༺ Cohabitation Without Attraction (1) ༻
It has long been believed that every human heart contains an emptiness, a void that never truly goes away.
However, this void is neither vast nor an endless abyss.
The crevice would typically be small, the kind that one might unintentionally stumble upon and mutter, ‘Oh, it was here all along.’
During moments of contemplation, the void, which is typically hidden deep within the heart and filled with painful memories, would abruptly reappear.
It’s an existence that was undeniable and would keep coming back, despite one’s best efforts to deny it.
Despite her attempts to forget the ever-present loneliness in her heart by using the Perfume of Fatigue, the feeling lingered and surfaced, even during a relaxing bath and after she had thrown herself onto the bed.
Even though she didn’t feel hungry, she would remember it whenever she put a sweet dessert in her mouth.
That thought would occupy her mind even as she smoked a cigarette or struggled with an unsolved magic formula.
Despite all her efforts to bury it deep and ignore it, it sneaked up persistently like a haunting reminder saying, “Don’t forget me”.
Amelia Marigold too had such a void in her heart.
That void had always been filled by her mentor, who was graceful, dignified, elegant, and sophisticated.
Every time Amelia’s condition worsened, her teacher would give her medicine, and she would feel her teacher’s gentle touch as she brushed her forehead.
Her teacher was always the first to arrive before anyone else after she had hurt her leg from falling from a tree,
She would sit next to Amelia, keeping an eye on her whilst holding a glass of warm milk whenever she tossed and turned from her nightmares,
She would tell her old tales while braiding a scarf for her while sitting by the fireplace,
And when Amelia was struggling with her studies and was about to give up, her teacher would gently remind her, “Amelia, you are a special child.”
Her beloved teacher.
Amelia remembered the day.
She had never imagined that the day would come when she would have to bid her teacher farewell.
And her teacher, too, said nothing about this.
“Teacher! Why, why didn’t you say anything…! I….I thought…that if I became a witch, I could be with you forever…”
“With every greeting comes a time to bid farewell. Oh dear, is this phrase too cliche to leave behind as my last words?”
Amelia’s teacher never informed her that they’d only be together until Amelia inherited the brand. The reality of the situation was that passing down a witch’s brand would mean the death of the preceding witch.
Amelia was well aware of the reason behind her teacher’s decision.
As a child, she was a lazy student who was indifferent and lacked the motivation to study..
Moreover, she loved her teacher too much.
If Amelia had known this truth, she would never have inherited the brand.
She would never have stepped up to inherit her teacher’s research or to be recognized by her if she knew that she’d lose the opportunity to spend more time together with her teacher.
Which would have resulted in Amelia passing away at a young age due to the illness that had plagued her since birth.
That was the reason her teacher hadn’t told her about the consequences of passing down the mark.
In her case, Amelia’s teacher wouldn’t have wanted her beloved apprentice to die either.
“You’re being a coward… I can’t admit it! There’s no such thing as this…being a coward…don’t go…don’t go…!’
“Amelia, my beloved apprentice, my daughter, my mirror. I am truly happy to be able to pass on the name of Marigold to you.”
“I don’t need a name like that! Why won’t you pay attention to what I have to say?”
“You’re such a kind-hearted child.”
“No! No…! I don’t want this brand. Take it back. Without my teacher… I’m nothing…..!”
Regardless of how much Amelia cried, clutched her head, screamed, hung her head, and prayed.
The cruel hands of time that inched her teacher’s departure did not stop.
‘Live like a witch, like a nobleman. And…’
Her teacher was gone.
That was the day Amelia inherited the brand.
Amelia Marigold took the blame for her teacher’s passing before a final testament could be made.
She was burdened with feelings of guilt, betrayal, resentment, anger, love, and longingness.
A wide variety of emotions that couldn’t be expressed in a single word.
Amelia tightly repressed her emotions and buried them deep within the emptiness of her heart.
Despite understanding that one day these thoughts would resurface, she kept them locked away.
The relentless pain of loss, like a scorching ember within, steadily ate away at the bottom of her heart.
After the end of the solemn funeral,
Amelia cried until she passed out, repeating the cycle of waking and crying over and over again.
She no longer had any tears to shed.
She had come to realize that unfairness is a harsh reality from which one cannot escape, no matter how hard one tries to deny it.
