Chapter 20: A Bunny In Front of a Lion
Her childhood friend? Rebecca must not have known either, for her eyes widened like full moons.
Don’t you remember?”
Adeus crinkled his eyes as he smiled, though it looked suspicious.
“We played together a lot when we were young.”
‘Was he someone from the Fotchen Viscounty?’
All I’d heard before I regressed was that they had to sell their estate and villa in order to pay off their gambling debts.
‘Was there such a young man in the Fotchen Viscounty? I thought they only had a daughter who was going to have her debutante this year.’
I scanned Adeus with narrowed eyes.
Then I turned away my gaze, regarding it as insignificant.
After all, it was common for nobles to have illegitimate or hidden children.
As I was doing so, the two continued talking about their memories of the past.
“I used to tease and bother you often.”
Instead of responding, Rebecca remained silent, eyes darting back and forth.
Then, with a frozen expression, Adeus put a hand on Rebecca’s shoulder.
“Rebecca, do you truly not remember me? That makes me sad.
We were so close.”
As soon as he finished talking, Rebecca’s mouth widened, having remembered something.
Then, she pointed a finger at Adeus with a happy expression.
“Yeah, do you remember now?”
Rebecca rapidly nodded up and down.
From what it looked like, it was true that they had been childhood friends in the distant past.
“To think I would meet you here, Rebecca.”
“I-I know, right? It’s been so long.”
It must have been awkward to meet her friend for the first time in a while, for she dropped her gaze and smiled faintly.
After they finished greeting each other, silence fell once more.
“I’ll greet you formally.
I’m Adeus Fotchen, of the Fotchen Viscounty.”
Putting a hand on his chest, he bent his waist forward in a polite bow.
In the blue eyes that glanced upwards at me was a joy that I could not understand.
As soon as Adeus finished greeting me, Rebecca came close to me and whispered into my ear.
“He’s my childhood friend.
We often played together when we were younger, but it’s been a long time since I last saw him.”
So that’s why it had seemed so awkward.
“I’d heard that you’d gone to the Capital, but I never thought we’d meet like this.”
“I-I also never thought I’d see you here.”
“It hasn’t been long since I returned from my studies abroad.”
With a strange smile, Adeus’ eyes flicked to the carriage behind us.
No, to be exact, it seemed that he was looking at the crest engraved on the carriage.
After lingering on the carriage with narrowed eyes, Adeus smiled and looked away.
“It seems the rumors you went to the Lapileon Duchy as a lady-in-waiting are true.”
Rebecca glanced at me before nodding.
It seemed she was being careful in talking about me since I was present.
Adeus’ gaze returned to me.
“So you must be Her Highness, the Grand Duchess Lapileon.”
Adeus grinned cheekily, as if he was just confirming something he already knew.
I couldn’t treat him coldly anymore after learning he was Rebecca’s friend, so I smiled politely and nodded.
“I received the help of an outstanding person.”
“There’s nothing for you to feel burdened by.
I’d only been moving you to the side because you were blocking the path of my carriage.”
“Regardless of your intention, you saved me from getting run over by a carriage.
To me, you’re a savior.”
Adeus’ smile appeared devious to me.
His foreign blue eyes sparkled in amusement.
“To think I kept saying I would repay you when you were the Grand Duchess Lapileon.”
Adeus must have found this situation funny, for he laughed out loud.
“Not even knowing my place, I almost became a rabbit pretending to be the king of a mountain without a lion.”
[Tl Note: A Korean saying that is equivalent to the English saying of “When the cat’s away, the mice will play”]
“I’ll receive your feelings thankfully.”
That was enough conversation.
After I’d talked a bit I moved to the side with the intent to walk by Adeus, who was blocking my path.
However, Adeus followed me and blocked my path once more.
“Instead, if ever a day where Your Highness needs my help comes, come find me, and I’ll stand on your side and help you, regardless of what it is.”
“Regardless of what it is?”
Even if it’s to kill a person.”
Unlike his cruel words, Adeus was still smiling as bright as the sunlight.
The dissonance made me feel uneasy.
“I don’t think I’ll need that kind of help, so again, I’ll just accept your feelings.”
Even if it was to kill a person? Was he crazy?
I had no idea what his intentions were behind his words, which made me uneasy.
Removing the smile from my face, I moved to the side with a rocky expression.
Again, I was planning on passing by Adeus.
However, he tenaciously blocked my path once more.
“Oh no, did that make you feel uncomfortable?”
Adeus spoke with an innocent tone, but it was as if he’d looked into my mind.
This situation must have been amusing to him, for the smile on his face remained.
“It was a metaphor of sorts.
I just wanted to display my firm will to help Your Highness, even if it’s something of that extent, so please don’t misunderstand.”
Even as he said this, Adeus didn’t move away from my path.
Watching his brightly grinning face, I could feel annoyance start to boil up.
If ever the day comes when there is not even an ant at my residence to aid me, and I need your help instead, I’ll make sure to call for you.”
That was to say: a day where I would need his help would never come.
Even though he understood what I meant, Adeus’ expression remained unchanged.
His smile didn’t waver, as if it had been drawn onto his visage.
“Then, are you returning to the residence now?”
If you know, please move aside.
However, even after my response, Adeus continued blocking my path.
‘Then I have no choice but to make him move.’
I adopted the expression I’d seen the people of the Lapileon Duchy wear.
