The Duke of Melford was not joking about brainwashing Alastair. She wanted to give him a final lesson.
“Alastair, you’re not going to rebel, are you?”
I patted his smooth cheek gently.
His body trembled in my hand, and I could see his body relaxing as if he had accepted it. He looked at me as if he was possessed, and I was his god.
His unfocused eyes made his brainwashing apparent.
He looked at me as if I was very lovable. I took my hand touching his cheek and tucked a piece of his hair behind his ears.
When my hand pulled away, he looked at me as if he had lingering feelings and anguish that he couldn’t touch me. He was embarrassed.
“Isn’t that right?” Alastair held my hand, captivated, and kissed it.
But it was expected behavior; Duke Melford was not satisfied. Being picky, eh? I mentally clicked my tongue.
Alastair thought for a moment, absorbing my meaning and then bowed his knees, lowering himself completely. He kissed my shoes.
He sat up with his knees still on the floor.
He watched my red eyes, his eyes expressing a deluded longing.
They are eyes that I hate and feel apologetic towards at the same time.
Eyes that are tortured and coerced into loving me.
I turned my head toward the Duke of Melford, erasing any sign of regret.
Mother, are you satisfied now? My eyes were saying so.
When she understood my question, she smiled.
“You know how to handle dogs. It’s great.”
I couldn’t cry and laugh from relief. It was time to complete my perfect mask by smiling as brightly as possible.
I don’t know what I looked like, but I always had to smile.
Even when the Duke said, “Marina, bring another candle.”
But I could feel my eyes distorted by unexpected words.
Why? My eyes opened wide.
At the same time, the Duke of Melford twisted her lips with joy.
Alastair’s eyes were half-lidded. He had given up a long time ago. He knew before I did that nothing would change.
My fist was strained. I couldn’t get past her without any strength. What could I do after all?
At that moment, Mikhail’s voice was heard through the open door. Mikhail’s black shoes stepped into the light approaching us.
“Mikhail? What are you talking about all of a sudden?”
“The Duke of Aguernia’s carriage has arrived.”
“What are you talking about? The date’s four days from now.”
“The Duke’s carriage looks nice.”
“······ What are you talking about? The date’s four days from now.”
“Oops! Did I inform them of the wrong time by mistake? I can’t help it. I guess he has to leave now. I swear, at least that’s not a mistake.”
Mikhail didn’t have any shame on his face. He blamed his mistake, but he
was slyly smiling.
“Well, it’s too fast to go today, so I’ve already told them to wait and have you to leave tomorrow morning.”
The Duke of Melford’s face hardened. She stared at her son for a long time and smiled flatly.
“I don’t know who’s my son. This time I’ve been thwarted.”
I made eye contact with Alastair, whose knees were bent in a bow at my feet.
It’s over now, Alastair.
Now this situation, this nightmare, the hell that seemed to have no end.
Finally, some reprieve.
A woman was standing on the bell tower and staring out the window.
In the scene, framed by the window, I saw crowds of people.
The faces of the passers-by, laughing and chatting with each other, were lively. The merchants were jolly in dealing with their customers. There was also a rascal among many people, frightening people with his pranks.
The woman silently observed them. She was savoring the sweetness of the peaceful spectacle.
A gentle breeze tickled her hair.
The woman quietly watched her silver hair fluttering in the wind.
“There you are,” the woman dryly noted. She already knew.
I haven’t seen you for a while, but where have you been?
She turned her head, anxious. As soon as she saw the man, she frowned as if she had seen nothing. He was a man she knew, but he was different.
The man took a step forward. She felt a large presence approaching her; he had changed.
There was no man with a hazy look who confessed his love because he was brainwashed.
His eyes were alert and clear when he saw me.
There’s only a man who looks at me as if he hates me.
The woman had a dim realization. Maybe the man’s brainwashing is loose.
“It’s been a long time.”
“It’s been a while since I saw you.”
The man came to see Serina, but I couldn’t understand why he found her. Perhaps it was an impulsive decision. Yeah… Well, that’s it. Even if the brainwashing was done, the man was already a well-groomed dog for her.
And Serina, this cruel woman, knew it too well.
“You’re still feeling the effects?” Sirina laughed languidly.
Alastair was well aware of the meaning of her laughter.
