The blue eyes were filled with curiosity, just like those of As.
The emperor, who was my host, observed me with a cautious gaze.
When I covered my face, Phileas exclaimed that I had the same expression as Urien.
“He looks just like Urien and is cute,” he said in amazement.
“What are you talking about, Your Majesty?”
After all, we’re meeting as families.”
“Roxie said that Tilly and I were cute,” Russ replied.
“I don’t find it cute, so what should I do?” Urien and Phileas glared at each other.
I watched the two meaningless showdowns while taking my eyes off the garden’s flowers.
“Oh, did I just set those two up in that kind of relationship for no reason?”
Soon, various desserts and tea were served on the table.
What was served in front of me was cold milk, just like Aegis.
Usually, I would have drunk it without any thoughts, but after seeing Urien and Phileas’ drinks, I had no desire to drink milk.
The familiar aroma and black liquid that I had dreamed of, coffee, was something I had never seen before coming to this world.
“In the scientific world, the three essential nutrients are designated as carbohydrates, protein, and fat, but it was different for me.
For me, the three essential nutrients were carbohydrates, alcohol, and caffeine!”
When my gaze followed the coffee that went down Urien’s throat, he grinned.
“Do you wonder what Dad is drinking?”
“This is called coffee, and it’s mainly consumed in the southern region.”
“Can I have some coffee, too?”
“Tilly can’t have it yet.”
Unconsciously, I licked my lips and then remembered the eyes watching me, so I shut my mouth.
To make matters worse, the snacks on the plate were also donuts.
I remembered the day I shouted that I wouldn’t drink milk with donuts while checking the coffee.
“Alcohol is one thing, but can’t I at least have a sip of coffee?”
I had sipped coffee that I begged my mom for when I was young.
It was just to eat something sweet with the taste of Max X coffee, but after I grew up, I became a person who only drank Americano.
Although I was frozen before, I could drink hot coffee now.
Anyway, I sincerely wanted to drink coffee.
“Can you give me a sip, please?”
Grabbing Yuriann’s arm with a strained voice, Rosana squeezed it and waited for a moment, as if Yuriann was contemplating something.
But upon seeing Rosana’s eyes, Yuriann immediately nodded his head without hesitation.
“No, Tilly should drink milk.”
Failing to convince Yuriann, I turned my head in frustration.
Perhaps finding my actions cute, Fillias chuckled and handed me his coffee.
At Rosana’s call, which seemed like an order, Fillias hesitated before making an excuse.
“Just one sip wouldn’t hurt, right? It’s not a bad thing to taste life’s bitterness beforehand.”
Fillias, who had just appeared pitiful, now looked like a magnificent emperor.
Rosana narrowed her eyes and looked at Fillias before smiling at me with a twinkle in her eye and nodding her head.
Overwhelmed with emotion after receiving Rosana’s permission, I took a sip of the coffee.
“This is it.
This is it.”
It was just a sip for now, but someday, I would add lots of ice and increase the amount to gulp it down all at once.
With tears in my eyes, I handed Fillias the cup.
“Doesn’t it taste bitter?”
Seeing me happy after taking a sip of the coffee, both Fillias and Rosana asked me about the taste, as if they had expected me to scrunch my face in response to the bitterness.
“Most people dislike it, but you’re quite unusual.”
“Tilly is good at eating anything.”
As Yuriann boasted, Rosana sighed and rebuked him.
“Yuri, eating without discretion is also a problem.
Do you remember trying to sneakily drink the alcohol from the decorative cabinet not too long ago?”
…Actually, I had also tried to drink the alcohol.
Before opening the cabinet door, just like in the anime I had watched as a child, I gathered my hands and prayed,
“Lord, please allow me to become a liquor thief.”
However, it seemed that I could only be a righteous thief, but not a liquor thief.
After that incident, all of the lovely liquors in the decorative cabinet disappeared.
I pretended to be distracted by the donut and avoided Rosana’s gaze.
Upon hearing that I had tried to drink the alcohol, the imperial couple looked quite surprised.
“You have the potential to cause trouble, Miss Clumsy.”
Phileas looked down at me with a cheerful smile.
I’m not sure why stealing alcohol would be connected to having the qualities to do something big, but either way, it was nice to have a good time.
When I ate my donut deliciously, As gave me his donut.
After stealing a few snacks, he started giving them to me on his own.
I had tried to tease As, but it seemed like he enjoyed watching me eat.
I cut As’s donut in half and shoved one half into his mouth, eating the other half myself.
