Chapter 12.2

Elena found the situation uncomfortable, yet she believed that it was better to listen to what was said now and let it go rather than lingering as an unwelcome presence in the castle.

She hoped that by assisting Serin with even a single task over time, she might begin to improve their relationship. Then, her gaze fell upon a small purple flower inadvertently left behind in the basket Serin had set down. It appeared to have been overlooked as he transferred the others to the sack.

Elena cast a quick glance at Serin, still grumbling, before plucking the missing flower from the basket.

“Look, a flower was left behind…”

“Oh my, Lady Elena!”

Observing the flower seemed to hold significance for Serin, and Elena believed that preserving every single bloom might be important. Perhaps, she thought, letting him know would be of some assistance. However, when Cura cried out in alarm, Elena sensed that something had gone awry.

Have I overstepped my boundaries? Should I have touched a single flower only with Serin’s permission?

In mere moments, a flurry of thoughts raced through her mind. As Serin turned swiftly in surprise, time appeared to slow for Elena. His icy and irritated eyes briefly reflected shock and bewilderment.

“Are you out of your mind?” Serin yelled, echoing Cura’s outburst before seizing a long piece of cloth from the bench and striking Elena’s hand with it.


With her palm throbbing in pain, Elena instinctively clutched both her hands. The spot where the cloth had made contact had turned a bright red. Beyond the physical discomfort, she felt a deep sense of embarrassment for her impulsive actions, and tears welled up in her eyes unexpectedly.

“Lady Elena, are you all right?” Cura, who had been lost in thought, drew nearer and examined Elena.

“I’m… I’m fine.”

“Cura, don’t touch her. Keep your distance!” Serin, his own face paling, urgently approached to inspect Elena’s hand.

Serin wrapped one of his hands with the cloth, fashioning it into a makeshift bandage, and then gently cradled Elena’s hand. He proceeded to alternate between patting her hand and lightly tapping her back. Following this, he examined her complexion and scrutinized her pupils.

“Stick out your tongue,” he instructed, his tone firm.

Elena blinked in confusion. “What?”

“Stick out your tongue,” Serin repeated, his repetition making Elena’s face flush with embarrassment.

“Quickly!” he insisted.

Reluctantly, she extended her tongue, and Serin’s face drew nearer. Startled, she attempted to pull back, but Serin’s face inched even closer. His furrowed brows and one raised eyebrow gave him an air of irritation.

“Are you all right?” he inquired.

“What?” Elena stared at Serin with a blank expression, struggling to comprehend his words.

“Goodness!” Cura sank to the ground.

“Cura?” Elena attempted to move beside Cura to check on her since she appeared unwell, but Serin blocked her path and shook his head.

“Don’t touch her.”

“What’s happening…” Elena muttered, her confusion evident.

Serin shifted his weight onto one leg, tilting his head at an odd angle. From that stance, he scrutinized Elena from head to toe several times.

“Lord Serin, what are you doing?” Elena couldn’t hold back her question any longer.

“Who are you?”


“This is a Vanaichi, a poisonous flower.” Serin pointed at the purple blossom that had tumbled from Elena’s hand to the ground. “It’s highly toxic, and mere contact can swiftly spread the poison throughout your body. Ingesting it leads to instant death. But how can you be so composed?”

“I… I don’t…”

“Well…” Serin sighed, rubbed his forehead, and then glanced at the cloth in his hand. With a feeble gesture, he extended his arm, turned around, put on the leather gloves he had previously removed, and carefully retrieved the fallen Vanaichi flower from the ground, placing it in the sack.

Elena watched Serin’s actions with a blank expression, while Cura, who had risen to her feet, approached Elena but maintained a slight distance.

“Are you truly okay?” Cura inquired.

Elena nodded. “Yes.”

“I thought I was going to lose my mind. If you had been poisoned, Lady Elena, I would have died right in front of the Duke.” Cura wiped her chest and shivered involuntarily, her body trembling at the mere thought of such an outcome.

“Thanks to you, my life was nearly cut short,” Serin grumbled irritably. At the same time, he seemed to relax his previously tense shoulders, as though relieved.

Elena, someone who could handle the poisonous flower without harm, couldn’t grasp the significance of their words and actions.

“No nausea or dizziness?” Serin asked once more, as if seeking reassurance.

“No, I’m fine.”

Elena’s response only seemed to intensify Serin’s initial suspicions, more than when they had first met.



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