Elody stroked Caville’s face, her heart was filled with a surge of pride.
He had thick and lustrous raven black hair. His unfathomable, pink eyes were those of a rose quartz. Elody could imagine him growing into a very attractive adult.
Thanks to the servant’s efforts in maintaining his nutritious diet, Caville’s marred skin became white and smooth as snow. His lips were no longer chapped. His pink eyes were orb round and darted constantly, a gleam with delight and the vigour of youth. Elody was glad to see him flourish so well.
“What’s the matter, wife?”
“Nothing. You’re just very beautiful, Caville.”
“Yes, Caville. You’re the most handsome in the world. My baby.”
“Yes, it means that you’re the most precious to me,” said Elody, as she hugged Caville in her arms.
Caville then extended his arm around Elody’s waist. Although his arms were short, Elody was surprised at how tight he hugged her.
“When I grow taller, I’ll give you a bigger hug.”
“Yes, yes. Grow big, my baby.”
Elody laughed seeing Caville’s determined eyes. Not minding his childish remark, she stroked his soft hair gently.
‘In the future, the princess will be the one to hold the adult Caville in her arms. When she grows into a beautiful woman, she’ll be the one to hug you instead.’
Elody smiled as she imagined the marks that will be carved on the wall in the years to come. Still, she let out a deep, heavy sigh.
In a few years, Caville will go to war and Elody will be left all alone.
The thought of it saddens her heart, as she could no longer mark his height on the wall.
In the novel, the war lasted for ten years.
The war was against the Empire of Urta, which was located in the east of the Friar Continent. They colonized neighboring countries with their strong military power. However, The Urta Empire was known to be cruel and ruthless. They slaughtered every single civilian and innocent children mercilessly. To them, nothing mattered as long as they were able to conquer the Empire of Heklos.
At first, everyone was sure that the Empire of Urta would prevail, for they dominated the first few years of the war. Alas, the tides were turned when Caville entered the battlefield.
Caville became the main force behind every victory of the Heklos Empire.
He had extreme intelligence, his leadership abilities earned the trust of his soldiers, and his drill methods helped transform the patriot forces into an accomplished fighting force.
He was labeled as the continent’s best swordmaster and he led the Empire to victory.
Needless to say, he was a hero.
‘My baby is amazing.’
Elody was proud, but she felt somewhat uneasy at the same time. It felt as if her feet had been dipped into the mud and it was suffocating.
One of the Empires the Urta had colonized was the Empire of Dayev, the country of the heroine from the novel.
The heroine was the princess of the Dayev Empire. She was taken hostage by the Urta Army and the person who rescued the princess was none other than Caville.
It was love at first sight. Destiny brought them together as they felt a connection that was unparalleled from any other person they had met before.
‘No matter the circumstances, they will be drawn to one another…’
But that story was still in the distant future.
‘I want to see him grow up and fall in love… How great it would be…’
Elody was downhearted at the thought of not seeing Caville for so long, not capable of watching him grow up into a fine young man.
Her heart ached. She wanted to make lots of memories with Caville. She wanted to spend more time with him. Still, Elody ignored the throbbing in her heart.
‘I shouldn’t worry. For this too, shall pass.’
* * *
A few days later….
Elody opened her eyes wide and looked at Norman.
With Elody’s disheartening response, Norman was hesitant.
Caville’s birthday is just around the corner.
In the past, while inquiring information on Caville’s mother, Norman received a letter from a maid’s father. Turns out, the maid was the duke’s mistress as well as Caville’s birth mother.
Unfortunately, the letter did not say anything about Caville. It only states the name “Caville” and his date of birth.
Since then, Norman kept a close record of the lord’s birthday.
As things progressed, Caville wasn’t that afraid of adults anymore. So Norman thought that it would be wonderful if the duke gets to celebrate his birthday with the duchess.
When he was preparing the young lord’s marriage, Norman checked the documents he received from Count McClaire. Coincidentally, Norman found out that there was only two days difference between Caville and Elody’s birthday.
That’s why he came to the duchess to discuss his proposal. He wanted to celebrate both their birthdays at the same time.
Although when he mentioned the event, her reaction was not very good.
‘Does she have bad memories about her birthday?’
When the idea came to him, Norman felt angry and helpless at the same time. Count McClaire was infamous for his greedy and abusive ways, and he obviously was not a loving father. Norman couldn’t have imagined what had transpired on Elody’s previous birthdays.
