“Lily, I will protect you.”
As soon as I returned to my senses, Alan went down on one knee and held my shoulders.
In the past, Alan was taller than me even in this position, but not anymore.
I realized how tall I had become in the meantime.
“You don’t have to think about the little things.
What should you do to benefit the family, and whether your choice will harm the family… Things like that.”
My heart throbbed at the very kind words.
The spear of guilt pierced my heart.
I hugged Alan simply because it was hard to face him.
“…What do you think of the Crown Prince, Dad”
Alan raised his eyebrows as if he was annoyed just by the mention of Garou.
“Do you want to marry him”
“That’s not it… It’s kind of weird.
He keeps doing things that I hate even though he said he wants to marry me.”
I glanced at the distant greenhouse.
I thought it was a reasonable suspicion, but Alan cut it off as if he was tired of putting Garou in his mouth.
“He’s such a brat.
Since a long time ago, he’s been famous for being an asshole.”
Somehow I felt a sense of distance from Alan’s words.
I didn’t even know the reputation of the crown prince, even though he was a person who proposed to me.
The reason was simple — I lived in a castle where I could only see and hear good things.
This was an isolated greenhouse that did not even warn of what would happen if I rejected the proposal of the Imperial House.
‘I’ll be leaving soon.
I think I’ll be able to escape before I’m further tormented by the crown prince…’
That point was a consolation in sadness.
After becoming a fake princess, even though I had gone through all sorts of things, it was the first time I had ever met a guy like the crown prince.
Michael, who poisoned me, initially had a dangerous atmosphere similar to Garou.
However, while Michael was more clearly read the more I dug, Garou was the opposite.
He was not a child thirsty for affection.
Every time I looked at Garou’s golden eyes, I could feel the deep emotion of…
Alan, someone who had always been a predator, might not know, but I, who was always the prey, could feel the danger Garou emitted vividly.
As I looked back anxiously at the path I had passed, Alan pulled himself away from me and growled slowly.
“I’ll tell Hugo to put up a barrier to keep the Crown Prince from entering your dreams.”
“A barrier …Around the castle”
Alan stood up and replied softly.
“There’s a magic that blocks people from entering others’ dreams.
Access to the unconscious is needed, so we’ll have to infuse you with Hugo’s magic.”
What I was worried about was going to happen.
This was why I wanted to keep the dream where I met Garou a secret.
Injecting magical energy was like putting on a tracking device.
“Dad, I’ll tell Brother Hugo!”
I held onto Alan’s hand tightly.
He seemed about to run toward the academy right away.
“The Crown Prince is still there.
If we tell Brother now, I don’t know what he is going to do.”
Alan looked unsatisfied, but soon stroked my head and nodded.
“It doesn’t matter what he’s going to do, but… if you say so.”
Then I secretly breathed a sigh of relief.
It was just tea time, but I was exhausted.
At times like this, a person naturally came to mind.
A person who made my concerns and worries disappear naturally just by being with him.
‘Yes, the brother who calls me like that…’
A huge wolf slipped right in front of me.
Contrary to his size, his panting tongue and sparkling eyes looked like a curious puppy.
I blinked blankly at the sudden appearance.
“Come up quickly.
It’s urgent! Hurry up!”
Pedro grabbed and put me on his back in a throwing motion.
Alan frowned and blocked the wolf’s front.
“What’s all this fuss about, Pedro”
“You’ll find out when you go there! If Father isn’t going to become a leopard too, get on me!”
Alan had a terrifying expression on his face, but then got on Pedro’s back.
As soon as Alan and I were seated, Pedro shot off like an arrow.
The strong wind hit my back.
It had been a long time since I rode on a wolf’s back.
Then Alan bent his back over and held me in his arms.
“It’s okay, Lily.”
Alan placed his hand on the back of my hand.
Then he grabbed a handful of wolf fur as if he was holding reins.
“I am here.”
As Alan supported me, my center of gravity became stable enough to enjoy the scenery swiftly passing by.
Pedro ran smoothly, not stopping until he reached the fountain in the center of the castle.
He hurriedly let me down and returned to his human form.
Hard muscles like stones could be seen through the gap in the cloak that was hurriedly wrapped around.
“Look at that!”
Before I could even ask what was going on, Pedro carried me and shouted.
