After being discharged from the hospital, the first thing I did when I came home was take a bath.
The hospital didn’t have a bathtub, so I had to take a quick shower.
Filling the bathtub with water and creating bubbles before grabbing a rubber duck was pure healing.
“Little Lily. Does it feel good?”
“Yeah! I feel so fresh I could fly!”
Older sister smiled as she dried my wet hair.
“Come on, Liliana, let’s see how tall you are!”
“I must have grown this much, right?”
I stood up and stretched my fingers wide.
I had always dreamt of being taller than my peers since I was so much smaller.
“Wow, maybe it’s because you ate so well at the hospital that you’ve grown so much?”
“Haha! That’s right! I’ve grown a lot!”
Excited, I jumped up and down in place before leaping over to Youngest Sister.
She was sitting at the dining table and looked tired as she read a newspaper.
It was probably because my two sisters took turns taking care of me, and they often argued because of me.
After meeting François Cassel, I had fallen ill, and Younger Sister had expressed her anger, saying that his magic was supposed to be helpful.
Youngest Sister said I just needed to endure a little longer, but she must have been very worried deep down.
I saw her cry silently every time I woke up.
“Sister, I’ve grown taller.”
“Look closely. I’ve grown this much!”
Youngest Sister looked at me with an expressionless face.
Hoping that she would be impressed by my height, I stood on my toes.
Then Youngest Sister chuckled and said,
“You’ve grown a bit.”
“Really? I’ll be just as tall as my sisters!”
I made a fist and declared, sitting down next to Youngest Sister.
The newspaper didn’t look very interesting at all.
I decided to take a look at the newspaper my sister was reading.
“…The Emperor. Visits Trovanza. Peace Talks. Par… Hmm, I don’t know!”
“The Emperor visited Trovanza. Peace Talks scheduled for the next two days will include Marius II and Duke Waltrachen as participants. You’ve improved a lot. You can even read difficult words.”
“Hmph. Read ‘The Adventures of Cocobom, the Red Lamb’ instead!”
By the way, ‘The Adventures of Cocobom, the Red Lamb’ was my favorite children’s book.
Youngest Sister returned her attention to the newspaper, and I took out paper and colored pencils to start drawing.
Come to think of it, that’s right.
The original female protagonist, Rebecca Marquione, had died, so the original story wouldn’t start.
The war was a political issue, so it might not lead to the same dire circumstances as in the original.
But it raised one question. If the original story disappeared, who would the male leads marry?
‘Marius started the war to win the female lead’s heart.’
On the other hand, if the woman he loved now liked peace, wouldn’t there be no war?
As for François… I hope he meets the right person more than anyone else.
If he meets the wrong person and his madness worsens, it could lead to the destruction of the world.
And the innocent romantic Leopold was really a man who deserved a female lead.
‘I hope things go well with Older Sister…’
In the first place, Leopold was an unlikely male lead for the ruined reverse harem genre.
He was rough on the outside but affectionate on the inside, like a boy with puppy love.
It would be nice if he ended up with one of my sisters.
‘First, they need to meet the male leads… Hmmm.’
How could they meet the male leads who were attending the peace talks?
Even though things didn’t always go as planned, it would be a shame not to see Leopold again, so I fiddled with my pencil.
The paper snapped and tore as if my hand had been rough.
I composed myself and put the colored pencils back in place.
Then I announced to Youngest Sister, “I’m going to the playground for a while!”
At times like this, riding a slide as much as I want would help improve my mood!
“Wait. I’m coming with you.”
“Am I a kid? You don’t have to go with me.”
“You’re a kid.”
As my Youngest Sister prepared to leave, I rushed to the front door and shouted.
“I can go by myself!”
With that, I dashed off to the playground.
I was eager to get there quickly and ride the swings and seesaw, but…
Why were Marius and Leopold at the playground again?
Was it really this easy to meet the male leads?
Could it be that they were waiting for me… Nah, that couldn’t be.
“Oh, hey! Little one! Are you alright?”
Marius spotted me, approached, and asked.
“Little one, you were very sick. You seem to have lost weight.”
“I’m not sick anymore!”
“Oh, really? That’s good. Did you eat?”
“Yeah! I had corn and cheese soup with bread. The medicine was easy to take because it tasted like strawberries.”
“Oh, I see. Impressive.”
“Right? But did you guys get lost?”
“Hmm? No, we didn’t get lost. We came to the playground.”
Claiming to play at a playground in their mid-twenties without having had a drink was a blatant lie.
