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    Translated by Translated by alyalia
    Edited by Edited by popcorn


     

    “…It’s only a temporary measure, so wash up properly before leaving.”

     

    Cersinia panicked when she faced his unexpected sincerity, but she didn’t show it as much as she could. As he looked at her anxiously, she spoke calmly to him, “I’m not going anywhere.”

     

    “…Yes. Then excuse me for a moment.”

     

    Ben seemed afraid of being rejected and thrown out by Cersinia again. He was not going to leave, and after hearing her confirmation, she saw that his body was moving, so Cersinia’s prediction was correct. She made sure he was heading to the bathroom, and then she headed to the kitchen.

     

    The heavy rain showed no sign of stopping and was pouring harder. Cersinia was supposed to ask about what happened with a cup of tea to warm up when Ben came out. As she grabbed the kettle and tried to light the fire, she turned around at the sound of something falling.

     

    A uniform fell in front of the bathroom door right across from the kitchen. It looked like Ben had taken it off to wash up. Cersinia picked up the uniform soaked with water. If she hung it in front of the fireplace, it would dry quickly. As she unfolded the dark red uniform dripping with water, a gorgeous pattern embroidered with gold caught her eyes. The pattern connected with a serpentine curve represented three symbols. Two snakes stand upright on both sides of the lion’s face with its mouth open as if roaring. She felt something familiar with the pattern.

     

    “This is my first time seeing it, but why does it look so familiar?”

     

    It was a unique pattern that couldn’t be easily forgotten once you saw it. The forgotten memory soon rose to the surface.

     

    “Why is this…!” Cersinia’s mouth opened automatically in surprise.

     

    ‘Why is this pattern embroidered on Ben’s uniform?’

     

    Her fist, grabbing the uniform, trembled.

     

    “Cersinia.”

     

    Just in time, she turned roughly in the voice heard from behind her back. Ben, who had just washed up, was approaching, shaking his wet hair with a towel. He couldn’t dry his hair properly because he was in a hurry to come out. The clothes she handed him looked like they fit well, although she could still look at his muscular silhouette. Ben couldn’t see anything in Cersinia’s eyes. 

     

    “Are you cold?”

     

    He seemed to have misunderstood that she was standing in front of the fireplace because she felt cold. She pushed the uniform in her hand to Ben as she approached with a worried face. Her face had hardened in an instant.

     

    “Who are you!”

     

    At her sudden question, Ben looked at her as if he didn’t understand her question.

     

    “Cersinia?”

     

    “What is your identity!”

     

    “What do you mean by that?”

     

    “Why is this pattern on your clothes!”

     

    At the moment, Ben’s face hardened. At that reaction, Cersinia’s eyes narrowed. Her anxiety grew more and more at Ben’s attitude, who was like a person caught doing something bad.

     

    She had never actually seen this pattern before, but she knew it well through the description. Two snakes stand upright on both sides of the roaring lion. One of the close friends of the crown prince, and the pattern of the family who made the first contribution on catching Cersinia, the villainess in the original novel.

     

    “Why is the pattern of Grand Duke Shorevarce on your uniform!”

     

    Ben’s eyes, completely frozen, lost their way and wandered, perhaps caught off guard.

     

    Cersinia recalled the scene in the square yesterday. Ben, in dark red uniform, walked leisurely among the men in blue uniform. In the novel, the Grand Duke is called the Dark Red Lion in the Empire. A vicious figure who had no mercy, took the life of his own father, and seized power. The figure of that person, who was well known for being cruel and cool-headed, kept overlapping with Ben, who was standing in front of her.

     

    ‘It doesn’t make sense…’

     

    He was a slave she brought as collateral three years ago. He who was always smiling brightly and worried about her body rather than his own.

     

    ‘He is the Grand Duke of Shorevarce…’

     

    She can’t believe Ben was the same person as Grand Duke, who killed his own father. It doesn’t make sense. However, how can she deny it when Ben looked at Charles with angry eyes in the square yesterday? He who pulled out his sword and roared wildly as if he had to cut Charles’s throat right away.

     

    ‘Maybe he really killed his father…’ Cersinia looked at Ben, struggling to deny her assumptions about him.

     

    Ben’s lips didn’t open like they were stuck by glue. He wanted to say something, but only his fists were clenched with his head bowed like a numb person. Silence fell between the two of them as he didn’t open his mouth for a while.

     

    ‘Why didn’t he say anything?’

