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My Male Lead was Building up an Impenetrable Wall (2)
“Were you… very worried?” I asked in a shy voice.
My rationality became muddled at the sight of Adele wrapped in the dusky blue light of dawn.
Ah! Get it together!
“I was told that there was nothing wrong with your body and that you had simply accumulated some fatigue, but I was still worried.”
Adele, who had no idea what was going on in my head, innocently poured his heart out to me.
Ugh. Conscience, hurry up and start working. Or actually, not just yet, but in a few minutes…
“Sorry for worrying you.”
“You don’t look even slightly apologetic. Anastasia, were you aware that you’re making an extremely strange expression right now?”
“I really am sorry! At least half…!”
I made a single protest for the sake of courtesy, then immediately changed the subject.
“Are you glad I woke up?”
“You’re asking something obvious.”
“Are you happy?”
“As long as you are safe, yes.”
In the quiet stillness of my room only Adele’s voice could be heard clearly. He had probably taken a bath recently since I could smell the faint scent of cologne on him. It was a cool and refreshing fragrance, but for some reason my head was filled with indecent thoughts.
While I dithered before my true objective, Adele smiled at me as if to say it was fine to ask more questions. His crimson irises, like dawning stars, stood out distinctly in his limpid eyes. I couldn’t control my heart rate. The inside of my mouth was completely dry. Even though nothing special was happening, I felt restless and light-headed like I was gambling. I managed to pry my mouth open once more.
“That is… you know… if you don’t mind…”
I screwed my eyes shut.
“Will you hug me?”
I… I said it!
When I cautiously cracked my eyes open, Adele was staring back at me. I was about to die of nervousness.
“O-o-only if you don’t mind.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have said that? Should I have held back?
It was all well and good to have plucked up my courage, but I was hit with a sudden surge of embarrassment.
Adele had never once hugged me for the sole purpose of showing affection. He just wouldn’t push me away when I hugged him. Of course, I wouldn’t dream of asking for more.
Although if Adele wouldn’t do more than hold hands with me purely out of politeness, then I was more than willing to confess how wicked and cunning I could be.
A simple answer suddenly arrived.
“Well then, please excuse me.”
Before I could process what was happening, Adele approached and folded me in the lightest of embraces. One of his arms was a hair’s breadth away from wrapping around my back. Far from being able to feel his firm chest, I couldn’t even feel his shirt.
Adele started to draw back as though he thought that was enough.
No! Don’t let go already! Just a little more!
Anxious, I clung on to him.
“Just a bit m… AHH!”
I hadn’t launched myself towards him with much force, but Adele, who had been about to step back, tripped and lost his balance. He fell onto the bed and in the ensuing chaos I came down with him.
My snowy-white duvet received us gracefully. I raised my head to see Adele pinned beneath me, my hair cascading over him.
I can hold myself back.
Like an intellectual who lives in a highly civilized society, I can hold myself… back…
Possibly reading my dubious mood through my expressions, Adele pushed me to the side as carefully as he could and got up.
“I should take my leave now.”
“… Um? Huh?”
As if not wanting to hear my reply, Adele vaulted out of the window.
My heart sank with a thud.
I was just rejected, right? Right?
Am I being branded as a total pervert?!
But even if I am, it’s weird to go that far just to run away from me, isn’t it?! It’s like he was scared to death!
In a state of panic, I roamed the mansion looking for my brother. He would give me a more impartial assessment of my situation than Ilina would.
My brother, who had been about to enter his room, heard me calling and came out into the hallway.
“Seems like you woke up just fine. Do you have any idea how worried I was?”
Cutting straight to the chase, I asked about the most important thing first.
“Do I stink?”
My brother sidestepped around me, sticking to the wall.
“I guess you’re still out of it…”
“It took two days for me to wake up, but I brushed my teeth and I scrubbed my face clean! I even styled my hair! So… Why?!!”
Was it an issue of taking a bath? Should I have shed all of my skin off?! If I had, then maybe Adele wouldn’t have run away so desperately!
I let out my pent up frustration as my brother looked on in pity.
“You woke up at dawn alone and bursting with energy, huh? Come on, Anna. I guess I’m in charge of entertaining you.”
My brother asked Ilina to bring my favorite snack and then led me to his study. Although, to be honest, it was so empty that I wondered if it could really be called a study.
The unique, woody smell of the bookshelves soothed my chaotic emotions somewhat. I stared blankly at my brother as he carelessly flopped down on the sofa that seemed to be there purely for the sake of convenience.
“Oppa, have you ever been in a relationship?”
Even though the question came out of nowhere, my brother answered well.
“Everyone knows my standards are sky-high since I have a younger sister who is so beautiful. And do you think I don’t look at myself in the mirror?”
“Oppa, you don’t look that bad,” I said with a nod.
My brother laughed.
“Thanks for your honest evaluation.”
Ilina brought me some warm milk and a tiny amount of chocolate, then I sat down next to my brother. Unlike our mother, Oscar-oppa didn’t seem to care about my digestive capabilities.
