πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️ Lucia Side Story 3.4 - 3.10 Full Chapters πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️

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LUCIA
Side Story 3.4 - Happily Ever After
Side Story 3.4: Happily Ever After

HAPPILY EVER AFTER(4)


Translated by: Miss Ruby


Edited by: ShadowDog


A group of people approached the conference hall from beyond the hallway. When the Duke of Taran, the Head of Central, appeared leading central officials, the atmosphere in the conference hall changed. The knights standing guard in front of the conference hall stood more upright and there was a strange tension in the air.


The Duke of Taran became a real authoritative power while he was serving as head of the central administration. As he entered his mid-thirties, his experience aged with him and his aura grew more dignified. But at the same time, his aura co-existed with a feeling of being ‘rough around the edges’.


Marquis DeKhan looked the Duke of Taran, whose figure was drawing closer and closer, then he looked at the Count of Taran. Their appearances were similar, but father and son had very different atmospheres.


The Duke of Taran was like a wild beast. There was violence, dormant in those red eyes of his, akin to a hunter looking carefreely at the prey around it, right after it had eaten its fill. It made you fear for when he might run in and rip out your throat.


On the other hand, his son grew up among people, so he was like a human friendly beast. It felt like he would at least give you a warning before he ran in and took a bite out of you.


As a matter of fact, if you looked at Damian separately, he was definitely not the easiest person to approach. His personality was cold, he was only appropriately courteous and set a defined distance with people so they couldn’t approach beyond that. However, compared to Hugo, there was room to take a step forward with Damian.


Those who wanted to lean on the Duke of Taran’s power went after his son, Count Taran, rather than the Duke himself. Unlike Hugo who ignored everything, Damian responded politely. But on a closer look, there was in fact no difference.


Whether it was Hugo or Damian, they were both the same in having no interest in people outside their own. The reason why Damian was polite to pathetic people he didn’t even want to bother with, was because there were times when his mother saw his effort and praised him because she was very pleased. Damian always tried his best not to act against his mother’s teachings.


Hugo went into the conference hall without as much as a glance at his son, who was standing in the hallway. Usually, whenever people witnessed the stiff distance between father and son or their rigid manner of speaking, they would admire the Duke of Taran for educating his successor well.


As Duke Ramis and Marquis DeKhan also went into the conference hall, the people in the hallway decreased and the two young men remained standing there.


“Everyone always brings up that story when they see me.”


Bruno grumbled. He kept hearing the same thing over and over again so he was annoyed to death. His expression was askew, with a hint of cynicism.


“Don’t do it again. This was the first time, so it passed over somehow but if you do it again, you’ll be branded as a scoundrel.”


“I know.”


Bruno was also aware that what he had done was not a minor mistake. But at the time, he couldn’t hold back.


It happened around the time he went to break room to avoid the dance requests that were surging despite his constant refusal. He heard some Count’s daughter yapping away about something; he couldn’t even remember her name.


[As you all know, there are almost no cases of an illegitimate child taking over a family. Who knows what will happen when the Duchess gives birth to a son.]


It was a widely known fact that Damian was not the Duchess’ biological son. When Damian first debuted in the social circle, it became a very hot topic.




When people gathered, they talked about the Duke of Taran’s successor. There were many who were uncomfortable with the Duke’s decision to have an illegitimate child succeed him. There were no reputable noble families who haven’t had illegitimate children enter the family register and it was a common headache to have an illegitimate child with superior capability earn the family head’s trust over the qualified heir.[1]


In Xenon, the position of illegitimate children was vague. Compared to other countries which didn’t even treat illegitimate children as human beings, Xenon was generous. There were no limits on the number of illegitimates that could be entered into the family register, and as long as the illegitimate child was in the register, they were treated as qualifiers.[2] What was funny however, was that in other countries, it wasn’t too uncommon to see an illegitimate child succeed the family.


However, Xenon was very conservative when it came to such matters. Even if their only descendant was an illegitimate child that was entered into the register, they would adopt a relative and have the relative inherit the family. Damian’s existence was a challenge to the deeply rooted custom in Xenon.


The uncomfortable looks that were sent to Damian lessened over time. The noblewomen were cautious because the Duchess’ tender affection for Damian remained unchanged while other people were careful with their words because they knew that the Duke did whatever he wanted to do, without caring what people said.


Around when a gentleman with a charming appearance like the Duke of Taran’s but polite manners different from the Duke, began to capture the hearts of the noble ladies, Damian became the Academy’s Shyta.


Initially, students of Ixium, were usually second sons of families and below. Successors were taught by specialized tutors then built their connections by going to meetings or social parties. However, that changed, and successors also began to attend Ixium.


Ixium’s reputation rose tremendously over the years as it became clear that the academy’s status would be a central figure in the power of each country in the future. People began to see the Damian who had become Shyta, as an individual with outstanding capabilities.


Now at this point, there was no one who clamored about Damian’s birth status. It became an unstated rule to not bring it up even if you knew. However, Bruno was disgusted with the Count’s daughter who arrogantly brought up such unsavory details as a topic of conversation. Right then, something surged inside him and he took a cocktail from the tray of the passing servant and emptied it on the girl’s head.


Bruno knew that Damian wouldn’t really care even if he heard such talk personally. His friend was an interesting guy who didn’t have the slightest gloom concerning the weakness of his birth status. But still, it wasn’t exactly something good to talk about so Bruno kept his mouth shut about why he did it.


