Chapter 11

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“Oh, no, um—the cherry tomatoes are so cute!”

I hurriedly pointed to the cherry tomatoes on the salad plate.

“It’s round… The round ones are so cute.
My goodness.”

“….”

He then frowned and glared at cherry tomatoes.
Then, when he glanced at me again, I could see the confusion in his eyes.

‘He must think I’m a strange person.’
​​
Let’s be more careful… I smiled awkwardly and pretended to eat as though I’m very hungry.
So, he waited patiently without talking to me until I finished my meal.
​​
After the awkward meal, a baked apple pie was placed in front of me for dessert.
The plaid dough covered like a lid was baked to yellowish color and looked delicious.
Although he didn’t seem to want to eat.

​​’Cats don’t like sweets.’

Maybe he doesn’t have a sweet tooth?

As I took a small bite of the apple pie with my fork and put it in my mouth, he finally got to the point.

“Now that we’re married, it’s better if you sleep in my room.”

“Cough!”

I was preparing to answer questions about curses or my healing power, but this?

He wants me to come into his room?

“There was nothing like that in our contract!”

However, he just smiled as he twirled the wine glass with a nonchalant face.

“Marriage is also a contract, and a couple’s partnership is an implicitly agreed upon condition.”

I stared at him blankly, not hiding my embarrassment.

In the novel, he made Renée stay in the Duchess’s bedroom after the marriage.
And, I remember he didn’t even lay hands on her hair at all…

I shook my head and tried to pull out the words I had picked up from my scattered mind.

“I-Isn’t it the way of life of commoners for couples to share a room? There are certain social rules we must abide by as aristocrats.
Besides, I like the annex now.”

“I didn’t know that my wife had such an old-fashioned idea.
How old is the rule that you’re talking about? These days, even among the aristocrats, good couples are envied, and they say that they share a room.”

The Duke smirked and rested his chin on his hand.

I was swept away by his words, looking for something to refute.
Then, I suddenly came to my senses.

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‘No, not this.
There’s something more important than separating the rooms.’

I quickly spoke calmly and firmly.

“Our contract is not an ordinary marriage contract, so I won’t accept implied agreements on marital relationships.”

At that, I hurriedly poured out what I wanted to say before he rebutted anything.

“I’ll treat the Duke once every three days, and I’ll let you know when we get a little more trust in our relationship on how to break the curse.
But, I hope you understand that much, as we can’t just drain the water and throw it away.
If you don’t have anything else to say, then I’ll be off.”

Then, without even hearing his answer, I got up from my seat and hurried away.

 

* * * 

“What are you looking at?”

Hyle, Dmitri’s chief advisor, asked the Duke this question while he was sitting at his desk, staring intently at something.
​​
At the same time, Dimitri smiled slightly, rolling something with his hand on the desk, without even glancing at him.

“Hyle, is this cute?”
​​
“What? Cherry tomatoes?”

“Is it cute?”

“But Your Grace doesn’t like vegetables.”
​​
“She says this is cute.”

“…?”

Hyle stared intently at the tomato in Dimitri’s hand.

“No matter how you look at it, sire, it’s just a cherry tomato.
Round and small.”

“Is the color cute?”
​​
“It’s just scarlet.”

“Is scarlet a cute color?”
​​
“It’s… it’s just scarlet.”

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At that, Hyle snapped his fingers as if he realized something and opened his mouth.

“Perhaps she likes it because the color is similar to her eye color?”
​​
“Is this the color of her eyes?”

Dimitri tilted his head.

Hyle explained because the Duke was born without being able to recognize the color red due to him being a cat shapeshifter.

“Yes.
Her eyes are the color of ripe red cherry tomatoes.
Her hair is also red wine colored.”

“I see.”

Even if Hyle explained it like that, Dimitri could not fully understand them.
Just imagine the images of cherry tomatoes and wine, and imagine the colors that ordinary humans feel…

He then recalled Rowaine’s eyes, which were warm, and her thick, soft hair.

‘It was a color similar to a blade of grass.’

In his eyes, Rowaine’s red eyes and hair were divided into light green and dark green.
If he based it on the color standards set by humans, that is.

She was embarrassed when he suggested they share a room, so he thought of her, whose face was changing colors, and laughed again.

‘If I did better, she could’ve fallen for it.
That’s too bad.’
​​
The scent of sweet grassy leaves emanated from her, making him thirsty.
Dimitri thought that he would be able to have good dreams if she slept next to him.

However, he didn’t mean it sincerely because when he fell asleep, he slept in his cat form rather than his human form since it was more comfortable.
He didn’t want to show her who he really was.

