Elena drifted in and out of conscious, waking up with pain in her back and then blacking out again. Her eyes were closed more often than they were opened, and was difficult to tell how long it had been since she had been struck by the arrow. During the moments when she was awake, she vaguely registered Carlisle’s firm grip on her hand. No one had to tell her, but she knew he remained steadfast by her side for every moment. A sense of comfort soothed its way into her heart and seemed to give her strength.
Elena struggled to open her heavy eyelids. For the first time, she felt the pain in her back was bearable. She blinked a few times to clear her foggy vision, and the first thing she saw was…
She could see his sleeping profile as he sat by her bedside. He was holding her hand tightly, as if he would never let go.
‘…He’s been by my side all this time.’
During the moments when she cried out in agonizing pain, she knew that it was his hand that held hers. Carlisle already looked thinner than when she saw him last, but he still appeared as handsome as ever to her.
Elena raised her hand and gently stroked Carlisle’s hair. His eyes fluttered at her touch, then opened, their gazes meeting in midair. Carlisle stared at her as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, and Elena offered him a weak smile.
“Did you sleep well?”
She spoke as casually as if nothing had happened, and Carlisle looked almost afraid to shake himself from his dream. When he spoke, it was with an uncharacteristic tremble in his voice.
“Yes. Did I worry you too much?”
Carlisle leapt up from his seat and placed his hand on her cheek as he examined her.
“Are you alright? Are you still in a lot of pain?”
However, Carlisle didn’t seem at all convinced by her answer.
Carlisle stood up, walked towards the door, and roughly pushed it open.
Elena made out the sounds of people getting up from their seats in the hallway, and Carlisle spoke in a loud voice.
“My wife is awake. Come in quickly and check her condition.”
The people outside chorused at the same time,
“Yes, Your Highness!”
Then in the blink of an eye, several doctors entered into the room and crowded around Elena’s bedside to inspect her. She had a feeling there was just as much commotion when she had been unco
Several days passed after Elena awoke, and her condition gradually improved. At first, she had been unable to stay awake for long because of the powerful drugs administered to her, but today her head was clear as she watched a doctor apply medicine to her wound. One of the doctors, who always asked about her condition, spoke to her in a bright voice.
“How do you feel, Your Highness?”
“Heaven has given us a miracle. Thank goodness. We had been unable to find the antidote for the poison.”
Elena was curious about this strange detail. The arrows were aimed to take Carlisle’s life, and it must have been difficult to obtain a poison with no known antidote. What kind was it?
“If you couldn’t find an antidote, how did you treat me?”
“We used another powerful poison with opposite effects. Have you heard of fighting poison with poison? It is a method of treatment from the east.”
“Is that why I was in so much pain?”
The doctor nodded his head somberly.
“That’s right. It must be painful for the body to fight the drugs alone. There is a very low chance of success, but you managed to survive—”
Elena’s bare back was exposed for the treatment, and curtains were drawn around the bed to give her some privacy. She couldn’t see outside, and no one could look inside. However, she heard a voice from behind the curtain interrupt the doctor’s words.
“How long are you going to babble? If you’re done with the treatment, finish up.”
It was Carlisle’s voice. Elena’s condition was now stable, but Carlisle remained by her side every moment he could. He had been out earlier, and she hadn’t noticed his return.
His sudden interruption seemed to have also surprised the doctor, whose face quickly turned pale and his fingertips started to tremble. He looked as if he had been terribly threatened.
“Are you alright?”
“Y-yes, Your Highness. I’ll finish up soon.”
Strangely, all the doctors who were treating Elena seemed frightened of Carlisle. Something must have happened while she was unconscious.
There was no way for her to know, and she was sure that no one would explain properly if she asked them anyway.
The doctor quickly closed the medicine bottle and wrapped fresh bandages on the wound. When the treatment was complete, he helped dress Elena in her nightgown and then pulled open the curtains.
Standing right behind them was Carlisle with a coldly expressionless look on his face. The doctor was startled, and he hurriedly gave his report.
“Th-the treatment is complete, Your Highness.”
“How is my wife’s condition?”
“The danger has passed, so there’s nothing to worry about. I’m afraid that she’ll have a scar on her back, however.”
Carlisle’s brow furrowed at this piece of news. The doctor, sensing Carlisle’s darkened mood, began to tremble worse than before.
“… I see. Go.”
The doctor immediately bowed and hurried out of the room as if someone were trying to catch him.