Chapter 1 - Prologue
In no time at all, Lesche, with his eyes still closed, snatched Seria’s hand. Seria opened her mouth, a little flustered.
When Seria called him aloud, Lesche opened his eyes. Seria felt strange when she saw his feverish red eyes, which were different from usual. Lesche looked at Seria and blinked slowly without saying anything. Even that was an unusual reaction.
“I’ve brought you some medicine.”
“Leave it there.”
His hands were really hot. Not simply a slight fever, but it seemed like a high fever.
‘You’re burning in fever, and you’re just lying there without taking any medicine? Don’t you feel dizzy?’
Seria was afraid if she left the medicine, she would find his dead body soon.
“I think you’d better take it now.”
Seria said firmly, and Lesche looked at her intently and let go of her hand. When she was about to hand over the medicine, Lesche stopped her without a second thought.
“If you don’t take it now, all the medicine will melt.”
“You are aware that your hands are hot, right?” Seria asked.
“Then lend me your hand.”
With that, Lesche grabbed Seria’s hand again. Her hand trembled. Then, he took Seria’s hand, which was holding the medicine, to his mouth without hesitation. Seria’s hand touched his hot lips. She felt embarrassed for no reason. She pulled her hand away, trying not to be conscious of it.
“I’m sure it’s very bitter.”
“I took it as you suggest. Give me some water.”
Seria tried to give Lesche a water bottle, but the water was still hot. It was obvious that if she let him drink it, it would burn his tongue.
‘I tried to bring down his fever but I’ll burn his mouth instead….’
Lesche looked more tired than she thought.
That’s why he was hurt. Distressed, Seria brought a wooden spoon of cooled water to Lesche’s mouth. Her hands trembled a little, probably because she had never fed anything to a sick person before.
Lesche’s lips, which were on fire from the fever, opened smoothly. Unlike the words, “The medicine is bitter,” there was no change in his expression. After she fed Lesche water three times, Seria asked,
“Is everything alright?”
Lesche lowered his gaze and looked at Seria.
“The water is spilling.”
“…It’s the first time someone has gotten sick near me.”
Seria sneakily took out her handkerchief, since she had indeed spilled water on Lesche’s clothes. As she carefully wiped it off, Lesche’s voice dropped.
“I’m the first person?”
“Yes, so be thankful when I feed you.”
“Should I bow?”
“I’ll take it later when you’re feeling better.”
“That’s a very high price to pay for one dose of your medicine.”
“Do you think anyone can get Stern’s care?”
Lesche smiled briefly at Seria’s mischievous words.
Lesche looked uncharacteristically tired, so Seria decided to ask,
“Lesche, don’t you need to call a doctor?”
“It’s noisy if you call him for something trivial.”
‘So that’s why you didn’t call the doctor?’
He kept working as soon as he got back.
There was no other direct lineage in the Berg family. Not long ago, there was no hostess either. The duty of guarding the frozen lake, the need to protect and defend it as a Grand Duke, and the need to pass it on was a heavy responsibility. Seria could imagine the weight of life on Lesche’s shoulders.
Even though she said that Lesche must have contracted her as a slave, the actual slave was Lesche no matter how she looked at it. Of course, he looked more like a natural born predator than a slave. She had never imagined such a person would get sick; all sorts of thoughts came to her mind.
Seria put down the water bottle and placed a cold hand towel on Lesche’s forehead. His eyes slowly dropped, unlike usual. Lesche said,
“I heard you brought a draft of the garden.”
“Yes. I put it on the little table.”
“Give it to me.”
“You can see it tomorrow. It’s nothing to rush.”
“Ben cried that you work as soon as you came back.”
“You worked as soon as you arrived, too. We’ll be doing major work in the spring, so there’s no need to rush to check now.”
Lesche’s gaze met Seria’s. He asked slowly.
“You’ll be here then, too?”
Her ears perked up.
“Can I leave before then?”
“No, the divorce would be next winter anyway. Where do you want to go?”
“I have a townhouse in the Capital. Even before the Great Temple, there is always a place where I can stay. It’s because the food there isn’t very good.”
Lesche smiled. He closed his eyes.
“Do I look that sick to you? I didn’t expect you would be my companion.”
Seria was a little shocked.
“It’s just….it’s sad when you’re sick and alone.”
