Chapter 1. I was abandoned by my family
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“Don’t worry, Irene. Father and I are looking for ways to regain our abilities.”
It was just as she put her luggage in her room. Emil, who’d followed her in, said this to Irene and expected her to feel relieved.
However, Irene looked at him as if she didn’t understand.
“Do you need to find your ability again?”
Emil could not hide his confusion at the look on her face, as if he was doing something useless.
“What are you talking about, Irene? Of course, I can’t live without it.”
“I don’t need it.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, it’s better without it.”
Leaving behind Emil, who was looking flabbergasted, Irene recalled a time from when she was staying at her maternal uncle’s estate.
It felt like something was disappearing from her. The more she tried to grasp it, the emptier she felt.
It was so strange, when she tried to use simple magic, there was no response.
At first, she was embarrassed and scared. The significance of her existence had always been due to her magical ability. When her magic power suddenly disappeared, she was afraid of how she would live in the future.
However, as time passed and her mind calmed down, she thought it was for the best. She felt that she’d finally been given the opportunity to live for herself.
It was difficult at first for her to get over the pressure and anxiety to meet her father’s expectations, and solely focus on herself, but later she began to feel more comfortable. At the same time, she blamed herself, and regretted it.
‘My family wasn’t normal.’
She didn’t know it at the time. It was so natural to keep each other in check and compete, so she thought it was normal. No, she was so busy showing her father her results that she didn’t even have time to think about it.
A father, who was always cracking the whip; and a mother, who turned a blind even though she knew everything. Then there was Diana, who would belittle and demean others; Emil, who was vain; and Xavier, who only cared for himself.
‘I’m the same too.’
Irene smiled bitterly, and sighed. What’s the difference between her, a selfish person who didn’t want to suffer any damage, and her family?
‘So, it’s better now.’
It was too much of an ability for her from the beginning. Since this was how it was going to be anyway, Irene was just going to use this as an opportunity to decide her own future.
However, Emil looked at her as if she’d lost her mind.
“Are you crazy? Does it make sense that you aren’t going to even try, and find your ability?”
“Does it make sense to make a big fuss over it?”
“Is that all you’re worth?”
“Do you lose all of your value just because your ability is gone?”
Irene looked straight at Emil as she asked. Her expression was one of pure curiosity, rather than scorn.
Not liking the way she was looking at him, Emil burst into a fierce laugh.
“Then why did you return? You should go live quietly on Uncle’s land.”
“I didn’t come here because I wanted to.”
When her ability disappeared, she thought she should go home as soon as possible. The next day, after she had time to calm down, she thought there was no need to go after all.
However, she was forced to return home after her family convinced her uncle that they were worried about her since she’d been gone for so long.
“I’ll be going back soon, so you can relax. Also, there’s no reason to put in any effort, because your ability will never come back.”
“How do you know that?”
“Just a feeling?”
It was a strong hunch that she couldn’t explain in words.
She was a little sad that she couldn’t use her ability in the future, but she was still able to laugh because she felt more relieved and refreshed than anything else.
Emil just looked at Irene in frustration, and said.
“Stop talking nonsense, and get a hold of yourself. We need to find a way to get our abilities back.”
At her serious expression, Emil breathed a sigh of relief. He thought Irene had finally come back to her senses.
“If you have time to look for your ability, you have time to think of how to live in the future.”
“You have a smart head, how are you going to use it?”
Emil didn’t even chuckle as he looked her up and down as if she was pathetic. However, Irene’s next words froze him in place.
“Oh, that’s right. You lost your ability. Is that why your brain isn’t working right?”
Emil’s hands trembled when Irene opened her eyes wide, as if she’d only just realized it. An unbearable anger soared within him at her obnoxious sarcasm.
“You’ll regret it if I find out how to restore our abilities.”
“You won’t tell me? That’s fine, you can do that.”
Rather, she didn’t have much interest in what he wanted.
“Thank you for coming like this, Miss Aster.”
“Thank you for inviting me to the tea party, Miss Melony.”
Seeing Count Melony’s daughter welcoming him, Leticia smiled.
At the party thrown by Count and Countess Aster, Leticia happened to have a conversation with Melony, who was surprisingly easy to communicate with and easy-going. The next day, Melony sent an invitation, and asked if she wanted to come to a tea party she was hosting if she didn’t mind.
At first, she was worried about whether she should really go. However, she ended up accepting the invitation because she thought it wouldn’t be a bad thing to become acquainted with other young noble ladies.
“Oh, it’s Miss Aster, right?”
“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Aster.”
“Let’s have a good time today.”
Everyone looked surprised, as if they didn’t expect her to come, but soon they welcomed her with big smiles.
The tea party was so much fun that it overshadowed her nervousness. It was their first time meeting Leticia, but they were able to hold many conversations without excluding her.
“I heard you’re engaged to Duke Achilles.”
Everyone’s attention suddenly focused on her. Leticia, who was eating freshly baked cherry pie, smiled quietly after a moment of bewilderment.
“Yes, it hasn’t been long.”
“Oh, my. Is he good to you?”
“I heard he’s really sweet to you.”
When Leticia just smiled softly as if they were right, everyone began to ask more questions with curious expressions.
“That’s right. I heard he was only nice to the young miss. Is that true?”
