Chapter 27 -A big night party for two (1)
After carefully applying my makeup, I pull out a red dress from the closet in my room.
It was quite heavy to hold because of the abundant use of fabric and detailed embroidery here and there.
It was made in Baral by my grandfather.
The corset is tightened and the body is somehow made uneven.
I wore the sleeves of the dress and the softness of the dress made me feel like I was in a dream.
I went to the mirror and checked my dress.
“It looks good on me, doesn’t it ……?”
I pick up the skirt and unfold it.
The elegant shiny fabric shines discreetly and my mouth involuntarily falls open.
I realize how much a dress makes a woman feel excited.
The dormitories given to palace workers are small and the hem of my dress is touching the bed and desk, but images of the great hall I had seen a month earlier are playing in my mind’s eye.
To be honest, I’m a bit nervous about the grand soiree, but I feel that the dress will transport me to another world, different from my everyday life and it makes my heart skip a beat, even if I don’t measure up.
Tonight I am a woman, not a mage quietly going about her business in the royal palace.
The time for the Grand Evening was approaching.
I look out the window and see a figure walking through the courtyard.
My heart was pounding.
I could tell who it was at a glance, even from an angle above, because I had seen this figure every day since I was 13 years old, whether it was walking down a dark, narrow street or looking through a glass window.
It was Gideon, who had come to pick me up, coming toward the dormitory with a fearless appearance. He was dressed more neatly than usual.
(Gideon, you look so good in formal wear. Oh no, nice ……)
Seeing Gideon makes me unaccountably nervous.
I breathe in too much excitement and exhale softly from my chest. I feel like I’m going to be a bit woozy when I put on the dress.
Telling myself to calm down, I walk to the front entrance of the dormitory.
When he sees me coming out the front door of the dormitory, he looks a little surprised and approaches me.
Gideon is wearing a crisp, shiny gray jacket and has glossy blonde hair neatly brushed back.
“Um, isn’t this dress funny…? I always wear robes, so maybe it doesn’t suit me.”
When I asked him this with a shy smile, Gideon shook his head rapidly from side to side.
“I don’t think so. I was surprised to see you wearing a dress for the first time. You look beautiful, Liesel.”
Gideon takes my hand, which is even more embarrassed by the compliment as we leave the dormitory building and walk toward the center of the royal palace building complex.
As we pass the ladies on the way, they look up at Gideon with rapt attention and then peel their eyes back at me shortly thereafter.
They seem surprised that I, a Kingsguard magician, was wearing a dress and I’m embarrassed because they look at me with their eyes rolled back and their mouths agape in disbelief.
Gideon pulled me by the hand and we entered the largest building of the royal palace and again quickly went through the inside and out into the corridors.
If we continue on, we will not be able to get to the Great Hall.
Even though the Great Hall is inside this building. I stop and alert Gideon.
“Not this way. We have to turn the corner.”
“No, it’s this way. –Follow me, Liesl.”
No. If we go that way, we can’t get to the Great Hall no matter how you turn around. And yet, Gideon kept a firm grip on my hand and continued to force me to walk.
(Hey, what? Where are we going?)
We stepped outside and followed the pathway, eventually emerging into the gardens.
We plowed through flowerbeds and carpets of grass and kept going and going.
“We are away from the Great Hall. The big night party is about to start, Gideon!”
I protested loudly and he finally stopped in front of a grove of trees near the edge of the garden.
“I want to dance with you here.”
I look around without thinking.
From the other side of the garden, I could see the balcony of the Great Hall. The twinkling lights of the great hall extended beyond the balcony, where jewel-like men and women were gathered under the light of the chandeliers.
The hall was crowded with people, clearly more densely populated than at the small evening party. Chairs and tables had been arranged outside the balcony and a band of musicians had begun to play stringed instruments on a makeshift stage. They must be tuning the strings.
“Gideon. Why don’t we go over there?”
When I asked him why, he held out his right hand to me.
“I really want to dance here. It’s a little small, but I can still hear the music.”
I listened and the waltz was just about to begin.
–oh, such ……. This is “Blue Reich River.”
