Just as in
Their death’s were completely covered up.
Duke Pietro was dumb.
It may have been his intent to completely isolate and control the annex by leaving it empty of most staff, but on the contrary, Desian had it perfectly under his control now.
Citrina recalled her memories of the book, remembering her circumstances in the annex.
Citrina, Desian, and Aaron kept to their three respective areas.
Interactions between the three had been blocked before, but that wasn’t the case now.
‘I need to see Desian.
This Desian, just like the original, also killed the dark wizard Toloji…but he didn’t lose all of his emotions.
Then he won’t turn to the dark side.’
Starting from now, until the duke returns, it it would be the most peaceful time for them.
It was the best time to plan for a rebellion.
However, as Citrina left her room to work on planning the rebellion, she found a knight standing beyond her door moving bizarrely.
The body was twisted, with a pale face, eyes rolling back, and that knight held roses in his hands.
Were these…roses from the garden?’
It had to be around a hundred roses.
There was a simple card with cursive scribbled on it nestled between the roses.
‘Since you like roses.’ The knight handed Citrina the bouquet.
There were sharp thorns poking through the wrapping around the rose stems.
Summer’s thorned flowers.
Citrina lowered her eyes as she smelled the roses.
Usually, in high society roses are a sign of caution or vigilance.
So is this a warning?
And finally, as if he had been watching her situation, the man slowly appeared.
“After seeing a corpse, you need to see something beautiful.”
“Thank you, Desian.”
“Do you not like them?”
He was quite quick witted for someone who had spent so much time isolated.
Citrina involuntarily glanced sideways at the knight.
“… I like pretty things.
But I hate scary things.”
He looked at Citrina as if testing her.
She was only interested in preserving her own life, but she had to make sure to drive the point home.
“That scary thing, I don’t like it.
A subdued voice pierced her ears.
Desian’s attitude gave the impression that he wanted to become more intimate with her.
So Citrina looked up at him with hopeful eyes.
Considering the events so far, it was unlikely Desian had taken the emotion-killing drug.
Then, Citrina needed a little more help now.
If she taught basic morality, obviously they could reach a better ending.
“You don’t like the knight.”
“It doesn’t look normal.”
“Then do you want me to kill it?”
“No! You can’t kill him.”
…She was relieved at that moment that the emotional suppressant drug hadn’t been administered.
Was there a long way to go?
Citrina blinked urgently.
“So killing him, you can’t do that….”
Desian’s gaze seemed to be testing her.
Citrina could see a faint bit of interest in his insensitive face.
He could feel curiosity about her.
It was obvious that Desian was already deeply interested in Citrina.
So far, it seemed that he had made up his mind to keep Citrina alive.
However, Citrina was not at ease.
While Desian might be kind to her for some reason, his mental state was broken.
He held out his hand.
While that hand had killed people, there were no bloodstains on it.
“Give me your hand.”
Citrina took his hand while her other arm held the roses.
What was he going to do?
Desian let Citrina into her room.
Soon, the door closed slowly without creaking.
With the door closed, Citrina blinked her eyes open and closed.
‘Well, Desian didn’t kill that knight, so it’s alright.’
Everything will be okay if I start a villain rehabilitation program.
Citrina looked at the tea cups and tea pot she secretly brought from the annex kitchen.
The dishes were decorated with meaningless beautiful patterns swirling around the sides.
With three white tea cups set up, Citrina headed to the drawing room.
The door closed.
A peculiar tea time was about to begin.
Citrina took the tea set from her room and headed to the drawing room.
Desian and Aaron were already in the drawing room since she could hear a few voices.
“I brought the tea leaves.”
Entering the drawing room, Citrina shook the bag of tea leaves in her hand.
It was a lilting whisper.
Right away, she sat down slowly on the sofa.
“Now, shall we talk about something interesting?”
After some time had passed, a bit of condensation gathered on the outside of the teapot.
‘Oh, now it’s time to drink.’
Citrina picked up the tea pot and poured into each of the tea cups.
