He was out of breath. It hadn’t been a long time since he had run so hard, but he was overwhelmed, so Ethan gasped for his breath and ran. How far was it to Sarah’s room, where he stayed several times a day and sometimes all day?
“My Lord, My Lord……!”
The voices of the subordinates following Ethan were distant. As they approached the room where Sarah was asleep, Claude’s cry spread faintly. Since Sarah woke up, he must have been crying out of the sadness he had endured, but a thread of fear passed through Ethan’s heart. Before he knew it, he had arrived in front of Sarah’s door.
Contrary to how he had been running at a tremendous speed just before, Ethan’s hand holding the doorknob didn’t have any strength. Cold sweat dripped from the tip of his chin.
“Ahhhh, Nanny! Nanny!!!”
Claude’s cries could be heard in the room. It was more like a scream than a cry of emotion.
Why are you crying so sadly? Why am I standing here without being able to open this door?
Anticipating anxiety, Ethan’s heart beat irregularly. But with force, he grabbed the doorknob and opened the door.
Claude, who found Ethan opening the door and coming in, rushed into his arms at once.
“Heuk, heuk. Father, Nanny, Nanny……”
In an instant, Ethan’s hem was wet with the child’s tears. Ethan bent his knees and hugged Claude, raising his heavy head and looking at Sarah. She still had her eyes closed.
“Nanny woke up, woke up……! I was sure……”
Seeing Sarah open her eyes, May and Ronda ran out of the room. Claude was the only one who had a little conversation with Sarah who opened her eyes.
“She fell asleep again!”
Sarah, who made eye contact with Claude, smiled as she struggled to pull the corners of her mouth that could not move well. It was a smile that knew she would close her eyes again soon. Claude’s face was filled with deep despair.
“Claude. It’s ok. It’s ok……”
Ethan took care of the child and slowly approached Sarah. There was a little color on her face, which could not be seen. It was proof that she must have woken up a while ago. Ethan’s hand trembled as he put his finger under Sarah’s nose. He could feel her breath. She was still alive. Still alive.
Taking a deep breath, Ethan looked at Claude and asked.
“What did Sarah say?”
“Hic, hic. Nanny said…… she missed me……”
Claude cried and told Ethan what Sarah had left behind.
‘My baby is here……’
‘I missed you, so, so much. I missed you so much.’
‘Euk, uh…… Heuk!’
Claude, immersed in emotion, couldn’t say a word to Sarah because he was crying. He wanted to say he missed her too, that he was so anxious that he was going crazy while his nanny didn’t wake up. He wanted to tell her, but Sarah closed her eyes again, leaving only those words.
“What if Nanny can’t wake up like this forever?”
Thinking that he only showed Sarah his crying face for the last time, he was so sad that he couldn’t bear it. During the year that Sarah did not wake up, Claude lived each day without whining. He tried to study hard, eat a lot and laugh a lot. It was because Sarah seemed to want him to do it. But today, Claude couldn’t stand it and collapsed.
“I’m scared. I’m so scared. Father……”
Claude’s crying in Ethan’s arms seemed to have his soul drained.
“It’s fine, it’s fine……”
Patting Claude like that, Ethan stroked Sarah’s hair with trembling hands and stroked her cheek once.
Warmth circulated through the body, which had no warmth. The body, which had been cold like a corpse, now had a warm aura like a living person. Hearing Ethan’s murmur, Claude raised his buried head.
“Nanny is warm?”
Claude slipped out of Ethan’s arms and crawled under the blanket he was covering Sarah with. She clung herself to her body and hugged Sarah with her short arms.
“She woke up today, so she’ll wake up again. Nanny said she missed me, so she’ll come to see me again.”
Claude’s murmur was close to a desperate wish. Burying his head in Sarah’s arms, the child smiled sadly at the warmth he felt now.
Ethan kept his eyes on the child for a long time. And that afternoon, all the furniture in the Duke’s office was taken to Sarah’s room. All Ethan’s work, meals, and reports were done in Sarah’s room. As if he couldn’t miss a single moment.
* * *
After the day Sarah first opened her eyes, it was two evenings later that she opened them again. Claude was lying next to Sarah trying to fall asleep, and Ethan was sitting on the bed reading to the child. It was one of the fairy tales that Sarah had written for Claude in the past, a precious thing he had saved without reading.
“The black fox dressed up as the boy’s grandfather to eat the blue cape boy.”
“Father, can a fox dress up as a person? The fox I saw was very small. Wouldn’t the boy be an idiot to be fooled by it?”
“……It was a black fox who could use magic.”
“Ah, then it could be. Please keep reading.”
