Louise straightened her posture. With no parents present, it would be Louise who would represent this household and receive the guest from the palace. As Louise stepped forward, she smoothed out the remaining creases on the hem of her dress and shook off the dust. She could tell how nervous she was by how she tried to keep her hands busy. There was an important guest in her house, and the other adults weren’t here.
“Should I contact my parents?”
Louise addressed the butler as she descended the stairs.
“If you think you need to.”
Louise shook her head at his reply.
“I don’t need to. Thank you for awaiting my opinion. “
“You’re an adult now, too.”
Was that so? It was still a while before she was legally an adult. She didn’t mind being treated as a grown up though, so Louise shrugged. When she arrived at the first floor, she saw a carriage parked right outside the front door.
‘The president…no, but why…’
She double-checked again, but the curves and embellishments on the carriage door were clear.
‘To be here at this time of day…’
Louise suddenly remembered something he had said.
“Mrs. Sweeney is like a mother to me.”
Perhaps he needed the advice of an adult during this difficult time? He’ll be disappointed to know her mother wasn’t here. And it was unlikely that he would confess his anxieties in front of Louise.
‘Because he’s obsessed with appearing perfect.’
It was enough to make her angry. Louise paused in front of the drawing room and pondered for a moment.
“Can I ask a few things?”
She turned around.
“If you want to violate the rules, please give me an order, not a request. Old men get worried.”
Give an order. Could Louise do such an arrogant thing? She fought over it for a moment, then placed on a stern mask.
“Then I’ll give you the orders.”
“First, the door to the drawing room will stay completely closed.”
The old butler winced but said nothing.
“Also, no one will accompany me.”
Until now, if there were guests, the door stayed open or she was accompanied by someone.
“After that, don’t let anyone else in.”
A reply was not necessary. As long as her words were orders, they became law in this mansion.
“This is an emergency situation.”
Louise delivered her commands, then held on the door latch.
When an unspoken answer, Louise stepped into the drawing room alone. A high-backed armchair was turned away from her, so she could not see the occupant. The faint sound of a teacup indicated that someone was sitting there.
“Would…would you like something to eat with your tea?”
Louise approached the armchair and asked carefully. She was worried that Ian had come without a proper meal.
No response was heard from beyond the sofa.
“My apologies. My parents left to catch up on their backlog of work. I don’t know if I’m good at comforting people, but there’s no one else…”
“Are you really going to comfort me?! Louise of the Greenhouse?!”
She saw a man’s face with a large cookie stuffed in his mouth sitting in the armchair. Louise stepped back in surprise.
Hesse sprang from the armchair and approached Louise. He was not dressed in his usual casual clothes, but in the proper uniform of the royal knights.
“You know, I’ve been having a difficult time lately. Do you want to hear it?”
Though he was dressed in a knightly fashion, he had the look of a whimpering child.
“I haven’t slept a wink since that day. Really! After my bodyguard duties were done, I was called back to the knights, and then back home, and then back to the prince.”
“Th-that must’ve been hard.”
“Right?! I thought Louise would understand. You’re always very kind.”
“What about food or sleep?”
Louise was worried about those two important things for him as well.
“It’s a mess. My master is a mess.”
“That’s why I came here to escape.”
“Would you like me to set up a room for you?”
He shook his head. Instead, he put his hands together and looked as if he was desperate for something.
“Give me your shoulder. Just for ten seconds.”
“When the knights have tough training, we lean on each other shoulder-to-shoulder. It makes me happy that we’re comrades going through an exhausting trial together.”
If that was the case, then he could just do that with Ian’s other bodyguards.
“I won’t ask for anything more. Yeah?”
But there was a shadow of fatigue on his face. Maybe even the smile he was wearing for Louise was tiring for him right now, and she couldn’t help but acquiesce.
“Okay. I’ll allow twelve seconds.”
“Really…you really are so nice.”
He smiled faintly and settled his forehead against Louise’s shoulder. A heavy weight seemed to lift off of him.
“Louise of the Greenhouse.”
She could hear his relaxed murmur from her shoulder.
“Do you still have a position open for the head of the greenhouse security department?”
“That position is Sir Hesse’s forever.”
“I’m so glad to hear that. I understand why the prince wants to put you in a candy basket.”
“Where does he want to put me?”
“A candy basket. A treasure that you sneak out and you eat the candy one by one when you’re depressed.”
“I’d like to meet a non-depressed Hesse and his master.”
“Ugh…don’t act so cute. I’m being scolded my the prince.”
“I’m not being cute. I’m just telling you the truth.”
She heard a small laugh. There was a mixture of genuine joy in it, and Louise felt a little relieved.
“Time is up.”
He gently lifted his face, looking refreshed.
“I like Louise of the Greenhouse.”
Hesse smiled and gave a small bow, keeping his eyes level to Louise.
“To be exact, Louise along with the prince.”
“Yes, the two of you are the same.”
That meant Ian had complete confidence in Louise. But Louise, who didn’t understand the meaning, grimaced, and Hesse chuckled.
“So, should I make you the devil instead?”
“You’re not making me the devil!”
“What a pity. Louise in the Greenhouse does great devil magic.”
“…The people from the church will take me.”
“I’ll protect you then.”
She heard a gentle noise. Perhaps Hesse instinctively touched his sword.
“I am the one who protects my master’s precious things.”
And he smiled jokingly. A difficult smile that was between sincerity and falsehood.
“Well, I think it’s about time I go back.”
“Are you going back to work?”
“Something like that.”
He shrugged his shoulders and turned around. When Hesse opened the door to the drawing room, all the servants waiting outside bowed lowly. He walked quickly towards the front door where the carriage was waiting.
Louise, who was following from behind, called out to him anxiously.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
He had never visited Louise for no reason, let alone come to express his fatigue.
He stopped in front of the carriage and answered slowly.
“I just thought I needed some guidance from the devil.”
Louise pressed him at his joking answer.
Only then did he look back, his long hair fluttering.
“So keep being sweet. Okay?”
Hesse boarded the carriage as light as a feather and set off at once, as if there was some urgency to attend to. Louise bowed to see him off and then looked back. The faces of the servants who followed her seemed to hold some subtle expression. Well…it seemed that they all must have misunderstood when Louise insisted on being alone in the drawing room. Louise smiled sheepishly. Everyone returned a knowing smile.
“It’s a misunderstanding!”
Louise couldn’t stand it and screamed her head off.