< — To the Capital — > (2)
Lucia felt as though she was trapped in a burning fire and couldn’t breathe then a careful touch began to sweep over her body and little by little, she was able to breathe again.
Gradually, her consciousness returned and she slowly opened her eyes. She could see him in front of her, but she couldn’t tell if it was a dream or reality.
He called her name, a sense of urgency in his voice.
When she heard his voice, she suddenly felt emotional. She reached out as though to grab him.
Hugo gave a huge sigh of relief. He lifted the thin blanket to cover her body then he took her hand and kissed the back of her hand.
He gathered her sweat dampened hair, brushing it aside, then he wiped down her forehead with a towel. Seeing his eyes filled with worry, Lucia felt sick to her stomach.
It wasn’t just because of the indigestion. Ever since her mother died, this was the first time that someone was taking care of her when she was sick.
Tears welled up in her eyes and began to fall. Hugo’s expression hardened at this sight.
“Is anyone there! Where is the doctor!”
Seeing as he’d forgotten about using the rope to call and was screaming, Lucia squeezed his hand.
‘It will be fine.’
For some reason, this thought crossed her mind. The thought that it would be fine even if they went to the Capital. It was a vague belief that this peace and happiness would not be broken.
“Hugh. If we go to the capital, will you be unfaithful?”
‘She must really be in a lot of pain,’ Hugo thought and at the same time, the realization that she didn’t trust him at all made him feel powerless. In her mind, he was still far from reliable.
“I will never do that.” (Hugo)
Lucia watched him quietly then gave a small laugh.
“Then it’s fine.”
‘I’ll trust you.’
Even if he got another woman, he wasn’t one to deceive and hide in secret while cheating. He would rather say it out squarely.
‘Afterall, he can’t lie well.’
She had seen him embarrassed after being thrown off guard several times. When he gave orders to the servants, there was nothing stopping him from lying so she thought that lying was most likely his weak spot.
‘But, in the capital’s political struggle, lying is essential. Will he be okay?”
Hugo’s cold mask only broke down in front of her. Lucia was worrying about something that didn’t need worrying. She seemed to have already forgotten about the Hugo from her dream and the Hugo from before their marriage.
‘What the heck does ‘then it’s fine’ mean? Fine? What’s fine?’
Hugo wanted to shake her and ask her what she was thinking about. Just then, Anna came in and while she exchanged questions and answers with Lucia about her symptoms, Hugo sorted out his complicated feelings.
Was she always so difficult? He really didn’t know. In the past, he used to think that once he gave women jewelry, everything would be solved. Until now, nothing had ever given him so much trouble.
“I will prescribe digestive medicine to calm your nausea. Once you take it and sleep well, you should be fine.”
While waiting for the medicine to be brought, Hugo continued to wipe off the sweat on her forehead. The high fever had still not reduced and her breathing was still uneven. Hugo couldn’t make a sick person talk for too long so he shoved his wandering thoughts away for the moment.
“Why are you so foolish? If you were sick, you should have called someone.”
“I thought it would be fine.”
“It could have been a disaster. You lost consciousness.”
“Is it dawn? What do we do? You have to leave early but you haven’t gotten much sleep.”
“That’s not the problem now.”
Hugo lowered his voice as much as possible and tried not to get angry at her. She had done nothing wrong to make him angry. It was merely his heart that felt sad.
“I hear you’re often sick.”
“Ah…that’s just a common thing.”
“Can’t it be cured completely?”
Lucic chuckled softly.
“When you say it like that, it sounds like a fatal illness. It’s not serious. It’s similar to someone who has frequent stomachaches. It can’t be helped.”
“Serious or not, I hate when you’re sick.”
“I’ll be careful not to fall sick.”
“That’s not what I mean….don’t hide it from me when you’re sick or in pain. As your husband, I deserve to know that much.”
“Okay, I won’t.”
The maid soon came in with the medicine. Hugo held her to his chest and fed her the medicine then helped her change into new set of dry clothing. Not long after taking the medicine, Lucia fell asleep. With that, it was assumed that the sudden turmoil of the night was over.
Before daybreak, Lucia’s temperature began to rise again. She threw everything up including the medicine and her temperature repeatedly rose up and down. Hugo stayed up all night trying to bring down her fever.
Hugo expressed his anger to Anna who was called for the second time.