“I just hate those girls who say whatever they want.” (Bruno)


“There you go again.”(Damian)


When Damian frowned, Bruno gave a half-hearted, ‘my bad’.


“I know you wouldn’t do it for no reason.” (Damian)


The Bruno that Damian knew might not be the most amicable of persons, but it wasn’t possible for him to do such a thing without reason, so Damian guessed that the Count’s daughter must have done something pretty rude.


“But my mother is right. You are in a position where you have to consider things more carefully.”


When the Duchess was brought up, Bruno’s sharp blue eyes grew warm.


“Mother is always right.”(Bruno).[3]


“That is true.”(Damian)


The two young men nodded at each other seriously while saying something that would make people laugh if they ever heard.


Translator’s Corner:


[1] I think I’ve explained this before, but a second time won’t hurt. The family register is basically an official document that states you are a member of a certain house. It also gives you rights not applicable to those not on the register. Rights to noble titles, rights to take over the family’s mantle, etc.


[2] Qualifier: qualified to succeed the title in your family.


[3] He says ‘mother’ not ‘your mother’. This is not a mistake.
____________

LUCIA
Side Story 3.5 - Happily Ever After
Side Story 3.5: Happily Ever After

HAPPILY EVER AFTER(5)


Lucia had not attended the party where Bruno poured cocktail on a lady’s head. She only heard about the incident after the fact, then she called Damian and Bruno, sat them down and talked to them.


“Bruno. I don’t think you did that for no reason. But I am worried because I hear that young gentlemen look very favorably on your actions. Do you want to become their hero?”


“I didn’t do it for something like that.


“Yes. I believe that’s not the case too. But think about the effects your actions could have. A gentleman observing good manners with a lady is proper courtesy and a promise for all. But if your actions are justified as right, someone will try to imitate you. There will definitely be someone who will rather insult and humiliate an innocent young lady in an attempt to become the center of discussion in the social circle. I do not want you to become a role model for someone so foolish.”


“I’m sorry. I was thoughtless.”


“I want the two of you to use this incident as an opportunity to once again realize that you are in a position capable of influencing a lot of people. Bruno, you go find that Count’s daughter and apologize respectfully. And then you two, stay away from parties for the time being and behave yourselves.”


“Yes, mother.”


“Yes, mother. Sorry to worry you.”


The next day, Bruno went to the Count’s manor and apologized respectfully; not only to the girl, but to her parents as well.


Bruno couldn’t forget the day he first visited the ducal residence upon receiving an invite from Damian.


[It’s a pleasure to meet you, Bruno. I’ve heard a lot about you.]


The Duchess looked at Bruno with tearful eyes, then she gave the boy a big hug.


Bruno had no memory of being hugged by his own mother, so he stood frozen stiff, in that warm embrace. For Bruno, the Duchess’ warm hospitality was both shocking and overwhelming.


During academy vacations, Bruno stayed at the ducal residence like he was family. Despite how large it was, the ducal residence was always filled with warmth. At first, Bruno was stupefied to see Chris shamelessly coming to the ducal residence to eat and sleep like it was his own house and even bring his brother, but then, the next thing he knew, he was doing the same thing.


The time he spent feeling the Duchess’ loving care, passing the days with Damian, Chris, the troublemaking Jude and the cute and lovely Evangeline, were filled with happiness like a dream. Even the Duke of Taran, whom Chris found it difficult to be around, became an adult that Bruno adored and wanted to be like. And then from one day on, Bruno began to call the Duchess, mother.


Damian woke Bruno, who had been absorbed in past memories for a while.


“Let’s go in before His Majesty comes.”


“Ah, right.”


The time for the meeting to begin was drawing near so there was no longer anyone in the hallway. Damian and Bruno went inside before the doors to the conference hall closed.


* * *


The conference, which began in the morning, came to an end in the afternoon. After a long meeting filled with fierce battles of results and reports, people left the conference hall, looking tired.


Near the door of the conference hall, Damian and Bruno waited for the Duke of Taran to come out. Who knew what other people had in mind but their schedule for today wasn’t over yet. After attending the national conference, they had to organize the contents of today’s meeting, discuss reports and exchange questions with the Duke of Taran.




‘…I am exhausted.’


The time after a long meeting like this was the hardest for Bruno. It wasn’t because reports or discussion were beyond his capability, but because his stamina sucked. Seeing Damian’s face brimming with energy next to him, Bruno was in awe.


‘Monsters. They’re all monsters.’


The stamina of this pair of Duke father and son was really terrifying. Bruno had never once seen any of them tired, both Hugo and Damian. It wasn’t only all day long, even if they stayed up all night, they would look be brimming with vigor as if they had just gotten a good night’s sleep.


When the Duke of Taran came out, Bruno raised his slouched shoulders and stood straight.


Hugo approached Damian and Bruno and handed them a piece of paper.


“I have something important to discuss with His Majesty so both of you can go home first. As for the report, I’ll hear it when I get back.”


“Yes.”


Damian took the piece of paper valuably, like it was an important document. As he looked at its contents, his expression stiffened slightly.


“Father. This…”


Curious about the source of Damian’s bewilderment, Bruno tilted his head slightly to see the contents of the paper. The stiffness of his expression was more obvious than Damian’s.


The piece of paper had two short phrases written on it.


{ Dream’s Kiss


Summer Garden Rose }


Was this a new secret code for confidential information? Under the questioning gazes of the two young men, Hugo’s face didn’t even twitch.


