πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️ Lucia Chapter 91 - 95 Full Chapters πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️

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Lucia Chapter 91
LUCIA
C91



< — I love you — > (2)


As Lucia was leaving the break room, she gently bumped into a woman who was entering and drew back slightly.


“What do you think you’re doing! How can you be so careless! Don’t you know who this is!”


A sharp, angry voice butted in. A noblewoman from who knows where, suddenly showed up and condemned the woman who had bumped into Lucia. Lucia didn’t remember the exact name, but she knew that the noblewoman was some Countess. There were a lot of Countesses, so it was easy to mix them up.


“I’m…I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.” (?)


“Oh my goodness! You got makeup on her dress! What are you going to do about this!” (Countess)


The Countess yelled as if the worst thing in the world had happened. Her shrill voice was very irritating. Lucia looked at the part of her shoulder where the Countess was furiously pointing to.


‘How did she even see this?’


Indeed, there was a little makeup stain, but it was very little. Lucia felt like she should at least acknowledge the sharp eyes of the Countess who was making a big deal out of nothing.


As Lucia looked at the woman who was bowing and apologizing repeatedly, her mind flew back to the person she was in her dream. The person back then was very clumsy, kept making mistakes and wished she could find a hole to breathe in. The extremely flustered woman in front of her seemed very pitiful. Lucia calmed the Countess who was in a rage beside her.


“I don’t wish to raise my voice in a nice occasion so that is enough. I am fine.” (Lucia)


“Ehem. How can you be so generous, Duchess? Your regard is as magnificent as your beauty.”


The Countess now began to heap praises on Lucia.


‘I’m tired.’


Lucia was learning the weariness of being surrounded by people these days.


“It is also my mistake for not checking in front of me. Are you alright?” (Lucia)


The woman who was fidgeting with her head bowed, flinched in surprise when she heard Lucia’s words.


“I…I am fine. I have committed…such an act of rudeness…to the Duchess…”


“It’s fine. Which family are you from? I don’t think I’ve seen you before.” (Lucia)


“I am…Alisa of the Count Matin family.”


Lucia’s heart lurched wildly. It was the current wife of Count Matin. Lucia remembered hearing the woman’s name in her dream. Alisa was the second wife of Count Matin whom he divorced before marrying Lucia. Lucia heard that after the divorce, Alisa left the capital and went to her parent’s home in the west. Therefore, Lucia had never seen her face before.


“…I see. I hope you enjoy the party.” (Lucia)


Lucia gave a slight nod in greeting and walked past her. She didn’t want to be connected to anything related to the Count of Matin. Even if it was the former wife who was another sacrificial lamb for that bastard.


‘So they haven’t gotten divorced yet.’


The Countess’ slouched shoulders and wooden expression that reflected distress were just like herself in the dream. While Lucia felt sympathy for the Countess, she also felt irritated by a strange sense of displeasure.


The Count of Matin had three sons from three different mothers. The youngest son, Bruno, was the son of the ex-wife who got divorced before Lucia became the Countess. Since Bruno was one year older than Damian, he was probably ten years old now.


[It’s the start of a long day, Countess.]


Bruno never called Lucia ‘mother’. He was a cheeky boy who called her Countess every single time without fail. However, Lucia didn’t hate the precocious boy whose eyes were filled with emptiness.



The other two sons of the Count were not that different in age from Lucia, so they ignored each other as if they were complete strangers. The only conversation they had was greeting each other. Unlike them, Bruno would have brief conversations with her when they crossed path sometimes. It was not the friendly sort of conversation. Bruno usually had a sarcastic tone unlike that of a child. But still, Bruno was the only person she talked to in the count residence.


[How did you get into this hell?]


Lucia only smiled weakly at the boy’s mocking words.


The boy stared at Lucia and said:


[My mother succeeded in running away. She threw away all her burdens and got to live very freely.]


The boy’s eyes were dreary. Lucia sensed that the boy included himself in the ‘burdens’ he mentioned.


[Do you want to see your mother?] (Lucia)


The boy’s silence was long. Nevertheless, his reply was short and firm.


[No. Never.]


One day, Bruno called Lucia when she returned home exhausted after attending a ball. It was late at night and the child should have been sleeping.


[Countess. Shall I let you in on an interesting secret?]


Bruno brought Lucia to an empty room that wasn’t very far from her bedroom. She probably wouldn’t have followed Bruno if he was slightly older but since Bruno was still young, she didn’t really have her guard up around him. She thought of him as the only human being in the count residence.


[I’m the only one that knows this secret but I’m letting Countess know specially.]


When she didn’t refuse, Bruno pushed himself into the dusty fireplace and manipulated something inside. And then the sound of something clattering could be heard followed by the fireplace slowly turning around to reveal a dark, gaping hole.


The boy seemed satisfied with the surprise on Lucia’s face and snickered like a mischievous child. He told her to follow him and entered inside. Lucia hesitated for a moment before following after him. Bruno lit up a torch and pulled down the stick hanging from the wall. The fireplace turned and closed, leaving the two of them alone in the secret space.


[I heard we’ve lived in this mansion since my great-grandfather. This place was probably made by the original owner of the mansion. No one in the family knows about this place.]


They walked along the narrow cavernous path and went down the subsequent stairs. They climbed down the stairs for quite a while. Then, a chamber with a wide and high ceiling emerged. It seemed like an underground chamber with no opening for light to enter but even though it was dim, there was no problem with identifying the surroundings. The walls of the chamber were filled with odd substances that gave off a faint light.


[They seem to be luminous substances, but I don’t know exactly what they are. It’s amazing, isn’t it? They must be very old, but they still glow. Perhaps a long time ago, they used to be as bright as daytime.]


There wasn’t much to see. The impressive view was short-lived.


[There is a path that leads out of here. I’ll show you that next time.]


There was no next time. Lucia never got to meet Bruno late at night again. And then, Bruno was driven to the Academy after rebelling against his father. The boy left, and Lucia was lonely for a while.


As time passed, her body and mind grew more exhausted and she loathed her circumstances. Every night, she prayed and begged to be taken away from here and break free of all her restraints. As she despaired over her unfulfilled prayer, she suddenly remembered the secret space that Bruno had showed to her.


‘Let’s run away. No one will take me away from here.’


Lucia chose a day to explore the secret space. She went down the stairway that continued from the fireplace and when she arrived at the chamber, she searched for the hidden passage that Bruno had talked about. After looking everywhere, she found a device similar to that of the fireplace. Beyond the hidden door was a dark and narrow tunnel.


Lucia walked along the path. According to Bruno, this place was built a long time, but the stone walls of the tunnel looked very strong. After walking for about two hours, she found herself in a cemetery outside the capital.


To Lucia, this place was a light in the darkness. She gathered money to buy jewelry and prepared assets for herself without anyone’s knowledge. In order for her to stay in hiding for a while, she took some dry rations and piled them up in the chamber. There was a small underground well in the chamber, so she didn’t need to worry about water. She continued to make preparations for over a year.


It happened on one particular night when sleep refused to come. Lucia suffered from insomnia even though she was usually physically tired. After tossing and turning on the bed, she got up and went to the balcony because she couldn’t sleep


As she absentmindedly stared into the darkness before her, she noticed a crowd of torches flocking towards the mansion. Her heart sank with a thud and the hairs on her neck rose with dread. Her senses were telling her that something dangerous had taken place. Lucia immediately gathered all her jewelry in a jewelry box and went into the secret space.


That day was the day when the Count Matin family was exterminated.


Lucia spent her time in the chamber, hiding in fear. She had no way of knowing what was happening outside while she was hidden in the dim, tranquil underground chamber. She suppressed the side of her that wanted to go up in curiosity and remained hidden as if she were dead.


Even though she couldn’t hear any noise from above while she was underground, she suppressed her footsteps too. She couldn’t even tell the passage of time. If she was hungry, she ate; if she was sleepy, she slept. She had a rough estimate of time by watching the rations shrink.


Lucia endured time in the dark chamber, dreadfully alone. The worst thing was the growing number of rats because of the food. When she remembered the nauseating face of Count Matin, she endured. Compared to him, the rats were adorable.


However, there was a limit to her endurance. After a month, she couldn’t bear walking up to the sound of squeaking rats any more. She prepared herself to go out.


She remembered hearing that coming into the sunlight after being in the dark for a long time could blind the eyes. For a week, she took the long tunnel and made round-trips to the public cemetery to familiarize her eyes with the sunlight leaking from the entrance. And finally, Lucia went out.


< — I love you — > (2)


The evening cemetery was quiet and bleak. Lucia didn’t see any shadows of people let alone people tracking her.


She packed only a few of the jewelry that she had and left the rest hidden in the tunnel. She changed into the old clothes she had prepared, pulled a hood over her head and walked out of the graveyard.


She kept herself from being seen and aimlessly walked towards a remote area. She had no destination. She just wanted to get somewhere far away. Around day break, she discovered an old house standing alone in a desolate plain without any human traces.


