< — 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?’
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)
“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 was thinking the pendant might be a magical tool.”
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)
“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?”
“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.”
- 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 that she’s thinking ‘Maybe he loves me’.