πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️ Lucia Chapter 121 - 124 Full Chapters πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️

PHYSIENTS WILL ALWAYS OFFER BEST STORIES AND LIVE STREAMING ALL TIME



LUCIA
C121.1
< — Epilogue– > (1)


Hugo suddenly stopped upon seeing the empty bed. He felt like he knew where she would be, so he heaved a helpless sigh and turned around.


As he expected, the light in the dining room on the first floor was on. She was there, sitting alone on the wide dining table and cutting a steak. Jerome was standing by her side, waiting on her, then he discovered his master and bowed his head. Lucia momentarily locked eyes with her husband as he walked into the dining room, but she turned away with a sullen expression.


Hugo didn’t know if her food would digest when she ate so late and he was sincerely worried about her, so he tried to give her words of concern. But when he glanced sideways and saw his butler furiously shaking his head, he quickly shut his mouth. Right. He was better off not saying anything. These days, everything he said kept rubbing her the wrong way.


A few days ago, Hugo was surprised at her ability to devour a couple slices cake in one sitting at such a late time in the day, so he commented on it. There was no other meaning behind it. It was really just something he said without thinking about it.


[I think you eat too much at night.]


‘What if you get an upset stomach?’ was what he planned on following up with but she immediately put down her fork noisily, sprang to her feet and left. And she was completely in grouch mode; even if he tried to talk to her, she didn’t reply and he didn’t get to even touch her all night.


Several days passed, and her sulky energy still hadn’t disappeared, so he was continuously on his tiptoes.


‘Master, please.’


Jerome was afraid that his master would say the wrong thing.


Although Jerome was unmarried, he had watched the process of his nephews being born. Around the time when the baby was almost due, Fabian always made the same mistake and would end up getting kicked out in the middle of the night, then he would come to Jerome to whine.


[I only said I think she has gained some weight. Why is she throwing dishes at me because I said she’s gained a few?]


[I mean, I felt like she was eating too much, and I was worried she might have an upset stomach, so I said it out of concern.]


When he heard it, he didn’t think Fabian had said anything overboard. His sister-in-law was an easygoing person, so she wasn’t the type to get angry over a slip of the tongue.


It was thanks to this that Jerome became enlightened. He gained the precious knowledge that pregnant women became very sensitive and one especially shouldn’t speak about anything concerning food or body shape to a pregnant woman.


“Is there anything for me?”


When Hugo asked as he sat down at the table, Jerome swiftly replied.


“It will be brought out soon.”


Lucia slightly glanced at Hugo, who had taken a seat, and she put a piece of steak into her mouth. It was really delicious. She savored the taste of the delicious meat that seemed to melt inside her mouth.


She didn’t used to be the type to enjoy eating a lot of meat. However, ever since having a child in her stomach, her appetite had changed. Even she herself was aware of the fact that her appetite had dramatically increased and that she was eating a lot all the time.


‘It’s because the baby is hungry.’


Even the doctor said that it was good for the child’s development, so she should eat as much as she wanted. Although she used the excuse that it was the baby, when she turned around after eating and found herself hungry again, she felt like she was seized by her instinctual appetite and she felt oddly frustrated. And her husband’s comment in the midst of this made her very upset.




She knew he didn’t mean to criticize her. However, the sulkiness she felt hadn’t settle. Even though she was acting pointlessly cranky, he did not get annoyed, even once. On the contrary, he watched her as if he had made a huge mistake.


She felt both thankful and sorry. As she watched him cut his steak silently, the grudge she was holding alone, melted away.


“I went to the palace this afternoon.” (Lucia)


The doctor advised that after her pregnancy was stable, some moderate movements would make for an easier delivery. So, Lucia made light visits outside. She visited the palace frequently, especially since Katherine had come back to visit and was staying at the palace.


“The princess has really grown up a lot. Children seem to really grow up in an instant.” (Lucia)


Hugo relaxed, sensing that his wife’s voice was amiable. It looked like her anger had disappeared. It wasn’t like this before, but nowadays, if her feelings got hurt, it took quite some time before she relaxed.


His only comfort was that the doctor told him a pregnant woman’s sensitivity would improve after childbirth.


‘I can’t do this a second time.’


He was glad that this was the first and last time. Although it was wonderful to watch the changes happening in his pregnant wife, it was also exhausting.


His wife’s stomach getting bigger was only a marvel at first, now it was scary. He was struck with the fear that her stomach might burst if it kept growing without any limits.


His wife’s increased appetite also worried him. Despite her eating so much, his wife’s body shape didn’t change much. He couldn’t fathom just how much the baby in her stomach was eating.


The strange life growing within her had only felt unfamiliar to him. Nowadays, as the fetus fussed around and wriggled, he could feel it vividly.


Unlike his vague imagination, a human’s growth process was close to an animal’s. The doctor told him that it was a normal reaction and that the baby was showing normal growth, however, Hugo couldn’t shake off the doubt that the baby could be unusual because it was his child.


There were 2-3 months left until the baby was born. The remaining days were still far off so Hugo’s heart felt heavy.


“Today, Her Highness the Queen said that when the baby is born, we should tie the knot as in-laws.”


Hugo’s eyebrows contorted into a frown. The King also said the same thing. He asked if Hugo would consider tying the knot as in-laws, no matter if the baby turned out to be a boy or a girl. He said it in a manner where one wasn’t sure if he was joking or serious, so Hugo interpreted it as a complete joke. To him, the royal couple were simply talking nonsense, so he spoke resolutely.


“That is out of the question.”


“Why?”


“His Majesty’s eldest son is ten years old. The age difference is too large for a child that’s just being born.”


“Oh? But His Majesty doesn’t have only one son. Why do you only consider the first prince?”


“Then it makes even less sense. To marry my daughter, they have to at least be the next King.”


Lucia forced a laugh in disbelief.


“So, because of age, it’s a no. And because of status, it’s a no. Wow. Our daughter will die an old spinster.”


“Since we’re on this topic, what do you think of bringing in a live-in son in law?”[1]


“We have Damian, why should we bring in a son-in-law?”


“What does this have to do with Damian?”


“Are you asking because you really don’t know?”


Getting a live-in son-in-law was a final means in Xenon’s family custom. It happened in cases where there was no son to continue the family and none of the relatives had a son for them to adopt. In other words, there were no cases where a live-in son-in-law was brought in when the family already had a son.


“He should be very grateful to even get married to my daughter.”


Lucia gave her husband a sidelong scowl.


“Don’t try to plan a future for a child that’s not even born yet.”


When Lucia placed down her fork, Hugo quickly did the same.


He expected her to get up quickly, but she asked Jerome to serve desserts instead. Hugo moved restlessly in his seat, stood up then sat back down. As he watched his wife devour the green grapes that Jerome had swiftly brought out, he felt a sense of wonder.


‘How does she fit in all that food?’


“Is it okay to eat so much of one specific food?” (Hugo)


Ever since the harvest season for green grapes arrived, Lucia lived with them in her mouth. For several days after the green grapes were delivered to the ducal residence, she had almost nothing but grapes for her meals. Nevertheless, even though she was just eating them as snacks these days, she had a bunch a few times a day.