Lucia felt very exhausted. She had walked all night and couldn’t feel her feet anymore. She felt like if she relaxed, she would immediately fall asleep. She approached the house, unable give thought to the aftermath. As she carefully approached to the house, the door suddenly flew open and an old woman came out.


The old woman fixed a stare at Lucia’s startled frame then suddenly shouted at her.


[Lucy! Where have you been that you’re only crawling back now! Go out and quickly draw water so we can eat breakfast.]


When Lucia looked on blankly, the old woman continued to roar. Lucia was too tired to think clearly. Hearing the old woman talk about food, she realized she was hungry and picked up the bucket as she was ordered.


[Where should I draw the water from?]


The old woman yelled, calling her a stupid wench before telling her where the well was. Lucia didn’t feel hostility from the old woman’s rough words, so it didn’t really affect her.


She carried the bucket and went to the well site. And seeing her reflection on the surface of the water, she grabbed her hair with trembling hands.


[Ahhh!]


Her reddish-brown hair had turned white. While she was trembling in the darkness for over a month, her body had been unable to endure the extreme stress, and this was the result.


Sometime later, Lucia realized that the old woman was not mentally sound. The old woman could not remember anything she had said and only repeated what she had said in the past. The old woman had a daughter called Lucy and Lucia realized later on that the girl, Lucy, fell in love with a man she knew for a long time and left the house without sending back any news.


Lucia lived together with the old woman as Lucy, her daughter, until the old woman passed away about six months later.


The past or the future. Lucia thought back to her memories in the dream as she sat in the carriage returning home. Sometimes, Lucia thought to herself:


‘What did I really see? Did I really dream about the future? Or, did I experience the future and come back to the past?’


When she woke up in the morning after having the dream when she was twelve, Lucia was convinced that the dream was her future. And after that, she ran around trying to change her future without thinking about anything else.


The weight on Lucia wasn’t an experience of living through one lifetime but that of having a dream. It was certainly her own life but at the same time, she also felt like she was watching it.


Lucia’s life in the dream was tough and difficult. The pain and sorrow were vivid as if she had experienced it herself. However, the vividness did not exceed a certain limit. No matter how terrible the pain was, it did not leave a fatal wound on her mind.


‘Some parts are detailed and clear while some parts can’t be remembered.’


Lucia couldn’t remember seeing herself reach old age in her dream. She could only vaguely remember the quiet life she lived as an elderly woman after quitting her job as a maid and getting a house in a secluded area.


The way Lucia saw it, if she had come back from the future, her last memory should have been the clearest in her head. Which is why she thought it was a dream. It wasn’t something she could talk about with anyone, so the dilemma always circled around the same place in her head.


“I want to stop somewhere for a bit.”


Lucia asked her maid to tell them to turn the carriage around. She wanted to go take a look at the house that Norman gave to her as a gift.


* * *


Lucia slowly looked around the cozy two-story house. All of Norman’s furniture remained unchanged, bringing forth nostalgia. The house was supervised regularly so it squeaky clean but perhaps because nobody lived in it, there was a desolate aura in the air.


‘I heard that a house without occupants will get ruined quickly. Do I rent it out?’


Some time ago, Lucia’s lifelong dream was to buy a small, cozy house like this. In just less than two years, her life had become completely different. Her life was flowing in an unpredictable direction. The heart-pounding anticipation in her heart was larger than the fear of the unknown.


[Do you know how boring life would be if you knew what would happen in the future? Life is only livable because it is unpredictable.]


Lucia chuckled as she vividly recalled what Norman had said before. Norman was a wise individual. At least to Lucia, she was. (1)


On the way back home for the second time, the carriage was brought to a stop. None of the carriages on the street were moving. The maid passed along the words from the coachman who went to check out the situation.


“A carriage toppled over so we’ll have to turn around the street, Milady.”


The carriage started moving again. As Lucia looked out the carriage window, she felt that the street they were passing looked strangely familiar.


‘This is the neighborhood I lived in when I was young.’


Feeling sentimental as she looked on, Lucia made the carriage pull over. The carriage stopped on one side of the street. Lucia came down from the carriage and stood in front of the old pawnshop. There were miscellaneous goods with prices listed on them beyond the window.


She walked into the pawn shop, reliving the old memories where she walked along this particular street, holding hands with her mother.


The old man who was nodding off to sleep in his chair was awoken by the screeching sound of the door opening. The owner of the pawn shop sprang to his feet with bulging eyes. A woman in luxurious attire and an air of importance, a woman standing modestly next to her, and a man who looked like an escort. It was the typical noblewoman and her attendants. The old man was flustered because it was a customer he would never have the chance to meet as the owner of a long-standing local pawn shop.


“Is there something you’re looking for…?” (Shop owner)


“How long have you been the owner of this place?” (Lucia)


“I have been the owner for decades.”


“I want to find out the whereabouts of an item than once stayed for a while, it was pawned here more than 10 years ago. Is it possible for you to know?”


“I remember all the decent items that come through here. I also write all of them down in the ledger. What sort of item is it?”


Lucia traced back the years and told him the approximate time the pendant was sold, the age and appearance of her mother when she left the pendant at the pawn shop and the description of the pendant. The owner of the pawn shop tilted his head with an odd expression.


“There was someone who was also looking for the same thing recently.” (Shop owner)


“They were looking for the pendant I’m talking about? Who?” (Lucia)


“It was a young man. But I don’t know who it is.”


Fabian’s subordinate came to the pawn shop looking for the pendant, but there was no way for Lucia to know that.


“I also said this to that person but, I have never seen such a pendant. It has never been to our store.” (Shop owner)


“That can’t be right. I definitely saw it on display here.” (Lucia)


“As you can see, this is a small shop aimed at people who live in this neighborhood. It’s obvious what kind of items come in here. If such a rare article was pawned here, there is no way I would not remember it. Although I am old, I still have a good memory. I have not been left with an item like that pendant for decades.”


The owner of the pawn shop looked certain. When Lucia continued to say that it wasn’t possible, he brought out all his old ledgers and showed them to her. It was a thoroughly documented record of who pawned what, how much they borrowed, and what process happened afterwards. Through the records, one could get of glimpse of the thoroughness of the pawn shop owner.


Lucia scoured through the 20 years of records. Just like the pawn shop owner said, the pendant had never come to the pawn shop. It was difficult to claim that he purposefully manipulated the ledger to hide that fact.


‘But I saw it. The sight of my mother standing vacantly in front of this store is still vivid in my mind.’


Lucia left the pawnshop with confusion and doubt in her mind. Dean who was following behind her as her escort decided to ask:


“Is there another place you want to stop at?”


“No. Let’s go home.” (Lucia)


Walking a few steps behind Lucia and her maid as they headed towards the carriage, Dean brought his wrist to his mouth and muttered in a low voice.


“We are departing now. Destination is the mansion.”


On Dean’s wrist was a simple-looking silver bracelet. It looked more durable than silver and had a certain sheen to it. One of his ears also had a unique accessory hanging from it. The hook shape of the accessory was too strange to call it an earring. A part of the tip was inside his ear and the hook-like part curled around his ear. The accessory was covered by his hair, so it wasn’t very visible.


There were four distant carriages standing in each of the four directions of the carriage that Lucia was climbing into. The carriages were located beyond the turn of the corner so Lucia could not see them. Inside a very ordinary-looking carriage with an ordinary-looking coachman, were knights in armor disguised as plain clothes.


“We’re leaving. Team 1, Team 2, head out. Team 3, stand-by. Team 4 at the rear.”


The Knight giving out the orders wore the same accessory as Dean on his wrist and on his ear.


Lucia knew that one Knight called Dean was escorting her. But she didn’t know that she was under heavy security like that of a mansion. The convoy was so secretive that they were undetectable.


Translator’s Corner:

The word used for ‘wise individual’ here is ‘sage’, ‘wise man’.
______________
Lucia Chapter 92
LUCIA
C92
< — I love you — > (3)


Translated by: Miss Ruby


Edited by: ShadowDog


Lucia sank into her bedroom sofa and calmly retraced her childhood memories. Her heart warmed up at the thought of her mother. Before when she thought of her mother, she would be sad but now, she was only left with happy memories. This was thanks to the fact that Lucia was currently happy in her life.


Her mother usually placed the pendant deep in her drawer and from time to time, she brought it out to look at it. Sometimes, she was so entranced by it that she didn’t even notice Lucia coming to her side. Lucia thought her mother really cherished the pendant.


‘Mother must have missed her family and thought about them when she looked at the pendant. And at the same time, she must have been sad because she couldn’t return home due her circumstances.’


Her mother would have likely returned to her hometown if she had not gotten pregnant. But her mother was never once pessimistic about her life nor did she ever blame Lucia.


Her mother always had to work for their well-being. She usually worked at the local grocery store and if she had time, she tended to a small vegetable garden to cover for their food expenses. Regardless of everything, her mother was always smiling. She often hugged Lucia and carried her in her soft bosom.


