The Perks of Being a Villainess
She was the only daughter of Duke Seymour, an extremely powerful individual whose influence spanned the entire continent. She was also infamous for her terrible conduct, facilitated by her incomparable pedigree. When the notorious villainess arrived at the party, silence fell over the cheerful assembled guests.
Why does she do her makeup like that?
She is even worse than the rumors make her out to be.
Deborah was the spitting image of the witch you might find in a fairy tale book. The sharpness of her eyes was accented by the harsh makeup she wore, her lips were painted a bright red, and her skin was pale. Her lavender hair spilled over her shoulders, unadorned. If the fairy-tale witch who plunged the world into chaos were real, she would undoubtedly resemble Deborah.
Her attire only aided this image. The ladies attending today's party wore corsages and dresses made of pastel-colored fabrics matching the current spring season. However Deborah, in flagrant disregard for the party's theme, had chosen a dress with a frankly shocking design.
A few of the noblewomen hid their stiff expressions behind the fans they were clutching and sighed, unsure where to even begin with their complaints about her. More shocking still was that such bizarre clothing still looked stunning on Deborah. She was charming in the same way a poisonous mushroom was—only reinforcing her resemblance to a witch.
At this very moment, producing a bright red fan, Deborah came to stand before Baron Marco. She proceeded to raise her hand and deliver a stinging blow to his cheek. The resulting slap was so loud that the sound of it echoed through the hall and so powerful that it sent the man’s toupee flying from his head.
The ladies who were particularly faint of heart swooned at the sight. Baron Marco flushed deeply red, his shock turning to humiliation and his face twisting into a scowl. “L-Lady Deborah. What is the meaning of this?”
“So sorry, my hand must have slipped,” she answered nonchalantly. Raising her hand again, this time she swiped at his left cheek like she was swatting away a fly. “I’m sorry, I’ve been having these muscle spasms lately, you see. I’m having trouble controlling my hands.”
The man’s goatee quivered with the force of his anger upon hearing her calm tone. “W-why in the world would you do something so appalling, Lady Deborah?”
Her lips twisted into a slight smile. “Your face is just so greasy that my hand slipped. You should wash yourself occasionally,” Deborah said mockingly. She threw her handkerchief in his direction and turned away, not sparing him a second thought. The handkerchief landed on top of his wig, still sprawled out on the floor. Her actions were met with a suffocating silence.
Who invited that vile woman?
Though the villainess’s actions had left everyone outraged, nobody made any move to criticize her. Instead, they kept their distance, murmuring among themselves. She was Duke Seymour’s daughter, said to have so much power that it verged on omnipotence. They all feared what would happen to them if they dared to speak out against her.
A fortunately timed waltz began at that moment, breaking the awkward silence. No one asked Deborah to dance, so she approached one of the tables laden with champagne. Then, she gulped the alcohol down like she was a hardened thug, throwing back three whole glasses in the blink of an eye and crossing her arms, a haughty expression on her face. Her body language loudly signaled that she wanted nothing to do with anyone who was in attendance.
In the end, it was the unyielding Lady Ripleys, wife of Viscount Ripleys, who was the only one brave enough to approach. Mentally gathering the words of advice she wished to impart, she slowly came closer to Deborah.
“Lady Deborah? I have something I wish to talk to you about,” Lady Ripleys began, flicking her fan open gracefully.
In response, the intimidating younger woman just fluttered her red fan back and forth.
Lady Ripleys was greeted by the repulsive image of two snakes biting one another. How awful, she thought, resisting the urge to scream. Most ladies chose to embroider flowers or birds on their fans, but the lavender-haired woman carried one adorned with snakes. She recalled that the House of Seymour’s coat of arms also featured a two-headed snake. Was this a warning for her to back off?
“Please speak, Lady Ripleys,” Deborah’s tone was as cold as ice.
Lady Ripleys gulped despite herself upon catching sight of the younger woman’s blood-red eyes. “M-my lady. Having too much to drink isn’t good for you. I say this only because I’m worried about your health. I do hope you understand what I’m trying to say. N-now then, please enjoy yourself…”
Lady Ripleys had spoken quickly, backing away before she’d even finished speaking.
