Chapter 13: The Negotiation’s Outcome
“What are you talking about? It’s me who will arrange the ceremony.”
“That’s why, if I can’t get anything in return, I won’t hold the ceremony. Leon doesn’t want to see you.”
“Hold the ceremony. This is an order.”
George glared at Leon with resentment, but Leon didn’t look away.
“For appearances’ sake, is it?”
George calmly replied. Diana suddenly smiled.
“I don’t care about appearances. If it’s for Leon.”
Leon and Hans blushed slightly.
“If you prepare what I ask for, I will hold the ceremony.”
George propped his cheek on his hand in frustration.
“. . .What do you need?”
Diana smiled mischievously.
“Three barrels of flour, one barrel of wine, and old clothes.”
Everyone’s gaze focused on George.
“. . .Fine.”
Surprisingly, the negotiation ended without any complaints. Diana felt relieved.
“We don’t have much time until the ceremony. Go to Hans’ shop now and get measured. The requested items will be brought by laborers later. Let’s meet at the ceremony.”
George stood up abruptly and quickly left his seat.
Diana felt a sense of unease at the unexpectedly smooth negotiation.
(. . .I wonder why he’s in such a hurry.)
The ceremony could be held anytime, but why did he try to rush it?
(Do we have some special reason that requires us to have the ceremony?)
Diana, who tried to use the ceremony as an excuse to withdraw supplies, wondered if George had some reason to hold his brother’s ceremony.
(Maybe he’s using the excuse of appearances to cover up something. . .)
Diana became anxious, but she realized that Leon was standing next to her.
“Diana, well done.”
“. . .Leon.”
“Let’s go to Hans’ shop. He said he would make your clothes.”
The brothers looked at them with a somewhat envious gaze.
“I never thought Leon would be the first to get married among the brothers.”
Teasingly, Thomas said while putting his arms around his head. Diana looked up at Leon in surprise.
“Oh! Is that true?!”
Leon nodded awkwardly.
“We’re the first.”
“R-Really? But George-san is quite old, isn’t he?”
The brothers laughed vaguely, as if trying to cover something up. Diana realized.
“Hmm? Could it be related to Leon being abused?”
The room fell silent. Hans cleared his throat.
“Well. . .there might be something like that.”
Thomas fidgeted and sat restlessly, swinging his legs.
“I had a failed engagement once. No one wants to give their daughter to a violent person.”
Diana was stunned. Fritz joined in the conversation.
“It’s really troublesome. Because George and Thomas used to beat up Leon, people think I’m the same.”
Hans nodded repeatedly in agreement with his words. Thomas became irritated.
“But our father ordered us to beat him. If we disobeyed, we would be beaten!”
“Even if I was ordered, I didn’t beat Leon. Instead, I was beaten by our father.”
“Hey, stop it, everyone, in front of the bride. . .”
Diana observed them.
Leon’s eyes lost their light. Diana felt sorry for him and whispered softly.
“. . .Can I touch you?”
Leon nodded. Diana held Leon’s fingertips.
Is it okay for such things to happen within a family?
Diana had lived with her father, mother, and sister without any trouble. She believed in the word “family love” and lived harmoniously. She had never imagined that such a family could exist in the same country.
After finishing the measurements at Hans’ shop, Diana and Leon rode Regina and headed back to the cottage on the hill.
In the midst of the sunset, the back of the horse swayed gently from side to side.
Diana lovingly stroked Leon’s arm, sandwiched between her sides.
“Well. . .it’s been tough for you.”
Even the words of encouragement she managed to squeeze out sounded empty. Leon choked back his voice as if enduring something and said decisively.
“I was fine because Diana was there.”
Diana opened her mouth in surprise and gently looked up at Leon.
Leon smiled in the glow of the sunset.
That incredibly beautiful scene burned in Diana’s chest.
“Yes. I’m really glad that Diana is here.”
“W-Well, I’m also really glad that Leon is here. . .”
At that moment, Leon’s smile disappeared as if he had noticed something. Diana snapped out of it and looked straight ahead.
Whenever she showed affection, it always ended up like this.
She would end up troubling Leon. After all, he had only helped the daughter of his benefactor escape from the war.
Diana looked ahead and sniffled as her nose throbbed with pain.
Contrary to her growing feelings, he seemed to retreat as if awakening. As Diana sulked in Leon’s arms, he said,
“. . .I’m sorry.”
Diana gazed at the sinking sunset in front of her.
As she repeatedly questioned the meaning of that apology in her heart, directed towards the person she loved who was right beside her.