‘The Count must not have given her a proper birthday party. Did he even celebrate her birthday…?’
“Madame, I’m sorry, I made a mistake….”
Elody, who had been frowning for a long time, smiled brightly and nodded. Norman was stunned by the unexpected response.
“I love birthday parties! Let’s arrange one for Caville’s birthday.”
“Well, can I, uh, arrange the party for both of your grace’s birthdays? It seems both of your birth dates are close so I thought of celebrating them together….”
Elody’s answer assured Norman and his expression brightened as he heard her reply.
“Understood, madame! I’ll get right into it.”
He left the room as he bowed himself out.
‘Hah… I somehow managed to convince the duchess.’
Elody who was still sitting in the room recalled what Norman said. When he mentioned the word “birthday”, she involuntarily stumbled upon one of the little Elody’s memories.
She could recall one of her birthdays through the flashes of memories.
The memory was very faint, just like a piece of torn and worn out paper.
Elody’s father, Count McClaire had many children. The children of his wife to the illegitimate children from his mistresses, and even the maids he had laid his hands on….
Under such circumstances, it was impossible for the count to celebrate Elody’s birthday. Either way, he couldn’t care less about his children.
Elody may be born from nobility, but unfortunately, she has never experienced love or any sort of affection from her parents. Not even her siblings.
‘I remembered one of my older brothers congratulated me on my birthday only once.’
Elody’s previous life before reincarnating was even worse.
She was an orphan with no clue regarding her exact birthdate. Moreover, she lived a life filled with loneliness and didn’t have anyone to celebrate it with. As a result, Elody has never had a proper birthday party.
‘Come to think of it, isn’t this my first birthday party in both lives…?’
Unconsciously, her heart was filled with anticipation and excitement.
“What’s a birthday?” Caville asked, while learning letters beside Elody.
“Well, a birthday is the day Caville was born in this world.”
“Is that good?”
“Of course it’s good. It’s the day where you get lots of presents and eat delicious food.”
“Can you eat snacks, too?”
“Yes, you can eat as much as you want that day.”
“Wow…. Really?” Caville said as he clapped his hands with glee.
Caville also grew up in an orphanage, so he must have never had a proper birthday party either.
Elody thought about what gift she should give to Caville for his first birthday celebration.
‘Should I give him a toy since he’s still a child?’
Despite the anguish in her mind, Elody glanced towards Caville’s paper.
“Caville, you made a mistake here.”
Hearing Elody’s comments, Caville’s face turned peevish and sullen.
‘He’s so cute when he pouts.’
Elody patted Caville on the head and pointed out his mistake.
“Oh, but this one’s correct! Well done, Caville.”
As soon as Elody gave him a compliment, Caville’s sullen expression brightened.
Caville’s progress in his studies were slow due to his trauma. The effects of abuse can be so encompassing that a child’s development slows down.
Surprisingly, however, his speed at learning the ancient language was quite fast.
‘Well, as expected of the male lead….’
Elody was talented in ancient languages as well, and her years of studies made her fluent. She was in charge of teaching him ancient languages. As they progressed with the study, Elody couldn’t help but realized that Caville’s learning pace was faster than normal people.
However, learning the ancient language was no easy task.
Similar with inborn talent, it was easier for individuals with strong affinity for mana to learn ancient languages. At the same time, people who do not possess any mana lack the ability to learn just as fast.
Perhaps, Caville had the ability to manipulate mana, that would explain how he could learn numerous languages with ease.
It wasn’t surprising considering his role as the male lead. He was destined to be a legendary swordmaster. He was capable of creating his own aura using mana.
Elody was stern in teaching Caville now, as she was hoping that if she taught him well, it would be of great help later.
Like a parent who teaches their young children to help them prepare for the future.
* * *
Sometime later, the day of the celebration came.
Elody made a rabbit doll for Caville.
At first, Elody felt giddy with excitement. This was Caville’s first birthday party. So she wanted to make something by herself.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go too well. So to salvage the doll, she asked for the maids’ help. Although, in the end, it still looked kinda sloppy.
‘I should have just bought something….’
Nonetheless, Elody decided to give him the present as it is. A personalized gift is always a good idea, no matter what kind of present it is. After all, the real intention of giving handmade material is not about the price but to make the receiver feel special.