Huh? She had me pretty nervous for a second there. Deborah let out the sigh she’d been holding in as soon as the older woman scurried away. Her hand, clutching the fan, was sweaty. I needn’t have been so worried, I guess.
She drank another glass of champagne to try and calm her anxiety. Despite the rumors, the notorious lady was actually quite timid—though, to be more precise, it was not Deborah Seymour but Yoon Dohee, the Korean woman who now occupied Deborah’s body.
I can’t let them cow me. I’m not going to be a nice girl anymore. Deborah bit at her red lips. I don’t need to feel guilty. The baron deserves a thorough beating if anything.
Baron Marco, the man she’d slapped, was a scoundrel who had not only slept with one of the maids, but he’d also shoved his pregnant wife down the stairs and broken her leg. But it was likely no one knew about this, too concerned with Deborah’s vicious looks and terrible behavior.
Good. Everything’s going according to plan. Based on the way people were sending furtive glances at her and whispering among themselves, it seemed she’d successfully reasserted Deborah’s infamy for another day.
I’m going to keep living as a villainess. I like it this way. She couldn’t let anyone find out how much of a pushover she really was on the inside. She clenched her hands into fists, hardening her resolve.
Introducing My Embarrassing Past
How much of a pushover was I?
“Dohee. I really need a hundred thousand won, as soon as possible. My aunt just passed away. Ever since I was a little kid, she always took really good care of me. I’m really upset right now.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that,” I had replied.
In the moments leading up to my death, I’d felt so sorry for Hanjun, a senior student I knew who somehow lost a relative every other week. Honestly, I’d been crushing on him so badly that I hadn’t even been able to tell he was lying through his teeth.
“I’m so sorry, Dohee. I’ll pay you back as soon as I get my hands on some money.”
After wiring Kim Hanjun the hundred thousand won, I’d sent him an encouraging message, hoping he felt better soon. What did it matter that I was running myself into the ground in order to afford to send him the extra cash? I liked helping him. I figured I would just pinch pennies for a little when it came to food and coffee since I’d be getting paid by my part-time job soon anyway.
Completely unaware of how absurd my behavior was, I’d hiked my backpack holding my old brick of a laptop further up my shoulder and headed into the library next to the engineering building.
“Ugh, I’m so sleepy.” I had a boatload of assignments to complete, and I felt a wave of fatigue wash over me just thinking about it. I’d have liked nothing more than a sweet latte or something, but I had no money left, which was a reality check I didn’t need.
My head felt clearer with the cold wash of reality, and I did some quick mental math and realized Hanjun had borrowed around five hundred thousand won for funeral expenses so far. Can’t he pay me back a little faster?
But Hanjun was probably broken-hearted thanks to the repeated tragedies that had struck his family, and I didn’t have it in me to demand that he pay me back. I bit at my nails nervously, before turning my attention to my laptop and powering it on.
> Guys? Could you please get your research uploaded by today?
There was a midterm group presentation for my major coming up, and I’d texted the group chat about it. The read counters diminished quickly, but it was quite some time before I actually got any replies.
> Dohee, I’m sorry. I caught a bad cold.
> I have reserve army training today. Can I send it to you by tomorrow? So sorry
At least they were actually replying. Some of the others had simply outright ignored my message. I’d been through this exact scenario enough times now that I wasn’t all that upset despite their refusal to cooperate. Reminding myself that my university tuition was expensive and the extra study would only do me good, I just worked on the project by myself.
I worked on it late into the night until I could finally leave where I’d set up in the library, hunger long settled in my stomach. I had trudged over to the convenience store, exhausted, then froze in my tracks when I heard a familiar voice, accompanied by the suffocating stench of cigarette smoke.
“F*ck, don’t step on them. They’re brand new.” Kim Hanjun, who was meant to be attending a funeral, had spat out a curse as he stood nearby, smoking.
He was speaking to Cho, a student who’d returned from taking some time off school. Cho was also the guy who’d just claimed in the group chat to have reserve army training today.
“Hey, aren’t those the new limited-edition shoes they just released?” Cho asked. “How’d you get your hands on them? They sold out almost instantly.”
“I bought them from a reseller. So f*ck, keep your grimy feet off of them.”
