Chapter 19

***

 


Whether it was good or bad; I do not know. 

 

When Mikhail said that, both the knight and the maid fell back a little. 

 

– Choco, doll! 

 

I made Choco imitate a doll with my (inner) voice, then pretended not to know anything and rolled the ball around. 

 

It was already mid-June and the weather was getting warmer; so I go out to play like this during the day. 

 

I can now walk pretty well even by myself, because it was much better to practice walking outside than inside the room. 

 

“Is it a doll?” 

 

I wanted Mikhail to stop paying attention to Choco. 

 

‘I mean, even wizards can’t recognize it, so why can you?’ 

 

Mikhail came closer as if to touch Choco, as I was only interested in the ball in an indifferent way without any reaction. 

 

‘Sigh, you can’t do that.’ 

 

It’s not enough for the Little Duke of Leventis to stare into air, if you stroke the air, the knights and servants would see it. 

 

“Di–ya–.” 

 

“It’s dirty?” 

 

“Woo.” 

 

Ha, it was still a mystery how in the world he could understand this messy pronunciation. 

 

Even my parents, who were veterans in parenting in their own way, said that they couldn’t understand my mannerisms. 

 

Mikhail’s face had a puzzled look at my answer. 

 

“It’s clean though? Cute,” Mikhail said.

 

When I answered, he followed me chasing the rolling ball. 

 

“Oh, right, I heard you only like the dolls that Damian gives you.” 

 

“Woo.” 

 

I just decided to say yes. 

 

Actually, the only doll I hugged was the doll Damian gave me in hopes that I’d laugh. 

 

“I also gave you a lot of similar things, you don’t like them?” 

 

“Woo.” 

 

I answered his question halfheartedly. 

 

“Then what do you like? That doll isn’t to your liking, is it?” 

 

“Woo.” 

 

This guy is especially talkative today. 

 

As I answered slowly, I threw the ball I already caught up with, and it rolled over again. 

 

“Then a yellow dress?” 

 

‘Why a yellow dress?’ 

 

“You don’t like Ruby, do you? I like it, because it resembles your eyes.” 

 

In the end, Mikhail continued to babble next to me even though I didn’t answer. 

 

I mean, is he really the Little Duke of Leventis who’s famous for being reticent? 

 

‘Choco couldn’t have brought the wrong information though.’ 

 

Of course, I also doubted my ears when I heard it from Choco. 

 

It is said that Mikhail Leventis hardly ever babbled, even at 24 months old, which made the Grand Duchy very concerned. 

 

He really did walk after 6 months, but it is said that he didn’t start talking until 24 months later. 

 

That too was:

 

“I can walk, Mother, Fawther.” 

 

[I can walk, Mother, Father.]

 

It was a long sentence for a baby who spoke for the first time. 

 

The first thing he said was that he could walk, not even ‘mother’ or ‘father’, so the Grand Duchy was turned upside down once again. 

 

They called all the famous priests and doctors to meticulously check that the baby was really okay. 

 

‘Thanks to that, it was confirmed that this Duchy is not the only unusual one, which put me at ease.’ 

 

To be honest, I thought it was very strange and fascinating when they called in a huge number of doctors and priests because I wouldn’t cry. 

 

Perhaps it’s a rule in this world, to call a lot of doctors to check when a baby is sick. 

 

Anyway, Mikhail, who started talking for the first time in 24 months, was a child who was famous for not talking that much unless it was necessary. 

 

Especially…… 

 

‘Even more so, ever since his parents passed away two years ago.’ 

 

That’s why his grandfather, Grand Duke Leventis, asked my parents to give his grandson, who was in a hurry to become an adult, a childish period of time. 

 

‘It wasn’t just a simple successor class.’ 

 

It was the affection of a warm family. 

 

Actually, even after coming here, Mikhail was not very talkative. 

 

He often had conversations with my brother, but he was not the type to be interested in others like this. 

 

‘I was wondering why my sister was so shy with Mikhail.’ 

 

It was because he didn’t talk much. 

 

My sister Laurentia was a very sociable person, so she was the first to approach Mikhail when he came.

 

“Mikhail? I’m Lara! Lara!”

 

However, at that friendly greeting, Mikhail was.

 

“I’m Mikhail, grandson of Grand Duke Leventis.”

 

He didn’t show the ridiculous etiquette he graced me with, he just spit out his name. 

 

Of course, my sister tried to talk to Mikhail a few more times after that.

 

“No, I don’t need it.” 

 

“I have a class.” 

 

“Damian is over there.”

 

He replied with a stiff tone of voice every time. 

 

My older sister  strongly addressed herself as “Lara”  but it was to no avail.

 

“My lady. Damian is looking for you.” 

 

“Lady Laurentia.”

 

This unaffectionate boy acted as if he had put a cold barrier between him and my sister. 

 

In other words, I had one more reason to hate Mikhail. 

 

Therefore, my brother and my family had no choice but to be embarrassed by Mikhail’s actions. 

 

He didn’t even talk to my sister, who was the personification of the sun. 

 

‘Why in the world are you doing this to me!’ 

 

I took a deep breath as I grabbed the ball that rolled on the floor. 