The half donut disappeared quickly, and As gulped down the milk.
When the milk left white residue on As’s lips, I wiped them with a handkerchief.
The adults smiled wryly at the sight of us.
“I really hate this kind of atmosphere.”
“Want to come and play?”
“Sure, let’s go play.”
I got up from my chair and extended my hand to As.
As looked at my face intently and then held my hand with a smile.
“Okay, what should we do now?”
It was a lively atmosphere where they treated each other like kids, but I couldn’t stand being treated like a child with As.
I made an excuse and came out, but I really couldn’t play with As.
We had ended a conversation like that last time.
Besides, the maid was following us today.
As I held As’s hand and walked aimlessly, he called out to me.
“Hey, over there.”
“Do you want to have coffee?”
“I’ll give you coffee.”
At the sound of coffee, my eyes widened.
As smiled at my reaction and led me.
The basement warehouse where As led me kept wine and food, and there were also coffee beans.
As grabbed a handful of coffee beans and handed them to me.
“What am I supposed to do with this?”
When I opened my hands and received the coffee beans, As looked at me with bright eyes full of anticipation.
I looked at As with the coffee beans in my hand.
The maid, who had been silently following us, seemed puzzled as to what to do.
After a while, As felt something strange and asked with his head tilted.
“Why aren’t you eating it? It’s made of this.
So try it.”
So As thought I was going to eat raw coffee beans.
He didn’t know that coffee was very bitter and that coffee beans were even more bitter.
I laughed because I was so surprised.
When I laughed, As quickly picked up one of the coffee beans on my hand and put it in his mouth.
Perhaps because of the extremely bitter taste, As quickly spat out the coffee bean.
“What is this?”
“That’s why you don’t eat that, stupid.”
[That’s why you don’t eat that, stupid.]
As the mischievous voice echoed, the face of As, who had become tearful, seemed to overlap with someone else for a moment.
That someone else wasn’t as pretty as As.
He was very, very ugly.
And it was me who was crying because of the bitter taste, not that someone else.
Even though I didn’t eat coffee beans, the bitter taste, which was as painful as the tongue in my memory, was swirling in my mouth.
“Why did you eat that?”
The coffee beans on my hand spilled to the ground and scattered in all directions.
Memories that I had held tightly with the coffee beans also bounced around and shook me.
I had occasionally recalled memories of the past before, but they had never been as intense as they were now.
I couldn’t tell what expression I was making now.
I was angrier as I recalled my mother’s son who had tormented me in my innocent childhood, who had told me that it would taste better if I ate Mac X just because it would taste better if I drank it in warm water, and then I thought of my brother, who had held my hand, saying that it would be okay, and I was forced to swallow my tears until the moment of my death.
Starting from that, the emotions that I had been holding back, such as the “jumadeung” that I had seen before I died, began to surface one by one.
As called me, grabbing my hand, as I stood there with my palm open and dazed.
I almost flinched away from As’s hand, but I managed to hold on and said what I had to say to escape from here.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going home.”
“We’re supposed to eat together until tonight, so you can’t go home right now.”
As told me that I couldn’t go home yet, and I eventually flinched away from her hand.
I knew I couldn’t go home.
Because I had died while holding my brother’s hand.
But hearing those words, I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I knew I shouldn’t be angry with As, but I couldn’t help shouting at anyone.
“I’m going home! I’m going home!”
I swung the rabbit doll I was holding at As.
Even though it was just a doll, As flinched and crouched down when I hit her randomly.
The startled maid scolded me, and I dropped the doll I was holding to the floor.
I knew I was taking my anger out on an innocent child, but I couldn’t think of anything else but my sadness and pain.
I sat there and cried out loud.
I had been holding up well, but just because of a single coffee bean, I realized that this was not where I belonged.
It was too unfair, I would have rather been a villain in the countless romance novels I had read or even an extra.
Why was I born as a nonexistent character from my own novel? No matter how much I tried to attach myself to this place, I couldn’t shake off the thought that everything was just my own creation.
The fear and sorrow I felt in my dying moments, and the despair of not being able to go back home choked me.
When my breath was blocked, I desperately called out for someone.
Maybe I was just dreaming, that was the only thought that came to mind.
I left everything behind in that place.
My dream, my friends, my boyfriend, my family.
Everything, my entire existence as a human being.
I wanted to open my eyes to see a hospital and hear our mom crying and cursing me for being an unfilial daughter who was about to die before her parents.
Even if that wasn’t the case, even if it was impossible.
I just wanted to see our mom, even if it was just once.
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