     

    ‘Does it really mean that Ben is the Dark Red Lion?’

     

    Cersinia broke the silence to confirm about it.

     

    “Ben. What is your relationship with this family?”

     

    She was afraid of his answer, but she had to ask. Deep darkness fell on his face.

     

    “Cersinia… I will explain.”

     

    It was a moment when her doubts turned into certainty. Cersinia was stunned by the tingling feeling as if she had been beaten in the back of her head.

     

    “Why are you..”

     

    Looking at her, muttering like she was out of her mind, he distorted his face with nervousness.

     

    ‘How on earth did Cersinia know about it? And how much does she know?’ Sweat dripped into his clenched fists.

     

    “Cersinia…”

     

    Ben carefully approached Cersinia.

     

    “…Your name. What is your real name?”

     

    Cersinia faltered as he approached and stepped back. Ben’s heart sank as Cersinia stepped back as if running away from him. He stopped at a distance that could not be narrowed down when approached. Ben, looking at her bewildered face, was desperate.

     

    “Tell me your real name!”

     

    Despite his mournful face, her voice was determined.

     

    “My name is always Ben and…”

     

    Ben caught his breath for a moment. As if there was a thorn in his throat, his throat stinging, making it difficult for him to speak. After a moment of silence, he spoke again with difficulty.

     

    “…I’m also Alexdemikan Shorevarche,” His voice was split at the end because it was painful for him to speak.

     

    ‘Yes, that was the name of that person.’

     

    Alexdemikan Shorevarche. A person who killed his father and took the position of the Grand Duke. The close friend of the crown prince, who captured Cersinia and dragged her in front of the crown prince. As a result, Cersinia’s neck was cut off by the crown prince’s hand.

     

    ‘That person is Ben. How can this happen?’

     

    The novel never stated that the Grand Duke was a slave. It was only described that he changed into a ruthless personality because he had a past.

     

    ‘I wonder if his past was too big to explain in one sentence…’

     

    She had no idea how the hell things were going. Her legs trembled at the big truth she suddenly faced. She wanted to lean on somewhere right away, so she staggered toward the chair in front of the fireplace.

     

    “Cersinia! Are you okay?”

     

    He was surprised and quickly approached her. His long, hard hand grabbed Cersinia’s arm. Cersinia flinched at his sudden touch. The cold sensation from his hands was being delivered to her skin. Cersinia’s gaze was fixed on his hands that made her shiver to the bone.

     

    ‘He killed his father with those hands…’

     

    Her spine felt cold. She got goosebumps on her arm that was held by Ben. She felt scared and unfamiliar. Ben didn’t seem like the person she knew.

     

    “I can do it myself…” Cersinia pushed his hand out of frustration and approached the chair.

     

    Do you hate me?” Ben muttered, looking down at his hands left in the air. Cersinia’s attitude, which was startled and refused to be touched by him, made his heart feel torn to pieces.

     

    “What?”

     

    She sat in the chair with difficulty and widened her eyes, startled by his unexpected words.

     

    “Cersinia.”

     

    Ben strode forward and knelt down on one knee in front of Cersinia.

     

    “You don’t need me anymore?”

     

    Cersinia was surprised by Ben’s sudden approach and leaned back. His wet hair smelled like soft soap. The scent that tickled the tip of her nose was the same smell as her. She opened her mouth, clearing her confused mind.

     

    “Why are you saying that?”

     

    It wasn’t a matter of good or bad. She was just surprised to find out Ben’s identity and couldn’t believe what he had done.

     

    “Please don’t push me away.”

     

    Ben wrapped his fingertips on Cersinia’s knees very carefully. There was no corner where neither his voice nor his eyes were anxious. She felt uncomfortable with his eyes, as if she had hurt him.

     

    “It was because I was surprised. It didn’t mean anything.”

     

    “I’ll explain everything. I-” his low voice was cut off without creating a complete sentence. He only moved his neck but couldn’t speak more.

     

    “Did you already know all about it? Could it be that you deceived me?”

     

    “No. A-Absolutely not.”

     

    An urgent voice popped out between Ben’s lips. His eyes were determined as if there were no lies.

     

    “Then why didn’t you come back that day? Why did you disappear without a word?”

     

    Cersinia brought up what she wanted to ask the most throughout the three years. It’s already been three years since she didn’t know why Ben did that.

     

    “It was three years ago that I learned about my birth.”

     

    He struggled to get words out.


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