✧Are You A Crow?✧
*Click For Audio Drama*
Leyla belatedly recalled a stark realisation about him.
‘Yes. Duke Herhardt is insane.’
“You must answer me when I ask you a question.”
Leyla’s breathing was ragged as Matthias smirked and tugged at her hair. Unlike the time he chased and slammed her against the tree trunk, his touch was gentle. However, the shame and apprehension of being dragged by the hair muddled her mind and prevented her from noticing his loosened grip.
His voice sounded huskier.
Leyla tried to step back, but the tree trunk blocked her escape. Although they had both run for quite a while, Matthias’ breathing had already stabilized. Meanwhile, Leyla kept panting erratically. As her chest heaved up and down, the sensation of his towering, firm body grew apparent, further adding to her shame.
Leyla shoved his shoulder roughly, her voice shaking.
“Why are you doing this to me?”
Realizing that her two arms’ strength alone won’t be enough to push him away, she twisted her body with all her might.
Matthias pressed his chest closer against hers, amused by her futile attempts. He looked pleased to see Leyla’s helplessness at the state of their intertwined bodies.
“Don’t question. Answer me.”
He looked into her glare, eager and waiting.
“Answer me, Leyla.”
Matthias fiddled with a strand of Leyla’s golden hair, slowly wrapping it around his finger. The soft texture of her locks somehow alleviated the displeasure that had consumed him over the past week. It even managed to water down his irritation from Leyla’s lack of response.
“Don’t you think it’s unladylike to not answer?”
Matthias’ grip on her hair gradually gained strength. Overcome with a foreboding feeling, Leyla finally opened her lips in a bout of anger.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“Didn’t my letter arrive?”
“I don’t know.”
“Leyla, you better think carefully before you speak.” Matthias’ lips spread to a wide grin seeing Leyla’s eyes tremble with fear. “What do you think I’ll do with a useless carrier bird that can’t even deliver a letter properly?”
“You- you promised!” yelled Leyla, “You promised not to shoot Phoebe!”
“I can’t seem to understand what you’re talking about.”
Matthias grew more mischievous with the woman who stumbled over her clumsy lies, failing to hide her nervousness. Leyla glared at him briefly before lowering her trembling eyelids.
“You already know.”
“For ignoring my letter, running away, or lying?”
Leyla flinched as he pointed out each of her mistakes. She looked particularly lovely when she was docile, and Matthias regretted not being able to see her downcast, glassy eyes.
“That’s enough apologizing.”
Matthias raised her chin. His touch was careful. It had the tenderness of someone handling something delicate. Yet, Leyla shivered at his mere touch. He didn’t mind her reaction though; he was already content with her looking at him.
“I guess that pen means nothing to you since you’re acting like it doesn’t exist.”
“No, it’s precious to me! But…”
As Leyla turned to look away, Matthias captured her dainty chin again, turning her gaze back to him.
He didn’t want the conversation to be avoided any further. Leyla finally admitted defeat, with her face and hair firmly locked within his grasp. She let out a sigh of resignation.
“I really don’t understand you.”
Leyla’s serene, emerald eyes held Matthias’ gaze. Reflected in her beautiful eyes that resembled the lush greens of eternal summer was his shadow.
“Why do you keep stealing my things?”
Matthias’ eyebrows shot up upon hearing her chastising tone, like that of a teacher disciplining a naughty student. Her retort was so ridiculous that it brought a grin to his lips. Besides Leyla Lewellin, no one in the whole empire would dare accuse Duke Herhardt of being a petty thief.
“Are you a crow?!” She snapped. Her gaze travelled from his jet-black hair to his piercing blue eyes.
Her unexpected question made Matthias frown, but Leyla didn’t seem the least bit phased.
“You’re the one who’s always stealing my… I mean, you’re the one who did wrong. Why should I be the one who has to go seek you out and beg for my things every single time? It’s not fair.”
Leyla’s disgruntled voice was a pitch higher than her regular tone. Somehow, it was clearer and more pleasing to the ears, so Matthias willingly listened.
“That’s why you stayed put this time?” Matthias’ lips twitched at Leyla’s frustration.
His unruffled features left her speechless. Leyla had finally mustered up the courage to protest, but the Duke had dismissed her with a simple smirk.
‘What in the world…’
He made her feel foolish.
Right when Leyla was about to speak, Matthias had called out her name. His obtrusive voice dampened her resolve. It was a strange feeling that she couldn’t really describe. Hence, she promptly opened her eyes and mulled over a possible reply.
Matthias murmured, his voice a low hum.
When she turned her head to the side, Leyla’s ear pressed against Matthias’ chest. She could hear the faint beating of his heart.
She gasped, placing her pale, stiff hands on top of his chest, horrified at the possibility of him feeling her thumping heart. Leyla pushed his shoulders once again, even though she knew her efforts were for nought.
When Matthias finally took a step back, Leyla let out a long-held breath.
Despite being of timid nature, Leyla Lewellin was gentle, smart, and at times, daring. She was difficult to comprehend but very entertaining to watch.
