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“…”

 

Ner was anxious but looked at him carefully.

 

She couldn't even lift the cloth placed on her knees.

 

“I'll not let go of my words.
We're a couple now.”

 

He said.

 

Ner was making an effort to comprehend this bewildering situation.

 

Berg was sitting on the bed with his elbow resting on his knee.

 

She couldn't tell what he was thinking as he let out another long sigh.

 

Then, he slightly turned his head and asked a sudden question.

 

“…It's said that the Werewolves only love one person for a lifetime…
Is it true?”

 

Ner pondered for a long time, wondering about the intention behind the question, but couldn't find an answer.

 

In the end, despite being scared of the numerous scars on his back, she slowly nodded her head.

 

“…Y-Yes.”

 

Not all members of the werewolf race adhered to this, but generally, they focused their love on one individual.

 

Ner, too, had kept her heart devoted to loving only one person.


 

Berg remained silent for a prolonged period, revealing no thoughts, as the wind whispered through the window with a natural sound.

 

'What was he thinking?'

 

Berg stayed still for a while.

 

The wind rustled through the window, creating a natural sound.

 

“…Then, it must be equally difficult to like someone else.”

 

After a long silence, Berg threw the question nonchalantly.
Ner couldn't discern his intentions, but answering truthfully didn't seem harmful at all.

 

Ner cautiously nodded her head again.

 

Berg chuckled.

 

“…But if someone suddenly tells you to mix your body with someone you don't even like, of course, you'd naturally dislike it.”

 

“…”

 

Even during the previous dinner, she had sensed it to some extent, but there was nothing to be afraid of in Berg's behavior.

 

Whether it was a consideration or an act, it made her feel foolish for being scared like this.

 

Ner felt that a momentary opportunity had come.

 

She tightly held the dress she hadn't even taken off yet and spoke to him.

 

“…Haaa…
I…I don't want to…”

 

“…I don't have the intention to force you either.”

 

With his response, Ner felt a heavy burden lifting from her chest.

 

As if her blocked airway had opened, a tingling sense of relief spread through her body.

 

Tears streamed down her face once again.

 

Ner used the back of her hand to wipe away the tears.

 

The cloth Berg had handed her still remained on her knees.

 

Looking at her like that, Berg said.

 

“…We became entangled due to our circumstances, but whether you like it or not, we're a couple now.
I don't want to start off on the wrong foot.
I don't want to spend our lives…
hating each other.”

 

Ner managed to calm her tears somehow.
She lifted her shoulders intermittently and took a deep breath.

 

She hadn't expected Berg, who she had feared, to say such things.

 

“…How long does it take for the werewolves to like someone…?”

 

His words sounded like a grace period.

 

Ner swallowed her saliva and recited a number that momentarily came to her mind.

 

“…One year…
Ah, two years…”

 

It took a long time for the werewolves to fall in love, but there wasn't a specific number that existed.

 

Even so, Ner intentionally mentioned a specific time, naturally harboring an intention.

 

However, Berg shook his head.

 

“…No”

 

“Yes?”

 

“It's too long.”

 

In an instant, Ner held her breath.
Her heart sank.

 

Her ears trembled as she turned towards him.

 

“…But…but…still…”

 

“A few days later, our troops will go into battle.
They will fight for their lives.
Some will get injured…
Some will die.
It's difficult for me to have you by my side, crying every day, after they went through all of that…
It's inconvenient,” Berg said.

 

“…”

 

Berg slowly turned his upper body.

 

Ner locked eyes with him.

 

His gaze seemed somewhat sad.

 

“I know.
I understand.
In the end, we're tied together because of our circumstances.
You probably can't love me yet.
It must be scary and unpleasant.
But…”

 

“…”

 

“But, we're staking our lives.
Even for the sake of my comrades, it's inconvenient to have you like this.
Members should be proud to accept you.
You have to prove that their life is worth it.”

 

“…”

 

“Of course, I'm not telling you to smile by my side every day.
But still, distancing yourself from me too much becomes a problem.
Being happy next to me was not a condition of our contract, but…”


 

Berg, as if deep in thought, tightly closed his lips before speaking.

 

“…I'll make a promise.”

 

“…Yes?”

 

“I am also aware of the labels attached to our race.
There will be resistance to the human race, and I know that interspecies marriage will be as embarrassing as it was unexpected.”

 

Ner had her own reservations, of course, but what bothered her more was the fact that she couldn't connect with her destined partner.

 

Having endured a lifetime of suffering alone, she had been waiting for the hand of salvation to come, only to find herself faced with another arduous path.

 

But Berg continued speaking.

 

“It will undoubtedly be difficult in the future…
With different cultures, there will be moments when we don't understand each other.”

 

“…”

 

“But I won't do things that you would hate.
After all, I am now…
your husband.
I'll stand by your side.”

 

Ner was confused at Berg’s much friendlier appearance than she expected.

 

Where did the cruel person go?

 

The one who hated women?

 

Human race which was said to be in heat while time?

 

The mercenary who enjoyed debauchery?

 

Among the many words used to describe him, not a single one could explain the man before her.

 

For the first time, Ner saw the true face of Berg.
Compared to any other appearance she had witnessed, his current self seemed devoid of any pretense.

 

“So, don’t be afraid of me anymore.
Therefore…”

 

Berg slowly rose from the bed and reached out his hand.

 

Ner quietly observed as he approached.

 

There was still fear stemming from his approach itself, but she had nowhere else to run.

 

His subsequent actions were incredibly gentle.

 

His hand enveloped hers.

 

She could feel his warm touch.

 

“…So hide your feelings for us.
Endure it.
At the very least, do that much.”

 

It was a sincere and polite request.
It was the plea of someone who cherished their loved one.

 

In the end, he even spoke with a smile.

 

“…And if you keep acting like this, Adam Hyung will start to get annoyed.”

 

Ner looked down at her hand, embraced by Berg's.

 

His hand was rough, but it didn't elicit as much aversion as it had throughout the day.

 

Of course, even this was one thing she didn’t want to do.

 

She wanted to keep her body as clean as possible for her destined partner.

 

Nevertheless, perhaps Berg's heartfelt request as a person was being conveyed.

 

For some reason, it felt like her heart was being transmitted through his touch.

 

Ner stood still for a while and asked quietly.

 

“Pretending to be good…Acting…You mean? Until I… Like you…?”

 

“As long as we're alone, you can behave however you want.”

 

Once again, she gathered her courage.

 

“…What if I never come to love you?”

 

It was a response tinged with a faint conscience.

 

Already, Ner had been looking only at her destined partner.

 

Betraying him, dismantling the mercenary group, simply reverting the contract, and paying the price to leave…
Ner had thought of leaving Berg someday.

 

She didn't want to wait for a love that would never come.

 

“…”

 

Berg did not answer right away.

 

His upright shoulders seemed to droop slightly.

 

And then, he spoke.

 

“…I hope that doesn't happen.”

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