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    Translated by Translated by alyalia
    Edited by Edited by popcorn


     

    Cersinia stared at him as he continued to speak. The distress in his eyes could be easily seen under his furrowed brow, as droplets of water fell from his hair that had just been washed.

     

    ‘He isn’t crying, but why does the flowing water look like tears?’

     

    Maybe it’s because of his anxious eyes.

     

    “Three years ago, the day I disappeared without a word, a man working for the Grand Duke came to see me.”

     

    Ben continued the story slowly, choosing his words carefully. He told her everything but left out the awful parts, not wanting her to worry. Whenever he talked about his old memories, it was difficult for him as his back throbbed the whole time as if remembering the pain. Still, he didn’t show his uneasiness in front of Cersinia. She’ll sympathize with him again if she finds out everything. Therefore, he kept everything to himself and carried the weight of his wounds and darkness.

     

    “…” after hearing about Ben’s story, Cersinia was silent for a while.

     

    So this was Ben’s story. Three years ago, people from the Grand Duchy dragged Ben away, so he couldn’t give words to Cersinia. He said that he lived in the Grand Duchy for three years and received class to become a successor. His father, the Grand Duke, died, and Ben took over the position.

     

    “I should have found you sooner… Everything is my fault.”

     

    Cersinia thought for a moment. 

     

    ‘What was the cause of the Grand Duke’s death?’

     

    The novel explains that Ben killed his father and took the position. She really wondered if it was right, but she couldn’t ask. However, she asked other questions.

     

    “Couldn’t you at least write a letter?”

     

    According to his words, he could not talk about the situation since he was dragged into the Grand Duchy. But why couldn’t he give a single news in the three years? No matter how he was locked up in the Grand Duchy, he should have been able to send at least one letter somehow.

     

    “…Didn’t you get a letter?”

     

    At that moment, a cold voice resonated in the room. There was cold energy coming from his gloomy eyes.

     

    “What?”

     

    “It’s nothing. I’m sorry. It was my fault, I didn’t properly explain it when I saw you.”

     

    Cersinia didn’t give his attitude too much thought, which had briefly changed.

     

    ‘I can’t believe that Ben is really Alexdemikan Shorevarce…’

     

    She couldn’t help but feel disappointed. She worked hard not to live like Cersinia in the original novel, but she met Ben, the person who helped catch Cersinia in the original novel. Even if she was the one who treated and looked after Ben. Cersinia looked down at Ben’s hand, which was still holding hers tightly. When he explained his situation, he had never let go of her hand.

     

    “Okay. I get your situation. Then why did you come back to me?” Cersinia’s voice was a little sharp.

     

    Ben was the intimate force of the crown prince, and he was aware of her power to some extent. She wants to believe that it is not like what she thought, maybe the crown prince started a  search for her earlier than the original story? She had never committed something evil, but he might try to get rid of her for the safety and prosperity of the Empire.

     

    ‘Maybe Ben came to visit me at the command of the Crown Prince.’

     

    A small doubt that couldn’t be ignored, rose in her.

     

    “What do you mean…”

     

    “Did someone tell you to catch me?”

     

    “Who would do that? It’s definitely not like that.”

     

    Cersinia stared straight at Ben with cautious eyes.

     

    “You better not try to hide anything from me, Ben. Then why did you come back to me?”

     

    “…Because we decided to be together.”

     

    “What?”

     

    “Three years ago, we promised to be together at the dock.”

     

    His hot eyes looked straight at her.

     

    ‘Is it a déjà vu?’

     

    Cersinia was stunned for a moment. Three years ago, on the day the cabin was burned, she couldn’t forget the conversation they had at the dock. It’s also the dream she had this morning. Ben asked her to be with him in the heavy rain. But why is the story coming out again? It already has been a long time ago.

     

    “What does that have to do with now?”

     

    “I’ve never forgotten it for a second. Never.”

     

    His eyes shone brilliantly. Cersinia closed her mouth without realizing that it was open in the first place. He looked at Cersinia as if he would swallow her in one bite.

     

    “I want to be with you, Cersinia.”

     

    Hiccup.

     

    Cersinia hiccupped in surprise. It was because Ben suddenly had such a sensual expression on his face. She was a little, no, very surprised by his unexpected words.

