Chapter 11: Shhh (2)
Asena came one step closer as if urging me to answer her.
She said so many things behind my back, so why did she want to eat with me now? I was so confused.
“…I didn’t eat yet.”
Once they heard my answer, Keirsey ran around me and got on my back.
Wrapping her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck, she spoke.
“Then why are you in the room alone? Why didn't you find us?”
But unknowingly my eyes were only glued to Asena.
The situation was so incomprehensible that I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
Should I ask why did you say that? Do you really hate me? Since when were you acting and why are you coming again now?
But I questioned myself instead.
What difference would asking such questions make?
Would it make me feel at ease if Asena said that was a lie? Somewhere in my heart, the gossip she spat out in my absence would be considered the truth.
And what if she admitted she hated me? Would it really change anything? It wouldn't.
She would still have to act as she always did and I would have to play along if I didn't want to let others nobles catch our relationship and use it to harm Prysters.
And I honestly didn't want such a thing to happen.
As I grew older, I learned that even if I listened to behind-the-scenes stories, I had to pretend I didn’t hear them if I didn't want to fight.
And in this case, it wouldn't just affect one or two people if I messed up.
If other nobles used our fight against Prysters, hundreds of people working in Pryster’s castle alone, and tens of thousands of people in Pryster state, would be affected as well.
It was not that my life was at stake.
So was it right to put that many at risk just by being a little offended?
“…Oppa?… Why do you look like that?”
My lips trembled.
As much as the head was complicated, the body was also confused.
I didn't know if I should ask or not.
I walked closer to Asena while carrying Keirsey.
Asena didn’t step back either.
I looked at her expression… I stroked her head.
“Sorry, the class was so hard, I took a break and fell asleep.”
I made a decision.
Even if Asena hated me… I still liked her.
So I didn't want to throw her into some kind of political game.
I decided to hide everything.
I decided to pretend I didn't know anything to not break the current peace.
“Uh? Oppa, me too.”
Keirsey came down from my back and stood next to me.
I chuckled and ruffled Keirsey's hair as well.
Asena said disgruntled.
“..Tell me next time.”
“I'm sorry, okay? Relax your face, when other people see it, they think it’s a stone statue.”
I pinched her cheeks and played with them.
But I wondered if she hated these light jokes.
Now, every action was caught in the jaws of the mind… but this was how I was.
It was not like I could hide my true self or remove the habits ingrained in my body.
…After that, I quietly shut my mouth and only responded to Keirsey's questions.
I didn’t ask for anything in the end.
There was no need to ask questions and break the relationship.
If she hated me, if she never thought of me as her brother, if she was uncomfortable, I just had to quietly walk away.
It was just a matter of reducing the behavior that made her uncomfortable little by little.
But only I…
needed to know.
✧ ✧ ✧
The next morning, I got up with a heavy body.
It felt like putting on layers of clothes and pouring water on them.
The reason was, of course, because of Asena’s words.
I acted as if nothing had happened in front of her, but my insides were rotten.
That’s why I couldn't sleep properly, and no matter how much my heart cried for rest today, I had to go to class.
It had only been two days since I started my academy life.
There was no way I could get a high rating if I began to miss classes already.
So I mechanically completed my morning routine.
Opening the bathroom door I came out.
Eric was sitting on the sofa, drinking a cup of tea.
“Hyung-nim, are you awake?”
Unlike me, he was already wearing the academy uniform…
He was still as serious and punctual as shown in the novel.
On the other hand, I had nothing prepared; I was barefoot in comfy pants.
That was all.
I was not even wearing a shirt.
Though considering I just took a bath, it was normal.
His eyes swept me up and down.
“…Hyung-nim, you need to prepare quickly.”
His eyes glared at me suspiciously.
Then I made eye contact with Eric.
He had a worried face.
Now I understood why the girls in the novel always stuck close to him.
Eric had the kind of personality anyone would want to share their difficulties with him.
But I was not ready to talk about it yet.
“Then, I will leave first.”
Eric greeted me, put away the teacup, opened the door, and left.
Just as I was about to go into my room to wear my uniform, Eric’s voice echoed from the outside.
“Uh? What are you doing?”
I did not enter the room but looked at the dormitory door.
“Eric, what’s wrong?”
Eric’s head stuck out of the opened door.
“Hyung-nim, put on your clothes- ah.
It doesn’t matter because it’s family, right?”
And as soon as he finished speaking, Asena appeared.
I was startled.
But I was not the only one who reacted this way.
Asena, who was always calm, seemed to be surprised as well.
Her confident steps stopped, and her eyes were fixed on me; Exactly on my bare upper body.
In fact, I seldom showed her my naked body.
Although we were like family, we never crossed a certain line.
Maybe it was because of my stereotype that nobility should always maintain dignity.
So after becoming an adult, perhaps, it was the first time that she saw me like this.
Asena’s mask was broken, and her cheeks were dyed red.
I turned and scratched my head.
To be honest, it was still difficult to see her face.
“Are you here alone?”
I didn’t get it.
“Are you here alone?”
“I left early because I had work.
She might've gone to the class”
“I see…” I said.
Can you keep coming to my room like this?”
“I'm in the student council.
Simple rules can be twisted.”
“…and again, it’s family.
Everyone will understand.”
The word family once again shook my heart.
The questions I wanted to ask filled my throat.
So what were those words yesterday? Why did you spit such painful words when I wasn’t there? What did you mean you never took me as your brother?
After hearing such things, I couldn’t believe that Asena had come to me for no reason.
Before, a simple reason to see each other's face was enough… but now it was not.
I went into my room to get dressed.
Asena also followed and stood at the door.
“…So why, Asena?”
“Isn’t it because you have something you want to say in the morning?”
I pretended not to care, pretended to be natural, and wore clothes one by one, but all my nerves were on her.
“…It was a bit difficult to meet yesterday, so let’s make an appointment for today.
If nothing happens in the future, let’s keep it that way.
Have you seen the fountain near the political science department, Oppa?”
“Let’s meet there after the afternoon class.”
I get it.”
I also struggled to hide my feelings and answered dryly.
In the strange silence that continued once more, I made eye contact with her.
“…Oppa, what’s wrong?”
There were many things wrong.
One of them was that I felt like I was going crazy.
But, of course, nothing came out of my mouth.
All the words disappeared like a mirage like the effort I put in, and what came out instead, “Nothing…”
After finishing the final tidying up, I brushed off my clothes.
The Pryster's family pattern on the shoulders – two snakes on each side – felt abnormally heavy today.
Suddenly, Asena approached and stood in front of me.
Naturally, she reached out and touched my clothes that had already been organized.
Shaking my shoulders slightly, sweeping the collar once, she said.
“…Oppa, your tie is crooked.”
She grabbed my tie with a firm expression.
With skillful hands, she aligned the tie in the center, then stopped.
As if it was enough, she stopped acting and looked into my eyes.
This time, I did not avoid her and made eye contact with her.
Soft black hair that went down to her back, two sharp eyes, and a stiff face, still, Asena Pryster was more beautiful than any other woman I had ever seen.
In this room with only the two of us, we looked into each other’s eyes for a long time.
For a moment, I felt a force.
Asena used my tie as a leash and pulled me.
It was a familiar action.
I stopped her lips with my finger as she approached my cheeks.
I could feel the soft touch on my fingertips.
As if I wanted no more fake affection, I unconsciously made a sign to be quiet, by pressing her lips with my index finger.
Asena opened her closed eyes and looked at me in confusion.
“It’s fine today.”
It was the first time in the past 10 years, I stopped Asena from expressing her affection.
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