“The doctor said it was okay. She said it’s best for me to eat what I want to.”


After eating a huge cluster of green grapes, Lucia stood up.


“Jerome. Bring a bunch of green grapes to the second floor.”


“Yes, Milady.”


Hugo wanted to say it might be better for her to stop eating now but seeing Jerome shaking his head in a resolute manner made him close his mouth.


He decided to follow his butler’s advice. After all, he didn’t want to say something to annoy his wife when she only just forgave the last one. He quickly followed after his wife as she left the dining room.


Once his master and mistress left the dining room, Jerome heaved a sigh of relief. For some reason, he felt like he had just passed a crisis. As he was cleaning up from their meal, he began to laugh. His master didn’t look like a wild beast at all, following after the Madam like that. He looked more like a docile big dog. His look seemed to get worse over time.


‘I wonder why they are both so certain that the baby is going to be a girl? Is it that they are hoping for a girl?’


This was the question that was always on Jerome’s mind, every time he heard his master and mistress talking.


Translator’s Corner:


[1] A live-in son-in-law is a husband that takes his wife’s family’s name. Usually lives with his wife’s parents too.
__________

LUCIA
C121.2
< — Epilogue– > (1)


In order to avoid putting pressure on her pronounced stomach, Hugo hugged her from behind while planting kisses on her back. His inner thighs were glued to her soft behind.


He slowly moved his waist, repeating shallow penetrations into her from behind. He took her bosom that had grown voluptuous after her pregnancy and kneaded them carefully. She didn’t like it when he held it strongly because it would hurt.


He couldn’t move too fiercely or enter too deeply. There were only a few positions that he could do.


They could only do it twice a week. When he got angry after being told to only do it once a week, the doctor reluctantly said that twice a week was okay as long as it was done carefully. This was the result he got after she took a step back.


‘Huu…this is crazy.’


He was currently tasting a delicacy of heaven. It was difficult because he was anxious as he enjoyed himself, but if he didn’t taste it at all, he didn’t know how he’d survive. Even as he was doing it, he felt like he would explode from the frustrations.


He wanted to enter all the way in and feel her tightening on him. He wanted to try out all sorts of positions. He wanted to hear her cries and screams of pleasure.


“Hnn…”


When he heard the brief sigh that spilled from her lips, he pushed his soaring excitement back down again. She had grown more tired as her stomach got bigger, so she didn’t feel much inclination to having sex, but her insides had become more sensitive and it made him tense.


He pushed in a little deeper and her moist innards spasmed before narrowing. Her hot vaginal walls squeezed his penis tightly and he clenched his teeth at this rising pleasure.


“Ah! Hugh, you’re too…”


“Sorry. I went too hard there.”


As soon as he entered strongly in his momentarily fuddled state, her reaction immediately showed that it was difficult for her. His wife was like a thin glass that seems like it would break with a single touch.


“Hugh, stop. My stomach is cramping.”


He hadn’t had a proper taste yet. But hearing her say that her stomach hurt made him incapable of disobeying. Hugo reacted very sensitively to what she said, not because of his worry for the child, but because he was afraid that something might go wrong with his wife, who was pregnant.


He tossed aside his insisting lingering regret and carefully pulled out. His unsatisfied desire was boiling over, so Hugo swallowed a sigh.


Once in three times when they did it, they would stopped like this in the middle. His patience was being tested. And in the process, he was discovering himself anew and realizing that he had a lot of patience.


“Are you okay?”


“I’m okay now.”


“Shouldn’t I call the doctor?”


“No, it’s not that bad.”


His voice in her ear was filled with worry. Lucia honestly like his unusually excessive worry of her. He poured all his care on her as if she would be blown away with a little wind. She felt like she had become a queen looking down at the world.


“Hugh, do you think the baby will have your hair and eyes?”


“I doubt it. Only the males are born with black hair and red eyes.”


Lucia sighed disappointedly.


“I wanted her to have your hair or your eyes.”


“I’d like it better if she looked like you.”


Hugo was satisfied with both the fact that his child would be a girl and that she would not be born with the features pertaining to the loathsome Taran bloodline.


“You know, when the child is born, I would like for Damian to come home. The end of the semester should be in the winter. I want him to meet his new sibling.”


“I’ll ask the Academy for an outing permit in advance.”


“I’m worried because the children will have quite a bit of an age difference. Damian is so mature, he might find his younger sister bothersome.”


Lucia was very careful in telling Damian that he would be getting a younger sibling. She agonized about it, and when her pregnancy reached a stable period, she put down a few words at the end of her letter. She hoped that the birth of his sibling wouldn’t hurt Damian in any way.


Sometime later, Damian replied with a long letter, reporting his life in the Academy as usual. And at the end, he wrote down his feedback in a brief sentence.


<< I am happy to hear the good news too. >>


There was no mention of his soon-to-be born sibling anywhere in the letter.


Lucia couldn’t tell what Damian felt from the letter alone, so she was continually worried about him. No matter how dependable and mature Damian was, he was still a child. She worried that he might feel a sense of distance because of the fact that his mother and sister were different from him.


Moreover, Damian and the baby were born far apart from each other. She thought that she had to make frequent opportunities for the children to meet and build affection.


“Is it okay?” (Hugo)


“What?” (Lucia)


“I thought…you might be uncomfortable about Damian.” (Hugo)


According to the customs of the Taran family, the soon-to-be-born baby was Damian’s bride. After Hugo confided in her about all the secrets of the Taran family, he thought that even if there were any changes in her from before, especially in her attitude or feelings towards Damian, he could understand.


“…I see you didn’t believe me.” (Lucia)


Lucia was slightly shocked. Since he thought this way, Damian’s thoughts could be more extreme. She was in low spirits because she felt like she could see the uneasy feelings of her distant son.


“I told you Damian is my son.” (Lucia)


“…It’s not that I didn’t believe you.”


“From the moment Damian called me ‘mother’, I became his mother. Do you know how happy I am to have such a kind son? He is young, yet so diligent. I want to take him around and brag that he is my son.”


“You’re really generous with the boy.”


“He has a shortcoming too.”


“Oh? What?”


Hugo asked intently.


“He is too blunt. We can put that aside as an inborn personality and say it can’t be helped, but I am most worried about him becoming a playboy when he grows up.”


She didn’t add the words, ‘like you’, to that sentence, but Hugo flinched. Then he squeezed her tighter in his arms and whispered in her ear.


“Don’t worry. Since he’s like me, when he marries, he won’t look at another woman again.”


Lucia burst into laughter. He had been getting increasingly better at devising clever excuses. Seeing that she was in a good mood, Hugo’s hand sneakily traced her inner thigh.


“Want to continue?”


“I’m going to sleep.”


His ruthless wife flatly declined and fell fast asleep after a while. Hugo was saddened by the fact that he was the only one struggling with yearning for her warmth.


‘Kid, when am I going to be able to see you?”


