༺ Awakening (3) ༻
Two days later, inside the accommodation.
As she leaned her body towards the hands of the attendants, Renee let out a deep sigh. It was because she recalled the riddle Theresa gave her.
For the past two days, she had been thinking hard about the riddle, yet she still hadn’t figured out the answer.
It was impossible for her to ask anyone for help.
… No, it was more appropriate to say that she lacked the courage to do it.
Asking someone for advice about the answer would mean that she also had to share her concerns. How would she go about asking for advice on that?
Renee didn’t want anyone to know that she was acting weird because of Vera.
Do I feel embarrassed about something? She couldn’t explain why, but when she considered telling him, a sense of embarrassment arose in her mind.
In the end, because of such an embarrassing feeling budding inside her, she had to take care of her worries alone, and the result turned out like this.
Renee still didn’t know what Theresa was talking about.
She heard those words while engrossed in such thoughts.
After hearing those words, Renee got rid of those thoughts and stood up using a cane.
“Thank you for your hard work, everyone.”
“I think you should leave right away, Lady Saint. Sir Vera is waiting outside.”
Startled. When she heard that Vera was waiting outside, her body began to tremble out of control again.
Renee nodded and walked slowly, wondering if she had a fever.
On a beautiful sunny day, at the bench in the garden in front of the accommodation.
On the days with no special schedule, Renee and Vera would come here to relax.
‘Her complexion is bad.’
Renee’s condition seemed strange. The strange look he had noticed since leaving Remeo had only worsened as the days passed.
Vera stared intensely at Renee’s face, and naturally, he began to worry.
Anyone who laid their eyes upon Renee, who was neatly dressed and had a mysterious atmosphere about her, couldn’t help but describe her as anything but beautiful. However, Vera, who had spent time with her every day, could sense her condition buried beneath her beauty through her drooping eyes and pursed lips.
“Saint. Do you feel sick?”
“Hmm? Oh, it’s not like that…”
Thinking that Vera had seen through her worries, she expressed her following words in the form of a shout.
“Ho-Homework! I feel troubled because of my homework!”
Words that she blurted rapidly.
“Oh, is it about Lady Theresa’s class?”
“Yes! She gave me a riddle, but I can’t come up with the answer…”
When Renee said that awkwardly, Vera kept his mouth shut and pondered for a bit. He then asked.
“… Can’t you tell me?”
Words he uttered out of his desire to help her.
At that, Renee flinched in astonishment, then hurriedly refuted.
“… It’s fine!”
Vera bowed his head. He felt empty for some reason at the sight of Renee turning her head away.
“I apologize. I said something presumptuous.”
“No, why is that…”
Renee’s embarrassment deepened.
That was when Vera realized he was about to launch another ‘bombardment of apologies’.
It was just a matter of not apologizing, but… It wasn’t easy for him.
Unlike before, Renee was aware that Vera was the cause of her emotions being in turmoil.
In other words, she became more meticulous in choosing her words than ever before.
“The Saint must have wanted to come up with the answer on her own, but I failed to take that fact into consideration and uttered those words. Please feel free to punish this fool.”
“Oh no, that’s…”
She was frustrated to the point of going crazy.
It felt like her head was spinning.
Not knowing what to do, Renee hesitated for a moment. She then closed her eyes tightly and spoke.
Those words, too, were uttered out of embarrassment.
She kept spouting anything that came to her mind, all in hopes of stopping Vera.
“Uhm, it’s a riddle about emotions! It’s about finding the nature of the emotion that Lady Theresa described…”
As she continued to speak, Renee belatedly recalled her failure, and shut her mouth.
If I’m going to confess anyway, why not just say, ‘I feel troubled because of you.’
Her heart filled with grief at that foolish behavior.
Vera raised his head at the words he had just heard and looked at Renee with a strange frown.
‘It’s about emotions.’
Vera quickly racked his brains. It’s because he got the idea how he could help Renee.
How could he be so impatient?
In the meantime, what did he achieve since he swore to live for Renee? What did he do after returning to the Holy Kingdom?
Aside from the fact that he had a lot of free time currently, and didn’t have to do anything important, all he had to do was stand next to her and follow her. So, shouldn’t he be helpful in times like this?
‘It’s a riddle.’
Judging from Renee’s reaction, it didn’t seem like she would reveal the contents of the riddle, so he had to infer as much as possible from the clues given.
Riddle. Emotion. Lady Theresa.
Vera, who was trying to weave an answer from all those limited clues, was able to infer the answer more easily than he had expected.
“Huh, Ye- Yes!”
Renee shook her head and responded to Vera’s words. Cold sweat dripped down her spine.
