“Alicia, what’s wrong with your eye” Duke-Sama asks while looking at me hard.
At his words and tone, the atmosphere suddenly turns serious.
Hm We just met after all this time and that’s the first thing he says to me …Though, I guess if I were him, I’d be quite curious about that as well.
“Nothing,” I say, forcing a smile.
“Don’t even bother trying to fool me.”
Perceptive blue eyes cut into mine.
In a mere moment, I feel myself trembling slightly under his gaze.
Somehow, in the years that we’ve been apart, it seems his innate authority and consequence have become even more impressive than before.
If I were to lie, I’m sure I’d be found out instantly.
“I gave it to someone else,” I say brightly, keeping my smile firmly in place.
Duke-Sama’s eyes widen.
Even Mel’s off-kilter grin becomes stiff as she stares at me in shock.
“What’s that mean! Huh!”
The first one to break the silence is Mel.
The surprise raises her already high-pitched voice by another octave, making my ears ring as if something had exploded right next to my head.
“I mean exactly what I said.
I gave my–….” I start to explain one more time but in that instant, Duke-Sama reaches out and touches my face with his hand.
Somehow, although his fingertips only barely brush over my cheek, they give on an impression of unmistakable strength….
They are gentle, but insistent.
I can’t help but slowly raise my head to look up into his face.
At his expression, I can feel my smile finally faltering.
….Pure, unadulterated fury.
It’s like I’m looking into the face of an enraged demon.
Duke-Sama’s stern, grim eyes glare into mine like he wants to devour me.
I’ve seen a lot of angry expressions aimed at me before, but this is the first time I’ve seen such an expression on him.
“Why Why would you do that” he demands.
His voice is deceptively calm and whisper quiet, but it causes goosebumps to break out all over my skin….
He’s completely infuriated.
His mood feels like a tangible presence, stifling and oppressive.
I feel like I can’t even speak.
The pressure is unimaginable.
I’m ashamed to admit, but a trickle of fear instinctively flickers through me as I stand there staring up into his raging eyes.
Both Gilles and Mel seem shocked by Duke-Sama’s demeanor as well.
“Do you have any idea how I felt watching over you for all these years Ever since you were little, I watched you act the role of a villain because I knew how much it meant to you.
As long as you were in good health and happy, I….” Duke-Sama suddenly stops speaking.
The anger that had been burning behind his eyes fizzles out and disappears completely now.
Heart-wrenching sadness surges in to take its place.
A suffocating misery so profound that it looks like he’s drowning in it.
He knew that I was acting like a villainess….
Considering it’s Duke-Sama, I guess that fact isn’t entirely surprising.
But, for him to admit it so easily…!
“….I don’t recall ever asking you to watch over me.”
Before I can even think, the lowest, most dreadful words are coming out of my mouth.
I know very well that I might come to regret them for the rest of my life, and yet they still pour out of me, cold and unfeeling.
As a villainess….
surely this is the sort of line I should deliver here.
After all, it’s a villainess’s job to hurt and maim those around her with merciless spite.
But, for the first time ever, such a thought doesn’t bring me joy.
I’ve taken one step closer to becoming a villainess, so why is it that my heart hurts so much
If this is the true road to achieving my goal, then it’s thornier and more painful than even I had imagined it to be.
I apologize for the intrusion then,” Duke-Sama says.
His lips are plainly arched up in a smile, but his eyes show just how much my words hurt him.
….It’s the first time I’ve seen him make an expression like that.
really do regret saying that.
My heart aches.
I would do anything to take my words back.
However, it’s impossible to unsay something that’s already been said.
Softly, very softly, he lets his fingertips fall from my face.
Then, without so much as another look in my direction, he turns around and walks away.
I don’t say anything.
I just stare blankly as his back retreats farther and farther away from me.
I can’t get that expression of his out of my mind.
I truly never thought there would come a day when I’d regret something I said in good faith as a villainess.
But here it is.
This is what I get for not stopping to think before I blurt out whatever evil lines first come to mind.
My words feel like impossibly heavy chains weighing me down like I’m some criminal that committed countless atrocities.
The villainess that I so desperately aspired to become….
isn’t someone like this.
“Ali-Ali, tell me the truth….
Are you secretly an idiot Cause that was just cruel,” Mel says, glaring at me.
She spoke in the lowest, quietest voice that I’ve heard her use today.
And her words hit me right where it hurts, like a sucker-punch to the gut.
They nearly knock the wind out of me.
It feels like she kicked me while I was already down.
Because I know! I’m already painfully aware of just how detestably I acted.
But when I try to explain this to her, the words refuse to leave my lips.
It’s been two whole years since I last spoke to someone! I didn’t know what I was supposed to do! I don’t know how I’m supposed to act anymore!
I want to scream until she understands, but nothing comes out.
And that’s because, deep down, I know that those are just shallow excuses that do nothing to actually absolve me from my vicious behavior.
Voicing such immature thoughts is beneath me and I will at least not stoop to that level today.
There are too many thoughts racing through my head now.
Too many emotions flooding me until I don’t know what to think or feel anymore.
But there is one overarching theme that keeps repeating itself in my mind.
My character has morphed into something hideous.
Not a dignified villainess, I’ve just become a terrible person.
For the first time since my seclusion began, I’m afraid that I’ve forgotten how to act and interact with people as a fellow human being.