A Promise to a Friend
Gerard pressed down on his abdomen, and writhed on the floor with an anguish filled expression.
“SHIT, it hurts, what is this pain………!!? You bastard, you’re telling me, you were able to walk around so freely with a wound like this……..!!?”
Looking a bit hazy and dazed, Leonardo turned towards her and spoke.
“Let’s go, Francesca. This guy will die from the bleeding if we leave him here. We need to quickly get you out of………”
“Leonardo, hold this!!”
Francesca pulled out a handkerchief from the bucket with melted ice, and pushed it on Leonardo.
“Apply this to your mouth!! Make sure you don’t breathe in smoke, *cough* and stay low…….”
“Wait, Francesca, what are you even…….”
“Of course I’m going to do some emergency treatment on Uncle!!”
From inside the same bucket, she pulled out the bandages she had asked the Aldini family members to prepare for her.
She ripped open Gerard’s shirt, and grimaced seeing the blood red wound. But then, she quickly began to wrap the wet bandages around Gerard’s abdomen.
“Are you really trying to help this man live?”
“Yes! Wet bleached cloth (sarashi) can be wrapped tight like a corset, and is very sturdy!! Strong enough that it can even defend against knife attacks, plus it can also help stop the bleeding somewhat as well……..*Cough cough*……!!”
“What’s the point in doing all that? Even if Serranova survives this, he’ll still be made to take responsibility for breaking the Code.”
“Even if Uncle has to die afterwards for going against the blood signed oath…….!!”
The pain of the injury must have been too much for Gerard as he had already fallen unconscious. She tightly wrapped and tied the corners of the bandages, and then wiped her eyes that were starting to sting from all the smoke.
“I won’t let him die here. If Uncle dies, we won’t be able to get him to properly testify that you weren’t actually the mastermind Leonardo……!!”
“He’s already lost his consciousness from the gunshot wound, that should be enough for now right!? Leonardo, you go on ahead! I’ll bring Uncle with me…….”
Leonardo simply frowned, and then grabbed Gerard by the scruff of his neck.
“I’ll just throw him down this window instead.”
“Don’t worry, he won’t get hurt from the fall……..his defence skill is still active, so Serranova will live…….”
Saying that Leonardo instantly picked Gerard up, and then threw him outside the window.
And then, Leonardo collapsed down to the floor.
His face was extremely pale. He had been acting like he was fine but, he had finally hit his limit.
But that was only normal. Even if he had switched his wound on to Gerard, the blood he had lost hadn’t suddenly come back. Francesca quickly ran to him, and put her hand around Leonardo to support him.
“I’m sorry, Leonardo. It must have hurt so much right…….!?”
The fires had started to get closer and closer, and her skin felt burning hot. While also making sure to not breathe in the smoke and staying low, she put Leonardo’s arm around her shoulder to pick him up.
“From here onwards, I’ll definitely protect Leonardo. No matter what happens, I’ll be sure to save you………!”
“……….That expression of yours..”
Leonardo opened his eyes again, and then gently smiled.
“..really is the cutest, Francesca.”
He seemed so calm and his gaze seemed to show such composure that it felt completely inappropriate considering the situation they were in. Now was not the time for all this, and yet Francesca had her breath taken away.
“Even your face, that was at the verge of tears just for my sake was, unbearably lovely and adorable.”
“The one who should be swearing to protect, should be me not you.”
As her eyes opened wide with surprise, Francesca suddenly felt her body float.
And then Leonardo, lifting Francesca in a princess carry, moved towards a different window than the one from which he had thrown Gerard.
“Be sure to grab on to me tightly okay? Do not let me go no matter what Francesca.”
Leonardo was clearly intending to jump out of the building while holding on to Francesca.
He was probably intending to use his own body as a shield to keep Francesca safe, but that realization only made Francesca go pale from fear.
“Let me down, Leonardo!! Even if the flames are getting close you………”
This was the third floor of the building. If anyone jumped out of the building, they were almost certain to die from the impact.
But Leonardo, simply gave a kiss on Francesca’s forehead, and then sweetly whispered into her ears.
“It’ll be fine……..you should trust the power you yourself hold a bit more.”
And the next instant, they were free falling through the air.
They were falling fast. She was unable to even open her eyes up, but still Francesca reached her arms out towards Leonardo’s head.
(At the very least, I have to cushion at least the bare minimum amount of the impact for Leonardo…..!!)
She resolved herself, and tightly hugged on to Leonardo. But the next instant, he heard a slight chuckle right beside her ear.
With a thud, they landed and she held her breath to brace for the impact.
She curled up her body smaller, not because she was afraid of the fall, but because she was afraid that she may have caused even more injury to Leonardo.
She hastily opened her eyes back up, but was shocked by the scene that awaited her.
Francesca thought that they had landed on the lawn in front of the mansion.
But the reality was a little different. Starting to slowly come to the realization, Francesca kept blinking her eyes, as she spoke aloud a certain name.
“I made it in time…….!!”
Having activated his defensive skills, Ricardo had come and caught both Leonardo and Francesca.
Under the pouring rain, Ricardo, having caught them both, after a few seconds also collapsed down to the lawn.
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Even then Leonardo continued to hold Francesca as if to protect her, making sure that no part of her got hit even then.
