“Eek! I-I-I’m sorry.”
Leo quickly pulled away.
Ah, I wish he would have stayed attached to me!
With a regretful heart, I patted the hem of my dress where Leo had clung onto.
I, that’s, I mean, yea, this is… … Everyone says it´s coming out…..”
“Uh, uh, uh, uh, ghosts.”
Leo trembled like a vibrating phone as he spoke. It was really cute.
I tried hard to keep the corners of my mouth down and nodded my head as if it didn’t matter.
So what? It’s a world with magic, spirits, and curses, so it’s not strange to have ghosts.
Come to think of it, the servants have been talking about the annex.
Was it because of the rumors of ghosts?
’Even if it’s a haunted house, it’s still a house, right?’
Besides, it’s a huge and spacious house.
With this much space, it’s possible to share a few rooms with ghosts.
I didn’t hesitate to check out every nook and cranny.
And when I opened the terrace window, the reason why this place was rumored to be a haunted house became clear.
’I’ve heard of the Han River view, but this is the first time I’ve seen a tomb view.’
There, clearly visible in the backyard, were the graves of Blanche’s family tombs.
I heard the story that Blanche also had a time when they were extremely poor.
They were so poor that they sold all the land they owned, and as nobles, they didn’t even have land to bury their family’s graves, so they had to dig land in the backyard of their mansion.
So, this place called the annex was actually Blanche’s original mansion in the past.
Then, during that time, a descendant was born with extraordinary business sense.
They bought a mine and discovered a vein, and when they bought an old-fashioned beach, a nearby hot spring erupted, making it a famous tourist spot.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that the current wealth was the result of that one ancestor’s efforts.
The descendants have been squandering the fortune, indulging in luxury.
Anyway, after achieving such great wealth, they bought up the land around the house and built the current mansion, and naturally, this place became an annex and a tomb of their ancestors.
I poke my head out the window to take a closer look at the grave site.
The wooden floor I stepped on creaked, and Leo let out another adorable squeal.
This time, instead of clinging to me, he clutches the end of the fan in my hand……
It felt like my heart was going to burst not because I was scared of ghosts, but because Leo was so adorable.
Poor Leo seemed to be completely terrified that he was going to be alone with me in this annex from now on.
I couldn’t quite tell if he was scared of the ghosts or scared of being alone with me, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
’If I’m going to take care of Leo without worrying about what people think, I’m going to need the freedom of the annex rather than the main house.’
So, I made up my mind and spent a very long time exploring every corner of the annex with Leo until he felt safe and secure.
* * *
Belinda pointed to the side room attached to her room and said, “Ratchet, this is your cell from now on,” and laughed sinisterly.
Leo swallowed nervously and opened the door in front of him with a tense expression.
To Leo, a cell was a cold and lonely place where discarded things were collected.
…. or so he thought.
But what he saw was completely different from what he expected.
The room had warm-colored wallpaper and a carpet that felt soft under his feet.
In the center of the room was a wide bed, and there were shiny children’s furniture along the walls, and a mobile made of cut glass sparkled dazzlingly by the window.
Leo’s voice trembled as he spoke.
“This is a cell…?”
This wasn’t a cell…
‘This looks like what Heiron called ‘my room’.’
Leo looked around the room as if he had sneaked into someone else’s room.
The first place his gaze fell was, of course, the bed.
The goose down duvet smelled of sunshine.
Not daring to climb onto the bed, he cautiously rubbed his cheek against it.
’Hm. It’s so soft.’
Like a cat basking in the sun, Leo’s expression quickly became blurry.
He couldn’t tell how long he rubbed his cheeks against it.
Leo hesitated for a moment, then climbed onto the bed and stretched his body out.
Leo’s body relaxed as if he were lying on a cloud. Leo waved his arms for a moment before holding his breath.
A certain impulse began to stir inside him.
He glanced at his surroundings in vain.
Roll, roll, roll.
He rolled around on the bed like a puppy seeing snow for the first time.