“Since I’m going to be getting back late, you guys should go buy that before going back. The name of the bakery is Muiller. That, on the paper, is the cake’s name. Your mom says she wants to eat it.”


“…Okay.”

_____________

LUCIA
Side Story 3.6 - HAPPILY EVER AFTER(6)
HAPPILY EVER AFTER(6)


After telling the coachman to head to the Muiller Bakery, the two young men climbed onto the carriage. Shortly after the carriage departed, Bruno’s shoulders trembled as he tried not to laugh, but he couldn’t help it and burst out laughing. Infected by Bruno’s laughter, Damian began to laugh as well.


“Mother is really amazing. Who else can send the Duke of Taran on an errand to the bakery?”


“Only Mother can do it.”


“Do you know what surprised me the most during my stay at the ducal residence? That the strongest person in the house wasn’t His Grace the Duke but mother.”


Damian agreed with Bruno as he chuckled. His father was definitely a much stronger and taller man, but his much smaller mother kept winning in the strength department. When Damian was young, he could not understand it. And now, rather than saying he understood it, it had just become an expected thing.


He had never once seen his mother raise her voice or get angry. In his memories, his mother always had a smile on her face. However, there were times when his mother turned expressionless. That particular sight was truly scary. When that happened, even his father was well behaved in front of his mother.


“Let’s not forget the dollhouse case too. Mother got rid of the dollhouse that His Grace had put so much effort into, overnight.”


It was the first time Bruno realized the Duchess’ face could actually be so scary when she welcomed all three males back that evening without her usual warm smile on her face.


[I have dealt with the dollhouse matter. As a matter of fact, I went to meet Her Royal Highness in the palace today. Honey, let’s talk for a bit.]


For some reason, Bruno couldn’t help but think that the Duke’s back looked small as he followed the Duchess up to the second floor that day.


‘This guy definitely grew up well, watching his parents like that.’


Bruno had no warm memories with his parents. His biological father always put his greed first, and his birth mother wallowed in self-pity, so she was always depressed. When he heard the news of his father’s death, he didn’t shed a single tear, and when he was abandoned by his mother, he felt like just giving up.


So every time he saw the affectionate couple at the ducal residence, a sight he could never imagine at home, he felt strange, and envious of Damian.


“Any news from Chris?”


As soon as Chris graduated from the academy, he left to travel with only a bundle on his back.


[I want to leave my footprints on every corner of the world. It has been my dream for a long time.]


Chris didn’t leave any word of his destination or even when he would return. Marquis Philip got the news late and angrily tried to get back his son, but Chris’ escape was as slippery as an eel.


After that, there was no news from him, then a few months ago, one letter arrived from an unknown source. It was a short greeting letter, saying ‘I’m doing well’.


“If you don’t know, then there’s no way I’d know.”


Bruno frowned at Damian’s calm reply.


“Send people to find him. If you don’t use your power as the Duke’s heir at a time like this, when will you use it?”


“I know where he’s going.”


“Oh really? If he doesn’t attend this time, he forfeits his title. Does that kid not understand seriousness?”


Aside from paying taxes, titled nobles were obligated to attend a regional meeting held twice a year. It was a duty that you couldn’t be exempted from, without special circumstances, such as war. It was described as a meeting, but in reality, it was closer to a banquet. It was a place for asking each other about their wellbeing, and resolving small issues, if there were any, through their connections.




Failure to attend this aristocratic meeting at least once a year would be understood as you failing your duties as a noble and the procedure for deprivation of your title would proceed. If Chris didn’t attend the meeting that would be happening in two months, it would be exactly two consecutive absences.


“Who knows, he might be thinking it’s a good thing. He did say going to those noble meetings was more nauseating than an exam.”


“I don’t know why I’m more stressed over the guy’s issue than he is.”


Bruno heaved a long sigh and looked out the window, feeling annoyed.


“Probably because he is most indifferent when it comes to his own issues.”


“That’s what I want to say. I mean, how can there be talk of forfeiting a title? Something so ridiculous is about to happen in front of my eyes. Won’t His Grace the Duke be angry about this? He did personally request the title from His Majesty, after all.”


“My father won’t care about something like that. He’ll probably think of a way to retrieve the forfeited title. That way is much simpler than getting someone to go capture Chris.”


“…that way is simpler, huh?”


Bruno was tired and stopped talking. Now he knew why Damian was so nonchalant about this. He thought he had gotten used to it but sometimes he couldn’t keep up with the vastly different ways the duke father and son thought.


The carriage stopped in front of the Muiller Bakery. The two young men getting out of the carriage, paused at the sight of the pink signboard. They had a very ominous foreboding. Then again, the cake’s name wasn’t exactly ordinary.


“…I’m feeling more and more like he shifted this over to us.”


Damian was also thinking that might be the case.


The inside of the Muiller bakery was quite spacious, and it was filled with female customers who were either ordering a cake or seated at a table eating a cake. The area, which was filled with the chattering of women suddenly became quiet. Everyone’s gaze was drawn to the two handsome young men that had just entered the shop.


Damian and Bruno were both accustomed to being looked at by a considerable amount of people, but at this moment, their faces were so hot that they wanted to turn around and go back this instant.


The interior was as pink as the signboard outside and the decorations were like entering into another world. The colorful flowers, drooping laces, sweet smell that filled the air, and the scorching gazes of the women glued to their face, made their head spin.


For a while, the two young men stood at the entrance, like they were frozen.