     

    “Are you okay?”

     

    His hand stopped in mid-air as it was heading towards Cersinia’s back. He couldn’t get closer to her because she would be more surprised by his touch. He didn’t mean to startle her, but it looks like her hiccups wouldn’t stop easily. Ben was worried about her and wanted to rub her back again until her hiccups stopped, but now he was satisfied with the hands he had laid on her.

     

    Cersinia felt strange. She didn’t know if it was because of deep eyes or his serious face that changed, but there was a subtle tremor in her chest. The feeling was similar to three years ago but a little different. Three years ago, it was not the boy who hid his slender arms and wanted to become a carpenter or the young boy who was shy and blushed, but a man with large hands and arms. When she recognized the fact, she became somehow embarrassed and couldn’t look him in the eyes.

     

    “Cersinia, it’s too dangerous here.”

     

    At his serious tone, she tried to shake off her subtle feelings.

     

    “Why don’t you go to the capital with me?”

     

    “What? The capital?” surprised by the unexpected words, Cersinia asked.

     

    “Didn’t they try to harm Cersinia?”

     

    Chewing his lips and speaking low, Ben’s thoughts wandered to what happened earlier. She was briefly lost in thought as she saw him with an unfamiliar expression.

     

    ‘Can I be sure that he’s really not going to bring me to the Crown Prince?’

     

    She didn’t know. Ben was the close friend of the Crown Prince in the original novel. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Ben three years ago, but things were a little different now. The three years he explained were only rough stories, and there are too many gaps to fully understand what happened three years ago.

     

    ‘Besides, the capital…’

     

    The capital was an alternative that she had never considered.  The Crown Prince was in the capital, the female protagonist too. Cersinia never wanted to get involved with them, so she always lived far away from the capital. She made so much effort to have a life that is different from the original novel… But Ben suddenly wanted her to go all the way into the fire pit? Cersinia shook her head. No matter how she considered it, she couldn’t do that.

     

    “If you want to go, go alone. There’s no reason for me to go with you.”

     

    She couldn’t bring herself to trust him enough to go to the capital with all the risks there. She considered them to be back to the beginning when it came to trust each other since she lost all trust in him three years ago.

     

    “Then I’ll live in this village,” Ben immediately replied, perhaps expecting an answer.

     

    “What?”

     

    ‘What does that mean?’

     

    Every time Ben said something he would catch her off guard, but this one took the awards for the most surprising. Cersinia was expecting him to try and lure her into going to the capital. However, her expectations were washed away as if she got hit by violent waves, because of the shock. If she remembers correctly the Grand Duke never left the capital.

     

    ‘What happens to the story if he really lives in this village?’

     

    As Cersinia hesitated due to confusion, he begged.

     

    “Please allow me to be with you, Cersinia.”

     

    Looking into his yearning eyes, Cersinia clenched the hem of her dress.

     

    ‘After all those years he comes back and says that…What should I do…’

     

    It’s true that he didn’t mean to disappear on her, without a word, like that but she waited for him for so long and he never came back. Yes, she was happy to see him safe and doing well but it didn’t erase how hurt and the disappointment she felt.

     

    “Everything is my fault. I’m sorry.”

     

    Ben apologized with sullen eyes. His broad shoulders were bent helplessly, and his hands which were holding Cersinia’s hands trembled slightly.

     

    “…Cersinia,” his low and desperate voice rang in the quiet room.

     

    “I know too well that I’m shameless. But please don’t disappear without saying anything…please don’t leave me Cersinia…

     

    He was trembling so much as if she would disappear if he let go of her or even blinked. She knew that if she refused, he would fall into a deep darkness that could never be recovered again. That’s why Cersinia couldn’t say anything. She couldn’t ignore his feelings, and she couldn’t turn a blind eye. She felt dizzy…Probably because of how strong the scent of the soap reached the tip of her nose. But she quickly dismissed the feeling.

     

    “…”

     

    She eventually turned her head away from him. She couldn’t give him an answer, but he seemed to be waiting for one, so she felt burdened by it.  And since she hasn’t been able to decide on what she wants to do on her own yet, she just wanted to get out of this place immediately.

     


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