“The girl was seven years old at the time, and the boy was probably around nine, and he was just as young, and he took a risk and jumped into the ocean and saved her life.”

Bianca said, recalling a memory of her first love.

“It happened at a vacation spot, haven’t you heard of it?”

“Well, not that I know of.”

Luka said, shaking his head as if he’d never heard the story before.

He had no idea it was his story.

Later that day, shortly after saving Bianca, Luka was found collapsed in the middle of the sand.

The Oblonskys were reluctant to let their youngest son, who might be permanently mute, out in the open, so the servants went back to their quarters to see who would see him.

After wandering outside in a weak state, Luka fainted from heat stroke and when he awoke, he had no recollection of the day’s events.

The party who had left without telling him did not remember, and the Duchess, who had spanked her youngest son, was unable to reprimand him, so the Duke of Oblonsky let the matter pass.

It wasn’t until some time later that the aphasic Luka spoke up, perhaps out of guilt that he hadn’t been able to speak up for the girl that day.

“What’s wrong, is there anything I can do to help…….”

“It’s nothing, it’s okay if you don’t know.”

Bianca, who had asked the question with a small amount of hope, was disappointed, but she answered cheerfully.

After all, she would be traveling up north soon and would have to find out for herself.

At that moment, the backs of their hands met briefly as they walked side by side.

Luka gasped in surprise and jerked my hand away.

The contact with her soft flesh stung like a bolt of lightning.

“I-I’m sorry!”


“For reaching out and touching…….”

“We’re walking so close, it’s natural we might touch.”

“Then I’ll walk a little further away!”

Luka whisked away before she could even get a response out of her mouth, not wanting her to see how red he was down to his neck.

He walked so fast with his long legs that Bianca in her dress didn’t dare to keep up.

Seeing that he had gotten so far ahead that one would never have known they were together, Bianca grabbed her skirt with both hands and ran after him in a panic.

In the process, the ribbon she had tied loosely at the end of her chin came undone, and the wide-brimmed hat she was wearing was swept off by the strong wind.


The hat fluttered aimlessly in the wind before settling among the branches.

Bianca glanced back and forth between Luka’s back and the hat in the distance before finally walking toward the tree where it was hanging.

Her sister had given it to her, and she couldn’t bear to lose it.

The tree was rooted to the bank of the lake, its trunk curved and leaning toward the lake.

This made it easy for her to hold on to the pole with one hand and grab the hat with the other, without having to climb the tree.

But Bianca hadn’t realized that the grass growing on the bank of the lake was slippery with dew.


She let out an incoherent scream and fell straight into the lake.

Luka, who was already walking away from her by then, didn’t hear her.

Surprised to see Bianca disappear into the depths of the water, Laika rushed toward him.

Luka was stunned to see the large dog leaping toward him and backed away.

Laika knew he was scared of her, so she couldn’t bark, but she whimpered and eventually came right up to him with her mouth open.

Closing his eyes tightly for fear of being bitten, Luka soon realized that the dog had grabbed the hem of his top and was pulling him away.

As if it was trying to take him somewhere.


Luka suddenly realized that there was no one behind him.

Seeing it, Laika turned and locked eyes with him, as if to say, ‘Follow me,’ and ran toward where Bianca had fallen.

He followed the dog and soon found Bianca’s hat floating on the surface of the water.

As soon as Luka saw it, he didn’t hesitate to jump into the water.

Just like that day 13 years ago, he swam out, holding Bianca in one arm as she slowly plummeted to the bottom.

When he surfaced and laid her on the ground, she was unconscious.

Thinking quickly, Luka locked lips with her and breathed life into her fading body.

Soon, Bianca was breathing normally again.

“Cough! Cough!”

The first thing she saw as she came to, gagging on water, was a light brown-haired boy.

Bianca grabbed his arm without thinking.

As if she didn’t want to let go again.

“Are you awake now?”

Her first love asked in a low voice.

No, no.

It wasn’t the little boy she’d seen that day, it was her tutor.

But why did it seem like her first love overlapped with his face.

Then she realized that Luka was her age.

“Thank you.”

Bianca smacked her lips in gratitude.

She had a question she really wanted to ask.

‘Were you there that day, 13 years ago?’

But it couldn’t be.

The retreat place was reserved for the boyanin class.

No commoner was allowed in unless they were a servant of a visiting noble family.