“I wonder if the answer to the riddle is ‘love’. After all, Lady Theresa is the Apostle of Love, and the riddle is also about emotions, so I think it’s plausible.”
The moment that word pierced her ear, all of her thoughts stopped.
“He, uh, uh….”
Renee squeaked out words like a broken machine.
After a long time, the words she barely uttered would make one think that she couldn’t possibly be any more foolish.
“No, the answer can’t be love.”
A blatant denial. She herself wasn’t sure why she instantly denied it. She uttered those words as she succumbed to the pressure of her pounding heart.
“… Is that so? I apologize for not being of any help.”
Renee lowered her head.
What followed was an awkward silence.
The uncomfortable silence lingered for over an hour.
Normally, Renee, who couldn’t stand the atmosphere, would have spoken out loud, but now Renee didn’t have that kind of leisure.
That emotion might be the answer to the riddle Theresa gave her.
She didn’t have the time to ponder over it because thoughts about Vera kept haunting her mind.
She denied the possibility of ‘love’ being the correct answer. However, no matter how hard she thought about other emotions, Renee couldn’t get her mind off of the word ‘love.’
Heat surged over her face, as she felt tremors in her belly that she couldn’t control.
At the same time, Renee tried remembering her past behavior, to see if there was any similarity to the word ‘love.’
Even if she tried to deny it… when she thought about it calmly…
The racing heart that came to mind when she held his hand, or the nervousness when she would talk to him. She was still substituting the word ‘love’ for those moments in the conference room. She fidgeted with her fingers every time she thought about it.
The thought of ‘what if’ kept occurring to her, and she couldn’t stop it.
Even though she was trying, the answer still remained out of grasp. And if there was a reason for that, it was because for Renee, love was only a story that other people would partake in.
Renee didn’t know what love was because she had never pictured herself being in love with someone in her lifetime. And in the past, she was too desperate to even think about such a thing.
There was no time to care about love because it was far more important to learn the way of the village and to paint her dark world correctly to the smallest detail.
The chaos that arose from that.
While Renee grunted for a long time, Vera’s words resounded.
“Saint. Would you like to head back?”
“The sun will set soon.”
Renee’s whole body trembled at the words spoken.
Without realizing, she felt agitated.
Not now. Right now, she felt so confused that she thought that she wouldn’t be able to sleep if it stayed this way.
She still had a lot to think about.
Soon she tried to come up with an excuse.
An excuse for them to stay together longer, to calm her mind and end the confusion.
Renee blurted out those words at the top of her head, then staggeringly grabbed Vera’s arm.
Her grip was firm.
“… Can we take a walk for a bit?”
Fortunately, that excuse turned out to be a reasonable one.
Vera’s answer further reassured herself.
“… As you wish.”
Flower beds surrounding the outdoor garden.
Renee was walking there in a daze.
In one hand she held her cane, and in the other she was holding Vera’s hand.
The warmth of the rough hand was transmitted to hers
As that warmth surged over her body, Renee screamed ‘Calm down’ inwardly, and as time went by this only further confused her.
She felt frustrated. She didn’t know what would really happen if Vera left her side.
She didn’t quite understand why she kept thinking about the word ‘love’.
Suddenly, the thought that Vera might hate her crossed Renee’s mind.
Aren’t these thoughts that I make up in my mind just making me feel even more anxious?
Aren’t I just hurting myself with these futile thoughts?
She involuntarily strengthened her grip when such thoughts occurred to her.
As the warmth grew, her heart began to beat more wildly.
Even though she kept denying it, her body continued to react honestly.
It was impossible, even if she tried to ignore it.
No matter how much she screamed inwardly, she couldn’t deny her belly tightening at the thought that it might have been true.
She heaved a deep sigh.
A voice that was always protecting her.
Badump. As her heart kept beating wildly.
Words she barely uttered.
After saying that, Renee closed her eyes tightly and thought.
Her mind was playing tricks on her.
Ever since she started thinking about ‘love.’
The moment she became aware of it, every action began to take a consistent form in line with that word. So, what would it be if it wasn’t a trick?
Yes, I admit.
Her condition would start to make sense if she concluded it was ‘love.’
The curiosity about Vera was due to ‘interest.’
The beat that grew stronger during the conversation was due to ‘excitement.’
The heat that faded away the moment she let his hand go was due to ‘sorrow.’
Even though each feeling had different names attached to it, when combined, they all pointed to one emotion.
It was embarrassing to even think about it.
The name that stole her heart.
She couldn’t even dare to call its name.
Her heart, which had already realized the truth for some time, was calling its name by itself.
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