“What do you mean?”
Amelia shook off the maids who were holding onto her arm, his golden eyes were still looking at her indifferently. Was he telling her not to act as if she was worried about Leonel?
“I must have already told you clearly. There is only one thing I want from you.”
“Ah, you mean to say that I should just guard my position as the Grand Duchess in name only?”
“Yes, so you don’t have to suddenly act like a loving mother.”
She wondered if he was saying this out of concern for Leonel, but that wasn’t the case either. She was behaving differently from usual and it was bothering him. Even now, there was no trace of worry in Raphael’s eyes.
“Isn’t it natural for a mother to worry about her child?”
Of course, it was a meaningless statement coming from Amelia. She couldn’t even utter those words when she thought about how much she resented Leonel. And no one would believe her anyway. As soon as she spoke, the reactions of those around her were evident. They all had expressions as if they had heard something they shouldn’t have.
“Amelia, it’s strange for you to say such a thing.”
“I came to my senses. I just thought that there should be at least one proper guardian by the child’s side.”
Although his eyebrows twitched at her words, Amelia didn’t lose her smile. She had never spoken a wrong word. Neither the original Amelia nor Raphael could be considered proper guardians.
“Now, can I go see my son?”
“… Send her.”
After a brief confrontation, the knights and maids who had been blocking her path quickly left at Raphael’s word.
“I appreciate your consideration, Your Grace.”
Amelia bowed her head in thanks as Raphael’s retreating figure disappeared from view. It was best to remove any potential obstacles in advance.
“Let’s go see Leonel.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The behavior of the maid who had just been blocking her and now casually bowed her head was so similar to Amelia’s own behavior that it was amusing.
* * *
Voices could be heard from the other side of the thick door. The sound was interrupted at intervals due to the thickness of the door, but she could tell what they were saying.
‘Uh, my mother is coming to visit me?’
‘Yes. I’m sure she’s coming to scold you for not waking up.’
She couldn’t bear to listen any longer, so she opened the door before the maids could even open it for her.
“It’s me. I heard some unbelievable things outside the door just now.”
When it comes to cracking down on crime, it was always best to launch a surprise attack to prevent any escape.
‘If you’re Siegfried, it’s something you should be able to do.’
What a Siegfried would do. I felt sorry for Leonel, who was gullible enough to believe May’s ridiculous lie. It’s inevitable because Amelia usually showered Leonel with all sorts of insults. Calling him a half-wit, a dim-witted half-breed, and so on. She even resorted to verbal abuse that shouldn’t be uttered to a four-year-old child who knew nothing.
And it always ended the same way. If only you were born right, Raphael would have loved you. She blamed everything on Leonel. The verbal abuse that started when Leonel began to speak and never ceased until her death.
“I heard such nonsensical words when I was listening.”
As soon as she entered the room, Amelia felt pained, seeing Leonel, who looked sick and pale like a blank sheet of paper. He pretended not to be surprised, but his slightly trembling shoulders revealed his tension. How could this be considered a normal mother-child relationship? It seemed as if he had seen a ghost, not his mother, judging by his expression and behavior.
“I clearly told you to inform him of my visit only.”
“Or have we been doing it this way all along?”
May had crossed the line. No, she had crossed it a long time ago. No one had pointed it out. It was wrong from the start for a servant to have authority over their master.
“I didn’t come here to scold Leonel.”
Amelia deliberately acted more relaxed in front of May, who couldn’t even say a word. Although she was incredibly annoyed, she didn’t have the strength to deal with the maid right now. Even when she ordered May to leave when the doctor came, May casually disobeyed and stayed behind.
She couldn’t dismiss May from her position as a maid, but perhaps she could use this incident as an excuse to prevent any further contact between May and Leonel.
“Has it always been like this when I wasn’t around?”
“It’s not for any other reason…!”
“You, a mere maid, dared to give advice and say all sorts of things to the successor of the Siegfried family.”
Amelia passed by May, who couldn’t say a word and just lowered her head. What was important now was Leonel. He was trembling, his face turning blue, he must be constantly thinking about the situation. If it were her, she would have resented her parents, but not Leonel. He loved his mother very much, even though he said he hated her. He thought of Amelia even at the moment of her death.
“I’m… I’m sorry.”
“From now on, don’t approach Leonel.”
Amelia didn’t avoid eye contact, not even at the heated glare she felt as she finished speaking. She showed her anger on her face, unable to hide her frustration.
“I don’t know what you mean by that.”
“Or do you want me to report to His Highness?”
“I’m sure you know which one is more advantageous for you.”
