Chapter 41 : Clumsy

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“Welcome back, Ren.”

Late in the evening, Edgar visited Rembrandt’s room upon his return from his duties at the royal palace.

“Edgar, you haven’t slept yet.
You’re leaving tomorrow afternoon, right?”

“Ah.
I just wanted to talk to you, so I waited.”

“Me? What, are you going to tell me about your love story? You had a date today, didn’t you?”

Edgar chuckled at Rembrandt, who grins and makes fun of him.

“…on the way home from that date, we met a young lady named Natalia.”

“What?”

At the unexpected name, Rembrandt’s hand halted from loosening on his cravat.

“We saw her in trouble because the rain was so bad.
And Artie couldn’t let that go.”

“That idiot…”

“Artie is very concerned about her, as I had heard from you.
Therefore, I went and observed the two of them for a little while.”

“…”

Rembrandt gestured with his chin towards the low table.

“Sit down for now.”

“Ren.
According to the story you told me, that lady named Natalia stabbed Artie to death during her life before her rebirth.”

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Rembrandt nodded.

“But why does Artie neither hate nor resent her, rather she goes around blaming herself for her own inadequacies? You said it was because she was a good-natured person.”

“Why else would you be here?”

Rembrandt asked back quizzically, and Edgar continued slowly, as if confirming each word.

“…I think subconsciously, she saw her as a replacement for herself.”

“…wah?”

Edgar continued to talk, not caring about Rembrandt’s slightly lowered tone of voice.

“Artie knew from an early age that she did not have long to live.
So she never talked about her dreams or hopes for her own future.
Not once, not even her most childish dreams.”

“…”

“Even though she had feelings for Leo, Artie never even made a pretense of confessing them to him.
That’s surely not because she lacked courage.”

“…because in the not-too-distant future, she’s going to die.”

“So I am sure that she tried to bring those two together, even going as far as to offer them a white wedding.
Maybe Artie was just trying to fulfill her own love that way.
To Artie, Natalia is her other self.”

“…what the h**l is that?”

Rembrandt brushed his hair back irritably.

Then he let out one big sigh.

“No matter how much she can’t have a dream for her future, that kind of thing…”

“Yeah, I guess so.
But I think it’s very… very much like Artie.
Rather than being resentful or envious of someone, she’d rather put herself in their shoes and wish them happiness.”

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“But that doesn’t mean that she still has to worry about her even after she was killed.”

Although he does not show it openly, Rembrandt is very family-oriented.
He is especially worried about his younger sister, Beatrice, who is ill, to the point of being overprotective of her.

“…I think Ren is right too.
But that’s our idea, not Artie’s.”

“…”

“I can’t force Artie to think otherwise, but I’m sure eventually she’ll come to dream of her own happiness.

After a pause, he cut off his words, put his hands together, which were resting on his lap, and gripped them tightly.

“That’s what we’re trying to do.
Aren’t we?”

“…ah.
That’s right.”

Exhaling a choked breath, Rembrandt leaned back against the back of the sofa.

“You’re the one who’s been working so hard all this time without a fiancée to show for it.
You even have dark circles under your eyes, and you go back and forth between here and the neighboring country, you know, Edgar.”

“Don’t like it? You don’t have a fiancée, either, right?”

Chuckling, Edgar retorted back.

“I turned down numerous offers of marriage because I couldn’t be the only one happy in front of my sister, who couldn’t even dream of a future.”

“…it doesn’t matter.
Father has agreed to this.”

“Well, yeah.”

His eyes narrow softly as he looks at his childhood friend, who turned his head away in a bad mood.

“You are so… clumsy when it comes to yourself.”

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“You can’t speak for others.
You couldn’t tell Trice anything for a long time, either.”

Rembrandt retorted in retaliation, and Edgar cowered his shoulders, as if he was offended.

“Under the circumstances, I knew that even if I had made an offer, it would have been turned down out of concern for my future.
There was no way to move forward without removing the root cause of the problem.”

“So, that’s why you wanted to study abroad at Drieste to make a special medicine.
Well, it seems you still couldn’t make it in time last time… but…”

Rembrandt gave Edgar a meaningful look.

“This time… it’s going to be okay, right?”

“Of course.”

Edgar continued, his chest heaving.

“I’ll make it.
I promise.”

The two laughed as their gazes, tinged with determination, crossed.

“Well, I’d better get back to my room.
I’m sorry it’s so late.”

“I don’t mind.
When the medicine is complete, let’s take it slowly together.”

“Oh, by all means.”

Edgar left the room, and Rembrandt put his hand on the bathroom door to take a quick bath.

But then there was a sound of knocking on the wall, making Rembrandt turn around.

“Come in.”

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On cue, a man appears out of nowhere.

“I apologize for the abruptness.
A report has come in from the shadow guard, and I must hurry to inform you.”

Rembrandt was lightly dazzled.

“Shadow guard means… a report about Alejandro.
Was it from the surveillance of the mansion, or was it the one who was assigned personally to him?”

“It’s from the man who monitors the mansion.”

The person who took over the report continued in a straightforward tone, without changing his expression.

“Alejandro left the mansion during the day and has not returned.”

“…I see.”

He placed his hand on his chin, thought for a moment, and then opened his mouth again.

“Did the shadow guard we put on him report back to us?”

“No, sir.”

“Then, no one belonging to my Marquis Strydom is involved.”

Rembrandt’s neat eyebrows rose slightly.

He hesitated for a few moments, but eventually he spoke.

“…I’ll give it to my father’s ear for now.
Follow me.”

“Hmn.”

It was quite late at night.

The lights on the corridor wall illuminated Rembrandt’s backside fantastically.
He silently strode to his father’s office.

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