41. As you wish
But, how can fairness be expected from a villain? The grand duke was the type of man that would cover up a foul with another foul.
Atalante, too, was skilled at fouling.
“Forget it, I’m not curious.”
“You’re the one that asked me first, but you’re not curious anymore?”
“…Don’t tease me.”
“How dare I tease you.”
My beloved Atalante.
Lionel added the words that had somehow became a habit, and smiled affectionately while burying his cheek against the back of his hand.
That was definitely a smile that had been eliminated from the previous ‘Selection of Smiling Faces’.
But before Atalante could quibble over the way he was smiling, Lionel was a little faster at requesting for the payment of their deal.
“Now, it’s your turn.”
Atalante glared at the radiant face that caused her insides to throb for a moment, before tucking her tail away while avoiding his gaze.
Although it was quite a pitiful movement, Lionel didn’t seem intent on not questioning her.
“Please tell me why you changed your mind.”
“Like I’d said earlier, just because…”
“I thought that you’ll be answering honestly.”
Don’t you know that in this world, there’s no such thing as ‘just because’.
Lionel added softly, and continued with an earnest look.
“I can have another dress made for you if that’s what you want, something that’ll be to your liking. The only thing that bothers me is……”
As his words trailed off, he stared at the side profile of Atalante, who wasn’t facing him, intently and opened his mouth.
“It’s just that something has made you feel uncomfortable. I need to know what it is that you don’t like, so I won’t make the same mistake again.”
“Stop acting so submissive towards me. It doesn’t suit you in the slightest.”
“Isn’t it natural that the side that likes the other more would assume a submissive attitude?”
Lionel noticed that Atalante hated his way of picking at her words.
She preferred short and clear-cut answers like yes or no.
But for some reason, she didn’t hate the way he kept trying to coax a secret out of her.
“Fine, I’ll tell you.”
In the end, Atalante waved a white flag at his persistent gaze, and sighed as she spoke about the reason she refused to wear that dress.
“You might already know this, but I have a tattoo.”
“Remember the description on the wanted poster. Crimson hair and purple eyes, a slender figure and a large rose tattoo on her back.”
Atalante was merely speaking the truth as it was, but the pattern on her back, which had already been engraved for a long time, seemed to burn hotter.
“I didn’t know it as I had only seen the sketch previously, but when I saw the dress today, the dress has a low-cut back. That’s why I don’t like it.”
As Atalante grumbled, she got out of bed. Her thigh no longer felt sore, perhaps due to his neat treatment skills, so she managed to get up without any problems. Thankfully.
“…Is it because it bothers you?”
Lionel didn’t rise to his feet with her, but looked up at Atalante with an expression of puzzlement.
The grand duke’s gaze seemed to be saying, what’s the problem with that?
A wanted criminal that will make her entrance in debutante under the grand duke of Blanc’s escort. Extravagant clothing and a revealing tattoo that doesn’t fit with the theme.
It was very obvious the kind of attention that Atalante, who would be noticed even if she’s dead, would receive when she appeared in that dress.
“Even if I don’t have the noble status that Your Highness possesses, I know what shame feels like. I know that it’s indecent to engrave something on your body!”
Atalante gritted her teeth and stared down at him with a fierce gaze.
“…Even if I’ve received many disdainful looks and am used to it, it doesn’t mean that nothing has happened.”
It occurred to her belatedly, but she didn’t retract her sanguineous look.
She was going to stay by the grand duke’s side by currying favour with him, but she had actually blown her top at him.
‘No, wouldn’t it be better if he gets sick of me because of this?’
She definitely didn’t blurt her true feelings out to comfort herself. Atalante kept repeating to herself that she was testing the effectiveness of the drug, while holding her breath.
Lionel gazed at her slightly trembling purple eyes for a moment, before slowly rising from his seat.
“I had never thought of it like that.”
Atalante, he added, and looked at her in an upright position.
“Please don’t cry.”
Lionel uttered strange words as his large hand brushed below her eyes.
He rubbed the dry corners of her eyes, which was far from being on the verge of tears and was devoid of moisture, awkwardly several times.
His awkward touch was overly affectionate that non-existent tears were about to pour out.
Atalante’s brows furrowed, and she pushed him away roughly.
“Ah. You looked like you’re about to cry.”
He looked at the arm that was hovering in the air for a moment, before speaking in a low voice while lowering his arm slowly and placed his hands behind his back like he was suppressing something.
“Whether it’s the dress or attendance at the banquet, everything will go according to your wishes.”
“I think I was, uhm, overly excited. I wanted to see you enjoying yourself. To be honest, I was also thinking of winning your favour with what I could do.”
Lionel confessed his innermost thoughts with an awkward smile.
“No matter what the reason was, I apologise for burdening you all because of my greed.”
“So are you saying that it’s fine if I don’t attend the banquet?”
