.
I never thought I’d hear that from someone in my life.

I was always in a position of protector, not in the position of protection.
So his words were embarrassing and delightful at the same time.
How should I say this? The fact that I had someone I could rely on, even mentally, made me feel more comfortable.
I felt reassured that I had someone to protect me, even if it was just words.

 

‘The sponsorship will be starting tomorrow, so I should go to the bank tomorrow.’

 

Until now, I had been nervous about leaving only children, but I couldn’t hire people right away, so I was anxious, but I had no choice but to trust them and go out.

 

‘I’ll also buy some clothes and food on the way back.’

 

How much money will be there? The exact amount is unknown.
We just had a consultation with at least 50 gold coins or more.
The minimum amount is guaranteed, so there is nothing to lose, and the Duke didn’t say much about it, so I expected about 50 gold coins.
At most, about 60 gold coins.

 

At that rate, there would be no problem educating Jake.
I was so lost in my thoughts.
I suddenly turned my head when I felt someone close by.
I was surprised to see the small figure in front of me.

 

“Jake? Why aren’t you sleeping…….?”

 

Jake looked at me when I called.
But there was something wrong with him.

 

“Jake…?”

 

Jack’s face was obscured by the shadows.
He opened his lips slightly.

 

“Director…”

 

“Jake, the wind is cold, so why are you out?”

 

I quickly walked over to Jake.
Jake was wearing only one nightgown.
Autumn is already in mid-season, so it’s cool during the day, but it gets colder at night.
I, on the other hand, was wearing a shawl, but Jake was wearing only his nightgown.
Before I could even ask why Jake was out at this time, I threw the shawl I was wearing over Jake’s shoulders.
It might be a bit big, but it will keep you warm.
Jake stared at me in silence as I wrapped the shawl around him.

 

“Are you out for a walk? You should still wear warm clothes.”

 

“No…”

 

“Huh? Then?”

 

“I saw the director and came out.
I have something to tell you.”

 

Jake’s unexpected words made me blink in surprise.
He had something to tell me.
I regained my composure and said to Jake,

“Okay.
Shall we go inside?”

 

“Okay.
Shall we go inside then?”

 

“No, it’s too stuffy inside.
I want to talk to you here.”

 


Jake said.
I nodded when he said he wanted to talk here.

 

“So, then,” I replied.

 

Jake’s expression darkened at my answer.
I sat down on the bench again and lightly tapped the seat next to me with the palm of my hand.

 

“Come here.”

 

After a moment of hesitation, Jack slowly walked over and sat down next to me.
The end of the long shawl was dangerously close to brushing against the floor.
There was a moment of silence, with neither of us speaking.

 

I waited for Jack to speak first.
After a while, Jack said.
But what came out was unexpected.

 

“Aren’t you cold?”

 

“Huh? Oh.”

 

I widened my eyes at his unexpected question.
I didn’t know that Jake would ask such a question.
Jake’s gaze landed on the hem of my dress.
I looked down at my outfit.
I didn’t notice because he was wearing a shawl, but the underwear was a thin and comfortable indoor suit.
Come to think of it, did I greet the duke with this outfit? I wasn’t aware of it, but now I see that it was a very casual outfit to entertain the duke.

 

‘Well, he’ll understand because he was the one who suddenly appeared without notice.’

 

I don’t think the Duke of Crayman cared much in the first place.

 

“No, I’m fine.
I just drank coffee, so I feel warm inside.”

 

I answered Jake in a confident voice, but in fact, it was a bit cold.
This is the warmth of the remaining coffee, and as time goes by, the cold will creep in more and more.
However, since I couldn’t go back and forth to the director’s office with Jake saying he had something to say, I stayed upright.
But for some reason, Jake looked at me with an expression that I couldn’t understand.

 

The current Jake was, to put it mildly, a little different from usual.
From the beginning, Jake was an incomprehensible child.
Ren and Eddy, who started to open up to me, Chloran who was hot-tempered and couldn’t hide his feelings, and Roddy who was still young – I could tell what the other kids were thinking and wanting, but only Jake didn’t seem to know what he was thinking.
He always looked at me with tightly closed lips and cold eyes, as if he didn’t want anything from me.
But now, Jake seemed to be trembling.
What was it that shook him so much? I noticed that it had something to do with what Jake was trying to say to me.
Waiting for Jake’s next words I wiggled my fingers.

 

‘Ugh, it’s a bit cold as expected.’

 

I have always been someone who is sensitive to the cold, but this body was even more so than usual.
Just a little gust of wind and my fingertips felt like they were freezing.
Seeing Sierra in such revealing clothing made me wonder how she wasn’t feeling the chill like I was, but I tried not to show any signs of discomfort.
I just waited quietly for Jake to speak… then he reached out his hands towards me, leaning in close.
I was a bit surprised and watched his actions closely.

 

“…I’m sorry.
I knew you were enduring the cold.”

 

I looked at the shawl draped over my shoulders.
It extended from my shoulders all the way to Jake’s.
Thankfully, the shawl was big enough to wrap around both of us without any trouble.

 

“I was just curious about how the director would react.”

 

“What do you mean….”

 

“I have a problem”

 

Jake suddenly spoke up.
Before I could question why he seemed curious about my reaction,I kept my lips sealed and looked at him.

 

“You asked if I wanted to take classes”

 

“That was this morning.
I nodded my head.”

 

“I did.”

 

“I want to do it.
But can I do it? ”

 

I wonder why.
Even though Jake’s tone was steady and his expression didn’t waver, in my eyes, it felt as if Jake was falling apart.

 

“… … If you want to go, you can go.