“Now, please return my pen.”
Matthias burst into laughter at Leyla’s abrupt request.
‘She never disappoints me.’
Matthias eagerly answered.
“I threw it away.”
“I didn’t think you would look for it.”
“Then why did you come looking for me?”
“Leyla, don’t you think I should at least inform you?” Matthias shrugged his shoulders as if she were asking the obvious.
“I’m a gentleman.”
Matthias caressed her hair, still trapped between his fingers.
“I’m Carlsbar’s best gentleman, acknowledged by Ms. Lewellin herself.”
As he loosened his grip, Leyla’s hair fell on her shoulders like golden waves. She gave him a disapproving look while staggering backwards. However, as soon as she’d been released, she let out a yelp of pain.
As the last strands of her hair slipped out of his fingers, Matthias suddenly strengthened his grip.
“Am I not?”
He looked elated, even when Leyla’s eyes went misty from the pain on her scalp.
“I-It’s hurt!” Leyla struggled to release her hair from his fingers. Chuckling, Matthias played with the tips of her hair as if it were nothing but a toy.
‘I can’t believe this deranged psychopath is the head of the great House of Herhardt!’
Just when she was about to start worrying about Arvis’s future, Matthias abruptly let go of her hair, causing Leyla to trip.
Leyla expected to hear his musical laughter at her tumbling figure, but her plummeting vision came to a sudden halt. Before she knew it, Matthias’ familiar features filled her view. Only after feeling his arms encircle her waist did Leyla realize that she was looking up at him while being held against his chest.
‘Should I bite him?’
Leyla felt like a trapped mouse until Matthias casually set her down. His calm, yet sly demeanour caused her to shudder.
She quickly ran to the river’s edge near the tree, while Matthias paused to check his wristwatch.
“I’m taking those words back. You’re definitely not a gentleman. Absolutely not!”
Leyla screamed at the top of her lungs.
“I guess I have a terrible reputation now.”
Her cheeks flushed with rage as he laughed again, and it reflected in her voice when she declared, “I’m serious!”
“Ah, are you?”
“Yes! If you’re a gentleman, then I must be the Queen!”
Leyla was bitter at her past self for showering him with such servile praises.
Matthias flashed a wolfish grin while fixing the lapel of his dishevelled coat – as if to tease her by saying, ‘Is that all you have to say?’
Before he left, Matthias made a theatrical bow, as though he were a servant in the presence of a Queen. His subtle jibe left Leyla speechless.
Leyla stared at the Duke’s retreating back, dumbstruck. The man who hunted her down and tormented her like a predator had now left after insulting her in the most beautiful manner.
The car was already on standby with its door open when Matthias arrived in front of the annex.
He promptly stepped into the car, his prior annoyance and displeasure having vanished into thin air.
The car gathered speed as it drove along the riverfront road. Inside, Matthias gazed at the Schulter River for a moment before turning to the pile of documents and letters his aide had arranged for him.
His twinkling eyes slowly returned to their usual, calculated gleam. However, his stoic visage broke when he slightly pouted his lips as he retrieved a pen from the pocket of his coat.
The golden letters engraved on the pen sparkled in the afternoon sun.
Matthias’ fingertips softly glided over the pen’s glossy surface. Smiling, he opened the pen cap.
The scritch-scratch of pen-against-paper echoed throughout the sunlit car.
“Ms Lewellin, this is for you.”
The mailman had a small parcel left in his hands once all the official letters had been given out.
Leyla hesitated before receiving a parcel at school rather than at her cabin. When she searched for the sender’s identity, she was greeted with a name and an address that she had never seen before.
“Might this be a wrong delivery?”
“Huh? Um- no…”
Leyla dismissed her doubts with a smile. Although she didn’t know who the sender was, the recipient tag on the box clearly mentioned ‘Leyla Lewellin.’
Leyla hurried back into the school building after thanking the mailman. As the school’s youngest teacher, she was tasked with the duty of receiving and distributing all the letters and parcels – from the principal’s office to the classrooms.
By the time she completed her tasks, break time was almost over. Leyla took a seat at her classroom desk and started unwrapping the package she had received. She found a long box, free of any note or missive.
Leyla checked the sender’s name and address once again. It was odd – the address mentioned a strange city.
Upon sliding the lid open, Leyla sat with her mouth agape.
Inside the box was a black pen with exquisite golden etchings.
‘Who on earth would send this and why…’
But then, the memories of the weekend flooded her mind and she let out an inadvertent sigh.
This new pen seemed far too expensive compared to her previous one.
Leyla carefully picked up the new fountain pen. Her name was engraved on the cap, just like her old pen that the Duke had thrown away.
Before she could do anything else though, her students started pouring into the classroom with the sound of the ringing school bell.
Leyla put her new pen back in its box and stowed it deep within her desk drawer. How dearly she wished she could stow away her memories in the same, dark place, too. But alas, Leyla knew that was impossible.
“Let’s get started, everyone!”
Leyla stood before the podium, a jovial smile in place.
Translator : Moonvielle
Editor/PR : Hanabi & April_NEET
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