His anticipation for his daughter was closer to thinly-veiled personal interest, than paternal love.
______________

LUCIA
C122.1
< — Epilogue– > (2)


After summer ended, the cool autumn wind began to flow in. When it reached the month of the Duchess’ due date, the ducal residence went into full-scale preparation for the delivery.


The Royal palace sent a skilled doctor, a seasoned midwife who had delivered royal descendants for decades, and assistants. As the number of residents in the mansion grew, the extensive ducal residence felt crowded.


Everyone’s attention was focused on the Duchess. They were in a state of alert, waiting for the signs of the labor pains that could come at any moment.


Nowadays, Lucia was unable to be alone, anywhere. She felt uncomfortable being watched intently all day, but she endured it when she thought of the baby.


“Ah…”


Lucia put her teacup down, held her stomach and frowned. Starting from a few days ago, her stomach felt stiff and her lower belly ached softly. However, since she woke up this morning, a tingling pain climbing up her waist came frequently. It came earlier and now it started again.


“Are you having pain?”


The midwife checked the hourglass by the window. The intervals were still far apart but they were regular.


“I think the labor is starting. Please escort the Madam to the bedroom.”


Suddenly, everyone began to move frantically. Jerome, who was serving the tea, blanched white. He blankly watched the maids help the Madam out of the receiving room, then he regained his sensed with a start. He remembered the first thing he had to do. He moved to inform his master of this news.


* * *


A carriage dashed into the ducal residence. Before the servant could open the doors from the outside, Hugo opened it personally and jumped out of the carriage.


Jerome sent a messenger to the palace to inform Hugo, but at the time, Hugo was in an important national conference. Two hours had already passed when he got the news after the meeting.


Hugo flew up the stairs, burst open the door to the bedroom, then he suddenly stopped. The bedroom was quiet, and when his wife saw him, she smiled sweetly at him from her spot on the bed.


Hugo approached her bed with confusion; he had run home, prepared to face a pandemonium.


“You’ve given birth?”


Pfft. Lucia burst out laughing and the people standing around, waiting on her, turned their heads away to laugh. Lucia gestured for everyone to leave and they emptied the room.


“They say it’s still starting. Mysteriously enough, I’ll be fine one moment, then the next, my stomach suddenly hurts a lot. And then I’m fine again.”


“If it is the start…how long will it take?”


“The midwife said that because it is my first delivery, it will take a long time. The baby will probably be born by tomorrow.”


She looked relaxed and carefree. He had been worried about the delivery since he had a vague concept of it, but if it was like this, then it was no big deal. As soon as Hugo thought that, Lucia grabbed her stomach in pain and curled her body.


She couldn’t even speak, her face had gone white and she was breathing hard. Seeing his wife like this, blood drained from Hugo’s face. He was thrown into disorder, fluttered around like a confused mess, then he screamed at the door.


“Is anyone outside?!”


The door opened, and people flooded in. The midwife quickly came to the bed. She began to stroke Lucia’s back and advise Lucia on how to breathe. As Lucia followed the midwife’s instruction, taking in deep breaths and exhaling, her expression gradually relaxed.


Although only a short period of time passed, beads of sweat had formed on Lucia’s forehead.




When Lucia finally settled down, the people waiting on her withdrew again. The bedroom became quiet again as if the commotion from earlier was a lie. Hugo felt helpless because he couldn’t do anything but just watch.


“Now I’ll be fine again for a bit. It comes regularly.”


He wanted to ask his wife, who was smiling sweetly as if nothing had happened: How could she smile like that after feeling such terrible pain, even if it was just for a moment?


‘She had to undergo this process until tomorrow?’


He was already stunned silly.


However, the situation worsened beyond his expectations. The labor intervals became shorter, the pain grew more severe, and from around midnight, Lucia began to scream while holding her belly and rolling around.


Hugo couldn’t ask her if she was okay. She was obviously not okay!


As Hugo listened to his wife scream, he grasped onto the midwife.


“She will get really hurt like this. Do something.”


“This is the process of entering childbirth.”


“She could die at this rate!”


“With Your Grace the Duke being restless here, the Madam cannot concentrate.”


The midwife completely chased out the Duke who was pestering her. Hugo was kicked out under the pretext of it being done for the Madam’s sake, and he was unable to utter any complaints.


Staring at the firmly closed bedroom door and listening to the screams coming from within, Hugo’s face was as pale as someone standing at death’s door. He would later remember this as the worst night of his life.
_____________

LUCIA
C122.2 - < — Epilogue– > (2)
< — Epilogue– > (2)


“Milady, the path for the child to come out is opened. Don’t put too much pressure on your stomach like that.”[1]


As she watched over the situation, the midwife continued to advise the mother giving birth. From the looks of it, the progress was slow because it was her first delivery. The midwife did not let her guard down even though she had delivered numerous children before. Childbirth had many variables. There were times when a delivery was proceeding very smoothly, then suddenly, there were unexpected difficulties.


An assistant approached the midwife and whispered to her:


“His Grace the Duke is asking about the progress.”


The midwife clicked her tongue. She didn’t know how many times he had asked this. The delivery had only just begun and two hours or so had passed. She had replied a couple of times to the Duke’s persistent questioning of the situation, that it was still far from over.


The midwife was in charge of the delivery of the precious noble lives in the royal family. The incoming baby was very important, but the parent could also not be ignored. No matter how busy and hectic it got due to the delivery, a proper level of tact was necessary.


“It looks like I need to go see the Duke. You, watch over the Madam and if you see anything strange, let me know immediately.”


The midwife left the bedroom, leaving her skilled assistant to take her place in charge.


As soon as Hugo saw the midwife, he urgently asked.


“How is it?”


“There is still a long way to go, Your Grace.”


“When exactly is that ‘long way’! You’ve been telling me the same thing since earlier.”


“Your Grace, I have said this several times. It will take a long time because this is the Madam’s first delivery. From the way the situation is progressing, I can tell the baby is not likely to be born anytime soon. So please, calm down. If you get some sleep…”


“My wife looks like she’s dying inside there and you’re telling me to sleep?”


The midwife smacked her lips as she watched the Duke fly into a rage. Calling a woman, who was doing fine and giving birth to a child, ‘dying’, wasn’t quite right. She hadn’t seen any signs of a difficult delivery and it had only been two hours since the labor went into full-swing.


“Can’t I go in and check if my wife is okay?”


“The delivery room zone is off-limits to men.”


“I’ll only see her face and leave.”


The midwife had never even imagined a man entering into the delivery room and hearing the Duke say that he would do just that, the midwife really doubted whether he was in his right mind.


When she delivered children in the royal family, the husband was only informed when the labor began and when the child was delivered. In the case of the king’s concubines’ delivery, the king often came a few days after the child was born.


This was the first time in the seasoned midwife’s long career, that a husband was lingering around the delivery room and raising hell.


‘It is unusual indeed.’


The elderly midwife had been quite nervous, leaving the palace and heading to the ducal residence, because it was her first time dealing closely with the Duke of Taran, who was rumored to be scary. However, the Duke of Taran whom she routinely met was much too different from the one in the rumors.


