Iris, unaware of Hayer’s confusion, considered it as affirmation since he, who was always sly, didn’t speak.

She went on.

“I guess you thought so too.
But…”

“Ah.
Wound.
You have to continue treating the wound.”

Hayer said, putting his hand on his left shoulder.

“You certainly aren’t stopping my treatment just because I won the duel and you avoided marriage, are you?”

“Ah… yes.”

Iris nodded belatedly.

“That’s good.
It’s fun hanging out with you.”

“…Really?”

“Yes, it’s fun.
Thanks to you, didn’t I surpass Sir Meppo? I’ll never forget it.”

“How anxious the people’s hearts were to watch…”

Hayer paused at her words.

The spectators there, both nobles and ordinary citizens, were all cheering excitedly.
He didn’t think there were people who were anxious about getting hurt.

Well, she told him not to fight in the first place because she was afraid he would get hurt…

While Hayer was thinking, Iris said.

“When your body recovers, please go to Everhart with me.”

“Of course, I’ll take you anywhere.”

“When can we go to Everhart?”

“We can go right away.”

“Then we’ll go right away.
I was almost out of medicine, so I’ll have to buy new ones.”

Iris took out her medicine.

In fact, she wanted to talk about the schedule after that, too.
There were so many places she wanted to say let’s go together to.
But at the same time, she thought there would be an end to this meeting someday.

She smiled for now to lighten up this moment.
Then she checked Hayer’s wound.

The injury still showed no improvement.
Hayer only said that it seems to be progressing, and that it has a pain-relieving effect.
There was no change that Iris could actually see with her eyes.

Iris thought it would be nice if that wound could be transferred to herself even a little bit.


She slowly applied the medicine to Hayer’s shoulder.

Originally, his body was very strong, but his swollen muscles after the duel the previous day were so big that his body looked even more inhuman.

Iris said, removing her hand from the wound.

“All right.”

“Hair, do you want to touch it?”

Iris paused and asked back.

“Pardon?”

Hayer gestured with his chin at the wall at her words.

There was a mirror where Hayer pointed.
She must have been staring at his hair without realizing it.

Iris’s fingertips trembled when she realized that he was looking at her expression in that mirror.

“Iris?”

“……”

“Iris.”

It was only after Hayer called out her name twice that Iris looked at him.

Hayer took her hand and brought it to his head.

“You can touch it if you want to.”

“……”

“I can even propose to you if you want.”

His words startled Iris and she came to her senses.

“You would propose?”

“Ever since the day of the duel, your expression has been strange…”

Hayer turned and sat down, looking at Iris, and continued.

“I was wondering if it bothered you that I didn’t propose to you in front of the people.”

“If it bothers me? You’re proposing to me because of that?”

“There’s nothing I can’t do.”


Hayer shrugged his shoulders.
Then he crossed his arms and continued.

“It’s not a problem if I propose to you.
If I do, your mother, Lord Kernin, and the king will go crazy, and that’s the problem.”

Iris kept her mouth shut.

“If I care about you, I’m a bastard who doesn’t even know the face of my biological father, and doesn’t know who’s the jerk I should hit.”

“……”

“It was something that adults used to say when I was young.”

Hayer continued.

“On the contrary, those who care about you or say that you are close to the throne, will object because you are too precious, because you are a woman with a noble lineage that does not suit me.”

“…I see.”

“Yes.
That’s right.”

Iris laughed despondently.

Hayer also forgot that feelings like love would be the reason for marriage.

Isn’t he also someone who grew up in the royal palace as the second son of the king?

Love is probably not the main reason for marriage.
Love is probably the main reason…

Iris, who had been thinking to herself like that, paused.

“Don’t love me then.
Never.”

Love wouldn’t be the main reason for marriage, but he told her not to love him.

Hayer stood up as her expression changed rapidly, unreadable and complex.
Then he grabbed Iris’s faltering arm.

Iris was lost in her memories, unaware that Hayer was holding her.

Maybe the 25-year-old Hayer had a lover who he really, really loved to death.

So there was a possibility that he told Iris not to love him because it was not her.

But to the extent that a person who likes jokes leaves like that instead of joking.

Joke.

A joke.

He was originally a man who left jokes.


Iris sat down, covering her neck with both hands in a feeling of incomprehensible frustration.

Why on earth did you leave such a comment?

I have to cross the North Gate alone.

I can’t do anything.

I’ve lived like a bird in a cage in only two places, a convent and a royal palace, all my life.

If you open the door to a bird in a cage, how far can it go? For three months, the Knights of Tejas had taught her how to fly, but her wings may have already deteriorated.

Why did I cross the North Gate?

Let’s run together one more time.

If we had run out of breath to the North Gate, we might have both crossed it somehow.

After crossing the North Gate, she had trouble sleeping almost every day.
Her mind always thought of Hayer because of insomnia, but that wasn’t all.

When she closed her eyes, she saw countless Luwans’ heads rolling on the snow.

She saw their faces.
She remembered the people she couldn’t protect, frozen with a frightened look on their faces.

They appeared in Iris’s dreams every day.

On their way to the North Gate, the Knights of Tejas were brave people who were afraid of nothing, but no one escaped the nightmares in their head.

Not out of fear.
They are not so weak that they have nightmares out of fear.
The nightmares of the Knights of Tejas came from a sense of guilt that they couldn’t keep.

But what about herself?

Those faces frighten her just by closing her eyes.
If they were alive, they certainly would have hated the incompetent, weak, pathetic queen.

Why did I, who was nothing, cross the North Gate.

Every day, she was trampled under a rocky weight.

Knowing that Iris’s mental state was wavering, Hayer first got dressed and then hugged her.
Then he pressed her small head tightly against him with his hand.

She would fall into a deeper sleep when she covered herself with a heavy blanket.
For similar reasons, Iris calmed down a bit.

It wasn’t until a while later that Iris noticed Hayer was hugging her tightly, and she asked him.

“…What are you doing?”

“I’m holding you.”

“Why?”


“I don’t know.
I guess you should explain.”

He said that and gently stroked Iris’s back.
And when he patted her back as if to soothe a child, Iris burst into laughter and smiled.

“What are you doing?”

“I don’t know what it is, but I think I did it, so I’m taking responsibility.”

“Yes.”

After she seemed to have somewhat calmed down, Hayer bent down deeply and asked, looking Iris in the eyes.

“Do you believe in something like love?”

“…Do you not believe it?”

“Yes, I don’t really believe it.”

Iris’s clear blue eyes widened at his absurd words.

She couldn’t believe that someone who receives love wherever he goes in the world doesn’t believe in love.

Hayer laughed when Iris made a sympathetic face, wondering if it was because of his bad childhood.

“Do you feel sorry?”

“That…”

“I don’t know if there’s a reason.
It’s just that love seems so meaningless.”

“……”

“What do you think? Do you believe me?”

Iris, who was hesitating at Hayer’s question, nodded.

“I believe you.”

“……”

“I can give you my life too.”

Hayer paused at her words.

It was because, in his eyes, Iris seemed to be thinking of someone.

afterword 

tears were shed in this chapter im so glad the author delved deeper into iris’s pain from her last life… hayer comforting her (albeit it was his fault /hj) ugh the hug was so tender

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