5 Chapter 4

when her eyes opened Violet realized she had slept through the rest of the day and it was now the middle of the night. She went to the bathroom and as she looked at herself in the mirror she wondered at how much the two of them have changed.

He seems more comfortable with himself, with his back story. He also seems a lot more reckless than the boy she met who made sure to handle everything they worked on with so much care, unlike how he treated the people around him.

She's free. Free to live. It's been two months since she met Gilbert's mother and she was just now reflecting on how she's changed. She didn't need to hear orders to move, and she even felt strong enough to defy an order or request if asked. She knew what Gilbert meant when he said he loves her. He meant he would sacrifice for her, that he put her needs in front of his. She reached for the spot her brooch rests when she is in her day ware and rested her closed fist to her chest with a small smile.

Her thoughts were disturbed by the sound of shuffling and a groan. She cracked the door open enough to watch Leon awkwardly make his way out the front door. She carefully walked to the screen door, holding her breath every time a floorboard creaked.

He was sitting on the front steps, leaned on the post to his left, staring out over the water.

"Leon?" She pushes the door open after he straightens and steps onto the porch. The air is cooler now then when she arrived.

His eyes don't move from the reflection of the moon on the lake ahead of him as she sits down on the other side of the steps. "You found me—" he nearly whispers. "Again." A short, low, laugh comes from him.

"Again?" She asked as she studies his face. "When did I find you before?"

Still keeping his eyes on the water, he takes a heavy breath to gather courage. "When we first met. Although, I don't think you were really looking for me that time."

She looked out over the water to see how the light of the moon reflected and lit the whole area and a dreamy light. She was trying to understand his words when he turned to her. "Do you remember what I said in my first letter?"

She turns to him, a slight lift in the corners of her lips that he thought might melt him. "Which part?" She asks.

His voice hitched for a moment as he realized she wasn't that she needed him to remind her, but that she was saying she remembered the whole letter and wanted to know what section he was referring to. "I thanked you. But—"

She cut him off and looked back out over the water. "You wrote that 'you were unsure of how to put into words everything I did for you during our short time together.'"

He studied her face, the way the moon's light only made her skin look even creamier and her eyes dance in the light. He noticed the hint of a pale blush dusting her cheek and he felt the weed tighten in his chest. "Thank you Violet Evergarden, for finding me and accepting who I am, and my past, without judgement." She turned back to him as he continued. "I spent years hiding myself away at the observatory, hoping my mother would come and find me. I became bitter and wary of people, especially women. You found me, and by your example, you changed me." Both of them had tears forming in their eyes now. "Thank you." He whispered before letting a tear spill from his eyes.

She was a mix of emotions as she listened to his thanks and processed her acceptance. She was seeing through his eyes for a moment as he spoke and saw how even back then, so early in her career as a doll, she was becoming worthy of her client's trust. She also realized that what Leon was communicating was more than trust. She spoke with a smile as a warm breeze drifted past the two of them.

"I'm glad to have found you Leon."

They sat there on the porch for awhile in silence. Both of them fight back the urge to reach out and touch the others hand as they maintain eye contact.

He was the one to break away from the silent link between them and stare back to the lake. "We should try to get some sleep so we can get your work done tomorrow. It's only a day or so's worth of work." She stared, confused at his sudden shift back to work just after feeling so drawn to him.

It took her a moment to decide to get up. "Do you need assistance to get to your room?" Her voice is slowly returning to the less emotional voice she's know for.

"No. I do this every night. I can get myself back to my room by myself. Thank y—" he stopped when she stepped in front of him and reached one of her metal hands towards him and spoke in a gentle voice. "Can and should are two very different things."

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