Her mother always expressed her love affectionately, calling her ‘my beloved daughter’ and telling her ‘I am happy because I have you’. When Lucia lost her mother, the despair she felt was as if the sky had collapsed but she was able to withstand the hard times by remembering her mother’s love.


‘I thought Mother had to pawn off the pendant because she desperately needed money when I got hurt.’


However, her mother had never left the pendant at the pawnshop. If the owner of the pawn shop was correct, Lucia’s memory was wrong.


‘Let’s say my childhood memory is wrong. The reason I was able to meet my uncle later on was because of the pendant. Then how did the pendant get to the auction house? Was it stolen?’


The pendant held an important meaning to Lucia. It was the thing that helped her find her roots.


‘I think I was eight years old when it happened.’


Lucia recalled the accident that occurred when she was young. She was seriously injured in that incident.


There was a large tree at the entrance of the neighborhood and the young, tom-boyish Lucia made a bet with the neighborhood children to climb up the tree. She didn’t know what fear was and climbed all the way to the top before looking down triumphantly. But there was a bird nesting at the top of the tree. The mother bird felt threatened and attacked Lucia, causing her to flop around in surprise and crash.


‘The place that got hurt that day was…’


Lucia’s eyes quivered slightly when she checked under her right knee. There was no scar. The area where the injury was supposed to be was very smooth. The wound was too big to claim it had completely healed and disappeared as she grew older. But no matter how carefully she looked, she couldn’t find a single trace.


‘Did it never exist? Or, did it disappear?’


Lucia had never taken a very close look at the scar on her leg. She would have continued ignoring it if not for the pendant causing her to her think back to the accident that happened when she was a child.


‘Is the memory of myself getting hurt wrong too? No. There’s no way I could misremember such a huge accident in such vivid detail.’


She kept thinking and thinking until her head hurt. She took medicine for it, lay on the bed and fell asleep.



As Lucia slept, she dreamt about her childhood. The innocent times where she only thought about what she was going to play tomorrow passed by quickly. Soon, she was crying her heart out beside her mother’s cold body. The people in the neighborhood patted her back in an attempt to console her. They were saddened by her mother passing away and leaving a young child like her alone in the world. An auntie who was a close friend of her mother’s wiped away Lucia’s tears. As Lucia wept, overwhelmed with sorrow, she squeezed her mother’s pendant tightly as if it were her mother itself.


Suddenly, a Royal Guard stormed in and flipped the neighborhood upside down. No one was able to obstruct the Royal Guard from taking Lucia and they could only watch from afar. The young girl with hollow eyes did not rebel and simply followed obediently.


She was blind to the luxuriousness of the palace. She couldn’t feel any emotion looking at the man called father whom she was seeing for the first time. The detached palace that she would be staying in was cold and dreary. In a desolate bedroom, lying down, sobbing and repeatedly calling after her mother, was a young girl with a pendant in her hand.


Lucia woke up from her sleep with a start. It seemed she had been sleeping for a long time because it had gotten dark outside. She sat up on the bed with a vacant expression.


‘It’s not a dream…’


The dream she just had was not a fantasy but a piece of her memory.


‘Why did I forget it?’


The memory that seemed to have been covered in thin film was slowly being revealed.


‘I had the pendant with me.’


After her mother death, Lucia continuously hung the pendant on her neck. She also had it with her when she entered the palace. Even when the handmaids stripped off her old clothes and changed her attire, she refused to let go of the pendant because she was afraid someone would try to take away the only treasure that was in remembrance of her mother.


More and more new memories began to come alive in her mind. In her childhood memories, there was a contradiction. This contradiction was the huge accident where she fell off a tree in their small neighborhood and got hurt. At that time, Lucia was not the only one that got hurt. When Lucia fell, she broke a branch and another child fell down along with her. That child injured her head and subsequently, died.


“…Rossa.”


That was the child’s name. She was Lucia’s childhood friend. Rossa’s family moved away some time after Rossa died. The auntie, that is, Lucia’s mother’s close friend, was Rossa’s mother. Rossa’s mother was in the room with Lucia when her mother passed away. Perhaps she heard the news from afar and came back? However, in the same room, there was a girl around Lucia’s age crying alongside Lucia next to the auntie. That girl was Rossa.


[Lucia. You have to eat, okay? If you get sick, auntie will be sad in heaven.]1


When Lucia refused to eat for two days or more after her mother died, Rossa put a spoon in her hand and comforted her.


‘Rossa died when she was young, didn’t she?’


Lucia realized that she had two memories of her childhood and those memories were mixed up.


‘Let’s assume that the owner of the pawn shop is saying the truth. I did not have an accident when I was young and Rossa did not die. My mother did not leave the pendant at the pawn shop and I entered the palace with the pendant.’


Lucia’s last memory of the pendant was on the day she entered the palace for the first time. When she cried herself to sleep and woke up the next day, the pendant had disappeared, and she saw the future. And her memories got mixed up. Maybe the confusion happened because she was still a young child or maybe it was because of the pendant’s ability.


‘A magical tool…’


There were many things in the world that caused odd and bizarre phenomena. Lucia had seen a magical tool once and it was on the day she was brought into the Royal Palace. The magical tool for determining bloodline appeared to be a device with two glass cups placed side by side. Clear, pure water was put in the two glass cups and the two people who wanted to prove their relation by blood were to drop their blood inside. If they were not related by blood, there would be no change in the water, but if they were related by blood, the water would turn as red as blood.


‘Could the pendant be a magical tool?’


Her uncle said the pendant was an heirloom passed down in the Count Baden family for generations. A magical tool was a first-rate treasure so most magical tools were national treasures. It was not an item that a crumbling family like the Count Baden family could have. A magical tool could sell for an enormous amount of money so if her uncle knew, he would have long sold it off to further the family.


‘Uncle didn’t know about it. Grandfather doesn’t seem to know either.’


Assuming the pendant was a magical tool, Lucia began a new line of reasoning.


‘What the pendant showed to me…was not the future but another lifetime of mine.’


In another lifetime, Lucia was severely hurt when she was young, her mother pawned the pendant, and later, she met her uncle through the pendant’s appearance at the auction. Even if it was another lifetime, it was no different from seeing the future. If Lucia had meekly stayed in the palace, she would have married Count Matin and the future would gone the same way.


‘Things start to split off from the point where I got hurt as a child. That incident created another future for me.’


In reality, Lucia did not get hurt. Her mother did not pawn the pendant. The reason was unknown, but the magical tool activated for Lucia and showed her a long dream.


‘I have to find out if Rossa is alive.’


Most likely, Rossa was alive.


Translator’s Corner:


1. She refers to Lucia’s mother here and calls her ‘Ahjumma’. The literal translation is ‘dead Ahjumma/auntie will be sad.’ which sounds wrong.


< — I love you — > (3)


‘If the pendant is a magical tool, why wasn’t it awakened by my mother? Are there certain requirements that need to be met?’


“Vivian.”


Lucia was jolted out of her thoughts. She had been sitting on the bed with her arms wrapped around her knees and her body curled into a ball. Hearing his voice, she lifted her head. The bedroom was now much darker than it was when she first woke up. She didn’t know when he had entered the room, but he was sitting right next to her.


“Hugh. When did you come in?”


Hugo gently brushed her hair with his hand.


“Just now. I heard you’ve been asleep since you came back.”


When Hugo quietly opened the door and entered the dark bedroom, he was startled to find her sitting on the bed. He didn’t know what she was thinking so hard about, so he made some sound in order not to startle her, but she didn’t even notice at all.


“Did something happen at the party?” (Hugo)


“…No.” (Lucia)


“I heard you had a headache. This is the second time this month. Why do you keep getting sick if there’s nothing wrong with your body?”


Hugo could hardly believe the words of the quack who said that a migraine was not a big issue. It was called a sickness because something was wrong.


“I’m okay now. I was thinking about something.” (Lucia)


What exactly was she thinking so hard about in a dark bedroom that she didn’t even notice someone coming in? Hugo wanted to know her thoughts. He wanted to have all of her, as much as possible. He hesitated for a moment before asking carefully.


“The thing you’re thinking about, is it something I’m not supposed to know?”


“No, it’s just…a little absurd. You can’t laugh when you hear it.”


“I won’t laugh.”


“Do you remember the pendant I told my grandfather about?”


“I do.”


“I was thinking the pendant might be a magical tool.”


“Why?”


Lucia explained what happened at the pawn shop, the memory she had of bringing the pendant with her to the palace after her mother died, and the dream that she had after coming home. However, she didn’t reveal that she had seen another future in a dream. She wasn’t sure of it yet herself, and even though it was in a dream, she didn’t want to explain the painful things she went through there.


‘But I think I can tell you someday.’


Lucia thought that her dream experience of seeing future was a secret that she would take to the grave. However, without even realizing it, her mind had changed.


“My mother never sold the pendant. I think the pendant distorted something in my memory and disappeared. I didn’t personally see it disappear though.”


Hugo thought for a few moment and realized they would be talking for a while so he turned on the lights in the bedroom.


“Is the memory distortion serious?”


