"Annie, you…" Leguna didn't understand what was going on, but he didn't get angry.
She was the one who saved his life, after all. She definitely was dissatisfied with something for her to do so.
Eirinn was initially happy to see Leguna awake, but before she did anything, Annelotte slapped him on the face, stopping the words in Eirinn's mouth short.
"This slap is for Eirinn," she hissed with a cold glare to him, "Eirinn, I know you can't bear to let me do that, but I have to make sure he knows what he did wrong."
Leguna didn't know what he should say. He didn't know what his mistake was. Was trying to avenge Eirinn a mistake? He couldn't have done her ill by that, could he? But he didn't dare to say that as he feared being slapped another time.
"Do you still not understand? Where were you when Eirinn was unconscious?"
"I went to assassinate Saron?" he said exploratorily.
"Do you think that was something you should've done? You left her all alone when she needed you most in this military camp where she doesn't know anyone and went to fight the crimsonflame fiend. Do you think it's really manly? Did you know what state she was in when I found her?! There's only so much shock she could take! She needed you to be by her side to console her! And you went to fight Saron at that crucial time and left her helpless and alone? How could you do something so irresponsible?!"
"Sis Annie, Big Brother Leguna only did that for my sake…" Eirinn offered carefully.
"Don't make excuses for him!" Annelotte snapped with a sharp turn of her head.
The anger in her tone startled even Eirinn.
"He didn't do it for you! He only did so to protect his ego! How? He thinks he has to get back at the person for hurting his beloved woman by leaving her alone without a single care in the world?! What is that if it isn't irresponsibility? He didn't do it for you, only himself!"
Leguna listened without uttering a word and lowered his head the more she went on. Annelotte was right. If he had thought about it calmly, he should've stayed to take care of Eirinn. However, his mind was clouded by rage for what she had suffered and his shame for not being able to uphold his promise to not let her suffer.
But no matter the reason, it didn't justify leaving Eirinn alone to hunt Saron down. He admitted he deserved the slap.
"Any complaints about this first slap?" Annelotte asked with a squint.
Just after he finished his word, Annelotte gave him another square on his other cheek. Now, the redness balanced out on both sides.
"This one's for your arrogance. You're better informed than me about Saron's strength. Why did you think you could beat him? How? Do you feel invincible just because your last few assassinations in the bureau succeeded?
"Putting aside whether you are his match, merely sneaking into Fort Kesta to fight him shows how reckless you are! Even if you did manage to kill him, do you think you could've escaped? How would you get away without anyone's help? What are the consequences if you fail to escape? What of Eirinn and Innie if you end up dead?"
"Let me tell you that if you ever do something this irresponsible again, I won't care even if you die! Don't count on me taking care of those two either. I will dump them without a second thought. Whether they live or die has nothing to do with me! And be assured that I will keep my word!"
Though she sounded cruel, Leguna knew she was only threatening him to get him to be less reckless. She was doing out of her concern for him.
"So, no complaints about the second slap either, right?" she asked once more.
"I don't." Leguna wondered how many more he would have to take.
As expected, she raised her hand again. But surprisingly, the third slap was light. It was more like a touch than a slap.
"And this third one… is… for me!" she said, "Why didn't you use the spatial talisman I gave you?"
"I… I didn't want you to be in danger. Saron was far too strong…" he said with his eyes on the ground.
"You're willing to die and break our promise just because of that?" she asked softly.
"Yes… I am…"
"You're always so irresponsible!" she shrieked suddenly, shoving him, "Do you know how worried I was? How scared I was? You promised me you would live. Why did you leave me waiting? How can I trust you ever again? Why are you so irresponsible?!"
He glanced up at her and noticed tears down her cheeks. He could not recall ever seeing her cry before. She was tough, but now she was crying as she reprimanded him. It was practically impossible! She really was really worried about him!
Leguna stepped forward and attempted to give her a hug. But she shoved him away. The push hurt his still-healing wounds and he winced, but he didn't give up and tried again.
He tried several times, but was shoved away every time.
He didn't know how many attempts he made, but eventually, she yielded to his relentless hugs while trying to shake his arms free. Though she would occasionally bump into his wounds, he found the stubborn Annelotte cute.
"It's my fault. This won't happen again, I promise," he repeated nonstop.
She didn't stop trying to nudge her way free, probably because it was too embarrassing to be hugged. But when she looked up, she saw his face contorted in pain, and noticed he was covered in cold sweat. The scars on his face glinted under the light.
It was a horrible gash that stretched from the left of his nose to the right cheek. Annelotte didn't doubt that had the blade cut deeper, his cheek might've been cut in half.
Her eyes softened at the sight. She no longer struggled and touched his face gently.
"Haha," he said with an awkward scratch of his head, "They were harsh."
"--is ugly!" she shouted when she realized what she was about to do.
"Ugh…" He didn't really mind being beaten, but if that led to Annelotte hating him for it, it would be really bad.
"I can help with that," Eirinn offered, as carefully as before.
"Eirinn…" Annelotte finally remembered they were not alone and shoved Leguna away again, but he kept coming, and now he had a hold on her, she couldn't outdo his strength.
However, Eirinn wasn't sad at all to see the two acting so intimate. It wasn't that she didn't feel a little disheartened, but the fact that Annelotte had taken care of her lately had improved her impression of the girl quite a fair bit. She also finally understood how much she meant to Leguna and that there was no stopping the two from getting together if that's what they wanted. If she wanted any place in Leguna's heart, she'd have to carve it out of what was left after Annelotte had taken what she wanted.
"Big Brother Leguna's wounds should've been inflicted less than half a month ago. I should be able to remove the scars," she smiled.
"I'll leave it to you, then," Leguna returned with an equal smile.
He didn't personally mind the scars, but he preferred being fairer to gruffer.
"By the way," Annelotte said, quickly changing the subject from within Leguna's unyielding embrace, "Innie's concoction is complete. We can restore Eirinn's looks when we get back!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter