Chapter Seven: I Died and Came Back to Life
Who’s bawling and wailing so loudly?
I awoke to loud cries stinging my ears.
“She’s dead, hngggg… I killed herrrrrr….”
“She’s not dead.”
“She’s so dumbbbb, waahhhh…”
Is ‘dumb’ referring to me?
After I came to, it became clear who was crying so loudly.
Stealthily opening my eyes, I saw Selphius, bawling at my side with his head lowered.
“Hiiiic— l-let’s make a pit and bury her— hiiiic— in a sunny place, wahh…”
It might have been because he actually tried to dig a trench, but Selphius was holding a shovel covered in dirt.
‘What a scary father and son.’
As I turned my head, I made eye contact with Theodore, who stood leaning on one leg with his arms crossed behind Selphius.
His face was contorted in anger like a monster’s.
“You’ve committed a nonsensical deed.”
I could hear the sound of teeth grinding.
“Was experiencing death twice not enough? Or is the feeling addictive? Ah, maybe you’re the type that enjoys pain?”
“Hey, i-it’s not even drugs.
How would pain be addictive?”
“If you’re that desperate to die, I can kill you myself.”
“I-I didn’t consume his blood because I wanted to… I really had no idea.”
Ugh, I feel so wronged.
At the sound of my voice, Selphius, who had been crouched on the floor sobbing, lifted his head frantically.
His eyes and nose were completely red and swollen from how long he had cried.
“I told you she wasn’t dead,” Theodore comforted Selphius plainly, setting his hand on his shoulder.
Seeing Selphius repeating the same question to me with shock written all over his face, I could barely hold back a laugh.
“B-But you definitely ate my blood…!”
“She did, indeed, very recklessly.”
With a haggard expression, Theodore grabbed his forehead.
Looking between the two of them, I got up from where I had been laid down.
As if seeing a ghost, Selphius backed away, frightened out of his wits.
“H-H-How are you alive?”
“I’m a little special.”
Seeing how calmly I greeted him, Theodore smirked.
What about your body? Are you in pain anywhere?”
“There are no issues.
It doesn’t hurt anywhere, and I feel refreshed, as if I slept well for the first time in a while.”
Maybe I have the constitution for poison? I can’t believe I feel so energized after fainting from poison.
As I began to stretch, Selphius wiped away his tears and snot with his sleeve before mumbling agitatedly, “You definitely ate my blood…”
He seemed to still be in disbelief.
Theodore sighed loudly before roughly loosening the cravat that had been wrapped tightly around his neck.
“It’s unclear as to why, but my poison didn’t work on her either.”
“And it seems that your poison is the same, Selphi.”
“S-So the curse doesn’t work on her?”
Our curse doesn’t work on her.”
“You’re seeing living proof right in front of you.”
At Theodore’s words, Selphius stood up from his awkward place on the ground and sat on a nearby chair before scanning over me.
“Are you perhaps… not human?”
Damn, he’s treating a human like a ghost.
“I’m human, Selphius.”
Pulling a chair from afar between Selphius and I, Theodore sat with his arms crossed before reprimanding me.
“Even if you haven’t died from our poison yet, I would prefer it if you weren’t so careless around us.
Although you recovered after ingesting my blood, what would you have done if you had died due to Selphi’s?”
“It was an accident.”
“Do you speak knowing that this tiny accident could have taken your life?”
Since he spoke only the truth, I couldn’t say anything in response.
I bit my lip hard, like it was covered in honey.
“Always remember: actions that might be inconsequential elsewhere could endanger you here.”
As I nodded in reflection, Theodore turned to Selphius.
“Your actions will directly affect someone else’s life.
That’s the risk, and yet you’re still not being cautious?”
“I heard that you cut yourself.
What if the other maids died because of that blood?”
Selphius dropped his head.
His shoulders sunk pitifully, as if he knew that he had made a grave mistake.
There’s no need to delay this for any longer.
I’ll prepare your carriage, so go down to the countryside.”