“Not really. It’s just, if it’s really a magical tool, why doesn’t my maternal family know?”


“They might not know. Not much is known about magical tools.”


Hugo knew from his family’s secret records that magical tools were common items during the time of the Madoh Empire. However, after a long time, the magical equipments were destroyed and it became impossible to know the original function of most magical tools.


“Can they suddenly disappear?”


“Some magical tools have extraordinary abilities and can be destroyed or broken. They could disappear too.”


“Most magical tools are national treasures, aren’t they? Can a noble family have one?”


“There are many families that have magical tools; it’s just that the magical tools designated as national treasures are more widely known. What kind of magical tool a family has and what kind of function it possesses, is usually a family secret. Some of the magical tools that noble families have are known to be hidden.”


Magical tools were sold for extremely high prices, regardless of their function. This was because there were a lot of collectors morbidly obsessed with magical tools. The price of a magical tool with a clear, useful function was up to the whims of the seller.


“Then, does the Taran family also have a magical tool?”


“We have many.”


There were a lot of miscellaneous things in the Taran family’s secret room. Sometime after he became Duke, Hugo wanted to know what was in the secret room so he looked through the things there. Most of it was garbage. The communication magical tool that allowed people to converse with each other while they were separated was somewhat useful.


The conversing distance was only up to how far they could manage to see each other in an open field. It was used when guarding Damian and was also being used now. The remaining magical tools of the same kind were brought to the capital. The value of a magical tool that was as useful as a communication magical tool was enormous.


However, Hugo organized a convoy to guard his wife and handed them the magical tools like they were nothing. Such little money was not an issue when it came to the safety of his wife. He would rather the knights guard her preciously like she were their own life.


“I’ll show them to you when we get back to Roam.” (Hugo)


“Do magical tools really have such great power? I heard there was a magical tool that could make rain fall.” (Lucia)


Hugo chuckled.


“That’s just nonsense. Most magical tools are useless. They are simply novel items. The reason why the lineage identifying magical tool of the Xenon Royal Family is so well-known, is because a magical tool with such a good function is extremely rare. Some country’s national treasure is in the form of a rod, but it simply glows in the dark. It can be used for something but it’s not good enough to call it a national treasure.”


Lucia thought about the meaning of her vanished pendant. If the pendant had the ability to show another lifetime, it was a colossal treasure that couldn’t be found anywhere in the world.


“Are you interested in magical tools? Is there anything you want?”


The operation to collect the magical tools scattered throughout the world could begin at any time. It was entirely up to Lucia’s reply.


“No. I was only a little confused.”


If it was the pendant that showed Lucia the future, Lucia was grateful to the vanished pendant. It was thanks to her dream that she was here now. And she realized that even a trivial incident could split the future, and the future could change depending on her choices.


‘My choice is you. And I wish your choice was me as well.’


Hugo was quite disappointed to learn that his plan to secretly find the pendant and surprise her with it was not going to be realized.


“Did it merely disappear? You said it distorted your memory, is that part okay?”


“I was confused because I had two memories of my childhood but after mulling it over, I have it sorted out.”


“If you’re really concerned about the pendant, we can bring your grandfather here and have him hear you out. It’s an heirloom of his Count family so he might know something.”


Lucia was about to say it was fine but changed her mind. In any case, the time she spent with her grandfather was short and she was left feeling sad. In addition, she was also curious about the phenomenon caused by the pendant. According to her husband, her grandpa might know something.


“Okay. I’d love to do that.”


“I’ll see to it that he’s escorted.”


His hand gently caressed Lucia’s cheek. Lucia somehow felt emotional at his affectionate touch.


‘Was he swept up in my choice?’


Lucia chose him and created a new future for herself. But this was foul. No one could have the chance to make the choice to avoid, knowing the unhappy future ahead. (1)


Lucia was afraid that his much happier future could be off-course because of her. It was so cruel to him who had been dragged in without knowing anything.


‘It’s fine even if the whole world condemns me and calls me selfish. I love him. I want him to love me too. What does he think of me? How much does he like me? If I tell him I love him, will he run away?’


“Have you ever wondered this: ‘if I made a different choice back then, something would have changed’?” (Lucia)


“What’s the use of having such thoughts? It’s in the past anyways.”


[I have no attachment to the things of the past. It’s useless to hold on to something that is impossible to change.]


It wasn’t that different from the answer he gave when Lucia asked him, ‘Have you ever regretted a decision you made?’ on the day after they got married. Lucia gave a wry smile. That was the kind of man he was. Someone that doesn’t look back on the past.


She thought he was a heartless man. His outlook on life hadn’t changed. But Lucia’s view of him had changed. Now, she didn’t think he was a heartless person. Rather, he was overly affectionate.


His affection had always caused storms in Lucia’s heart. As her happiness increased, so did her anguish. She couldn’t give up on him. Her expectations kept growing and she was afraid that at this rate, she would end up resenting him.


“I do have such thought. What if I didn’t get married to you. I would still be in the detached palace. And after a while, I would have been married to someone who paid the dowry to the royal family.” (Lucia)


Hugo stared at her and tried to figure out the meaning behind her words.


“Sometimes…I think I’m in a position that is much more than I deserve.” (Lucia)


“Why do you think that?” (Hugo)


“Don’t you ever think it was a rash decision? Marrying me, I mean.”


Hugo looked at Lucia without saying a word then he heaved a sigh.


“What did I do wrong again?”


“…Huh?”


“Just tell me instead of going around in circles like that.”


Lucia’s eyes went round, and she looked at him. The man who was always confident and prideful, anytime, anywhere, was having a daunted expression on his face. He was fretting because he thought he might have done something wrong without realizing it.


He acted like he would yield everything to her and do whatever she wanted. Whenever she was drenched with his love, Lucia felt like someone had grabbed her heart and squeezed it hard. The beast-like man whom others were afraid of, was so loveable and she couldn’t bear it. Lucia’s nose felt sore and she clenched her fist.


“You haven’t done anything wrong. It’s my guilty conscience.”


“What do you mean, guilty conscience?”


“Our marriage had quite the significant disparity. I was an unknown princess who was no different from an illegitimate child. You were the renowned Duke, famous at home and in other countries. You really married at a loss.”


Hugo frowned slightly. He didn’t like it when she called herself an illegitimate child. Married at a loss. He didn’t know she was thinking like that.


Hugo hated any reason that made her even the slightest bit reluctant to be by his side, not matter what it was. How could he explain that the concept of loss and gain couldn’t be brought into his relationship with her?


He slipped his hand around her waist, gently laying her down and towering over her.


“Nothing really happened at the party?”


“Nothing at all.”


“Then what’s wrong?”


“I sound a little foolish, don’t I?”


Hugo watched her smile bashfully and kissed the corner of her eyes.


“Don’t talk like that, Vivian. You are not a foolish and I did not get married at a loss.’


Lucia drew in a breath. It felt like his words were softly wrapping around her heart.


“I’ve said this before. If it’s hard, don’t hold it in. There’s no need to trouble yourself. Do only what you want to do.”


Lucia lifted a hand and cupped his face. As she stroked his cheek, she was captivated by the feeling that threatened to reduce her to a puddle. He didn’t whisper words of love in her ear, but his words were terribly sweet.


“I guess I’m not that reliable to you.” (Lucia)


“It’s not that I don’t think you’re reliable, I’m saying don’t get hurt.” (Hugo)


“Who will hurt me?”


“The body is not the only thing that can get hurt.”



The social circle was a place where people were killed with words. There were always people who said far-fetched things. He could not guarantee that the backing of a Duke family could completely protect his wife. Hugo could completely ignore what people said about himself. However, his wife was small and weak. So he was always worried about her.


Lucia’s eyes opened wide. He was telling her to not hurt her heart. The delicacy she felt from him sometimes was really surprising. Had she ever received such affection since her mother died? This went past the obligatory care from a husband to his wife.


‘Maybe he also…me…’ (2)


Her heart throbbed and fluttered at the conjecture. It felt like she had narrowly caught onto something, but it was slipping through her fingers. Lucia managed to hold together her emotions that seemed like they would pour out any moment and stretched out her arms to him.


He hugged her back and she buried her head in his chest.


“I’ll be careful not to get hurt.”


Translator’s Corner:

I translated this as literally as possible cuz I had no clue what she was trying to say.
This is more of a language barrier. In Korean, the thing being talked about usually comes last so the assumption here is she’s thinking ‘Maybe he loves me’.
______________
Lucia Chapter 93
LUCIA
C93
< — I love you — > (4)


T/N: chapter split is lopsided


The next day, Lucia received a message from Katherine in the morning. It was an invitation to meet in the afternoon. Yesterday, Katherine had been very satisfied with the successful completion of the party. Her expression as she sent Lucia off was filled with pride.


‘If she’s a little gentler when speaking, she could easily get along with more people. But I suppose that is her charm.’


Yesterday at the party, some noblewoman secretly spoke to Lucia when Katherine was too far to hear.


[This is my first time seeing someone who can treat Princess Katherine so comfortably.]


