< — Meeting People — > (1)
The three day ball that would start from the evening of today, was to be held in the spacious hall of the Outer Palace but the celebration party was to be held in the Inner Palace.
Their carriage arrived at the Royal Palace and slowed down as they entered into the Inner Palace. In the Inner Palace, carriages were restricted from moving over a certain speed.
Because of the slow speed, there was almost no shaking inside of the carriage. Hugo straightened up and leaned towards her then he pushed against the wall of the carriage and began to kiss her. He had been holding back what he wanted to do for a while now so he was annoyed.
At the sudden deep kiss, Lucia’s face immediately flushed crimson. When their lips separated, she looked into his eyes and saw they were filled with excitement. She noticed the pink smears on his lips and her face grew hot.
“Your lips are stained with makeup.”
Hugo rubbed his lips with his hand to check and saw that it was smeared with pink lipstick.
“If you wipe it with your hand, it will spread.”
Lucia pulled out her handkerchief from her purse and wiped his lips.
“Mine is spread too, isn’t it?” (Lucia)
“I’ll clean it for you.” (Hugo)
Lucia held out her handkerchief to him. Hugo didn’t even consider taking it and just kissed her again. He wove his tongue into her mouth, kissing her deeply then he followed it with a few light kisses on the lips. He watched her face grow bright red then he whispered to her with amusement:
“Your lips are all clean. What of mine?”
Lucia finally realized his meaning of ‘cleaning’ and hit his shoulder. While glaring at his smiling face, she wiped off the little traces on his lips with her handkerchief.
“It was perfectly placed makeup…” (Lucia)
“You don’t need it. In the future, don’t put it on your lips.”
“Just in case it stains you.”
“Then, don’t kiss me!”
“Why can’t I?”
When he sourly retorted, Lucia was speechless.
“The flower of makeup is the lipstick. It’s like the finishing touch.”
“Even without doing that, you’re pretty.”
He wanted to swallow her red and moist lips every time he saw them. He wanted to suck on her delicate lips, nibble them, and torment her soft tongue. He wanted to swallow her saliva and see her breathless with reddening eyes. Why did he have to hold it in? He had no intention of doing so nor did he want to.
Seeing his lips approaching again, Lucia blocked him with her hands. She looked at his unhappy expression and expressed her strong refusal.
“This is neither the time nor place. Please. We are on our way to an important event.”
Hugo obediently pulled back and leaned against the carriage. He didn’t know how an important event and a kiss were related but the fact that it was an important event was true. Not because it was the celebration of the King’s accession but because it was her debut stage.
The slowly moving carriage came to a stop. The door was opened from outside. Hugo rose and went out of the carriage first then he extended his hand back inside. Lucia took a deep breath then she rose as well. There was a fairly high gap between the carriage and the ground but there were simple stairs to ease that gap.
Lucia took his hand then carefully walked down the stairs and came down from the carriage.
“Are you nervous?”
“A little bit.”
Hugo kissed her fingertips.
“People with higher status than you can be counted on one hand. It is others that have to be nervous in front of you.”
Lucia smiled sweetly at him. Hugo returned her smile then he shifted his gaze and began to walk forward. Lucia stepped forward as well, looking ahead.
As soon as they entered the hall, Lucia felt dozens and hundreds of gazes fly towards her and stay on her. Unconsciously, she squeezed his hand tighter. His big hand gave her support. She was not alone. He was by her side. Her small anxiety disappeared. After a few moments of silence, the crowd stirred and gradually grew louder.
Lucia followed his lead, walking straight ahead and not looking at anything around. As she swiftly walked by, nothing was able to enter her eyes. When he stopped, Lucia also stopped. When he bent his back and lowered his head, Lucia also followed and bent her waist.
“You may rise. I finally get to meet the famous Duchess.”
It was not until Lucia lifted her head that she realized who she was greeting. A man who was draped in formal attire and had a golden crown on his head.
He was the one who was enthroned today, the King of Xenon, Hesse the 9th. Lucia’s half-brother, Kwiz. Beside him was Beth who also doned the crown of the Queen.
“In private, you are this King’s sister. Isn’t that so?”
“I am beyond honored.” (Lucia)
The king who acted friendly and spoke to her was unfamiliar. Lucia’s half-brother in the dream had sent one documented order and married her off to the Count of Matin. Lucia had no grudge against the king. However, the not so innocent interest of the King was not welcome. The King’s point of interest was not in her as his sister but in her as the Duchess.
If this had been in the dream, Lucia would have probably been thrilled. After all, at this time in the dream, she was lonely and exhausted. However, in this lifetime, Lucia had a reliable husband at her side. She had no need to crave for her brother’s affection.
“You can call this King ‘elder brother’.”
“How could I dare. Please withdraw your exorbitant request, Your Majesty.” (Lucia)
Her attitude, as she slightly lowered her waist with a smile and replied, was not humility for form’s sake. It was a firm and roundabout rejection.
Kwiz gazed at Lucia and gave a fake laugh. This couple was equally hard to deal with. They say that she lived quietly and invisibly inside a detached palace?
Kwiz had observed countless groups of people and from what his sharp eyes could tell, she was not a foolish princess. Her eyes were filled with intelligence. It was very rare for Kwiz to meet someone that he wanted to sit down and have a talk with. His sister that he met for the first time today gave him that exact feeling.
‘And here I thought that dead old man only left behind a son.’ (Kwiz)
Even when Kwiz was praising Lucia, he did not forget to give himself a pat on the back.
Hugo had sharply raised his guard but ended up having to swallow his laughter at her shrewd response. She was pretty, kind, clever, confident. Hugo had an endless line of rhetoric to decorate his wife.
Kwiz looked at the Duke of Taran who was watching his wife with a melting gaze and felt a tingling at the back of his head. He wanted to share his astonishment with someone. His eyes slightly met the Queen’s and she gave him a meaningful smile then she averted her gaze. The Queen already knew! For some reason, he felt vexed.
“This is Gong’s order, isn’t it?” (Kwiz)
“What might you mean?” (Hugo)
“Isn’t that why my sister is so cold to this King on our first meeting?”
“I mean, one should have done one’s role as an older brother.”
Lucia was a little surprised as she watched the two of them exchange casual words. The relationship between him and the King was much more open than she thought.
Beth laughed as she watched the Duchess look at her husband with pride in her eyes. Her deliriously happy expression as she watched her husband was cute and adorable. Beth felt like she could see why the Duke of Taran fell for the Duchess.
This King: Kwiz does not refer to himself as ‘this king’. He uses an old fashioned title(짐) used by emperors in Goryeo and it refers to himself in third person therefore ‘this king’ is the closest thing to it.
Gong: (general description) A type of honorific. It is a title(공) given to a noble personage in a high position. It is usually a term of respect/honorific for a Duke. In this novel, it seems to apply to Marquis as well.