“What? A welcome party?”
Bastion retorted, doubting his ears.
The talk of a welcome party was so sudden. It especially felt out of place when you considered who was talking about it.
Bastian felt really suspicious and frowned.
“What is this light from the sky? A welcome party for the employees…since when did you care for such a thing.”
However, Dominic who brought up the topic was calm. Instead, the words he added only made Bastian more agitated.
“Well, this is the first employee that has stayed this long under father without getting fired so how can I not pay attention.”
“You, you punk, what nonsense are you talking about?”
Bastian was momentarily flustered. He didn’t expect the fact that he stubbornly drove out his former caretakers in the past to rise to the surface.
“K-hm, look at what you’re saying. These kids might misunderstand and think I’ve been bullying my employees after hearing what you said.”
Bastian cleared his throat and deliberately assumed a respectable stature.
Dominic didn’t expand on that and continued speaking.
“Anyway, I figured you accepted these two with the intention of having them staying for a long time unlike before. So I figured we could hold a welcome party and I mentioned it.”
“Well, you’re not wrong but…”
Dominic’s words were quite logical. But Bastian still had a long face as he looked at Dominic.
As she watched the two of them, Yuri sensed that the relationship between this father and son wasn’t very good. And when she checked Anne-Marie’s face, she could tell that Anne-Marie was thinking the same thing.
Bastian was still watching Dominic, his eyes filled with a mixture of reluctance and unease.
Dominic looked at Bastian’s behavior and opened his mouth again.
“In addition, this young lady resembles Selena, so I paid more attention to it.”
That very moment, Bastian’s expression softened slightly. The name ‘Selena Crawford’ was similar to a button that weakened Bastian’s heart. He was suspicious at first but when he heard what Dominic said, the unnatural behavior became understandable. Afterall, Bastian also grew interested in Yuri because of her resemblance to Selena.
“Right, a welcome party. That kind of thing might be good.”
Eventually, Bastian’s mind leaned towards Dominic’s comment.
The people concerned were right in front of them but neither of them asked Anne-Marie or Yuri for their opinion. Then again, a welcome party was usually something that took place without the consent of the parties involved.
“It might be burdensome for them if the welcome party is too big so I think a simple dinner among us would be best. What do you guys think?”
And when Bastian finally asked for their opinions in passing, Yuri answered as if she had been waiting for it.
“I appreciate the kind offer but although it might be fine for Anne-Marie, I don’t think I deserve a welcome party when I only come to the mansion once a week…”
“What are you talking about!”
But before she could even finish speaking, Bastian jumped in.
“If we’re going to do this, of course it should be for the two of you!”
“I..um, Grandpa. Actually, I don’t think I deserve a welcome party too…”
“It’s not about ‘deserving’, it’ll just be a meal together!”
When he sensed that that even Anne-Marie was going to refuse, Bastian hurriedly began to persuade the two. He was more desperate than expected.
Seeing him like that, Yuri suddenly wondered if she should have not said anything. Especially since these two were people from the great noble Crawford family.
That said, wasn’t it possible for them to get offended if they refused an offer they proposed in goodwill? Of course, even though she hadn’t spent much time with Bastian, she didn’t think he was petty enough to retaliate for such a thing.
But she wasn’t sure about the current head of the Crawford family who was standing next to them. Of course, Yuri wasn’t afraid of them but if something went wrong, it could make things difficult for Anne-Marie.
Besides, although Anne-Marie refused at first because she felt a welcome party was burdensome, she wasn’t decisive enough to continue ignoring Bastian’s persuasion.
“Alright, let’s do that. Thank you for the thoughtfulness and even holding a welcome party for us.”
So in the end, they decided to have a dinner combined with a welcome party at this time next week.
“Then, I’ll get going now. I will let the butler know on the way out.”
Dominic who was watching the scene from the side, left the greenhouse as quietly as he first came.
Yuri watched him leave with slightly narrowed eyes. She had only seen him twice but somehow, he gave her a strange feeling.
“So is there any food you two don’t like?”
However, Bastian resumed the conversation with his voice more vibrant than before, so Yuri looked away from the departing back.