Instead of saying it directly, the noblewoman expressed it in a roundabout manner saying that Lucia was able to put up well with the head-strong Katherine. It was very rare for someone to say such things to Lucia directly and many people looked at Lucia with pitying or admiring gazes. They seemed to be thinking, ‘she is enduring well’. Right now, there was no way to resolve their misunderstanding, but as time passed, they would soon realize the truth anyways. Lucia had never once thought that she was ‘enduring’ Katherine.


Katherine was someone who grew up well-loved and there was nothing crooked about her. Her words were straightforward, which could make the listener uncomfortable, but she wasn’t an irrational snob.


‘If I had grew up as a well-loved, noble princess, would I have become such a confident princess?’


A life like that didn’t seem too bad. Lucia was envious of Katherine’s immature self-confidence, a result of growing up without hardships and living unaware of the scariness in the world. Lucia wished for Katherine to keep on living happily and carefree even until old age.


“I don’t know how she heard about it, but Her Highness the Queen sent a message that she would be imposing on us. I have to reschedule our tea time for next time.”


Katherine greeted Lucia who was visiting the Palace and grumbled to her. The pair moved to the Queen’s Palace. Beth had already finished making all the preparations and was waiting for them.


Even without merry topics to discuss, the small talk was enjoyable. Lucia was comfortable spending time with Beth and Katherine as if she had known them for a long time.


‘Is it because they aren’t strangers to me?’


Lucia didn’t associate with a lot of people, so she was amazed at the comfort she felt from the both of them. They hadn’t even exchanged words until recently.


‘Is this what a family is like?’


If one were to delve into their personal relationship, Katherine was her sister, and Beth was her sister-in-law. Lucia didn’t give that relationship any meaning, but there was something that was different from others.


“Earlier, the handmaid carried out an embroidery tub. Since when did you have an interest in embroidery?”


Beth gave a wry smile. In her time as a maiden, Beth scoured the social circles and played hard in her own way. She wasn’t someone who enjoyed static activities such as embroidery.


“Tell me about it. I’m doing something I’ve had never had an interest in my entire life. His Majesty asked me to embroider his handkerchief.”


Katherine burst out laughing. “Embroider his handkerchief?”


“This is all thanks to the Duchess.” (Beth)


Lucia was surprised by the unexpected comment.


“Why is it ‘thanks to the Duchess’?” (Katherine)


“The Duchess gave an embroidered handkerchief to the Duke of Taran. His Majesty saw that and wanted one too, so he asked me to make one.” (Beth)



Katherine roared with laughter and Lucia’s face turned red.


‘How did His Majesty happen to see it?’


There was no way her husband bragged about receiving that kind of gift. Lucia couldn’t even imagine such a sight.


“I’d like to see what kind of handkerchief it is.” (Katherine)


“Only if the Duchess is fine with it. I happen to have it with me. His Majesty borrowed it for reference.” (Beth)


“Oh my god. I want to see. Can I look at it?”


When Katherine looked at her with sparkling eyes and asked for permission, Lucia nodded her head with a red face. She was embarrassed to show the handkerchief that she made with her paltry skill.


“Don’t be hard on your husband when you go back home, Duchess. His Majesty told me he snatched away handkerchief.” (Beth)


Looking at her husband snickering away as he told her that the Duke of Taran’s expression was quite spectacular when he took it away, Beth thought to herself, ‘When will this man grow up?’


“Elder brother is doing all sorts of things now.” (Katherine)1


A little while later, a handmaid brought in the embroidery tub. Beth pulled out a white handkerchief from inside and handed it to Katherine.


Katherine looked surprised to see it was a cotton handkerchief. And she started laughing again. Her laughter carried the meaning of, ‘the Duke of Taran carries this stuff around?’ and Lucia’s face grew hot.


“The embroidery is cute. Flowers, huh.”


Lucia’s flushed expression stiffened slightly.


“…Can I see that for a moment?” (Lucia)


“Of course. You’re the original owner.” (Katherine)


Lucia’s eyes quivered as she checked the handkerchief that Katherine happily handed to her. She thought the handkerchief was the one that she gifted to him a while ago with his name embroidered on it. This handkerchief had a flower embroidery at the corner. The clumsy embroidery work was a trace of the time when she had first just started making handkerchiefs, a very long time ago. So he had one of the handkerchiefs that she made for sending to Damian? Since it was a handkerchief with flower embroidery, it had been several months since she made those.


‘This…what does this mean?’


Her heart began to race.


Translator’s Corner:


1. The sentence here is said when someone does something ridiculous.


< — I love you — > (4)


These days, Kwiz was troubled over money issues. Before he became king, he didn’t know that money was such a big issue. The places that needed money were overflowing while the amount of money available for use was limited.


“Gong. What is a good way to make money?”


“Since when did you become a merchant?”


No matter how much Kwiz whined, Hugo had no advice to give regarding economics. Hugo was not an economist. He didn’t know much about making money. It was just that he had many of such experts under him. The only criteria Hugo used for hiring people, was ability. He didn’t care about their status and he compensated them as much as their ability were worth. There were many capable and talented commoners that worked under Hugo. Hugo distinguished people only by their position and capability. It wasn’t because he held skepticism or doubt towards the social status system. To him, both high-born and low-born were all the same in that they both died when their head was cut off. The King was not born with an extra life. To Hugo, as long as they weren’t rude to him, people were people anyways.


“This king doesn’t know either that if he became a merchant or a king.”


“If the amount of money being earned is unsatisfactory, then just cut down on the things that are using it.”


“As a matter of fact, I’m cutting down on the palace budget. That of the previous king.”


As he was saying this, Kwiz inwardly ground his teeth. That damned old man! Now, he couldn’t even say that out aloud. Kwiz had already lost four times in a row in the bet with his adjutant. His stress had increased as the number of words he couldn’t use increased.


“I mean, his budget was on quite the huge scale.”


The previous king was a big spender. He was greedy for wealth, but he was more interested in spending than collecting. Interestingly, he liked to give prizes to his subordinates for one reason or the other, and when he awarded prizes, he squandered generously. There was a reason why the previous king who was terribly fickle and incapable of stably managing the state affairs, did not lose the support of the people.


“First, I’ll have to purge those useless mouths that were crapped by the previous king.”


The adjutant’s eyes lit up. He had decided on the word to ban for the next bet.


“Do you know how many half-brothers I have? Most of those bastards are dead, so we can put that aside. But there are 26 princesses. Twenty-six! This is why the budget is worn out.”


Kwiz’ breathing was rough. He had no obligation to feed and house the children of the dead old man whose faces he didn’t even know. The only person whom he recognized as his blood-related sibling, was Katherine. Although he had shown slight interest in the Duchess recently, it wasn’t enough to feel affection towards her as a sibling.


“I’m going to kick them all out.”


“Really? How?”


“I’ll inform each of their maternal families to come and collect them. And if there’s no one that is willing to take them, I’ll marry them off.”


It was a petty decision. There was no generosity as the King nor as the eldest sibling of the family.


Hugo’s evaluation of Kwiz as having many merits, but he also had many demerits as well. A typical weak point of his, was stinginess. To put it in a bad way, he was cheap and doesn’t care to act generous enough to not losing face.


However, as long as Kwiz’ stinginess wasn’t directed towards himself, he didn’t care either way. But suddenly, a fragmented piece of memory came to mind. On the day his wife came and proposed to him, she had said this to him with a sorrowful expression:


[A princess must be ready to be sold at any moment for the benefit of the royal family. If a suitable dowry is offered, the royal family will marry me off to whoever it is without batting an eye. Before I am sold off…I want to sell myself.]


Hugo’s mood soured.


Coincidentally, his wife talked about ‘what ifs’ yesterday and he had said that thinking about the ‘what ifs’ was useless. But now. Hugo was thinking about those ‘what ifs’. What if she hadn’t come to find him. What if he had laughed off her proposal. If one step was wrong, she would not have been the wife of Hugo Taran right now.


But that didn’t happen. Hugo still thought it was useless to think that perhaps things could have turned out a different way. Nevertheless, the hairs on his back were raised in fright. She could have been included in the bunch of useless mouths that the King was trying to get rid of. She could have been married off to a chosen man, regardless of her will, and someday, he would have met her as the wife of another man.


Hugo felt sick. When he imagined his wife becoming the wife of some other man, his stomach turned inside out. She was his woman, and no one could challenge that. When he remembered the reality, he broke out in a cold sweat, relieved.


Hugo glanced at Kwiz who kept on talking about something. The late king who neglected his children was terrible, but the bastard sitting in front of him was also terrible. What was so hard about being a brother and taking care of his sisters a little?


A moment ago, he inwardly agreed with the benefit of Kwiz’s project to drive away all his half-siblings. However, the moment he was personally involved, he changed his mind.


Useless mouth? The more he thought about it, the more uncomfortable he became. The image of her calling herself an illegitimate child came to mind. It was his first time seeing her belittle herself, so he was very surprised. Hugo had never once thought of her in that concept.


