Author: alyalia

“I don’t wa—”

 

“Okay.”

 

Lobelia opened her mouth right away, but Frinel interrupted her.

 

It was only their second meeting, but he liked her quite a bit. Everything about Lobelia aroused his interest, from her bold aspirations to her expression that didn’t waver even when being praised as beauty.

 

His heart was pounding for the first time in a very long time. It couldn’t be concluded that this was necessarily a rational interest. Still, it was clear that Frinel was attracted to this woman.

 

“Good.”

 

Looking at the two, the Duke Gracie raised the corners of his mouth with satisfaction.

 

“Then, you will be a teacher and a student in the future, so you might have a conversation.”

 

I sent a desperate look as if telling him not to go, but Duke Gracie just smiled and disappeared from sight. My bewildered gaze chased after Duke Gracie’s back, which gradually became distant.

 

I couldn’t figure out his intentions at the moment, whether he really wanted to attach me to the prince who was a master of swordsmanship or just because he wanted to put the two of us together.

Not Bella, but me…? If he really wants to be connected with the prince, shouldn’t he use his own granddaughter, not me? He had a benevolent smile like he did not know anything, even though he had another ulterior motive, so I just shut my mouth.

 

I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I can’t let you do what you want. Contrary to my calm expression, in my heart, I feared being betrayed again.

 

I turned my head and looked up at Frinel.  “Your Highness.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Do you want to teach me?”

 

“Yes.” He answered determinedly with a bright smile.

 

I blinked my eyes quickly as I was dumbfounded. “Don’t you have anything else to do?”

 

“No, I don’t.”

 

I said it hoping he would be giving up doing that, but Frinel only shook her head with a normal face.

 

“Well, I heard that the duke’s movements are unusual.” In fact, even though I had clearly heard about ‘Duke Bonitare,’ I roughly glossed over my words as if I had no interest in politics.

 

 

He still shook his head with a smile. “Ah, Lady Lobelia. Originally, the real villain doesn’t move.”

 

“The real villain?”

 

“Duke Bonitare, and so am I. You know.”

 

Frinel cutely closed one of his eyes. It was a seductive look that would make anyone else blush. However, such seduction didn’t work for Lobelia at all.

 

With an emotionless face, I threw my question at him. “So, are you saying that… you will somehow teach me swordsmanship?”

 

“Of course, I can’t lose my face when Duke Gracie asks me like that.”

 

He didn’t even ask you that much.

 

Pouting my lips slightly, I opened my mouth again. “Then I have a favor to ask.”

 

“Favor?”

 

“Please keep your dignity when you come to see me from now on.”

 

“Dignity? It’s already overflowing.”

 

“Your clothes.”

 

“Hmm?”

 

I drew close to him with a small sigh. “I want you to keep it buttoned.”

 

“…Ah.”

Because she suddenly came close, Frinel gulped down his saliva. The wind swayed Lobelia’s hair. She buttoned up his clothes as if buttoning the baby’s clothes. Embarrassed for no reason, Frinel rolled his eyes.

 

When he usually went to balls, he had plenty of opportunities to dance and hang out with ladies. Whenever that happened, he would frown at the smell of their perfume, which was too artificial and thick. But Lobelia was different. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what scent she had, but it was clearly cozy and fragrant.

 

“It’s done.” I smiled as my heart had finally been put to ease.

 

Although his public image was that of a playboy, the ones who knew his true self were me, Bella, and Duke Gracie. There was no need to wear a mask in front of me. People should know how to be careful of their behavior. At least in front of me.

 

I added, gulping down what I couldn’t say out of my mouth. “Enough. When you come to me, come like this. Buttoned all the buttons.”

 

“Hmmm, I guess it bothered you? I’m afraid you’ll fall for me.”

 

“No way.”

 

I, who responded coldly, shut my mouth for a moment as if thinking of something. Then I slowly parted my lips again. “…I’ve heard roughly.”

 

“What?”

 

“From Bella.”

 

“Aah.”

 

Only then did Frinel realize what I was about to say and nod quietly. “That’s my past.”

 

“Yes. But in front of me… you don’t have to.”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“You don’t have to act. Anyway, I’m not very interested in politics, and I don’t have time to talk to others, whether it’s acting or wearing a mask.”

 

Showing too much interest in me as a woman could have been part of his acting. That must have been inconvenient, so I took this opportunity to let him know.

 

“Pretending to be friendly, pretending not to be interested in politics, pretending to be obsessed with women and gold.” Recalling the words Bella had told me, I went to say my words. “But to live pretending your whole life… is too painful.”

