The name was familiar to Livia even before she remembered the original work.
He was an –
An illegitimate child of unknown origin.
Cardien inherited the title of Duke of Mercedes as soon as he finished his coming-of-age ceremony at the age of 19.
And at the same time, Vincent’s existence was announced.
Vincent was three years old at that time.
In many ways, there was no way for this situation to avoid stirring up rumors.
The rumor even reached Livia’s ears while she was attending the Imperial Academy at that time.
She didn’t hear the rumors directly because she didn’t have any friends, but even if no one told her, it was just a story everyone was talking about everywhere one went.
That was her case, but she wondered if the situation for the person concerned was even more horrendous.
At the young age of 3, Vincent became prey and was bitten to their liking.
(T.N: the fear of people and human companionship)
Her mistake was forgetting how wary he was of others, how hurt and afraid he must be to connect with another person.
Livia remembered again why Vincent was refusing to take classes.
Eyes of contempt and ridicule, and words that spoke ill of him while pretending not to.
She had been through something like that.
‘People are bound to be scary,’ she thought mournfully.
She could understand Vincent’s feelings.
He was both at the top and struggling at the bottom.
‘And she even got sick!’
‘They said that you can get germs if you touch her!’
‘Hey, why are you always alone? Why don’t you try approaching first? Since you don’t have any friends.’
You know,” Livia said thoughtfully, shaking off old memories, “Shall we be friends?”
Vincent was startled by her sudden words and turned to her.
She shrugged her shoulders and spoke again, nonchalantly, as if nothing had happened.
“It’s fate that we met like this.”
Livia never thought a day would come where she would say such cliché lines.
“Do you want to be friends?” She repeated, hopefully.
First of all, she had no idea how to become friends with someone.
This was the best she could do.
At her words, Vincent stared blankly at her, then replied with difficulty.
“Don’t you know who I am?”
Vincent was the one who set up a lot of blades, but he looked very scared.
As if he already knew what answer would come from Livia’s mouth.
She looked at him in silence.
He replied with a faint, bitter laugh.
Finally, Livia answered, “I do know who you are.”
You are the son of the Duke of Mercedes.”
Vincent jumped up from his seat, clenching his fist tightly and continuing to talk with difficulty.
“You’re going to be my friend?”
Unlike Vincent, who was angry, Livia nodded casually.
“Huh…….aren’t you a noble?”
Vincent, who had even thrown out honorifics before he knew it, showed hostility.
Even if I look like this, I’m a Countess.”
“Then it’s clear you don’t know about me.”
Vincent turned his head, affirming his suspicions.
Looking at Vincent like that, Livia threw out another bait.
“Do you want me to know or not?”
His thin shoulders trembled slightly.
She sighed lightly.
Vincent, who noticed the sigh, looked at her, wondering what to do.
Vincent’s appearance of not leaving her side while showing his uncomfortable feelings with his whole body was like a wounded stray cat.
“…….Vincent, why are you so sure I don’t know about you?”
Vincent’s head turned slightly towards Livia when she asked.
The hesitating lips parted slightly.
Between them, a precarious voice trickled out, as if it had been barely forced out of his throat.
If you know about me–”
Tears welled up in Vincent’s eyes.
She looked at Vincent patiently, without saying a word.
“You can’t want to be friends with me.”
A self-deprecating voice that seemed to know his situation well squeezed Livia’s heart.
Because she knew better than anyone else how it felt.
‘Why are you always alone? Do you want to hang out with me if you don’t mind?’
‘……..Why? Do you want me to take care of you, too?’
Memories of isolating herself, saying that she couldn’t hang out with anyone, pushing them away without trusting anyone’s intentions in approaching her.
At that time, Livia thought that was the best way to protect herself, but if she had opened her heart a little more then, would there have been at least one person left by her side before she died?
She’d already missed that opportunity, and couldn’t turn back.
‘Vincent, you’re not me.’
Vincent Mercedes was a supporting character in the original, and technically just a means to an end to Livia, but she couldn’t bear to look away from the wounded child in front of her.
Vincent was just 10 years old, and already had too many scars.
He was neither an illegitimate child whose origin was unknown, nor a notorious small prince, nor a man who would later kill his father.
He was just Vincent.
“Vincent, have you ever committed a crime?”
Vincent’s eyes were wide open at the unconventional remark.
He denied it by waving his hands in a hurry.
“Then have you ever hit someone else? Have you ever stolen anything or spread bad rumors?”
Vincent´s face turned red as if he thought he had been falsely accused.
Standing up from her seat, Livia reached out her hand to Vincent, who was at this point completely in tears.