“Ricardo, why are you here!? And Leonardo, did you know this………”
“When I threw his old man out of the window, I saw him under the window……….I believed that the heir to the Serranova family wasn’t so stupid that he wouldn’t know what to do in this situation, that’s all.”
After getting put down safely, first Francesca helped up Leonardo. Next she held out her hand to help up the mud covered Ricardo, but he simply waved his right hand to stop her.
“I’m fine……..my defence skills were active, so thankfully I was able to kill the momentum of you guys’ fall.”
“What of your old man?”
“Seeing you drop him outside the building, the member of your family rushed in quickly and have already restrained and arrested him. They’re quite good huh.”
“Haha. Of course.”
Ricardo got up by himself and looked at them with a meek look on his face.
“My deepest apologies for what my father has done. The hidden proof that you had told me to collect has already been sent directly to the king in the hands of someone I personally trust.”
She couldn’t even imagine just how Ricardo must be feeling right now, which pained her heart deeply.
“Ricardo, I’m sorry. Your father was…..”
“don’t worry about it. If anything, I should be thanking you……….that’s why, I came back to mansion in the first place.”
“Didn’t I tell you, Francesca.”
Breathing lightly, Leonardo laughed.
“This right here, is probably your greatest strength.——us villains of the underworld all get pulled towards the brightness you exude, and end up doing things that you want us to do.”
His over-exaggerated words only made Francesca feel troubled.
“I don’t have any power like that. Both Leonardo and Ricardo, everyone simply followed their own kind hearts and did what they believed in my opinion……..Also..”
Tears began to well up in her eyes, so she quickly clung close to Leonardo’s chest to hide her face.
“I’m really glad you didn’t die, Leonardo……….”
She could hear his heart beating as well. He was most certainly alive.
Having well and truly confirmed that, she was so relieved she could cry.
“Please, never do something so reckless ever again………As long as you remain my friend, I don’t care if all of my other wishes and dreams never come true……..”
Her red dress also got stained with the dark red colour that had painted Leonardo’s black shirt. Leonardo had fought to this degree, shed so much blood, all for her sake.
“Please, promise me……..this is my only request, Leonardo.”
She tried her best to hold it back, but her voice was quivering regardless.
“……….just imagining you dying, made me, really, really, scared…….”
When she said that much, his big hands slowly caressed her head.
“I promise you, Francesca.”
And then, he gently hugged her back as he continued.
“I will also choose a way of living that I truly believe in.——-And I will not allow anyone to make you cry, not even myself.”
His words sounded the most sincere he had ever spoken, and his tone seemed respectful, as he spoke all this close to her ear.
“This is my oath to you.”
The promise came with a sense of relief, and under the seemingly never-ending rain, Francesca finally began to sob.
Ricardo, who was listening to everything beside them must have felt astonished as well. She felt a bit sorry for letting him witness this, but she just couldn’t hold herself back this time.
She was simply happy. Glad that she didn’t have to lose her dearest, most precious friend.
And she knew that crying like this was only going to trouble that friend of his even more but, it still took a lot of time before her sobbing finally stopped.
“—–Let’s go to the hospital and report to the family head, Simone-san.”
The Calvino family’s youngest member, and Francesca’s caretaker, Graziano, witnessed all this from outside the mansion and spoke this to his fellow family member that was observing as well.
“The young miss is safe. Serranova family head has been captured thanks to the Skills of the Aldini family members. Aldini himself, while clearly weakened from the severe loss of blood, is mostly looking fine so there are no problems left.”
“Very well. Dear oh dear, young miss sure is reckless as well eh? But I’m glad it all worked out in the end.”
But Graziano simply frowned. He didn’t see anything to be ‘glad’ about.
“Our boss got shot, you know? And yet, the young miss ran back inside the mansion to help that Aldini guy instead. I don’t know what all happened inside there but, if not for the rule [that if an unauthorized person enters the mansion, the whole family will be purged], I would have personally dragged her back out, no questions asked.”
“Don’t say that. You must learn to endure this as well okay? After all, this is our young miss’ own conviction, her own beliefs. The young miss simply tried her best to save her dear fiancé that’s all.”
The other members were looking at Francesca, as she was sobbing while deeply embraced by Leonardo, with smiles.
“——Seriously. She’s strong, that girl.”
But agreeing with that seemed annoying to Graziano, so he simply cursed instead.
“…….I have no intentions of acknowledging that man as the young miss’ fiancé though.”
“Oh? What’s this? Are you perhaps going to challenge him to a duel, and try to steal the young miss from Aldini then? If you do, the young miss will become your bride instead right?”
Some of his senior members joked as they laughed while saying that, and then went back to admiring Francesca from afar.
“It’s hard to praise her for doing something so dangerous yet, we still feel extremely proud of her…….as expected of the beloved daughter of our boss, the young miss really is our pride.”
Graziano simply sighed, and began to walk in the direction of the hospital their family head was admitted in.
“Well, you’re not wrong.”
“Oi, you sure we shouldn’t take the young miss with us?”
“Let’s forget about that for now. Knowing young miss, she’ll ask to have the Aldini head to be admitted in the same hospital as well, and then it’ll only make our future visits just the absolute worst.”
“Hahaha, that’s certainly true.”
And then, after walking for a little longer, he turned around to look at Francesca once again.
Staring at the man, that was embracing Francesca while slightly shaking himself, he muttered in a low voice.
“………A duel to steal the bride eh.”
And then, Graziano began to walk forward again.
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