“Are you sure you have to go?”

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I know it’s already been decided, but I asked.

“Did it just happen?”

“Do I want to?”

He smiled faintly.

“I never did what I wanted to do.”

Ah…

I blinked, not knowing what to say.
My heart throbbed at the sound of his resigned voice.
For the first time, I felt the intention of killing the writer.

How could the writer keep his unhappiness at bay?

I know how much happiness he would eventually gain, but this was too much.

I felt sorry for Rodrigo.
I put my hand on his cheek and he flinched.

“Is there anything you want me to do now?”

Rodrigo’s eyes shook, then returned to its original state.

“If I do?”

“I’ll let you do it.”

I spoke confidently as if I had become Cinderella’s fairy.
I have no magic wand, no magic, but somehow I have a strange conviction that I will be the one who can do what he wants right now.

“Is it because you feel sorry for me? I don’t want any sympathy.”

“I feel sorry for you? Hey, Rodrigo.
You are the Grand Duke of the Empire.
You have money, ability, status, power.”

It was true that I pity him, but objectively, he was a person without sympathy.

“And?”

He asked me more.
I don’t know why he was trying to fill his self-esteem with me, but he was cute, like a child asking for compliments.

“You’re handsome.
You should be grateful to be born with a face like yours.”

Rodrigo laughed.

“And your body’s good too! It’s firm and solid…”

I shut my mouth while talking.
My palms were on his chest.
I could feel his heart beating in the palm of my hand.
I looked up at him in surprise.
The smile on his face vanished.

“I want to kiss you.”

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Thud.

I felt my heart go down.
I was dizzy for a moment because of my heart beating without knowing what was going on.
His tight arms grabbed me as I staggered.

“Do you not like that?”

I miss his playful smile today.
I don’t hate it, but there was a little guilt.
Rodrigo is a man with a female protagonist.
It kind of feels like cheating.

“If you don’t like it, I won’t do it.”

Perhaps he understood my hesitation as a rejection, and he loosened his strength from his hands and walked away.
Reflexively, I caught him as he retreated.
As I hugged him tightly, he quietly followed me.
I said with my face buried in his chest.

“I need time.”

Is that his heartbeat or mine?

“How long will it take? It’s hard to wait.”

I admitted it.
My heart was flowing to him.
And I know.
Someday, he will have to leave. 

The  moonlight looked nice, the wind was cool, and the scent carried by the wind was good.
It was only the two of us here, and only the earth and the sky and the trees know that we kissed here.

So, for this moment, can’t I just leave it to my emotions? Let’s not think about tomorrow’s work.

I closed my eyes and raised my head.

“Thank you.”

He put his lips to my forehead and whispered.
What is it, is this all? I almost asked.
But without a word leaking, his lips covered mine.
He licked my lower lip and gently shoved his tongue through the gap.
It was a quick and hot breath.

The kiss was very slow and careful.
It was me who was in a hurry as if holding a glass bead.
I wrapped my arms around his neck.
Suddenly, his body trembled.
His tongue traced the inside of my mouth.
I gasped for breath at the tenacious movement that seemed to never forget.

I pushed him away when my head went blank and I wanted to lose my mind like this.
The excitement didn’t go away on his face.
Read only at pm tl.

I hurriedly covered my face.
The shame of actively kissing him came later.
Rodrigo reached out his hand and pulled me into his arms.

Are you going to do it again?

But unfortunately, he just held me still.
Knowing that my heart was beating like crazy, he patted my back as if trying to calm me down.

“When is your birthday?”

“May 10th.”

“Isn’t that the perfect day to get married?”

His clear voice was murky.

“I will definitely come back by that day.”

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That said, it was like a proposal.
I buried my face in his arms and couldn’t answer.
If there was a real war with the Veloki Peninsula, it would never end easily.
I’ll long for him to just come back..

 

(3rd person pov)

As Tereo said, the preparations for the campaign had already been completed.
Rodrigo made an impression as he saw the emperor’s army lined up in front of his mansion at dawn.

“You’re going to catch a cold.”

August held out the towel to him.
Smoke rose from Rodrigo’s body, which had just been washed.
Water ran through his split muscles.
August looked at the dazzling back of his master and became sober.
Scars all over his body revealed his hard life.

There was nowhere else to be scarred, but there’ll be another scar there.