‘Was her life in the palace very hard?


Hugo often heard his wife talk about her childhood, but he couldn’t remember her talking about her time in the palace. Now that he thought about it, she didn’t have a handmaid in the palace and did all the work herself. Hugo felt angry afresh from the facts he already knew. She must have lived a miserable enough life in the palace that she didn’t even want to remember it.


[Before I am sold…I want to sell myself.]


At that time, he simply thought her words were interesting. The deep guilt he felt towards her, stabbed into his chest like a sharp needle. Why couldn’t he understand her misery and desperate feelings when she came to him and said such a thing back then? Displeasure towards the late king rose again in his heart.


‘He deserves to die that way.’


Hugo sneered, remembering the shameful death of the late king.


* * *


When Lucia got home, she asked Jerome about the flower embroidered handkerchief. Jerome laughed on the inside and calmly replied on the outside.


“Master checks it every day and carries it around with him.”


“…Since when?”


“It’s been several months now. From the time when we were in Roam.”


“You did not tell me this when you told me to gift him a handkerchief last time.”


“I thought you knew.”


Jerome replied nonchalantly.


“I thought Milady gave it to him. If Milady didn’t give it to him, then where did Master get the handkerchief from?”


“…”


Lucia could not tell Jerome that she didn’t give it to him. If she said she didn’t give it to him, the only explanation was that he took it secretly. She didn’t want to undermine her husband’s authority as the master of the house.


But Jerome already knew. He had personally witnessed his master secretly take a few pieces from the basket where the maid had put the completed handkerchiefs, so that she could make a parcel for young master Damian.


He wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it himself. It was a bizarre action, completely unlike his master. However, Jerome was a faithful butler that didn’t question everything his master did. The reason why he kept his mouth shut in front of the Madam was out of caution. No matter how trivial the incident was, it was impossible to know what effect it would have on the two’s relationship, so Jerome was always careful with his words and actions.


“…I meant I didn’t know he carried it around.” (Lucia)


“Is there any problem with that?” (Jerome)


“There isn’t, but he has to keep up appearances. How can he carry that kind of thing around? People will laugh if they see it.”


“You don’t have to worry. Master is magnanimous.”


Looking at the grinning Jerome, Lucia realized all over again why Jerome was a capable butler. Jerome had a smoothness that didn’t correlate with his age. The fact that he could wrap her husband’s shamelessness, unreasonableness, and selfish aspects with the word ‘magnanimous’ was really amazing.


Lucia thought hard about the meaning of the handkerchief. When she imagined the scene where he secretly took the handkerchief that she was supposed to send to her son, she couldn’t believe it and felt speechless. And while she couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness, her heart fluttered at the thought of why he did such a thing.


It suited him more to confidently ask for a handkerchief if he needed one. His cautious heart that made him unable to do that pervaded her heart like warm energy.


The handkerchief was an opportunity. Lucia retraced every single attitude he had towards her, his words and his emotions that he showed through his expressions. Perhaps she was already aware of it. But she heavily nailed it down with the thought that it wasn’t true. It was purely because she was a coward.


She reconfirmed her feelings to herself.


‘I love him.’


And she took a guess at his heart.


‘Maybe…he loves me too.’


But she didn’t know whether he had acknowledged the feeling of love. He might not be certain of his heart yet and may still be in a stage of denial.


‘Should I wait? Or…should I bring it up first?’


There was a crossroad placed in front of her, and a difficult choice to make between them. She felt more indecisive than that day when she went to the Ducal residence to propose to him.

______________
Lucia Chapter 94
LUCIA
C94
< — I love you — > (5)


In the carriage on the way home, Hugo was deep in thought.


‘It’s not something we can just cover up.’[1]


The relationship between the two of them was currently very peaceful. But it was an uneasy sort of peace. Hugo tried to ignore the fact that they were now walking on the thin ice of a deep lake. He wished they could remain like this forever, but he didn’t know when and where a stone would come flying in. He needed to prepare a safety device before they walked into deeper areas.[2]


The damned marriage contract. How could he have known this at the time?


Who would have known that in the distant future, he would want to beat up his past self, who was satisfied with getting a favorable contract?


Their marriage started out on the wrong foot. And not tackling the issue would result in it spiraling out of control as time went on.


There were a significant amount of worst-case scenarios. She could hold another man in her heart, she could hate him and ignore him, or she could even stop smiling at him like she did now. He had no confidence in being able to persevere and embrace her if she changed. He might torment her and make it difficult for her. And if that happened, their relationship would be driven to the bottom.


Hugo wanted to go back to the time when they were discussing the marriage contract, talked to her again and bare his heart to her. The time had come to resolve the uncomfortable subject of the contract.


Seeing his wife who came out to greet him, Hugo’s heart squeezed bitingly.


‘I can’t live without this woman.’


“Have you had dinner?” (Lucia)


“Look at the time. I’ve already eaten. What about you?” (Hugo)


“I know it’s late. I’ve eaten as well.”


Hugo wrapped an arm around her waist and stepped forward. The servants understood and dispersed. Jerome had a few miscellaneous things that needs to be reported to his master to get his approval for, but he did not rush.


‘I’ll get it tomorrow, why not?’


The faithful butler who had never put off today’s work for tomorrow, was now no longer living like a clock as he did in the past.


“I have something to tell you.” (Hugo)


“Now?” (Lucia)


“Yea. I’d like it to be now.”


The two of them went up to the second floor. As they sat side by side on the receiving room’s sofa, Hugo was having an internal conflict between his reason and instinct. Should he just forget about the talking and get the ball rolling first? As his body began to react to her soft body that was attached to his side.


“I went to the palace today.” (Lucia)


“Hm? Ah…you did mention it to me. Did you have a good time?” (Hugo)


“Yes. It was nice.”


Lucia had a lot of things she wanted to say to him, but she didn’t know how to broach the subject.


“You know, the day you came to me and asked me to marry you.” (Hugo)


Because the topic he chose was so unexpected, Lucia stared at him as she nodded her head.


“Yes.” (Lucia)


“Why was it me?” (Hugo)


“…Why are you asking that now?”


It had already been a year and a half since they have first gotten married. His question was too late.


“Because it didn’t matter.”


At first. Not only did it not matter, he was also not interested. The marriage with her was a contract. The contract only had to be favorable to him and there was no need to wonder about the thoughts of the other party in the contract.


After time passed, he couldn’t ask because he was afraid. His marriage with her seemed like it was treading on a narrow rail and he didn’t want to mention the words ‘marriage contract’ for no special reason. Truthfully, he didn’t even want to bring up this issue again.



However, as more time passed, he felt a sense of crisis that he would be too late then. Moreover, she had thanked him for marrying her, and those words gave Hugo a lot of courage. Lately, her attitude towards him was affectionate, so he thought that maybe she was quite satisfied with their marriage.


“And it matters now? In what way?” (Lucia)


“Was I one of your candidates?” (Hugo)


Lucia couldn’t really understand his words, so she looked at him without saying anything.


“What I mean is. If I had refused your offer, would you have gone to someone else?”


Hugo wanted to know her answer first before he resolved the marriage contract issue. When he thought about that possibility, his insides began to boil. The mere thought that she might have become another man’s woman made him feel angry. He was cooking on the inside over a matter that did not happen.


Lucia was stunned and the fact that he was having such thoughts was somehow funny.


“Is that important at this point?”


“It’s important.”


“Why? If I say I had such a candidate, what will you do if you know that now? Do you plan on harassing that person or something?


He clamped his mouth shut as if affirming her words. Some kind of resolution could be seen in his eyes. He looked ready to do anything if such a candidate really existed.


Seeing his completely incomprehensible obstinacy, Lucia’s eyes trembled. It was as if he was jealous towards someone that did not even exist.


‘Jealousy…?’


When Lucia entered the palace to meet Her Highness the Queen, she remembered what happened at the Rose Palace. He had reacted quite aggressively toward Count Ramis, who expressed an interest in her. As a matter of fact, back then, Lucia had felt strange. He was too emotional to simply say he was expressing his discomfort towards another man approaching his wife. He was a man that did not suit the word ‘emotional’.


At the time, she tried to disregard all the assumptions that popped up in her head. She didn’t want to make her own delusions out of something impossible and get excited over it. However, now, hope was seeping through, that maybe it was not a delusion.


“…There was no such candidate.” (Lucia)


His red eyes brightened up. He was delighted. Lucia’s vague hunch solidified a little bit. Her heart pounded loudly, and her mouth felt dry. Looking into his eyes, Lucia continued to speak.


“If you had refused, I would have most likely married someone who paid the dowry to the royal family.”


In a way, that also didn’t make him feel good. Hugo was annoyed at someone that was impossible to know.


“It was a day when I went out of the palace. The day of the victory party. On the afternoon of that day, I saw you during the Knight’s parade.” (Lucia)


Hugo remembered that day very well. It was unpleasant memory of himself becoming a spectacle for people. He had played the clown and had no choice but to do so.[3]


“Come to think of it, that party was my first meeting with you.” (Lucia)


Hugo remembered the incident with Sofia Lawrence and felt uncomfortable. He didn’t want her to recall that incident again and secretly studied her face.