The moment Bruno took a slight step back, Damian quickly grabbed him. Before he could turn around, his arm was swiftly caught by Damian.


“Are you sure you won’t come here again? If you’re going to go by yourself when that time comes, I might as well do the assignment Father gave me this time.”


Bruno gave up on running away. He could never come here alone. It was better for the both of them to come here twice, than for him to come here once and alone.


After taking a brief glance of the interior and verifying where the place to order was, Damian was about to walk over, but then he flinched. His eyes trembled at the back view of the woman who was talking to the staff at the counter.


Ashen blonde hair.


Damian unconsciously moved quickly, approaching her, then he grabbed the woman’s arm and turned her around to face him. The woman’s murky brown eyes shook with confusion.


Her eyes were not clear green. And on a closer look, the hair color was different. Her hair was a much brighter color.


Damian immediately let go of the woman’s arm and apologized for his rudeness.


“I’m sorry, lady. I mistook you for someone else.”


As he watched his friend from afar, Bruno clicked his tongue.

_______________

LUCIA
Side Story 3.7 - HAPPILY EVER AFTER(7)
HAPPILY EVER AFTER(7)


“Oh my, Sir. Taran. How unexpected to see you here.”


Seeing the face of the middle-aged woman who was greeting him, Damian quickly plastered on the expression of a dignified and upright youngster.


“I hope you’ve been well, Marchioness.”


Marchioness Philip’s eyes were filled with satisfaction as she looked at her son’s reliable friend. If she had a daughter under her roof, she would definitely fight to have him as a son-in-law, and the fact that she couldn’t, made her feel regretful. As Bruno approached and greeted her as well, the Marchioness felt like it was truly a pity as she looked at the two dignified young men before her. Her son should have also been beside them.


‘Oh, Chris. I’m vexed because of this childish son of mine.’


What ‘traveling around the world’. This wasn’t the time to do something so useless. The Marchioness was more than a little worried that at this rate, Bruno would fully occupy the position of Damian’s closest aide.


As the Marchioness warmly discussed the current hottest topics in the social circle with them, the noblewomen who came with her covertly showed their interest and approached.


“Marchioness, you must have fate with these lovely gentlemen.”


“Goodness me, you didn’t know? Marchioness’ son is close with Sir. Taran and Sir. Matin. Very close.”


Hearing the envious voices of the noblewomen, Marchioness Philip’s mood was greatly lifted. The two young men thought to themselves that if their friend, Chris were here, he probably won’t be able to stand it.


The Marchioness was a very typical noble madam. She liked gossiping, bluffing moderately and worldly things. Chris didn’t like that side of his mother.


[It would be so good if my mom resembled half of the Duchess.]


Chris had once said lamentfully.


“What brings you gentlemen here?”


“I came to buy a cake for my mother.”


“Oh my, as expected. The Duchess must be so happy to have such a reliable and filial son.”


Damian and Bruno were being courteous towards their friend’s mother, so they quietly went along with the Marchioness’ long chat.


After they managed to free themselves, Damian stood in front of the shop’s counter to buy the cake they came for.


“Can you please write down the name of the cake you would like to buy on the order sheet in front of you?”


Damian was very relieved to hear what the staff said. He was glad he didn’t need to say the embarrassing name of the cake. As he positioned to write the cake’s name on the slightly yellowish paper like the employee said, he glanced at the note his father gave him. Damian alternated glances between the note in his hand and the bakery order sheet, comparing them. Both papers had the same size and material. He put down the pen and handed the note he was given over to the employee.


“Your order has been received. Please wait while your product is packaged.”


Damian came to the conclusion that his father had come here at least once. He wasn’t shifting the responsibility over to his son. It looks like as long as his mother was concerned, his father wouldn’t care about entering a pink looking bakery to buy a cake for her.


Damian took in the entire view of the bakery and tried to imagine his father coming inside here, alone. But he couldn’t imagine it at all. Damian really respected his father, in various ways.


In the carriage heading home, Bruno glanced at Damian’s expression. And as usual, Bruno’s eyes looked upset for some reason.




“Why don’t you just get people to go search?”(Bruno)


“Are we still talking about Chris?”(Damian)


“Not Chris. I mean, Ted. Although her real name is probably not Ted. Do you know her name?”


“…I do.”


“I said this before but, it is at times like this you’re supposed to use your power as heir to the Duke.”


“…”


“Our Ixium’s youngest Shyta is really talented, huh. Even gets to date in the Academy teeming with dudes. Since we’re on this topic, when did you find out Ted was a girl?”


“At the beginning of the school year.”


“What. So you knew not long after Ted came to school. That said, I don’t think Ted went to you and told you she was a girl herself. How did you find out?”


Damian chuckled instead of answering. Who would have thought that a girl would dress up as a man and come to the Academy? If not for an unexpected event, Damian wouldn’t have known, and he wouldn’t have paid attention to the one girl among the numerous newly enrolled students.


“Anyways, when I think about that time, I really…When I thought you were romancing a man, I was unexpectedly scared. Chris, that guy didn’t even give me a hint even though he knew.”


“…”


“Look for her. Instead of being heart-broken here.”


When they returned to the Academy after summer vacation, Ted had withdrawn from school and disappeared.


“…I only know her name.”


“You don’t know which family’s daughter she is? Or her home country?”


“No idea.”


Bruno looked at his book-smart friend and clicked his tongue.


“Well, since she enrolled into the Academy, there should be a clue there, somewhere. If you dig, it’ll show up.”


