“…And for some reason that day…….
I had a premonition that I was going to get a bruise that day, so I insisted to Mini that I would sleep without a bath. For the record, Mini is my personal maid, and it’s not that I don’t like to bathe.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” Linzel went on. “And this bruise is…….”
And with that, she explained the story of each of the bruises on her body. In great detail. Pointing out times and places.
The reason for the detail was this.
In the novel, Izekiel couldn’t give a proper answer when Angel asked him, ‘What are all the bruises on your body?!’ after seeing the marks that marred his pristine skin.
He couldn’t answer because he couldn’t reveal that he had been abused; those were stains on his memory caused by his own shame.
So, Linzel wanted to act differently from Izekiel. She needed to let him know that her bruises had a different story than his.
‘Don’t project your past onto me. I was not abused.’
Before long, she was done explaining.
She was a little out of breath from all the talking, and she was making funny breathing noises.
Then Hernan’s hand reached out and gently stroked her back. His touch was soothing, as if he were comforting a child.
Linzel looked up at Hernan, and he nodded. She could tell he trusted her.
This time, Linzel looked at Izekiel.
He was frowning slightly. He looked like he didn’t agree with something. Izekiel was stubborn and didn’t seem to be able to admit that he was wrong.
Linzel decided to give Izekiel a word of advice.
“Don’t project your own past onto someone else’s situation.”
His abuse was common knowledge to most nobles, so she felt safe in saying that.
“I am not being abused, Your Highness, do you understand that now?”
“But your marriage is…….” Izekiel said, his voice filled with regret.
It was Hernan who spoke up to decisively cut his brother off.
“Izekiel. I wish you would stop misinterpreting things. Because your misunderstanding is offensive.”
Linzel leaned her body against Hernan’s forearm. To show that she hadn’t been forced to marry him.
His forearm was solid, like a tree firmly rooted in the ground. She wondered if there was a place on this man’s body that wasn’t solid.
Izekiel remained silent, watching them with a puzzled expression. It was a somewhat sad look.
Linzel went on to explain how close she and Letty were.
‘The fact that we often sleep together, the fact that I love to cuddle with her, the fact that she cries whenever I’m sick…….’
And at the end of her monologue, Letty finished it off.
“Linzel is more important than my life.”
“Incredible, amazing, – that’s my sister!” Linzel exclaimed, overwhelmed with emotion.
After listening for a while, Izekiel finally surrendered.
“…… Okay. I guess I misunderstood.”
“Now you don’t think I’m being abused, do you?”
“Well…… to a certain extent.”
Izekiel remained completely unconvinced until the end. Linzel wished he wouldn’t be so stubborn with Letty.
Still, it was clear that Izekiel’s misunderstanding was about 90 percent resolved.
The remaining 10 percent was a mystery that she could work through one day at a time.
If she married Hernan, Linzel would have to deal with him from time to time anyway.
It was then that she heard Hernan’s voice again.
“Now, in place of Lady Letty……ahem,” Hernan cleared his throat shyly.
It was his chance to replace Letty.
“Are you asking me to hug you?” Linzel challenged playfully.
He didn’t mean to suggest he’d cry for her. It was something else he was getting at, s0 Hernan answered in a small voice.
Of all the things she had said, Hernan seemed to focus on the part that said, ‘I like to cuddle Letty’.
He focused on that – not the abuse, not the bruises, but what on earth…….
Linzel burst out laughing.
“I was being completely serious.”
Hernan’s straight eyebrows rose like he didn’t like her laughter.
“I will do that,” Linzel placated him.
It was more of a promise.
“I just want you to know that you’re the only one who will ever get to hold me,” Hernan grumbled.
Honestly, she was flattered by the confession of a handsome man who had given her exclusive cuddling rights. Linzel’s cheeks felt a little warmer.
“Hey, I want you to know that you two aren’t the only ones here,” Izekiel, who was watching us, said with a hint of grumpiness. Letty, who liked Izekiel, listened to him.
“That’s right, Linzel. And why did you say something about me crying? You should be ashamed…….”
She was indeed embarrassed. Linzel looked at her, and saw that Letty’s cheeks were as red as her own.
The four of them chatted a bit more. It wasn’t much of a conversation.
Izekiel complained about Hernan’s constant copying of his clothes, and Hernan asked what was wrong with that.
