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My Male Lead Became Fierce (5)
I pressed my lips together firmly and focused on Adele’s hand, which felt solid and reliable. Adele didn’t ask me if something had happened. He just listened to what I said and helped me put things into perspective.
As the world slowly settled into darkness, a maid informed Adele that another visitor had arrived at the Duke’s residence. Adele relayed the message to me with an expression that seemed both surprised and slightly bemusement.
“It seems Lord Oscar is here.”
I finished tying up my long hair and raised my head.
He had come to see me, so it was obvious that I should go meet him… but I was worried that he might be angry at me.
I glanced over at Adele. He gave me a reassuring smile.
“I… I’ll go.”
I let my hair down again and headed downstairs. Perhaps intending not to come inside, my brother was waiting for me just in front of the main gate.
Seriously, whenever he got scolded and he stared down at our father while talking back, his height was enough to win him an extra smack.
Adele should be about the same height once he’s finished growing, right?
My brother was visibly relieved when he saw that I didn’t look much different than normal.
“You left early this morning, but I heard that you would be late…”
My brother was making an extremely awkward expression. As far as I knew, today was the first time he had come out to get his younger sister.
“You haven’t opened the present I gave you yet, have you?”
Why is he talking about a present all of a sudden?
I remembered the small box that he had given me when he had returned home.
I kept it stored away under my desk.
“It’s only natural for you to be upset because of everything you’ve gone through. Well, it’s not like I’m blameless either, but I just wanted to tell you that our parents aren’t avoiding you.”
My brother’s tone of voice was very careful and controlled, but the way he faced me was a bit clumsy.
“All of the effort you’ve put in… we’ll return it and more. So, don’t worry.”
He drew in a sudden, resolute breath and hugged me.
“I’m sorry! I’m really sorry!”
My brother was so tall that I was practically buried in his embrace. My face was on fire.
“O-okay. I get it, so can you let go of me?”
Gahhhhh. How embarrassing! What the heck is this cringey feeling?!
Although I wasn’t the only one who was overcome with awkwardness.
“Just a sec. I still haven’t decided what expression I should be making.”
My brother was already regretting his actions.
“It’s the same for me!”
I shoved him away. He was flushed scarlet to the tips of his ears and my face was ablaze like a fireball.
Do all hugs between family members give off this kind of weird feeling? I mean, it’s full of affection and love and it’s touching, but it’s making my skin crawl a little…
“It was nice of you to try to comfort me.”
I tried to return his sincerity. My brother frowned intensely.
“I think I’m going to break out in hives. Why is my whole body itching like this?”
It’s not just you!
I-I don’t have the courage to look behind me…
Making the decision was easy. I caught hold of my brother, who was about to run off without me.
“So, you came here to pick me up?”
“It would be nice to go back together, but I’m not going to force y-”
I cut him off mid-sentence.
“Let’s go back right now.”
“I’m too embarrassed. I can’t face Adele.”
An expression of perfect comprehension flashed across my brother’s face.
“At least you have your back to the residence. If you could see what I’m looking at right now, you’d be shocked. I think all of the servants have come outside to watch us.”
“Ack! Let’s go!”
I left my brother behind, darted straight towards the carriage, and then hid inside.
After some time, he followed me into the carriage. We didn’t speak a word until we arrived at the Count’s residence.
How can he be so embarrassed from just one hug?!
The awkward silence between us remained even as we alighted from the carriage. I stealthily put some distance between me and my brother.
“I-I’m going to go upstairs to sleep now. My bed is really tired.”
“Me too. My closet is calling me.”
We parted ways while babbling nonsense to each other.
Just as I had decided to shut myself away in my bedroom, Ilina came running in.
“Miss! I heard that you shared a touching embrace with the Young Master.”
“Why does gossip travel so quickly?!”
Ignoring my distorted expression, Ilina became overcome with sentimental emotions.
“I was deeply moved. Maybe I’ll be able to see it one day too?”
Ugghhh. I groaned while opening the box that my brother had given me. Inside of the box there was a long, thin piece of cloth with a design that was reminiscent of butterfly wings. The fabric was of the highest quality. Delicately woven from only the finest goat hair, it was as light and soft as down feathers. It seemed like it would melt away if I held it in my hand.
“It’s a hair ornament.”
Laid out, it looked just like a blue cloth with a black pattern. But when it was tied up, it formed butterfly wings as if by magic. The back, which hadn’t been dyed with the same brilliant blue color, was almost like cryptic coloration or camouflage.
Scanning around us, Ilina picked something up from off of the floor.
“Miss, the note fell out.”
Ilina and I simultaneously peered at the contents of the unfolded note. There was just a single line.
<I’ll make sure to buy one next time.>
Ilina, who grasped the situation faster than I did, marveled openly at the note.
“My goodness! The Madam must have made this herself! Although there are a few sloppy parts remaining here and there, it’s been finished up so splendidly that you wouldn’t notice them unless you examined it closely. Additionally, the cloth has such a pretty color. I think it will suit you quite well, Miss.”
I examined the hair tie again.
A section that seemed to have been stitched twice caught my eye. There was no way that my mother, who possessed the same cursed hands that I did, could have embroidered so perfectly.
“It looks like Mother made it and Father, who couldn’t bear to look at it, helped fix it up, doesn’t it?”
Ilina couldn’t disagree.
“No wonder we haven’t received a letter recently. The Master and Madam must have worn their hands to the bone.”
The reason I hadn’t received a letter of reply back suddenly dawned on me.
You’ve got to be kidding me!
I grabbed the hair tie and ran to my brother’s bedroom.
I rapped forcefully on his door. My brother greeted me with a look of annoyance.
“Didn’t we decide not to see each other until the collapse of mankind?”
“Stop spouting crap! Why didn’t you tell me that this was from our parents?!”
That! Wasn’t! Fair!!! You’re brainlessly carefree!
“I didn’t say it was a gift that I prepared, did I?”
“Argh! Go die!”
Give me back the time I spent struggling over this!
“You’re so mean! Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for our parents to reply to me?!”
My brother fled into his bedroom.
“How could you hit me over and over again?”
“Stop whining! How could you even call yourself my brother?!”
I grabbed a pillow and smacked him twice before plopping down, completely exhausted. Perhaps still having the vestiges of a working conscience left, my brother just took the hits.
I hate my stamina!
Depressingly, it was even harder than usual to move around when I was highly emotional.
After glaring at my brother for a moment, I held out the hair tie.
“Here. Do it.”
He seemed afraid that I might strangle him with the hair tie. I forced the hair tie into his hand.
“I need to try it on to see if it suits me.”
“I asked you, didn’t I?”
I won’t listen to any arguments!
“I get it, so stop glaring at me. Something is going to come shooting out of your eyes like that.”
He moved behind me as I sat in a chair and carefully touched my hair.
Even though his fingers fumbled quite a bit, after 10 minutes my brother finally managed to tie my hair up.
“Is this how to do it?”
Leaving him with his uncertainty, I ran over to the mirror. My hair wasn’t half bad. If I insisted that my hair was naturally a bit messy, 5 out of 100 people would probably believe me.
“It’s really pretty.”
I muttered quietly under my breath.
My brother asked in amazement, “Do you like it that much?”
“Huh? Oh, I was talking about my face.”
Like a shot, my brother flung his door open and shouted out to my exclusive maid in a loud voice.
“Ilina! Anastasia is asleep on her feet!”
I was just telling the truth!