Not too much to spill over, not too little to seem stingy.
Just the right amount.
“Come on, have a cup of tea.
“Sounds good, Citrina!”
“… If you’d like.”
The tea leaves she stole from her parent’s house were better than she thought.
No, she didn’t steal it.
It was her paycheck that paid for it.
‘The Citrina from before, considering I worked so hard for the baron, I never got to enjoy my paycheck.’
Citrina took a sip of tea and swallowed with a hearty laugh.
‘Delicious things are meant to be eaten.’
Citrina swallowed her tea.
A bitter feeling lingered on the tip of her tongue.
And there was a pleasant silence for a while.
“Ah, you know what.”
Aaron broke the silence.
He put down his tea cup and spoke.
“Shall we read a book together after tea time? In the library! Ah, and I can cook for us, and it’ll be fun to play in the gather together too…”
Aaron talked without end.
Citrina understood Aaron.
Aaron must have been thinking that this short moment of peace would be shattered once the duke returned.
The thoughts in the boy’s small mind were clearly visible.
He wanted to enjoy this peaceful period of time.
‘He thinks the duke will kill Desian and destroy the peace we have worked so hard for.’
Citrina gulped down another sip of tea.
Aaron will be wrong in the end.
After all, the duke will be killed by Desian
Aaron’s misconception was pitiful and lovely, which made Citrina a little sad.
‘I can’t tell you about the future, but I can spend time with you reading books.
Let’s do that, Citrina.’ After all, she was the person who would be leaving soon.
After rationalizing her decisions, Citrina opened her mouth to respond the Aaron.
It was just then-
“Let’s do all that together.
That’s normal…isn’t it?”
Desian asked expressionlessly.
His attention was on Aaron.
‘That’s an awfully long sentence for Desian.’
Citrina felt a spark of hope growing in her heart.
This was possibly the first time he had expressed doubt.
He only wound up blackening and becoming a villain .
However, he expressed doubt.
‘Okay, there might be hope.’
Actually, she knew the odds were extremely low.
However, Citrina looked at him nervously.
When Desian opened his mouth, Aaron added with a big grin.
“Of course! We should do it all together.
Because we’re family! Me, Older brother, and Citrina.”
Aaron obviously remembered what they had spoken about the day before.
When he had promised to be her family.
‘I told him at that time that we were family.”
Aaron seemed excessively happy remembering that.
‘I shouldn’t get this close, but I’m leaving anyway, so it should be okay.’
Citrina lifter her teacup and took a sip of tea.
It was a pity that Aaron was sad, but Citrina didn’t want to get caught in the eye of the storm.
Desian seemed to be embarrassed by the word ‘family’.
At first glance, his expression was odd.
Desian spoke more slowly than usual.
Aaron smiled and nodded.
“Yup! Citrina is our family!”
“You can’t be family without sharing any blood.”
He snapped back strangely coldly.
Citrina felt the brief spark of hope she had felt a minute ago die down.
‘Well, we need to go one step at a time.
It’s more suspicious to acknowledge me as family right from the start.’
Whether he knew Citrina’s train of thought or not, Aaron was still inquisitive.
“Oh? Older brother also likes Citrina.
Why can’t we be family?”
Aaron asked naively.
Desian’s expressionless face had not changed.
“I like her?”
Strangely though, his questioning voice seemed a little melancholy.
Citrina was extremely nervous.
It felt like all of the hair was rising on her body.
‘This is like he’s asking, ‘I like dogs?’ right now.”
She hadn’t asked him to like her.
She just wanted to prevent him from killing her.
Looking at Aaron who was bright and excited…Citrina had a feeling she was going to meet her end soon.
“Yup! Because we all like each other.
Right, Citrina?” Fortunately, Aaron took care of it.
Citrina responded quickly.
“Ah, of course, young lord.”
Citrina smiled out of politeness.
“Because you like Citrina, that’s why you gave her the roses.”
…had he done that because he liked her?
