After a pleasant but tense meal, Herwin and Lucia are ready to start dating.
Of course, it’s only Lucia’s date.
After a long time of relaxing, they wandered around the bustling city center, watching street performers and going shopping in stores that caught their eye.
“Herwin, look at this.
This would look great on you.
Should we get one?”
Lucia asked with a twinkle in her eye when she spotted a brooch that matched Herwin’s, and Herwin replied with a questioning look.
“Why do I feel like you’re only buying my stuff? You bought a fountain pen and a tie.”
Lucia winced as Herwin waved the shopping bag in his hand.
It had been a long time since she’d seen him, and she couldn’t help but feel excited.
After a moment of panic, Lucia remembered their conversation in the carriage and cleared her throat.
“Hmmm, I thought you said you were going to give it to me for the day, and that you wouldn’t care what I’ll do?”
“Did I say that?”
Lucia didn’t exactly agree, but she pressed on anyway.
“Yeah, well, it’s not like you’re buying it anyway, so no pressure.
Before Herwin could say anything else, Lucia hurriedly called for the clerk.
“Give me this, please.”
“Sure, I’ll help you with the payment right away.”
Herwin scratched his head as he watched Lucia walk away with the clerk.
What was so exciting about buying something that wasn’t hers?
Herwin could never understand Lucia’s mind.
Still, it wasn’t like he had a problem with the things she bought him, as they were all useful, just a little overwhelming.
As he approached her wrapping the brooches at the far counter, he stumbled upon a display case off to the side.
Pacing, Herwin eventually turned his head to look at the items in the cabinet.
“Is there anything you’d like?”
An employee standing nearby approached.
Herwin hesitated, then pointed to a pair of earrings studded with sparkling aquamarines.
“May I have a closer look at these?”
“Yes, please give me a moment.”
The clerk showed him the earrings, and Herwin held them up for a moment, then turned to Lucia in the distance.
The flawless, crystal-clear aquamarine was a perfect match for Lucia, who was smiling happily in the distance.
After a moment’s consideration, Herwin smiled.
“Wrap it up for me.”
“Yes, sir, of course.
Is there anything else you need?”
“No, I don’t.”
I’ll help you with the checkout over there.”
The clerk who had been working with Herwin came back from elsewhere with a new pair of aquamarine earrings and began wrapping them up next to Lucia.
When Lucia finished paying, she looked back and forth between Herwin and the clerk across from her with a bewildered expression.
“Did you buy anything too?”
Herwin took the gift from Lucia and stared at her for a moment.
Her eyes flickered with innocence, and Herwin felt unnecessarily grumpy.
“What did you buy, and who are you giving it to?”
“What? There’s no such thing.”
Lucia begged to know, but Herwin stifled a laugh and paid for the earrings.
“What did you buy?”
“It’s a secret.
You bought something without my consent, so I’ll do the same.”
Lucia was dumbfounded as Herwin stuck his tongue out at her.
It was a childish gesture, but in the heat of the moment, emotions rose.
Lucia pouted her lips.
“You said I could do whatever I wanted today, not that I bought anything weird.”
“That’s one thing, and this is another.
It’s nothing, so don’t bother.”
Herwin hurried out of the store before Lucia could pry again.
Lucia remained silent, conscious of the people roaming the streets, and then grumbled in a low voice that only Herwin could hear.
“It’s a shame.
You could have told me if it was nothing.”
Herwin looked at Lucia and imagined the pearl earrings in her ears being replaced by the ones he had bought.
It matched the way she looked at him quite well, and he smirked.
“Why aren’t you answering?”
When Herwin remained silent, Lucia finally spoke up.
Herwin realized he’d been staring at her too openly and quickly looked away.
I’ll tell you later.”
“I don’t …… want to know anything.”
With that, the sarcastic Lucia snorted and stomped off.
Herwin caught up with her and tried to distract her by saying it was a joke, but she was already fuming.
‘It was definitely a woman’s accessory.’
She don’t know what it was inside, but it was definitely for a woman, as the shop identifies gifts by the color of the ribbon.
‘Who the hell are you giving it to?’
A duchess in the north, or another woman, maybe… Arista?
Her excitement quickly subsided as she pictured Herwin shyly handing the gift box to Arista.
As Lucia stopped walking, Herwin stopped and looked at her.
Her face was much darker than before.
Realizing that he had made a mistake, Herwin panicked.
“……Are you angry?”
