WHERE DREAM AND REALITY MEET (5)
‘I guess lunch will be rabbit stew. Should I make some grilled clams too?’
As she ate breakfast, Lucia was thinking about the next meal. When she lived alone, she made roughly three meals for herself and that was it, but ever since she had a guest, it became something she put effort into. Furthermore, he was certainly used to eating only high-quality dishes, so she felt embarrassed to give him her shoddy meals.
Lucia secretly watched him as they ate. She couldn’t believe it even though he was right in front of her. Even though she knew it was impossible for there to be two men with such an appearance and atmosphere around them.
Her gaze fell on the soup bowl he was eating from. Lucia gave a small sigh as she watched him eat a breakfast consisting of soup with only onions and potatoes.
‘This place…it doesn’t suit him.’
She used him as an excuse, but the truth was, it was for her own sake. He was going to leave anyways. It was better for her to send him away before spending time with him became something she was used to in her daily life.
After they were done eating, Lucia brought out some tea and spoke as if she was just saying it in passing:
“When it gets colder, it will be harder to move.”
He looked at her with a brow raised.
“Do you mean you can’t let me sleep and eat for free anymore? Do not worry, I will pay the lodging fees.”
He had already done more than enough work to pay for accommodation. The firewood he cut alone was enough to last the entire winter. Thanks to his regular hunts, there were piles of skins in the storage and if they were sold, it would bring in a considerable sum of money. Lucia had never eaten meat almost every day like she did nowadays.
No matter where they were, capable people always shone. His tenaciousness was true. He was the only person who made her heart flutter in her memories, marking with the pain of her youth. So Lucia’s heart throbbed when she looked at him and she felt bitter because she was reminded of her place and knew that she didn’t suit him at all.
“That’s not what I meant. The person waiting for you…will be worried.”
“There is no such person.”
He nonchalantly declared. Lucia wanted to immediately ask, ‘how can that be?’. He was already married. He had both a wife and a son waiting for him. And it wasn’t just his family. Many of his subordinates were probably stamping their feet, searching for his whereabouts.
“I am uncomfortable.”(Lucia)
“I’ve lived alone for so long that living with someone else is too much for me.”
Lucia felt him staring at her, but she looked down and deliberately maintained a look of determination on her face. A while later, she heard the sound of something metal hitting her wooden table. Lucia lifted her gaze slightly to look and flinched.
‘Why is that…?’
The thing he put on the table was an item she kept buried deep in her drawer. It was a brooch, framed in the shape of a lion with red jewels on it. She still had no idea how it came into her possession, but there was someone she was reminded of when she looked at it so she just couldn’t throw it away.
Sometimes when she remembered it, she took out. Just like how her mother took out the pendant from time to time. And nowadays, because the person she thought of when she took out the brooch was actually in front of her, she found herself taking it out more often.
‘Have I ever brought it out of my room?’
She quickly reached for the brooch, but his hand was faster. Seeing the brooch in his hand, Lucia bit her lips. And she glared fiercely at him.
“I see you repay my goodwill in this manner. Did you go through my room?”
“Do not misunderstand. I only picked up something that was dropped on the floor.”
“In front of your bedroom door.”
“If that’s the case, you didn’t have to pick it up. Isn’t it obvious that something misplaced in the house belongs to the house owner? I would have found it pretty quickly.”
“You’re right. But, there is something I want to ask. Is this yours?”
“You’re being really rude. Are you suspecting me of having something that isn’t mine? Is it an item too precious for a puny woman to have? It’s definitely mine so please give it back.”
He looked at Lucia’s fuming figure then he chuckled.
“Did you know? You’ve said more today than you’ve done the past month I’ve been here till now.”
She could say the same for him; he was saying much more than usual. Lucia studied his change in attitude with doubt in her eyes. His expression was usually cold and emotionless but somehow, today, he had a smile on his face.
“You know who I am.”
Lucia flinched in spite of herself. When she saw his eyes narrow slightly, she inwardly knew something was wrong.
“A farming woman living alone in a remote corner knows who I am? Of course, I was suspicious of your identity and tried to find out. I’m the type of person that can’t let things pass when I’m suspicious. If not for this thing, I probably wouldn’t have ever figured it out. But it’s been so long ago that it took me a while to remember.”
“Your name, if my memory serves me right, is Vivian.”
Lucia’s face instantly turned pale. She unknowingly tightened her fist even more and her clenched fists trembled on the table. He flicked the brooch at the tip of his fingers, caught it, then he grinned. His vivid red eyes curved slightly.
“You’re right; this is yours. Afterall, I gave it to you. I put it in the jewelry box you hid in that secret passage.”
* * *
Lucia was trembling as she woke up with a start. She couldn’t move an inch, like she was frozen, and her eyes darted around frantically in the dark.
Where is this? Which one is the dream, which one is reality? Then she felt his warmth beside her and heaved a sigh of relief. This was reality.
‘Oh…Oh my god…’
She couldn’t believe this dazzling wonder at all.
‘I remember now…’
When she woke up from the dream in the morning at 12 years old, she thought she hadn’t seen her life in her later years. But today’s dream told her something different. It wasn’t that she didn’t see it but that her small head at the time couldn’t take some parts of her extremely vast dream.
In her dream, all the bitter events in her life happened in her youth. Her life afterwards was relatively calm and stable. In particular, the events that shocked Lucia the most was her marriage to Count Matin and the things that happened after that marriage. They were so overwhelmingly shocking that it pushed away her memory of other events. However, the memory lying unconscious in her mind was stimulated by the brooch she received today and made itself known.
She could even faintly recall her memories of old age in her dream. She was smiling and was accompanied by a man who looked like her husband, decades later.
Her heart pounded heavily in her chest. It squeezed so tightly that it hurt. Her eyes heated up and she couldn’t stop the tears that flowed down her face. She covered her face with her hands and tried to stop her sobs from leaking.
‘It was you. It was always you.’
She thought she had lived a life with no connection to him, but her memory showed her that in her dream, she had met him. Although she went through many incidents and spent many years alone before she met him, she eventually did and formed a relationship with him.
Lucia thought she had distorted the original flow of the future. She thought she had forcefully made him connected to her. But now she saw that she would have certainly met him in the future. There was a long thread of fate between the two of them. Her whole body trembled with emotion.
As he was a light sleeper, he was woken up by the sound of her subdued sobs.
“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”
He asked urgently and his voice was filled with worry. Lucia couldn’t hold back her overflowing emotions and wrapped her arms around his neck, squeezing him tight. Her tears kept flowing so she could only hold him and keep crying.
“It’s okay, Vivian.”
He thought she might have been shocked by a nightmare, so he kept coaxing her. He supported her with his hand and gently stroked her back.
“I love you, Hugh.”
Much more than you can imagine, perhaps so much more than you. Although she wanted to say this aloud, she couldn’t speak because she was crying. He laughed softly before kissing her ear and whispered into it.
“I love you.”
Lucia trembled and burrowed further into his embrace. The Lucia in the dream had her life saved thanks to him, and even though they didn’t spend their youths together, they spend the end of their lives alongside each other. The Lucia in reality met him and was able to obtain complete happiness without repeating the tragic future in her dream.
Her relationship with him was the greatest miracle in her life.
[End of Sidestory: Where Dream and Reality Meet.]