Chapter 3: Leon’s Circumstances
They eat a soup made with dried meat broth and fresh potatoes together.
At the small dining table facing each other, their empty stomachs and hearts are gradually filled.
Diana thinks to herself.
She has indulged in gourmet food countless times before, but surprisingly, this might be the most delicious thing in the world, she thinks.
But she also realizes that she might get tired of it if she has it every day.
“. . .How is it?”
Leon asks hesitantly, and Diana nods to convince herself.
“It was delicious.”
“I’m glad. I didn’t know what to do if it didn’t suit your taste.”
Diana looks up at his dull-colored eyes.
He is smiling happily. Diana blushes and looks down, trying not to reveal her expression.
It’s the first time she has been looked at like this by Leon.
After finishing the soup, Diana places the spoon on the worn-out table.
“Thank you for the meal.”
“Ojou-sama, please stay in bed. I’ll clean up.”
“Thank you, Leon.”
Diana sits on the bed and watches Leon, who carries the dishes and goes outside.
Diana looks around the cabin once again.
A simple, bachelor’s shack with no frills. Drafts came in from every corner, causing the shack to creak with each gust.
Diana suddenly touched the back of her head.
It was sticky. A mixture of sweat and the smell of blood, it was an indescribable discomfort.
Diana wandered around, searching for a bath.
However, such a thing was nonexistent in this shack.
Diana quietly stepped outside.
And then, her eyes were captivated by the view.
Vast land mixed with stones. A small mountain slope looming just behind the cabin. The mountain is overflowing with wild trees and colorful flowers. Although grass is sparsely growing between the stones, two free-roaming cows are digging and trying to eat them all. There is a barn and a cowshed nearby. Quite far away, other houses can be seen scattered here and there, shining in the morning light.
Leon is washing the dishes near the well.
“. . .Leon.”
“Ojou-sama, you should be resting.”
“Is there a bath here?”
Leon looks a little bothered.
“We don’t have one. It’s a luxury item for poor people like us.”
“My head feels sticky.”
“. . .I see.”
Leon stands up.
“But there is a good place.”
“There is a public bathhouse down the hill. Hot springs are flowing there.”
Diana’s eyes sparkle.
“A hot spring?!”
“I want to go! I rarely get to soak in a hot spring.”
“Is that what people in the urban area think? It’s a run-down bathhouse, but if that’s okay with you.”
“I want to go! Let’s go!”
“. . .We’ll go on horseback. Are you feeling alright?”
Diana nods. Leon looks towards the side of the cabin.
Next to the cabin, their beloved horse, Regina, who has gone through the war with them, is tied up.
“Alright, let’s go quickly. I’ll bring something to dry yourself.”
Diana gets on Regina first and waits for Leon. When Leon arrives late, he gets on behind Diana and takes the reins.
Being considerate and keeping it calm, Leon walks the horse. He must be doing it to avoid disturbing the wound on her head.
Diana feels a heartbeat she has never felt before. She didn’t think much of it until now, but when she realizes that she is in close contact with him, she starts sweating from embarrassment.
Diana wants to know more about him than before.
“Leon, do you live alone here?”
“Are your parents or siblings nearby?”
“They are far away. I was assigned this land, so I live here.”
“Oh, so your parents gave you this land?”
“Ah, I missed explaining that. I have four older brothers. I’m the fifth. My parents are no longer in this world. Before they passed away, my father left each of us a piece of land in his will. That’s why I ended up living here.”
“Oh, your kind father.”
Leon falls into an awkward silence. Since they are facing forward, Diana can’t see his expression, and she suddenly feels uneasy.
In the silence, the horse continues to move. Unable to bear it any longer, Diana tries to break the ice, and Leon suddenly says something.
“I’m an unwanted child.”
Diana instinctively looks up at Leon.
“You gave an unwanted child unwanted land. This is the poorest and most barren land.”
Leon’s eyes seem clouded. Diana notices it and tries to brighten up.
“Is that so? It’s such a wonderful place.”
“. . .”
“There’s a hot spring nearby too!”
“. . .”
“I really like it here.”
“. . .You’re so kind, Ojou-sama.”
Diana froze as she was hit with sarcasm. But without delay, Leon chuckled unusually, which relieved Diana and put her at ease.
“Yes, Ojou-sama is too kind. . .Sometimes, it’s tough.”
Leon muttered under his breath. Diana furrowed her brows.
“. . .What do you mean?”
“Oh, that cabin over there.”
He pointed to where a white smoke was billowing from a cabin. Although their conversation was interrupted, Diana felt a surge of energy when she caught a whiff of the sulfuric scent.
“Ah, it smells like hot springs!”
“It seems like no one is there now. Let’s hurry.”