“What? They must have cost you an arm and a leg if you bought them from a reseller. Where did you get the money?”
“I tricked this pushover into giving me the cash,” Kim Hanjun said triumphantly.
I felt like he’d struck me over the back of the head. Pushover. Pushover. Pushover. The word echoed endlessly in my mind.
“What kind of idiot would just give you money?”
“Oh, Yoon Dohee,” Cho said with a nod as if that explained everything. Wait, I’m such a pushover that just saying my name is enough of an explanation? “We’re doing a group project together, believe it or not. It’s a pretty sweet deal. But I didn’t know she’d just give you money if you asked for it, too.”
“I keep telling her I have a funeral I need to go to, but I have no idea how I was able to fool her so many times.”
“Wow, Kim Hanjun, you’re one nasty son of a b*tch, you know that?”
“Hey, I’m not a bad guy. It’s Yoon Dohee who was stupid enough to believe I have feelings for her just because I was nice to her a few times.”
I couldn’t bear to listen any longer. I didn’t have it in me to confront him and demand he pay me back. Instead, I’d chosen to run away like an idiot. In hindsight, I should have stepped all over his new shoes at the very least.
“Dohee, I really like how nice you are.”
Kim Hanjun’s sugar-coated words replayed in my head. Strangely, no tears came to my eyes. My chest ached as if someone had slammed into my abdomen, though.
As soon as I came through the front door on quivering legs, I was greeted by another unfortunate circumstance.
“Dohee, nice timing. Do the dishes,” my mom said, pointing at a sink filled with dirty dishes.
I wondered to myself why I had to clean up when it was my younger brother who’d eaten from the plates. I’m hungry, too… I could hear my brother and mother talking as I weakly rifled through the fridge.
“Mom, get me a private tutor. All my friends have private tutors or tutoring groups to help them prepare for their college admission exams. Did you know that I’m the only one who only goes to academy classes to help me study?”
“All right. I’ll find you a tutor,” my mother replied without any hesitation.
I dropped the carton of milk I was holding. I felt like I was going to be sick.
My parents had complained that paying for even a few online courses was too expensive for me. I never even dreamed of being allowed to attend an academy. Until then, I’d been under the impression that, financially, my family was doing very poorly.
My father was just a manager who had no hope of ever getting a promotion, and he had three children to support, after all. But as it turned out, it wasn’t money he had lacked, but the willingness to spend it on me.
“Yoon Dohee! Where do you think you’re going? Did you do the dishes?”
It only made me more miserable knowing that the most rebellious thing I could manage was just leaving the house without saying a word. I realized later that I should have screamed at my mother, at the very least, and demanded to know why she treated me differently than my siblings. Did she take me for just a useless pushover, too?
A wave of indignation washed over me then, and I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, sniffling.
“Hey, young lady. I need to get home, but I’ve lost my bus card. Could you lend me three thousand won, if that’s okay?”
I rubbed at my damp eyes and sighed. Are you serious? Another person’s already trying to take advantage of me? This old granny had already tricked me into paying her bus fare three times. I was even kind enough to walk her to the bus station.
Kim Hanjun borrowed funeral money from me every week, and this old woman her bus fare. Damn it. They must both be ecstatic to have found such an easy cash cow. It’s pretty astounding it took me until now to realize they were lying to me.
It was probably obvious to anyone who laid eyes on me, even to homeless people on the street, that I was an easy target. Kim Hanjun had been right—I wasn’t nice, I was just plain stupid.
“You’re such a nice girl, Dohee.”
“I really like how nice you are, Dohee.”
I should have realized that these comments were not actually compliments at all. Why did I only come to understand this when it was already too late?
“Young lady, did you hear me? Just three thousand won, that’s all I ask!” the old woman was saying, seizing me by the arm angrily. She was actually getting upset with me for refusing to pay her fare. A wave of anger washed over me.
“I don’t have any money. Let go of me!”
“Then just give me two thousand won. Or one thousand!” She kept pushing at me until eventually, I stumbled right off the sidewalk, and into the path of a motorcycle speeding past.
That was how I met my absurd end. Then I woke up and found myself inside someone else’s body—a body belonging to an X-rated reverse-harem novel’s villainess.