 

“Education costs a lot of money, and there is no one to take care of the children while I am taking classes.
And also…”

 

Jake trailed off, and I felt like he was holding something back.
I knew the secret he was hiding – that the disastrous future of the orphanage was somehow related to him.
Because I knew this fact better than anyone, Jack was suppressing his desires, solely to protect the children.

 

 

But Jake was still young.
Although he seemed mature, he was ultimately a child, and even adults were prone to falter in the face of what they desperately desired.
How much more so for a child.
It wasn’t a counseling session, but rather Jake’s one-sided agony.
Even adults were prone to falter in front of something they desperately wanted.
How much more so for a child? Now I understood.
Jake pretended not to know I was cold, despite knowing, to see if I had truly changed.
And to find out if he could reveal his own agony to me.But Jake didn’t seem to realize that the fact that he had such concerns meant that he had already opened his heart to me.

 

“I’m the oldest brother here, and I have to protect and take care of the children.
If I tried to neglect the children because of my personal greed.
… I’m pathetic.
Nevertheless… … .

 

Jake buried his face in both hands as if it were painful.
At that moment, I saw myself in.
Just because he was the eldest of the orphanage, he gave up his dreams and education.

 

‘I was like that too.’

 

That’s too harsh.
Jake is still young.
Just because he was the eldest, he was too small and frail to carry the heavy burden.
I didn’t know what to say.
Should I comfort him or say ‘you are doing well’? But will those words really help Jake?but That thought did not last long.
I just said what I most wanted to say to Jake.

 

“Jake you are Jake, be yourself.”

( T/l: This sentence implies that Jake should be true to himself and not try to be someone he is not.
I changed the sentence a little bit, the direct translation was “Jake is just Jake.” for better understanding I changed it so I hope it’s alright!)

 

 


Jake looked up at me.
His eyes, which contained nothing, were now filled with tears.

 

“There is no need to try to carry too much burden.
Yes, it must have been that I was not able to do my job and put such a heavy burden on you.
Not anymore.
If there’s something you want to do, do it.
If you want to learn something, you can learn it.
It’s not bad, but… … You don’t have to put up with what you’re forced to do.
As much as Jake did his best for the children, I will do my part.”

 

“I’m afraid that my greed will ruin everything… … .”

 

Jake’s lips trembled.
He seemed to be barely holding back any emotions.
I smiled at Jake.
Maybe Jake now thinks I can’t understand what he’s saying.
But I read this in the novel and knew all about Jake’s past and future.
I know what Jake means, so that was the only answer I could give.

 

“I will protect you.”

 

 

“…….”

 

 

“I’ll protect you, and the children, and this orphanage, so you can be yourself jake.
You can act like a 14-year-old child.”

 

 

Huh, Suddenly why did Duke of Crayman came into my mind.
Jake’s eyes were shaking.

 

 

“director…”

 

 

I got up.
The shawl that had been wrapped around my shoulders fell onto the bench.
Sitting on the bench, Jake looked up at me.
I held out my hand to Jake and said.

 

“Let’s go in now for today.
If you catch a cold, it’ll be a big deal.
Let’s talk about the classes again after you sleep well, eat well, and feel less pressured.”

 

 

Jake looked at my hand in silence.
Jake didn’t hold my hand until time passed.
But I didn’t take my hand off.
After such a long time, Jake took my hand and stood up.
I smiled as if he had done well.
Jake’s face turned a little red.

 

 

“Go on in and sleep.
Cover yourself with a blanket.”

 

 

Standing in front of the door, I said to Jake.
But Jake hesitated in front of me without going straight in.
A moment later, Jake’s small voice came.

 

 

“……thank you.”

 

 

With that remark left, Jake rushed into the room as if being chased by something.
Looking blankly at the closed door in front of my eyes, I walked away with a smile.
Returning to my room, I summarized the conversation with the duke today in my mind.
Then his face came to my mind, my hand holding the pen Stopped for a moment.
What he said was stuck in my head.

 

 

‘I’ll protect you, too.’

 

 

At that moment, the door opened with a knock.
I thought it was Jake again, but the person who came in was Chloran.
I got up from my seat.

 

 

“Chloran? Is something wrong?”

 

 

Jake and Chloran have something to say to me.
Chloran, who hesitated about my question, held out something.
Upon confirming what he held out, I was surprised by an unexpected item.

 

“This is……”

 

“You were hurt because of me this morning.
So please, treat it with this… … .”

 

What he held out was none other than a bandage.
Perhaps he was referring to the injury I received while catching him as he fell from the jungle gym this morning.

 

‘I thought I hid it well.’

 

Chloran, who fell on top of me, must have noticed that I was hurt.
Even so, I blinked in disbelief at Chloran’s actions.
That would be the case, because Chloran always put up a wall against me in a different way from Jake.
Originally, even if I was injured, he wouldn’t have brought medicine.
So, this was Chloran’s way of apologizing.
I felt an unknown emotion.

 

“But, if you don’t need it… … .”

 

He was Embarrassed when I didn’t answer, Chloran tried to withdraw his hand.
I quickly snatched up the bandage.
And said in a moving voice.

 

“Thank you.
I’ll use it well.”

 

“Hmph … .”

 

I silently stroked Chloran’s hair.
Chloran looked dissatisfied with my touch, but didn’t let go of his body.
It felt as if a vigilant stray cat had accepted my hand for the first time.
After sending Chloran back, I bandaged my ankle.
After tying the tight bandage, I looked down at my ankle for a moment.
And smiled.
For some reason, I had a feeling that today would be a day I will never forget.

 

 

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