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When I entered Father’s dream, the situation was quite similar to when I entered Domi’s dream. We didn’t see any memories or flashbacks related to me. Not even any dream about anything else that we could peek at.
Perhaps it was because they were both the family heads and they had to train even their mental defense against people who could find a way inside their heads like me and Fenrir. Or maybe it was simply because they were too closed off.
Whichever it was, I was going to see him again, and for the last time as Reinst.
As the realization struck me, a mixed feeling welled up in my heart for a moment.
I was reborn with these memories and chains as Reinst.
But now that I was trying to actively resolve everything so I could part ways with my old self, I felt a sense of yearning and loneliness.
I knew if I was still attached to my past as Reinst and was unwilling to accept and fully move on, it would bring potential trouble to my future as Lyra. Even if indirectly.
I would never forget that incident during the school festival. All of it stemmed from my past self that chained me, Reinst.
Even so, the moment I thought about finally parting with it all, I hesitated as it felt uncomfortable.
[What are you hesitating about?]
In this dream world and enveloped in Fenrir’s power, it was very easy for him to sense things in me.
“Just feeling a bit unsure if I’m really doing the right thing,” I said.
[Does it feel uncomfortable?]
I nodded, “Yeah. Although I know this should be the best thing for me to do. For myself–for my life as Lyra.”
[Of course you’d feel uncomfortable. You were reborn with your past self attached. It was like something that accompanied you since your rebirth. It has become your comfort zone. But don’t let it lul you to staying in a bad condition with a potential bad consequences in your future. The past is important but your present time and future are way more important.]
Fenrir’s words touched the depth of my heart and addressed the issue I had been facing.
Yes. I was used to having things like this all my life. Having to say goodbye to it would make me feel insecure. Even if I knew it would just do me good in the long run.
Even so, I had to move on.
For my future self. For my current self. And for the people dear to me.
It’s okay. Don’t worry, Lyra. You’re no longer alone.
I tried to convince myself as I looked at Fenrir who was beside me.
Without him, even if I were to find a way somehow, I’d definitely waver and might end up not actively resolving my problem.
Having an external support was nice too.
Then, I made sure I transformed well enough before we really crossed over from this area for me to see my past self’s father.
“Alright, I’m ready,” I said after I took a deep breath.
Fenrir’s body shone before it disappeared. He returned to my Animosphere.
Then, I sensed the barrier he made beforehand disappear and now, I could walk to where Father was.
As I walked in this abstract dreamland as per Fenrir’s instruction, I saw a familiar back from the distance.
It was really familiar, yet quite unfamiliar at the same time.
It was Father’s broad back that I used to see when I was really young, as Reinst.
Back when I was really small—I didn’t remember it fully, but—I thought of Father as someone intimidating. The aura around him made me reluctant to be close to him and ask to be pampered. And he wasn’t the type of father who was close with his children.
He would teach me things, give me presents, and praise me when I did good. But there was a distance I somehow felt.
Even if my relationship with Mother wasn’t the best, I felt closer to her than I was with Father.
I thought it was because of our gender. Or the typical Mother-Father role. Or because I spent more time with Mother.
But now I knew that it was just the way he was.
As I walked closer to him, his back somehow blurred with Dad’s back.
The two men were my biological fathers, from different lifetime. Same father figure, same duke position. Yet the aura they emitted was so different.
When I saw Dad’s back that was overlapping with Father’s back, I felt a sense of warmth and longing. And I could imagine how he would turn around to look at me, and then his eyes squinting in happiness as his mouth hooked up in a warm smile. Then, with his gentle voice, he would call my name.
…Father was gentler with his family than he was with outsiders, but not to the extent of Dad.
Finally, our distance was close.
He noticed my presence as he turned around to look at me. His eyes widened for a moment before it turned expressionless as before.
“Father,” I greeted.
“…Reinst. Is that really you?” He asked.
I nodded as I saluted him like always, “It is indeed your one and only daughter.”
“Why did you come and see me?” He asked straight to the point.
He didn’t mention anything about how I should be dead already or something…
Perhaps this strategy really worked.
After my meeting with Domi, I consulted Fenrir about how it seemed like people other than Nicole and Clyde didn’t need a closure with me.
To which Fenrir offered a new strategy. That was to manipulate the targets so they wouldn’t really be able to remember what happened in their dreams. In other words, Fenrir minimized the amount of consciousness they could retain during our talk.
It was the same concept with a dream where somehow our mind wasn’t the sharpest. We could be dreaming about having fun with a deceased friend without even questioning that they were already dead. When we woke up, we might remember the dream and found it silly. Or we might forget once we woke up or gradually, it would be forgotten.
