Home Post 891-chapter-36



The rough yet firm touch against my cheek, the white neckline visible over the pristine fabric, the strong arms enveloping my back.

A crashing sound echoed.

“Uh, wait, Grand Duke, just a moment! Something fell…”

“It’s alright. Getting accustomed is the priority, isn’t it?”

The voice I always thought was always resonating now sounded inexplicably seductive. Was it even appropriate to describe someone’s voice as seductive? Still, I couldn’t think of any other way to express it.

So much so that my body trembled involuntarily.

“Excuse me, uh, Grand Duke, maybe I should move to this side, so, that, maybe it’s better if my leg…”

I tried to find an excuse to escape. Truthfully, my leg was hurting because it was caught against the table.

Then, Enfrise abruptly stood up and approached me.

“I apologize. I lacked consideration.”

“It’s fine, but could you please let go of me… for a moment?”

“Didn’t you say you’d do everything with me? Then, naturally, we must get accustomed to this as well.”

That was a bit of a stretch! When did I ever say we should do this kind of thing together? I meant everyday activities!

“What I meant was eating together, or playing together, things like that…”

“And with whom else would you do this?”


Uh… with… I hadn’t planned on doing this with anyone.

While I was lost in thought, Enfrise, who had come closer, suddenly lifted me up. No, hold on!

“My nails! The polish isn’t fully dry yet!”

“It’s fine.”

“You’ll get your clothes dirty!”

“We can always buy new ones.”

Just like the time he caught me from falling over his shoulder, he held me tightly against him and looked down at me. My view was blocked by Enfrise’s chest and arms, only allowing me to look up. My heart was pounding.

Was it the sound of my heart or Enfrise’s? I pressed against my chest against his as if to check.

Ah, it was my heart.

“Excuse me… Grand Duke.”


“Do we really need to do this?”

“Didn’t you say you’d join me in everything I wished to do?”

Ah, right. I did say that, but I hadn’t thought it would include this. I hadn’t expected such a sudden move from a man who trembles at the slightest touch. And now, it seems like I’m the only one trembling.

“Do you really want to do this with me?”


“But you tremble with just a touch.”

“Even so… I want to be close to you.”

His golden eyes were gently curved. It was like molten gold, swirling and shimmering in a crucible, or perhaps it was filled with moisture.

Either way, it looked incredibly beautiful.

“I’m aware that you find teasing me amusing. And that you have no real feelings for me.”

His large hand approached my face. The fingers trembled slightly and gently pushed away a few strands of hair from my face.

“That’s why I’m scared. I’m afraid that I might… hurt you.”

…A setting I had been ignoring resurfaced.

Right, he was the male lead in a male-oriented novel. In a world where the typical romance-fantasy male lead’s purity was a given, setting the stage for R-rated side stories, he wouldn’t be an exception. He must be holding back a lot.

Could it be, then, that his running away when I played a prank was for that reason? How did he handle it?

Did he comfort himself thinking of me alone? Or…

Wait, hold on.

What was I thinking about? That wasn’t important right now. No matter how cute and well-mannered Enfrise was, he was still a man, and I should recognize that. It was a warning not to be too comfortable with him.

Um, that… a, a little is okay.”

Contrary to what my brain was thinking, my mouth blurted out something entirely different.


Both Enfrise, who intended to issue a warning, and I, who blurted out the words, were taken aback. Bewildered, we just stared at each other, standing in silence.

“What did you just say?”

“What did I just say?”

“Asking me that…”

Enfrise’s arm that was gripping my arm loosened, yet he didn’t let go.

I didn’t want him to.

“Why did I say that, Grand Duke?”

“How… would I know? Are you teasing me again?”

“No. I’ve never teased the Grand Duke. I might have been a bit mischievous, but that wasn’t making up falsehoods. It was all genuine. And the reason I played those pranks was…”

Actually, something had been bothering me.

Was it because I was looking down?

Enfrise’s hair slightly obscured his eyes, casting a shadow. Maybe that was why I spoke without thinking. I reached out to brush aside his dark hair. The hair was darker than mine, even when I was Korean. As deep and dark as an abyss that swallows everything…

And incredibly lovely.

“I did it because I liked your reactions.”

I smiled and withdrew my hand.

Now, it was perfect. With nothing more to bother me, surely I wouldn’t say anything odd.

