Home Post 1543-chapter-51


“Come in.”

With Claude’s permission, the door opened, and a maid entered with a tray holding a plate and a cup.

She bowed to Claude and me.

“I heard that the lady has woken up. I brought some food and medicine. You must still be weak, so I will assist you with eating.”

It was a thin soup, water, and medicine to help regain strength.


He nodded and remained seated. The maid hesitated, holding the tray.

She looked at Claude with a puzzled expression.

“What are you doing?”

“What? Why?”

He asked back, seemingly clueless. He glanced at the maid.

“You need to move so she can sit there and help me with my meal.”

The maid stood there, unable to ask the prince to step aside.


Even after understanding, he didn’t move right away but then made an unexpected suggestion.

“I could help you instead.”

“Stop saying strange things and get up now.”

It was the principle for palace servants to act as if they were invisible, neither seen nor heard. Yet, the maid couldn’t hide her agitation. Her face turned red with embarrassment.

What nonsense was he talking about? I was worried she might misunderstand our relationship.

With a disappointed look, Claude finally stood up.

Even then, instead of leaving the room, he pulled up a chair, placed it next to the maid, and sat down.

Now stuck assisting me with the prince watching closely, the maid was visibly nervous. Her hand trembled as she brought the spoonful of soup to my lips.

“Could you at least step back a little?”

He only moved his chair a finger’s width away, then crossed his arms with a satisfied look, as if to say, “Happy now?”

I sighed, giving up.

I need to recover quickly. I obediently accepted the soup.

“Stay in my palace for another day or two so we can monitor your condition. If you’re well enough, you can return to the duke’s residence.”

He hesitated before adding.

“Of course, you’re welcome to stay here until you’re fully recovered. As long as you want.”

“I should return to the duke’s residence.”

“…Do as you wish.”

His voice, as he crossed his legs and turned his head away, was peculiar… not angry, but… strange.

He finally left the room after I finished my meal and the healer came in, suggesting I needed to rest.

“He really is a strange person.”

I mumbled as I lay in bed alone. I hoped to return to the duke’s residence soon.

* * *

Three days later, the healer confirmed that I had recovered enough to return to the duke’s residence.

During that time, Claude was… truly strange.

He came to my room every morning. He didn’t do much, just sat there.

Pretending to read a book, I watched him secretly, and it was fascinating.

He sat quietly, sometimes shaking his legs nervously, his face going pale and then flushing red.

He seemed to want to be in the same space as me while also wanting to be as far away as possible.

Unlike the first day when he was oddly adamant about how I addressed him, he never took the initiative to say anything afterward.

He came up with trivial excuses to visit every day, spending time in my room, only to suddenly stand up and leave as if he couldn’t bear it any longer.

One day, he sat there watching me until friends visited, then hurriedly left.

Ridim and Felicia, who had grown closer to him in the aftermath of the dungeon incident, were puzzled each time this happened.

“Why does His Highness avoid us?”

‘It’s not the first time he’s been unpredictable.’

I calmly sipped my tea while listening to Ridim’s confusion.

By now, I had learned how to deal with him.

So, I didn’t pay much attention and let him be.

Finally, three days later, it was time to return to the duke’s residence.

The familiar Desmiere carriage stopped in front of the prince’s palace. Aila accompanied me, helping with my belongings and the move.

Claude stood at the door to see me off.

“Take care.”

“Goodbye, Your Highness.”

His gaze and the way he waved hinted at deep regret.

“His Majesty will summon you again after some time. Until then, rest well and recover.”

“I will.”

Once I was well, the emperor would call me to ask a few questions. I nodded and climbed into the carriage.

“We’re leaving.”

The coachman shouted from the front. Soon, the horses neighed, and the carriage began to move.

I opened the window and looked outside. Claude was still standing there, watching me leave. Our eyes met.

Even as the carriage finally left the palace grounds and traveled down the main road, the image of our shared glance lingered in my mind.

* * *

“Welcome back, my lady.”


As I entered the mansion, the butler, whom I hadn’t seen in a long time, greeted me with a deep bow.

“I’m relieved to see you safe.”

The sincerity in his expression was unmistakable.

He had heard about my past, one of the few who had learned of it through Ashley’s revelations.

I felt a peculiar emotion. Though we had exchanged brief conversations a few times since then, today felt different.

Perhaps it was because I had narrowly escaped death and returned to the duke’s residence after a long time.

“Thank you.”

I spoke with genuine gratitude.

“Please focus on your recovery without any worries. I’ve heard you’re much better, but after such an ordeal, you need ample rest.”

“I will.”

I nodded. He didn’t hold me back any longer, allowing me to head to my room.

I entered my room with Aila. The familiar surroundings immediately put me at ease.

The facilities at the prince’s palace were comfortable, and spending time with Claude was occasionally bewildering but also entertaining.

However, the comfort and ease I felt upon returning to the duke’s residence were incomparable.

My home, my people, a place where I felt safe and trusted.

I blinked, suddenly realizing my feelings. When did I start thinking like this?

I used to consider this place only a temporary shelter until I became an adult, inherited Count Estelle’s title, and gained all the rights and privileges of a noble. I thought of it as an impersonal temporary abode…

“What are you doing standing there? Lie down, my lady.”

Aila nudged me gently. I let myself be pushed into the bed prepared for me.

The bedclothes were warm as if preheated, and the pillow was soft.

She tidied my hair and tucked me in carefully, speaking as she did.

“You must be tired from the carriage ride. There’s time before dinner, so take a nap. I’ll wake you.”

Waking me up was a task she could have assigned to a maid, but since the accident, Aila had wanted to take care of every little thing herself.


I closed my eyes obediently. I felt her gentle hands patting the blanket as I lay there.

Knock, knock.

Just as I was about to fall asleep, there was a knock at the door.

“Oh, not now!”

Aila had been eagerly waiting for me to fall asleep and was annoyed. But her expression soon turned to surprise at the next voice.

“It’s me. May I come in for a moment?”

It was Duke Desmiere. Aila looked at me.

I nodded, and she helped me sit up so I could lean against the pillows. Then she opened the door.

Duke Desmiere stood at the doorway. He looked at Aila and spoke.

“I won’t be long. Please leave us for a moment.”

Aila had no choice but to leave the room, closing the door behind her.

The duke entered and sat in the chair beside my bed. I greeted him quietly.

“Please forgive my rudeness for not standing to greet you, Your Grace.”

He waved his hand dismissively.

“I don’t expect a patient to stand. It doesn’t matter anyway. Don’t worry about it.”

He fell silent. It seemed he had something to say, but the silence was long.

“How are you feeling?”

“I wanted to thank you for earlier.”

I remembered something as I looked at him, and we spoke at the same time.

The duke’s eyes widened slightly. His expression reminded me of Reedmore.

“Earlier? What do you mean?”

“For sending people and arranging the dress and accessories for me to attend the Oakley engagement party.”

It was a beautiful, intricately made dress. I should have thanked him sooner but hadn’t.

He listened to me, then frowned.

“There’s no need to thank me for that. I’m your guardian. It’s my duty. Don’t waste your energy on unnecessary words. Focus on your recovery.”


“Keeping such trivial matters in mind… how absurd…”

Even though I nodded, he mumbled to himself, expressing his disbelief.

For some reason, a warm feeling spread in my chest. I fidgeted with my fingers under the blanket.

“I came to see you because…”

He finally revealed his reason for visiting. I looked at him curiously, wondering what he wanted to say.

He hesitated several times before finally speaking.

“I wanted to check if you’re really alright because I was worried about you.”