Ethan finished reading the fairy tale in a cold sweat when asked by Claude, who was getting sharper day by day.
“The blue cape boy went out late at night to give his grandfather something to eat that day as well.”
When Claude called out to him once again, Ethan’s fingers trembled as he turned the pages.
“Why are the blue cape boy’s parents letting him run errands late at night?”
“If it were Nanny, she wouldn’t allow me to run errands in a dangerous hour.”
“……You’re right. Sarah wouldn’t do that to you.”
This time, Ethan only turned over the pages of the book awkwardly without solving Claude’s question. In this fairy tale, the parents of the blue cape boy actually drove the child to death as if they wanted the blue cape boy to be eaten by the black fox. Was this really a fairy tale that a child can read? It was while Ethan was looking at the fairy tale that Sarah had drawn with such a question. A soft voice filled with laughter answered Claude on behalf of Ethan.
“Because, the boy in the blue cape will grow up to be a hero. A hero’s parents should be cold-hearted. It’s like the law of the story……”
Ethan and Claude’s eyes turned to Sarah, who was smiling softly. Sarah’s soft azure eyes were looking this way, as if it were a lie that she had kept her eyes closed.
“I want to ask if you’ve been well, and I want to ask if you haven’t missed me in the meantime but…… I’m running out of time.”
Claude dug into Sarah’s arms. Then Sarah smiled and gently swept the child’s back. The body of the child who received Sarah’s touch flinched and trembled. Unlike his one-sided embrace when she closed her eyes, receiving Sarah’s warm touch made him uncontrollably happy. It was a touch he had missed so much.
“Did you wake up……”
Ethan’s voice trembled at the end of his question as he blankly looked at Sarah’s face. Sarah looked at Ethan’s face blankly and smiled painfully.
“I’m sorry, I can’t come over here yet.”
Ethan’s eyes widened at Sarah’s words. It was because it sounded like she was somewhere other than here. Sarah questioned Ethan, who stared blankly at her with his quivering eyes.
“Has the Duke’s power changed yet?”
“You have to give me the answer. So please do your best. So that I can come back……”
Sarah’s words slowed down slowly and soon stopped.
The gentle touch that had been stroking Claude’s back soon fell helplessly. Sarah fell asleep again, as if it were a lie that she had just woken up.
Claude and Ethan stared at Sarah’s face for a while. But now there was no hopeless despair on their faces like last time.
Ethan and Claude looked at each other and nodded slightly. She asked them to do their best so that she could return. That meant Sarah, too, was working hard to come back. She could wake up. She could come back. Sarah said it directly, so it must be so.
“We have to call Brother Benjamin and Sister Belluna.”
“I’ll give order right now.”
It seemed that the road was finally visible. Finally. Although Sarah fell asleep again, Claude stopped crying. Ethan was also able to suppress the dark despair.
“The next time you open your eyes, I won’t let you go so easily, Sarah.”
He stroked Claude’s hair gently, then got up and left the room.
“I have an answer to give.”
There would be no more waiting without promises. Ethan’s eyes shone brighter than ever. His last experience had been enough for him to let her out of his grasp in vain.
* * *
The news of Sarah’s second awakening reached everyone in Ambrosia. Even those who couldn’t come to Sarah’s room because of heartache began to enter Sarah’s room from time to time to check on her condition. It was because they didn’t know when she would open her eyes and talk to them. So the lucky protagonist who witnessed Sarah’s third wake was May.
When May went in to clean Sarah’s room, she was already out of bed and looking out the window. Outside the window, Ethan and Claude’s playtime was in full swing. Benjamin and Belluna were also there. The sunlight didn’t come through in the monster’s forest, but there were times when the sun shone brightly for about half a day in the afternoon. Whenever that happened, Ethan took Claude outside and had time to play. It was because Sarah had told him before that children should grow up in the sunlight.
“Are you okay? Are you back? I’ll call the Duke and Young Master Claude right away!”
May, who was about to run away with tears flowing down her face, was grabbed by Sarah with a soft voice.
“How can you interrupt Young Master Claudes playtime?”
“But Lady Sarah woke up like this……”
“I’ll go back to sleep soon.”
Sarah, who smiled softly at May, looked out the window again. Claude’s face was darker than before, but Ethan lifted the child up and put him on his shoulder, making him smile broadly. Benjamin poked Claude in the back with his finger, and the child twisted with tickle. While stopping Benjamin, Belluna smiled pleasantly at the sound of the child laughing. She kept the image in her eyes for a long time, and Sarah opened her mouth.
“Before that, I have a favor to ask of you.”