Lesche opened his red eyes and looked at Seria.
“Is that what you experienced?”
“…… Yes, well. Occasionally.”
“Did the Kellyden treat you so coldly?”
“I was the one who gave the Kellyden the cold shoulder.”
Lesche glanced at Seria as she spoke with effort in her eyes.
“You don’t seem to be in the best mood for that.”
“Haven’t you heard of my notoriety? I don’t get along with my family very well.”
“Yes, I know.”
Of course, this man knew everything. There weren’t many nobles who didn’t know that Seria’s mother was of lowly status. However, he didn’t talk about it. Seria knew he wouldn’t mock her, but her body shook nonetheless.
Even in front of the heroine, Seria showed superhuman patience and finally ended up with self-inflicted blackmail. But there was no way she could get through to Lesche that way, and she didn’t want him to see her like that.
It was not a good thing to expose her shame to others. She was just about to change the subject when Lesche spoke up.
“I sent the marriage pledge to Marquis Kellyden, but he kept delaying his answer.”
What does that mean? Seria blinked in panic.
“Right after the year-end party.”
Quite a bit of time had passed than she expected. Of course, Seria didn’t live there for a long time ago, but the world knew all about her anyway, that she was the revival of a well known family called Kellyden. So, on the face of it, there was no denying the fact that the Kellyden family would be better off if he answered the marriage pledge.
“It’s probably because he doesn’t want to admit that I married you.”
“Why is that?”
“I told you. My family and I don’t get along.”
“Marquis Haneton, what about that bastard?”
Seria blinked. Lesche raised his eyebrows softly.
“…I understand that the Kellyden accepted your marriage pledge to Marquis Haneton without difficulty…”
‘How did you know?’
A question drifted through Seria’s mind, but she answered without hesitation.
“Well, that’s true. The Haneton and the Kellyden are on good terms with each other because they are in the west. And…”
“Marquis Kellyden thought Marquis Haneton was too good for me that he tolerated me…Lesche?”
Lesche, who had been lying still with the cold towel on his forehead, suddenly sat up. Holding the wet towel in his hand, he asked,
It would be in the heart of most normal people to hope that the members of their family would have a good relationship with people from good families, even if not necessarily in terms of connections, assets, or other added value gained from marriage. Especially in such a thoroughly status-based world, the higher the title of the spouse, the better it was unconditionally.
“Perhaps if Kalis was a Duke instead of a Marquis, Marquis Kellyden would make all sorts of excuses and postpone the marriage vows as well.”
Lesche stared at her, then opened his mouth.
“Let’s declare war on Kellyden.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Do you think it’s a joke?”
“That’s enough. Just…”
The words were enough. Seria couldn’t believe that those words actually sounded comforting. On the other hand, she felt a strange confidence that if she agreed, she would hear the news about Lesche Berg declaring war on Marquis Kellyden around next week.
Seria changed the subject.
“If you need an answer from Kellyden, I can get it for you.”
“You want me to make my wife beg?”
“Not to the point of begging. I can be a little angry.”
Of course, by the original Seria’s standards, ‘a little’ was never weak. She destroyed some property, raged into Marquis Kellyden’s Office, called in the ladies of the estate one by one, pestering them. Of course this was what the original Seria did before, so Seria wasn’t confident she could do it sober.
Lesche stared at Seria and asked,
“Do you need an answer?”
“I don’t need it either.”
Seria blinked. Of course, sending the marriage vows to each family and asking them to respond back was just a way to keep up appearances and had nothing to do with legal validity. Still, some nobles sometimes found it difficult because it was customary.
Lesche, who was the Grand Duke of Berg, was also very strict. He even sent someone to Marquis Kellyden right after the year-end party.
“I thought you cared.”
“I don’t care.”
“Then why did you send someone to the Kellyden?”
“That man.” (*I think Lesche meant Kalis, but Lesche didn’t want to say his name.)
Seria blinked at the vague words that suddenly came out. Halfway through his answer, Lesche ruffled his hair. He sneered in a low voice and sighed lightly.
“I only sent it as a matter of procedure.”
Seria had a feeling Lesche was hiding something from her, but she didn’t think he would answer if she asked more. A silence fell. She stared at Lesche’s face quietly and suddenly noticed his under eyes were red.
‘No way, did he cry out in pain before I came? That’s not true, is it?’