 

That man who must have lived his whole life in agony, and I… I hope this will take the burden off a little bit. It must be difficult for him to form a relationship with someone, and he must have also had a hard time wearing a mask.

 

“Isn’t it the same for you?”

 

“…Yes?”

 

“In my eyes, you…”

 

Frinel, who blurred his words, flashed his eyes as if he had finally come up with suitable words.

 

“Looks like a hedgehog.”

 

“…A hedgehog?”

 

Suddenly a hedgehog? I stared at him with my eyes wide open at the sudden word.

 

“Put up your thorns, refine your expression. Pretending to be indifferent, pretending to be calm, pretending to feel no emotion.” Mimicking my tone, Frinel added his words. “I’m curious about what you’re hiding inside.”

 

The process and direction were different, but the image of trying to hide herself overlapped with him. Thinking he was quite similar to Lobelia, he began to talk. “But I’m a man of manners, and I will not ask until Lady Lobelia tell me.”

 

“Pfft, thank you very much for that.” I laughed without realizing it because his tone was like joking.

 

“Oh, you laughed.”

 

Confused by my laughter, I hardened my face again. As I had erased my laughter, I shook my head, only my mouth raised. “I was always smiling.”

 

“Didn’t you tell me? You’re pretending too. You don’t laugh just by raising the corner of your mouth. You were like this.”

 

Frinel closed his eyes and smiled. His figure looked cute for a moment, so I averted my eyes slightly to the side.

 

“But that was a real laugh, wasn’t it?”

 

“Uumm…”

 

“I’m an expert in this field. Don’t ignore it.”

 

“…Yes, that’s right.”

 

I looked straight at Frinel and answered. “I laughed. Really…”

 

It had only been a week since I woke up, and it felt strange that I was laughing for the first time in a very long time. A blush ran over my face, and I smiled softly. It wasn’t a mask, it was real.

 

Frinel, who was smirking and continuing the conversation, was speechless. He felt as if the time around them was passing slowly. Even though he lived like a playboy, he wasn’t really a playboy. But now, his heart was beating crazy for the woman he had only seen twice.

 

He wanted to make Lobelia laugh more. Frinel felt strange about himself. He had never felt anything like this before.

 

Frinel had nothing to protect. He lived only for himself. All he had to do was keep his body healthy. That’s why he divided people who approached him into two groups and acted as if he wasn’t interested in anything.

 

But it was different now. This feeling was clearly different from what he had felt so far. It feels like she’s peering into my soul but speaking as if she doesn’t care about other people’s reactions, and now she’s like that…

 

Cough, cough…!

 

Feeling embarrassed for no reason, Frinel cleared his throat as if he had heard a pep talk.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“Ahem, ahem, I’m alright. Ah, you must have a social class today.”

 

“Yes. The theory is almost over, so I’m going to have a practical class…”

 

“If it’s a practical class, isn’t it dance?”

 

“Yes, perhaps.”

 

“Then I’ll dance again.”

 

“Really, there must be nothing you can’t do.”

 

“I tend to be a little bit like that. Don’t I look like a perfect sculpture from God…?”

 

“Haha, you’re doing this on purpose, right?”

 

His exaggerated tone made her laugh again. He smiled pleasantly as if proud of making Lobelia laugh again.

 

“Then could you tell me? I’d like to prepare in advance.”

 

“Of course, it’s not hard to tell.”

 

Frinel took a big step back as if to teach her how to dance. “Why are you trying so hard to learn?”

 

Then he reached for her and asked as if he had remembered something. “Like someone being chased.”

 

At that moment, Lobelia’s face, which had been filled with warmth, froze coldly. Frinel continued his words, wondering if he had made a mistake.

 

“Perhaps Duke Gracie is too strict…”

 

“The Duke doesn’t want anything from me.”

 

She smiled at him. “It’s okay to be chased. Because I’m chasing them behind my back.”

 

This one wasn’t a real smile.

 

Frinel asked in a low voice. “…Who?”

 

“Those…” Lobelia finished her words with a frosty face. “Who needs to be killed.”

 

Her face looked painful enough to make the viewer’s heart sink. What on earth is her story for her making a face like that? Frinel began to wonder more about her.

 

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Comments (1)

  1. While it did seem to me that Lobelia started opening up to him a bit too fast, but considering how they both have rough circumstances, I guess it’s easier for them to be more open with each other.

    I liked that she instantly returned to being cold at the mere thought of her enemies