What was Miss Bianka doing here?!
I recovered from my daze at once. I quickly finished the boarding protocols and crossed over with the plank they used for a ramp as I ran up to her. The moment I moved on to the ship, her waiting arms wrapped around me and I found my face unexpectedly buried in her ample chest.
“It’s been so long! I missed you, Marie!”
“M-Miss Bianka, can’t breathe!”
Suffocating, I lightly pushed against her arms.
“Oh, sorry! I was just too happy.” She hurriedly let go. She was smiling with her entire face as she stared at me. “You’re so cute, and… Hmm?”
Her words cut off, as if she had noticed something.
“Marie, you seem a bit different from the other day?”
So my disguise was only this good?
I had only counted on keeping it up, so this came as quite a big shock. Even though I changed my clothes, hair style, and hair color. That was it. That was how it went.
Whatever she thought of me as I hemmed and hawed, for a while she appeared to be in thought before she got close to my face and whispered in my ear, “Are you perhaps in disguise?”
“Huh?!” I looked up with great force. Oh no, did she find out I was a princess? I sweated. “How…”
“I’m right? You seemed well-bred. I imagined you were the daughter of a respectable family, and I’m correct,” she said in a low voice, smiling like a child whose prank had pulled off successfully.
It seemed like my identity hadn’t been blown.
Surreptitiously, I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Ah. I’m sorry, if that’s the case,” she drooped sadly. “I said your name in such a loud voice and made you stand out.”
“It’s fine.” I shook my head. “It’s unlikely there will be someone who knows me around here, and even my disguise is just in case there is someone who might. Actually, you found me out immediately.” I smiled wryly and touched my cheek.
Her eyes rounded. “The atmosphere around you has largely changed, though? At first, even I didn’t think it was you.”
“Yes. It’s ridiculously to my taste… I mean, I saw you walking around and thought, Wow, what a cute girl. And then I realized it was you.”
I feel like I just heard something inappropriate, but I must’ve heard wrong. I wonder why I’m getting chills? My instincts commanded me to retreat from Miss Bianka’s seductive smile, so I took a step away.
Arms came up from behind and pulled me back. It threw me off balance and I fell, only to be stopped by a strong chest.
“Marie, our luggage are coming soon.”
My offender was Klaus. His lips were curved, but his green eyes were smiling down at me sullenly.
Eek. I forgot about him.
“Brother? Yours, Marie?”
“Oh. Yes. His name is—”
“Klaus.” He cut me off, perfect smile on his face. “I thank you kindly for looking after my sister.”
What a shady smile, but those who didn’t know him well would probably only see pleasantness. Miss Bianka must have been tricked as well, there mixed feelings were showing on her face. But against my expectations, she wasn’t being charmed by him. On the contrary, her beautiful eyebrows seemed slightly puckered, or was that just my imagination?
Still looking conflicted, she introduced herself tersely. “Bianka.”
She probably omitted her family name so that people won’t find out she’s an aristocrat, but even if I make an allowance for that, that was pretty short, I thought.
With folded arms, she kept looking at him with a critical eye. “Marie, your brother doesn’t bear much of a resemblance to you.”
“No. I resemble our mother, and he resembles our father.” I gave her the answer we’d prepared ahead of time. We figured people might point it out.
Hmm. She nodded, but she didn’t look like she bought it.
“Marie, we should get going.”
“Oh, yes. Goodbye, Miss Bianka…”
“Sorry I kept you. Bye for now.”
I returned her wave while Klaus urged me to keep moving. As we walked side to side on our way to the cabin, he murmured, “Who does she think she is, acting so familiar.”
Easily, I punched him in the chest and ordered him to keep up his facade. “Brother, your tone.”
There might not be anyone around, but I didn’t want him to lose focus.
“The way she looks at you is peculiar. Those are the eyes of a deviant.”
You have no right to say that.
No matter how I looked at it, it was the pot calling the kettle black, and yet the pot wasn’t even aware of it. I ignored him as he tediously kept on.
Suddenly, the structure beneath my foot shook and I immediately placed both hands against the nearest wall. Klaus casually supported me.
“It seems like we are departing.”
So I hadn’t been hit with a bout of dizziness.
I turned my eyes toward the harbor. As he said, the ship was starting to move. I separated myself from him and grabbed onto the handrail. When I looked down, I saw that the ship was pulling away from the harbor, little by little.
The figures of the people who came to see the ship off were steadily growing smaller.
As I leaned forward, the sea breeze blew strongly and small sprays hit my cheek.
“The time has come,” I said to myself.
My first journey started from here.
As I thought of that, my fingers automatically squeezed harder on the handrail.
When will the next time I can see this scenery be?
Will I be able to fulfill my objective properly? Can I return triumphant?
I shook my head to clear my worries, and concentrated on the scene in front of me. I tried to burn the sweeping view of the port town into my memory as I looked from one end to the other. Suddenly, I stopped. There, on top of the elevated ground to the left of the town, was the figure of a person. Just one.
Were they here to send someone off? That person held onto the bridles of their black horse, but they were cloaked, so I couldn’t tell if it was a woman or a man.
I couldn’t help following that them with my eyes.
The ship was heading west and it would pass right by those elevated heights. Would I get a glimpse of their face? As if that person could see what I was thinking, they threw off the hood of their cloak.
The black hair that spilled out fluttered in the wind. Dark penetrating eyes stared straight at me.
When I saw that figure, my breath hitched.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and I wondered if I hadn’t made a mistake.
No, absolutely not. There was no point in deluding myself.
Or so I tried to calm myself down, but my heart—the traitor—was screaming for joy.
Sir Leon, I whispered, a drop of tear sliding out the corner of my eye.
I was happy, so incredibly happy it could not be put into words. I chewed on my lip and sounds suspiciously close to sobs leaked out.
He came to see me off.
I told him he didn’t have to, but the fact that he was here made me so happy I couldn’t hold it in. I like him so much my chest hurts.
I wiped away the tear that fell and forced myself to smile. Even though I might not be able to see him for a while, I didn’t want to part with a crying face.
“I’ll do my best and come back…”
Lightly, I gave him a single wave.
Sir Leonhard kneeled on the spot and bowed his head.
“I await your return.”
Of course, at this distance his voice wouldn’t reach.