“I knew you had a son. And I thought you might be interested if I suggested a marriage that fully recognizes Damian. I was right, wasn’t I?”


“I suppose.”


The biggest reason why Hugo got interested in her offer was because she boldly spoke about Damian. But that was not the only reason. He thought she was rather overambitious when she said she came to propose marriage to him. He was very amused by the small woman who didn’t stand on pretentious pride or show submissiveness.


“Is that all? That’s too…” (Hugo)


“Yes. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? To be honest with you, I was gambling.” (Lucia)


“Gambling?”


“I wanted to escape from the palace, and I needed a guardian. Your power and wealth. I needed that.”


“Hmm.”


He nodded his head. Lucia studied his expression. He didn’t look displeased at all. He had an expression like he was thinking about something.


“Don’t you feel offended?” (Lucia)


“Hm? Ah. That’s not it. I mean, I am little confused. I don’t think you have such an impulsive personality. And power and wealth…it doesn’t seem like you are greedy for things like that.” (Hugo)


“I also hesitated a lot, but it was Norman who strongly encouraged me to do it.”


“Norman? The female novelist?”


“Norman liked the idea of a bold challenge.”


Hugo secretly thought that he should tell the people keeping watch over the female novelist to pay more attention to her.


“And, you wouldn’t think so because you have a high standard for wealth and power. For me, I thought it was enough if my food, clothing, and shelter were all settled.” (Lucia)


“Hmmm. Food, clothing, and shelter. It’s quite odd to hear that phrase coming from your mouth. Was life in the palace that difficult?” (Hugo)


“I couldn’t afford to live luxuriously, but I had enough to manage. Actually, apart from power and wealth, there was my personal desire as well…”


Seeing him looking at her with a gaze that seem to be asking,‘and what is that?’ Lucia’s eyes curved, and she laughed.


“You are a handsome man.”


His expression fluctuated.


“I really like your face.”


“…Is that a compliment?”


“Of course.”


“Thank you.”


Hugo reluctantly replied. How should he described the look in her eyes, which were twinkling as she looked at him? The admiring gaze when you see an expensive jewel. Because it was an expression full of materialistic desire, one he usually couldn’t find on her, he somehow felt weird.


“It was good luck.”[4] (Hugo)


“I know right? I was lucky to become the Duchess.” (Lucia)


“Not you, me.” (Hugo)


Hugo lowered his head and kissed her lips. It was a light kiss, simply sucking on her lips. He thought there was no such thing as luck in his life. Until a moment ago.


“You were desperate enough to bet your life on a gamble.”


Hugo tilted his head and kissed her again.


“And I was caught in your hands and defeated.”


For the first time, Hugo was grateful for everything he had. The wealth and the power. Everything he considered tedious because although it made living a little easier, the burden was more than the convenience. Even his own appearance which he was indifferent to and neither prideful nor derogatory about. He was grateful for all the conditions that influenced her choice.


Translator’s Corner:


[1] They can’t just cover it up and ignore it. What exactly he’s referring to is a bit vague.


[2] This paragraph is him saying their relationship is not on a strong foundation aka thin ice. Before they could progress, the issue needs to be dealt with. At least, that’s my interpretation. My editor mentioned it was confusing so I put an explanation.


[3] This event occurred in chapter 1, towards the middle.


[4] The literal translation is, “you were lucky.” Hence why she thinks he’s talking about her. He doesn’t use pronouns either so the person he’s talking about is deliberately vague.


< — I love you — > (5)


Hugo thought that women only loved his wealth and power, but now he thought it was fortunate he was able to obtain her through his wealth and power. Even if it wasn’t because of fate but a matter of mere coincidences, it didn’t matter.


“…I didn’t mean to describe you as a gambling bet.”


Lucia tried to explain but Hugo was fine with it anyways.


“So. Was your gambling successful? Enough that if you could choose again, you would make the same choice?”


He grabbed her chin and slowly rubbed her red lips with his thumb. Feeling his slow and meaningful touch, Lucia’s face grew flushed. His insistent gaze on her made her feel overwhelmed. Her heart pounded at the strange sexual tension in the air. He had a languid look in his eyes as if he would pounce on her at any moment. Lucia replied like she was bewitched.


“No. There was actually one more option I didn’t know about.”1


“Option?”


Lucia suddenly hugged his neck and gave him a smacking kiss. Looking into his disconcerted, wavering eyes, Lucia smiled oddly.


“Virility.” (T/N: male sex drive)


“…You witch.”2


As he pounced on her, Lucia burst into laughter. He kissed her lips, eyes, jaw and neck at random without any inhibitions and as she pushed him while avoiding his teasing bites, she laughed till she was out of breath.


Hugo was thrilled to hear her clear laughter. He never ever wanted to lose this sound. The words she said, thanking him for marrying her made him feel overwhelmed again. He wanted to tell her his feeling as well, so that she could also feel what he was currently feeling.


“Vivian. I don’t think I’ve said it either.”


“Huh?”


“Thank you for coming and proposing to me that day.”


Lucia suddenly couldn’t breathe. His red eyes were filled with love and joy, and her body froze stiff.


‘Ah…I can’t do this anymore.’


Her eyes were sore. Tears welled up in her eyes, filling them up in spite of herself. She watched his red eyes tremble with confusion. When she closed and re-opened her eyes, her blurred vision became clear as hot tears flowed down her cheek.


Her heart was too full for words and she couldn’t bear the feeling that threatened to swallow her from head to toe. Her love for him was overflowing and spilling over. She couldn’t hide it anymore.


“I love you, Hugh.”


The words left her mouth on their own, bursting out from deep within her heart. At the same time she confessed, Lucia realized something. She could not even imagine a life without him.


He was looking at her with an expression like he was struck by lightning. Lucia watched the emotions in his briefly frozen eyes changed from one to another, moment by moment. Surprise, doubt, and then joy. Seeing his eyes finally trembling with delight, Lucia came to a realization.


‘He loves me. This man…he loves me.’


Her whole body trembled with excitement, but strangely, she wasn’t that surprised. It seemed like subconsciously, she kept thinking it might be possible. It was just that she couldn’t confront it directly. The tears refused to stop. Lucia looked at him with teary eyes and smiled happily.


“Will you give me a rose?” (Lucia)


Hugo was startled. His dazed senses which were drowning in ecstasy instantly sobered up. Her eyes and cheeks were all wet with tears and her smile seemed like an illusion, so Hugo reached out and cupped her cheek in his hands. The vivid sensation in his hands was not a mirage. He gave a wry smile.


“You really are a witch.”


Talking about a rose in this situation. Hugo truly wanted to root out all the roses in the world, pile them up, and set them all on fire. That way they could never come close to her. It was an ominous but happy feeling.


Hugo pulled her into his arms and kissed her wet eyes. The salty taste of her tears felt sweet to him. He lowered his head and kissed her red lips. He swept through the deep, tender flesh of her mouth and gazed at her trembling eyelashes. The soft, sweet kiss gave a new, different feeling from usual. When the kiss came to an end, he took his lips away.


He looked into her clear amber eyes and she looked back at him. Her eyes were completely filled with his image.


“I…”


His throat felt sore, so he stopped talking and audibly cleared his throat. So, this is what being choked up feels like. Hugo learned a new emotional state with his senses. And his mind was blank on what to say.


‘She said she loves me…? Me…?’


He didn’t think she had lied. But he couldn’t believe it either. It felt like some colossal powers had conspired together and were making fun of him. His silence grew longer.


Lucia tried not to rush him, but a little anxiety remained at the bottom of her heart. She wanted to hear assurance from him.


“I love you.” (Lucia)


He frowned as if he was hurting somewhere.


“I love you. Hugh.”


He uttered a sigh that was more like a groan.


“Let me rest a little. I can’t even breathe.”


Lucia burst out laughing.


“Won’t you say it to me?”


“…It’s too short.”3


I love you. His feelings couldn’t be expressed in just those three words. His heart was overflowing, and he was unable to control it. He didn’t know how that short phrase could express what he was feeling.


She was his joy and his pain. The joy came from the relief he felt when he held her in his arms, and the underlying pain came from the fact that they had to be two separate people. Her smile was his happiness and her tears were his pain.


He had never actually felt the limitations of the human language before. But that was the only word possible. Even if it felt like something he couldn’t fathom was forcing him into a small box, there was nothing he could use but that phrase.


Hugo squeezed her tightly in his arms. He wrapped his arms strongly around her back and pressed their chests tightly together so that they could feel the heartbeats of each other with their entire body. The warmth coming from the body in his arms made him feel emotional. For a long time, she had been his wife and his woman, but it occurred to Hugo that only now was he able to have all of her and she had given all of herself to him.


“You are my heart. I love you.” (Hugo)


Hearing the soft voice by her ear, Lucia’s eyes welled up with tears again. She leaned her head on his shoulder and felt the sound of a beating heart echo throughout her entire body; she didn’t know whether it was his heartbeat or her own. The inside of her chest ached with deep overflowing emotions.