“Didn’t you say it was indigestion? What is this! She can’t even keep the medicine down!”
If the northern nobles saw this, they would recall the rumor that the Duke of Taran turned into a flaming dragon when angry. Facing the Duke’s anger for the first time, Anna was so nervous that her fingers went numb.
She realized it was a blessing that only she and the Madam knew of her giving Sir. Philip’s remedy without knowing of the components. Anna instinctively felt that if the Duke knew, she would lose her head.
“I-I think Milady’s stomach is very upset. By any chance, has Milady been shocked or greatly surprised lately? If there are addition psychological factors, the indigestion can worsen.”
Hugo frowned and sank into thought. Apart from hearing of the King’s death, there was nothing different from usual.
‘So she was shocked at the King’s death?’
Since Hugo had no affection for his father, he had overlooked the feelings that normal people would have towards the death of their parent.
She never really talked about her father but she talked about her mother frequently so Hugo was even forgetting that the King was her father. Still, they were flesh and blood so perhaps there were some unspoken feelings left over.
He wasn’t being considerate when he passed on the news. Hugo felt angry at his lack of sensitivity.
* * *
Lucia threw up everything she ate so she could only take in barley tea for two whole days then finally, on the third day, she was able to take in some watered down food. She ate half of her rice porridge, then she leaned back on the bed and closed her eyes.
‘I must have been too worried about going up to the capital.’
It was her first time having such a terrible case of indigestion. She felt a cool hand on her forehead and opened her eyes. Her husband was beside her.
“…The fever seems to have gone down a little now.”
He pushed back his plans to go to the capital and stayed beside her the entire time so Lucia felt sorry, thankful, and worried that it might affect his work.
“I’m really okay now.”
Hugo frowned slightly. The words ‘I’m okay’ seemed sewn to her mouth. She was sick so he didn’t want to make her to feel uncomfortable. He took in a deep breath and calmed himself.
“I heard you had a little porridge. Do you feel okay?”
“Yes, it seems to be digesting now. I don’t feel nauseous.”
“Are uncomfortable anywhere? You couldn’t eat well for a while, do you feel dizzy?”
“I won’t die if I don’t eat for a few days. My stomach was just a little upset.”
“It is not only fatal illnesses that are illnesses.”
Even when she was sick, she didn’t desire anything. Even though she was sick enough to throw up everything she ate and her fever was high enough to scare him, she didn’t even say she was hurting.
Every time he saw her pale complexion, she would repeatedly ask him when he would be going up to the capital. And several times he wanted to reply with, ‘you’re really harsh’ but he swallowed down those words.
‘Do I really seem that unreliable?’
He felt anxious as he stayed by her side and watched over her.
“I think I have to go to the capital now.”
The urgency has now reached its limit. The Crown Prince had been sending letters but finally couldn’t contain himself and sent a messenger that arrived this morning. At least until the national funeral was over, Hugo had to be in the capital.
The fact that he had to leave while she was sick was very annoying but he couldn’t make the excuse that his wife was sick. To put in bluntly, she wasn’t terminally ill so he couldn’t make that excuse.
“I’m fine. You have to go, don’t you?”
Seeing her weak but pure smile, his chest felt numb. His wife didn’t give him any trouble at all. But he hoped that she would trouble him. If she held onto him and told him not to go, he would toss it all and stay by her side. His woman was lying sick in bed so who cared whether the king died.
“Get some rest. Don’t think about anything else. Take your medicine and don’t skip your meals.”
“Your nagging has increased.”
“If you don’t like it, then don’t make me worry.”
Hugo bent down and kissed her head, her forehead and her dry lips.
“Vivian, are you really okay?”
Even though she reassured him several times, he remained, watching her with an anxious gaze, then finally, he turned around to leave.
As the door closed and the room grew quiet, Lucia felt her sight grow blurry and blinked. Her tears trailed down to the pillow. Perhaps because of her sickness, her hold on her emotions seemed to have weakened considerably.
She wanted to tell him not to go. She wanted to complain that she was sick and it was tough.
[Females sometimes fall apart when they lose the object of their affection.]
It was something Madam Michelle had said some time ago. The Countess’ words weren’t wrong. If she relied on him without standing on her feet, she would completely collapse if he left.
To what extent was the proper distance Madam Michelle talked about? Lucia wished to know the exact answer to that question.