‘Ah, really.
He’s quite annoying.’

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“You’re pretty annoying…”

He burst into laughter as I put down the tray, took out another cup of tea, and expressed myself bluntly.

“…I can’t deny it.”

He shed blood before and now starves.
It was quite pitiful looking at him for the first time.

Since I was young, I was a little insensitive to this because I learned to take care of myself even if I got hurt, starved for a few days, or in a dangerous situation.
And now I’ve learned that if I’m going to get hurt and put others at great risk, I would rather die alone.
It’s rare for me to be in such a dangerous situation anyway.
But others won’t think like me.
Moreover, if Prince Valery hadn’t eaten on purpose, he wouldn’t have gone hungry.
I often forget that my nerves are slightly different from ordinary people’s.

“Then wait a little bit.”

Perhaps there are leftover ingredients from Sir Shubart’s food somewhere in the food warehouse.
Dried vegetables are prepared for cold weather, and dried sausages are hard enough.
I took out some milk and bread Sir Shubart brought this time.
I could feel him staring at me from behind, but I focused on my work either way.
Somehow his eyes followed me persistently every time I moved.

I went back to the dining room, took out a small pot, and placed it next to the pot of boiling water.
Then I poured milk and randomly chopped vegetables and sausages.
Even if I boil it this way, I can make a soup that can be simply eaten.
Although the taste may be quite different from the food that Sir Shubart made.
I put off the pot’s lid so the room could warm up while it was boiling.

And I thought for a moment.
I hoped we didn’t run into each other as much as possible, but it’s time to think differently since we already met.

‘Originally, I would die at his hands.’

The current him must be a very appetizing prey for my mother.
Because he’s the child of my mother hated one.
If this is the case, catastrophe cannot be avoided.
In other words, I can’t longer avoid him like a dead mouse.

“Huu…”

I sighed, feeling a throbbing headache.
My moved hand stopped again.

After completing cooking, half of it was put in a wooden bowl, which was quite reasonable.
I put the bread and soup for him in a bowl, brewed tea with the water I had boiled earlier, put them on a tray, and served it to him.

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“Fill your stomach with this.
You can’t die.”

I handed him the bowl and crouched down a little away.
As I sat on my knees, he looked at me in wonder.

“…Are you worried about me dying?”

“I did at first, but I don’t think you will.
I have something to say when you finish eating it.”

“All right.”

He must have been so hungry that he immediately began to eat the soup.
After he’s done eating, I want to tell him to leave tomorrow morning and forget about this place.
As he ate halfway through, he put down his bowl and looked at me.

“Excuse me.”

“Are you sick again?”

Then he shook his head.

“May I ask what your name is? I want to know the name of the person who helped me, may I? You can call me Valery.
I will definitely pay you back.”

This made it even more certain.
That he is Prince Valery Ahibara Kasinev.

I sighed softly and shook my head.

“You don’t need to know my name.
Because I’m just here to help.
When tomorrow morning comes, please leave and completely forget about this place.
Don’t die.”

His face looked a little surprised.
He must have never received such rejection from anyone in the first place.
Unlike my life, goodwill must be overflowing to be offered to him even though he won’t accept it.  

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I continued to speak when I saw his somewhat empty expression, “Don’t even come here to give thanks.
Forget this place like someone who never came here in the beginning.
But if you really want to remember, just remember that I saved your life.
Forget everything else than that, okay?”

“…”

“I’ll leave another bag of herbs over there, so if you need it, take it with you along with the blanket.
It will be fine to use it as a coat for a while.”

After saying the last words, I left the dining room without even hearing his answer.
My plan to drink tea went in vain.
I gave up on hot tea and went up to the second floor.

* * *

I couldn’t sleep well all night.
It’s because of what I personally did yesterday with pitiful feelings.
It made me get up earlier than usual and put on my thick coat.
It was still dark when I opened the curtains.
Sun rises late in winter.
In particular, the northern part of the Empire was the last place the sun rose.
It will take an hour or so before the sun rises, but I decided to hurry up a bit.

When I went down to the food warehouse, the place where he was yesterday was already empty.
The sup he was eating was also emptied and placed in the dishwasher.
Of course, the teacup is also there.
Fortunately, he’s a man who considered my words.  He seemed to have done me a favor.
He also took the herb bags and blanket that I had left behind.

‘With this, he’s going to be alright.’

“Well, that’s a relief.
If mother had seen him, he would have died.”

When I checked that there were no traces of him left outside, I heard the sound of a carriage from a distance.
The owner of the carriage was my mother.
My mother, who said it would take a few days, returned earlier than expected.
She came back with Sir Shubart, whom I saw a few days ago.
Being side by side, I felt like they were an elegant couple that matched very well.

“Why are you out here?”

My mother, wearing a black coat and red velvet dress, approached me.
It seems that she wondered why I was outside in the cold winter early in the morning as I hate the cold.

“Ah, I heard something from outside.”

I made a lie.

‘It doesn’t smell fishy, doesn’t it?’

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The atmosphere was quite cold.
Sir Shubart, who is quick to notice, took a little interest, but I was going to ask him quietly if I ever got caught.
Sir Shubart couldn’t refuse my request well.

“If there’s a sound, it shouldn’t come out here.”

“Ah… I didn’t think much about it.
It sounds like a small animal.”

Oops, I didn’t know that lying wouldn’t help it.
My heart was about to explode for fear of being caught.
But fortunately, mother headed straight to the front door.
Sir Shubart put down two large pieces of luggage and ordered the horseman to do something.

“Bella”

“I thought it would take a few more days.”

“You’re not happy to see me?”

“This is my most welcoming face right now.
Sir Shubart must have finished your work quickly.”

I raised the corners of my lips as I did back then.

“Yes, that’s a relief.
Um.”

Sir Shubart followed my mother in and looked around.
Then, I suddenly saw his eyes stop on the way to the food warehouse.

“Wh-Where have you been?”

I hurried to talk to distract him.

“Umm, I’ve been to the place where we will move for a while.
I had something to check.”

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“Ah, I see.”

Sir Shubart’s gaze quickly fell on me.
It was as if he had just seen something with his sharp gaze, but soon a smile came to the corners of his eyes.

“Anyway, I have something to tell you.
It’s cold, so let’s go in.”

Sir Shubart led me to the front door, complaining that it was cold.
Once again, I saw his gaze go to the food warehouse, but I tried to open the front door, pretending not to know anything.

Usually, my mother and I hardly have conversations.
Still, when she returned from going out, the feelings of loneliness in the house disappeared.
In addition, Sir Shubart, who is a little more active than us, is here, so I felt a sense of harmony.
I thought I didn’t feel lonely, but I was actually a little lonely.
Only then did I realize that my mother and Sir Shubart brought more luggage than they had taken out.
I wonder why, but it seems they went shopping on their way here.
Come to think of it, when was the last time I went shopping freely?

“Carbella, come here.”

I was going to go up to the second floor after a short time, but my mother called me.

“Yes, mother.”

I approached my mother without complaining.
My mother was still drinking tea gracefully, and Sir Shuabrt was eagerly pulling something out of the large luggage and unfolding it.

“What is all this?”

“Try it on, Carbella.”

Sir Shubart called me in an excited tone and opened something up.

It was a long red dress.
Not the thick, clunky winter dress like what I’m wearing now, but the gorgeous dress that I would have worn at the social party when I was in the capital.
Without realizing it, it seems that I have become very accustomed to life in the North.
As soon as I saw the expensive-looking dress, I immediately thought that it would be able to afford a month’s food expenses.
In addition, I even felt that it was enough to buy all of the firewood for the winter.

“…is it mine?”

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