don’t have to force yourself to respond.”

It must have been my mistake.
Strange, how the mention of Lockherd had led the conversation in this way.
Pancion, who was staring straight into my eyes, opened his mouth.

There’s no way it’s uncomfortable.”

He took three steps forward, which narrowed the gap between us by one step.
Lord Pancion, looking up close, had a much larger build than Nezar.
Thanks to this, the reality of being a fifteen-year-old dwarf hit me harder. 

Is the gap between ten years this wide?

Standing in front of me, feeling rather awkward, he quietly held out his right hand.
The palm of the swordsman was damaged much worse than I expected.
As Pancion said, it had small cuts and calluses, and the lower part of his thumb was oddly twisted as if it had received a shockingly huge impact from something.

“Don’t you feel hurt here?”

I pointed my finger at the knuckle of his thumb.
He waved his hand at my question, indicating that it was nothing.

“It doesn’t hurt.
It has been more than 7 years, so it’s okay now.”

“Isn’t it uncomfortable?”

“If it had been uncomfortable, I would have given up on being a knight long ago.”

I took a brief moment to scrutinise his expression.
Unlike before when it was awkward, now it was as calm as the moment when we first met and he gave me the gypsophilas.
At that, I lowered my head and slowly grabbed Pancion’s finger.
It wasn’t rough, but the hard, bumpy texture was clearly transmitted under the palm of my hand.

Wow, his hands are quite big. 

I reached out my other hand and tried to examine Pancion’s hand in detail.
It was because the shape of his hand was very interesting to me, who had always seen only soft, fuzzy, and warm things.
Well, at least until Pancion retracted his hand.

I lifted my gaze at the suddenly empty grasp.
Pancion, with his eyes widened, was looking down at me.

“Are you offended?”

“No, it’s not like that, but…”

Then why did you pull it back?

I sheepishly withdrew my hands and looked at him in the eyes.
His ash-blonde hair swayed in the wind.

“I didn’t expect you to really touch me.”

“Would it have been better to ask that too? Then can I really touch you?”

There was no answer. 

Is this a sign of refusal? 

As if it was uncomfortable having me stare at him, he quickly turned away and held out his hand again.
I said in a firm voice, wondering if he wanted to take it out again.

“I’m really going to touch it, okay? You are giving me your hand means you are fine with it, right?”

Yes, touch as much as you want.”

At his permission, I once again grabbed Pancion’s large hand.
He had now turned his head towards the chrysanthemum garden.
Was he embarrassed? For some reason, unlike his huge stature, he seemed to be quite delicate inside.
Or maybe he just disliked my request.
Pancion’s reaction made me feel uncomfortable for some reason.
I lightly grabbed his ring finger and released it not long after.

“I’m sorry, sir.
You can turn your head back now.
If I offended you, I apologise.”

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