Alan walked to Siana and pulled her into an embrace. Siana closed her eyes and buried her face into his chest and tried to forget the slew of insults Viscount North had directed at her and Alan.
Viscount North was furious. He was enraged that this younger man was trying to best him. He was angry at himself that he felt scared of Alan Legarde and what he could do.
Viscount North had wanted revenge. He still remembered the day when this young man had appeared out of nowhere and stole Siana from him. She would have been his wife in less than a day. But he had sent his lawyers to pay off her debt with a covert warning.
The memory from that day was still fresh in his mind. He had coveted Siana and was ready to make her his wife. But suddenly a lawyer from Legarde family had appeared at his doorsteps.
The man had introduced himself as a lawyer on behalf of Legarde family and paid 22,000 golds in the name of Lord Legrade’s wife. It had embarrassed Viscount North when the lawyer had so nonchalantly handed over the large amount of gold. The document had been all up to par and he had no choice but to sign them and accept that the debt had been cleared.
When the lawyer had gathered the documents to leave Viscount North’s premises, he had said, “There will be no further relationship between you and Lord Legarde’s family. I am sure you are a wise man having lived for many years and will abide by this.”
The tone had been polite enough, but Viscount North glimpsed the warning shrouded beneath those words: ‘Don’t come sneaking around Siana ever again.’
It might have been overthinking on his part. But he couldn’t shake off the feeling that his catch had gotten away. His anger boiled. He had wanted Siana. He had wanted a young wife for himself.
Viscount North had then called up his lawyer to figure out a way to take Siana back somehow. There had been only one way: to accuse their marriage as fake and file a lawsuit to nullify the ‘purchased’ marriage.
In the process of preparing for the lawsuit, Viscount North had heard a butler let slip that Siana had been able to marry Alan because somebody had tipped him off about Viscount North forcing her into marriage.
The angry Viscount had fired the butler and adamantly decided to sue Alan Legarde and his wife, Siana. Although it took a while for the case to be filed because of the outrageous claims, Viscount North had finally succeeded in making the case.
He had been so excited to see Siana and Alan Legarde in court. He would enjoy humiliating them. But right now, Viscount North was frozen. He couldn’t say a word in front of the ferocity of Alan.
An instinctive feared weighed the Viscount down. He realized that Alan was stronger than him and held a higher status in society. Viscount North could only glare at them and do nothing further.
“Lord Legarde? Sia?” said Yulia, finally appearing at the courtroom.
Alan and Siana turned around at the voice. Everyone turned to look at her, even Viscount North. A moment ago, the Viscount was cowering in fear and now his eyes widened at the red-headed beauty. The Viscount was indeed the most revolting creature on earth.
“I’ll remember this humiliation, Lord Lagarde,” said the Viscount rudely and turned to find the plaintiff’s seat.
Siana couldn’t take it anymore. “You are a real ball-sack, Viscount,” she yelled at his back, “I am the one you have humiliated here. How dare you yap about?”
“Sia,” said Alan looking at her, “What did that bastard say to you?”
“He…,” Siana trailed off. She got a bad feeling, a cold dread. If she told them what the Viscount had said, she wasn’t sure if Alan would be able to keep his calm. “Never mind.”
“What did the bastard say to you?” said Alan, “Tell me.”
She looked at him for a moment. He looked very dangerous at that moment. They were supposed to win this case. If he got angry right now, it would make everything worse. She shook her head.
“It’s alright, Alan,” she said, “It was nothing.”
“Really, I am fine.” She tried to smile. “No harm done, Alan.”
Alan sighed. He seemed to think it better to let go for now. Siana was feeling relieved, and she tried to turn away, but Alan pulled her close into a hug. “Are you okay?” he whispered.
“Yes,” she said.
“Thank goodness,” he said.
His heartfelt concern melted her anger. She hugged him back. Just then somebody cleared their throat which brought them both to the present. They broke apart from each other. It was Yulia who had produced the highly fake, intentional throat-clearing. And next to her, Hugh was trying to look anywhere else but at them.
“This is good and all,” said Yulia, “And I am genuinely sorry to interrupt but can we all have a seat?” She gestured to the chairs.
Siana felt embarrassed that they had been embracing in a courtroom, in front of everybody. She fanned her face as she looked at Alan in embarrassment.
“Anyway, what was going on?” asked Yulia, “Is that old man Viscount North?” She grimaced.
“Yes,” said Siana, “I was waiting here. Alan and Mr. veridian had to complete some sort of procedure so they went out for a while. I was here by myself when he arrived and said some… terrible things.”
“He was taking advantage of you because you were alone,” said Yulia, “Did he do something?”
