Ch. 41 …The Only Time (1)
As soon as Elena arrived at the inn, she was informed that Mirabelle had lost consciousness and collapsed. It was clear that Mary had not been expecting the situation and was bewildered at what to do.
“What? Why didn’t you tell me right away?”
“Well…I sent someone but they must have missed you, My Lady.”
“Did you call the doctor?”
“Yes, she’s already seen the doctor…”
“Which room is Mirabelle in now? Take me to her right away.”
Following Mary’s lead, Elena rushed to the room where Mirabelle was. Nobles rarely ran, but Elena did not bother with dignity now. Her heart pounded painfully in her chest at the thought of Mirabelle getting hurt while she was away. The screams of Mirabelle being defiled in her last life echoed loudly in Elena’s ears.
She flung open the door and ran inside–
And saw Mirabelle lying on the bed breathing evenly. Elena gave a gasp of relief.
Fortunately, Mirabelle didn’t look like she was in pain. Elena approached her sleeping sister, drawn to her like a magnet, and gently brushed her hand against her face. Mirabelle’s warmth brought tears to Elena’s eyes. Elena looked at her dear sister’s face, anxious to find signs of any hurt when something that wasn’t supposed to be there caught her attention. It was a coat. The blankets covering Mirabelle had mostly obscured it at first, but now Elena could see her sister wearing the oversized piece of clothing. Mirabelle clutched to it tightly, and Elena had no choice but to ask questions.
“…Where did this come from?”
However, a keen memory informed her of the owner of the coat.
Why would Mirabelle have his coat? Elena turned towards Mary standing behind her. Mary immediately noticed what Elena wanted to enquire about and opened her mouth to speak.
Elena lifted her finger to her lips, then pointed to the door and nodded that they should go outside. The two women quietly left the room and only spoke after they were some distance from it.
“Whose coat is that?”
“I don’t know. Actually…It was when I left to room to ask the inn clerk to raise the heating that I heard that Miss Mirabelle had collapsed.”
“You heard? From whom?”
“I think it was an employee, but I was too busy to remember.”
After listening Mary’s account, Elena remembered where she had asked for Kuhn to wait for her.
“Was it my room where Mirabelle collapsed?”
“Yes, that’s right! It was in your room, Lady Elena. Maybe she went there herself.”
Maybe it was Kuhn who helped Mirabelle when he saw her collapse. But that didn’t solve the mystery why Mirabelle was wearing his coat, or why she was holding on to it so tightly. Elena would ask Kuhn in person and find out. Before doing so, however, Elena had to confront Mary.
“Mirabelle has a weak consitution, and you left your position without leaving someone to take your place. What if something more serious had happened to Mirabelle while I was gone?”
“…I’m sorry, My Lady.”
“I will let this pass this time, but if this happens again, you must be prepared.”
“Yes, My Lady, I will never leave Miss Mirabelle unattended.”
Mary’s face, too, was quite tired-looking. Of course was Mary’s fault that she left Mirabelle alone, but Elena knew that it was difficult for the maid to attend to everything on her own during the trip. There were a few other servants besides Mary, but she was responsible for leadership and communication. But despite Elena’s cold-hearted reasoning, Elena couldn’t help but notice Mary’s drooping shoulders and her remorseful eyes.
“Mirabelle is very frail. I ask you to pay attention next time.”
“Yes, yes! I will. I’m truly sorry…really.”
Mary was not particularly quick or intelligent in her last life. However, Elena kept her close because she was pure and kind-hearted. No matter how competent one may be at their job, Elena couldn’t keep an opportunist who would change their position depending on the type of situation.
Elena wanted to allow Mary another chance, so she patted the maid’s shoulder without saying anything another word. The intent of her heart was conveyed to Mary entirely. Mary bowed her head, moved by Elena’s warm forgiveness of her mistakes.
Elena returned to her room where she promised to meet Kuhn. The room was still as dark as it was when she left, but Elena sense Kuhn’s presence at once.
“…What happened to Mirabelle?”
Elena’s words seemed to fall in the empty blackness, until the figure of Kuhn slowly emerged from the shadows. He fixed Elena with a curious stare. As usual Kuhn answered in his flat, businesslike tone.
“She collapsed in this room, so I helped her.”
“Why did you leave your coat?”
Kuhn’s normally distant eyes shimmered slightly. He quickly wiped his emotions before Elena noticed.
“She wouldn’t let go of it.”
Elena looked at Kuhn with an incredulous expression. Mirabelle may seem like a little girl, but she was never a bother to others. She wasn’t the type Mirabelle grab Kuhn’s clothes and not let go.
‘…Was it because she was sick?’
Elena couldn’t know Mirabelle’s inner thoughts, so Elena simply had make her best conclusion.
She took stock of Kuhn standing there in the darkness with his shirt and no jacket. Somehow, she felt like she understood him a little more from this short encounter. Kuhn was not uncaring enough that he wouldn’t help someone.
“I apologize in being late to give you my gratitude. Thank you.”
“Was it you who disguised yourself as an employee called the maid and the doctor? Because of the swift treatment, Mirabelle was able to get better without any complications.”
“…It just happened. You don’t have to say that.”
“No, really, thank you very much. My sister is the most precious person in the world to me.”
Mirabelle was all Elena thought about and would proudly tell anyone that. When she heard that Mirabelle had collapsed a little while ago, it was if her heart had plunged to the floor. She only had one goal when returning to the past. Peace for her family. For her father, her brother, and Mirabelle. She would keep them from getting sick or hurt.
After a brief moment of silence, Kuhn unexpectedly spoke first.
“When will you look at the information about the Krauses?”
“I need to take care of my sister so finding time will be difficult. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting.”
“No, I understand. Then I will see you next time.”
Kuhn turned away with missing a beat, as if he expected her answer.
A sudden thought came to Elena’s mind as she watched Kuhn make for the window.
“If something dangerous happens to my sister like today, please help her.”
“…This is the only time.”
Leaving her with only that curt reply, Kuhn then swiftly opened the window and disappeared from Elena’s sight.
Kuhn’s abilities were well known to Elena and she wanted him to protect Mirabelle, but unfortunately Mirabelle was not his charge. Kuhn had no reason to obey. Elena’s felt dejected, but at the same time, she knew it was reasonable. She had to be satisfied with what Kuhn had done for her sister already…
Tonight all the relationships were going in a completely different direction than Elena expected. She wondered how they would all turn out.