It hasn’t been long since we’ve been apart, so why was he saying it’s been a while? I wanted to greet him casually just like I usually did, but that wasn’t going to work now.
The coat he placed around me was warm thanks to the wool lining inside. Even so, the comfort this warmth brought was no match for his voice.
I missed his voice. His real voice, not the cold voice I heard in that nightmare. I had yearned to see this face which looked at me.
Now that I’ve been reunited with Albert, I realized once again just how terrible that nightmare was. It had been a necessary experience for me to face my fears, but seeing him act so coldly like that was no good for my heart.
I liked his scent as it reached the tip of my nose. Did he just come out of the bath?
Albert shook my shoulder lightly. I must really be in shock. It’s the first time I’ve ever been like this around him.
I usually kept the contact we had to a minimum, but now, all I wanted was to be in his embrace.
His chest went up and down as he breathed. I looked up. I saw that familiar but still unrealistic face, then smiled. And he, too, smiled at me.
“It’s been a while for me as well, Prince.”
Albert blinked. As though he didn’t expect me to say that.
But his surprise soon disappeared like melted snow. The corners of his eyes curled up.
He reached out to me, and I took his hand. Neither of us mentioned the terms of the contract. It’s been like this since perhaps the time before I left, when we kissed.
Blanc flapped his little wings and perched himself atop my head. I’m a bit surprised to find out we could balance like this better than I thought.
The small dragon stared at Albert. It seemed like he’s thinking deeply about something. But soon enough, Blanc opened his mouth.
“Me toooo… It’s been a whiiiiile…”
Blanc bravely spoke to him first. Albert’s expression soured at this. He moved his gaze to look at Blanc and quietly said,
It was a rather awkward exchange, but I was happy. As someone who didn’t like dragons, Albert normally would have ignored Blanc, but I wonder where that version of the prince went.
* * *
When we returned to the castle, I came back to my senses. I had to tell Albert that I’m going to enter a contract with Blanc to prevent his death.
Ah, and I also have to tell him about the nightmares I had during the dragon’s disaster—that I didn’t just watch it from afar, but even disguised myself and infiltrated the villa to get close.
I could already imagine what kind of reaction Albert would have. I get why Liam left all this work to me.
But I needed time to think first. I asked the first question that popped into my head.
“Prince, shouldn’t we go back to the tower now…?”
“It’s fine to stay. Rosteratu is busy gathering soldiers, so he can’t attack today. And there’s still that spell on the tower that’s preventing anyone else from coming in.”
You and I are the only ones who can go in and out of there.
When he said this, his voice was so full of confidence that it’s like he’s telling the obvious truth.
…I was going to use the travel time back to the tower to my advantage so I could organize my thoughts, but that plan fell through. I wracked my brain again for a new plan.
It’s almost dinner time.
As soon as we walked through the gate and walked down the hallway, I opened my lips.
“Ah, Blanc, go back to your room and rest. I’ll fetch you later.”
Blanc nodded readily. It’s great that he could still remember what I told him before we returned.
When I made up my mind about becoming Blanc’s contractor and told him about it, there was one thing that we agreed on—that Blanc would hide somewhere else while I’m telling Albert about the decision.
It’s obvious enough that Albert was going to be angry, and there’s a chance that he might harm Blanc.
I knew very well that Albert was going to prioritize me.
While watching Blanc disappear as he turned the corridor, I glanced back at Albert.
“Prince, you must be hungry, right? I’ll cook dinner for you.”
As soon as I was about to let go of his hand, Albert instead grabbed my hand and held it tighter, pulling me back.
The unexpected force made me lose my balance and stagger, and so Albert wrapped one arm around my waist and snatched me right into his embrace.
I almost fell down. I took a deep breath and tried to stand upright again, but my back touched something hard behind me.
It was Albert’s chest. As I was in his arms, it was obvious just from hugging him that the solid chest was made up entirely of muscle.
My face flushed bright red. I’m lucky that my face wasn’t visible to Albert right now.
“You have to be careful.”
“…Yes. Please also be more careful from now on, Prince.”
Albert chuckled softly as I chattered nonsense in an attempt to hide my face.
Slightly hunched down, Albert slowly leaned closer. He’s trying to get close to my face. His breath brushed against my right cheek and ear.
“We’re not done talking yet, but you were trying to leave, that’s why. And you didn’t get hurt. Did you think I’d let you get hurt?”
This much I was sure of. Albert’s reflexes were fast enough that it’s difficult to tell whether they’re still the reflexes of a human being.
“And you know that there’s still something I need to hear from you.”
“I haven’t even had dinner yet, Prince. Don’t you miss the food I usually cooked for you while I was out? I can make you the ultimate chicken again, the same kind I cooked for you before!”
I chose the dish I knew was going to take me the longest to cook for Albert.
“Seems like you’re looking forward to it more than me.”
“Of course. I like chicken.”
And I need time.
But as I held myself back from saying that, my shoulders drooped.
“If Your Highness doesn’t like that, then we can go back to your room and talk right away. Sure, of course, since the Prince would like to talk, how can I…”
Albert placed a hand over my shoulder and gently pushed me away from him.
“Stop playing innocent. Fine, cook whatever you want.”
I escaped his arms and ran straight to the kitchen. I mean, well, I tried to keep running like that.
“The longer you take over there, the more I’ll look forward to a perfect explanation.”
If Albert didn’t say this.
It really feels like I’m on the palm of Albert’s hand. I had to wonder if I should be grateful for his mercy.
As I headed towards the kitchen, somehow, it still felt like I lost.
Comments for chapter "Chapter 115"
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