“No…,” said Siana.
“Something happened, didn’t it?” she asked with concern.
Siana couldn’t find any words to deny so she just nodded. Yulia directed a scowl at Viscount North. Yulia wanted to tear him apart. When she had heard about him suing Siana and Alan, she had understood that he must be a disgusting man but now seeing him in person, it was even worse.
And the way he had looked at me…, thought Yulia, recalling the repulsive way his eyes had trailed through her personage when she had stepped into the courtroom. Yulia shuddered. He had looked at her so inappropriately that she wanted to gouge out his eyes. She was thankful that Siana had married Alan. At least, she would be protected.
“Yulia, what took you so long?” asked Siana, “Didn’t you find the restroom?”
“I stupidly got lost,” said Yulia, “It seemed like I was going round and round in circles. I finally found the restroom but then went the wrong way and missed the courtroom.”
“I see,” said Siana.
“Have you seen the hallways?” asked Yulia, “They all look very fancily done but all look the same.”
“There isn’t much time for the trial to start,” said Hugh, “I think it is best if we all take a seat. Countess Linen can sit in front as a witness.”
“Yes, sir,” said Yulia and took her seat.
“Lord and Lady Legarde, you can sit here,” said Hugh, gesturing at the seat which were facing Viscount North. Siana didn’t feel like sitting there, facing Viscount in front of her but she did as Hugh instructed.
Shortly afterwards, the members of the jury entered the courtroom and took their seats. The main judge followed. He stated the subject of today’s trial.
“We will start with the plaintiff’s lawyer,” said the judge.
Viscount North’s Lawyer stood up and claimed that there was a connection of his client’s debt and Siana and Alan’s marriage right after, as stated in the indictment.
Even his lawyer is as repulsive as him, thought Siana with a scowl. She listened to Viscount North’s lawyer talk about the whole situation. She bit her lower lip to stop herself from retorting when the lawyer said that the marriage should be nullified according to the terms.
Viscount North’s lawyer sat down after he had finished with his side of the argument. Hugh’s argument followed right after. A veteran lawyer brought in by Alan. He was calm and spoke clearly and fluently defending the couple.
He emphasized on their childhood friendship and how both had promised each other to get married in the future, proving that the marriage wasn’t a ‘transaction’ as claimed by the opposing side but a decision they had made long before Viscount North even entered their lives.
“I call Countess Linen to the stand as a witness, a friend of the defendants,” said Hugh.
Yulia got up from her seat and walked to the stand. She took the witness’ seat. Hugh immediately started with his questions. He asked her how long she had known the defendants and if she had known about the marriage.
Yulia spoke calmly. “I have been friends with Siana since I was fourteen years of age,” she said, “Lord Legarde was entrusted to Viscount Anetta, Siana’s father. He became Lord Legarde’s guardian.”
“When you say Lord Legarde, you mean Alan Legarde?” asked Hugh.
“Yes,” said Yulia.
“At that time, Countess Linen, did you know of any relationship between the defendants?” asked Hugh.
“Of course,” said Yulia, “Siana was oblivious of it but Alana and Siana’s relationship was talked about the most in the circle of girls our age.”
“Can you elaborate on that?” asked Hugh.
“I certainly can,” said Yulia, “Alan and Siana were known as friends but many thought they were a couple who pretended to be friends to keep the talks off their backs. Lord Legarde was always fond of Siana and took good care of her. And Siana was always supportive of Lord Legarde. They were inseparable.”
“So, what you are saying is that everyone was aware that they were friends and perhaps even more than friends for a long time?”
Siana was surprised that people had assumed they were romantically involved even in her childhood. She recalled that many had asked her about her relationship with Alan. She had never known there had been rumors.
“Last question, Countess Linen,” said Hugh, “Do you know the reason why the defendants waited to get married until now?”
“Because Lord Legarde was out fighting a battle,” said Yulia, “He left to train with the troops very early. He wanted to earn an officer’s title for himself. When the battle ended and he was free of his training and obligations, he returned to propose marriage to Siana.”
“That is all,” said Hugh.
Hugh’s questioning ended there. However, Viscount North’s lawyer came forward with his own questions that he had prepared.
“Countess Linen, there are many loopholes in your statements,” said the lawyer, “You talked about how you were friends with the defendants and how others around them were suspicious of their relationship, but you don’t really specify if they were romantically involved. Are you really a witness?”
“Yes, I am,” said Yulia, stealing a glance at Hugh.
“Then, it almost seems like the defendant were not really romantically involved but were friends only,” continued the lawyer, “How then could they have gotten married all of a sudden?”
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