Home Post 1038-chapter-38


“Then, do I just need to give you back the handkerchief and the key?”

Claude quickly interjected, changing his attitude and seeming ready to take those items from me to prevent me from pursuing him further.

“Not exactly, but—

“No, the handkerchief and the key were what you chased after me for, right? Where is it? Do you have it now?”

He approached swiftly, and I instinctively stepped back as I replied, “I, I left it in the carriage.”

“The Desmiere Family’s carriage, I assume? Fine. I’ll go get them now.”


“Is there a problem?”

Now it was him raising eyebrows and aggressively questioning me. I hesitated and defended myself, backing away with every step.

“Um, well, you see, I’ve been running after Your Highness, so my legs are hurting. I can’t make it to the carriage.”

“Then rest. I’ll take you to an empty guest room. I’ll go get them myself.”

“Are you planning to enter the empty carriage alone and rummage through a lady’s belongings?”

“You know that item is mine. Taking back one’s own belongings from someone who’s begging to return them isn’t strange at all.”


Each time I stepped back, Claude came closer. Tree branches and leaves brushed against my outstretched hand.

I reached the end of the tall bush wall, unable to retreat further. Yet Claude kept advancing.

My pupils dilated, and my breath quickened. He reached out his hand. I closed my eyes tightly, feeling a stranger’s touch on my skin.


I opened my eyes. Claude plucked away the branch that had touched my cheek.

Claude had a dazzling smile on his face. He extended his arm as if offering escort.

“Well then?”

I reluctantly lifted my trembling arm and placed it on his.

* * *


“Let’s take a break.”

“I’m busy. Aren’t you as well?”

“I’m not that busy. Take your time.”

“Do you have time?”


“Good. Use it wisely.”

Though I tried to resist by not putting too much weight on my legs, the prince firmly grasped my arm and pulled me along.

His last comment was so bizarre that I couldn’t help but protest.

“Did you mean to make me laugh?”

Claude glanced back briefly before returning his gaze forward and walking briskly.

“It wasn’t my intention, but if you found it amusing, then I suppose it was.”

His tone was as rigid as a needle, leaving no room for further discussion.

‘I should summon Undine again…’

I thought as I was being pulled along. As if hearing my thoughts, Claude spoke.

“Summoning another spirit won’t help. You won’t catch a cold just from getting a little wet.”

If I were an earth spirit, I would have summoned a gnome to tie up Claude’s ankles.

I’d never wished to summon another spirit before, but today, I regretted being a water spirit.

Despite my thoughts, we were steadily making our way back to the mansion’s main gate.

The party didn’t seem to be over yet. There were no people at the mansion’s main entrance, which directly connected to the central access point and the front gate.

Near the gate and along the roadside, several carriages were lined up, either waiting early for their owners to leave or ready to depart quickly. Most of them belonged to high-ranking nobles.

“Where is the carriage?”

Claude looked around, scanning the area with a distant gaze.

“Well, um, I’m not sure where they parked it. I was too focused on coming here.”

A scoff was heard immediately.

“It’s over there.”

With his knowledge of the Desmiere estate, Claude immediately moved toward it.

‘Of course, it’s right in front of the main gate.’

As one of the most esteemed noble families, our carriage was positioned proudly closest to the main gate.

The coachman had been sitting idly on the coach box and was startled as he saw us and hurriedly descended, tipping his hat and stepping back.


Thump. Claude’s hand reached for the door handle.

Though I could have resisted with the strength in my hand, he didn’t attempt to force it.

He merely glanced in my direction without saying a word.

What should I do? How can I return to Claude what I borrowed without him avoiding me afterward?

My head spun.

“If you have something to say, say it.”

His tone was calm, indicating there was no rush.

If I simply unpacked and found my belongings and returned the intermediary between us, then perhaps he wouldn’t avoid me as if we’d never met again.

Claude had revealed his deepest and most vulnerable feelings yet now seemed to have completely changed.

I felt a sense of injustice and frustration, wanting to shout out loud. I bit my lip.

Under his piercing gray gaze, I couldn’t think of any convincing strategies, sweet proposals, or eloquent phrases to persuade him.

No visible lies, no rambling excuses, no witty banter that failed to address the core issue.