Vincent looked at her hand with big round eyes and then looked up at her face.
“There’s no reason why we can’t be friends,” Livia reassured him in a soft voice.
“Ah, or maybe you don’t like me–”
Vincent shook his head in a hurry.
It was so fast that the rainwater from his hair splashed in all directions.
Vincent looked at her hand for a while, then asked in a small voice, “Am I really not dirty?”
“Not at all.”
After a firm answer, she took a deep breath.
Then she spoke in a relaxed tone to Vincent, who was still anxious.
“I don’t believe the rumors about you.
I won’t even listen to it.
I only believe in Vincent Mercedes, whom I have seen with my own two eyes.”
Red eyes shook like waves.
“My name is Livia Pellington; Vincent, will you be my friend?”
As her rambling gradually began to stop, Vincent haltingly held Livia’s hand, which had been floating alone before he took it.
It was a short answer, but that was enough.
Holding Vincent’s hand tightly, which was barely holding hers, Livia said with a big smile, “We should go back now.”
Before they knew it, the sky was already clear and the setting sun was setting.
She looked at Vincent, walking ahead while she followed him one step behind.
It must have been because of the sunset.
Vincent’s face looked particularly red.
Winston ran out as soon as they entered the front door.
Livia was still holding Vincent’s hand.
His forehead was drenched with sweat, as if he had been looking for Vincent, who had disappeared.
“Where have you been? I was worried because it was raining, and I couldn’t see you.
Winston, who was kneeling and examining Vincent’s condition, looked up at the young tutor strangely.
After releasing Vincent’s hand, she smiled awkwardly and said, “I ran into him by chance while I was taking a walk.”
“Taking a walk…..by chance….?”
His eyes seemed to ask, ‘It was raining and you don’t have an umbrella?’
On top of that, it was difficult to say that Vincent and Livia, who looked like drowning mice, were simply taking a walk.
Her condition was understandable if one factored in that she climbed the garden through the bushes.
But she didn’t want to tell Winston about what had happened.
Today’s event would remain as a memory only for her and Vincent.
Livia deftly shrugged her shoulders, but since it was related to Vincent, Winston was not ready to let go easily.
Then Vincent said, pulling Winston by the hem of his clothes, “Winston, is that important now?”
Only then did he realize his rudeness and immediately ordered a passing maid to heat up the bath water in Countess Pellington’s room and to prepare new clothes for her.
After completing the order, he bowed to her.
“I’m sorry for not taking action sooner.
Thank you for taking care of the young master, Teacher.”
It was Vincent who responded to those words.
Vincent’s head turned toward Livia.
‘He must have thought of me as a guest who was visiting the duke’s mansion.’
Truthfully, she felt sorry for hitting him on the back of his head like that.
Red eyes flickered in confusion.
Soon, the question in his eyes turned into a sense of betrayal.
Vincent, who looked at her with devastated eyes, soon turned his back on her and ran away.
“You- young Master!”
Winston called Vincent urgently, but Vincent did not return.
Winston said to Livia with a troubled face, “I apologize for his rudeness on my behalf.”
“No, it’s okay.”
She had already expected it.
Even if they became friends, a tutor was another matter for Vincent.
Trauma couldn’t go away that easily.
She expected it, but she couldn’t help feeling bitter, nonetheless.
Still, this was a great achievement on the first day.
What was left was….
At her call, Winston turned to her.
‘In the original, Vincent never showed that he was sick.’
He was afraid that if it became known that he was sick, he would be on the receiving end of annoyed eyes, or end up being abandoned again.
Although Livia knew how he felt better than anyone else, hiding was not the answer.
So, she had no choice but to tell the truth instead.
“It could be nothing, but…….I think the young master is not feeling well.”
Winston´s eyes widened at her words.
Livia went on with a serious look on her face.
“He seemed to have a fever and kept coughing.
I’m worried that it might turn into an illness because of the rain.”
Winston’s expression suddenly became serious.
He muttered with a troubled face.
“You have a habit of hiding your pain, young master.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to call a doctor for an examination?”
“Of course, we should.
Thank you for telling me.”
Winston bowed to her, but she waved my hand, saying it was only natural.
Winston immediately left to call the doctor.
Back in her room, Livia washed herself again and changed into new clothes that had been prepared in advance.
After organizing the rest of the luggage, the time was approaching midnight.
Lying on the bed, she muttered as she looked at the moonlit ceiling.
“Was that enough?”
Winston also noticed that Vincent was ill, so he would be there to nurse him through the night.
Vincent no longer had to suffer alone, like in the original.
After tossing and turning while trying to sleep, Livia finally sighed and opened her eyes.
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