Theodore probably didn’t want Selphius to unwittingly cause someone’s death and live in guilt for the rest of his life.
‘Although it’s not that I don’t understand his judgement…’
I turned back and looked at Selphius, who met my eyes.
He looked just like a puppy left out in the rain as he got up from his chair.
Perhaps it was because of the mistake he had made, but this time, Selphius didn’t object to going.
Theodore opened the door and called the butler, ordering him to prepare the carriage and Selphius’ belongings.
Selphius looked as if he had given up on everything.
That image of him kept bothering me, and before I realized, I had already opened my mouth.
“Since he made a mistake, won’t he need someone to watch over him?”
The two people turned to stare at me at the same time.
‘Lapileon affairs should be left to the Lapileon family.’
However, strangely enough, I couldn’t stop my words.
“Selphius is still young.
If he made a mistake because he didn’t know any better, then the responsibility shouldn’t be on him…”
I calmly looked at Selphius, who donned a confused expression.
Then, I turned to look at Theodore, who was next to him.
“…It’s your fault, Theodore, for not teaching him properly.”
Theodore narrowed his eyes, frowning.
As if warning me to stop, Theodore’s red eyes filled with ire.
Even so, my spirit was unyielding and unwavering.
“If you’re planning on locking Selphius away in the countryside for the rest of his life, then sure, send him away immediately.
Lock him up and make sure he never meets other people or visits the capital.”
As I spoke, Theodore’s face twisted scarily.
“But does your decision even take Selphius’s opinion into account? You don’t have power over his entire life just because you adopted him.”
“Don’t do as you please under the pretext of protection, Theodore.”
At my last words, Theodore’s expression shifted.
As if he had suddenly been hit, Theodore stared at me, mouth parted.
“If you wish Selphius to one day be the confident heir to the Lapileon name…”
Theodore turned his head to look at Selphius, who stood next to him.
But Selphius was still looking at me.
“Don’t send him away.
Instead, teach him how to adapt to situations and make no mistakes.”
“That’s what you need to do for Selphius.”
Is it okay for me to do this?
I’ll be leaving in a year, so is it really okay for me to interfere like this?
Doubt kept stirring up from within.
Nevertheless, I felt like I would regret it for the rest of my life if I let that child go.
A heavy silence fell.
The quiet made it hard to open one’s mouth to speak and made the inside of my mouth dry.
Just as I was about to speak, Selphius, who had been as still as a mouse playing dead, boldly grabbed Theodore’s sleeve.
And in the most respectful and courteous tone I had ever heard from him, he began.
I will guarantee that a similar circumstance does not occur again.”
Theodore raised an eyebrow.
“…I will never cause trouble again.”
“I will be careful not to stray into Your Excellency the Grand Duke’s sight.
If it is your wish, I will even eat in my room.”
Without caving, Selphius solemnly and strongly told his opinion.
Theodore closed his lips firmly and turned my way, the cause of all this.
What, bud? What are you going to do about it?
“You shouldn’t lock a child up, but rather let them grow freely with care.”
Then, I deliberately smiled brightly and clapped.
Theodore let out a low sigh before grabbing his forehead.
“Do you speak knowing that if Selphi stays, you’ll be the one in the most danger?”
Why am I in danger?
“Selphi’s poison is the strongest among us.
There’s no definite assurance that an accident like today’s won’t happen again.”
“And there’s no definite assurance that you’ll survive again.”
His words weren’t necessarily wrong.
However, I would only be an unwelcome guest here for a year, while Selphius was a family member he would need to live with moving forward.
And I had been planning on enduring situations like this from the start.
“I can be more careful.
I’m prepared to accept that.”
As I clenched my fist with a resolute expression, Theodore stared at me dazedly, though he quickly fixed his expression before turning.
“Is there anything you would like to bring from the cottage?”
At Theodore’s inquiry, Selphius’s jaw dropped before he quickly shook his head.
“N-No! You can throw it all away!”
“Seeing how you speak with conviction, it seems you’re confident you won’t be found out by others, Selphi.”