Lucia didn’t say anything in response to Herwin’s question, just looked down at the floor.
‘What are you doing, Lucia Agnes?’
‘This is your last chance, and you’re just going to make up your mind and throw away an important opportunity?’
‘You’re not even sure who the gift is for.’
Lucia took a deep breath to calm the churning in her stomach, and for the first time, she could see Herwin’s fidgety expression.
The sight of him, a head taller than her, bending down to his knees to examine her lifted her sinking spirits a little.
“Actually, I bought it for someone…….”
When Herwin rushed to reveal the owner of the gift, Lucia cut him off.
“You don’t have to tell me.”
“You’re right, it’s nothing, I just got all emotional, I’m sorry.”
Lucia smiled awkwardly with a small apology.
Herwin recognized her unraveling from within the clear walls and nodded nervously.
“Oh dear, it’s that time of day again.
We should hurry.”
“Because I’ve got tickets to the play.
It should be starting in a few minutes.”
When Herwin stiffened at her unexpected words, Lucia hurriedly grabbed his arm.
Only when Lucia led the way did Herwin start walking.
He glanced at Lucia’s brown hair as she led the way, then at one of the shopping bags in his right hand.
‘We’ll talk later.’
Actually, he wanted to tell her that he bought it because he thought it would look good on her, but the timing was off.
‘I’ll have to give it to you sometime today,’ Herwin vowed and headed off with Lucia to the largest theater in town.
* * *
They made it into the theater just as the sky was beginning to settle into an orange glow.
They tried to get box seats, which are segregated areas, but they thought it would be too much for two people who aren’t even dating, so they got regular seats.
Still, the front seats gave them a clear view of the actor’s faces and the stage.
“I’ve never been to a play before.”
Lucia looked back at Herwin in surprise, who was looking at the play’s pamphlet.
“Usually it’s families or couples who come to places like this.
My parents are up north, Henry’s at the Academy, so they never come, and I’ve never been here with the others.”
“Come to think of it.”
She thought they did a lot of things with their friends, but she was surprised they’d never seen a play.
The Other Side of Love.”
Herwin recited the play’s title.
“The Other Side of Love,” told the story of the intertwined loves of three people.
Soon, the room darkened and the actors took the stage.
The play flowed smoothly.
The audience laughed as the actors gave great performances with ad-libs in between.
Lucia laughed along with them, then glanced sideways.
Herwin was laughing softly, too.
She turned her head again, thinking the play was a success.
How dost thou try me, that she loves my friend.
Isn’t this cruel!”
The second male lead, an actor, burst into tears and poured out his frustration with God.
He just found out that the girl he’d been crushing on for a long time is in love with his best friend.
Torn between love and friendship, he struggled with an unattainable love.
On the other side of the stage, the female lead was happily married to another male lead, and the contrast between their love made the unrequited man’s feelings even more desperate.
“Why him, not me? I’ve been by your side much longer!”
“I’m sorry, Serian.
I never once saw you as the opposite sex…….”
As the play raced toward its climax, so did the actors’ emotions.
When the heroine finally chose her love, the two men were split.
The audience watched as the couple stepped into the spotlight and headed for their happy ending, but only Lucia watched as another male character walked off into the darkness.
‘Why do they have different endings when they are in love with the same person?’
There is only one reason for the difference between the two men.
The choice of the female protagonist.
Lucia suddenly got teary at the tip of her nose and shed tears without realizing it.
Lucia couldn’t smile even though everyone was laughing at the actors performing happy acts.
She didn’t know why she was crying.
Was it because she saw herself as the unchosen male lead?
Lucia hastily wiped her tears away, not wanting anyone to see them.
Luckily, Herwin was too engrossed in the play to notice.
If he liked it, it must have been a successful date, but Lucia didn’t feel comfortable.
Lucia couldn’t concentrate until the end of the play.
No, she couldn’t concentrate because the actors with happy endings looked like Herwin and Arista.
Clap, clap, clap!
Lucia heard the sound of applause around her and looked up.
The play was over, and all the actors were coming out to greet each other.
Lucia clapped her hands together and looked at the actor who had emoted.
He was smiling broadly as if to prove that his seemingly desperate emotions were just an act.
Watching him brought her back to reality.
“That was more fun than I thought it would be, wasn’t it?”
Following the others, Herwin and Lucia rose from their seats.
As they walked away, Herwin didn’t catch a glimpse of Lucia’s sunken face.
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