May would hate being caught by Raphael more than death. Of course, he probably already knew everything. He wouldn’t care about what happened to his useless son, Leonel. But it would be effective for May, the head maid.
It was amazing that she was able to survive in the grand ducal residence so well while not being able to hide her emotions like that. It wasn’t until May left that Amelia was completely alone with Leonel.
She just called his name, but Amelia hesitated at Leonel’s stiff and tense posture.
“I heard you weren’t feeling well… Are you okay?”
She should have just not come. But once she knew that Leonel was there, she couldn’t help but come. Bright blond hair and soft brown eyes, exactly as he was described in the book. She seemed to understand why Leonel resented Raphael.
Apart from their difference in eye color, they could be considered identical. The people of the Siegfried family were always born with golden hair and golden eyes. It was the characteristic of the Siegfrieds. To him, it seemed more like a curse than a characteristic. At first glance, one might think that having golden hair and golden eyes was nothing special, but that was not the case at all.
“…… Yes, I’m fine. I’m sorry. I couldn’t properly fulfill my father’s educational training…”
Could it be that he was referring to going out for border patrol as his father’s educational training? That didn’t make any sense. How could that be called educational?
“From now on, this kind of thing won’t happen again.”
That’s why. Because of this, Leonel had been suffering silently, alone, without showing any signs of pain. She was so annoyed with the author who wrote this.
The author thoroughly exploited Amelia and Leonel. To make the protagonist and the male lead stand out. Amelia was only treated as a plot device to give Leonel some trauma, and Leonel was made into a thorough villain to make the main leads’ love pure and flawless.
“Why are you apologizing to me?”
The golden color of the Siegfrieds was different from the typical golden color. It was the purest, untainted golden color that only the Siegfrieds possessed. It was said that even pure gold would lose its luster in front of a Siegfried. She admitted that. The moment she saw Raphael’s hair, it felt like her breath was taken away. His sparkling hair under the sunlight, as if sprinkled with stardust, could enchant anyone.
“Then… Is this not it?”
Even at a glance, he looked young, with chubby cheeks that still hadn’t lost their baby fat. It was regrettable to see a young child already being cautious. She was so angry at Raphael for turning away such a cute and lovely child just because he didn’t have golden eyes.
Ironically, Leonel was far superior to Raphael, who had the characteristics of the Siegfrieds with his golden eyes. Even though his eye color was just a common golden color, there was a special reason for the Siegfrieds to have it. The Siegfrieds’ golden color was so mysterious that it was said to be determined by his pupils. His golden eyes, a fiery amber color, looked like the eyes of a beast. The vertically constricting pupils, like those of a reptile, were both beautiful and terrifying.
At times, the beauty that seemed inhuman evoked a sense of rejection.
“How old are you this year?”
“Ah… I’m five years old.”
He tried hard to pretend, but his disappointment at the fact that she didn’t know his age was evident. It would have been better to openly express his frustration, but pretending to be unaffected hurt her even more. If he was five years old, then it’s one year before the happenings of the original incident.
Amelia’s suicide would completely change Leonel’s life.
Amelia couldn’t say anything in response to Leonel’s answer that he was five years old. She resented why she had possessed her at this particular moment. If only it had happened a little earlier, or before she married Raphael… In the book, Amelia, who became more and more ruined by not receiving Raphael’s love, finally hung herself in front of her son.
She was blaming her son until the very end. And young Leonel witnessed it all, so shocked that he fainted.
It was the beginning of his misery.
“Did I do something wrong?”
As she remained silent, she noticed Leonel starting to gauge her reaction. Overwhelmed by his devastated appearance, her hand instinctively went to his head.
She wondered how the child had been raised so far that he would shrink his neck and be surprised even when she was just going to pat his head. Of course, she tried to pat him without saying anything, but a normal child wouldn’t be startled by such a gesture.
“Well, you’re five years old. So you’re at the age where you can throw a tantrum if things are difficult.”
“If you don’t like something, just say it.”
The feeling of his soft hair in her hand was pleasant. He was so cute, like a little puppy, that she almost touched his cheeks, but she withdrew her hand. She thought it would be scary and unpleasant if his mom, who was always angry with him, suddenly touched his hair.
“So, you don’t need to listen to nonsensical stories like earlier.”
No matter how Leonel was disliked by Raphael, it was not something that a mere maid could casually say to the heir of the family.
“I know my words might sound strange right now.”
When she first realized she was Amelia, she thought it would have been better if Leonel had never been born. Leonel was destined to grow into a dark villain surpassing even his father. But the moment she met Leonel’s warm brown eyes, she realized that she could never turn away from this child.