Now she knew why the human reaction dulled in proportion to the time and frequency the body was exposed to stimulation. If she kept on feeling this same degree of happiness and excitement, her heart would stop.


Translator’s Corner:


1. She uses the word for yes here. But this is one of those weird time when the word for ‘yes’ in Korean, means ‘no’ in English.


2. He’s saying she played him like a witch. Literal translation is “this witch-like woman”. I was gonna translate this to minx but thought better of it.


3. Again, [I love you] is one word in Korean. But in order to avoid disconnection as you guys read, I wrote three instead of one.

________________
Lucia Chapter 95
LUCIA
C95

< — I love you — > (6)


Hugo and Lucia sat holding each other for a long time without saying anything. They both needed time to sort out their feelings which had surged up to the limit.


Lucia recalled the contents of a romance novel that Norman had written. The protagonist was thrown onto the path of tribulation from the moment she confirmed her love. No matter the adversity, the protagonist always prevailed. Lucia thought it was only possible because it was novel; reality was incomparably harsh. Which is why she felt that the sweet reality placed in front of her right now was miraculous.


“I was going to talk to you about our contract today.”


His low voice reverberated through her body. Lucia pulled away slightly from his embrace and lifted her head to look at him.


“You already gave me the consent form for the family register and Damian had been entered into the register. The terms of the contract have already been met and I know that calling it ‘termination’ is meaningless. So, I wanted to hear your thoughts.”


“The contract was meaningless already.”


Lucia calmly shook her head.


“Even if it wasn’t a term in the contract, I would have gladly taken Damian as my son. He’s a lovely child that deserves to be loved. And, you’ve already promised me that you would be a faithful husband. Ah. There is one last condition left. If I confessed my love to you, you would give me a rose.”


Seeing him scowling, Lucia smiled.


“But you’re not going to give me a rose, are you?”


“…You’re going to keep tormenting me with that, aren’t you?”


“I won’t.”


Lucia chuckled. His face was filled with dissatisfaction and his expression was saying he felt wronged and frustrated but couldn’t say anything.


“Since when did you love me?” (Lucia)


His expression turned awkward.


“I don’t know.” (Hugo)


Lucia began to ask a little about specific events from the past, questioning, ‘was it then?’ and Hugo replied with ‘I think it was further than that…?’


“Then, what about when Damian came back?” (Lucia)


“Probably around then?” (Hugo)


“That long ago?”


“I thought I was going to run out of breath because you were so dense.”


So says the man who timidly kept everything to himself and suffered inwardly. If it was around the time when Damian came back, it had almost been a year. Lucia looked at him with a new gaze. So, he had been troubled on his own for almost a year. She felt sorry and also felt like laughing. Lucia spoke prudishly.


“You’re something else as well. I was much earlier than you, you know?”1


After a momentary pause, he yelled, ‘What?!’ and grabbed her shoulders with both hands.


“Ah really, you’re so cruel. And even with that, you declared you would never love me?”


Lucia retraced that particular memory and went, ‘Ah…’


“I didn’t know that incident bothered you.” (Lucia)2


Hugo gave a dispirited sigh. He wondered if his internal struggles this whole time had all been for nothing.


“Do you know how much I…” (Hugo)


He felt choked up for no reason and couldn’t continue speaking. Lucia patted his shoulders to comfort him. Seeing his annoyed expression, a small laugh escaped her mouth.


‘We were both so scared of each other.’


Lucia felt like she knew why the both of them took such a long time to get here.


“…You didn’t even tell me your name.” (Hugo)



“My name?” (Lucia)


“I’m talking about your childhood name.”


“Childhood name?”


“…Lucia.”


Lucia took a sharp breath. The moment her name came out of his mouth, she felt a sense of thrill. She didn’t think of the name her mother gave to her as a childhood name. ‘Lucia’ was simply just her name.


When Lucia looked at him without saying anything, Hugo began to grumble: Damian knows, even the butler knows but I don’t know.


“Hugh.”


Lucia laughed and stretched out her hands to cup his face.


“To me, the name ‘Lucia’ was special. Because it was the name my mother gave to me.”


The name ‘Lucia’ was her identity. In her dream, it was the pillar that kept her from collapsing, no matter what she went through.


“Princess Vivian was like another person that wasn’t me. It’s not that I tried to hide it from you, but because your wife is Vivian, I thought I should live as Vivian.


“You were uncomfortable with the name from the beginning.”


“Yes. I was. I thought ‘Vivian’ was a shell hiding my true self ‘Lucia’. Hugh. I found out that a name has meaning when someone is calling it. Every time you call me Vivian, the fake Vivian starts to become real. I am your Vivian. Only you can call me Vivian.”


Lucia acknowledged that Vivian was also herself. Rather, she was happy that she was able to live as his wife, Vivian. ‘Lucia’ was a weed and a wildflower. ‘Vivian’ was a beautiful flower. She wanted to be with him as Vivian.


“The name that only you can call is more special, isn’t it?” (Lucia)


“…”


His red eyes were slightly lukewarm but his ‘dubious but it sounds convincing’ expression was adorable. Lucia chuckled.


“I have something to ask you too. Why did you steal Damian’s handkerchief?” (Lucia)


“What do you mean ‘steal’? That word is not appropriate.”


He boldly protested. Lucia stared at his shameless face.


“Alright then. Why did you take it?”


“Speaking of which, when you make one for the boy, make one for me too.”


His attitude was basically ‘give me what you set aside for the boy’. Lucia ignored his request for now and went on the offensive.


“So that it can be taken by His Majesty again?”


“…”


Hugo sighed lamentfully and mumbled, ‘How merciless’.


“You usually have a lot of complaints about me. Don’t say you don’t.” (Hugo)


“Mm. It may be so. I had a lot of worries too. Worries that I wouldn’t have had if you had been courageous like a man. I did the proposing and I also did the confessing. Wow. Now I can see that the face of His Grace the Duke of Taran doesn’t count for much.”


“…Go easy. You’re really chopping your husband up.”


Lucia burst into laughter and hugged his neck.


“Even if you’re timid and a bad guy. I love you, Hugh.”


“Can’t you take out the first sentence?”


Hugo grumbled and picked her up from the sofa. He carried her to the bedroom, put her down on the bed and as she protested that she was still talking, he blocked her lips with his own.


“The conversation is taking too long. Let’s take a break.” (Hugo)


The speechlessness written all over her face didn’t faze him. Hugo quickly pushed her down on the bed and climbed over her. His hand lifted up her skirt and traced the inside of her thigh.


“Plus, the option you talked about. You have to test the performance, don’t you?”3


“I’ve tested it enough!”


Her rebellion was instantly suppressed.


* * *


It was the dusk of dawn. Hugo woke up at the same time of the day like always. He greeted the morning at the same time and started the day the same. It was a life where yesterday was like today, and today was like tomorrow. Sometimes, he wondered how much time he had left and felt a deep sense of emptiness.


Feeling the body temperature and soft skin next to him, Hugo turned his head. His wife, the only color that shone in his gray world. His love. His life obtained meaning because of her. He couldn’t imagine a life without her. He couldn’t sleep without holding her warm body in his arms.


Ever since she came to the capital, he had not used his bedroom. His bedroom, unused by its owner, was chilly even in the middle of the summer. Hugo put his arm under her waist, pulled her quietly sleeping figure to his chest and hugged her tightly. Then he carefully lay her down and covered her with the blanket. She tossed in her sleep and turned over to the side. He kissed her exposed, round shoulders then he came down from the bed.


Because the master of the house was an early riser, the mansion was awake early in the morning and active. Under the steadfast attendance of the always dedicated three siblings, Hugo changed his clothes. At the side, Jerome orally reported the miscellaneous things he didn’t report yesterday and simply received approval.


“Yellow rose. Why is it a yellow rose?”


Jerome diligently replied to his master’s abrupt question.


“Do you mean why I chose to send a yellow rose?”


When Hugo nodded his head, Jerome said, “It’s because of the floral language,” and went on to explain that most flowers in the world had a specific meaning called the ‘floral language’.


“Floral language? Right…And what is the yellow rose in floral language?”


“It stands for separation.”


Hugo’s expression turned rather sour at Jerome’s reply.


“What flower has the opposite meaning in floral language?”


“Red roses stand for passionate love.”


“Not roses.”


Hugo was sick of roses, regardless of the color.


“There is a flower called statice. In floral language, it means eternal love.”


“That sounds good. Have someone bring a bunch of those to my wife every morning when she wakes up.”


Hugo decided to erase roses completely from her head.


Translator’s corner:


1. Didn’t know how else to word this, she’s saying she felt in love with him wayyy before he did. She does not use the word ‘love’. It is implied.


2. I believe this is when they had their first argument over her not wanting treatment for her infertility. I forget wt chapter.


3. Option was [Virility](Re: male sex drive/stamina in bed). Just in case you forgot.
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