She didn’t understand how Aaron had known this, but from Citrina’s perspective, Aaron seemed very certain of it.
Desian’s keen eyes turned towards Aaron.
Citrina hid her uneasiness.
What if she stabbed them both in the back and said, “Both of you die!!”
“If you like someone, you want to give them lots of things.
You want to be kind to that person and protect them!”
Desian looked really embarrassed and a little confused.
It was in complete contrast to how Aaron looked today.
‘I think it’s better to cut if off at a time like this.’
Citrina tied up Aaron’s clever remarks.
That’s right…it’s because we like each other.
We can do a lot of fun things.”
“Yup! Let’s do lots of things before His Excellency Duke Pietro comes back.”
Citrina thought it her efforts were paying off.
Desian’s feelings had become much more vivid than in the original work.
And the manner in which to rehabilitate him had been decided.
‘This level is enough.’
Desian’s expression while looking at her became strange.
“I want to ask you something, Citrina.”
Citrina thought the conversation was finished, but then Desian asked her slowly.
She was hearing a first in this conversation once more.
“What does it mean to like someone?”
This was something she had never expected Desian Pietro to ask.
Desian…kept trying to meet her gaze.
This made her think the rehabilitation project could somehow be completed quickly.
“You are curious about that person, you want to see that person a lot, and you are interested in that person…isn’t that what it means to like them?”
Citrina answered with difficulty.
Desian Pietro was as expressionless as ever.
He had learned etiquette and manners from Toloji.
That’s why he used formal language with Citrina.
But he was still like an empty shell that didn’t understand other people.
‘Do you perhaps understand what I am saying?’
She would like Desian to like other people.
Citrina became a bit desperate.
Desian killed Toloji and the head butler not too long ago, so she knew it as very unlikely.
“Ah, I see.”
“I understand perfectly.
I like you.”
Desian rose slowly, still with an expressionless face.
His eyes were sharp and cold, but there was something else in them as well.
However, Citrina couldn’t interpret what it was.
For today only, there was nothing for her to do but let Desian sort through his own thoughts.
Aaron quietly asked Citrina.
“Tea time, have you done this sort of thing a lot before?”
“…many times, I’ve done this.”
“Is that so…”
In front of a sullen Aaron, Citrina realized something.
Today’s tea time was really her first time.
This was the first time sitting with other nobles, drinking tea and treating each other as friends.
With this enlightenment, the afternoon tea time ended.
Tomorrow she would try something a little different.
She would have to do a little more thinking to come up with something that would push his spirit in a positive direction.
Meanwhile, Desian ended tea time in a somewhat muddled, possibly confused mood.
That day, he was troubled.
He thought of the afternoon tea time, the conversation with Citrina and Aaron, and the various meaningless things the duke and Toloji told him.
For someone like him who had lived indifferently up until now, it was like a wave crashing over him.
Desian felt the need to clarify this situation.
‘What is it to like?’
He didn’t feel anything for other people.
He didn’t feel anything when he killed Toloji.
But why did he feel so strange when he saw her?
Was it because she was the first person he met after feeling like he had been trapped underwater?
His consciousness had slowly emerged after Toloji had been gone for a long time.
And he met up with Citrina after killing Toloji.
He ran into her when he first felt like he had broken out from under the water and gotten free.
It was the sharpest first encounter after a world of emptiness.
His expression was still languid.
He was still troubled by the side effects of that time.
His thoughts rang in his ears.
Along with the peculiar ringing in his ears was the question about what it was to like, which he had never considered before.
‘How does everyone know this feeling?’
Citrina asked if he liked summer roses… and the way she answered made if sound as if she liked them, so he had answered ‘maybe’ because she interesting.
Aaron on the other hand, made it clear at tea time that he like Citrina.
Aaron had said as much.
Desian liked Aaron and Citrina both.
However, something was bothering him.
His feelings for the two, were they really the same?
It was a question that gnawed at him.
Desian shook his head once.
He decided to go to the library.
There had to be something in the library that would help him answer the question.