At Selphius’ eager tone, Theodore shook his head as if he had no other choice.
He then gestured to the butler behind him.
“Prepare anything Selphi will need in his bedroom.
From garments to furnishing, make sure they’re all new.”
“Thanks to you, I cancelled all of today’s plans, so there’s nothing to do.
What an absolute mess.”
“Then you should be thankful for me.”
“…It’s the first time I’ve seen Selphi listen to someone’s words so well.”
With a dumbfounded expression, I looked back and forth between Theodore and Selphius.
This is him listening to me? Do you have bad vision?
“It’s just as Sercia said.
The more I look at you, the more I’m amazed.”
“I’ve always had immeasurable charm.”
“You thought that was a compliment?”
“Who else has these strengths?”
As if admitting defeat, Theodore stuck out his tongue.
Then, after muttering ‘might as well take a nap for the first time in a while’ under his breath, he turned and left the bedroom.
The butler in front of the door gave me a stealthy thumbs up, smiling.
“Young Master, come this way.
We’ll call a tailor to take your measurements.
I’ll also bring a furniture catalogue, so pick out the ones you like.”
Selphius’s face was tinged with excitement.
The child tried hard to maintain his composure as he walked.
However, I could almost see a tail wagging behind him.
Selphius, who had been following the butler, suddenly turned to face me.
Then, with a curt voice as always, he spoke.
“Call me Selphi from now on, Your Highness the Grand Duchess.”
Ears reddening, Selphius ran out of the bedroom.
‘He’s so cute.’
* * *
The next day.
An uninvited guest came to visit in the early hours.
“Pershati, were you never going to invite us if we didn’t come see you ourselves?”
“Why would I do so if I didn’t want to see you? I have to desire your presence in order to invite you.”
It was my step-mother and Reina.
“So, what’s the reason for your visit?”
“Is this a place we’re not allowed to visit? How petulant of you.”
“Older sister, have you met with Sir Siph?”
“…That’s what you came to ask about?”
They really are tactless.
How could you visit a married woman and ask about her ex-boyfriend?
With a face full of pity, I tutted my tongue.
“Reina, I knew you lacked smarts, but I wasn’t aware that your memory was this bad.
I broke up with Siph.”
“I asked because I already knew! You haven’t met Sir Siph since then?”
“Why should I be concerned with someone I already broke up with?”
At my cold response, Reina put both hands to her mouth, feigning shock.
“Older sister, why are you being so heartless?”
If I were really being heartless, I would have thrown you out of the residence without even letting you in.
It seems you’re still blissfully unaware.
“You were together for a long time.
You even considered marriage.”
“You must’ve forgotten, but when Dad died, Sir Siph was the one who comforted you and helped you cope through it all.
Is it okay for you to repay his kindness like this?”
At Reina’s words, I stopped in the middle of raising the teacup to my mouth.
He comforted me? Kindness? If you had an ounce of humanity, you wouldn’t be saying that while dawning such an innocent expression.
If I hadn’t been trying to keep my cool, I would’ve poured boiling-hot tea onto that face.
As soon as it seemed like I was listening to her words, Reina got excited and started nodding fervently.
“Really! When you were struggling, Sir Siph was the one who helped you!”
“Then you date him.”
Reina’s bright smile faltered.
My step-mother, who had been listening to our conversation silently beside us, paled, giving me a surge of joy.
“I’m already married, and I’ve been so happy that I haven’t even had the chance to think about my ex these days.”
Don’t you pity Sir Siph?”
“If he’s so pitiful, then you can reuse him.
I’ll give him to you.”
Although you’ve already been meeting him for a long time now.
You were probably planning to lie and make it seem that after my death, you had comforted each other in your grief and fallen in love that way.
“Ah, and in case people think you’re cheating with my ex-boyfriend, I’ll set things straight with them.”
“I’ll make sure they know I threw Sir Siph away, and that he has no relation to me whatsoever.
So don’t worry about it and date Sir Siph if you so choose, Reina.”
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