Chapter 1. The fiancé is back
On the way back to the mansion by carriage.
I recalled what Kalian said.
That he was completely ignored.
The reason I didn’t consider Kalian’s playful remarks was because I knew about his birth.
That he was an illegitimate child like me.
“…aren’t we the same then?”
My biological mother was a maid, not a noble, but Kalian’s biological mother was the daughter of a Viscount.
He was only called an illegitimate child because the Lady was neither an empress nor an empress (concubine).
Empress Solia, who had no children at the time, took Kalian and raised him like her own son.
That’s why I thought he would have been treated fairly well, but from what he said, it seemed he wasn’t.
The fact that he was completely ignored by the attendants…
“Look over there. She must have been scolded by the Countess again.”
“Oh my, does she want to live like that? If it were me, I would just die.”
Let’s stop thinking about it. It reminds me of the past I don’t even want to remember.
I closed my eyes and tried not to think, but the more I tried, the clearer it came to mind.
“Hey hey, we made eye contact. Let’s go before the Count’s daughter becomes territorial.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s go before we interact with her, hihi.”
It was over 10 years ago, but I still remembered it clearly when I closed my eyes.
The hellish moments I experienced when I lived in the Count of Thebesa.
Count Thebesa, who was obsessed with women, touched all the maids who worked in the mansion. My mother was one of them.
My mother became pregnant with me because of a one-night relationship.
If Countess Thebesa had known this earlier, I would have disappeared before seeing the light of the world.
At that time, the Countess was at her parents’ home on the pretext of recuperation. Thanks to it, my mother was able to give birth to me safely.
The Count of Thebesa considered daughter as something valuable from generation to generation.
A daughter was good to use as a tool for combining with other families, and Count Thebesa took me for that purpose.
Of course, Countess Thebesa didn’t like it, but she had no choice but to accept what the Count wanted.
That was the beginning of hell.
Until the moment when I was chosen as the fiancée of the Duke of Williot.
Thinking that Kalian might have gone through the same thing as me, I felt pity and had a sense of kinship.
I couldn’t believe I had a sense of kinship with the Emperor. It was an absurd feeling.
If Kalian knew what I was thinking, I was sure he would laugh at me.
I let out a sigh and turned my head to see the box Kalian had given me.
I opened the box and took out a document inside.
It was a document about child care law.
I had already researched this part before, so I already knew most of it.
Still, I was reading it carefully to review my memories and to see if there’s anything I didn’t know, but my eyes were drawn to what was scribbled on the corner of the document.
[Why can’t children choose their parents?]
It wasn’t a summary of the data, but a monologue.
Unlike the other writings, the font was a bit thick and shaken.
I felt like I knew a little bit about how he felt when he wrote these things.
[Why don’t the parents I choose admit that they are my parents?]
There’s a dark red stain next to the letter.
This… isn’t it bloodstain?
Kalian’s monologue continued on the back page.
I flipped the paper over as if I was possessed.
[Can parents who abuse their children be called parents?]
[Should parents who don’t recognize their children be called parents?]
[Is bloodline the only thing that can define parent and child?]
[Who should I call my parents?]
Looking at the rambling written monologues, I realized one thing for sure.
Contrary to his relaxed appearance, he had a deep wound in his heart.
And that it was none other than his family who caused the wounds.
“I’m going to leave the mansion for about two weeks from tomorrow.”
Philen said, brushing Cecily’s coveted hair with his hand.
Cecily, who was lying on Philen’s lap and feeling his touch, opened her eyes wide and raised her upper body.
“Why all of a sudden?”
“I have to attend a party.”
Cecily’s head tilted.
“If it’s a party, haven’t you been to it before?”
“That was a party to commemorate the Emperor’s throne. This time, it’s a party to commemorate the victory. They said I don’t have to attend if there’s anything special, but I’d like to attend if possible.”
“Of course, you have to.”
Cecily smiled and kissed Philen lightly on the cheek.
“Because you are the hero who led the empire to victory.”
Philen looked at Cecily with complicated eyes.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“…are you okay?”
Cecily’s head tilted slightly.
“I’m the one who ruined your country. But… are you okay?”
Only then did Cecily realize what Philen was trying to say. She exclaimed softly and fell into him.
“Well, it would be a lie if I said it’s nothing at all, but I decided to forget it because I wasn’t that close with my family and this child is more important than that.”
Cecily smiled bitterly and stroked her belly.