“Mister, why are you here? Were you waiting for me?”
“No? I wasn’t waiting for you, Liliana. Right, Leo?”
In response to Marius’ question, Leopold nodded stiffly, his neck as rigid as a board.
As my eyes narrowed, Marius burst into laughter and ruffled my hair haphazardly.
“Eek! Stop it!”
“Actually, we did get lost. We’re hungry, but we have no money.”
Leopold punched Marius’ arm as if to say, ‘What are you saying?’
But they were both members of the imperial family, so it was impossible for them to have no money.
Hmm… It seemed like they were teasing me again. Did they think I’d fall for it?
I confidently placed my hands on my hips, lifted my chin, and shouted at Marius.
“Then I’ll treat you to a meal! Let’s go to my house!”
Marius burst out laughing, and Leopold’s pupils shook.
I stepped in between them, grabbed a hand on each side, and led them to our house.
It was a great opportunity to set up Leopold with my sister Regina.
* * *
Regina yawned on the couch, exhausted from days of nursing Liliana.
Emilia had missed going to the playground with Liliana and was ready to head out to chase after her.
At that moment, Alice, who had returned home after working the night shift, came out of her room and said,
“Emilia, I’ll go instead.”
“Eldest Sister, aren’t you going to rest more? You must be tired yourself.”
“Yeah, but you’ve been taking care of Liliana, so you should get some rest today.”
“Hmm. Then why don’t you follow Liliana? I’m going to the library. I have some research topics I want to look up. I might come back late, so have dinner first.”
Alice said to Regina, who was sprawled out in fatigue.
“Don’t just lie here, go inside and rest.”
“If I rest now, I won’t be able to sleep at night, so I’m enduring it.”
“Are you very tired?”
“No. It’s not that I’m tired; it’s just…”
Regina regretted deeply that she had completely forgotten her promise to Leopold due to taking care of Liliana.
She had tried to contact him after, but he had already moved from his accommodation.
All she knew about Leopold was his name and face, so finding a way to meet him again was difficult.
‘I like him, but I still feel bad about it.’
She had a vague hunch that she would regret not meeting Leopold in the future.
Regina let out an involuntary sigh.
“Regina, is something wrong?”
“No, nothing’s wrong.”
She had said that, but the way she twirled her hair around her fingers clearly showed that she was troubled.
“Sister, I think I liked that man more than I thought.”
“Yeah. It was someone I met by accident…”
In truth, based on personality alone, Leopold wasn’’t Regina’s type.
She preferred someone who could keep a conversation going rather than someone who was blunt.
The same applied to looks; her ideal type was closer to François Cassel with his delicate features rather than Leopold’s robust style.
Leopold was more to Emilia’s taste.
But the moment when Leopold walked along the beach with her was unforgettable.
The sound of the crashing waves and Leopold’s gentle voice as he spoke.
He blushed uncontrollably at her gestures and small words, unsure of how to react.
Then at the end, he confessed in a shy tone.
“Would you grant me the chance to meet you again?”
It was a simple sentence, but the pure sincerity conveyed in that moment felt good.
However, there was no point in clinging to it when there was no way to contact him again.
‘Hmm… It’s nothing. If it’s fate, we’ll have another chance someday.’
After sorting out her emotions, Regina urged Alice to leave.
“Sister, on your way back, please stop by Aunt Olga’s and buy some roasted chicken legs. Got it?”
She boldly asked for a snack before opening the door for Alice.
As she did so, the bell on the front door jingled, revealing Liliana perched on a low wooden stool, trying to turn the doorknob.
Liliana exclaimed as she spotted Alice and jumped into her arms.
Then, Regina froze like ice when she saw the man standing awkwardly behind Liliana.
Even after blinking and confirming, it was indeed Leopold.
Regina realized it wasn’t a dream or a hallucination. She gasped and swallowed hard before running back to her room in a panic.
She hadn’t even washed her face and was in her pajamas.
Liliana didn’t know anything and was equally surprised as she explained to the bewildered Alice about Marius and Leopold.
“Uncle Leo and Uncle Marius are my friends, but they got lost, and they said they’re hungry, so I brought them here.”
“This is quite a surprise. I didn’t expect to see you again like this, Lady Alice. You still look beautiful.”
Marius greeted her with a cheerful smile, while Leopold apologized profusely for visiting abruptly.
Alice sighed, not knowing what to say.
Everything was in disarray, from Liliana bringing strangers into the house, to Emperor Marius and Duke Waltrachen blindly coming along, to her being forced to work on the weekend.