 

“Baby.” 

 

Then, Mikhail came in front of me and squatted down to make eye contact. 

 

Did he do it on purpose? 

 

That thought suddenly crossed me because Mikhail looked beautiful; with his gaze slightly facing downwards. 

 

“This time, I wish to hear from you that I am cool, and I want to see your smiling face. Can’t you help me a little?” 

 

‘What do you mean by help?’ 

 

In the first place, if it is a gift with intentions, I’d want to refuse it. 

 

If reincarnation had a law against bribery, I would use it as an excuse. 

 

But the words that came out from Mikhail, were words that I had never imagined. 

 

“It will be your birthday soon, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what to give you, hm?” 

 

I see. 

 

It has already been a year since I have been born as the youngest in this ridiculous house. 

 

It’s only been a year. 

 

And when I wanted to grow up fast, it only felt slow. 

 

For some reason, it suddenly felt like it was such a waste. 

 

A 20-year-old life that I took for granted.

 

* * *

 

The morning of July 3rd dawned. 

 

A year ago in the summer, when I started my 100th life, I was quite disappointed. 

 

‘Now it’s a little… I’m excited.’ 

 

Can I really have this feeling? 

 

My birthday; I can’t even remember how long it has been since I cared about it. 

 

Actually, for most of my lives, I didn’t even know my birthdate. 

 

‘….. Because there was no one who cared about it, and I had no intention of caring about it.’ 

 

Because the birthdays that came every year sounded like a death sentence to me. 

 

Even more so, when I tried hard to live. 

 

And the more there were eyes that expected something from me, the more burdensome it was with the passage of time. 

 

‘But this time it’s a little different, to my surprise.’ 

 

It wasn’t a heavy and dull feeling. 

 

It was a feeling of anticipation similar to the one in my first life, when my friends gave me snacks at the cafeteria saying it was my birthday. 

 

Because this family fearlessly made these small joys come back to life. 

 

I’m really worried about the future. 

 

Today, I thought that I would be happy if my family simply passed by saying, ‘Happy Birthday.’ 

 

No, honestly, wouldn’t that be enough?

 

* * * 

 

I surely thought so, but I realized that it really was an immense false expectation. 

 

“Now, Anastasia. Our youngest, the protagonist of the day, what kind of dress would you like to wear?” 

 

My mother came into my room with about ten dresses I have never seen before. 

 

There were three sets of pale yellow dresses that everyone mistakenly thought I liked, and the rest were all kinds of pretty colors, starting from white. 

 

“Anastasia, this is a very important ceremony.” 

 

Ceremony? 

 

At that moment, I remembered my first birthday in my first life. 

 

Although, I’ve never experienced it in another world. 

 

No, I don’t even remember what I grabbed during my first birthday in my first life. 

 

‘They clearly said that I grabbed a thread at that time, but I died before I turned 20 years old!’ 

 

[tn– the thread in a Korean Doljabi aka first birthday ceremony means ‘longevity’] 

 

No, in a sense, it might’ve been right. 

 

I’ve been living for almost 2,000 years already. 

 

Perhaps it was obvious that I was thinking about something else, my mother waved her hand as if telling me to focus on the dress and said. 

 

“The dress you choose on your first birthday will determine your future partner.” 

 

Partner? 

 

It was a very unrelated topic for me. 

 

“That partner could be a husband, or a colleague you can entrust your back to. Or perhaps a friend.” 

 

My mother whispered as she stroked my cheek with a soft smile. 

 

“Mom chose a pink dress when she was young. Now that I think about it, I think the hair decoration I also chose was embedded with emeralds.” 

 

Pink and green. 

 

When it looked like I realized the color combination, my mother had an expression that said, ‘As expected, my daughter is smart.’ 

 

“Maybe it was then that my partner was decided to be your father?” 

 

It was a very lovely fairy tale-like story. 

 

“And your father is the most precious, trustworthy and loving person to mom. I was also able to give birth to our pretty youngest like this.” 

 

My mother kissed me on the cheek and stroked my hair. 

 

With a face that seemed to wish only happiness. 

 

“That’s why Anastasia, the first dress you choose will surely bring you a partner you can trust for the rest of your life.” 

 

Surely, in a different life, if someone else had said that, I would have thought that it was futile. 

 

Because I don’t have that kind of luck. 

 

But, when my mother said that, A small hope formed that something like that would happen to me, even for a short period of time. 

 

Even though I knew very well that there’s no scarier feeling than hope. 

 

My mother gently pushed my back. 

 

I picked a dress at once. 

 

What I chose was a white dress. 

 

A belt decorated with beautiful frills and lace, with multicolored gems including amber, emerald, ruby, amethyst, garnet, and diamond. 

 

Even the fabric, which I thought was only white, shone in a different color whenever it received light. 

 

It was the simplest dress prepared by my mother, but it was the most colorful. 

 

My mother’s thoughts about me were strangely conveyed well. 

 

My mother seemed to want me to have a lot of reliable partners. 

 

My mother prayed on behalf of me for a wish that I might have longed for all my 100 lives, but never hoped for it nor embraced it.