He had a big stature, but he couldn’t move an inch in front of the small sized Madam. Once he had a little free time, he would just be following the Madam around. She thought it was quite nice for a couple that had been together for 3 years now to have such a good marital relationship. However, she didn’t know that when the time for the delivery came, he would be this particular, without caring about appearances.




“Please wait, Your Grace. If Your Grace keeps asking about the progress, I cannot fully concentrate on the Madam. Your Grace cannot be interrupting if you want the Madam to give birth safely and healthily.”


The midwife said firmly, revealing her stern temperament. She wouldn’t stand for any interference with the process of childbirth, even if it were the King not the Duke.


“She will be safe, right?”


Hugo’s spirit dampened once the midwife mentioned his wife’s safety.


“Ease your worries. The Madam is doing well. Your Grace will be more anxious if you stay here. I think it would be better for Your Grace to wait somewhere else…”


“I’ll stay here.”


The midwife forced down her wry smile upon hearing the Duke’s determined reply. If someone saw this, they’d think the Duchess was the only person in the world that had given birth.


Hugo stood with a somber expression as he watched the midwife go back inside the room.


Fabian’s lips twitched as he stole a glance at his lord’s expression. Such a rare, precious sight. He knew he shouldn’t, he knew how serious the Duke’s state of mind was, but he couldn’t resist the laughter bubbling up within him.


Eventually, he stealthily withdrew. As he was coming down from the second floor, Fabian met Jerome, who was just climbing up the stairs. He grabbed Jerome by the arm and went into Jerome’s office.


“What is it?”


Jerome was momentarily dazed due to the serious look on Fabian’s face and let himself be dragged to his office. Fabian closed the door, threw himself on the sofa and burst out laughing. He was afraid the sound of his laughter would be heard beyond the door, so he giggled under his breath.


“Oh god, I’m going crazy. His Grace looks so soulless. I bet you won’t see that expression on his face even if the sky falls down.”


Fabian had heard the news from Jerome a little while ago and hurriedly ran over. His heart skipped a beat at the thought that the Madam might have encountered difficulty during delivery. To the Fabian who had run over till he was out of breath, Jerome said:


[You have experience. I called you because you might be of help.]


[Have I given birth before? Help? What help!]


Fabian lost his temper at Jerome because he had run over after being startled awake from a good sleep. Since he had already come, he couldn’t just go back. He had entered an arduous path where he was stuck until the delivery was over and he didn’t even know when that would be, so he didn’t even want to see Jerome’s face.


However, because of the sight from earlier, his anger at Jerome had changed to gratitude. Thanks to Jerome, he was able to enjoy such a scene.


Jerome slapped his brother on the back of his head. Fabian held the back of his head and screamed.


“Hey!”


Jerome firmly seized the back of Fabian’s neck and pulled him up.


“They say there’s still a long way to go. What will come out of standing there till it’s over?” (Fabian)


“So noisy. Master is very anxious, so as a subordinate, you have to share his pain.” (Jerome)


“Do it yourself!” (Fabian)


As he was dragged away by Jerome, Fabian protested but Jerome acted like he couldn’t hear anything.


* * *


The morning sun shone blindingly through the window, causing Fabian to close his eyes. His whole body felt sore after sleeping scrunched up on the sofa and he stretched with all the strength he could muster.


“Is the baby born?”


Fabian had endured passably till around dawn. In order to fight off the sleepiness, he had drunk so much tea till it was stale in his mouth, but his eyes kept closing and he felt like he would lose his mind. He hadn’t even stayed up all night when his own baby was born. He couldn’t treat the situation of his lord’s child being born as serious as his job.


Still, he thought of it as the predicament of a subordinate and endured. He could hear the vivid screams of childbirth pain, coming from beyond the walls and they chased the sleep away from his sunken eyes. However, before he even realized it, he dozed off.


Jerome couldn’t keep watching Fabian, who kept nodding off, so he sent Fabian to sleep. Fabian acted like he was giving in, went downstairs and fell asleep on the sofa in Jerome’s office.


He had only slept for a few hours but his mind felt refreshed. Fabian poked his head out of the door of the office and looked around. It was quiet and he couldn’t see anyone. He began to climb up the stairs while checking around him.


Remembering the expression his lord had on his face till around dawn, he chuckled lightly. It was his first time seeing the Duke look so aghast and restless. He couldn’t stay still for even a moment and went back and forth in the same place for hours.


When he reached the second floor, it was quiet but as he walked through the hallway, he could hear a scream from afar. The delivery was still currently underway. Fabian wove himself in as if he had been staying there all night. The Duke didn’t have the leisure to care about his vacancy.


‘How energetic.’


The Duke’s footsteps as he walked around impatiently were still with much vigor. Fabian wasn’t very surprised since he had already witnessed the Duke filled with resilient energy even after staying up for a few nights.


‘Even if we say His Grace is His Grace. The amazing one is that guy.’


When he was born, he was Fabian’s twin brother, but later on, he was reborn as a servant of the Taran family without permission from his parents. That Jerome was standing there, with his feet firmly rooted to the floor as if he was waiting for the birth of his own child.


‘Why did you call me then? Huh?’


Fabian completely wiped out his gratitude towards Jerome for letting him get some sleep and inwardly poured out curses on his intolerable brother.


But suddenly, Jerome lifted his head. Surprised by this, Fabian also shifted his gaze. The Duke who had been senselessly walking around also came to an abrupt halt and stared at the bedroom door.


Fabian sensed a strange silence and immediately realized the change. The noise coming from inside the room had disappeared. Everyone held their breath for a short moment, but it felt like a long time. And from inside the walls, the cry of a child could be heard.


“Phew…”


It was unknown who had sighed. There was also a smile at the corner of Fabian’s lips. Although he was grumpy throughout, he had been very worried too.


At a glance, it looked like everyone was easily having children, but there were many women who were left with issues after quietly giving birth. Fabian didn’t even want to think about the unpleasant things that would follow if something had happened to the Madam. He couldn’t imagine the Duke of Taran without the Madam by his side.


The Madam was like a kind of safety device to Fabian. She was the last fortress. In the past, the Duke’s decision was a final decision. If you were asked to die, you had no choice but to do so.


But now there was room for a final struggle. There was somewhere to cling to if you were going to die either ways. He hoped that the Madam would tame the beast known as the Duke and hold onto his collar for a very long time.


Translator Corner:


[1] I dunno what this is trying to say tbh. Never given birth nor am I a doctor. When I don’t know, I translate as literally as possible. (Apparently, putting pressure on your cervix makes it hard for the baby to come out.)
______________

LUCIA
C123.1 - < — Epilogue– > (3)
< — Epilogue– > (3)


The door to the bedroom opened and the midwife came out, along with an assistant that was sent from the palace. The woman nodded to Hugo, who was staring hard at her.


“A lovely baby girl has been born. Both mother and child are fine and healthy. Congratulations.”


Everyone around bowed their heads, uttering ‘congratulations’ to Hugo who was heaving a long sigh of relief.


“Can I go inside?”


“There are still some things left to take care of. Please wait a little while longer.”


After waiting for an hour more, Hugo was finally able to go inside the room. The bedroom was quiet. People were moving around quietly and focused on their own work, not caring whether the Duke had entered or not, but Hugo was oblivious to all this.