By law, all servants had to be adults, so there was no way a boy who looked no older than ten could be a servant.

That’s why Bianca was so sure the boy was a noble.

All she knew about her savior was that he had light brown hair and was a nobleman.

It had been so long ago that the boy’s face had become a blur in her memory.

As an adult, there would have been a stark difference in appearance between a southerner and a northerner, but as a child, it made no difference, and since she hadn’t heard him speak, it was impossible to guess his place of origin from his tone of voice.

Moreover, information about the nobles who stayed at the retreat was confidential.

At least none of the nobles Duke Smirnov had met had sons with light brown hair.

‘No. It can’t be.’

Luka was trying to sound nonchalant, but his mind was racing just as much as Bianca’s.

Earlier, he’d done it as a first aid measure in the heat of the moment, but in retrospect, he’d only just realized that he’d locked lips with her.

By then, Luka’s love for her was growing stronger by the day.

The day Katya held her surprise trial, he was there.


“Because that medical certificate belongs to me, not my sister. I am the one who is infertile.”

“I’m fine, sis, I can’t see you suffering this much because of me. Petrozsky, if you’re going to point fingers at me for being a flawed woman, do it to me, not to her.”

“I don’t care if I can’t get married. I don’t care if I live alone for the rest of my life, despised by people, I can’t see my sister being unhappy…….”


Luka’s heart sank deeper as he watched her put herself out there for her sister.

‘I don’t know anymore. How can I not love you.’

But the circumstances surrounding him prevented this love.

The Duke of Oblonsky, like a pawn on a chessboard, would choose the family that he needed most at the most opportune moment to push for Luka’s marriage.

All of his brothers above him had married as their father had arranged.

Marriage for love might be rarer among the nobility, but at least the others were able to voice their wishes to their parents in matters of marriage.

But even that was impossible in the Oblonsky household.

His father was the absolute ruler of the family, the one who could not be disobeyed.



“After the honeymoon, I’ll let Tia stay with her parents while I finish my stealth. I will entrust my family to you, so please take good care of me.”


You are my lord’s family to protect.




As scheduled, Katya and Nikolai were married at the Duke of Smirnov’s residence with the blessings of those close to them.

Luka and Bianca were set up as witnesses to the marriage, standing by the couple’s side from start to finish.

As they stood on either side of the ceremony, no one from the ducal family noticed that there was a strange undercurrent of emotions between them after what had happened at the lakeside.

After holding back tears until the end of the ceremony, Pavtisky finally broke down at their last dinner together before leaving.

“Finally, Katya, you’re getting married. If your mom was here, she would be so happy for you.”

“Why cry on such a good day, Father.”

Katya’s voice was wet as she said this.

Suddenly, Nikolai stood up from his seat, walked to his father-in-law’s side, and knelt before him.

“You may kill me the day you wipe the tears from Tia’s eyes.”

The words brought tears to Duke Smirnov’s eyes.

“Your Highness, you cannot do this…….”

Everyone who saw the scene simultaneously held their stomachs and laughed.


As she was escorted to the carriage by her family, Katya looked through the window and watched the house recede into the distance.

Despite the simplicity of the ceremony, she felt like she was really leaving, and her spirits were high.

As if reading the complex emotions in her expression, Nikolai, who was riding his horse by the carriage, tapped on the window.

Katya opened the window and stuck her head out.

“What are you thinking about?”

“After the honeymoon, we’ll soon see each other again, but something feels strange. It’s as if I’m no longer just a member of the Smirnov family.”

“Why do you feel that way?”

“From today, I can’t refer to this place as our home anymore. The place I’ll call home will now be the Grand Duke’s palace, right?”

Nikolai glared at her at the bitterness in her voice and touched his wife’s peach-colored cheeks, chilled by the night breeze.

“Don’t be silly, your home will always be here.”

“Is that true?”

“A year is a short time, and I’ll take good care of you, and in a year I’ll send you back here safely.”

His words made Katya feel much better.

Not because he was a powerful Grand Duke, but because Nikolai was a reliable man in his own right, and she was glad she had chosen him for her first and last marriage.

Nikolai’s entourage continued on their way.

Katya lay curled up in the carriage and slept soundly.

They had just emerged from a dark tunnel and were climbing a steep mountain slope when something went wrong with the wagon wheels.

One of the loose wheels came off, and the tumbling carriage plunged down the cliff.

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