Chapter 17

“Would you like to wash up first?”

Laritte asked as her eyes fell on the small bathroom in one corner of the room.

“……What?”
“Are you not going to wash up? There seems to be plenty of water.”
“Ah, yes.
Yes…..”

Trying to hide his agitation, he stepped towards it.

He brushed off his thoughts and returned back to the room after cleaning himself up.

Laritte was already asleep on one side of the bed.

Before he became a swordmaster, he was still skilled in swordsmanship, but he did not develop much of his physical strength.

But Laritte was different.

Ian didn’t know that Laritte began to take care of her meals only recently.

Although she didn’t use much of her energy, the journey must have been tiring.

Ian shook her carefully, but she didn’t open her eyes.

Only the sound of her breathing peacefully reached his ears.

‘Sigh.’

Eventually, he sighed, lifting her in his arms and laying her down properly.

It was strange to think about whether or not she was waiting for him.

“Don’t you think you should cover yourself with a blanket?”
“Mm-hmm.”

She made a sound in her sleep.

Ian lied down next to her gently, covering themselves with the blanket.

The bed was so narrow that it forced him to shift towards her.

The ends of her silver hair were tickling his arm.

He turned towards her.

As he stared at her, a gentle smile crept upon his face unknowingly.

He didn’t know, but such a smile was also noticed by him by his nanny when he was a child.

However, it wasn’t a moment to cherish such childhood memories.

The two had spent one long season together and came all the way here.

The highlights were in front of them now.

The word companion could not be more fitting than it was now.

Ian whispered softly in her ear.

“Hey.”
“…….”

She couldn’t open her eyes, but she tossed and turned.

Eventually, she shifted into his arms.
It was something to be felt all the way.

Anyway, they were married.
He wished this moment would not end in a flash.

If it will, then it would be the last thing he cherishes before he got back his reputation.

That wasn’t all.

If the Duke gained back his property, he could give Laritte many things to make her happy.

Even if Laritte didn’t really have any desires, he could have bought the best land on the continent and could have built a lovely home for her.

He would even gift her jewelry that wasn’t even owned by the Imperial family…..

A happy imagination ensued.

However, if Laritte had heard him, she would have been frightened.
It surely would have reminded her of Rose all over again.

She had already accepted from the time she left the villa that she was nothing like him and that their relationship would be over soon.

The judgment was due to the concessions, abandonment, and greed that every illegitimate child in the world had to suffer through.

Laritte was going to live in the villa alone for the rest of her life, just like her father had planned.

She believed Ian would at least give her the right to stay in that villa.

Or something similar to it.

Unaware of her thoughts, Ian spent his time sweeping his fingers through her hair until she fell asleep.

Ian kissed her forehead and soon followed her into a deep slumber.

Laritte was the first woman whom he had ever been affectionate besides his mother.

***

It was Laritte who opened her eyes to the chirping of the birds.

Unconsciously, she turned her gaze sideways.

“Wake up.”

A man larger than her was sleeping soundly next to her.

She wasn’t very surprised as she expected it by the size of the bed.

Ian quickly opened his eyes to the sound of her voice.

Although there were still a few days left until the National Foundation Day, there were many things that needed to be prepared in advance.

Especially about Ian hiding his identity.

The first impression that they shared the same bed was a luxury.

But they had to hurry.

Both of them simply packed their luggage and prepared to move out.

They went outside early in the morning to get to the carriage.

After another day, they finally arrived in the province.

Perhaps because it was just before the National Foundation Day, the place seemed to be more lively than when they had arrived.

But since then, their journey became nothing eventful.

Setting the accommodation on schedule, wearing a dress on time, and making other arrangements…..

Laritte changed into a dress, specifically the dress that Ian had given her.

She looked down at herself.

But she couldn’t tell how she looked since there wasn’t a mirror.
However, it was replaced by Ian’s horse.

“…….I expected it’d look good on you, but it looks great.”

‘She looks like a Goddess.’

He jumped down the horse.

“Really?”

Laritte patched the hem of her neck awkwardly.

She had never seen such a high-end dress.
It felt so different.

“Well, then……”

Laritte took something out of her luggage, noticing Ian, who couldn’t take his eyes off her.

“We’ve to do something first, don’t we?”

It was a secret weapon.

***

After arriving in an old rental wagon among those fancy horse cars, they got off the carriage.

As soon as a gorgeous woman and a servant in a robe got off, people cast their eyes upon them.

Ian became nervous, pulling over his hood more closely.

A gatekeeper stood at the first gate leading to the castle.

Upon noticing the small carriage, the gatekeeper thought it was a small inquiry.

However, it was surprising that the woman, unexpectedly, had an outstanding appearance.

‘Isn’t that dress too expensive for an outsider?’

“C-Can you please show me your invitation?”

His eyes widened as he read the letter.

‘The Duchess of Reinhardt?’

….She was someone far more humble than he thought.

Laritte was unaware of the fact that she was a popular topic in social conversations as the illegitimate child, who became the wife of a traitor.

But Rose never reproached her father for what he did.

Rather, Count Brumayer was praised for using an illegitimate child in such a crisis like that.

The gatekeeper passed back the letter to her, wondering how could that woman even live alone.

Then, his gaze shifted to Ian.

“Wait.”

He blocked their path.

Since the gatekeeper was also a popular knight of the Imperial Order, he knew Ian’s face.

As he was aware of that fact, Ian put his hand over the dagger he had hidden in his clothes.

“No matter how many servants there are, we can’t let them in without checking their face.
Hey, you there, you, take down your hood for a second.”

“No, his face is covered in severe burns because of an accident when he was young.
Please understand.”

“Lady, you might be a Duchess…..but it wouldn’t be possible for us to listen to your command.”

Her worst fear was Ian getting caught here.

Knights from all over the palace would soon flock and nobles would run away if they heard the return of the traitor.

Ian bit his lower lip.

‘I shouldn’t get caught yet!’

The gatekeeper strode towards him without him realizing it and caught his robe.

“…..!”

He started uncovering his face forcefully, but he stopped halfway as his eyes fell on a deep scar that covered almost half of Ian’s face.

Even the blood veins near it were delicately expressed to the point of nausea.

The gatekeeper stumbled back, quickly lowering his robes.

Laritte properly covered his face.

His features were covered with wax and painted to match his skin color.
Some of the features were actually made to look like burned scars by mixing ashes in the paint.
It looked as if his face could get infected by germs.
However, they had a pretty hard time making his make-up look natural.

Laritte gently grabbed Ian’s arm and calmly said.

“I told you the burn was serious.”

“No matter how ruined the Duchess is, what kind of a servant is that…?!”

The gatekeeper wiped his hands on his robe as if he had touched something dirty before holding the doorknob with his trembling hands.

Ian was stunned as Laritte was staring at the gatekeeper with a poker face.

‘She is looking insanely beautiful.’

But she was completely obvious to his compliment.

As Laritte and Ian safely went inside the gate, the chatter of the guests around grew more intense.

“The Duchess?”

“She’s the one who has nothing left with her…..”

“Oh, my.
She should be grateful that the Imperial family was merciful enough to leave her a family name.
She had the nerve to come all the way here.”

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Of course, they didn’t remember Laritte as the illegitimate child of Count Brumayer.

Upon hearing the sound of the door creaking again, Laritte raised her head.

‘Merciful Imperial family?’
‘Hmm.
That sounds funny.’

She didn’t know that the family of the Duke had been left behind.

As if she was just a substance that had been taken care of.

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