In the end, what emerged was sincerity.

“After you take back the items, you’ll avoid me again, won’t you?”

If the prince had decided to swallow his inner turmoil and hide behind a shield, then the truth would be my spear.

“Please don’t.”

Claude remained silent. His expression was inscrutable, revealing nothing of his thoughts.

“I… I don’t want to drift apart from you.”

My voice trembled slightly. My shoulders tensed. The hand that had been clutching my frock coat dropped involuntarily.

“…Don’t think that I want to drift away from you.”

Claude murmured softly. He lifted his head, which had been drooping.

Surprisingly, he seemed distressed. The sunlight pouring down behind Claude cast a deep shadow over his face.

In a barely audible whisper, almost as if he might miss it if he didn’t listen closely, he continued.

“I thought I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have watched over you or used expressions that made you feel overly familiar. It only led to misunderstandings. That’s why I avoided you. That’s all.”

“Are you saying…”

“It’s not about drifting away. This is the appropriate distance between us.”

“However, you said we were the same beings! That we carry the same fate, that we shouldn’t try to escape from destiny…”

“That’s right.”

He nodded. My chest tightened. Before I could add anything, the prince spoke again.

“We each carry our own sins, that’s all. Sharing unnecessary sentiments and interfering with each other beyond necessity only leads to unnecessary emotional residue.”


“Think of our paths as parallel lines. We’ll never meet again in eternity, but knowing that we carry the same framework is enough. That alone can provide solace.”

It was a tender and bitter expression. His beautiful face was filled with sorrow.

I was speechless.


I snapped my fingers. Before Claude’s eyes could widen, three undines appeared simultaneously behind and on both sides of him, splashing water at us.


As the conversation grew serious, the coachman who had been discreetly watching us stepped back, dropping his hat in surprise.

While he was busy pulling out his beard in shock, I remained calm, standing still.

[“Refreshing, isn’t it? Hehe.”]

[“Baptism with water! Great!”]

The undines danced and frolicked among themselves, circling around before disappearing.

Claude silently brushed back his wet hair.

The water-soaked strands revealed his cool forehead, previously hidden under his dripping blonde hair.

His cold gray eyes turned toward me.

“You said I wouldn’t catch a cold from a little water, didn’t you?”

He raised his hand to wipe his face. The wet sleeves and coat, as well as his shoes, dripped with water.

Even his voice dripped slowly like water droplets.

“It’s quite audacious… Your talent for making it not feel that way.”

“You flatter me.””

I lifted my dress slightly and curtsied.

“Are you feeling better?”

“Yeah. Refreshed.”

He tilted his head, using his palm to wipe away the water from the other ear. As he did so, he glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and asked.

“So, may I ask why you gave me this sudden, refreshing gift?”

“I was just so surprised by your actions.”

I answered confidently.


It seemed like Claude didn’t care anymore. Whether I said something or not, he replied without paying much attention.

“You revealed your deepest feelings, saying that I’m a sinner born from denial, and that we shouldn’t escape alone from our shared sins. But now, you’re pretending not to know and saying that we have no crossing paths, trying to run away. Isn’t that surprising?”

“Khalia, that’s…”

“Don’t run away from life. Not even from me.”

I said bluntly. Claude’s mouth closed like a clam. I pushed him aside and opened the carriage door.

Inside, I found a small silk bag lying where I had been sitting.

Inside were the handkerchief and metal key that I had carried with me without fail since the day I received them.

I took them out and stepped out of the carriage again. Without hesitation, I handed them to him.

“This is…”

“Take it. It’s what you wanted, Your Highness.”

“Are you really returning them?”

His eyes were filled with suspicion. I pushed his hand again and urged him.

“Yes. I’ve given up trying to approach you with things like this.”


“If you want to run away, then go ahead. Avoid me as much as you want.”

Suddenly, laughter escaped my lips. A smirk formed at the corner of my mouth. I felt Claude staring at it blankly. I confidently continued.

“I’ll catch you no matter what. You’re wrong, Claude. I’ll firmly plant that in your complex mind.”

What are you doing? Just take it already.

A moment later, his trembling hand, moistened with water, slowly reached out.