I Thought It Was a Common Transmigration - Chapter 155
21. What Goes Around Comes Around
A bountiful fall and a cold winter have passed.
In the meantime, the Ludwigs were the hot potato of social circles, and we spent the fall and winter in a state of inexplicable emptiness and a stifling silence.
We skipped the National Day ball and declined all invitations.
But we couldn’t stay like that forever.
When the buds began to bloom everywhere, and the bees’ wings could be heard buzzing around the budding flowers, the Ludwigs slowly began to shake off their pain and rise.
It was Erdin who supported the Duke and Duchess.
“Yes, yes. I am your grandpa. Hahaha!”
Erdin was so excited when the Duke picked him up and gave him a big hug that he drooled, but the Duke didn’t mind getting his fine cravat soaked with Erdin’s drool.
“Erdin, look at this!”
Beside him, the Duchess waved all sorts of rattles and dolls.
Erdin’s eyes twinkled as he reached down to pick them up, and the Duke and Duchess giggled at how cute he was.
That added to Erdin’s growing list of things to take to Ryzen.
In truth, it was Cliff I was more worried about than the Duke and Duchess.
“Thank you so much for saving Lizé’s life.”
Two seasons later, I still can’t forget the look on Cliff’s face as he greeted me with such a forlorn expression as we watched the prisoner wagon carrying Lizé leave.
It would have been hard for him to shake off his feelings for Lizé, no matter how much they had grown apart.
In fact, last fall and winter, he barely left his room unless it was absolutely necessary.
But by spring, Cliff seemed to have made up his mind.
“My brother invited us to tea.”
“Do you think he’s feeling better now?”
“On the outside, he’s the same as ever, though I don’t know what he’s like on the inside.”
Killian smiled bitterly.
Even the place he’d invited us to tea was on the balcony of the Great Hall, where he, Killian, and Lizé often used to drink tea.
There, in the warm sunshine, Cliff was waiting for us with fine refreshments.
“The tea smells wonderful. Thank you for inviting me to tea time, Cliff.”
“Welcome. I’m embarrassed to be thanked for this, it’s nothing special, haha!”
True to Killian’s word, he was wearing his old, confident, carefree smile.
But I could tell from his lean cheeks, rough skin, and slightly thinner physique than before that he was deeply in pain.
He looked like he couldn’t have eaten, much less slept.
And what were the thoughts that occupied his sleepless mind throughout the silent winter night?
Self-blame, regret, sadness…… I wonder if he was tormented by those feelings.
I had a vague idea of how hard it must have been for him, but I smiled brightly, as if I had no idea. As he does.
“When is Erdin’s baptism?”
“March 20, on St. Rufello’s Day.”
“That’s just around the corner. Do you intend to return as soon as the baptism is over?”
“I thought about it, but I think my mother and father need Erdin to be with them a little longer, so I’m staying for another month.”
“Good thinking. Thank you, Killian. Thank you, sister-in-law.”
He thanked us, his eyes wistful again.
Killian took this opportunity to ask, as if to get Cliff’s confirmation.
“What are you going to do, brother? You can’t live like this forever.”
I poked him in the side, but he didn’t back down.
And Cliff didn’t avoid answering.
“You’re right. I can’t live like this forever. I’m the eldest son of the Ludwigs.”
“I don’t want you to stand up just out of a sense of duty. I want you to be happy.”
Cliff looked a little surprised, then smiled softly and said, “Thanks.”
He stared down at the courtyard for a long moment, then slowly spoke, “But do I have the right to be happy?”
“What kind of nonsense are you talking about? Did you eat something wrong for breakfast?”
Killian tried to break the heavy atmosphere with a joke.
But Cliff said in a heavy voice, “I’ve been thinking about my relationship with…… Lizé. I blindly cared about her, and I would do anything for her, even put you and my sister-in-law in danger.”
Guilt flashed in his eyes as he continued, “To stand by someone you love unconditionally, to give them more than they need…… I thought that was love, but now I can’t help but think that I’m the one who made her do that, so I deserve to be punished.”
Killian and I tried to comfort him, but it was hard to find the right words. Because when you think about it, he was right.
