Plink! Plink! Plink!
Wringing out the moisture from the towel with my tiny hands, I scurried over to the bed where my mum was lying. I jumped up onto the small stool beside the bed and placed the towel on her feverish forehead.
“Mum, are you awake?”
Being unconscious for a week, Mum’s eyes finally fluttered open and she nodded.
Although her face turned gaunt and sickly, I still loved it. I replied to her with a broad smile.
It was hard for me to nurse her back to health with this small body, but I was so happy when she woke up once in a while.
She gripped my tiny hand like a shaking autumn leaf.
“Your hands are cold. Don’t bring the wet wipes anymore.”
“No, Mum, I’m not going to stop until you feel better.”
“Hanelope, listen to me.”
Mum said in a low voice, as if her voice was cracking.
“Go find your father.”
“Dad? I don’t have a dad.”
“No, Hanelope, your father is alive. Your father is Prince Hart von Reinhardt. There’s a note in the second drawer of your nightstand with the address of his mansion. Mum gave the money to Aunt Judy and Uncle Sandy, and they’ll take you there.”
“Hart von Reinhardt?”
I felt like I’d heard the name before, but that wasn’t important right now.
You have money? Maybe we can buy ingredients for mum’s medicine!
“Mum, let’s use the money for Mum’s medicine! I’ll go buy it now……”
Mum used her last bit of strength and grabbed my hand.
“If you go and tell him your name, the prince will recognize you as his daughter, because I made a promise to him. If we have a daughter, we’ll name her ‘Hanelope’.”
“You must live.”
I didn’t understand anything my mother said.
Why was she talking like she’s gonna leave me behind?
I was scared, so I was not at all happy with the story of my father that my mom brought up for the first time. I was just anxious because my mother was different from usual.
“What about Mum?”
“Mum has to go now.”
“Uh, to where!”
My mum was the first ‘real family’ I had ever had in my entire life, be it in the previous or present.
She was my only family, albeit a poor one, but the one who gave me immense love that I hadn’t received in my previous life.
“No! I’m staying with Mum! I don’t want Dad! I want to live with Mum!”
My mum, who agreed to everything I wanted so far, shook her head.
Then she smiled for what might be the last time.
“I love you, Hanelope. Mummy was so happy to meet you…..”
My mother’s arm, which was holding my hand, slid down.
The same pink eyes as mine also disappeared under the eyelids.
I shook her pale and thin body, but my mother didn’t answer me any more.
My heart sank.
“No! Mom, please don’t die! I’ll listen to you. I won’t make any trouble. I’ll not be a picky eater, and eat carrots well. I won’t run away pulling the pony’s tail. I’m sorry. Mom, don’t leave me.….”
My mother, who always loved me even though I acted childish, no longer answered.
Regrets trickled down in tears.
I was happy to be loved for the first time, so I regretted acting like a child. I should have listened to my mom better. I should’ve done better. I should’ve acted more mature.
I sobbed, as if heaven would not have taken my mother so soon.
However, no matter how much I cried, my mother did not open her eyes again.
My mother had left me. Forever.
I lost my mother and couldn’t focus on anything for a while.
My heart ached so much that I felt as if I had died once again.
It was after a long time, I remembered the name ‘Hart von Reinhardt’ my mother spoke of.
The sub male lead in the novel, < The Returned Villainess Dreams of a Happy Ending >.
The character I liked in my previous life was now my biological father.
‘I wasn’t reincarnated into this world, I was possessed as a character in a book….’
But I wasn’t surprised.
There was nothing more shocking than the fact that my mother had left me forever.
My mother, Laura Koch, was the personal physician to Hart von Reinhardt.
The reason why Laura, an orphan, was able to become the physician of the prince and duke who had been granted the estate of Könihar was simple.
She was the only one who could relieve his headaches.
‘Of course, my mum was also a bit artful.’
Hart’s headaches were caused when he was kidnapped by rebels. The emperor did not rescue his son, Hart, and he was forced to escape on his own.
In the process, he got injured, and the the sequelae resulted in headaches.
‘It’s a cliché romance of an injured man falling in love with the woman who healed him.’
Besides, they were both stunningly gorgeous, so it was only natural that they be together.
The tragedy was that my mum and Hart were not the main characters. Hart was a supporting character, while my mum was an extra!
‘This is so unfair!’
Still, my mum was an extra who followed her own path.
My mother approached Hart in order to find about the secret book of Imperial family. It is said to contain traces of ancient wisdom.
The book, a royal treasure, was kept deep hidden in the imperial library.
‘She was trying to find a clue about genetic diseases in the book.’
My mother was suffering from a genetic disorder, in which her heart slowly became weaker.
‘She became a doctor to cure the disease.….’
No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t find a cure. In the end, the mother put her last hope on the imperial book. She decided to use Hart, the crown prince. As part of his duties as a prince, he was in charge of the imperial library.
The problem was that when she finally found it, it was written in an ancient language.
‘Ancient ciphers, only a few people speak ancient languages!’
