I was firmly clasped in his arms.
His hug grew with intensity. As it got tighter, it was harder to breathe.
“Alastair, I’m suffocating,” was meant to be relaxed. I’d be surprised if you were an ordinary jester.
My regular person would have taken their hands off me, but he didn’t. Instead, he hugged my body harder.
“Can’t you hear me?”
Well, he must have been brainwashed in the hallucination room for a long time yesterday, and the day before. He couldn’t come to his senses in a day.
He usually would have reacted immediately to my words, but now he couldn’t. I wondered when he would wake up.
He usually waited for my permission to touch me.
Meh, I guess I’ll just have to wait this out until he comes to his senses.
How long has it been? At long last, Alastair slowly loosened his arms around me. I slipped away from his chest and increased the distance between us.
“Are you in your right mind yet?”
Alastair nodded timidly. His eyes were still drenched in a hazy reverie.
“…… Serina, I was dying to see you. Where have you been all this time?”
Alastair stared into my eyes and curled his eyes with envy. Unlike his small smile, my mouth shut tightly. I couldn’t bear to say that I had been to his father’s funeral and even attended on his behalf.
I know he will find out eventually, but my mouth just wouldn’t open.
“······, I just went somewhere.”
Alastair smiled and asked no more. A guilty conscience choked my heart; I was deceiving him.
“Is your wrist all right?”
“It’s all right.”
His left wrist was bandaged.
The bloodstains on the white bandage indicated that he was not alright at all. I’m glad I brought a new dressing just in case.
“Give me your wrist. I’ll change your bandages.”
“You’re very kind.”
At some point, Alastair started using honorific language with me. Entering the room of hallucination and being brainwashed regularly gradually changed him.
He didn’t refuse to do it and didn’t cry anymore.
Are my eyes faulty, that he smiled under any circumstances?
“Don’t do this next time.” ‘
“You look at me a little bit. I can do more if you give me your attention.”
“Serina, you’ve been so careless with me lately.”
“Is it possible… that you’re only slitting your wrists for that reason?”
“What do you mean? You’re not supposed to say that.”
Alastair’s smile was twisted. He was completely sincere. Nevertheless, his sincerity was due to his brainwashing.
It’s just that.
How far is he going to fall?!
I didn’t deserve to say a word because here I was on the sidelines, being a spectator to his torture. Whether it was intentional or not— it didn’t matter because the result was the same.
Alastair had not yet fully succumbed to his brainwashing. But if we brainwash him anymore, there’s no turning back. Just within this year, he has changed so much.
For years he had resisted the brainwashing that commanded him to obey the Duke. But now it was different.
He had disobeyed the Melford household members—except me, but now he has not resisted the Melfords anymore.
I made an oath in my heart when I witnessed his long-standing torment. I’ll release him from brainwashing no matter the cost.
“Alastair, I have something to tell you.”
When I released the bandage, I saw a deep wound on the white wrist of Alastair. I applied the medicine as carefully as possible.
“You will soon be inheriting your title as Duke of Aguernia.”
I took my eyes off his wrist for a moment and looked at his expression.
Alastair’s eyes opened a little wide. There was something mysterious about his face.
Yes, you are finally going to get out of this hell.
Er, what —you should be happy, but why do you have such a face?
Somehow his face looked overwhelmingly angry and a little remorseful.
“Are you abandoning me?”
To my confusion, he looked dismal.
I didn’t expect you to be happy, implying his father’s death, but I certainly didn’t expect you to react like this.
“Are you sick of me now?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Then why would you want to abandon me? You locked me up, hypnotized me, and now… Why do you want to abandon me?”
Alastair was smiling because he couldn’t cry.
His greatest fear was abandonment to the point that he asked me to kill him if he was going to be thrown away. But there is no way I would do such a thing.
“You know why I cut my wrist.”
“In my nightmare… you left me.”
Alastair’s eyes reflected a numb despair as he recalled his hallucination. I don’t know what he saw, but the pain was written on his countenance and distorted his forehead.
“So please, please, please, be with me. Don’t leave, Serina.”
Alastair’s eyes shone red with unshed tears.
