‘What is this?’
Ilya Lindsay thought, as she accepted the invitation of Airn Pareira.
She was waiting for her dear friend with a mixture of anticipation and excitement; there was a bit of shock and worry too, in her mind.
Even when she got up, she didn’t think that things would turn out like this.
All she wanted to do was to make up for the mistakes she made and act like nothing happened… so she was thinking a lot about whether to head back home or go back to her past self too.
But not now.
Ilya’s head was now filled with only the thoughts about the upcoming date which was planned.
One could tell by looking at the clothes she had on.
‘Clothes, these suit me…’
It wasn’t like she had some fancy dress for a banquet on. However, what she wore wasn’t the attire that she normally wore for training.
She just chose the clothes that she thought she would look and feel the prettiest in. Still, she felt worried.
She lightly used perfume.
She lightly applied makeup.
She wore earrings she wouldn’t normally wear.
‘How would I look to him?’
… while she was thinking that, someone appeared.
It was the person she was waiting for.
“Long time no see.”
“Yes, i-it’s been long.”
Ilya’s face turned a little red.
Actually, it wasn’t that long. Didn’t they just meet yesterday?
It was a day that she wanted to erase from her memories, but she couldn’t just make something like that happen.
Fortunately, Airn didn’t say much about it. He just looked at her with a smile.
And it was the same with Ilya.
Airn’s expression was exactly what she wanted him to have.
No, looking at his face, which looked a little cooler than her imagination, she was pondering on what to say, when Airn said something before she could…
“They suit you.”
“The earrings. I don’t think I’ve seen them before.”
“Ah? Yes. That…”
Ilya’s face kept turning red and complex thoughts filled her mind.
What did his words mean?
Was he complimenting her? Was he saying she looked pretty?
No, it could just mean that the earrings looked fine on her. Was she overthinking it?
No, more than that…
‘I need to know.’
The different appearance than usual.
It wasn’t a huge change, but from her point of view, Airn was the kind of person who pondered over one thing a lot to decide if he had to do it or not, so making a conclusion right away on his thoughts was…
A little unfamiliar to her.
Of course, she didn’t hate it.
Rather, she liked it.
To the extent where she couldn’t manage her facial expressions.
‘…what kind of face am I making now?’
Ilya trembled and instantly erased the expression.
She didn’t know, but she was certain that she had a strange expression.
Again, she turned her head away in embarrassment.
Wouldn’t Airn think it was strange?
Rather, how long were they going to be here?
Ilya’s worries were soon resolved.
From the sky, a carriage came down.
It wasn’t a carriage.
Since the horses that were normally used to pull a carriage were replaced with an unusual griffin with a parrot head. Only this time, it had a ribbon on the head.
And it landed with an unusual gentle motion.
Perhaps it was due to the power of sorcery, the part of the carriage attached to the Griffin also landed gently and stopped in front of Airn and Ilya.
After that, Kirill jumped off from the body of the Griffin, Cherry, and said,
“Greetings! I am Kirill Pareira, who will be responsible for the two of you today.”
“Let me introduce myself again. I am Lulu.”
“Then, would you get in the carriage?”
Airn grabbed Ilya’s hand as she was still confused.
It wasn’t even a grab, it was the gentlest action one could do. An action which could never offend the other person.
However, Ilya was still technically being dragged away.
She entered the carriage and sat down in the luxurious yet comfortable seat facing Airn.
“We will depart now.”
The voices of the coachman Kirill and Lulu flowed in, and the carriage started moving. It didn’t have a rough start like usual, since two sorcerers were controlling it.
“There is a place I want to visit, it’s a bit far, so we are moving in a carriage.”
“How is it? Is it uncomfortable or anything like that? Ah… and sorry. I decided on everything without asking.”
Looking out at the scenery, Ilya mumbled “…no. there is no need to apologize.”
It was strange.
This wasn’t her first time on the griffin.
She flew on it when she came to the Pareira territory, and the outside scenery which she saw now, had nothing special in it.
Yet, it felt different.
‘If I was the protagonist in an adventure novel riding a griffin to defeat the Devil, I am now…’
Ilya looked at Airn.
Riding a sorcery carriage driven by a sorcery cat.
She was now flying with the person she loved the most in the world.
She felt like she was the protagonist of a romance novel.
“We are here.”
Ilya was surprised.
She wanted to enjoy it a little more. High in the sky, she wanted to enjoy the moment, as if she was the only one who could be with Airn for this moment.
But she didn’t show her thoughts outwards.
There was no need to reveal it.
“Then, I’ll take you down, lady.”
He had a playful tone, but it didn’t seem like a joke.
Ilya looked at his face and then grabbed his hand to get off the carriage.
There was no need to worry or be disappointed.
Unlike the children’s books which she used to read when she was child, nothing changed when she got off the sorcery carriage.
She was still by his side.
