“Oh, I remember now.
You are the daughter of the Ezellot family whom Caron invited.”

‘That’s me!’ I wanted to clasp my hands together and shout right away, but every time I opened my mouth, only stutters came out.

“That-that’s right.”

Thanks to that, my words came out incoherently like a retarded.
I lowered my head, feeling both shame and despair at the same time.

“I’m sure you were there for a reason.
I supposed it must have been because of Sir Lockherd then, since he was also at the Imperial Castle.”

Pancion continued to use honorifics toward me, even though I clearly seemed much younger than him.
How could there still exist such a gentleman in the world? Meanwhile, the men around me were all a selfish, frivolous, and childish bunch.

I took a deep breath to calm down and parted my lips.

“Yes, I came there because I was curious to see how brother Lockherd was training.
I had been thinking about it for a few days, but the training schdules on those days all happened to be private.”

Pancion chuckled.
It was obviously a formal laugh.

“He is an exceptional knight among the many knights of the Empire.
So you can be proud of Sir Lockherd.
If you have time, try to hold Sir Lockherd’s hand once in a while.
You will realise how hard he’s been practising.”

Proud of Lockherd? Even if the sky were to fall, then let it fall, but I would never die proud of Lockherd.
It was the same with Rick and Eden….
Well, Eden might be slightly different.

However, I could not answer that I would hold his hand later to take a closer look, so I racked my brain hard to find the right answer.
At the same, I tried to keep the conversation ongoing, making sure it wouldn’t end awkwardly, and give a rational yet ladylike answer.

“I see.
But unfortunately, brother Lockherd is not here …If you don’t mind, can I try holding the lord’s hand instead?”

T/L: My God the girl is spouting nonsense again, someone please help her! 

Like a small crack on a transparent window, hardly notable, Pancion’s expression shifted slightly.
He still looked at me with a relaxed expression as if he had heard nothing weird at all.
Awkward coughs could be heard seconds later.

“But my hands have a lot of scars and calluses, so it must be very ugly.”

Pancion’s expression as he said that seemed a little uncomfortable. 

Did I fail to communicate again this time? 

Nevertheless, he seemed to regard the countless traces of tough training imprinted on the knights’ hands as pride.
Mentioning Lockherd and asking me to hold his hand didn’t sound like something he just said because he had nothing to say.

I just wanted to check the source of that proud feeling, but I guess if you are not much of a bright child, you should be careful with your mouth…

“Am I being too presumptuous? If it makes you uncomfortable, please decline.
You 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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