< — Realization — > (4)
Lucia looked at the handkerchief and her mind went back to her memories in the dream. According to her uncle whom she met a few years from now, her grandfather died when Lucia was around 21 years old. So, the elderly nobleman who introduced himself as the Count of Baden was definitely her grandfather.
[My father was devastated. The mansion that he thought to be his last fortress until the end, went into other people’s hands. He even went to the capital to get help but it didn’t work out. In addition, he was old and his body was weakened by the long journey.] (Lucia’s uncle)
Her uncle, who succeeded her late grandfather and inherited his title, was her grandfather’s second son. In other words, he was Lucia’s mother’s second older brother.
The eldest son who should have originally inherited the title, was injured in a carriage accident a little while after his father passed away. He ended up unable to use his legs because he could not get proper treatment. Her uncle said that his elder brother was pessimistic of his own situation and spent his days drowning in alcohol, then took his own life.
At the time, Lucia thought that she was an orphan with no family so she was glad to have a relative. There was a feeling of warmth in her empty, lonely heart. She felt bad about the difficult situation of her maternal family so unknown to her husband, she provided money for her uncle who was asking for help. When he asked her to introduce him to Count Matin, she provided a bridge in the middle.
[I want to protect my family in any way I can. I can’t lose the title.]
Her uncle said that there was nothing he wouldn’t do to protect his family. From the perspective of her uncle who bore the responsibility of a Count family with nothing but its name, the Count of Matin must have seemed like a high-ranking nobleman with enormous power.
Her uncle settled in the capital and went to meet Count Matin on a daily basis. He didn’t give Lucia a lot of details but even without knowing what he was doing, Lucia could see vigor gradually return to her uncle’s face.
However for Lucia, life as the Countess of Matin was becoming too much to bear. So she asked her uncle to help her get a divorce.
[I’m sorry. I have no power to help you. I need your husband’s help. Can’t you endure?]
The rejection of her uncle came as a great shock to her. It had been Lucia’s one-sided delusion, believing that he was the only hill that she could rely on. Her uncle did not see Lucia as his niece, he saw her as the Countess of Matin.
Lucia knew, realistically, that her uncle was not capable of helping her. Even if she understood it in her head, she felt a sense of betrayal. Who knew how much she had suffered because she gave money to her uncle several times without her husband’s knowledge. When she thought that she was the only one who was worried about her maternal family, she felt stupid and resentful of her uncle.
When her uncle began to talk about money again after refusing to help with her divorce, Lucia gave him money for the last time and broke off their relationship. Even though her uncle visited the mansion frequently, Lucia did not meet her uncle again after that.
The Count Matin family was exterminated for treason and Lucia learned later on that her uncle was also caught up in it. The Count Baden family was on the list of traitors.
When Lucia found out about this, she sat down and soullessly looked at the sky. She resented her uncle but she didn’t want him to die. She saw firsthand how much her uncle had tried to save his family. When she remembered the figure of her uncle groveling as if to lick the feet of Count Matin, tears fell from her eyes.
She wondered if her uncle who had died in the disgraceful plot of treason was able to close his eyes in death. If they had lived without knowing each other, such a tragedy wouldn’t have occurred. In her dream, Lucia hit her chest with remorse. So, in reality, she vowed to never make a tie with her maternal family.
Lucia flinched and lifted her head. She had fallen too deep into thought.
“Who is it?” (Hugo)
“…I don’t know who it is.” (Lucia)
A strong hand caught her chin when she tried to avoid his gaze. His red eyes were unusually bright causing Lucia to take a sharp breath.
“Do you know what your expression looks like? I’ve said this before. You are a poor liar.”
Her expression as she looked at the handkerchief kept changing in various ways. Hugo sent the maid out and waited for her to get herself together. However, he couldn’t keep watching when she looked like she was about to cry. Hugo looked at her trembling eyes and continued speaking.
“Tell me. Who is it?”
She stubbornly shut her mouth. Feeling the solid wall she had built around herself, Hugo’s insides were boiling.
“You don’t know who it is?” (Hugo)
“He has nothing to do with you?”
No matter how hard he pressed, Lucia couldn’t give any answer. She was confused at the sudden appearance of her grandfather. She wasn’t in a state of mind to explain this and that to him nicely.
When she found out about her grandfather in her dream, he had already passed away so she never thought that she would actually meet her grandfather. To her, her grandfather felt like someone who died and come back to life.
“He’ll have to pay for his crimes then. He dares to send such a dangerous thing to the Duchess.”
“He has nothing to do with you. You don’t have to worry about it, right?”
His crimson eyes shone brutally. His icy manner of speaking was scary and Lucia was terribly frightened. It was as if he would change someday and have a cold and cruel expression like he did now. Tears rushed to her eyes from deep despair.
When her amber eyes surged with tears, Hugo was caught off guard. His mind was disturbed and his agitation subsided in an instant.
“Vivian. I was wrong.”
Hugo hugged her. She burst into tears and twisted her body, pushing him away as if rejecting him but he hugged her tighter.
Hugo repeated he was sorry many times in her ear. After sometime, Lucia’s crying subsided. Hugo lightly patted her back as she calmed down.
“…Don’t talk like that. It’s scary.” (Lucia)
“I won’t.” (Hugo)
He didn’t intend to scare her. He only felt remorseful towards her. Hugo was depressed to hear her say that it was scary. Hugo sighed a moment later and spoke.
“If you don’t want to say it, you don’t have to. I won’t ask.”
Hugo felt his cowardice was pathetic. How petty of him. He couldn’t tell her his deepest secrets yet he couldn’t tolerate her secrets.
“It’s not that I don’t want to say it. I just…don’t know how to say it…” (Lucia)
Hugo waited patiently when she went silent for a while.
“That person is likely…he’s likely my maternal grandfather.” (Lucia)
“Didn’t you say you didn’t have a maternal family?” (Hugo)
“I tried to think I didn’t have one. My late mother wanted it that way.”
Lucia’s mother didn’t tell of her maternal family’s existence until the moment she died. Lucia only found out after meeting her uncle in the dream. Why did her mother do that? It was something Lucia always wondered about.