From then on, Amelia’s eyes were filled with determination.
A resolve that she had conjured reluctantly.
One that she had never wished for, yet was unable to cast aside.
“If that’s what my teacher wanted…’
A Witch’s Pride
She would put forth her best efforts to unlock her potential and reach the heights of the witch’s hierarchy just like the Witch of Creation.
“…I’ll walk down that path.”‘
The memories of her teacher felt overwhelmingly warm and yet hurt her heart ever so painfully as well.
The unexpected memories burnt like a branding iron, heating her chest and bringing tears of longingness to her eyes.
As such, the void in her heart was only for her beloved teacher.
For a very long time, that is, until the day a daring and hateful man appeared before Amelia’s eyes.
Siwoo took out a cigarette.
This was naturally taken from the pack that Amelia had purchased on her way back from Border Town.
The pack held a total of twenty sticks of cigarettes!
Back in the day, Siwoo would not have smoked one of those tasteless cigarettes even if someone had given it to him. In fact, he was so particular that he even had preferences for whether his meals were hot or cold.
Despite that, Siwoo was currently in a situation where he had to make the right choice and eat it even if it meant eating rice laced with cyanide.
By smoking only one cigarette a day, and on rare occasions two, a person can avoid becoming a slave to nicotine addiction for a full two weeks.
Siwoo didn’t want to be a slave to nicotine because one life as a slave was already difficult enough for him.
Sitting on the windowsill, Siwoo lit the candle on top of the crackling fireplace.
A person wearing a super hot suit could be seen reflected on the window glass.
He didn’t know the correct price of the suit because Amelia tried to negotiate with the perfume, but it was obvious at a glance that the materials and the design were expensive.
“This guy is very handsome.”
After dressing up nicely and neatly combing his hair for the first time in a while, he looked in the mirror and started to get a little narcissistic.
Perhaps Amelia had fallen in love with him after seeing his new look.
It was a momentary delusion.
Siwoo realized the truth when he met his gaze in the window glass.
Based on Amelia’s reaction after he changed into his new suit, it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that would happen.
Siwoo smiled wryly and flicked the cigarette, removing the ash from its tip.
Amelia had changed slightly over the last few days.
In the past, she used to be just a beautiful but destructive force that brought disaster, but these days it seemed like she was acting a little strange.
In fact, after their trip to Bordertown together, he had begun to notice significant changes in her.
He was confused about whether she had grown tired of tormenting him up to this point.
Or if she simply felt grateful for Siwoo when he shielded her from falling roof debris.
Did she really start taking care of him because he was her exclusive slave?
Surely she must have noticed that he had been protecting her till the very end at the inn.
“Oh, come on,”
Siwoo couldn’t help but shiver as he felt a chill run down his spine.
That wasn’t the last of his assumptions.
No matter how much he pondered, he would’ve never been able to live in peace like this if it were discovered that he had sucked on Amelia’s breasts.
Sophia seemed to have properly kept her mouth shut.
Anyway, she had bought him underwear, desserts, cigarettes, and even the stylish suit he was currently wearing.
Siwoo did feel like it was a bit strange.
He had felt something like this before.
It was like the time when the bully who had been tormenting him for two years, suddenly apologized to him for his actions, albeit insincerely, after he had been released from the military.
While Siwoo said “thank you” for the bully’s apology, it was ambiguous and did not necessarily imply that he would refuse to forgive him if asked to do so immediately. After all, Siwoo was not the type of person to hold grudges.
In the first place, he was not a person who would be harsh on others.
Siwoo’s past experience of being tormented by Amelia made it difficult for him to establish a clear emotional stance towards her and understand the distance between them.
Even though he felt happy to receive something from her, he felt a sense of unease. It was difficult for him to fully accept them because they reminded him of the suffering he had experienced as a result of her past actions.
“I don’t know anymore.”
Siwoo had already planned to leave.
You never know. Even the most difficult situations improve over time.
Of all the shitty days in Gehenna, the only memory he could recall was the day when he had a fight with Amelia.
Everything would eventually pass because it was already in the past.
Instead of creating discord with Amelia for no reason, Siwoo wanted to appease her in moderation and attempt to make their relationship as convenient as possible so he could leave this place as soon as he could.