“…… I always analyze the weapons of the warriors I admire. Izekiel, you’re famous for dressing well, so isn’t it only natural for me to analyze you?”
Linzel realized for the first time today that Hernan could speak so eloquently.
He had a point. Unmistakably.
Izekiel was stubborn, but he was weak to flattery. His shoulders rose three centimeters at Hernan’s words of praise.
The corner of his mouth twitched, and he spoke up.
“If you say so, I forgive you for taking my clothes today.”
Hernan chuckled softly. Almost as if he liked to fawn over his brother, Izekiel.
Letty and Linzel talked about the little things that went on in the manor.
For example, how pretty the flower garden that Letty tends to is, and how often Linzel used to trip and fall.
She complimented Letty a lot, hoping that Letty’s charms would appeal to Izekiel.
Linzel glanced at him from time to time to gauge his reaction, but the strange thing was that every time she did, his eyes locked with hers.
It was as if he was looking at Linzel the whole time.
When their gazes locked, he would pout his lips or give her a narrow glance.
For some reason, he seemed offended.
She truly couldn’t figure out why he was upset. Of course, that didn’t stop her from wanting to ease his mind, to soothe him.
She knew she wasn’t close enough to him to do that.
On the other hand, if Linzel had seen Hernan’s expression darken, she would have tried to make him feel better.
They sat in the café for about an hour.
Linzel realized how pleasant it was to be able to have a good conversation without worrying about getting sick.
It was Izekiel who announced that he was leaving first.
“I should probably get back to the palace, I have some business to attend to.”
Linzel was also beginning to feel the burning in her buttocks.
“Your Highness Izekiel, we’re not going to have any strange misunderstandings anymore, are we?” she asked one last question as a confirmation.
He nodded his head once.
“Good. I think we’ve said what we needed to say today, so I think it’s safe to break up the meeting.”
“Linzel,” Letty chimed in. “Would you like to go back with His Highness Hernan first?”
“I…… have a stop to make while we’re in town.”
“Where is that?”
“An apothecary I sometimes go to. I wanted to see if they had anything good for you, Linzel, and also look at some herbs for our father.”
‘Oh well. Not a day goes by that this child doesn’t think of me,’ Linzel thought adoringly.
She immediately bragged to Izekiel, “See, your Highness Izekiel, we really are two good sisters.”
Izekiel merely scoffed. The fact he had not thrown up made Linzel feel like she could take that as a sign.
“Anyway, I’ll get up first. Lady Letty, Lady Linzel. Until next time.”
“I’ll have to get up as well.”
Hernan and Linzel waved goodbye to them. She briefly hoped that Izekiel and Letty, who went out side by side, would have an intimate moment.
‘What should Hernan and I do now?’
Linzel stared out the wall of glass in the café.
It was still bright outside. The sun showed no sign of setting. That’s why it seemed a shame to part with him immediately.
“Your Highness, Hernan, do you have anything to keep you busy today?”
“No. I have nothing to do today,” Hernan replied.
“Then shall we stay together some more?”
Hernan nodded curtly.
“By the way, Linzel.”
“I have something to thank you for.”
What could Hernan possibly have to thank her for?
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a relaxed conversation with my brother.”
Hernan heaved a heavy sigh.
“We were closer when we were younger, but since the civil war broke out, I’ve been living on the outskirts and haven’t seen much of him.”
“Out of sight, out of mind. I was naturally distant from my brother.”
Linzel nodded to show she was listening.
Even in the original story, Hernan and Izekiel didn’t get along. What’s more, both men were in love with the same woman.
The two brothers became enemies, and by the end of the book, their relationship had irreparably deteriorated.
There seemed to be a narrative that the two men often got into fistfights.
Not only did she want to save Letty, but she also wanted the two men to get along.
The idea that brothers who shared blood would split up. There was nothing more heartbreaking than that.
‘Now that I’m marrying Hernan, at least this time they won’t fight over love.’
Meanwhile, he continued.
“It may sound funny, but I had a lot of fun arguing with my brother over clothes.”
“Thank you. I can see that the opportunity you’ve created for me has had a good effect on you as well.”
Linzel sincerely hoped that the relationship between the two men would continue to be good. Even as time passed.
“Is there no such thing as reciprocation?” Linzel asked coyly.
“I’m not asking for much.”
She nudged her left cheek closer to his face.
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