Felix, who didn’t think much of it at first, began to wonder if he had unknowingly done something wrong.
He was already diligently studying mana resistance, so what could be the problem?
Felix called Irene, whom he encountered in the hallway by chance.
Once again, she stiffened and made an expression that seemed to say, ‘What is it? Don’t talk to me.’ Whenever he met a stray cat for the first time, they would usually react like this.
Since she was Claudia’s friend, he would be seeing her often.
Moreover, Felix was basically in a harmonious relationship with everything in the world. So he felt a little uncomfortable about this awkward relationship with Irene.
He didn’t want to force them to become friends if she didn’t like it, but he hoped that they could at least exchange greetings with one another.
That day, he happened to run into a young sorcerer who gifted him a variety of sweets.
The best way to tame a stray cat was none other than to give it food.
With considerable patience, if he frequently gave it food, it would gradually recognize and acknowledge him… Why did he harbor such a thought?
Even though Felix knew Irene was a human being, he magically whisked out several boxes of luxurious confectionery and held them out to her.
“Do you like sweets?”
Perhaps she was amazed that Felix brought the boxes out of thin air. Irene’s mouth hung wide open in the shape of a triangle again.
When he stared at her, she quickly pressed her lips together, but there were still traces of a triangle.
“No, why would I take it?”
‘I’m fine. No thank you.’
Irene, who wore a cold expression, waved her hands and scuttered away.
Although he didn’t know what the reason was, it seemed like she hated him enough to decline his offer. From that day on, it was inevitable that Felix ultimately perceived Irene as a cat.
Among the cats, this cat was exceedingly vigilant and difficult to tame.
Furthermore, this cat only liked women.
Felix observed Irene as she chattered with hand gestures while adorned with a beaming smile in front of Claudia. Claudia would occasionally burst into laughter as if she said something funny.
‘So that’s how she looks when she smiles.’
For the first time, Felix saw dimples firmly embedded in Irene’s cheeks.
It was rather deep now, but it was typically so shallow that there were almost no traces. It looked like it was something that only appeared if Irene was smiling broadly.
Dimples. It was quite an unfamiliar term.
Was it because he didn’t have any? For some reason, he couldn’t take his eyes off it, so he decided to sit back and watch. If he intervened, the dimples would disappear without a trace along with the smile.
Since she was close to Claudia and Claudia liked her so much, he decided to relax his guard. Moreover, she treated the employees warmly.
It wasn’t just the maids and servants; she treated everyone with utmost kindness and sincerity.
Felix leaned back against the wall and gently tilted his head. It seemed that she only acted like a cat to him.
‘My own cat…’
It had been a long time since he had disregarded the fact that she was a human being. Since the discourteous thoughts repeatedly came to mind, at one point, he started to acknowledge her and treat her as a vigilant cat.
Felix didn’t normally wear glasses. His eyesight wasn’t good, but it wasn’t to the extent that it interfered with his daily life. He only wore glasses while reading books or researching, and he usually took them off.
From time to time, he would feel the cat’s gaze as he was silently reading a book. When he raised his head and made eye contact, it would be startled and turned its head to stare into the distance.
But, just because the cat did that, it didn’t mean that he was oblivious of its actions.
Felix quietly observed Irene and called out to her.
Irene tried to hide her dismayed expression and then walked towards Felix.
Of course, even if she approached closer, the distance only slightly narrowed to the point that their voices were still barely audible to each other.
“Chloe briefly went out today since she had some business to attend to. I’m sorry, you even took the time to visit her over the weekend.”
“Oh, no, it’s all right. It’s my fault I didn’t contact her in advance. Then I’ll be on my way now.”
“Since you’re here, let’s have a cup of tea together.”
After saying that, Felix smiled as tenderly as he could. He once heard that if he wore glasses to conceal his sharp gaze and smiled, his looks would be good enough to even stop someone from killing an ant.
Felix knew roughly how cold and unapproachable he appeared when he was bare-faced or expressionless.
