Chapter 7.1

Elena gave a slight nod, and Cura approached her swiftly. As Cura dried herself off and fixed her hair, Elena stood still like a statue.

“Now, feel free to speak your mind. If you keep being so formal with me, I might get annoyed,” Cura said.

“But I still don’t know how to address you properly…” 

With skilled hands, Cura neatly tied up Elena’s hair using a piece of cloth. She grabbed some herbs from a small dish and gently applied them to Elena’s wounds.

“Well, think of me as your younger sister. I am younger than you, after all, Elena. If you see it that way, it might be easier to talk to me,” Cura suggested with hopeful eyes and a mischievous twinkle in her freckled face.

“But you’re the Knight Commander’s sister…” Elena hesitated.

“The Knight Commander is my half-brother, not my full brother. I’m just a commoner,” Cura explained.

Elena finally burst into laughter. She had no more reason to refuse. Just as Cura had suggested, she could think of her as a younger sister.

It wouldn’t be simple, but…

“Alright. No, it’s okay.”

Only then did a bright smile spread across Cura’s face.

After carefully wrapping bandages around Elena’s back, chest, arms, and hands, Cura fetched the dress hanging by the bathroom entrance and helped Elena put it on.

The dress had intricate cuts on the chest and back, adorned with two layers of lace along the neckline. It flowed elegantly from the shoulders to the floor, with sleeves that billowed gracefully from shoulders to wrists. The fabric felt crisp against the skin, as if it had just been freshly laundered and dried in the sun.

On top of her chemise, Elena wore a velvet dress. This red velvet dress followed a similar style, widening as it descended, offering comfort and warmth without pressing against Elena’s wounds.

As they left the bathroom, the room filled with chilly air. Unbeknownst to Elena, the corridor was illuminated by closely spaced lanterns on both sides, adorned with various jewels like marble and ruby.

Despite wearing a thick velvet robe, Elena’s hair was still wet, making her sensitive to the cold air against her skin.

While walking down the corridor, Elena and Cura encountered some nobles. They politely stepped aside to make way for Elena, but their hushed conversations and curious glances were quite evident.

“Look at her, all wrapped up in bandages,” someone whispered as Elena walked by. She heard the murmurs behind her but chose to ignore them. She discreetly hid her bandaged hands beneath her robe’s sleeves.

From the bits of conversation she caught, it seemed like they knew something about her, though not all the details. “A woman who’s lost her memory, doesn’t even know who she is, covered in wounds.”

To them, she felt like a stranger or perhaps an unwelcome guest.

Given this, it was puzzling why she was receiving such royal treatment. Just as she struggled to fit in, they struggled to accept her.

Cura turned her head, her eyes narrowing at the nobles. “Elena, don’t let their words bother you. Some can’t even look the Grand Duke in the eye and resort to talking behind your back.”

“It’s alright,” Elena responded, shaking her head. She couldn’t blame them; she didn’t have that right.

“Where have you been?” a voice suddenly rang out, causing Elena to halt in her tracks. Kennard was approaching her slowly, his footsteps echoing softly in the corridor. The sound seemed strangely weighty, as if it weighed on her heart and echoed in her ears. She could sense the nobles who had been whispering behind her hastily moving away and against the wall.

It wasn’t just Elena who felt disheartened at Kennard’s presence. Cura, too, stepped aside and gave a respectful bow. Elena quickly followed suit, lowering her head in acknowledgment of Kennard’s presence.

Kennard approached Elena in silence, coming to a stop right in front of her. Elena, with her head bowed, found herself looking at Kennard’s boots.

The boots, reaching just below his knees, were covered in mud and moisture. Despite the passing time, Kennard remained still.

Reluctantly, Elena raised her head slowly. Kennard’s striking pumpkin-colored eyes were fixed straight ahead, locking onto hers. He was dressed in hunting attire, a long fur-coated coat covering him from neck to shoulders. Droplets of water were scattered across it, as if they were remnants of melted ice.

Likewise, his wet hair was tousled in every direction. From head to toe, he was entirely clad in black, exuding not just majesty but also an air of intimidation.

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