A book that not only the common people, but also the imperial family could not read.
The real description of that book should be an ‘Imperial bluffing object’. Mum’s plan failed miserably.
All she got was the guilt of deceiving the man she loved.
To make matters worse, the Emperor was furious when he discovered that the two were lovers.
When he found out that Hart had let my mum into the imperial library, he revoked Hart’s right to manage it.
But Hart refused to give up on mum, even if it meant giving up his princely title.
‘My mum didn’t want Hart to further ruin the already bad relationship between father & son because of her.’
Eventually, she left him without a word.
‘So that he would feel betrayed and give up on her.’
Laura would sometimes mutter Hart’s name in her sleep. Long after I was born, she still hadn’t been able to forget him.
‘She missed him so much, and kept loving him.’
Perhaps that’s why, she didn’t want him to lose the opportunity of becoming an Emperor because of her.
For Hart’s future, she had sacrificed herself.
Feeling abandoned, Hart was filled with resentment and sadness.
The headache that was recovering became worse.
It was then that Asta Appel appeared, healing and comforting him.
‘In truth, Asta had approached Hart to advantage him.’
In other words, my mum was a replaceable extra who provided an opportunity for Hart and Asta to meet.
No one cares about extras who have left the stage.
It wasn’t in the original that my mother was pregnant with me.
‘Also the fact that I have the same genetic disease as my mom.’
I don’t think I can survive as an extra. Sob..
I was working diligently on the antidote, but suddenly I felt despair.
The well-made pill exploded and white smoke billowed out.
The little body stumbled backwards.
‘Yeah, even a balloon weighs more than me.’
I grumbled and rolled my aching body over.
The medicine, which should have been pale yellow, was now orange and bubbling.
‘It’s all because I didn’t have the right ingredients. I needed unripe Morning Glory berries…..’
I sighed deeply.
Even so, her little mouth made a slight sound of wind blowing.
‘Still, I’m glad that I can practise making medicine here.’
Hart believed me when I told him I knew how to make the antidote, having learn it from my mum. He believed in this mere seven years old.
‘Hart was grasping at straws, so he’ll go with anything, right?’
Hart cleared out a room in his manor and gathered all the necessary ingredients. Except for the unripe Morning Glory berries.
‘I didn’t realize that time, but the berries of the Morning Glory flower can only be imported from the Eastern Continent in summer.’
Now it was early spring, so he couldn’t procure any.
‘The berries he got in a hurry, were too ripe.’
I licked the orange pill. It should have tasted sour, but it was sweet.
‘This can only be used as a nutritional supplement.’
That’s when the door was burst open. I turned around in surprise and saw Hart stomping towards me. He looked terrifying.
“Wh-What? I was just making medicine!”
“Did something happen?”
I glanced at the scattered and shook my head brazenly.
“No. It didn’t.”
“I heard something explode.”
“Oh, nothing happened…..”
“Pills smoldering, this overbold child having a bump on her forehead, and yet you say nothing happened?”
Hart scooped me up and held me up in front of the mirror. I could see that my forehead was swollen red and round.
“Does this face look like that nothing happened?”
I was embarrassed.
Hart said nothing, just looked at me reproachfully.
“That’s because…..the medicine suddenly went ‘pop’! ”
“So you failed to make the antidote?”
“I made it, take a look!”
I pointed to the orange pill.
‘This should be enough to wake Asta up!’
My purpose in coming here were two.
The first was to use Hart’s power and wealth to create a cure for my genetic disease!
The principal to this cure was mana amplification. Normally, mana can be gathered through intense training. However, talent is more important than hard work. Without talent, no matter how much you train, you can’t gather mana.
But, consuming this potion, you can accumulate more mana in your heart at a faster rate than you would normally be able to, regardless of your talent.
The mana ring created protects the heart and prevents it from being devoured by the disease.
The yellow pill was originally intended to be a cure for genetic diseases.
‘I guess it looks like I’m taking advantage of Hart like my mum.’
But I want to live. Mum said I had to live!
Before she died, Mum had completed more than 90 percent of the research for the cure.
The problem was, the ingredients were hard to come by.
So I approached Hart with the idea of creating a cure for Asta and making a cure for myself by side.
In the original story, this was the reason Hart came to the slums.
And my second purpose is…..
“Is this a real antidote?”
Hart’s suspicious voice interrupted my thoughts.
Putting me down, he picked up the vial.
“How did you make it so easily? I’ve searched the entire empire and no one else has the cure.”
As he looked at me with questioning eyes, I waved him to come closer.
He leaned down and lent me his ear.
“You want to know how I created it…..because I’m very smart!”
“Are you saying that’s the reason?”
Hart snapped, and straightened his back.
“My mum made a hair loss potion when she was five!”
“That’s because she’s a genius..…”
Hart gave me a look of incredulity.
“Is this because you’re Laura Koch’s daughter?”
‘Ain’t I your daughter too?’
I was about to reply when I looked out the window, the sky had turned a bright red.