THE BEGINNING OF ALL STORIES(3)
He was enjoying an early morning bath. Today like usual, he was soaking in a bath full of warm water with his eyes closed. Upon detecting the sign of an intruder touching the barrier, he frowned and clicked his tongue. It was definitely that fearless and impudent little girl.
One day, a little girl got through the barrier that thoroughly prevented all intrusion and she had even entered the mansion. The barrier didn’t work on the child at all. He tried his best to figure out why but eventually had to conclude that there was a minute loophole akin to a variable somewhere in the dense membrane.
The problem was the little girl. He had left her alone since she wasn’t exactly causing any harm but ever since then, she had been coming and going frequently as if this was her own house.
After he was done having a relaxed bath, he came out. His senses caught an energy signal moving around restlessly in the dining room. He put on clothes and went down to the dining room.
Seeing the woman with a bright smile on her face, he stopped.
“You haven’t had breakfast yet, right? I brought a few dishes you’ll like.”
He looked at the chattering woman with a new gaze. When did that tiny little girl grow so big? She was no longer a young child. The little kid dressed in bright and beautiful clothes had at some point, become a full-fledged young lady.
When he merely stood there, watching her without saying anything, Evangeline studied his face.
“…Are you angry? Because I moved around as I liked…?”
Cael stared at Evangeline for a moment then he snorted.
“Is this the first time?”
When he sat down at the set table and picked up a fork, Evangeline giggled and quickly scuttled over to him. Then she filled his empty glass with water and began to serve the food.
“Just for me? What about yours, kid?”
“I already ate, so don’t mind me. And I’m not ‘kid’. I have a name, you know. Evangeline. I’ve told you so many times now.”
Evangeline sourly watched as he began to eat without even replying then her gaze turned prideful and filled with joy. She felt like she understood what it meant to feel full just by watching someone else eat.
* * *
“I’m getting married.”
Cael stared at Evangeline, who had shut her mouth right after suddenly spitting out such a phrase. Was she already at that age? When did the tomboy that used to run around everywhere begin to walk and cover her mouth slightly when she laughed instead of grinning widely?
“I am yet to see the face of the man who will become my husband. I have to leave home and live in my husband’s house. It’s very far from here.”
“I won’t be able to come see you ever again, Cael-nim.”
Evangeline’s amber eyes quivered as she looked at him as though she was pleading.
“Should I live here?”
“I am quite useful. I can cook very well, I can clean, do laundry, I can do everything. If I’m here, Cael-nim won’t even need to lift a finger. Ah wait. No. You’ll need to at least use a finger to call me.”
Cael had noticed that the little kid had at some point started to look at him with the eyes of a woman. He knew but he acted like he didn’t. Because he couldn’t return her heart even if he knew. If he were to truly be honest, perhaps he was afraid that if Evangeline knew he was aware of her secret feelings, he would have to cut her off because he couldn’t accept her heart and because of that, she would not come to see him again.
When Cael gave a troubled sigh, Evangeline actually smiled sweetly.
“You’re surprised because I said something strange, right? It’s just, I felt sad thinking I won’t see you again.”
Evangeline spun around and quickly walked to the door like she was running. She grabbed the door and stood without moving for a while then she said,
“Did you know? You’ve never called me properly by my name.”
Her head was turned so he couldn’t see her face, but her voice trembled at the end. As if she was holding back her tears. Cael couldn’t even imagine how the kid who always smiled at him looked when she was holding back her tears.
Evangeline went out the door without looking back. Cael’s heart felt empty as he stood, staring at the tightly shut door for a long time. It felt like the door would open again anytime soon and Evangeline would jump in, calling out ‘Cael-nim’.
However, both the next day and the day after the next, the door did not open.
* * *
Evangeline, whom he thought he would never see again, re-appeared in front of him. She looked very exhausted and thin, holding a very swollen belly.
“I’m sorry, Cael-nim. I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go but here.”
Her eyes seemed like they would burst with tears at any moment, but Evangeline smiled, refusing to show her tears.
Evangeline’s father, who had used his daughter in a political marriage to solidify his power base, led an army and destroyed his in-law’s family. Her heartless father did not care about his daughter or about the young life growing in her stomach. For Evangeline’s father, his daughter was nothing but a means to be used in political battle.
Evangeline barely managed to escape. If Evangeline was alone, her father would have let her leave since she was at least his child. However, the pregnancy of his daughter meant she was nothing but a seed of trouble. So Evangeline was pursued by a very persistent party.
After losing her only guard who protected her loyally, Evangeline felt death drawing closer and closer. She ran away because she wanted to live but she felt it was in vain, not knowing why she wanted to live like this. As she thought of death, there was someone whose face she wanted to see at least one last time. As so, she decided on her final destination.
People called it the Devil’s forest. Only Evangeline could enter this place where no one else entered and left alive. When she saw him again, Evangeline smiled. And she made a brazen excuse, saying she came to find him in order to save the life of herself and her baby in her stomach. She would have rather he coldly turned away and ignored her. However, he silently accepted her inside.
* * *
The baby was born. It was a boy. Evangeline asked Cael to name the boy and asked him to be the child’s godfather.
‘I want to have your child.’
The feelings she couldn’t bear to expose were buried at the bottom of her heart. Someone like her, who had born another man shouldn’t even dream of making such a shameless confession. Just the fact that she lived depending on him meant she owed him a debt she could never repay.
Cael named the baby after a great king that had appeared way back in history, long before the world changed. And he became the godfather of Baden.