Seeing that Damian wasn’t replying, Bruno didn’t say anything more.


Ted had disappeared after leaving one letter with Damian. Bruno didn’t know what was written inside but his friend, who seems like he was going to toss everything aside and rush out to look for her, merely locked himself up inside his dorm room for one day, then


returned to his daily life like nothing had happened.


But sometimes, Bruno could sense it. Damian hadn’t forgotten Ted, he was just pressing down his emotions and enduring for now.


* * *


Lucia’s face was full of smiles as she read the letter from Norman. She opened the book that was delivered alongside the letter and read the quote on the first page over and over.


<< I dedicate this book to my dear friend and sister, Lucia. >>


It was a novel written by Norman, who had picked up her pen again after a long time. She hadn’t been writing novels since she got married.


Norman had become the mother of two children, and she was enjoying a life of happiness with the little things. Norman’s letters were packed with events where she sometimes got annoyed with her husband, or whined about her two troublemaking sons, and she made little things sound extraordinary, so her letters were as interesting as novels. Her letters were one of the ones Lucia anticipated the most.


There was another letter Lucia was happy to see today. It was a letter from Kate in the north. Kate was also already married and the mother of two children.


Initially, Lucia only exchanged New Year greeting letters with Kate. But after she went to the north three years ago due to hearing the news of Madam Michelle’s passing, the both of them began to exchange letters more frequently. Kate was very grateful to Lucia for taking the lengthy carriage journey down to the north.


After she was done reading all her personal letters, Lucia began to organize the invitations. There was still an enormous amount of invitations sent to her, but there was a difference from the past. Majority of the invitations weren’t aiming for Lucia but wanted to invite Damian and Bruno, so they intended to conquer Lucia.


There were also letters from girls who were inquiring after Lucia’s wellbeing, out of nowhere. It was very obvious to Lucia that the girls had a crush on either Damian or Bruno so they were asking even though they weren’t curious at all and after reading such letters, she couldn’t help but laugh for a while.



With the invitations organized, there were various other letters left. Among them was advertisement letters from designers. Although people thought Antoine was the Duchess’ exclusive designer, Lucia didn’t have an exclusive contract with Antoine. She just couldn’t find a design she liked better than Antoine’s. She had already thought about commissioning another designer if she found a better design. Hence why she was always interested in looking at the advertisement letters that designers constantly sent to her.


It wasn’t only cloth designers that sent advertisements, jewelers did the same. As Lucia was looking through, she caught sight of a letter from some jeweler and her eyes open wide with surprise.

______________

LUCIA
Side Story 3.8 - HAPPILY EVER AFTER(8)
HAPPILY EVER AFTER(8)


<< This is the design for His Grace the Duke’s brooch. If Your Grace is satisfied with the attached design, please make a commission to our jeweler. >>


The attached design depicted a lion’s head with two red gems as its eyes. Like the letter stated, it was a design for the Duke of Taran who represented the Taran family.


Lucia’s heart pounded in her chest as she stared at the familiar brooch design. It brought memories from her dream for the first time in a long while.


Lucia had lived with the mentally unsound old woman for half a year, then her identity became the old woman’s daughter, Lucy, around when she held the old lady’s funeral. A long time had passed since the old woman’s daughter was reported missing, so her daughter’s records were erased due to it being ruled as a death.


When Lucia reported the old woman’s death, she also notified them to withdraw the ruling of the daughter’s death. And at the same time, she requested that an altercation be made to her name because it was recorded incorrectly. The similarity between the names, Lucy and Lucia, allowed for the name change to proceed smoothly.


Using the excuse that her hair had turned white due to an illness, Lucia was given permission to dye her hair black. And so, she succeeded in remaking her identity into a new Lucia, with amber eyes and dark hair.


In order to make a living, she had to work. Lucia didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in the old lady’s old and isolated home. Even as she feared that someone might be tracking her down, she got a job in a small workshop. And perhaps the workshop’s old mistress noticed Lucia working diligently because half a year later, she said to her:


[I plan on scraping this workshop and moving eastward. Do you have any money saved? I’m thinking of handing it over to you.]


So for the first time in a long while, Lucia visited the cemetery that led to the secret tunnel of the Count Matin residence. She went at dawn, and she made sure there was no one was in sight, several times. It had been a long time, but fortunately, the jewelry box she’d hidden was just as she had left it.


After returning to her place, Lucia checked the jewelry box to verify its contents and discovered an ornament that she was seeing for the first time. It was a man’s brooch in the shape of a lion’s head. She thought about it, over and over again but she couldn’t figure out the source of the item. So eventually, Lucia sold everything in the jewelry box, but she couldn’t sell the brooch.


‘Are the designs the same?’


She couldn’t be sure because the one in her hand was just a design pattern. Lucia stared at the design for a while, seized with a strange feeling, then she drew up a letter of commission.


* * *


“Milady. The young Miss’ guests are about to leave.”


“Oh, is that so? It’s already gotten so late.”


Lucia stood up, leaving the organization that she was doing alone for the time being. There weren’t that many letters left anyway. As Evangeline got older, she grew more interested in playing with her friends than being with her mom, so Lucia’s days were relatively relaxed.


“Jerome, how is Roxy doing?”


Lucia asked about Jerome’s daughter, whose one year old birthday had recently passed. The girl had suddenly gotten a fever last night, so the doctor came to see her several times throughout the night.


“When I saw her around lunch, her fever looked like it had gone down a lot.”


“Haven’t you gone since you saw her at lunch?”