Now that he thought about it, he coincidentally wore his glasses every time he bumped into Irene.
It was fascinating how his impression would change remarkably from simply wearing a set of round frames on his face.
Irene sat across from Felix.
The sound of the turning pages, the clattering of the teacups, and the sound of munching the cookies, gently fell into the silence.
Felix didn’t say anything and just melted into the background. He was seated on the sofa, but he didn’t move. It was as if he had turned into a statue.
The cat that displayed extreme alertness would be alarmed by the slightest movement and scurry under the carriage.
In the first place, the best way was to let it get used to him without paying attention to it.
If he approached it forcefully, it would regard him as an enemy, and not only would it become more hostile, it would refuse to see him ever again.
‘By the way, I’m completely treating her like a cat.’
Felix lifted his gaze slightly and looked at Irene.
When he previously held out the confectionery boxes, she had rejected him coldly, but now she was licking her lips and eagerly eating the sweets.
That was why he couldn’t help but think of her as a cat.
‘She’s filling up both her cheeks and eating like a squirrel.’
Ultimately, the context was the same as they were both wary wild animals. Felix continued to lure Irene in a similar manner.
Seeing how she no longer rejected Felix whenever he offered the sweets, it seemed that he had won some favor through the food.
“What’s your favorite dessert?”
He told her he would prepare whatever she wanted next time, but she responded with “Why would you do that…?” and then instantly shied away.
Claudia told him that Irene was adorable since she was simple and always exclaimed that “money is the best, beautiful people are the best, and desserts are the best.” It was lovely to see her like something so much and be faithful to her desires.
He thought it was natural for Claudia to adore Irene since she was usually surrounded by aristocrats who constantly attacked one another while wearing a mask.
‘But when would I ever get to see such a scene1?’
“Do you like macarons?”
Felix, who had already figured out her favorite dessert with the help of his sister, asked with a bright smile. Subsequently, Irene stammered as if she had broken down and then slowly nodded.
Such days continued for several more.
In fact, no matter how special Felix thought of Irene, it was just that kind of feeling.
She was a cat he wanted to tame.
That was the initial purpose.
But… somehow, he unintentionally learned more about the person named Irene in more detail through Claudia.
“Oh, Irene? I know everything about her.”
It sounded like she now had a close friend. Claudia’s face glowed as she began to brag about her friend.
It turned out that Irene was an expert of all things, and she could always answer the questions that Claudia asked.
‘Really? I had no idea.’
He’d never had a proper conversation with her, so it was understandable.
“When I bring up a depressing story, she doesn’t show any disdain, and she just listens to me quietly. She also tells me that there’s nothing wrong with me and that it’s not my fault. Those are the words that I really wanted to hear, so I always go to meet her.”
Felix found out that Irene was a surprisingly thoughtful person. Because of her, Claudia gradually regained her confidence, she began to break away from the endless self-loathing, and she became as courageous as when she was a child.
He couldn’t help but become intrigued. It was something neither his parents nor Felix, himself, could ever accomplish.
He wondered what kind of magic she used.
And he realized anew that, for the cat named Rin, he only knew one side of her.
He was simply curious. He wanted to tear off the tens of thousands of faces that she possessed.
Then, one day.
He had just returned home after staying up for a few days and nights, and he coincidentally spotted Irene at the Chamberlain mansion. He wondered if she had grown intimate enough with Claudia to stay overnight. In any case, he just bowed his head and excused himself for the night.
“You look quite tired.”
She would typically disappear after briefly greeting him. However, for the first time, she commented on how he was. Felix, who felt faintly fatigued, placed a soft smile on his lips.
“Yes, I’m behind on my work…”
Felix couldn’t finish his sentence. It was because of his belated discovery after he glanced at her complexion.
Irene had a bruise on her face as if she had been beaten.
* * *
1. Felix is referring to the scene where Irene exclaims that “money is the best…(etc)!”↩
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