She didn’t let go of Airn’s hand as they walked ahead, and she had a smile on her face.
“Yes. Don’t worry.”
“I don’t have any worries.”
Kirill, Lulu and Bratt who suddenly appeared looked at those two with happy eyes.
Sevantino, the free city of Gerbera Kingdom, which was famous for its art.
Artists from various fields, including painting, music, sculpting and acting too, could be seen here all thanks to the people who enjoyed these arts. It felt like a festival the whole year here.
Ilya and Airn felt the same.
As they strolled through the streets, the two found pleasure in things other than swords.
“Do you want to see that?”
“Wow, a portrait in 1 minute!”
“I like the sound of music from ther….”
“I saw a lot of street performances, should we go inside?”
At first, Ilya found it awkward to enjoy the street of artists that they were walking through.
In fact, even at the beginning of the date, she had a firm expression and had just passively followed Airn.
However, it was like that only for a while.
She had already forgotten about yesterday.
And also about Kirill and Lulu who were probably around.
Somewhere since the beginning of the date, she had a moment when she felt as if she could enjoy the present without having to care about anyone else. From that moment, Ilya began to enjoy her time with Airn without any pretenses.
It wouldn’t have been possible in the past.
She would have been reluctant to show this to others. Especially to avoid letting others know of her intentions.
More than that, she was afraid of showing her heart to others…
If it was the past self when she couldn’t trust anyone truly, no matter how much she liked them, she wouldn’t have been able to show such an image to them.
But not now.
Ilya suddenly stopped and looked at Airn.
Seeing her like that, the young man asked.
With a smile as warm as the sun.
…Ilya looked at his face more deeply than any artwork she had seen.
“Just…I like this.”
She said with a smile.
It wasn’t said after a thought.
Her face wasn’t red, nor did she have a blank expression. Yet, her heart was trembling more than ever.
Even though she controlled her body with aura, it was hard to stop the trembling.
She wanted to be honest.
She wanted to reveal and express what was going on in her mind, and she did.
It was 100% accurate and true… it felt unreasonable to show her feelings and make sure the other one wouldn’t misunderstand it.
“Yes, I like it too.”
Airn smiled again and answered.
It wasn’t something with many meanings. Perhaps, it was because he liked the festive air which was good and relaxing after a long time, and it wasn’t about Ilya.
Ilya who thought that, felt sorry but also relieved.
… she couldn’t do it yet.
She thought to herself and kept moving.
“Hello. Thank you for visiting us. We will serve you with appetizers.”
“We will pair the Sevantino’s silk wine which goes well with the hors d’oeuvres. Please enjoy the taste that is deep and flavorful.”
“How about a glass of red wine with steak? Just in time, a wonderful piece of meat has also come in…”
“I would like to recommend a cocktail with dessert. It has a citrus scent with a little umami…”
“You are Bratt.”
“…whatever do you mean?”
“Enough, get lost.”
“Excuse me, but who is Bratt? My name is.”
“How did you know?”
“Go away now, please.”
Strange. He was in a perfect disguise.
The waiter disappeared mumbling…no, they let Bratt, who was disguised, go away.
It was because Gerbera’s young noble’s emotions when it came to alcohol were a bit too sincere unlike food, and his gestures and his way of speaking would always reveal it.
“Sorry. I don’t know why he is acting like that.”
“No. It is fine. It was fun.”
Ilya said with a slight smile.
It really was.
She wasn’t really in a good state before this meal.
Airn’s invitation was sudden, and he was acting very differently.
The excitement and anticipation from it was tearing down her heart without mercy. It was to the extent where she couldn’t control her feelings.
‘I shouldn’t mistake his words.’
Ilya forced herself to stay calm.
It was true that they were closer than before.
Perhaps, out of the many imaginations that came to her mind when she accepted the invitation, the moment she desired the most might come today.
Conversely, she also felt terrified and was afraid that this happiness would be snatched away.
Which was why she wasn’t offended by Bratt’s sudden appearance.
In front of the person she liked the most, Ilya felt herself getting smaller.
Airn looked at her with deep eyes.
And continued to constantly look into her.
Her nose, her lips, those ears with the new earrings on it, and the pretty eyes which were occasionally staring into his.
Everything about her seemed beautiful.
She was always the same, but now she looked even more beautiful.
‘Perhaps, it is because my heart finally knows it.’
Because he was the lazy prince who had humbled himself for long.
He too, felt the same way as Ilya.
He couldn’t back down today.
Walking out of the restaurant, the two stopped walking.
Ilya turned and looked. And looked to the side.
It was a sparsely populated place.
And Airn had a face which seemed like he had something to say.
She suppressed her feelings and raised her head.
Thought of what it could mean and not mean at the same time.
To her, he said.
“I like you.”
“Not as a friend, but as a woman.”
“A lot, I like you a lot.”
Not giving her a chance to mistake his words…
Airn expressed himself clearly.
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