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My Male Lead is in the Process of Being Corrupted (1)
Luckily I woke up around noon the next day. But even though I had regained consciousness, my body felt terribly heavy. It felt as though I had been submerged in a bathtub full of hot water all day long. Managing to sit myself up, I blinked a few times as Ilina brought me a late breakfast.
I was able to pull myself together after munching on some food and just as I began to look somewhat human again, my father came by.
“Anastasia, do you have a minute?”
My father was dressed in extremely casual clothes. I tilted my head to the side.
“You’re not busy today?”
“The Empire won’t collapse if I take it easy and slack off for a day or two. More importantly, Anastasia, is there anything you’d like to tell me?”
My father’s tone was lighthearted, but with a variety of things stabbing at my conscience I had no choice but to contemplate his request seriously.
I thought back to what happened with Rayleigh and I also thought about Kylis. It was obvious that confessing that I’d given Kylis years of my life would make him sad. Even if I said that I was fine, finding out the reason for my illness would cause him further distress.
I wonder if he’d accept the existence of Kylis in the first place… or actually, wouldn’t it be a big problem if he did?
After what Kylis had done during his lifetime, it’d be a small miracle if they didn’t form a party to hunt him down. Cries that the peace of the Empire had been shattered would ring out… it would definitely be a huge mess.
I-I absolutely can’t tell him. Ever.
Keeping an eye on my father’s reaction, I shouted, “The truth is… um… I’m going through puberty right now!”
My voice came out more aggressively than I had expected. Feeling my face heat up, I spoke resolutely.
“Well, when going through a period of stormy adolescence, you’re bound to have one or two secrets, right? So even if I don’t talk about it right now… that is… uh… it feels like my insides are twisting around and I’m still not ready…”
Embarrassed as I was, my father took pity on me, reassuring me with a smile.
“Why are you so afraid? If you don’t want to tell me now, you can do it next time.”
But I was already feeling pretty dejected.
“I’m sorry for making you worry…”
It’s been a while since Father last spoke with me. Is he disappointed in me?
“Ah, no. I didn’t bring it up because I wanted an apology,” My father muttered quietly before closing his mouth.
Short thought it was, I felt extremely pressured by the ensuing silence.
What sort of things should I talk about with my parents? How do I seem normal?
It felt like someone was making a mess of my thoughts. They swirled around as if being stirred by a spoon in a teacup.
Fixated on becoming a daughter that my mother and father wouldn’t feel uncomfortable around, I bombarded my father with the most mundane questions I could think of.
“How was your breakfast this morning? Do you like spicy food? I heard that the butler is worried about the dramatic increase in his grey hairs. Did you know about that? Uh… also… and um… That’s right! The new maid is so good at cleaning that the head maid slipped in the hallway! Ah, don’t worry. She wasn’t too hurt. A servant who was next to her caught her.”
I clenched my fists and waited for my father’s response. His brows furrowed.
I took in a long, deep breath.
My father carefully studied me as I coughed from suddenly sucking in too much air.
“Your face is too pale.”
Without further ado, my father immediately took hold of me and laid me down on the bed. He covered me with a blanket and then placed the stuffed cat doll that Olga had made into my arms.
But I didn’t want to go to sleep, so I kept my eyes wide open. My father chuckled.
“You’re going to get up as soon as I leave, right?”
“Ah… ha ha.”
I laughed awkwardly. He had hit the bullseye. As if to spend a little more time with me, my father pulled a chair over and sat down beside the bed.
His fair-skinned face was full of worry. I peaked over at my father as I fiddled with the doll.
I marveled at his large eyes, the high, sleek bridge of his nose, and his smallish lips.
He really looks just like me. No wait, I look like him.
My irregular breathing gradually evened out. Making himself comfortable in the chair, my father gazed at me as if seeing me anew.
“You’ve grown up a lot since I last saw you. Although you’re still quite young.”
The hand that stroked my hair was gentle.
It wasn’t hard to guess why my father had come to see me and why he was so worried.
“Did the Duke tell you about what happened yesterday?
Vesta had said that she would need to make a report sooner or later, so it was obvious that the Duke would know that I had met with Rayleigh.
Maybe he hasn’t said anything to my father yet?
My father feigned ignorance.
“What happened? I have no idea what you did after you left through the window yesterday.”
“I-I’m not falling for it…”
His eyes narrowed as he laughed.
“I have a rough idea of the situation. So has it ended with that children’s quarrel?”
I remembered Rayleigh’s intense agitation upon seeing my blackened skin.
“… Maybe. I hope so.”
“In light of your hard work, I’ll pretend not to know anything just this once. But if I hear that someone has threatened you again, I won’t let it go.”
My father’s expression became stern. I quickly nodded in understanding and his face instantly relaxed. I was a little heartened by the way he cared for me.