“Is your finger alright, madame?” Marie anxiously questioned.
Elody glanced at her pricked finger and shook her head.
“Look on the bright side! The doll turned out beautiful! I’m sure the duke will like it.”
It’s kinda ugly….
‘The rabbit’s ears were a bit different in length. His eyes seemed a little crooked too, but what’s done is done. What else can I do?’
Elody proceeded to wrap the doll. She desperately tried to cover the bunny’s flaws but of little to no avail. Eventually she sighed and left everything to Marie.
After wrapping Caville’s present, it was time to change Elody’s attire.
Marie gathered up the gown and helped her wriggle into it. Elody straightened up, smoothed the frock neatly into place, and performed a clumsy pirouette followed by an impish curtsy.
“It’s… beautiful.” said Elody as she spun around.
The dress was pastel pink and the skirt consisted of ruffled tiers of pink tulles that ended just above the ankle. A sash bow wrapped around the dress consummated the ensemble.
“Where did you get this dress, Marie?”
“It’s made by the maids. It’s a birthday present for you, your grace!”
“The maids made this? You have incredible skills!”
‘Should I make a sewing room in the mansion for the maids?’
At Elody’s answer, Marie laughed, not minding the high praise.
“Thank you, Marie. I really appreciate the dress. Do tell the other maids of how grateful I am.”
“You’re very welcome, madame. I will tell the others soon.”
Afterwards, Marie curled Elody’s pink locks and did her makeup. Not too long after, the preparations were done.
“It’s done, your grace. Now let us show the duke your new dress.” Marie said as she reached out her hand to Elody.
Elody looked at the hand with a bizarre feeling.
It made her a little self-conscious to be treated like a kid, but as her body was that of a child, she could only shrug the awkwardness off.
When the door to the hall opened, Elody could see Caville pacing around the entrance anxiously.
Elody called out, Caville who was trapped in his anxiety was startled by the sudden call. When he saw that it was Elody who called him, he swiftly came close and grabbed her outstretched hand.
Norman, who was watching their interaction, exchanged a proud look with Marie.
Elody took Caville’s hand and went down the stairs gracefully.
“Congratulations, lord and madame!”
“Happy birthday to the duke and duchess of Cernoir!”
As soon as the door of the restaurant opened, the assembled servants began to sing, cheering to celebrate the joyous occasion.
Suddenly, the sound of a child crying spread across the room.
All the people inside the restaurant were startled by Caville as he burst into tears. The surprise party was supposed to be filled with joy and happiness, but instead, one of the main stars of the event burst out crying.
The servants whispered in dismay. Elody saw Caville’s reaction and quickly calmed him down.
“Caville, look over there. They have cake!”
The word “cake” stopped Caville from sobbing. His tears disappeared as fast as it came. Now his gaze was set to the direction of Elody’s pointed finger.
In the middle a very long table was a large cake. It was a stunning ombré rosette cake with layers of red velvet sponge and then sprinkled with pink sugar dust.
Caville’s eyes glistened with eagerness. For him, seeing such a big cake was a novelty. A smile was soon painted across his tear stained eyes, letting the servants release a long relieved sigh.
Elody was reassured when she saw Caville had stopped crying. She didn’t expect that Caville would cry in the middle of the celebration. Truthfully, She herself wasn’t surprised by the event as she had known the servants’ plan since a few days ago. They were so obvious in arranging the party.
Several days ago, the servants frequently gathered and chatted amongst themselves.
Yet when Elody appeared, they scattered as fast as the wind. Just like carps in a pond….
At first she wondered if something serious was going on, but when she eavesdropped on them, the only words she could hear were cakes, fairy tales, special birthdays, and so on.
This morning as well, Elody tried to get near their gathering to eavesdrop, but the servants used every trick in the book to block her and shooed her away.
When Elody realized their plans, she wanted to tease their childish enthusiasm, but she desperately held it in out of gratefulness for the servants’ efforts.
The birthday party soon began with all the estate’s servants celebrating alongside.
The lit warm candles were placed on the silver candle stands and were distributed all over the table. The sound of firewood crackling in the fireplace could be heard. Creating a simple, yet heartwarming ambiance.
“Please, settle down everyone. I will now serve all the special dishes I’ve prepared for the duke and duchess!”
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