Only with Your Heart - Chapter 59
After they settled in front of the fireplace, Lukrov began to explain monotonously, making sure that the fireplace wasn’t too strong.
“That woman is … she’s the daughter of a man named Count Kaftor. He owns the land on the outskirts of my territory. She came to this castle several times with her father.”
Lukrov chose his words carefully.
Before he started the important story, he wanted to get rid of Chizuru’s anxiety.
“… The King did not give me this land with only good intentions. This area was on the verge of war, with small landowners such as Count Kaftor repeatedly fighting for more land. The man who picked you up first was one of them. The King thought I was the best way to calm such rough land. The reason that he gave me a higher position than the original Duke was because the glare was effective against other landowners, not because he wanted to praise my achievements separately.
‘I wouldn’t mind if I lost my life in such a war, but I didn’t want to tell her that.’
“Is that his name? I don’t think it’s necessary to add ‘san’.”
Chizuru smiled a little and narrowed her shoulders.
Lukrov reminded her of the days she traveled with Rodolgo ──.
Normally, at best, one or two of Lukrov’s trusted knights would have to be sent out to confirm Rodolgo’s claims. He couldn’t possibly have believed Rodolgo’s story from the start.
Still, something pushed Lukrov to go personally.
And then, the two met again.
“Count Kaftor was particularly skilled at it,” he said. “The other territories were nearly pacified during the four years. But only he, while putting up a pretense to follow me ostensibly, was relentlessly aiming to expand his power. Sometimes he would come to visit. It was just a visit to the enemy that declares friendship.”
As the flames grew higher and the dead branches began to scatter some flaming powder, Lukrov held Chizuru tightly in his chest as if to protect her.
“She is the only daughter of that man and was born in his late years. She would sometimes come here with her father. Sure, she did keep her gaze sometimes, but I never involved myself with her.”
Chizuru continued staring at the fireplace and blinked her eyes unwillingly.
After all the things she’d been through, he couldn’t bear to let her feel any more pain. Lukrov slowly grasped her left hand and reached to place a light kiss around Chizuru’s neck.
“Count Kaftor seems to be whipping his old body and has started to go crazy in an attempt to confront me over this territory. That woman couldn’t bear to see her father’s frenzied look, and came to propose that everything would be solved if she marries me.”
Lukrov shook his head as if he was amazed, “It’s a stupid solution.”
Chizuru looked down and muttered in a small voice.
“But … she is beautiful … and she seems confident.”
“That’s why I said ‘stupid’. I don’t want to argue about the definition of beautiful and ugly, but to me, she looks like a horse.”
Chizuru, who blew out, seemed to be relieved for a moment, but soon she returned to her original uneasy expression.
‘Oh, s̲h̲i̲t̲,’ Lukrov thought.
Lukrov always lost his composure when Chizuru’s happiness was at stake. He would act foolishly about what he shouldn’t do and say things he shouldn’t say and get impatient.
Lukrov’s hands started searching for a hidden bag sewn to the chest area of his undershirt.
He found the feel of cold metal almost immediately and it didn’t take long to pull it out of his shirt. Then he reached to touch Chizuru’s left hand to carefully look for her ring finger.
Chizuru was confused, alternating her looks between her hand and Lukrov’s face.
Lukrov made as polite a gesture as possible and passed a golden ring on Chizuru’s ring finger. Chizuru turned stiff and stared at Lukrov. Lukrov smiled and explained slowly, being careful not to make the tone as sad as possible.
“I made this one fourteen years ago. While I had a goldsmith make it, the bride went missing.”
“That’s okay. No matter how many years it took, I’ve now finally put it in the right place.”
Lukrov squinted, thinking of the days of mourning that he would never forget.
There was a brand new ring made for Chizuru in his hand.
His memories of Chizuru’s were vivid in his heart.
Just by closing his eyes, he could hear her voice so vividly.
However, once he opened his eyes, he could not find her anywhere.
No matter where he looked or how many times he screamed her name, the only thing that came back was the sound of emptiness.
Hope started to fade day by day, but loneliness grew at every moment. It was like a living hell.
“This is a sign that I swear loyalty and eternal love to you. But your world has a different meaning for it as a gift for a marriage proposal?”
Chizuru nodded while looking down at the ring.
“You remembered what I said.”
“I’ve never forgotten Chizuru, not even for a moment.”
Lukrov held Chizuru and made her face him, the two started staring at each other’s faces. Behind Chizuru, the flames of the fireplace spread, further raising the temperature of the two who already felt quite hot.
“Marry me, not only in heart but also in name and reality. Be my wife. I swear to do the best I can to ensure your happiness. I only need you to promise me that you will stay by my side forever until the day that I take my last breath.”