I Stole the Child of My War-Mad Husband - Chapter 23
TL: Lilac | PR: Shree
“Let ‘s get out of here together.”
“……I’m too scared to go back out there.”
“It’s okay. No matter what happens, Mom will protect you.”
I hurriedly moved while cradling Leah.
It was at that moment when I was about to go down the stairs,
A loud noise reverberated from the ceiling.
It’s about to crumble, just like in my dream. My body was covered with goosebumps.
‘Let’s hurry up and get out of here!’
I ran quickly.
But after going down only a few stairs, the old columns and ceiling swept over us, in an instant.
Reflexively, I crouched down while wrapping myself around Leah.
‘Am I going to die here?’
I closed my eyes, frustrated.
After all, was it even possible for Leah and me to be able to change the fate of our deaths?
……but even as time passed, I did not feel any pain.
I slowly cracked my eyes open and turned around slowly.
“Hey, what is this!?”
I shouted involuntarily at the sight that unfolded above my head.
Literally, my mouth dropped open.
“Is this still a dream?”
The debris that was pouring over me and Leah stopped midway in the air.
Even the outside noise that I heard through the thin walls paused.
It was quiet everywhere.
Apart from the both of us, time seems to have stopped around us.
‘Really… what even is this?’
Time had stopped.
Of course, I couldn’t stay still for long. I do not know how long this miracle would last.
I made my way down the stairs hastily.
Sure enough, when we were almost all the way down, we heard a loud noise. The building started to crumble again.
‘Ouch! Hold on a little longer!’
To make matters worse, as soon as the whole phenomenon of stopping time ended, the strength from my body drained all of a sudden. I feel like I am suddenly ill along with severe body aches.
Just a little, just a little bit more!
As if ridiculing that hope, the collapsed pillar fell.
At the same time, someone yanked us.
My head felt like it was going to break. My limbs were limp, and it was hard to lift a finger.
My body got the chills and then it got hot again.
I was confused.
All I could tell was that I was lying in bed.
With a hazy mind, I tried hard to recall the past.
I’m not sure, but someone wrapped me and Leah just before the building collapsed.
I wanted to get up right away and find out if my daughter was safe. But my body was motionless, like a stone.
Then, I heard a voice next to me.
“Why isn’t the fever going down?”
It was Rupert’s voice.
“……Actually, I don’t know. At first, I thought it was just because she was tired.”
Oh, is this the voice of that old doctor who is often absent?
“As I keep investigating, the symptoms seem similar to the ‘exhaustion’ phenomenon of a wizard or a priest.”
“……is it a phenomenon that occurs when mana or divine power is used excessively? But Noel is not a magician.”
“Yes, that’s right. I also think that it is strange. For now, I have no choice but to use antipyretic and hope that Madam’s condition improves……” (PR/N: An antipyretic is a substance that reduces fever).
I tried desperately to move while I listened to the conversation.
‘I’m in good shape. But what about Leah?’
I was screaming silently, frustrated in my heart, and then, someone gently placed a hand on my forehead. It was a little rough, but the cool feeling was not bad.
“It’s still hot.”
It was Rupert. I want to ask you about Leah.
When I tried to talk to him, my throat stung greatly.
I gasped and barely creaked out a small voice.
Could you hear this little sound?
“Leah is safe.”
Unexpectedly, the answer came immediately. He carefully brushed my hair.
“She has no problems with her body, and as long as you get better, you can see her anytime.”
Suddenly, a sense of relief came over me.
My daughter was crying all the time.
‘I need to get well soon and comfort Leah…’
Finally, I fell into a deep slumber once again.
When I opened my eyes again, my body was much lighter. My head didn’t hurt, and my fever seemed to have gone down.
‘How long was I asleep for?’
It’s morning already. For how many days had I been sick?
I was thinking about calling the maid, but the door opened quietly.
Could it be……
The door gradually opened at my voice. A small head poked out.
Leah’s voice trembled faintly. I was about to laugh aloud, but I controlled myself.
It was because tears slowly welled up in Leah’s big, round eyes.
“Oh, baby? Why is that?”
She was not a child who usually cries well, so I was a little embarrassed.
“Are you sick? Are you mad at mom? Or did someone harass you?”
“Uh ahh ahh ahh Mom…… I’m sorry, I was wrong……”
‘No, I was the one at fault because I lost you!’
I approached Leah.
“Leah……please don’t cry.”
As I carefully wiped her tears away, Leah snickered and grabbed onto the hem of my dress.
“From now on, hiccup, I’ll listen to you. I won’t cry, I won’t even ask you to take me to the festival. I’ll be a good kid.”
Those were words I would have never expected to come out of a 5-year-old’s mouth.
“Please don’t throw me away.”
‘How could I possibly get rid of you, my sweetie and cutie!’
I needed to know why she was saying this. I made eye contact with Leah who hiccuped.
“I would never do that, Leah.”
“Of course. Can you tell me why you thought that way?”
“……but I know.”
Leah hesitated, then slowly opened her mouth.
“Mom and dad don’t love me.”
“I know everyone gets annoyed because of me. I know nobody wants me.”
I was at a loss for words because it was something I’d never thought would come out of the mouth of a five-year-old.
She begged, clutching onto the hem of my clothes with her little trembling hands.
“So I’ll listen from now on. I’ll never cry. I’ll be quiet all day!! It’s been like that for so long! From now on, I’ll be a much better child—”
Leah was still in tears, trying to smile.
Innocent, as usual.
“So please, just stay by my side, mom.”
That day, after comforting Leah, we chatted away, all day long.
Rolling on the bed, eating snacks, playing with dolls, and reading children’s books.
After hearing Leah’s inner thoughts, I felt so many things.
Leah was smarter than most at her age, gentle, and a good listener.
Because of that, it seems like I took her wounds lightly.
Even now, I believed that if I did well, she would be fine.
But Leah’s wounds were much deeper.
She believed that all bad things had happened, because of her. She felt like she could be abandoned at any time by me, her biological mother.
‘I am the dumbest mother in the world…’
For Leah, all the adults in this mansion traumatized her.
So she might need a new environment, to get out and see other things.
‘What should I do?’
My head hurts. I wanted to consult with anyone, but there was no one on my side here.
‘My situation is pretty miserable.’
No matter what I did, it was difficult for me to escape from the vicious marchioness’ image.
‘What about Rupert?’
In fact, I’m disappointed with him. Besides, lying about Leah’s safety was something that shouldn’t be tolerated.
I glanced at Leah who had fallen asleep while playing next to me.
Leah said she had only seen Rupert’s face once.
Not long after, I left the room and headed straight to Rupert’s office.
It was midnight, but a light shone through the crack in the door. I was sure that he was still working.
I opened the door on purpose without knocking.
As he was writing, he stopped his pen.
“……you came in without permission.”
“If you had known it was me who was trying to come in, you would have never opened it.”
Rupert readily admitted.
“I guess so.”
His attitude was as cold as before.
It seems that he had no memories of the three of us watching the festival just a few days ago.
“Noel, so why are you here?”
That’s surprising. Usually, he only spoke briefly hoping to end the conversation as soon as possible.
‘Why did he suddenly change again?’
Reluctantly, I went straight to the point.
“……I have a question. After that incident, did you really check up on Leah, just once?”