The room he was staying in temporarily and Aaron’s room were separated, so he thought they would not run into each other.
That did not seem to be the case today.
“Brother, where are you going?”
Aaron asked as he laughed when encountering a silent Desian walking through the hallway.
Aaron seemed to become brighter everyday as he got away from the duke’s influence and spent more and more time with Citrina.
Desian replied quietly as he looked at Desian’s spotless bright eyes.
“Ah…Brother, but you know what!”
“Don’t go into the prison, Citrina too…tell her.”
Desian’s voice was cold.
Aaron seemed unconcerned even though he was deliberately interrupted.
Rather, he replied with a big smile.
“Yup! Thank you for your concern, Brother.”
The more he faced Citrina and the more he talked to Aaron, the more tangled his thoughts felt.
Desian was determined to not answer him and remain silent.
He turned to continue his path to the library.
‘The prison still shouldn’t be opened, that’s all.’
Inside the prison were two corpses that would not decay.
The one who had tried to given him the potions-the dark wizard Toloji and the head butler, they had already died and become corpses.
Why don’t we let the duke discover them in the prison?
He was curious what the duke’s reaction would be.
In the end, his dreadful fear that the monster he had brought into the world would ruin everything would be realized.
How will the duke feel at that time? How would Desian feel?
There was a different kind of displeasure sitting weakly at the tip of his tongue.
Desian sluggishly opened and closed his eyes.
He was outside of the duke’s control for the first time.
He didn’t feel bad.
Desian entered the library after his brief chat with Aaron.
He glanced at the neatly organized bookshelves, the tables with signs of use, and the sunlight streaming through the windows.
His feet led him to the shelf with the book he was looking for.
It was his first time in the library since childhood.
Actually, his memory was blurry.
The only thing that was clear was the recent past and the present.
Desian began to read through the titles with languid eyes.
His mouth twisted at the sight.
The level was extremely infantile.
Besides, he had already mastered black magic.
‘It’s just…not a useful book.’
Walking slowly past several books, he stopped in front of a particular bookshelf.
He didn’t need help with magic, but…he was interested in this bookshelf.
Desian slowly opened the second book about emotional expression.
Human Emotional Expression?
He leaned against the bookshelf and began reading about a novel topic for Desian.
He slowly flipped through the thick volume.
He didn’t know how many minutes passed.
Desian absorbed the contents of the book.
It stated there were many ways one could like someone.
The interest of the person could range from a light affection to deep love.
‘So to like someone is to have affection for them?’
Desian finally had a definition for his feelings.
However, it was not a perfect explanation.
His feelings for Citrina, they were a little more affectionate
‘…to put it another way, it’s more of a heated feeling.’
Something like the summer heat when he first met her.
Soon, Desian’s gaze stopped further down on the page.
A sentence had caught his attention.
Everyone has boundaries.
They show interest to those inside of their circle and are indifferent to those outside of the circle.
It was an easy to understand concept for him who was indifferent to most everyone.
The contents of the book were really interesting for something left in the abandoned annex.
Desian skimmed through a few more pages of the book.
Soon more interesting content appeared.
“The most obvious way to show affection is… ”
What was this?
“…normally, to smile brightly.”
Desian read out loud.
There was an illustration next to it titled, ‘Laughter, Smile’.
It depicted a person with the corners of their mouth raised.
Aaron’s expression that day had looked the same.
When Aaron smiled, Citrina smiled back at him.
So did the two of them have feelings for each other?
Desian’s face twisted subtly for a moment.
‘Is this a smile?’
A way to show your likable, to smile.
He couldn’t tell the subtle differences in other people’s feelings, but he was beginning to understand happiness.
Those joyous feelings were too far away from his way of thinking.
‘But it feels like the fog has lifted a bit.’
He walked away from the bookshelf with the book in hand.
It was a good thing Toloji had not given him the last potion.
Unlike others, Desian did not really know what affection was.
And he had never learned how to smile to express affection.
Therefore it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
That was Desian’s method.
To face something directly.
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