Leticia paused for a moment, then she nodded firmly, unable to resist the twinkles in their eyes.
“Yes, I think he’s only kind to me.”
When she answered with great conviction in her voice, everyone sighed with looks of envy, or regret.
That was when a maid brought in a familiar dessert. A surprised Leticia looked at Melony, who just lightly shrugged her shoulders.
Leticia muttered without realizing it, and picked up a dessert. It was almost too ‘playful’ to be a dessert.
“The lucky cookies made by Miss Aster are popular at tea parties these days.”
Melony had been smiling for a while, and slowly distributed the lucky cookies to the other young ladies. She heard that the cookies were handed out at tea parties. It looked like they did this because of the kind words, and good advice written on the paper inside.
Melony glanced at Leticia, who was touching her cookie with an expression of wonder, and said.
“I barely managed to get these.”
“I had no idea.”
Leticia knew that the cookies were selling well. What she didn’t know was that they were difficult for even nobles to get a hold of.
“If you don’t mind, can I send some to you next time?”
“I want some too. Could you send some to me as well?”
“I’m thinking of having a tea party soon, so I’d like to get some too.”
At this unexpected suggestion, everyone who’d been quietly listening to the conversation began to interrupt. As they tilted towards her, Leticia smiled gently and nodded.
“Of course, I’ll send some to everyone here.”
“Thank you, Miss Aster.”
“Thanks to you, I’ll have something to brag about.”
After that, the conversations that followed were filled with smiles. Leticia was in a relaxed mood, and chimed in as the ladies talked about other young lords and ladies, but that pleasant feeling didn’t last long.
“Did you hear the news?”
“You know… about the extinct family.”
Leticia, who’d been drinking tea with a slight smile, paused for a moment.
The conversation continued.
“It seems a child of that family is still alive.”
“I thought they were all executed.”
“That’s what I thought as well, but there’s been disturbances here and there.”
“I heard they’re eager to catch them because of that.”
They were talking about Keena Erebos. All the young ladies began to talk about how scared they were, and whether they should even go out.
During all of this, Leticia was the only one who drank her tea quietly, as she felt detached from it all.
“Thank you for inviting me, Miss Melony. I had a great time.”
“Thank you very much for coming, Miss Aster. Please come again next time.”
Leticia sighed as soon as she entered the carriage after saying some light goodbyes. When stories about Keena started to circulate, somehow she felt like an uninvited guest, and had trouble concentrating on the tea party.
In the end, she decided to leave for the Achilles mansion earlier than she expected, so she gave the excuse that she was feeling unwell. As she looked out the window to soothe her frustration, she suddenly paled at something she saw.
Leticia yelled for the carriage to quickly stop, and then ran to the poster as soon as she alighted from the carriage. A familiar face was drawn on the wall.
Leticia couldn’t believe what she was seeing, so she looked at it again. Still, Keena’s description was written very specifically on the wanted poster. Leticia’s lips quivered as she read out the phrase that said that she wasn’t a rebel, but that she was rampaging everywhere, and to report her immediately if seen.
‘I don’t think she’s the kind of person who would do something like that.’
But did she truly know anything about her?
Keena appeared at will, and offered to help when she wanted. It was also true that they had a slight affinity for each other, but it wasn’t that long ago that she broke into the mansion, and stole Leticia’s book.
Nevertheless, Keena was someone who kept bothering her because she felt sorry for her.
‘I wonder if it’s true…’
She didn’t think Keena would do this. However, she wondered if she would for the sake of revenge.
She wanted to believe that she wasn’t that kind of person.
At that time, she heard movement behind her. Leticia looked behind her, and hardened as soon as she saw who it was.
“It’s been a while.”
It was Marquis Leroy.
As soon as they made eye contact, Leticia had the strong urge to leave immediately. Marquis Leroy didn’t seem uncomfortable, and even gave her a sweet and friendly smile for the first time in her life.
His relaxed attitude said that he’d already expected her to be here.
As the number of eyes on them increased, Leticia was forced to move to a different location with the Marquis.
She sincerely hoped that this mysterious foreboding was just her imagination.
“How have you been?”
Leticia clenched her hands, and kept her mouth shut.
She didn’t want to say anything, and wanted the time to pass quickly.
When there was no answer from Leticia, the Marquis smiled coldly, and said.
“We should try to get along. Does it make sense if you don’t get along with your parents and younger siblings?”
“Just say what you want to say.”
Marquis Leroy looked disapprovingly at Leticia, whose expression didn’t change even after he’d used a criticizing tone, and sighed briefly.
“I know that I’ve made you sad.”
“But that’s because I couldn’t be sincere. It was all because I wanted you to do well.”
“That’s how a parent feels. Even if I wanted to cherish you endlessly, I have no choice but to be harsh with my children.”
“I thought you understood that.”
What should she say?
Leticia let out a short laugh at what he’d said so casually. Sure, her head understood, but her heart didn’t.
“Did you kick me out because you wanted me to do well?”
“Should I understand that everything that happened was supposed to be, and hope that it would all work out?”
It was all nonsense from the beginning.
Her family abandoned her because they judged her to be filthy and useless.
“What’s wrong with abandoning your parents and younger siblings? I’m the one who was abandoned first.”