. Another few months passed like that too.
It was obvious that Lucellai Rudbihi and Shubart Rivaho were dead. Still, after that, nothing could be known as he got imprisoned. What happened to the Rudbihi family, and whether the emperor was still shushing the power and revenge they took at the cost of his life.
Just when it felt unclear whether it was true or not he could see Carbella Rudbihi again, the crown prince came back. And he found out where Carbella was.
“Go. Protect your master.”
Hearing those words, Ian couldn’t help but be puzzled, even though he was filled with overwhelming emotions. If the crown prince found where she was, he would run there right away.
Even if he tried to deny it, Ian knew where Carbella’s heart was headed as he watched them from the side. He knew that even if he desired to say that he was the first one to know Carbella and he had been with her for a longer time, Carbella’s heart would never be Ian.
“Why don’t you go there yourself?”
Ian asked as he left the prison door. The crown prince didn’t answer. Rather, he only stepped back so that Ian could leave.
Ian stopped walking away and looked at him like that.
“I’m not the one Lady is waiting for.”
“What do you mean by not ready?”
Valery told Ian to keep his master safe until everything was ready. He let Ian go because he knew Ian wouldn’t betray him.
“I can’t go to the Lady right now…”
But there was a reason why Ian couldn’t go even though he found out where Carbella was.
“I haven’t finished her order yet.”
“I will go after I’ve finished all her orders.”
So it took a while, but Ian was able to keep his master’s orders. As promised by the crown prince, he could come and protect her.
It was all arranged by the crown prince that he had to face Juri del Chartero before leaving. The crown prince seemed to make way for Carbella to come back so that she could come back comfortably. The little Marchioness was very confused. She was bewildered by it, but in the end, it changed to worrying about her friend.
That’s why Ian couldn’t be more greedy. There was nothing he could do when the crown prince gave his all. On the other hand, he was grateful to be able to give up. Every time he looked at his master, he went back and forth between heaven and hell.
Ian shook his thoughts.
He couldn’t help but smile when he remembered her face, which was embarrassed by the greeting that he would see her tomorrow. Looking at her face in person, his master seemed to be living more comfortably than he was worried. Well, it seems that she still owned only necessary things and rejected everything else.
That’s enough. He was satisfied if only he could keep protecting her by her side. That’s it. Until all the arrangements were over and the lady could go back comfortably.
Ian began to drift away to the other side of Bella’s house.
* * *
“I’ll do it.”
“No, this is what I’ve always done.”
Even when I said so, Ian picked up the laundry basket and headed to the line he hung on the tree.
Ian, who I was supposed to see in the morning, appeared again with a clear face just in time for me to wake up. Then he started to help my work as if it were his job. It had been a week now, and I was getting used to it again.
“Now that I have it, let me do it.”
Even if it wasn’t Ian, I would wake up much earlier than then, thanks to Amaterin, who comes to visit me every morning. Still, after forcing myself to eat breakfast, I would go back under the blanket and sleep.
Ian had been waiting for me for the past few days, but I couldn’t lie down and sleep, so I kept awake since Amaterin woke me up. Even if I tried to sleep comfortably, this cabin was so small that I could see what he was doing if I turned my head.
In the past, it was as easy as breathing to give orders to Ian because I lived a doll-like life that was only busy surviving and carrying out orders. That’s because Sir Shubart gave him to me. But now that I had thrown away everything, I somehow felt sorry. That’s why I couldn’t leave all the work completely to him, so I waited awkwardly in the back while he quickly put down the basket and hung out the towels.
Watching Ian squeezing the towel to the point his tendons stretched and spreading it, I burst into laughter. Why is he working so hard to do the laundry?
Ian hung out the laundry and turned his head at my laughter.
“…You don’t have to squeeze it so hard. Your tendons are going to burst.”
Ian turned around only after squeezing the laundry until the last drop and hanging it.