It’ll be a relief that there’s only one, maybe two.
Or maybe this time he’ll lose his life.

Last night, Devlan and Gunther gathered at Rodrigo’s emergency call, and Rodrigo told them to quit now if they’re going to quit.

The Emperor had no intention of winning this war.

But he said he must win.
It will be a tough and last fight.
Gunther and Devlan, of course, chose to be with Rodrigo.
He seemed relieved when they said ‘when has there ever been an easy fight?’.

But that wasn’t August.
August was not comfortable with seeing them off.
He placed a towel on Rodrigo’s back and took a step back.
He didn’t know what his red eyes were thinking.

“August.”

“Yes, tell me.”

“Take care of Estiya.”

“What are you talking about?”

“When the time is right, send her a present.
I made a list of gifts.”

Rodrigo pointed to the desk.
Following his fingertips, August shifted his gaze.
After confirming, he nodded his head.

“Unless Cartina threatens us, we will not fight.”

That too, August engraved in his heart.

“When Estiya comes to the mansion, treat her like the Grand Duchess.”

Augusts’ eyes widened.

“Are you really going to get married?”

“When I come back.”

He put conditions.

Are you really in love?

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“I’ll tell you what you’re curious about when I come back.”

Rodrigo was prepared to die.
Augustus bowed his head.
Tears streamed down the wrinkles.
There was a dark stain on the carpet.

 

(Estiya’s pov)

“Aren’t you going?”

Jane said as she looked at me, who had stayed up all night with my eyes open.
After returning from the banquet, I continued to be restless.
Knowing that the reason was Rodrigo’s campaign, Jane told me that the soldiers had moved to Erhardt’s mansion at dawn, and she called her to go and see him off.

But I couldn’t go.
His departure seemed to be my fault.
No, it was my fault

Because the war on the Veloki Peninsula wasn’t in the novel.

The addition of fate being changed, the more he tries to get out of his misfortune, the more he climbs into the arms of misfortune.

Was it wrong to approach him?

I fumbled.
The words he had spoken as he pressed his lips together with mine echoed in my ears.

-Thank you.

I don’t deserve to be thanked.

“What are you thinking that is not like a lady?”

Jane exclaimed.
She came with my outing dress and took off my dangling clothes and put them on.

“Jane!”

“I want you to go and say goodbye now! If you don’t go now, you don’t know when you’ll see him, right?”

She patted my back

“If you go by carriage now, it will be too late.
Call the driver…”

“I can ride a horse!”

Ah! Why didn’t I think of that?

“I’ll get the horse from the stable right now.”

Jane slammed the door open.
There were three people standing in front of me.
It was Kaylan, Ether, and Eyla.

“Oh, brother?”

I’m screwed.
Obviously, they don’t want me to go.

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“Come on, Estiya.
Let’s go.”

He took my hand

“Brother, what are you talking about?”

“You have to say goodbye.
Still, I think you should say goodbye.”

“Huh?”

“Weren’t you going to Sir Rodrigo?”

Ether asked.
So the reason they came…

“We will go together.
I mean, I know better than you.
Ride behind me, Estiya.”

Said Kaylan.

“No need for permission.
I just wondered if I should show this kind of generosity to those who go to war.”

Eyla added quickly, in case I misunderstood.

“Thanks.”

Seriously.
It wasn’t because they gave me a ride, but because they acknowledged Rodrigo a little bit.

I was so happy.

 

(3rd person pov)

“It is time to depart.”

Rodrigo couldn’t give up his lingering affection and kept looking back at the end of the road.
Gunther said to Rodrigo.
He knew who Rodrigo was waiting for.

Estiya Cartina.

Since she came, his master has changed.
He thought she was a good influence.
He was very happy that his master, who was like a machine, changed like a human.
It seemed good for someone who always wore a fake smile to smile for real.
Even Devlan liked that he was now living more like a human being.
So he thanked Miss Estiya.

But now, he felt resentful.
Gunther knew how dangerous it can be to enter a battlefield.

“Let’s go.”

Gunther urged once more.
Rodrigo looked at him.

“Let’s go.”

It was a voice full of regret, but Gunther raised the flag relentlessly.
The horn sounded.
To the sound of waking everyone around, the sun that had been covered by the clouds was revealed.
The horses raised their legs in unison.
The advance was slow but certain.

(tl/n: my heart sniff)

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