My heart is tightening at the sight of that song, which I remember fondly and here, of all places. I can’t look up, not wanting him to see how upset I am.
The tree I once hugged in my first life to get a dance partner is surely nearby.
“Look at me.”
Gideon grabbed both my hands and forcefully pulled me closer. He held me by the waist and linked my right hand with his.
(What the hell are you doing, Gideon….!?)
Without a pause for resistance, he began to take large steps. Not being much of a dancer, I tried my best to catch up with him. The ground was raised in places and the grass made it difficult for me to move because the heels of my shoes caught on the grass.
It was hard to dance through the trees, avoiding them in the first place.
(Oh, this has happened before: ……)
It was more than a decade ago.
But I always remembered that day vividly. A sparkling, jewel-like memory.
No matter what happened after that day, it was my precious memory that will never fade away.
But it was not Gideon who danced with me. It was the crown prince Ulysses.
When I look up, I see Gideon’s face against the starry sky, so close to me that I cannot remain calm.
My heart jumps because of the too-close distance.
I wish he wouldn’t stare at me so lovingly with those azure eyes that should have been cold.
The waltz performance comes to an end. Gideon suddenly stopped.
I almost trip over his feet.
When I look up to protest, he unexpectedly twists his hands behind my back and pulls me into a hug.
My face slams vigorously into Gideon’s chest, and I jerk back in a panic.
My makeup gets on his expensive-looking clothes–!
But Gideon didn’t seem to care and tilted his head and pressed his cheek against my cheek. He started rubbing his cheek. I was so surprised that I stopped breathing.
(What? You’d go so far just to pretend to be my lover–?)
Our cheeks, which had been cooled by the night breeze, soon become hot. Our hearts were pounding so hard we could almost hear the beats.
“Liesel, one day you will be my true lover.”
With our cheeks pressed against each other, he whispers in my ear.
The black branches and leaves of the trees and the moonless night sky that entered my field of vision as I looked up were a chilling sight, but a hot torrent of water flowed into my chest through Gideon and his close body.
Gideon released his cheeks and stared at me, his hands clasped between my face.
His loving gaze made my heart ache.
–My heart trembles.
I don’t want him to step into my life anymore.
I don’t want you to diminish my strength to avoid you with hatred in my heart.
If you stare at me with such eyes, I will not be able to continue to hold a grudge.
Your golden hair, shining like a drop of moonlight is swaying in the night breeze. His statuesque face, once maliciously turned on me next to the saint, relentlessly drove me to the dungeon.
It should have been.
“Gideon, we are….”
But as if to cover up the memory of him, the image of a white-robed boy dashing past the brick building of the Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry comes back to my mind.
The boy who was always at the center of the academy, leading everyone.
No matter how many times I had wronged him or wore him on my sleeve, his attitude was unwavering.
The Gideon that this Liesel met was innocent of any wrongdoing. On the contrary, he’s so wonderful and makes my heart flutter. –No. I’m not fluttering. I should not be flirtatious.
Gideon pressed his forehead against mine. I wanted to turn away from him, but I couldn’t. He was so close, but I couldn’t look away. It was as if some kind of magic had bewitched me.
He then asked me in a whisper.
“Can I kiss you?”
My heart is too violent to speak the words out loud.
（I have to say no. Because…)
I shouldn’t kiss him. But…
Even if we had another past, we now had a whole new relationship, since we were thirteen and it was too big to ignore.
Just now, I’d like to think that I’ve fallen under the spell of this soirée. Just for tonight, for the first time, Gideon, let’s turn a blind eye.
(Only tonight. (Only now, Liesel.)
A slightly trembling voice urged me to respond and I couldn’t help but respond in words, so instead I gave a small shake of my head.
Gideon firmly cupped my cheeks in his hands and released my forehead, tilting my head to look down at my lips.
His face moved even closer and I gently closed my eyes.
Expecting a hot and gentle kiss, I waited for the kiss that never came and then opened my eyes.
(Gideon? What’s wrong?)
Just before our lips touched, he stopped moving. His azure eyes blinked repeatedly and eventually he raised his eyebrows painfully. Then he let out a moan.
“I don’t want to kiss you with this face…..”
I thought I had misheard.