< — Realization — > (1)
[You seem to have fallen in love.]
The king’s words remained like a tenacious afterimage, refusing to disappear. While enjoying the aftertaste of messy sex, Hugo held her in his embrace and gently caressed her back. As he felt her smooth skin with his cold hands, he lost himself in thought.
Love. He acknowledged the connection between blood ties and strong feelings in the light of his experiences. But he didn’t understand the foolishness behind the belief that a man and a woman, who didn’t share an ounce of blood, could meet and have a relationship stronger than blood.
To him, a woman was just a partner for enjoyment. He did not disdain nor despise the women that rushed to him like moth to a flame for his wealth and power. It was a natural and reasonable trade wherein they exchanged with one another. Not only in his relationship with women, but in his life itself, it was continuity of constant trade.
His marriage was also the same. The beginning was definitely an excellent trade with no loss. Physical satisfaction was a bonus. His wife was a satisfactory trading partner.
But by the time he came to his senses, his emotional state was repeatedly plummeting and rising. From the moment he recognized his emotionally unstable state, he began walking a strange equilibrium of stability in instability. Tranquil satisfaction and torturous anxiety were coexisting in his mind.
‘How did it end up like this?’
Hugo looked back, retracing his steps.
‘I was too relaxed.’
Hugo was completely relaxed when it came to her. There was never a part of his wife that he was wary about. She was royalty but she had no relatives let alone ties with the royal family. She didn’t have personal desires like power or greed. In the eyes of a predator like him, she was a small herbivore with no teeth or claws. Her ability to fearlessly enjoy peace at his feet while being so awfully weak was fascinating. There was no one like her at his side until now.
It was a very comfortable feeling, the feeling of relief that he could relax and have no need to be wary. With the cozy peacefulness, his mind and body was at ease and he let down his guard. By the time he detected an abnormality, his feelings for her had already become a flowing stream. The more he denied it, the harder it was to turn back. It was not a stream that could be block off with a dam, it had become a gigantic sea.
In his cursed bloodline, an unquenchable thirst lay asleep within. Whether it was by chugging liquor, getting drunk on women, or even killing people, the thirst was not quenched however she was able to relieve that thirst. And at the same time, she gave him another overpowering thirst.
He could not define the tremendous changes in himself with that one word alone.
“…Speaking of me.”
Hugo thought she was asleep but he could hear her small whisper very clearly.
“If there was someone I wished would rather die.”
Lucia kept thinking of the Count of Matin, whom she met at the banquet hall. She overcame her fear of him but in place of that, her anger was pushed forward. The fact that she had suffered at the hands of such a vulgar pig made her feel angry and mortified. She gnashed her teeth at the thought that things might turn out opposite from the dream and he may not die. The fact that he was breathing under the same sky as her was revolting.
After speaking impulsively, Lucia regretted it. It was so abrupt and rash. When he asked her what was going on, Lucia despaired on how to reply. The moment she said those words, his hand on her back stopped moving but it was only for a moment. Her ear was on his chest and she could hear his calm heartbeat.
“How do you want me to kill them?”
He spoke lightly with a soft voice as though appeasing her.
“There are many ways to die. One can die from a disease, one can die from an accident, one can be killed by a suspicious person, one can die from an incident of blind passion, and one can die as a criminal. If you tie in a rebellion, even the family can disappear without a trace.”
Lucia pouted because he seemed to be making fun of her. But her mind grew relaxed. She felt like a fool for wasting her emotions on reminding herself of that trash.
“Won’t you ask me who it is? That’s supposed to be the first thing.”
“I don’t care who it is but if it’s the King, that’s a little difficult right now. I need time.”
Lucia quickly sat upright. Her face had gone pale in the darkness.
“Are you crazy? How can you say that. If someone heard, you’ll die!”
“Who will kill me?”
He laughed arrogantly as though saying “even the King can’t kill me but I can.” Lucia looked at the man before her. He seemed like he would be confident even in the face of death and somehow, she felt drained of her strength. She felt like an idiot for making a fuss about nothing.
“Huu. Alright. I was wrong. I wasted my breath for nothing.”
As she grumbled and lay down again, Hugo chuckled and took her into his arms. He wasn’t joking or bluffing at all. If she asked him for his heart, he might even dig it out. If she really wanted it, was the King’s neck a big deal?
I’ve gone crazy. Hugo swallowed a bitter smile. He was out of his mind like this.
‘What could it be?’
Hugo’s red eyes shone dangerously. What could have caused darkness in her heart? He had never been reported of anything like that. He asked her what was going on and considered asking her who it was but he refrained. It was better to pass it over like a joke rather than questioning it seriously. He didn’t want her to carry darkness in her heart.
“If you hate someone and it hurts to endure.”
His whispering flowed into Lucia’s ear.
“Be sure to tell me.”
If there was darkness in her heart, he would take it all.
“…What will you do?”
“Who knows. What shall I do?”
He muttered slowly but Lucia somehow felt a very dangerous air.
“Promise me. That you will.” (Hugo)
“But that won’t ever happen,” Lucia added. Then she went on to talk about how someone took a joke too seriously and how it’s not funny if a person is too serious. Hugo watched her babble on as if he was listening to a song then he kissed her lips and hugged her tightly.
It was dangerous. He knew that. The history books warned with facts as evidence of the harsh price to pay when a man went crazy for a woman. How much had he ridiculed the numerous fallen kings that fell for a concubine and drove their country to ruin.
He truly did not know that a day would come, when he could understand their feelings.