His gaze was instantly transfixed to his wife, who was lying on the bed, and he headed straight for the bed.


Lucia was drained from the labor pains and she had been unable to get a wink of sleep throughout the delivery. The midwife had instructed that even if she didn’t have breast milk yet, she should put the baby to her breast, so she did so and immediately fell asleep after a moment of breastfeeding. With the severe pain gone, she couldn’t win against the sweet temptation of sleep that was crashing into her.


Hugo looked at his wife’s clearly exhausted face for a while. Her complexion was pale and her lips were dried up. Her disheveled hair was soaked with sweat and clinging onto her face and forehead.


He slowly sat down on the bed, taking caution to avoid shaking it, then he swept her hair up, revealing her round forehead. As he watched his wife slept like she was dead to the world, his heart ached with distress.


“Will she be okay? Is she really fine?”


Deep down in his heart, Hugo was still anxious. Even though he had checked the records from Philip’s hideout several times, he couldn’t shake off his misgivings that even that might be a trick Philip pulled.


As the due date drew closer, Hugo was more worried to meet the new baby than joyful. He was afraid that his wife would grow anxious if she saw his anxiety, so he didn’t let it show, but he often woke up at dawn and stayed up all night watching his wife sleep.


“The Madam suffered for a long time because it was her first time giving birth, but she had a safe delivery. You should hold the little miss, Your Grace.”


Noticing that the Duke hadn’t mentioned seeing the baby at all, the midwife brought it up first. She had delivered many children in the royal family for decades, but it was her first time seeing a husband whose eyes were locked onto his wife’s face, without paying any attention to the baby.


The midwife received the sleeping and recently washed baby girl from the assistant, then she handed her over to Hugo.


“Hold her, Your Grace.”


When the midwife urged him a few times, Hugo awkwardly received the baby in a helpless manner. By his side, the midwife advised him on how to hold the child.


‘It’s so tiny?’


This was Hugo’s first thought as he held the baby. It was so small and helpless for the being that was so energetic in his wife’s stomach. The baby that had changed his wife’s personality and tastes, was so weak for him to see her as the main lead that had been flaunting her presence for the past several months.


‘It looks strange.’


The baby hadn’t lost the redness all over her body yet, and there was still swelling on her face and eyes. ­­If Hugo had seen the baby after it had just been born, he would have been shocked. Right now, the baby was clean and fuzzy because it had just been bathed.





“She is a very lovely baby girl. She will grow up to be a beauty.”


Having had numerous experiences with newborn babies, the midwife could see the appearance of the baby that was yet to be properly revealed. The looks that a newborn baby had, was very different from the features that would later come into place.


However, Hugo took what the midwife had said as simply pandering. No matter how you looked at it, the baby looked weird.


The midwife couldn’t help but laugh when she saw how awkwardly the Duke was looking at his child. The first reaction of a father when he saw his child was either extremely happy, or perplexed.


Unlike a mother who spent ten months feeling their baby move as it grew inside them, there weren’t many cases of a father feeling affection as soon as he saw the child.


“Her eyes look just like the Madam’s.”


Hugo reacted to the comment made by the midwife. The baby’s sparse handful of hair was golden in color. He had been disappointed because it wasn’t like his wife’s but when he heard that the baby’s eyes resembled Lucia’s, he looked for his wife in the child.


He wondered if he would be able to tell when the baby grew a little bigger. He couldn’t find a part that looked like his wife. After handing the baby back to the midwife, Hugo fixed his gaze on his sleeping wife.


The midwife snort-laughed and clicked her tongue. She gestured for everyone to leave the room, then she left the bedroom last, with the baby in her arms.


* * *


The first thing Lucia felt when she opened her eyes, was thirst. She mumbled her quest for water and some moments later, a firm hand carefully lifted her upper body and a glass of water touched her lips.


The few mouthfuls of water going down her throat tasted bitter, causing her to frown. Lucia forced her eyes opened and smiled faintly when she saw her husband, who was helping her.


“Have you seen…our child?”


“I have.”


“She looks just like my mom. My mom had…really pretty blonde hair, you know.”


Her eyes were swelling with tears. Hugo gently kissed her eyes. He really wanted to hug her and squeeze her tight, but he couldn’t.


She hadn’t fully recovered yet, and she seemed so weak, like she would break, so he was careful to even touch her. The fact that she bore a new life after carrying it inside her small body for ten months was unbelievable.


His wife was always beautiful in his eyes, but today especially, she was more heart wrenchingly beautiful.


“They say her eyes are like yours. Although you haven’t seen her yet.”


“I saw her for a moment too. I’m telling you, I was scared when I first breastfed her because I didn’t know when I would fall asleep.”


Hugo watched as she laughed then frowned because her stomach hurt. He planted soft, light kisses on the bridge of her nose, lips, and forehead.


“It was hard, wasn’t it?”


“I’m okay.”


“You always say you’re okay.”


“I mean it, Hugh. I wanted to leave evidence of my love with you. So although I can’t say it was easy, I am happy enough to forget all the pain.”


Lucia fell in love as soon as she saw her newborn daughter. There were many reasons why she couldn’t help but love her daughter, but the biggest reason was that her daughter was their child, both hers and Hugo’s.


“I am overwhelmed with joy that our baby is our child, your child, that she inherited your blood.”


Hugo looked at her without saying anything for a long time. Then he smiled faintly and pulled Lucia into his arms.


“The baby’s name. I thought about it and I wondered if you would like grandfather-in-law to name her?”


“Grandfather…?”


“I was thinking of bringing him to see his new great-granddaughter.”


“Yes, I would like that very much. Thank you.”


* * *


About a month later, the Count of Baden visited the ducal residence. He greeted his granddaughter whom he hadn’t seen in a while and held his little great-granddaughter in his arms.


Count Baden’s eyes filled with tears as he looked into the amber eyes that were staring back at him. They were a copy of his daughter’s and granddaughter’s eyes.


“Oh dear child, how do you look so much like your grandmother?”


Tears flowed from Lucia’s eyes as she listened to the voice of her grandfather, who was unable to hold back his tears.


“I thought hard about the undeserved request you gave me. The first ancestor of the Baden family said that he could not exist without his mother and left a will dedicating all his affection and admiration to his mother. I heard that she was someone with a small stature but mighty spirit. I would like to give her name to the baby.”


Evangeline. It was an old-fashioned name that wasn’t used very much these days.


When the name of the only princess of the Duke of Taran House left Count Baden’s mouth, the baby who had been vacantly staring at the Count smiled brightly. Seeing the cheery smile on his great-granddaughter’s face, the Count burst into a roar of laughter.
_______________

LUCIA
C123.2
< — Epilogue– > (3)


Hugo rummaged through his drawer looking for something then he found an envelope deep inside his bottom drawer. It was something he had kept for safe-keeping, but he couldn’t remember what it was, so he took out the envelope and brought out the document inside. On the signature panel, was his wife’s penmanship, renouncing her parental right.


