I thought a hand suddenly came into view and took away the book I was reading.
I looked up in surprise and saw my husband.

I could’ve sworn he said he was going to be busy for the whole day.
It seemed the butler’s efforts were not enough.
No, that wasn’t important now.

“For not wanting me to know about this, I do wonder what you’re reading.” He frowned as he looked at the book in his hands.

Why did he have to show up now?

I wish he appeared when I was reading the history section.
The book was open to a page about the experimental records on how to kill a witch.
It was currently on a section about how many stabs it took to end a witch’s life.

“Ella.”

“…”

“Where did you get this?” His voice was so soft as if he was trying to soothe a crying child.

Which meant it was scarier.
Damn it.

“I was just looking for another book to read and by chance…”

Just in case, I changed the story so that the butler wouldn’t suffer.

“I see.
There are so many books, so he could have missed at least one.” Lukas nodded.
Fortunately, he didn’t seem very suspicious of what I said.

He sighed in relief and his eyes immediately turned his eyes to the room where the witch-related books were piled up.

Don’t tell me…

What if he opens the door and gets suspicious? Feeling anxious, I jumped from my seat.
For once, he turned around.

“Give it back.”

“No.
This is a forbidden book, dearest.”

“…I saw there were all sorts of ways to torture a witch.”

“Worry not, I won’t let anyone do that to you.”

He cut off my chance to persuade him and walked away with the book in question.
I didn’t feel good when he interrupted my reading.
Well, there was still a lot left.
Similar books were piled up in the other room.
With that in mind, I begged him a few more times because I was afraid he’d begin to have doubts if I gave up.

I was satisfied with my acting.

“I’ll have to tell Mr.
Alan to clean up the room by the end of the day.”

“…”

“It’ll only be a matter of time before the room is covered in trash.
Right?”

Oh, no.
I forgot that my husband was different in the eyes of ordinary humans.
Yes, I hate to admit it.

“Can’t you give it to me?”

He reached out to poke my forehead, so I caught his hand in time.

“Hmm?”

“Well, it’s a forbidden text.”

“I have it right now.”

“No, a different one.”

“There isn’t anything else.” His hand trembled.
But instead of backing down, he went a step further.
“According to my loyal knight’s testimony, my wife went out and bought something.”

You damn Pumpkin Knight…! I knew you were scolded for failing to stop me, but I didn’t know you’d do this to make up for it.

I sighed.

There were already witnesses, so what was the point in lying? I had no choice but to let the book be returned.

“Why are you even reading this in the first place?”

“I was just curious.”

“Don’t read it.
Nothing in this book will help you.” He proceeded to harshly criticize it, saying it was full of useless things.

“I thought it wouldn’t hurt to read it.
Just in case, you know.
It might be useful while I’m here.”

“…Does the incident in the town still bother you?”

I didn’t think he’d get it on the first try.

“Ella.”

When he said my name in a low voice, I turned my gaze to the floor.
Instead, he hugged me.
One arm was wrapped around my waist and the other under my thigh.
I was technically in a more comfortable position, my head resting on his shoulder.

A content smile was on his face.

But it didn’t last long.

“I told you not to worry about the people outside the castle.”

“Is that all?”

“No,” he grumbled in a disgruntled tone.
“I’m saying this as your husband.”

Before being the Duke of Havel, he insisted he was my husband.
I laughed at such a notion.

“I heard the people were going crazy.
A witch had appeared in the middle of a village…”

“It’s none of your business.”

Carrying me, he used his long legs to pull out a chair.
I wondered if he wanted me to sit there, so I tried to escape.
His grip around me tightened.
What was it then?

I glared at him as if asking what he wanted me to do.
With his pretty blue eyes, my husband frowned and sat down.

He literally just sat down.

I was sitting on his lap.

Feeling like I was child under his protection, I glanced at him.

“Don’t worry about anything else.”

“How can I not? It was because of me.”

“Then you should start listening to your husband.”

“Tch…”

“I will listen to my husband from now on.
Repeat it three times.
Come now, I know you can do it.”

He talked with the slight undertone of a threat, but I didn’t fall for it.
Smiling sadly, he patted me.

“I heard it was such a mess that the gates had to be closed…”

“Since you did something wrong, of course you should be punished.
You should be thankful I decided to overlook it.
If you think I’d let them harm the wife of their duke, you’re mistaken.”

“But—”

“Stop.” He shook his head as if he wouldn’t listen and ended the conversation right then and there.
“If this was the capital, the person who threw the stone would be imprisoned.
Did you forget? I’m not just a nobleman.
Harming you, my wife, means they will be charged with the crime of injuring the royal family.”

He added that there should be a harsher punishment.
“His whole family should be beheaded.”

“B-Beheaded?”

“Yes.
Am I not a benevolent duke?” With a sinister smile that wasn’t benevolent at all, he had the audacity to praise himself.

Sure, yes, yes.
Nodding half-heartedly, I looked at the book in his hand.
It was the one that discussed the anatomy of a witch.

“No, Ella.” Perhaps noticing my gaze, my husband hid the book behind his back.

“…May I ask a question?”

“What is it?”

It was always on my mind.
Fortunately, he nodded very gladly.

“What do you think of me?”

“Excuse me?”

“How much do you love your wife?”

“What an interesting question.”

Who wouldn’t be curious about that? “I was wondering if you saw me as a test subject.”

The contents of the book about witch anatomy mentioned a man.
He was a witch scholar who did all sorts of experiments on a living witch.
How long can she go without anything? How long can she go without sleep? Basic questions like that.

I looked at him carefully.
I saw his lips form a thin line as if offended that I asked.
Was it not worth answering? Or was it because he had nothing to say?

I was waiting.

“Why are you asking all of a sudden?”

“I was curious.”

“Oh, I see.”

My heart was beating like crazy.
I recalled when he asked if my reading had to do with what happened in the town.

Lukas was friendly to me from the start.
He said he was doing it to repay that witch from another time, but if that were the case, he should be looking at me with the same eyes as those from the town.

It was terrible to think of the witch who was trapped in a room and became a test subject, no different from an animal in a laboratory.
If he planned to do that, he would find a way to avoid answering the question.

I was in his arms, so I couldn’t escape.
He patted my head.

Wait, what?

“Yes, would a cat suit you best? Go ahead and meow.”

This man was insane.

I swatted away his hand.
Well, I tried, but he dodged it.
His hand gripped the back of my dress.
Then, he suddenly looked as if he realized something important.

“It would be convenient if I could lift you with one hand.
I could take you anywhere like a cat,” he murmured before attempting to actually lift me.

“Hey, that’s…! You!”

“…Speaking of which, it’s really not a bad idea.”

Damn it.
Still, I felt his grip slowly loosening while I was held up.
I could sense a smile on his face when I groaned.
How much time passed? I gave up, but he was still here.

While I was unable to do anything, his lips touched mine briefly.
I really wanted to smack him as the corners of his mouth were raised.

“I saw it.”

What the hell.

“You don’t kiss animals much, huh?”

Well, that’s a reason.
“Do you rub your lips like that with any girl?”

“Why do you think there’s another woman?”

“Then who?”

“What do you mean, my dear?”

“…”

I thought he’d used the word “witch”, but instead it was a pet name.
I had nothing else to say.

He sighed.
“Why are you asking all of a sudden? Is it because of that book? Has your perception of me changed because I’m a human?”

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