Seeing that Jerome wasn’t replying, Lucia clicked her tongue. Even after marriage, Jerome’s inflexible nature remained the same. The place wasn’t even far. The building right next door was Jerome’s newlywed home. Even though it had been a while, Lucia was still amazed by the fact that Jerome dated somebody and got married.


Jerome’s wife, Olga, used to be a newly hired maid in the ducal residence. And she was a woman whom Lucia had a connection with in her dream. When Lucia ran the workshop, Olga was a very sincere and sociable worker she had.


Jerome had been receiving employment applications constantly because of the maids who kept quitting and when Lucia made a short visit to his office, she found a familiar face on one of the applications. So Lucia recommended Olga. And about a year after Olga was hired, Jerome and Olga came together to see her and told her they would be getting married.


Lucia had absolutely no idea that the two of them were even dating, so she was surprised to hear that Olga was pregnant and when she saw Jerome standing with his head bowed, she had burst into laughter.


The empty outbuilding was completely clean and revamped into a home for the two of them to live in. And nowadays, Olga was ridiculously busy with raising her two children, so she rarely came to the main house.


“Jerome, it will be very hard on Olga to take care of two children when one of them is even sick. Stop here today and go home.”


“Yes, Milady.”


Lucia left the receiving room to see her daughter’s guest off.


* * *


“I shall be returning as of now. I appreciate your kindness in accommodating me again today.”


Prince Ethan, who gave his goodbyes in a mature manner.


“Today was fun. See you tomorrow.”


And the mischievous Jude, whose cheekiness was just like his brother, Chris.


“Thank you for your kind consideration, Duchess.”


Seeing the proud and prim young princess Selena, Lucia smiled pleasantly. They were all lovely children.


“Lady Eve, let’s play together again tomorrow.”


“Oh my, Lady Selena. I wanted to say that first.”


“Like I thought, we definitely have something connecting us.”


“It’s because we’re cultured ladies.”


Even though they were imitating noblewomen, the two girl’s unique childish voices were unnatural, making it obvious that their conversation was imitating something they had heard somewhere.


Lucia desperately tried to hold back her laughter so she wouldn’t hurt the two girls’ feelings. Lately, the two girls were very fascinated by acting as noblewomen, so they would have odd conversations with a weird tone.


The way Ethan looked at his sister made it clear he found her acting ridiculous and his snort was quite loud. Selena glared fiercely at Ethan. Then she hmphed and whispered loudly in Evangeline’s ear.


“Lady Eve. A cultured lady should be most careful of idiots like this one.”


“What? Hey! Selena!”


“Look at that. How uncultured.”


Ethan fumed but held back when Evangeline’s gaze fell on him. If they were at the palace, he would have grabbed his naughty sister’s hair. Ever since Selena began to speak well, Ethan was slowly realizing that he could never out-speak his sister.


As she watched Ethan sulk with an offended expression, Evangeline smiled sweetly.


“Lady Selena, Sir. Ethan is not an idiot. He is the elder brother of the cultured Lady Selena, is he not? Lady Selena’s elder brother can’t be someone like that.”


Ethan’s expression was awkward as his ears flushed red.


Selena knew that her elder brother was the type to torment her once they got back to the palace because he was angry, so she was in favor of making him feel better and replied primly.


“Hnn, well, that’s true.”


“Hooh. What of me? How am I?”


Jude butted in. Seeing Jude’s eyes filled with expectation, Evangeline thought for a moment then she said:


“Jude is a good person. You’re nice.”


“Hehe. Then, will you marry me later, Eve?”


Lucia’s eyes opened wide and she watched the children’s conversation with rabid interest. Evangeline tilted her head and fell into thought. Lucia, the other children, and even the surround servants, held their breaths as they waited for the girl’s answer.


“The two young masters have returned.”


When a maid came in and reported this, Evangeline screamed ‘Elder brother!’ and ran out, her face gleaming with happiness. Selena, who had been acting like a noble lady, tossed that aside and ran after her at full speed.

_______________

LUCIA
Side Story 3.9 - HAPPILY EVER AFTER(9)
HAPPILY EVER AFTER(9)


“Elder brother!”


As Damian came down from the carriage, he smiled at the girl running towards him with her golden blonde hair fluttering in the wind. Damian caught his sister as she ran towards him with all her might then he hugged her tightly, lifted her into the air and placed her down.


The sound of the girl’s boisterous laughter spread in the air. Damian’s heart felt full every time he heard his sister’s clear laughter.


“Pretty big brother!”


Evangeline hugged Bruno tight too and greeted him. Evangeline had three big brothers, so she called them in a different way. For Damian, it was simply ‘elder brother’, for Chris, it was ‘Jude’s big brother’, and when Evangeline first saw Bruno, she shouted.


[It’s a pretty big brother!]


And since then, Bruno’s name became pretty big brother. Bruno sighed as he stroked his cute little sister’s head.


“Eve. Can’t you change the way you call me? You can just call me big brother. Or call me by my name rather.”


“Okay, pretty big brother.”


“…”


Bruno suspected she was doing this on purpose since she was definitely at an age where she could understand his meaning now. She had a wide smile on her face and her expression was full of mischief. Bruno chuckled as if saying it was his loss.


Selena had run over like Evangeline but couldn’t hug them like Eve did, so she stood some distance away with envy in her eyes. Selena also had elder brothers of similar age like that of the two in the ducal residence, but there weren’t many chances to come out and greet them.