It was relatively simple to refresh his mind, perhaps due to the fact that Amelia was less violent than she had been.
“Ugh, even if half of her newly acquired personality had followed, it would have been enough.”
Then Siwoo would have walked around with his tail wagging like Takasho.
It was then that he realized just how important one’s appearance truly was.
Possibly because of Amelia’s stunning beauty, Siwoo didn’t despise her despite her tormenting him. Siwoo most likely would have really hated her had she been a little less beautiful than she was right now.
However, there was nothing he could do.
The DNA present in her body was also said to be one of the reasons why Amelia was beautiful.
Siwoo casually placed the cigarette with the filter onto the ashtray (which appeared to be very fancy and expensive) before closing the window.
That was when a sudden crash echoed as the door was slammed open.
Siwoo sighed and realized that this was the beginning of his life as an exclusive slave.
Since moving to this new location, the No Privacy Zone had been activated for him.
The situation had progressed to the point where he had to be on guard even when he was in the bathroom.
Siwoo slightly adjusted his suit before leaving for the living room.
The only positive aspect was that the living room and bedroom in the accommodation were separated, allowing Siwoo to detect Amelia’s intrusion early on.
“Ms. Associate Professor…”
He was about to ask what was going on but wasn’t able to continue.
It was because Amelia had abruptly interrupted his sentence.
“My name is Amelia Marigold.”
“Yes, I’m Shin Siwoo.”
Even though he knew her name, he couldn’t understand what she was trying to say by telling him that.
Amelia’s eyebrows rose momentarily as Siwoo stared blankly at her in confusion.
This was only a fraction, indicating 25% of her surprise, that Siwoo would sometimes see in Amelia’s reaction when he acted impulsively without thinking twice.
Siwoo wondered what he did wrong this time.
There were always two ways to know when Amelia called Siwoo.
She either called him ‘Janitor Shin Siwoo’ or simply ‘Janitor’.
Except for times when she was extremely angry, Amelia mostly called Siwoo the latter.
He pondered why Amelia would call him by his full name.
The PTSD that had been building up inside Siwoo for five years had started to manifest itself, showing its ugly head and contorting his mind.
He unconsciously shrugged his shoulders.
Was it because he had smoked in the room?
“Yes, it’s Shin Siwoo. Not a janitor.”
Amelia looked intently at his face while nodding as if she had come to a realization on her own.
Siwoo found her intense gaze bothersome.
“Yes, that’s right. I’m no longer the janitor of the academy, but Ms. Associate Professor’s exclusive possession.”
In an attempt to suppress his embarrassment, Siwoo bit down on his tongue.
Amelia’s delicate, thin eyebrows appeared to be troubled for some reason.
This typically meant that her frustration meter was at 50% capacity.
“Call me by my name. Siwoo.”
“Umm, don’t you want me to call you by your title of Ms. Associate Professor?
“Yes. I told you. My name is not Associate Professor.”
He had no idea what kind of surprise this was.
But since he was now Amelia’s exclusive slave, he had no choice but to comply with and carry out her orders.
“Understood. Ms. Amelia.”
Amelia’s face held a look of satisfaction.
At first glance, she appeared emotionless, but when he took a closer look at her face, her nostrils were slightly flared, making it look hella cute.
A thought appeared in his mind as he wondered if Amelia’s nose hairs were blonde as well.
Snapping out of his stupor caused by the sudden ambush from Amelia, Siwoo discovered that Amelia was holding a plate in her hand.
A cherry cake was laid on the plate. It was one which he had eaten before and was extremely delicious
The name of it, in fact, slipped his mind.
She left the plate on a table with a confident and composed posture.
“Yes? Thank you. Ms. Amelia, don’t you want to eat?”
He asked, seeing as there was a piece of cake and a fork on the plate. But Amelia shook her head.
“I don’t need it. After eating, please go to the kitchen on the first floor and wash the dishes.”
“Alright, thank you for the meal.”
Amelia disappeared in a flash, just as she did when she appeared.
It seemed like she had come all the way to Siwoo’s room just to deliver the cake.
First and foremost, he hadn’t been able to eat a single meal that day, and was craving sweet food, and thus ate the cake.
Siwoo felt like he was being treated as if he was a dog but shrugged it off as a misunderstanding.
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