Cliff glanced at me, then bowed his head in apology.
“I was in such a hurry to cover for Lizé before that I didn’t apologize properly. I’m really sorry, Edith.”
“Oh, come on. It’s all in the past.”
“No matter how far in the past it is, it doesn’t change the fact that I did something shameful.”
He sighed and added, “In hindsight, my relationship with Lizé was so abnormal…… I don’t know why I didn’t think of it then.”
I suddenly wondered if Cliff had finally broken free of the author’s control.
If such intense emotions in a human being disappear in an instant just because they are no longer under the control of their creator, perhaps that is what is called the power of probability.
“When you’re in the grip of an emotion, you don’t realize you’re in the grip of it, and it’s only when you’re out of the grip that you see things properly,” Killian said, sounding somewhat rueful, and he glanced at me.
He’d been mean to me before, too, because of his feelings for Lizé.
But I didn’t feel the same way about Cliff or Killian.
Rather, I was suffering from an inexplicable sense of emptiness because of Lizé.
Now, no one on the main stage of “I Refuse Your Obsession” was from another world like me.
‘Maybe that’s why I was so lenient with Lizé.’
When I realized that Lizé was behind every attempt to harm me, I could have driven her away if I’d only wanted revenge.
But somehow I didn’t want to.
Only she and I know that this world is a fiction. If she left, I would feel alone in this world.
But as Killian said, I couldn’t immersed in this mood forever.
“Even with regrets and heartache, we have to look ahead and move on. There’s too much we have to get through to dwell on the past.”
I don’t know if what I just said was something I, too, needed to hear.
Nodding, Cliff set his teacup down and said, “So…… I’ve been thinking about my future, and I’m not lying when I say I deserve to be punished.”
“What are you trying to say? You’re making me anxious……”
“I’m saying that it’s better for you, Killian, to be the heir to the dukedom than for me, a flawed–”
“Shut up!” Killian snapped, cutting Cliff off before he could finish his sentence.
“I’m serious. You already have an heir and–”
“Is that the kind of punishment you’re talking about, turning my life upside down at your whim? Do you think the work that Edith and I are putting into Ryzen right now is so insignificant that it should be overturned because of your sentimental thoughts?”
“……I didn’t mean that.”
Killian let out an exasperated breath to calm himself down. And I found myself agreeing with Killian.
Ryzen has only just taken the first steps toward change, and if we suddenly leave, our efforts will be lost without ever seeing the light of day.
“We understand what you mean, Cliff,” I said, “but if you feel responsible for what’s happened with Lizé, then you should remain heir to the dukedom. Take responsibility and make House Ludwig as strong as it was before–no, stronger than it was before.”
It’s always more painful to stand and endure than to give up and run away. I don’t know if Killian and I were being cruel to him in that way.
But if Cliff was going to pay for what he’d done, he had to.
Cliff’s brows furrowed as if in pain, but he finally nodded. “I’m sorry, Edith, I almost made a fool of myself again. I’m sorry, Killian.”
“For the Duke and Duchess’ sake, and for your own, Cliff, please be strong.”
“Edith’s right. I know it’s a bit early, but you should think about marriage.”
Cliff’s lips twitched into a thin smile, half perplexed, half bittersweet at Killian’s addition.
It would certainly be a blemish for the heir to the Dukedom of Ludwig to grow old without a wife or children, but that didn’t mean it would be easy for him.
“It must be, for any delay in my marriage and birth of an heir would be a burden to my parents and to you.”
By the standards of a true Rofan novel, Cluff’s first and only love is Lizé.
For him, marrying another woman would be like a world-changing event, and would mean the end of the “I Refuse Your Obsession” world entirely.
But in a world that has already become a reality, you can’t pick up the pieces of a broken novel.
I decided to support his determination. “I sincerely hope that you can get out of Lizé’s shadow, and that you can build a warm family from the heart, not just marry out of duty.”
“I’ll keep your advice in mind. Though I doubt I’ll ever be as happy as you and Killian.”
We didn’t laugh out loud or pretend to be cheerful, just sipped our hot tea, hoping that this too would be something we could look back on as a memory.