He hadn’t shown his body to anyone in a very long time.

It was a world where everyone despised and looked down on shapeshifters.

Thanks to his pedigree and abilities, he became a Duke even as a shapeshifter, but people ridiculed him behind his back.

So, he was ashamed of revealing his anthropomorphic figure.

Well regardless, sleeping together was not going to happen at all.
It was just some empty words.
It felt good to be around her.

‘…Should I visit her as a cat?’

She couldn’t recognize him, anyway.
​​
If she couldn’t recognize that he was the grey cat, then there’s nothing stopping him.

As he imagined getting closer to her, he licked his lips from the thirst.
Eventually, Dimitri decided to take on an adventure he would not normally do, and stood up.

“Where are you going, Your Grace?”

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“To get some sun.”

 

* * * 

Dimitri hid himself in the shadows of the wall and slid down without making a sound.

His gray fur was useful, as it sometimes absorbed and reflected light.
As such, when he walked by the shadows, most of the human eyes cannot find him…

“You’re here again!”

…No way.

‘How is this woman so good at finding me?’

Dimitri hurriedly leaped onto the wall beyond Rowaine’s reach.
But the eyes gazing up at him were wet with tears.

‘Why do you keep crying?’

It seemed like she was crying alone again like yesterday.

‘You were so bold before.’

Did she get sick or something?

‘No.
Then, she would have healed herself with her own abilities.’
​​​​
While he was puzzled, Rowaine muttered with a sad smile.

“Every time I think of my cats, you appear like magic.
How strange.”

Last time, she came out alone like this and cried about some cats, and it was the story of the cat again this time as well.

‘You said the cats are dead? Are you still so sad because of them?’

He didn’t know if she was talking about a shapeshifter cat or a normal cat, though it was strange that a cruel person who abused shapeshifters cried every night because of them.
At this point, he wondered if all those rumors saying she was the demon were all a ruse.

In any case, Dimitri looked around him, thinking he should hide from Rowaine for now.

But then, her exclamation was heard.

“Wow, you look more handsome in the daytime.
Kitty, pretty kitty, what’s in your mouth? And you’re biting it so well~ Who’s a good kitty?”

Dimitri opened his mouth wide, startled by what she had just said.

‘How can she talk like that…’

As he opened his mouth, something he was biting fell and rolled down the wall.

“What is this? Cherry tomatoes?”

Rowaine widened her eyes and picked up the cherry tomatoes that had fallen.

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He had brought it to compare because her eyes are the color of cherry tomatoes.
Even if he can’t distinguish the red colors, he can still see the light and shade.

However, he didn’t expect to be caught by her…

Dimitri became somewhat embarrassed and pretended not to hear her, then ran without looking back and hid himself in the grass.

“I’m going to take this!”

Rowaine picked up a twig and pushed the cherry tomatoes towards the grass where he hid.
Even though the blades of the grass touched her face, she was so diligent that he couldn’t help but laugh.

‘It’s okay, so don’t get hung up on that.’

He thought the cherry tomato bothered her, but Rowaine crooned sweetly.

“Tomato prevents cat obesity and is good for anti-aging, but too much of it gives you an upset stomach.”

‘…Obesity? Anti-aging? Is she saying that I look old and fat now…?’

It was insulting.
Dimitri unknowingly tapped his lower belly with the soft sole of his foot.

A man with a sagging belly is terrible.

Nonetheless, cats were naturally born with a tendency to gain belly fat.
But, Dimitri was always vigilant and particularly well taken care of.

 

* * * 

​​Hyle saw Dimitri, who had gone out for a walk, suddenly return with a look of displeasure and went to the training grounds with a sword.

No matter how upset he looked, Hyle couldn’t let him go out again because of a pile of paperwork he had to deal with.
However, no matter how long he waited, Dimitri did not return, and in the end, he had no choice but to go to the training grounds to find him.

There, he found Dimitri, beating up the knights with sheer force.

As if possessed by something, he occasionally glanced at himself in the mirror on the other side of the smokestack, and then returned to grab the sword again.

‘I don’t know what it is, but something very serious must have happened.’

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Did the knights do something wrong? If so, they must have made a huge mistake.
If it wasn’t for that, there was no way Dimitri would have come forward and beaten up the knights like that…

The knights with a lot of discipline gazed at Hyle as if they were begging for their lives, but even so, it was impossible to stop the angry Dimitri.

‘I’m scared, too.’

The sun will rise again tomorrow.

And so, Hyle decided to postpone the unfinished until then and ran away from the training grounds without looking back.

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