“Where is it?”
Rocks and dirt that had fallen around the cave were scattered about. While it seemed like this was a place distant from where the landslide occurred, the absence of landmarks made it difficult to pinpoint the exact location. The slight consolation was the sound of water nearby. Following the sound, Charlotte found a small stream flowing not far away. She made a bowl from a large leaf and went to collect water.
“Hmm, still sound asleep.”
The Grand Duke remained deeply immersed in his dreams, only slightly shifting his position. His left leg, which dangled into the air, seemed slightly uncomfortable in its vague placement. Even while asleep, he had the strength to perform physical exercises; he’s the Grand Duke after all.
With small steps, Charlotte approached the Grand Duke and sat down, hugging her knees.
“Now, let’s start by stopping the bleeding from the wound…”
There wasn’t much items suitable for the task. Typically, a woman would undo her chest binding and use it to wrap the wound in situations like these, but unfortunately, the level of camaraderie between her and the Grand Duke hadn’t reached that point.
So, what to do now?
While discreetly scanning her surroundings, Charlotte’s gaze caught something suitable.
“Well, it seemed fine. Please excuse me for a moment.”
She took off the Grand Duke’s shirt. Since the sleeve was already torn into rags and tatters, and it was the Grand Duke’s own wound that she intended to wrap, there didn’t seem to be any issues.
Starting from the bottom hem, Charlotte carefully began unbuttoning.
Tearing clothes to make a bandage was something that might work in novels, but if she attempted the same thing in reality, she would probably end up with several handfuls of rags. Even a paper was hard to tear neatly in a straight line, let alone such a fine fabric. The best method was to just take it off and use the whole piece.
“Ahem, I am a genius. I can surely do this.”
Unaware of the ambiguous silence that hung in the air, Charlotte hummed a tune to herself. Unbuttoning proved to be quite smooth, and soon, she had the last button, which was the collar button, in her fingers.
As Charlotte’s fingers, which had been unwrapping each button one by one, moved upward, just as they lightly tugged the last button—
The Grand Duke’s eyes suddenly snapped open.
He didn’t say a word.
However, he simply alternated his gaze between his own bared chest and Charlotte, who hung there, breathless. His expression clearly seemed to ask what exactly was happening at this moment. Truth be told, even Charlotte herself thought that the timing wasn’t particularly favorable.
Charlotte scratched the back of her head in a slightly embarrassed manner, and the corner of the Grand Duke’s lips, which had paused for a moment, lifted into a faint smile.
“Oh, so that’s what happened.”
“Yes, that’s right!”
Not quite comprehending what had transpired, but sensing a warm atmosphere of reconciliation, Charlotte nodded her head in agreement. The Grand Duke, looking even more satisfied, spoke up.
“I did tell you to come find me when your body was sore instead of rubbing against me in front of others.”
“Your hasty behavior wasn’t anticipated. You took the opportunity and charged in.”
However, this wasn’t a warm atmosphere of reconciliation but rather a swamp of uncomfortable misunderstanding.
Charlotte immediately attempted to flee, but the Grand Duke swiftly caught hold of her waist and pulled her back. His speed was akin to a hawk swooping down on a startled pink rabbit.
“Now, how are you going to deal with me?”
“No, no?! How am I supposed to handle a commanding presence like you?!”
“By undressing me like this?”
In the midst of desperately trying to survive, Charlotte barely remembered her original purpose. She had intended to treat the Grand Duke’s arm, nothing more. Of course, his well-defined muscles were so impressive that she couldn’t help but feel a tiny pang of envy.
She wished that this supremely trained warrior’s physique could somehow be hers, even if just in the tiniest, smallest way!
“Your gaze seems rather dirty now.”
“Cough, it must be a misunderstanding.”
Charlotte gave a low, nervous cough and then went straight to the point, removing the Grand Duke’s shirt.
She then attempted to pull off the octopus-like sucker pad coiled around her waist, narrowly managing to disengage it.
“What is this…?”
Eventually, the Grand Duke’s exposed wound appeared to be far more severe than anticipated. It seemed painful, with a long gash running from his palm to his forearm, as if he had been caught on a sharp, broken rock.
In response, the Grand Duke gave a resigned shrug.
“You don’t need to worry. After all, I have a rapid healing rate.”
Charlotte had heard that people with high mana control could integrate mana with themselves to enhance their healing abilities.
‘It was true.’
Nodding as if understanding, Charlotte fetched a handful of nearby leaves and began tearing one of the tattered sleeves.
As she carefully cleaned the dirtied wound, the Grand Duke’s scrutinizing gaze seemed curiously narrowed.
“It seems that your memory is quite poor. Well, being as dumb as a trout can be rather endearing, I suppose.”
“What did you call me? A trout?!”
“No need to overthink it. I just mentioned it a moment ago.”
A finger trailed up Charlotte’s neck and firmly held her chin. His crimson eyes sparkled like flames. It was as if he intended to trap his prey, thoroughly uncover its hidden depths.
Amidst the suffocating silence, the Grand Duke’s intense gaze that had been piercing Charlotte’s eyes moved away.
His expression was indescribably intricate.
It seemed to carry a tinge of bitterness, as if he had stumbled upon something unknown.
Charlotte cautiously raised her head, and the wounded forearm was suddenly pushed towards her eyes.
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