Uwah. My voice came out louder than I expected.
“I’m not deaf, so tell me what’s on your mind.”
His tone of voice was sharp, but his gaze never left me. It felt strange.
Before I became Anastasia, no matter how much I sought out my family, there was no response. No matter how many times I called out, no one turned around.
Oh well, what’s the point of thinking about this now? After all, I’m dead over there.
Shaking my head, I erased the thoughts of my previous life from my mind.
“That is… after you sent Oppa back where did you, Mother, and the Duke go?”
I blurted out the question that had been on my mind. Wondering if it was okay to ask, I had agonized over it several times, but those worries faded away when my father answered me immediately.
“We stayed at a temple for a while because we heard that the pope would be visiting.”
My eyes widened.
“What did he say?”
“Of course he said not to worry and that if I gave him a few days he would do his best to look into it. We should hear from him soon.”
“… He didn’t think that it was weird?”
“Even if he has some complaints, if he doesn’t want the church to be ruined overnight, then he has no choice but to acquiesce. The child who quarreled with you… even if he’s still young and headstrong due to his ignorance, the pope understands how far the Magnus family can go if they wish. Friedrich is an easygoing and flexible guy, but he admonished the church by telling them that they should be careful of what they say this time. You seem to have left quite the impression on him. Thanks to all of that, I’ve done a lot of self-reflection as well.”
I became curious about the total wealth of the Magnus family, which had been kept hidden even in the original novel.
“Just how much money does the Duke have?”
“When you were born, the land and cash that he planned to present you with exceeded our family’s total assets.”
My father, who was already accustomed to how reckless the Duke was with his money, spoke as if it were nothing. But I was stunned.
“I-I’m glad that he didn’t succeed.”
“He badgered me to let him hug you just one time since he was giving you a gift, but he got caught by Yevgenia.”
I blinked. No matter the time or situation, my mother’s name always rolled off of his tongue with infinite love. It was an incredibly sweet sound. Curiosity piqued, I rolled onto my side and gazed at my father with shining eyes.
“I have another question.”
“What is it?”
“What do you like best about Mother?”
“How could I pick just one thing?” he said as though I had asked an extremely odd question.
Ugh. They’re my own parents, but I envy them! I want to happily live out the rest of my life with a spouse too!
“My heart fluttered just now…”
“One day you will meet someone you like so much that you won’t be able to count up all of the good things about them as well.”
Huh? What do you mean ‘one day’?
“But I’ve already met him.”
I had no intention of hiding the fact that I liked Adele from my family. The Duke already knew anyway and I talked about Adele so much that it would be strange for the people around me not to have noticed.
Suddenly a shadow fell over my father’s expression. I was startled when he began rubbing his temples.
“… Um, Father? Your expression suddenly looks worse.”
“What’s the hurry? There are better men in the world than Adele…”
I must have been too adamant in my denial. My father gave me a wry smile.
“Go to sleep.”
“Ah! Really, I’m not sleepy!”
Ignoring me, he started to busy himself with putting me to sleep.
He re-covered me with the blanket that had fallen off when I had changed positions and clumsily sang me a lullaby that he himself didn’t seem to know very well. Exhausted from protesting, before I knew I was overcome with sleepiness.
To be honest, it felt like my brain had forced me to sleep in order to protect my ears. My father was extraordinarily tone-deaf. I decided that I needed to find out what Oscar-oppa’s singing ability was like just in case it was hereditary. Half asleep, I suddenly heard my father mutter something.
“… The anniversary of Penelope’s death will be coming up soon, won’t it?”
When I opened my eyes, my father was still there.
My mouth hung open, but I was so surprised that I forgot how to close it.
“Did you stay here the whole time?
“I thought it would be reassuring to see you wake up.”
He gave me a quick kiss on the forehead.
“I’ll leave now.”
My heart was bursting with emotion. Lacking the courage to try to put how I felt into words, I just opened and closed my lips soundlessly. My father stroked my hair a few times and then reluctantly left.
W-what should I do? I’m so insanely happy right now! I’m overflowing with energy!
I was so fired up I felt like I could do anything. I ran out of the bedroom in a frenzy of excitement. Although I was a little light-headed and my vision was a little blurry, it didn’t seem like a big deal and I didn’t think much of it.
But as I made my way through the hallway in search of the stairs I realized that I shouldn’t have taken my condition so lightly.
Why is the hallway so winding? Is the ceiling moving?
Hit by a wave of dizziness more intense than before, I lost my balance for a moment and the ground beneath my feet suddenly fell away. The stairs that I had been looking for were right below me.
On the precipice of tumbling down the stairs, my brother caught me just in the nick of time.
U-uwah… I nearly died.