“Um, well, I, the sky…”
Despite Mabel’s confusion, Eugene flapped his wings again with a rustling sound.
As the altitude slightly increased, Mabel felt a strange sensation in her stomach.
But she knew it would be troublesome if she were dropped, so she tried her best to remain calm.
Feeling a little more composed, she glanced towards the distant forest. The figures of the wolves—now much smaller—confirmed that it wasn’t just a dream, which caused Mabel’s back to shiver in fear.
“Why are there Shadow Hounds…?”
She thought she heard a faint murmur and called out his name, but either it didn’t reach him or he didn’t respond.
She held on tightly, not wanting to be dropped.
As the castle seemed to draw closer, they descended onto the second-floor room where Eugene resided.
There awaited a large balcony, and Eugene skillfully placed the soles of his shoes on the railing, taking a few steps before landing.
Silently, Mabel was lowered down, straightened her wobbly legs, and faced Eugene.
“Um, thank you very much.”
“It’s nothing. I just went because the forest barrier was broken.”
While Mabel asked, her eyes were fixated on Eugene’s white wings.
White feathers extended from the gaps of his black coat. They had been spread wide earlier, but now they were folded small.
“When someone other than those I permit enters the forest, it becomes disorienting.”
Upon hearing that, Mabel tilted her head in confusion.
“What happens when you get disoriented?”
“You won’t be able to reach this far and will return to where you came from.”
Mabel raised another question mark.
When she came here, she was sure she didn’t have Eugene’s permission.
But despite the hardships, she had arrived here.
“Well, I came here without a problem…”
Upon hearing those words, Eugene stared at Mabel through his mask.
“That’s why I asked when I first saw you, “How did you get through the forest?”
Thinking back, he did ask that.
“I don’t know why, but my magic doesn’t seem to have an effect on you.”
Leaving Mabel, who didn’t quite understand, Eugene lightly tapped his white wings on his shoulder with his fingertips. The feathers instantly disintegrated into small particles of white light, blending into the sky. It seemed those wings were also a result of magic.
“So? Why were you in such a place?”
“Um, well, It’s just that…”
Feeling his gaze on her again, Mabel swallowed nervously. She had intended to surprise him with her preparations, but since he had saved her life, she felt hesitant to deceive him.
“Well, actually, I went to pick strawberries.”
Timidly, she took out a hemp bag from her bag and opened the mouth of the bag to show him. Eugene peered inside and let out a sigh of exasperation.
“How trivial. You could have asked a merchant who goes in and out for that.”
“Cero seemed busy, and it was nearby, so I thought I could go.”
“Do you like them enough to risk your life?”
She could hear a mocking smile in his voice. Mabel hesitated whether to say it or not, and in a small voice, she murmured, “I heard that you liked them…”
Saying that, she felt embarrassed and involuntarily looked down.
She had prepared herself to be ridiculed, but for some reason, she couldn’t hear Eugene’s voice.
When she raised her head, she saw Eugene with his mouth slightly open, directed towards his mask.
Contrary to his rough response, Mabel noticed that his face gradually turned red from his neck up. She blinked two or three times in surprise.
Leaving Mabel, Eugene turned on his heel and walked quickly toward the room.
“Um, well, do you hate me for it?”
“I don’t know!”
And just like that, Eugene returned to his room. Mabel was left alone on the balcony, still holding the strawberries.
(Well, let’s see if I can serve them as dessert after dinner.)
She carefully put the strawberries back in her bag and pondered what to have for dinner.
She could put them in a salad or serve them with ice cream. What kind of way would Eugene like to eat them? As she thought about it, Mabel suddenly remembered the sensation of being lifted by Eugene.
She gently placed her hand on her right arm, which had been firmly grasped. The warmth was long gone, but the hand through the glove still felt strong.
‘He went out of his way to help me…’
After all, Mabel was the one who had intruded without permission.
To put it bluntly, it’s just a maid who fell off a cliff, and Eugene had no obligation to save her. Honestly, while staying here, I thought that even if something happened, I would be left all alone.
But he saved me, with those strong arms of his…
He may not be as cold-hearted or misanthropic as people around him think.
With that thought, she felt a slight feeling of warmth passing through her heart.
‘But men are really strong. His body was sturdy too…’
Not only was it the first time she experienced flying, but it was also the first time she was embraced by a man.
‘What is this feeling?’ Was her heart pounding because she was relieved to have escaped from the wolves, or was she finally realizing that she had been saved?
“…What’s happening to me?”
For some reason, Mabel’s cheeks felt hot, and she lightly slapped her palm against them.