“That’s right. The plan will become a little awry, but I can think of another way.”
Lionel fiddled with his tidy hair needlessly, as if his words about wanting to win her favour with the banquet was sincere.
“It would be a lie if I said that it wasn’t regrettable, but this is already good enough. I was able to stay by your side for a long time under the pretext of preparing for the banquet.”
Atalante just looked at him, forgetting to respond.
As she looked at the face of the grand duke that’s in love, the insides of her heart was ticklish, as if she had swallowed a butterfly.
“More than that, Atalante, I’m glad that you answered my question honestly. Thank you.”
“Please don’t forget this. Everything will go according to your wishes.”
A sweet smile appeared on his face after an endlessly permissive answer was given. With a face that a villain shouldn’t be making.
Of course, Atalante didn’t see it. The vivid impulses that were hidden behind that smiling face.
The veins of the hands that were behind his back became visibly red while trying to suppress his desire to hug her.
“To my wishes…?”
“Yes, just as the words mean literally, you can do everything as per your wishes. To elaborate further, it means that all you have to do is think about yourself.”
Except for you, don’t worry about the dregs.
The grand duke, who had reduced everyone else but Atalante into dregs, bowed his upper body gracefully with his hands on his back.
“As I’ve mentioned before, your thoughts are the most important to me. My beloved Atalante.”
As per her wishes. Without caring about the gazes of others.
It was something impossible. In a world where many people are living together, there wasn’t anyone that could completely do as they pleased.
Much less amongst the lowest of the lower classes.
It would be a misjudgement to think that the villain of the century was able to do everything as she pleased.
Rather, she was cautious about everything. She would think and rethink about even the smallest things, as this was a world where necks would fall just because of a momentary impulse or misjudgment.
If Lionel Blanc was around, however, it might be possible.
‘As I pleased. The things that I want to do.’
Instead of horses, a comfortable carriage; beautiful dresses and accessories instead of shabby men’s attire; banquet arrangements and sweet whispers.
If Lionel didn’t drink that kind of drug, if he didn’t fall for her, those were things that she couldn’t even imagine, even if she died.
It was because those weren’t hers in the first place.
However, just because it wasn’t befitting, doesn’t mean that she wasn’t willing to.
‘At least once, I too…’
The extravagant dress that Gianna made flashed before her eyes. Atalante wanted to wear it. She also wanted to attend the banquet.
She didn’t care in the slightest, whether the gazes that came her way were that of scorn or admiration.
As she wished.
“……I want to attend the banquet. Wearing that pretty dress. With an expression of ‘So what’ to the people that are looking at me.”
“If anyone stares at you with impure eyes, all you have to do is make it so that they’ll never see again.”
“That’s the worst though.”
Atalante snorted at his brutal joke, and swept up her already dishevelled curls lightly.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me either. Since when was I interested in such things, like a fool.”
“Don’t think too deeply about it. Didn’t I say this before? Everything will go according to your wishes.”
She thought that he would kiss her hair like usual, but he had only smiled affectionately.
Her needlessly forlorn feelings only lasted for a moment, as Atalante turned around stiffly, embarrassed by her own thoughts.
“I—I will! I’ll do whatever I want. It would be weirder that a head of an underground organisation doesn’t have a tattoo!”
As Atalante exaggerated her remarks, she quickly left the door behind her.
She’d end up doing things that are uncharacteristic of her when she’s next to Lionel. It felt strange and uncomfortable to be swayed by someone. Probably.
“Perhaps rose tattoos would become a fad in the capital because of you.”
“Ugh, don’t go overboard.”
Atalante turned back slightly and stuck her tongue out, making an expression of disgust.
“You should go get ready to try on your dress now.”
Lionel burst out laughing and shouted at Atalante’s quickly vanishing silhouette.
Feeling embarrassed, Atalante had only hurried the pace of her steps instead of responding.
Of course, she was heading towards the room that’s prepared for the fitting.
After confirming that the crimson hair has completely disappeared from view, Lionel’s lips formed a relaxed smile.
“In any case, she’ll look lovely.”
Only then did he undid the grip on the hands behind his back, which he was holding tightly like a bond, and muttered to himself while looking at his red-hot hand.
“It seems like something happened.”
It wasn’t unusual for those that worked in an organisation to have small and large tattoos for some reason or another.
However, Atalante didn’t reveal the tattoos that she had done for show, but was eager to hide them.
She wouldn’t have reacted that way if she had simply thought that the tattoo was hideous.
‘Apparently you refused to be waited on while taking a bath or changing clothes. Was the tattoo engraved unwillingly?’
Though he kept telling her to do as she pleased, he couldn’t bear the fact that Atalante might get hurt as a result.
Thinking that he shouldn’t forget to bring his sword to the banquet, Lionel soon followed along the path that Atalante treaded on.
[T/N: Where can I find myself a Lionel T.T]
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