She felt very envious to see Eve’s elder brother look at Eve with a gaze full of affection, hug her and indulge her. And above all, Eve’s brother, Damian was far cooler and awesome-r than Selena’s older brother. To Selena, he was a prince dreamy beyond words.


“It has been a long time, Princess.”


When Damian greeted her, Selena hesitantly approached them, picked her skirt slightly and returned the greeting.


“It has been a while, Sir. Damian. Lady Eve, I believe it’s time to say my regretful goodbyes.”


“Lady Selena, goodbyes are really regretful. I’ll see you tomorrow.”


Damian and Bruno glanced at each other with a strange look in their eyes then they turned away and tried their best not to laugh.


* * *


After watching the carriage leave with the children that came to visit, the three siblings turned around. The fox, Asha, who had at some point, noticed that her owner was home, came to rub her head at Damian’s feet.


Damian picked Asha up and hugged her. She was now quite old, and her movements were not as fast as before. Asha closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling of Damian caressing the back of her neck.


“Ah, right. Elder brother, what is marriage?”


“Marriage is…uh…when a man and a woman come together to make a family. Like mother and father. Father and mother got married and so Eve, you were born.”


“Hmm, I see. So if I marry, my little sibling will be born?”


“That’s not how it wo…wait, Eve. Why are you suddenly curious about this?”


“Jude asked me to marry him. Can I?”


“No!”


Damian and Bruno shouted at the same time.


* * *


Hugo’s discussion with the king took longer than he expected. After managing to reject the King’s invite to dinner, Hugo returned home later than usual. As soon as he entered the mansion, he approached his wife who came to greet him like usual.


“You’re late.”(Lucia)




“What of Eve?”(Hugo)


“She’s asleep. She played hide-and-seek with her friends for quite a while so she must be tired. You’re hungry, right?”


He was hungry indeed, but he wasn’t sure which hunger it was. Hugo decided to deal with the urgent one first. He wrapped an arm around her waist, pulled her to his chest and covered her lips as her eyes widened in surprise. He sucked her soft lips and breathed in the sweet air around her. Her scent tickled his nose. His thirst for her could never be satisfied.


When she wriggled hard in his embrace, Hugo was a little unhappy. It was still not enough. He pressed her with a fiery kiss. She smacked his chest and pushed against him with all her strength.


Hugo didn’t removed his firm hand on her waist, but he had no choice but to loosen his embrace and take his lips away. When he saw the angry amber eyes that met his, he found it really cute. He seriously considered just taking her to the bedroom like this.


“What are you doing? The kids are here.”


Lucia whispered through clenched teeth. It was only then that Hugo lifted his gaze and took notice of the two boys who were standing with their heads lowered. When he saw the boys, he remembered what he had asked them to do.


“Did you get the cake?”


Lucia glared at him, prudishly. She couldn’t help but be moved by her husband’s consideration of her. He had asked his son to bring the cake because he felt he would be late. The anger and embarrassment she felt because the children had witnessed that shameful sight, lessened slightly.


“I got it. It was delicious. Thanks, honey.”


Lucia pecked him on the cheek. Just before Hugo could go after her lips again, Lucia covered his lips with her palm and shook her head minutely. Tch, he grumbled inwardly and gave the tactless disturbers a fierce look.


“If you finished the errand I sent you on, then you’re done. You don’t have to report to me.”


“They came out to greet you.”


“Hm? No need. Next time, you don’t need to come out. Since you’ve greeted me, go up.”


The three men usually came back together, but when Damian and Bruno came back first, they would normally come out to greet Hugo with their mother. He was just being unreasonable. Lucia knew he was simply grumpy because their kiss was interrupted.


“Where should they go? The kids haven’t had dinner yet.”


His plan to eat dinner alone with his wife on the second floor fell apart. Hugo frowned.


“Why haven’t you guys eaten yet?”


“Geez, I’m embarrassed to face the kids. Just come here.”


Lucia quickly pulled Hugo’s arm and headed for the dining room. Hugo followed like he was helpless while grumbling.


“Next time, let them eat first.”


“Alright.”


The two young men’s expressions were very weird as they watched the two go to the dining hall. They felt both taken aback and in disbelief. The same person who said he would hear the report of the meeting when he got home seemed to have now forgotten about it.


The two looked at each other and burst into laughter.


“Why aren’t you coming in?”


Lucia’s voice calling them could be heard from the dining hall.


“Yes, we’re coming.”


Damian and Bruno replied in a loud voice and walked to the dining hall.

_______________

LUCIA
Side Story 3.10 - HAPPILY EVER AFTER(10)
Side Story 3.10


HAPPILY EVER AFTER(10)


Jerome, who was usually there to oversee their meal, was nowhere to be found. Her husband didn’t outright asked where he was, but his eyes were obviously looking for him, so Lucia said.


“I told the butler to go back early today. He seemed worried about his sick child.”


“Is it very serious? Was the doctor called?”


“Yes, a while ago. According to the doctor, her fever has gone down a lot, so it’s not very dangerous. It looks like babies have fevers for no particular reason. Eve was also like that; it surprised me many times.”


“True. You were crying and weeping that Eve is going to die.”


Lucia was embarrassed and cleared her throat. Even when she thought about it now, back then, she had thoroughly lost her reason. She screamed and cried at her husband to make her better somehow, even though her husband wasn’t a doctor. But it was thanks to him keeping his composure and consoling her that she was able to come back to her senses and not be devastated.