He hugged me. As if he never wanted to let go, he tightened his arms and didn’t budge.
I didn’t bother to push him away.
What were the two of us like in the original novel? The story only focused on the main character.
The villain’s childhood was not in the novel.
I only know the protagonist’s past and future, and nothing meaningful about the villain’s life.
“Alastair, are you worried that I’m abandoning you right now?”
“… I’m afraid.”
“But I don’t want to abandon you… right?”
He didn’t answer.
“However, it’s my heart’s choice to reject you or not reject you, right?”
My voice was weak and soft as I mustered up my courage. Alastair squeezed my waist tighter against him. It made my back ache even more, but I didn’t mention it.
“If you don’t want to be abandoned by me, prove your worth.”
“…. then you are not afraid of keeping me by your side?”
“Yes, if you prove yourself, there’s no reason for me to leave you.”
I didn’t have to tell him how he should prove himself; he already knew what I meant. Restore the Aguernian ducal house’s glory and enjoy a period of prosperity at a level even your ancestors couldn’t imagine.
I’m confident because I know the original content. I’m sure I recall Alastair achieving a lot in connection to his family.
He will try to prove his worth because of his “love Serina conditioning.”
I know it is cruel to use his indoctrination to manipulate him, but it’s the only way to get away from the Duke of Melford.
If you keep bowing to Melford like you are now, you will never be free.
“I’ll give you three years. Until then, prove your worth.”
And I had to figure out a way to solve the brainwashing in those three years, at any cost. Alastair would be twenty.
“If I prove the value you want…”
Alastair raised his head. There was a smile in his eyes.
That’s cruel, too.
“Don’t ever leave me then.”
It was a kind of deal.
I don’t leave his side if he proves his worth.
I don’t know if this will be valid after I wipe away his inculcation.
“If you prove your worth.”
I laughed softly once again, and Alastair looked at me like that in a dreamy way. It was very peaceful.
I wish time had stopped like this.
It was unusually sunny.
The sun was dazzling, and blooming flowers brightened the atmosphere.
I looked around the garden in a daze until I focused on a point in front of me.
“Serina, we have a date.”
The date that the Duke of Melford was referring to was the day Alastair would return to the dukedom of Aguernia.
“In a few days’ time. Surprised?”
“It is faster than I thought, but it’s not surprising.”
I sipped the tea lightly.
I wasn’t fond of the bitter tea, but it was manageable.
“I’m sorry Alastair isn’t completely tamed but is inevitable. I’m glad Seri you are here to help in that regard.”
The Duke of Melford slightly narrowed her eyes.
She put her glass down on the table and watched me.
I wanted to move on and get this done already.
As if to respond to her, I also put my glass down on the table.
“Serina… I have something to say to you.”
“Please do tell,” I said lightly. ,
She has long lips. The Duke opens her mouth
“Make Alastair your concubine.”
Just what? Ah, my face just stiffened. I’m too obvious.
“What do you think?”
Her remarks are slow, so I have plenty of room for surprise.
“Bring in Alastair as my concubine?”
“Yes, you don’t like it?”
This isn’t a matter of whether I like it or not.
The original Serina hated being bound to anything or anyone. So she had neither a husband nor a lover. So I never anticipated this strike.
No, she didn’t even have men around her. Of course, Alastair was an exception.
However, it was because she enjoyed the process tormenting him and breaking him down, the more he clung to her.
Regardless, the original Serina never accepted Alastair as her concubine.
Instead, I’ve had so many relations with him.
Perhaps the reason why the current situation has changed from the original is that I am not Serina.
Maybe that’s why I am forced to navigate through this sour situation.
Relationships are necessary to give birth to life. Does the Duke of Melford think that if I bring Alastair in as a concubine, I will have that kind of relationship with him?
“It’s not that I don’t like it… it’s that… how can we work when he is going to be a duke soon?”
“Well, he would jump at the chance just to be near you, it seems like he’d do anything, regardless.”
Yes, a brainwashed Alastair would do as she said.
I didn’t want to admit it to a certain extent.
“So how about bringing the Duke into your harem?”