Hugo looked at the document with an odd expression and laughed. Even thought it seemed like a long time ago, the events of that day flashed through his mind, vividly, as if it were an event from yesterday.


Among the documents he had received in exchange for establishing the contract, was the consent form that was used when Damian was being processed into the family register. When they were rushing to the North the next day after their bridal night, Hugo had only handed Jerome the documents for entering Damian into the family registry.


And so, since that day, the document where she renounced her parental right had remained untouched in his office drawer in the capital.


‘I wonder why I didn’t take this.’


The parental right renouncement document was more important that the consent form for the family register. Without a renouncement of custody, Damian’s mother on paper would be able to exercise full rights to the child after he was entered into the registry.


He didn’t know why he didn’t take it at the time and hand it over to Jerome to take to Roam. It was something he had done but he couldn’t remember what he was thinking when he did it.


Hugo put the document back into the envelope. The document wasn’t needed anymore. Damian and Evangeline were both her children, entirely. He couldn’t take the rights to her children away from her, for any reason.


He thought about tearing it then he heard Fabian’s voice from outside the door and pushed it to the side of his desk.


Fabian came in, submitted his report and began to report on some unique matters.


“Young master Damian departs in three days.”


“And how are we with putting his name on the list of those boarding the gate?”


There were three gates in the city-state of Philarch, where the Academy was located, and compared to the number of students at the Academy, they were very few people that were able to board them. Due to this, when royal descendants or high-ranking nobles enrolled in the school, they also purchased the right to utilize the gate.


The Academy sold the passes for utilizing the gate at an enormous price, but they were still swamped with applicants, so they held lotteries.


In the middle of the semester, there was less personnel boarding the gates so one was able to go through without purchasing a pass. However, at the start of the vacation which was flooded with users, only those on the boarding list could use the gates.


Most students left Philarch for the nearest country and boarded the gate there. With that method, it took at least three days to get to the gate.


When Damian enrolled in the Academy, he did not apply for a pass to use the gate. He assumed that there wouldn’t be any reason for him to go home until graduation. However, the situation had changed.


Lucia was frequently thinking of calling Damian home during vacation. Since he could only go out for limited number of days out of year, it was easier for him use the gate than going back and forth. Fortunately, even if a student was boarding at the dorms, it wasn’t mandatory to take a session during vacation.


“The passes will be sold next year, after the new school year starts so I will send in an application.” (Fabian)


Although it was said to be a lottery, there were dealing behind the door. In fact, it was almost no different from an auction. You just had to call out a high price and buy it.




“And concerning what Your Grace mentioned before, we have finished talks with the Count about enrolling Bruno Matin, the youngest son of Count Matin in the Academy.”


After Lucia asked him for a favor, Hugo looked into getting the divorced Countess of Matin to take her son, Bruno, back with her. The eldest son, who succeeded the Count of Matin, had no objections to his youngest brother being taken away by his biological mother. The problem was the Countess.


The Countess had chosen remarriage over her son. Hugo didn’t want bother Lucia so he didn’t tell her that the Countess had remarried when she got back to her parent’s home.


In his own way, Hugo did as much as he could. However, Bruno was his wife’s benefactor, even if that was just in the dream, so he felt uncomfortable not repaying the favor.


He wondered what he could help with and as he was investigating here and there, he remembered his wife saying that in her dream, Bruno had been kicked out of the Academy.


That fact was strange. The Academy’s tuition cost an arm and a leg. It was not likely for the Count of Matin to cough up such a huge sum to get his rebellious son out of his sight. After investigating, Hugo found out an interesting fact.


The father of the late Count Matin had invested into the establishment of the Academy and obtained the right to full scholarship for the next three generations of his family.


When the Academy was initially established, its power was pitifully small. But as the Academy’s reputation increased, it became a colossal power and then, began to retrieve the rights it had sprinkled all over the place.


Due to this, the limitless right to enroll with full scholarship for three generations was restricted to only three people. In Lucia’s dream, the Count of Matin used it to send Bruno away because it was a right that he couldn’t sell to anyone, anyways.


However, the new Count of Matin had no intention of using a right that couldn’t even be bought with money, on his estranged younger brother. He was fortunate to have three sons, so he planned on entering all his children into the Academy.


As far as Hugo knew, Bruno was a boy with a very exceptional mind. However, the elder brother did not care about his younger brother’s talent. He practically neglected Bruno.


Even though in Lucia’s dream, Bruno had gone to the Academy like he was being kicked out of his house, sending Bruno to the Academy was probably the best thing that Count Matin did as a father.


‘It will be better for him to develop his talent at the Academy, rather than staying in a house where neither his brothers nor parents care for him.’


Hugo disguised himself as a sponsor who didn’t want to let Bruno’s talent go to waste.


The Count of Matin was wary of the unknown sponsor who promised to pay the full enormous cost of sending his youngest brother to the Academy, without getting anything in return. He was afraid that he might suffer damage in some way due to this. Like father, like son; the new Count of Matin was small-minded. His conscience felt somewhat guilty towards his younger brother who he heard was being praised as a genius.


Negotiations with the Count of Matin went slower than expected. Hugo had wondered if he should just off the bastard too. If Count Matin had dragged things out a little more, he might have ended up like his father.


“So he will be enrolled next year?”


“No. The following year. The applications for next year are already closed.”


The number of people who wanted to attend the Academy was growing more and more so you had to submit your application at least a year before you enrolled.


“How old will he be in the following year?”


“Fourteen, Your Grace.”


“14? Will he be entering the six-year course?”


“No. He wanted to do the basic four-year course.”


The Academy’s basic course was the most advanced course for the school year. The academic standards were just that high. Most of the students enrolled in the school at sixteen.


“Is he confident in being able to follow the lessons? I think he’s too young.”


“Master Damian also started the basic course at fourteen.”


“Exempt the boy. If he’s going to take over from me, then that is only natural.”


Fabian would never call that natural, but he didn’t bother saying anything.


“I have judged Bruno Matin’s academic ability to be sufficient.”


“Then let the kid do what he wants.”


Since he was done with his report, Fabian withdrew, and Hugo picked up the custody document that he had placed by the side for a while.


He started to get up, then he sat back down and opened another drawer. A small browning old envelope lay displayed on the base of the drawer. It was the only thing inside the wide drawer.


He sat, hesitant for a very long time. He stretched out his hand to the envelope several times but always stopped within reach. He sucked in a deep breath then he grabbed the envelope.


And he walked out of his office holding a thick envelope with documents and a small old envelope.
________________

LUCIA
C124.1 - < — Epilogue– > (4)
< — Epilogue– > (4)


Hugo went to Evangeline’s nursery first. Nowadays, his wife spent most of her time there. However, when he got there, his wife was nowhere to be found and the wet nurse told him that the Madam had gone to her bedroom with the little miss.


Unlike what he expected, the bedroom was quiet when he got there.


His wife was usually quite chatty when she was with the baby. Lately, Evangeline was beginning to coo and babble, so she was showing more reactions. When the baby babbled something incomprehensible, his wife added onto it and agreed enthusiastically.