“Does Princess Selena still come here frequently?”


“It’s almost every day. She gets along with Eve very well.”


“Mother. The princess isn’t an issue but as for Jude and Prince Ethan, shouldn’t we stop them from coming at this point?”


“Stop them? Why?”


“I think it’s past time for them to keep playing together like they did as children.”


“Past time? I think it’s still okay.”


Damian felt his mother was going to just pass over his serious suggestion, so he decided to ask his father for support. When it came to Eve, his father’s thinking was far more rigid than Damian’s.


“Father. Eve told me Jude asked her to marry him. That is, she received a marriage proposal.”


“What?”


How dare that cocky little midget—!


Hugo immediately turned to his wife and spoke with a grim aura around him.


“His entry is forbidden. Right away, starting tomorrow.”


Knowing that whatever she said right now would go in one ear and out the other, Lucia obediently replied.


“Okay, I’ll do that.”


Looking at the father and son who were now focusing on their meal as if they were finally satisfied, Lucia gave a wry smile.


“Why did His Majesty suddenly want to speak with you?”


“The discussion was long, but the conclusion was simple. His Majesty wants an engagement. Between Selena and Damian.”


“Yes?”


At the same time Lucia exclaimed in surprise, Damian dropped the knife he was holding, and it fell on his plate with a clatter.


Lucia glanced at Damian’s flustered figure and a playful smile crept onto her lips.


“Her Royal Highness did mention such a thing to me a while back.”


“Is that so? Then I suppose the offer wasn’t made on an impulse.”


“What do you think?”


“It’s not a bad offer. The dowry doesn’t have to be too much either, just enough to keep up appearances. Damian, if you want, I’ll let you marry.”


“Father!”


Damian made a long face. Princess Selena was only eight years old. She was just a year older than Eve. Sure, in ten years, the children would grow into beautiful ladies but that was still in the distant future. If there was an eighteen year old who saw an eight year old as a marriage partner, then that person was honestly crazy.


Bruno was doing his utmost best not to burst into laughter. Images of the tiny princess he saw earlier spun through his mind. The little girl that was playing pretend noblewoman and speaking in a manner that didn’t suit her. When he imagined her becoming Damian’s fiancΓ© and standing beside Damian, he felt like he was about to howl with laughter. His hand holding his fork trembled so he placed the fork down and picked up a glass of water.




“That is absurd. Think about how old Princess Selena is.”


Hugo looked indifferent as he received Damian’s objection.


“Who said it had to be done now? You can get engaged and then marry when the princess gets older.”


Lucia supplemented from the side.


“As a matter of fact, Damian met the princess earlier, on her way back to the Royal Palace. I suppose there would be no need to set up an introductory meeting.”


“Mother!”


Damian’s face, which was changing between pale and red, turned dark. It was natural for children to marry according to the arrangements made by their parents. A union between the ducal house and the royal family was obvious a perfect stratagem.


As Damian’s expression stiffened gravely, Bruno’s face also sank even though he had been grinning endlessly. Bruno looked at Damian and inwardly clicked his tongue.


‘If you don’t like it, just say so. This foolish guy.’


The Damian that Bruno knew would never oppose his parents. When you saw him dealing with things as the Shyta of the Academy, you would think he was very stubborn, but before his parents, he was a very obedient son. Even if he collapsed inside, as long as his parents wanted it, he would not only marry Princess Selena but do more than that without any complaints.


‘They aren’t the type of people to push their son into something he doesn’t want because of greed.’


Should he expose his friend’s dating issue? While Bruno considered what to do to pull his friend out of the mire, Lucia spoke first.


“Damian, since you’re taking this so seriously, I can’t tease you anymore.”


Lucia spoke warmly to her somber son.


“I do not plan on forcing you into something you don’t want. How can we decide something like marriage that concerns your life?”


Damian looked at Lucia with an expression like he had come back from death’s door. Seeing Damian looking at her like she was some kind of savior, Lucia found it so adorable and smiled. Her big son still had some traces from his childhood left.


Lucia felt happy as she looked at the black lion who was still keeping his position as king even though he’d grown older, and then at the young black lion who was no longer a cub but still had much left to grow. Two of her most beloved men were just as lovable as ever.


“Your father is also of the same thought. Isn’t that right? You originally didn’t want to have a marriage with the royal family.”


Hugo snorted when he saw Damian looking at his mother eagerly. His wife was too overindulgent with Damian. A child should listen to their parents. However, Hugo didn’t reveal what he was thinking inside and wrapped his words up in a pretty package.


“I won’t force him into a marriage he doesn’t want.”


“What did you say to His Majesty?”


“I suspended it because it wasn’t the right time to discuss it. I said if the boy doesn’t have a woman by the time the princess makes her debut at fifteen, I’ll think about it.”


“Why make such a promise…”


“Damian, you have no confidence in getting a woman in seven years?”


“…”


Damian couldn’t give a reply.


Hugo decided to act like he knew nothing when he saw his son feigning ignorance. He already knew that his son had a woman from the reports of those planted in the academy.


“That isn’t something that can be solved with time.”


Lucia took to her son’s defense.


“By the way, why are we only talking about Damian’s engagement? How about our Eve. There are three princes to pair her with.”


“Not a chance.”


“That can’t happen, Mother.”


“It’s too early, Mother.”


Lucia laughed incredulously when she saw the three men uttering similar words at almost the exact same time. In this ducal residence, there were three men who became idiots when it came to Evangeline.
___________


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