“I guess people change their mindset when they become mothers.”
How can you be so bright when you must be sad to lose your home country?
Philen was proud of Cecily.
Philen gently stroked Cecily’s hair.
“Thank you for understanding me, and for giving birth to my child.”
“If I say everything I meant to say, what will I say?”
When Cecily folded her eyes like a crescent moon and smiled bashfully, Philen kissed her cheek.
“I’ll come back before you give birth to the child.”
“You are going to buy me a present when you come back, right?”
“Yeah. Just tell me what you want. I’ll buy you anything.”
“What if I ask you to pick a star in the sky?”
“Then I should bring you a jewel as pretty as a star. I can do that much for you, who will give birth to my child.”
Cecily chuckled at the witty answer and rested her head on his chest.
“I don’t need everything. I just need you to come back safely to my side.”
“Of course. Ah, if possible, I hope that Lady Thebesa will also come back with you.”
When Cecily talked about Leila first, Philen’s eyes widened.
“I didn’t know you were going to talk about Leila first.”
“Hey, if you say that, I will feel disappointed.”
Cecily smiled sweetly and stroked Philen’s chest.
“As I said before, I think of Lady Thebesa as my family.”
“Of course. Lady Thebesa will be my child’s foster mother. I want to get along well with the Lady.”
It seemed that every word Cecily said was pretty.
It would have been nice if Leila was like this, too.
Thinking about Leila all of sudden, who was as stiff as an old tree, made his heart stuffy.
“I’ll make sure to come back with Leila this time.”
Philen sighed and hugged Cecily’s waist.
“If you show her your heart, her heart will change too. Even if her words and actions are like that, she is not a bad person by nature.”
Cecily’s eyes gleamed sharply as she buried her face a little deeper in Philen’s arms.
“So, please do that.”
Kalian visited the aide’s office with a document to ask Leila.
Leila, who was working, stood up in surprise.
Leila’s complexion was darker than usual.
“Are you sick?”
“Because your complexion is dark.”
At Kalian’s words, Leila let out a short exclamation and wiped her face.
She couldn’t sleep well last night thinking about his monologue, and it looked like it’s obvious.
“If you’re not feeling well, you can go home.”
“No. It’s just that I couldn’t sleep for a while, and I’m not sick anywhere.”
“Why couldn’t you sleep?”
Leila hesitated, unable to tell the truth.
Meanwhile, his blue eyes quickly scanned Leila’s desk.
His gaze finally stopped on the paper piled up on one side.
It was so long ago that he couldn’t remember the details, but it was definitely the content of the data he had researched 10 years ago.
His frantic writing was neatly organized in her writing.
The amount was considerable. It wasn’t something that could be finished in an hour or two.
Kalian frowned and picked up the paper.
“Don’t tell me, you didn’t sleep because you were organizing this?”
“No? I think it’s right. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have organized this much in one night.”
Probably because he hit the mark, Leila hesitated for a moment and then continued.
“…it’s true that I organized it because I couldn’t sleep, but it’s not because of that.”
That’s what I’m saying.
Kalian snorted and put the paper down again.
“Do you have anything to say to me?”
Now you’re changing the subject, huh?
Kalian could see Leila’s mind clearly, but Kalian pretended not to know.
“It’s the report you organized yesterday, and I have a question.”
Kalian asked Leila what he had checked beforehand.
Leila satisfied Kalian’s curiosity based on the data she had prepared beforehand.
Thanks to her, Kalian was able to easily solve his curiosity.
If it wasn’t for Leila, he would have called the ministers from each department to break the stones.
Though, he would have been asking the scholars or searching the library for the unsolved problems.
“Thank you. Thanks to you, I could solve it easily.”
The word ‘Park Hak-da-sik’ used in a country in the east seemed to be referring to Leila.
As such, Leila had various knowledge in various fields.
In this case, the depth is usually thin, but Leila was an exception. Hers was very deep.
Of course, it might be shallow compared to scholars who specialize in one field, but it was good enough.
Despite having a prudent and calm personality and this ability, he also liked that she was humble and not arrogant.
“It is an honor to be of help.”
At times, she was too humble to the point of being overly rude, but it didn’t matter.
Because self-esteem was something she could grow by keeping her by his side from now on.
“I hope you work as my aide for a long time.”
That way, I’ll be able to step down without worrying in the future.
Kalian tapped Leila on the shoulder and left the office before she could say anything.