* * *
That night, it was Yuri’s turn to inform Lakis that she was going out.
“Mr. Lakis, you can go to sleep first.”
Lakis stood in front on Yuri’s room with his arm folded. Yuri was preparing to go out and Lakis was watching her with a slight scowl. But finally, Lakis opened his tightly shut lips.
“No matter how hard I consider it, I think you’re going out too late.”
“What do you mean? It’s early in the evening, isn’t it?”
However, Yuri swiftly dismissed Lakis’ complaints.
Of course, it was currently 11pm but for those used to working at night, this was an early time. As proof of that statement, the time Lakis usually went out was when it was much darker than this.
Come to think of it, he went out late at night many times but now, he wanted to stop Yuri from doing it. It was ironic.
Lakis was still frowning, and when Yuri finished getting ready and started walking to the door, he asked.
“What are you going out to do?”
“It’s a secret.”
“Where are you going then.”
“That’s a secret too.”
But again, Yuri didn’t give Lakis a satisfying answer.
He indifferently grabbed Yuri’s arm as she walked past him. Since their contact was over sleeves, Yuri’s emotion were a little dryer than before as she looked at Lakis.
His eyes which were slightly covered by his hair looked deeper than usual today.
Yuri felt the atmosphere around Lakis was somehow different from usual and tilted her head. She didn’t feel like he was doing this because he simply didn’t like her going out.
“What is it, Mr. Lakis?”
So she asked but she didn’t get a reply. Instead, the grip on her wrist grew a little firmer.
Actually, Lakis had been waiting for it so many times now. He had been waiting for Yuri to question him like he did just now.
Stuff like, where are you going so late at night? Or why do you keep going out like this.
But Yuri didn’t ask him anything, even after learning that he left the house secretly. She never brought up a natural question like his own identity.
Lakis felt his mood sink somewhat at that fact. Because sometimes, Yuri’s attitude felt like indifference to him. At times like this, his dark feelings stirred and snaked its way into his chest.
Sensing the danger from himself, Lakis released his grip on Yuri’s wrist. Somehow, he was afraid that the thoughts in his head would be revealed by his eyes, so he lowered his gaze and looked away from Yuri. Then he took his hand off her completely.
But right then, Yuri grabbed Lakis’ hand which was just moving away from her. A warmth that seemed to tickle the tip of his finger seeped in and at the same time, a calm whisper flew into his ears.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
That very moment, the storm of emotions swirling dangerously inside Lakis calmed down like magic. Like that, after making Lakis’ emotions flip back and forth, Yuri abruptly left the house.
And after a while, Lakis also left the house. He quietly followed Yuri’s trace.
—Oh, what? You’re going to follow the landlady? Been a while, this will be fun!
The bug chattered with excitement in his head. Unsurprisingly, Lakis’ reproach came right after.
‘Shut up. We’re not going to play.’
Yuri didn’t seem curious about what Lakis was doing outside but Lakis wasn’t the same. So he planned on following Yuri to see. Of course, if he got caught, she might hate him, so it had to be in secret.
Lakis erased his presence completely and blended into the darkness.
* * *
‘It’s finally time.’
Late into the night, Damon went out of his mansion. He rummaged through his pockets with a frown on his lips. A while later, he brought out a crumpled piece of paper.
As he straightened the folded paper, the insolent statement on it poked Damon’s eyes again.
[You’re late, idiot.]
Damon laughed as if he was letting out a breath.
‘Just wait. I’ll find out who you are today.’
He took out a small ink bottle he’d prepared before this and the alchemized device he completely some days ago. Then he let a drop of ink fall onto the white paper.
The moment the black ink touched the white paper, the paper turned into a butterfly. Damon then caught it with the alchemy device in his hand.
And the moment the alchemized blue gem broke because it couldn’t overcome the strength… A thread with a bluish light emerged in Damon’s hands. It was bound to Damon’s hand and the white butterfly and continued into the night sky.
Now bound with the thread made from alchemy, the butterfly moved a little slower.
Damon carelessly put away the ink bottle and began to follow the blue thread in front of him.