My mood lifted once I’d put some chocolate into my mouth. I pondered whether it would be faster to wait for Adele to come visit me again or to recoup my energy and go see him myself.
“I want to go outside.”
Urgh. I’m dying of restlessness.
I felt suffocated like my body somehow remembered lying in bed for two whole days.
I want to use magic too!
I could only imagine how convenient it would be if I could teleport to any place I wanted to in an instant via magic. Hearing me muttering under my breath, my brother made a suggestion.
“Then how about we go see a play tomorrow? You used to like going to see performances.”
Our parents wouldn’t allow it. And I didn’t really feel like going.
“I’m done just being a spectator. I can actually talk to people in person now.”
My brother’s gaze faltered.
“You jab at someone’s conscience with such a casual expression on your face…”
I popped another piece of chocolate into my mouth and said indifferently, “Oppa, you speak to me pretty normally. Don’t you find me uncomfortable?”
“Uh… well, a bit.”
My brother gazed at me as if he were looking at me anew.
“In the past, for some reason, I used to feel like I shouldn’t look straight at you for too long. Something felt off, like there was some sort of dissonance between your inner self and your outer self.”
That was the impression that everyone had seemed to share. I don’t really know what happened, but everyone stopped feeling that way once I assimilated with Anastasia Sinclair.
“Sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
My brother clicked his tongue in annoyance.
Speaking as though he was willing to accept any blame or criticism from me, he asked, “Do you feel resentment towards me or our parents?”
“Of course. That’s why I’m going to act spoiled and bother you guys as much as I want.”
An extremely strange expression flashed across my brother’s face. I swallowed the chocolate in my mouth, then thrust my face towards him.
“How am I now? How do you feel when you look at me?”
My brother jumped backwards.
“Wait, we’re brother and sister.”
“Don’t spout crap!”
I arched an eyebrow at my brother, who was making an expression as if he’d eaten something rotten. He reached over and wildly mussed up my hair.
“Even if you ask me all of a sudden, I don’t really have any thoughts about it. It’s just… my younger sister is the cutest in the whole world.”
Isn’t that just sweet-talk?
His intentions were questionable, but I decided to make an exception and let it go this one time.
Oscar-oppa really did keep me company all night long. Thanks to that I was able to forget about Adele for a little while.
By morning worries about my father and Duke Friedrich started to sneak in. According to my brother, the Duke hadn’t taken even a single escort with him when he went looking for my family because of the excessive magical power and extra time required to teleport a large group of people. He said that both him and our parents had been struck by how quickly he’d rushed over to them.
My godfather owned so much that he was normally pretty relaxed and easy-going. Even when the Marquis picked a fight with him, he just sort of ignored him. He tolerated some amount of being bothered by other people. But that day he was furious with my father. Asking my father just how old he thought his daughter was, he stated that I was no different from Oscar.
Hearing those words solidified my resolve. I had to talk Kylis around no matter what. I would basically be taking back something I’d given away, but in this case the thing in question was years of my life, so I decided to just be shameless about it.
Our family doctor took a look at me before breakfast. As Adele had said, there were no major issues. Although sadly, I was told that I’d need to be careful about what I ate for the next few days.
It had been a while since the dining room had been so full of life and before I knew it, I started to feel a little excited. My mother was delighted when I told her that I had received private lessons from Adele, but she was only able to appreciate my diligent studying for a brief moment. My mother’s joy was shattered when she discovered that Oscar-oppa hadn’t gone to train even once.
Apparently Oscar-oppa had been scheduled to resume his swordsmanship lessons right after he got back to the Count’s residence. But despite that, I’d never seen him go to the training grounds. Also, it was impossible for me to try to help him since it showed all over my face whenever I lied.
When things began to look bleak, Oscar-oppa made a pretty convincing show of pretending to throw up due to the side effects of teleportation magic and ran away. And with that, breakfast was concluded.
My godfather called out to me in a hoarse voice. While my parents were busily running about, I followed behind Friedrich Magnus, watching him like a hawk.
“Yes, Duke.” I replied innocently.
The Duke didn’t hold back a wry smile.
“I am glad that you woke up safely, but aren’t you being too blatant about trying to take advantage of me?”
I continued to play dumb.
“I-I’m not sticking by your side because of some ulterior motive! It’s purely out of concern for you!”
“It feels like you’re breathing down my neck because it’s nearly time for Adele to arrive.”
Either the Duke was incredibly perceptive or I was incredibly transparent.
I laughed awkwardly.
“Of course I don’t… have that kind of selfish motive! I haven’t even thanked you yet, have I?! Thank you so, so much for bringing my parents back! You’re the second best person in my life!”
I threw my arms around the Duke. I had already decided to act spoiled anyway, so I was going to hug them all until they got sick of it… with the exception of my brother.
Now I also live with my parents! And my godfather’s here too!
The Duke readily gave in to my clumsy ploy.
“There were a few displeasing words in there, but I’ll pretend that I didn’t hear them.”
Mysteriously, the Duke had the ability to pat me on the head without messing up my hair.
I thought it was a coincidence at first, but now I saw that it was a skill.
Ah… I wonder if Adele can do it too.