“Isn’t it time for you to move out of my way?”
With the same kind of arrogance and ridicule as them, I barked at Adeus.
“Who do you think you’re obstructing? Can you handle it?”
Good, that was perfect.
At my ice-cold questions, Adeus kept his composure while looking from me to Rebecca, and then to the carriage.
Then, as if making a joke, he asked an optimistic question.
“If I get out of your way, can you drop me off?”
Now, what kind of nonsense was this? Me? You? Why?
However, my scary expression crumbled in an instant.
“Didn’t you say earlier that this place is one where outsiders can’t enter, Your Highness?”
“Then if I go out by myself, it will be revealed that the guards let someone come in, right?”
Right, even if he’d said there had been no guards when he’d come in, there would probably be guards when we went out.
“I’ll be punished if I get caught by the guards, so…”
Adeus, who mumbled the end of his sentence, locked eyes with me before speaking in a light tone.
“So when Your Highness is leaving, can’t you take me with you?”
“I don’t want to.”
Oh no, my response came out before I could think.
Adeus must have been surprised at my immediate response, for his smile disappeared from his face for the first time.
Gosh, if someone is asking for a favor like that, I should at least consider it.
“Yup, I don’t want to.”
Even after thinking about it, I didn’t want to.
“Did you just reject me twice in a row?”
“Somehow that indeed happened.”
At my crisp apology, Adeus must have found something humorous, for he laughed while clutching at his stomach.
His laugh was quite a pretty sight, but I still had no plans of taking him with me.
“If you’re worried about getting punished, I will speak to the guards.
Because you are Rebecca’s friend, and…”
And since I felt just a bit sorry that I was going to leave him behind.
But there was no need for me to finish the sentence.
“Anyway, I can just tell the guards that one of my people is coming out later, and to not punish you.”
“Do you really dislike the idea of taking me, even for such a short period of time?”
They say silence was affirmation.
I didn’t respond.
At that, Adeus pointed toward Rebecca with his finger.
“I want to talk with my friend Rebecca whom I met for the first time in a while, too.
This was a bit difficult to reject right away.
When I turned to look at Rebecca, I saw that she was still avoiding eye contact out of awkwardness.
He must have noticed that I was staring at Rebecca, because Adeus turned to look at her as well.
“Rebecca, don’t you want to catch up with me since it’s been a while?”
Hearing Adeus’ question, Rebecca lifted her pale face.
Then, after staring back and forth between him and me, she nodded with a slight tilt of her head.
I wasn’t sure if she wanted to talk to Adeus and was reading my face, or if she wanted to keep Adeus from an awkward encounter and was asking me for help.
Her response was ambiguous.
“Rebecca, do you want him to come with us too?”
In the end, I asked Rebecca again.
In response, Rebecca dropped her head and fiddled with her fingers before responding in a mumble.
O-Of course, as long as it doesn’t bother you, Your Highness… But if it does bother you, it’s alright.”
If Rebecca wanted to talk to him, I had no choice.
It wouldn’t take long to get out of this parade path anyway.
I turned to look at Adeus.
As if already knowing what I was about to say, his eyes shone with anticipation.
And right when I was about to tell him that we could return together in the carriage…
I heard the clear sounds of horse hooves from behind me.
The sounds that were far away approached in haste.
Soon, a black horse fluttering its impressive mane ran toward us.
“So this is where you were.”
The black horse that stopped in front of us had Theodore riding it.
At Theodore’s sudden appearance, Rebecca called him in surprise.
Theodore looked at me slowly.
After confirming that I was fine, he took in the stopped carriage, Rebecca, and then Adeus.
Completely forgetting that I’d been in the middle of a conversation, I approached Theodore.
Even Adeus couldn’t block my path this time.
“W-What are you doing here?”
“I received the report that you came here to prepare for the parade.
And because it’s best to properly prepare for the parade that we’ll be attending together, I came to aid you.”
Speaking with a calm tone, Theodore turned his sharp, shining red eyes.
Furrowing his eyebrows, he stared at Adeus for a long time.
“But it seems there’s an uninvited guest here.”
Getting off of the horse with ease, Theodore approached Adeus.
It was clear from Theodore’s face that he was displeased.
“Who are you? Nobody can enter here without my permission, and I don’t remember permitting anyone but my wife to enter here.”
The smile on Adeus’ face, which had been steadfast until now, disappeared entirely.
Well, if there was someone who could stand face to face with Theodore and smile, they either had no liver, had a swollen liver, or were just crazy.
[Tl/n: In Korea, having no (or a swollen) liver is a metaphor for being fearless or reckless.]
“I asked who you were.”
Theodore demanded once more, as Adeus had given no response.
His low voice was brutal.
The atmosphere turned heavy.
Standing tall while looking at Theodore, Adeus finally opened his mouth.
“I greet Your Excellency the Grand Duke.”
“That wasn’t my question.
Do you have bad hearing?”
“I’m Adeus Fotchen.
A person of the Fotchen Viscounty.
Adeus turned to stare at me, who was standing next to Theodore with a calm appearance.
“The Grand Duchess and I…”
“You and the Grand Duchess?”
“Are in that kind of relationship.”
Hey, you crazy bastard.
Why am I in ‘that kind of relationship’ with you?! If someone hears that, they can only assume one kind of relationship!
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