Yulia looked down at the floor. After thinking for a few minutes, she finally raised her head. Her eyes were shining and confident.
“On this land, a woman cannot simply be herself.”
“A woman lives as someone’s daughter, wife, and eventually a mother. If I follow this route, there will be no room for me to live as ‘Yulia.’”
I finally understood.
I knew there wouldn’t be many people who would appreciate Yulia’s ideals. Even in the 21st century Korea, women were pressured to live as a wife and a mother, and it was even worse in this world.
“In a marriage, I may end up unhappy like my mother or happy like my aunt, but it’s not a matter of happiness to me. I just… don’t want to live as an extension of someone else.”
It was such a modern way of thinking. Even in Korea, this was not something everyone could accept as a norm. Here, I could see that Yulia would be seen as an irrational woman.
Yulia murmured bitterly, “Your highness has no idea what it meant for me to hear your offer of a maid position.”
In this world, living as a single woman was almost impossible. A woman usually couldn’t possess wealth. She had to be married and that was the end of the story. If her husband died, she often remarried. By doing so, everything belonged to men.
Being my maid was one of the very few ways a woman could legally become independent. Most maids wanted to serve the royal family because it meant better marriage prospect, but to Yulia, this was a career.
I took Yulia’s hands.
“I’m sorry, Yulia.”
“Pardon?” Yulia’s eyes widened. “Why are you apologizing to me, your highness?”
“I planned your life without even asking you. I didn’t consider what you may want and how you may feel. I was incredibly inconsiderate and I’m sorry.”
Yulia smiled thankfully. “See? I was right. Your highness is a kind and warm person. There is no need for you to apologize.”
I shook my head. “No, whether you accept my apology or not, I need to do it. I should have known better.”
I meant what I said. I had made so many mistakes last night, and I had to make amends.
“I’m sorry, Yulia.”
She held my hand tightly.
“… So you understand and accept how I want to live my life.” When I nodded, Yulia murmured, “I never imagined there would be someone who would… understand me. Even my sister and my aunt… they thought I was being unreasonable. They told me I was being silly because I was too young to know better.”
“Being a wife and a mother isn’t the only way for a woman to be happy.”
Yulia’s eyes filled with tears at my statement.
“You are the first and only person who ever said that to me…” Her voice trembled.
On this day, we were able to become genuine friends.
I felt like I made my very first friend in this world. I was excited and happy. We talked for a long time until Samantha returned.
Yulia was intelligent and cautious, and she had a very unique way of thinking. Her ideals would have been considered strange here, but they were very familiar to me.
In history, there were people who were born at the wrong place and at the wrong time. If they lived in the right time or place, they would have had better lives.
Yulia was one of those people. In fact, of all the people I met in this world, I found her to have the most things in common with me, even more so than Lucretius. Yulia and Lucretius were the two people I met here who had the most exceptional ideas and personalities.
At first, I saw Lucretius as a typical entitled rich boy with power, but I was mistaken. He did have qualities of a tyrant, but he also was one person who saw me as the real me.
As a person named Sa Bina.
Of course, he did try to use me at first. In fact, he saw people as tools or means to an end, which was strange.
The fact that his attitude towards me changed probably was because of his feelings for me.
His feelings for me…
Suddenly, I felt warm. His confession from last night still made my heart beat fast.
While I was remembering last night, I must have had a telling expression on my face. I found Yulia looking at me with a knowing smile.
“W, why are you smiling at me like that?”
Yulia smiled happily. “It’s nice to see you like this.”
“L, like what?”
Yulia looked naughty as she replied, “You were thinking about his highness, weren’t you?”
“Pardon? What? N, no! It’s not like that!”
When I shook my head, Yulia said to me unconvinced, “I’m not sure if you are aware, but your highness looks relaxed when you are with his highness.”
I was mortified! I wanted to disappear into the thin air.
“Just now, you were thinking about his highness and that is why you were smiling happily.”
… please tell me this is not true! It can’t be!
I screamed silently. Arrggg!
I was so embarrassed.
Seeing my reaction, Yulia took my hand with a kind smile.
“So please don’t try so hard.”
Wasn’t this what Lucretius said to me last night?
Yulia continued, “This must be painful for you, your highness, and that was why you became ill.”
“W, what are you talking about?!”
While I panicked, Yulia said to me consolingly.
“It may be your duty as the emperor’s wife, but I can see how painful it would be to get women for the husband you love so much.’
Gosh, I couldn’t be any more embarrassed.