…Wait, what did I just say?

“Do you… realize I am a man?”

“Yes? You look like a man in every way.”

“Such… lovely words so carelessly, do you know how much they…”

A quivering voice.

It felt like voices could have shapes, too. His voice was like water in a wine glass. When the glass was lightly tapped, the water rippled and splashed, just as his voice seemed to ebb and flow.

“I’ve been holding back so much…”

— Why should I be the only one to endure?

— Do you have any idea how much I’ve endured?!

Suddenly, over his voice, I heard my own and my mother’s voice overlapping.

“I’m… sorry.”

Tears silently roll down my cheeks, slithering like snakes, soaking my hair before dropping down, drip by drip, to the ground.

A steady voice continued.

“If I’ve caused you any distress, regardless of my intentions, I apologize. I won’t do it again.”


I smile at Enfrise and stand up. He lets me go without resistance. After all, he never intended to force anything on me anyway.

“I need to change my clothes. You should wash your hands quickly before the glue sets.”

I move towards the bed and pull the string.


* * *


There was a phrase I detest.

— I did it because I loved you too much. Love isn’t a crime, is it?

— I endured because I love you.

Whenever such lines appeared, I’d close the web novel I was reading. As a result, I didn’t finish a lot of the novels I started.

…Did they understand how much hurt a declaration of love could cause?

That it could bind a person, making them immobile?

— Why do you hate it when someone likes you?

— I wanted to be closer to you, that’s why I did it. It’s not a big deal. Just forgive me.

I couldn’t understand.

Why couldn’t love be considered violence? An unwanted wait can be torture. Why was a gift I never wanted to be considered something for me? Why get angry when I wasn’t happy about being forced into something I never asked for?

And then they say,

— Why don’t you show any vulnerability?

— You look so pitiful walking alone, so I approached you out of pity. Why do you push me away?

— Are you trying to seem unique and hoping guys will like it? You’re quite high and mighty for someone like you.

‘I… like Enfrise.’

He tried to fulfill whatever I wanted. He refrained from doing what I didn’t want and stopped immediately if he did. He didn’t use the name of love to bind me.

He didn’t justify this confinement with love.

This life of confinement was, to me, far more liberating than the chains that once bound me. From the beginning, I wanted to stay here, and I tried not to care about Enfrise.

I thought he wouldn’t pay much attention to me either. Being obedient without resistance. In depraved stories, the more the female lead resists and dislikes, the more the male lead shows obsession and madness. So, I decided to do the opposite.

If I could live in this narrow heaven, what couldn’t I endure?

Enfrise was a means to that end… a means to maintain this heaven. That was why I tried to make a good impression. So, I wanted to maintain a harmonious relationship.

At first, that was all.

And now, I found myself liking Enfrise.

I dared not call it love.

I wanted to see his various faces… His shy face was cute, his inability to look at me directly and his awkwardness were lovely. I enjoyed seeing him swayed by my words. Even knowing he liked me, or rather Chaperil, I did it anyway.

Was this what they call self-loathing? It seemed I belonged to the same species I despised.

The hypocrisy was unparalleled. I despised others for acting this way and thought it strange, yet here I was, doing the same to Enfrise.

…And worse, I knew what I was doing.

It was because he liked me, this should be okay. He’d probably like it, too. Surely, that thought was somewhere in my mind.

Forgetting that he liked ‘Chaperil,’ not ‘me.’


I exhaled a low sigh as I ground the pigment. I didn’t know what it was made of, but it turned as black as ink, just like the color of Enfrise’s hair. The moment I thought that, I found myself pouring the pigment on the glass pane without realizing it.

Did I pour too much oil?

The texture of the paint seems much thinner than what Jaha showed me. Still, I couldn’t give up. I added more pigment and mixed it with the painting knife, trying to make proper paint.

“…It’s okay. It can still be fixed.”

‘I like Enfrise.’

If that was the case, I should suppress my desire to see his various faces and his expressions, and maintain a distance. I, who couldn’t truly become the person he loved.

I, who couldn’t become Chaperil.


Strangely, the paint that had been too thick and troublesome a moment ago now had droplets of water falling onto it. I hadn’t added any oil to it.

Ah, this couldn’t be fixed now. Water had gotten into it.

I sighed lowly and pushed the glass pane aside.