At any rate, it would be very odd if all my family members and close friend would remember me meeting them like this.
As for Nicole and Clyde, we let them remember clearly. They needed that.
As for Domi, we made it more like a dream that he might remember or even gradually forget it he put it at the back of his mind. That was what Fenrir did the moment we left Domi’s dreamland.
“I want to ask. If I were to err and commit mistakes similar to how my cousin did, will you also decide to disinherit me?” I asked.
Father furrowed his brows as he asked back, “You’re a sharp girl, don’t you already know the answer?”
He implied those things to me but never clarified.
Hence, I only stayed silent as I looked into his eyes with my gaze firm, hinting that I won’t retract my question.
…Okay, to be fair, it was scary having to peer into Father’s eyes like this, I almost trembled.
Luckily, Father seemed to get my signal as he sighed and answered, “Yes, I will. It is my responsibility to the clan. For I am the head of the clan and I need to first think for the clan. If not, they will question me and threaten my position.”
Such cold words and no slightest bit of hesitation when he said he would disinherit me, his only daughter, in this kind of scenario.
I thought it would sting my heart more than this, but… I just felt empty.
Like this was what I expected but I still felt disappointed, nevertheless.
Father, did you know?
Before you are a duke, you are a father. My father.
Your position as a duke might be replaceable, but no one can replace your position as my father. My biological father in my lifetime as Reinst.
Don’t you get it?
…Or it might be that because he understands it, that his position as a duke was replaceable, that he poured everything for the clan, for his position as the duke and the head of family.
As such, he would look at his children based on their merits.
If the child was excellent, he’d praise and treat them better. If the child was average, he would just turn a blind eye on them and treat them well as his child. If the child was bad and could threaten him… He wouldn’t hesitate in getting rid of them.
Such a conditional love… Wasn’t what I wanted at all.
Where did it go wrong?
No, perhaps it was because of tradition.
Father might have grown up in that way that it was ingrained in his brain. And he found nothing wrong with it.
Because that was all he knew, that was what he was taught as right, that he turned out this way.
I was like that too, when I was Reinst as I tried to protect myself from others. Because I was taught to not trust them and always question their real intention.
Even so, Father indeed treated me well when I was Reinst. He gave me lots of things I needed growing up, albeit most only materialistically.
He was also an upright and responsible person who taught lots of life lessons to me. He did well in his own capacity.
He really gave her the things he thought as important. About how to be proud, how to uphold our pride.
That was the conclusion I could come up with, at this moment.
“Well, Father. Thanks for everything so far. …Sorry I couldn’t carry out your expectations in the end,” I said.
“It is indeed a pity. You had the potential to bring our clan glory,” Father said.
Even if in this dream, under Fenrir’s influence, he wasn’t conscious enough to think how odd it was to speak with his deceased daughter, he still knew how I wasn’t able to fulfil his expectations to be the future queen or to bring more achievements to the clan.
“Thanks for your high assessment, Duke,” I bowed.
My words were sincere. I was always feeling inferior due to how I was born as a girl in the household that favoured boys, so I didn’t think he would have such a high assessment of me.
At least… It turned out that even if I was a girl and not the son and the heir he hoped for, I could still make him feel proud of me.
All my efforts and pain weren’t all in vain.
That’s the comfort I earned from this confrontation.
“Hey Father,” I suddenly spoke, “Are you content with your life?”
I asked, curious.
Because I felt like I wasn’t content with mine when I was still in that household.
“Of course, what else can I hope for?” Father stated as if it was a matter of fact.
“I see,” I gave a half-smile.
Well, that’s alright, I guess.
I was disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised.
People are different. Even if you’re biologically connected, it doesn’t mean that you’d be a perfect match to each other instantly.
What they saw as good might not be what you wanted or saw as good.
That’s alright, I guess?
There was nothing else I wanted to say to Father.
He didn’t seem like he’d say anything else to me.
I came here not expecting him to suddenly turn and say, “I love you with all my heart, my daughter.” I came here for a confirmation, and I already got it.
Though my heart was still empty, it felt like something was lifted from my shoulders.
“Alright, Father. Thank you for your time,” I said as I turned around to leave.
“Goodbye,” I said as I walked away from him without hesitation.
Thank you for being my father in my previous lifetime. Thank you for trying to teach me to be the best that you had in your mind. Even if that didn’t satisfy my thirst of love, I’m sure you were thinking of what’s best for me based on your thoughts.
And it’s alright.
What I craved for in the past, I’ve already gotten it in this lifetime.
This will be the last time I called you “Father”.