Hugo was curious if his wife really understood what the baby was saying. The incomprehensible wails that Evangeline made was not a human language.


He was wondering why it was quiet and as expected, he found both his wife and the baby lying side by side on the bed, taking a good nap. Hugo sent out the maid who was standing guard at the side, then he carefully sat down on the bed, taking care to avoid shaking it.


Hugo stared at his wife’s sleeping face with a gentle look in his eyes. He understood what she meant when she said that even when she was just watching Evangeline sleep, she felt happy. Every time he saw her, he always felt like that.


When the sleeping Evangeline turned on the bed, Hugo’s gaze moved to her.


‘I think she’s much bigger than when I saw her this morning.’


His mind went back to the day when he first saw the baby after she was born. In the past three months, he was able to understand why they told him that the baby would grow up very fast. It was fascinating to watch his daughter whom he thought looked strange when he first saw her, continuously transform like a doll.


Her plump pearly cheeks were cute. The more he looked at them, the more he felt ticklish somewhere inside. He wanted her to grow up fast so that he could also understand what she was saying.


Evangeline who he was watching, pursed her lips, blinked her eyes and woke up. Her wide eyes looked around and locked eyes with Hugo. Her amber eyes, similar to Lucia’s but slightly more yellow, were staring intently at Hugo. Hugo was taken aback and froze, facing the baby.


“Kwawa.”


Evangeline giggled and stretched out her hand to Hugo. While making indecipherable sounds that was impossible to distinguish as laughing or talking, she moved her hands and feet with all her might, as if trying her hardest to express something.


He couldn’t move his eyes away, so he just watched her quietly.


Seeing that Hugo showed no signs of carrying her after all her hard work, Evangeline’s voice grew louder, and she flailed her hands. Her lips scrunched up and her small forehead began to wrinkle. Evangeline’s eyes quivered as if she was going to cry at any moment.


“Eve, good girl.”


Hugo didn’t want to wake his soundly sleeping wife, so he tried to pacify his daughter. However, tears began to well up in Evangeline’s eyes.


Hugo fidgeted a bit then he picked his daughter up and hugged her. Then he walked some distance away from the bed.


Whenever Lucia gave him the baby, Hugo reluctantly held her, but he had never taken the initiative after the midwife forced him to carry Evangeline on the day she was born. The baby was so small and weak that he was afraid that something might go wrong when he carried her. Knowing that Hugo showed signs of discomfort, Lucia never forced him.


His daughter was much heavier than when he last held her. It felt like the weight of life he had to bear on his shoulders.


Enjoying the feeling of being in Hugo’s embrace and carried in the air, Evangeline began to babble noisily. Hugo wanted to understand his daughter’s words like his wife, so he furrowed his brows and listened carefully, but when he realized all over again that he couldn’t understand at all, he chuckled.



“Eve, little baby. I wonder what you’re saying.”


He only said a few words but Evangeline who had gone silent for a moment began to babble more excitedly as if she was replying. Hugo chuckled faintly then he stroked his baby’s soft hair and kissed her little prominent forehead.


Lucia sat on the bed, watching the interaction between father and daughter. She was currently in a sensitive state of mind, so any small noises her daughter made would startle her awake from a deep sleep. Which is why as soon as she heard Eve’s voice, she quickly woke up.


It was a beautiful scene that touched her heart. Her husband was smiling and talking to the baby. As Lucia watched the set of father and daughter exchange words, she felt like she was going to cry, so she came down from the bed and walked to the pair.


As soon as Hugo saw his wife, he quickly tried to hand over Evangeline. But when he moved to do so, Evangeline loudly protested. Seeing the awkward look on Hugo’s face, Lucia chuckled briefly.


“She likes you. Keep holding her.”


“Keep holding? Till when?”


“Till she sleeps.”


Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Evangeline to fall asleep. Hugo called the nanny and handed over the child before sending her off. Then he picked up the envelope he had placed at the bedside table and gave it to Lucia. Lucia checked the contents of the big envelope first and her eyes grew wide.


“I forgot about it.”(Hugo)


“I completely forgot about it too.” (Lucia)


“Both of them are your children.”


“Our children. Thank you.”


Lucia kissed him lightly on the cheek then she opened the other small envelope. As she read the short letter inside the envelope, her expression stiffened. Her face was filled with confusion, showing that she couldn’t understand the situation.


<< I will not ask you to understand why I had no choice but to do this. But believe me. It is all for you, Hugh. I love you, my little brother. —To my brother. >> [1]


“That is the only thing my late brother left for me.”


After spending several days dealing with everything concerning the deaths of the late ducal couple, Hugo went to his room and found a letter on his desk. Those few short lines were his brother’s dying wishes.


His anger, which has surged to the limit after seeing his brother’s dead body, completely exploded when he read the letter. In that moment, he understood what it meant to be blinded by rage.


He couldn’t understand his brother. He also couldn’t believe that his brother had done it for him. In that moment, he hated his late brother as much as he hated his late parents, or perhaps even more.


He was tempted to throw the letter into the fireplace and burn it several times, but ended up tossing it aside in his family’s secret room. And not long ago, when he was digging through the secret room because of Philip, he found the letter that was already fading.


He couldn’t ignore it, so he brought it along when he came to the capital.


“There is something I haven’t been able to tell you.”


Hugo agonized over how to start, then he began to tell the story that he had never told anyone.


“Initially, I…didn’t have a name. I’m not sure when, but at some point, the people around me began to call me Hue.”


Hugo calmly talked about his childhood as if he were telling an old story that he had heard as a child. The days when the young beast Hue met Hugo and became human, and the days where he lived acting like his brother.


When Hugo’s story came to an end with the tragedy that occurred on one particular day when he was eighteen, Lucia was crying to the point that her whole face was soaked.[2] She was saddened to imagine his lonely childhood and her heart was torn with pain.


Hugo cupped her face with both hands and wiped off her tears with his fingers.


“It took me longer than I thought to tell this to you.”


He needed a lot of courage to reveal his own true identity. It wasn’t because he was suspicious of her love. It was the pride of a man who wanted to be the best before the woman he loved.


He wanted to hide his weak and shameful side. He didn’t want to confess that he was yet to put away his feeling of inferiority, that the head of the Taran family, whom everyone was in reverence of, was in fact a fake imitator.


Lucia covered the hands that were cupping her face, with her own.


“It doesn’t matter who you are. I love you, the person that is in front of me right now.”


“Mm. I know.”


Lucia reached out and threw her arms around his neck. He supported her back with his arm and pulled her close.


“Don’t blame yourself for brother-in-law’s death. At that time, he was only eighteen years old. He loved you in the best way he could think of, for his only brother.”


“…Yea. I think so too.”


Lucia couldn’t say it out loud but she sent her thanks to the other Hugo who had left this world.


If Hugo had not made such a choice, Hue would have suffered much more and lived a miserable life bound to the chains of the Taran family. He would have become a doll with no free will, unable to enjoy the happiness from living as he should. And Lucia would not have been able to meet him and form a relationship with him.


“I’ll keep this letter with me.” (Lucia)


“…” (Hugo)


“It’s hard for you to keep it with you, but you can’t throw it away, can you?”