As I was no longer a child, I was so embarrassed.
“Isn’t it amazing”
Pedro pointed to the distant sky and made a fuss.
I might be heavy, but there was no sign of hardship at all.
I was at a loss for words as I followed the direction Pedro was pointing.
“Rainbow, it’s a rainbow!”
A rainbow was floating over the abundant forest.
The semicircle of seven colors that cut through the moist sky was beautiful.
“Isn’t it so pretty Right”
Pedro said that repeatedly, excited like a child.
An indescribable feeling came over me.
I gently grabbed Pedro’s curly hair.
He discovered this rainbow and ran from where he came from; he, who was second in terms of physical strength in the empire, was wet with sweat on his scalp.
“Did you run… just to show me that”
Pedro smiled brightly.
His flawless smile was clearer than a rainbow.
Then Alan lifted me up and placed me on his left shoulder.
“You’d be better off looking from above, Lily.”
…They’re competing over this again.
“What, give me back Lily!”
“I don’t want to.”
‘Do these humans not know at all that Lilietta is no longer a child’
Even though I would soon celebrate my 14th birthday, the Bauner family still treated me like a baby.
“I am taller than Father!”
Even when Pedro complained, Alan, as always, listened with one ear and let it flow out of the other.
“I have a longer body length when I’m in the form of a beast.”
“That’s because you’re a cat, so you’re stretchy!”
“Lily, can you see the rainbow”
It didn’t matter whose shoulders I sat on, they were both nice seats.
As soon as I nodded, Alan smiled, very satisfied.
“Tell them to record that rainbow as a picture.
It’s a view we’ve seen together.”
“Are you ignoring me, Father!”
As Pedro attacked, a familiar voice came from above our heads.
“Father, Brother! What is this!”
A magical staircase appeared in the sky, and Hugo descended at a brisk pace.
The heeled boots made a clicking sound like horses’ hooves.
How did he know we were here
“How… how can you watch a rainbow with Lily without me!”
Hugo seemed shocked, as if he had witnessed treason.
Pedro waved his hand to his younger brother who blocked his view.
“Don’t block me, get out of the way.
I can’t see it.”
“Lily, I’ll give you a ride this time.
Hugo reached out to me.
But Alan naturally took a step back.
Then there were several battles to seize me.
Of course, once again, the eventual winner was Alan.
Pedro laughed at the empty-handed Hugo.
“Little brother, you’re going to give Lily a ride If your spine breaks, even magic cannot fix it.”
Hugo sent a magic spear at his older brother.
Pedro dodged it with lightning reflexes, then raised his claws and rushed towards Hugo.
Those brothers had not changed from when they were young.
Such a sight was so familiar to me now, so I was able to simply look at the rainbow with Alan without thinking of stopping them.
Somehow, I felt at peace.
The apprehension I had about the crown prince melted away.
Was it because I saw a rainbow
I looked down at the duke carrying his grown-up daughter.
‘It feels good to be together.’
Alan gently patted my calf, as if he didn’t want to disturb my thoughts.
He licked his lips and whispered.
“…I want to show it to you too.”
The front part of his words could not be heard well.
I gazed down at him and asked.
Alan was silent for a while.
As he turned his gaze to the setting sun, he mumbled.
It was an unfamiliar name.
But unlike me, Alan raised his eyebrows as if he knew the name very well.
“…It’s your mother’s name.”
My heart sank.
It was the first time Alan had spoken of the dead duchess.
“She liked the sunset, too.”
His eyes, dyed in the light of the setting sun, contained emotions that could not be described in words.
I involuntarily hugged his neck.
The words I couldn’t say out came up to my throat again.
My eyes trembled.
An exhilarating chill swept through my body.
The truth that had been well suppressed for the past four years, when Alan was not around, swelled like a balloon just before it burst.
‘Here, I am…’
Don’t be like this.’
That’s a truth he should never realize.
It was something that shouldn’t happen…
“…I miss her.”
Alan muttered, looking forward.
It was a small voice, but I could hear it clearly.
“I want to see her again.”
He was drenched in longing.
Sadness had dried up like ashes.
Still, affection remained.
All of those feelings were transferred to me, who was always observing his mood.
My heart throbbed as if we were sharing the same heart.
I bit my lips and eventually covered my messy, contorted face with my palms.