The bed was so wide that he rolled five times to the left and five times to the right without falling off.
After rolling around until his face was red, Leo finally straightened out the crumpled duvet, lay down in the middle of the bed, ready to sleep.
He closed his eyes and waited for sleep to come.
He waited, and waited, and waited until finally…….
“I can’t sleep…….”
He opened his eyes.
High ceilings. Fluffy bedding. The soft glow of the crystal bedside lamp.
It was a luxury he’d never had before, and yet he couldn’t sleep.
‘It’s too quiet.’
At the orphanage, everyone used to sleep in the same room.
It was so cramped that we couldn’t move, but we could feel each other’s body temperature.
But now he was alone in this spacious room.
‘All by myself…….’
Suddenly, he remembered the nights he spent in solitary confinement where he was surrounded by piles of discarded items.
He would lie awake at night feeling as if he had become a useless object like them.
In the end, Leo got out of bed and wandered around the room.
He felt restless.
Then, a dim light seeped through the slightly open door.
Beyond the door was Belinda’s room.
But without a moment’s hesitation, Leo’s footsteps took him to the door, blinded by the light.
Beyond the door, a tent-like structure with a thin cloth draped over two wooden chairs on one side of the room was visible, with light seeping through it.
’Am I dreaming?’
Upon closer inspection, the tent was nothing more than a thin cloth draped over two wooden chairs.
Yet, it could not have looked cozier and nicer.
Just then, a very elegant and delicate female shadow was seen in the secret tent, like a secret hideaway.
As Leo’s voice echoed, a hand suddenly appeared from outside the tent.
As if telling him to come in, the hand gestured with a flick of the index finger, and Leo, like a child in a fairytale who discovered a witch’s gingerbread house in the forest, walked into the tent.
It was cramped inside, and the floor was piled high with pillows, making it difficult to keep his balance.
“The master hasn’t even gone to bed yet, so how dare the servant go to sleep first.”
As always, Belinda’s tone was chilly, and her gaze at Leo was cold.
But for some reason, Leo wasn’t afraid of her.
“This milk is hot enough to burn your tongue. Pour it into your mouth.”
Perhaps it was because of the warm milk that Belinda handed him.
“Looks like you’re in dire poverty.”
Maybe it was because of the blanket that was tightly wrapped over the thin pajamas.
“Ratchet, I will give you the chance to hear the elegant recitation of this body. Now, lie down flat like a servant and listen carefully.”
Or maybe it was because of the unusually gentle voice of Belinda, who was reading a fairy tale book.
Leo lay down on the pillow filled with feathers as Belinda instructed. At first, he was nervous and fidgeted with his fingers, not knowing what to do, but soon he became immersed in the story that Belinda was telling him and rested his body on the pillow.
It was about a princess under a black magic spell that made her say everything in reverse.
When she was hungry and asked for food, all the servants could hear was that she was full, and they should put the food away.
“The princess confessed her heart to the prince, but the words that came out of her mouth were hateful words, saying that she hated him the most in this world.”
Belinda’s voice was lullaby-like as she gently patted Leo’s back.
Before he knew it, he fell asleep while listening to the story of the princess in the fairy tale.
He wondered why the prince didn’t understand the princess’s heart.
Although she said with her mouth that she hated the prince the most in the world, she had personally embroidered a handkerchief as a gift for the prince, and even when he acted rudely, she never got angry.
Yet the people in the castle did not understand the princess’s heart and spoke ill of her behind her back.
’It’s like…… Belinda’s story.’
In the main house, Toma and the other servants talked about how mean and cruel Belinda was.
But the Belinda that Leo had witnessed was different from the stories of the others.
’They don’t know what the real Belinda is like.’
Although her facial expression looked like she was thinking about how to torment him.
The way she twisted her lips and smiled silently sometimes gave him shivers.
How gentle she was beneath her fierce words.
The touch of her hand when she stroked his hair was warm.
‘I’m the only one who knows. So………’
Leo’s sleepy hands were clenched into fists as if he had decided to do something.