“…Mm.”


The handwriting in the short letter was neat. Lucia could feel the personality of her brother-in-law from the way he wrote. He was likely a very warm and friendly person. She could guess how much her husband loved his brother and how hurt he was by his brother’s death.


The name, Hue, that was called to mean ‘devil’, no longer existed in this world. As Lucia called him ‘Hugh’, the meaning behind it was ‘my beloved Hue’.


Just as she became his Vivian only, he also became her Hue only. Lucia tightly hugged her reliable husband, who made her want to lean on him and at the same time, hug him.


Translator’s corner:


[1] Dongsaeng is what Hugo’s brother uses here so I translated it as little brother.


[2] The tragedy being referred to here, is when Hugo’s brother killed the former ducal couple. This happened when Hugo was eighteen, if I remember correctly.
________________

LUCIA
C124.2 - < — Epilogue– > (4)
Chapter 124 [part 2]


< — Epilogue– > (4)


Inside a carriage traveling through the complex streets of the capital, sat a young dark-haired boy by the window, staring at the passing scenery. On the boy’s lap, was a fox with bright yellow fur, enjoying his master’s fingers gently combing through its back fur.


Although it was his first time seeing it, the extravagant view of the capital flashed by Damian’s eyes, meaninglessly. The boy wasn’t captivated or interested in his first visit to the capital. But the fact that he would be seeing his mother again, made it special. And today would also be his first time meeting his sibling.


‘Evangeline…Eve…’


He kept repeating the name of his sister whom his mother had written to him about.


‘What if she doesn’t like me?’


Damian had never seen a baby before, so he could not guess how a baby of just a few months old would look. He was imagining a little girl that looked just like his mother.


When he first got the letter telling him that his mother was with a child, Damian thought that it was only expected but he was a little stunned.


His mother said in the letter that the baby was going to be his younger sister, but Damian was at least, aware of the fact that one couldn’t know such a thing in advance. He guessed that his mother probably told him that on purpose in order to allay his fears or anxiety.


Damian didn’t care whether his new sibling was a boy or a girl. He intended to cherish them and treat them preciously either ways.


However, there was still a slight anxiety in the corner of his heart. He was afraid that his mother might say she didn’t need him anymore because she now had her own real child. Even if his mother loved his sibling more, he was fine with that. It was fine as long as she didn’t hate him.


The carriage arrived at the Ducal residence. Jerome welcomed Damian as Damian stepped down from the carriage.


“It has been a long time, young master.”


“It has, indeed.”


Despite having been trained to conceal their feelings, the servants standing around were unable to hide their astonishment. It was obvious to anyone that the boy who just appeared was the living likeness of the Duke of Taran.


It had been over 3 years since they had been married, and the Duchess who just had a child was no longer childless. A storm was bound to rage in the quiet ducal household. The servants were all thinking the same thing; they had to find a shade to avoid the incoming storm.


Lucia was coming down from the second floor after hearing that Damian had come back. Seeing Damian bowing his head towards her, Lucia quickly approached him and pulled him into a tight hug.


“My gosh, Damian! You’ve really grown a lot.”


It had been three years. The eight year old Damian had become eleven years old. However, he appeared around 3 to 4 years older than that. He was now taller than Lucia, so she had to look up a little. Although he still looked like a child, within a year or two, he would be taken for a youth.


His mother’s gentle embrace made Damian feel warm inside and his heart felt like it was filled with happiness. The way his mother looked at him had not changed. He felt relieved and he was thankful.


“How do you look so much like your father? You keep growing more and more alike.”


“Have you been well, Mother?”


“Of course. What about you? How are you? Was the journey here difficult? Where’s Asha?” [1]


“I handed her to the butler before I came in.”[2]


“Have you eaten? You must have missed lunch.”


“I’m not feeling up to it. I’ll eat in the evening.”




Lucia asked the maid to prepare a quick snack and bring it to the second floor.


“Come. Let’s say hi to Eve.”


After Lucia went up to the second floor with Damian, the servants looked at each other, their faces filled with questions. They didn’t know who the young master that suddenly appeared was. It didn’t seem like he was the Duke of Taran’s son alone because the Duchess’ attitude was way too familiar and friendly.


However, even though the servants could whisper amongst themselves when they were alone, they couldn’t gossip or repeat it outside. Once the butler came inside, the servants quickly scattered in search of things to do.


Lucia entered the nursery and sent out all the servants inside. She headed straight for the baby’s bed, holding Damian’s hand in her own.


Evangeline was having fun babbling to herself when she sensed someone approaching and turned to look. She giggled at the familiar sight of Lucia’s face and clapped her dainty little hands. Lucia smiled and caressed the baby’s forehead.


‘Ah…’


Mesmerized, Damian looked at the bumbling baby with wide eyes. A doll was alive and moving. For the first time ever, he realized that a human being could be so small. If she was a little smaller, he might have taken her for a fairy.


Her fluffy honey-colored hair looked soft even without touching it, and her limpid eyes that were just like her mother’s, twinkled with refreshed energy. The baby’s fair, immaculate, plump cheeks moved every time her lips moved.


“Eve, say hi to your older brother.”


“Kaa,kaa.”


“Damian. Eve says she’s happy to meet you.”


“…Huh?”


Damian broke out in cold sweat. How were those words even interpreted that way? Damian was bewildered by the emergence of a new language he hadn’t known about. He wanted to ask what country it was from.


“Damian, can you look after Eve for a bit? Say hi, get to know each other. I’ll step aside for a bit. If Eve cries, you can just call the maid outside the room.”


“What? Mom, that’s…”


He wanted to say that there was no need for that, but Lucia had already left the room. Damian stood idly beside the bed, unable to do anything. He cautiously shifted his gaze and looked into the bed that held the baby.


Damian met eyes with Evangeline, who was zealously moving her limbs; who knew what she was so urgent about. She stared fixedly at Damian as if she was looking for something. Then her huge, round eyes curved into a crescent and she cackled with laughter.


“Hi…Eve.”


He didn’t know what he was supposed to do so he gave a clumsy greeting. Then the baby began to babble as if she was answering him. The sounds she was making were unintelligible, but Damian understood that the baby was trying to respond.


He hesitated a few times before stretching out his hand. Then he poked her bulging cheeks.


‘Soft.’


Suddenly, Evangeline grabbed Damian’s finger. Damian was at a loss for what to do, seeing his finger caught in Evangeline’s small hands. He tried removing his finger carefully, but the baby’s grip was quite strong. When he tried taking it out with more force, Evangeline made a loud noise.


Damian was startled and stood there, the thought of removing his finger gone from his mind. The feeling of his finger taken prisoner in a soft, warm grip was strange. For no special reason, a smile floated onto his face.


“It’s nice to meet you, Eve.”


[I feel…weird. My chest feels a little tingly…]


[Damian, that feeling means you think something is loveable.][3]


His chest felt much more tingly than the day when he held Asha for the first time. The baby was loveable. Damian felt like he could now fully understand the meaning of what his mother had said a long time ago.


[END OF BOOK 7]

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