He’d been with Serina for a long time, but how could he not know? The smile was often the one she gave when she dumped or disposed of someone. He had a hunch. She’s going to kill me.
That’s it. For Serina, he was an abandoned dog from the moment the brainwashing went off.
“Juliana, is that the girl?”
Serina came to him, taking off her body that had been leaning against the window frame.
It was a leisurely gesture. She still didn’t think he’d be her collaborator.
The evidence is here; Alastair was still stuck in front of Serina even though his enchantment was gone.
“Al-” was a languid voice, as usual.
The sweet voice of Serina was poisonous. She slowly touched the back of Alastair’s hand.
He shook and couldn’t resist her touch as if he had been enchanted.
It was so funny to see him accepting her hand even though his brainwashing was gone that Serina suddenly grabbed her stomach and burst into laughter.
Soon she stopped laughing and opened her mouth with a big smile on her face.
“My darling Al, tell me. You were trying to escape from like that?”
I had a dream.
I dreamed that the original Serina would kill Alastair.
The scene of blood splashing on my hands still stood before me in the novel’s last chapter.
Hot blood flowed down and soaked the floor.
I couldn’t feel it because it was a dream, but strangely, I had the memory of the sensations as if it had just happened yesterday.
Before I came into the novel, I didn’t care about this scene, but now I couldn’t ignore it.
I got up from my seat with a throbbing headache. My back was wet with my nightmare sweats.
I rolled up my blanket and came down from the bed. The clock on the table told me it was two o’clock now.
The sky outside the window is dark; of course, it’s before dawn.
The moon was high in the sky.
My room had a clear vantage point to stargaze. Countless stars were embroidered in the night sky.
In my dream, just as Serina looked at the landscape from the bell tower, I went to the window and stared blankly at the night sky.
‘I’ve never seen so many stars in Korea.’ Before I came into the book, how did I live?
Now that I thought about it…… Crazy about grades and money and wanting to be recognized. I remember studying with a nosebleed every day.
Why did you not have time to look up at the sky?
Just thinking about that time makes me laugh in vain. Now I don’t want anything. The countless piles of ornaments left little excitement.
-The door opened with a shaky stir.
There was only one person who would find me at this late hour.
Groggy eyes fell on me.
I approached him slowly and stopped four steps away. He held onto the wall with trembling hands as if it was hard to support himself.
He often had nightmares, and then he came to see me.
The present-day Alastair was deeply injured. Often he would sleepwalk to my room after being in the hall. Black mana began to rise around him.
“Come on, I’ll put you to sleep.”
I beckoned him to lay on my bed and used a gentle melodic voice as sweet as possible, hoping to soothe him.
As if to have heard the voice of Serina, Alastair responded to my voice. Moved towards me as if possessed.
“Good job, ·· here here…” Alastair hugged me urgently. Then he collapsed on the bed as if he had lost his strength. I fell down with him and lay side by side in bed.
‘Are you going to sleep like this?’ He held me tightly and seemed to have no intention of letting me go.
After sighing deeply at the sight, I tossed and turned, searching for a comfortable position.
A slightly sweaty body clung to my body, but it didn’t stink, nor was his smell unpleasant.
“Alastair is a good boy, isn’t he? Let’s move your arms…”
“Just sleep like this.”
What are you talking about? My eyebrows went up.
On the other hand, Alastair had a comfortable face with his eyebrows soft like a gentle puppy.
As Alastair held my waist in both arms, I had to lie down on his arm. I don’t think I’ll sleep well because it’s an uncomfortable posture with my back lifted.
“That’s enough, right?” He changed his posture and moved his arm. Unexpectedly comfortable posture makes me sleepy.
“I love you, Serina.”
There’s it again. His voice confessing love was so sweet it wouldn’t be weird if I got intoxicated off of it.
As usual, I waited, and my turmoil has passed quietly, even now.
I didn’t care much and didn’t attach too much meaning. At the beginning of the brainwashing protocol, I just wanted to ignore the boy who had fallen into a fleeting state of deluded infatuation.
So did I, in a family like this, I promised to protect myself first.
I wanted to protect myself even if I hurt others. So I sat on the sidelines.
While lying down, I could see a brilliant moon floating through the window.
I fell asleep watching the yellow moon.
When I woke up the next day, Alastair was not beside me.