Children could be easily misled by sweets, as Hansel and Gretel in the fairytale, or that story about the magic world beyond the wardrobe.
“I’ll ask the chef to make it every day.”
At my suggestion, Emil’s eyes were like those of a rabbit.
The maid who was listening to me was also stunned.
“My house has a big garden and there’s also a beautiful white horse. If you give him a carrot, he’ll eat it very well.”
“What are you…”
“Every day, after lunch or your lessons you can eat different desserts with some tea or juice. There are a lot of books in the library and everyone is friendly.”
Emil was silent.
Well, being honest, I shouldn’t have said anything.
Dad didn’t know what my plans were yet, but he wouldn’t oppose it. Neither would mom.
“Shall I bother the Duke for permission?”
“I’ll go ask the Duke for his consent.”
“No, he wouldn’t…”
“Don’t you wanna come with me?”
Seeing Emil, I felt like a witch, bewitching and tempting children.
However, I didn’t push him much since I could see that he was half-swayed.
“You want to go, don’t you?”
“Let’s go then.”
Emil stared blankly at me and nodded avoiding my gaze.
“Don’t worry, the Duke…”
I giggled softly. I didn’t forget about the maid next to us.
“The Duke cares a lot about you, so if I say you’ll make a lot of new friends if you come with me, he’ll agree.”
‘Although I say this, I’m not sure if I can really persuade the Duke.’
Emil was aware of it too.
“Um… Young lord Emil, Miss Velsia, is it okay if I leave for a moment? I’ll send a new maid as soon as possible.”
The maid, who already heard all that I was saying, asked for permission to probably run and convey my words to the Duke.
“…Fine. You can go.”
“Th, thank you.”
The maid hurriedly closed the door as she went out.
Now it was really just the two of us.
“…With me. Don’t try to be friendly with me.”
Emil spoke first.
‘What? What was he saying? I couldn’t hear him well.’
Emil clenched his fist and spoke again.
“Weird. It’s weird.”
‘Could it be that he thinks that he is strange and that I shouldn’t be friends with him?’
I was half right and half wrong.
“There’s nothing good about being close to me. And… the Duke suddenly asked me to be friends with you… it’s weird.”
Emil, who spoke as if he was squeezing his words out, didn’t make eye contact with me.
How was he being treated all this time to be wary of the Duke?
It was confusing.
I couldn’t say anything because I had a mixture of emotions such as pity, regret, love, hate, and resentment for the child sitting in front of me.
‘I wish I could purely hate you.’
At the end of my wish to save my family from Emil, there was also a sense of revenge.
I took advantage of the fact that he wasn’t looking at me to bite the inner flesh of my lips trying to contain the soaring emotions that flooded me.
I struggled to keep a cheerful voice.
“It’s okay. And I’ll take you with me anyway.”
When Emil looked at me again, I was able to smile casually.
“Regardless of that, I want you to be happy. You looked happy when you ate the apple pie.”
‘I want to let you enjoy it more.’
Looking at this, Emil seemed to be holding back his tears.
I clenched my hand without him noticing.
* * *
Contrary to my expectations, the Duke agreed too easily.
“If you want, go.”
‘Why is it so simple?’
When we went to the Duke’s office under the guidance of a new maid on behalf of the absent maid, Duke Callixst unexpectedly told him to do whatever he wanted.
“Why are you so surprised? You’re taking care of my shy son, so there’s no reason for me to refuse.”
“So, can I live with Young Master?”
“Do you know what it means to live together?”
“That means we’re a family!”
“If what you want is an engagement, let’s discuss it with the Marquis.”
I was speechless for a moment, and it seemed to be the same for Emil.
Emil, who had hardened from head to toe, was not responding when I poked him to see if he was alright.
“I, I just want to be friends…”
“Well, it’s good. Either way, it won’t be bad.”
Anyhow, the Duke had allowed Emil to stay with us.
Of course, that didn’t mean he’ll send Emil to our house.
Perhaps he’ll stay with us for a few days but overall he will be going back and forth to the Duke’s residence.
As I was a young child, it was useless to explain things to me, so he’ll probably pass on the detailed conditions to my father.
“You must be happy to have a friend, Emil.”
Emil, who was trying to hide his flushed face, barely replied.
Emil seemed nervous so I held his hand.
“Thank you for the kindness, Duke. Then I’ll leave.”
The Duke gave me an odd look and nodded.
As soon as we left the office, Emil spoke.
The hand I was holding was trembling. This was a new sensation for me.
I pretended I didn’t hear it and asked again, but Emil didn’t say it again.
‘What are you thankful for? You wanted me to get you out of this mansion?’
Objectively speaking, Emil was only ten years old now.
You thought no one in the world would love you, and after living in an environment where your self-esteem was trampled and crushed, you finally found a chance to escape to the outside.
I stopped in the middle of the hallway.
I held many words on the tip of my tongue but swallowed them again.
“I like you, you’re handsome and you’re good at studying.”
“And my mom said you’re not like Princess Robellin.”
That was all I could say right now.
I stared intently into the child’s shaking eyes.
“You didn’t hurt anyone, didn’t you?”
As if he had found great enlightenment, his eyes widened and a redness spread gradually.
Just as earlier, Emil tried to press down on all of his bottled emotions.
“Mhn… I… didn’t hurt anyone.”
“I didn’t harass…”
“Truly, I didn’t…”
His lips couldn’t continue speaking and it seemed as if they were pouring out the words of a new, invisible heart.
I led him as casually as I could.
“From now on, let’s eat a lot of delicious food and hang out with me.”
“Didn’t I tell you? I’ll make you happy.”
Emil muttered softly.
And then, again, he said it clearly.
“Me too, I’ll make you happy.”
* * *
After obtaining the Duke’s permission, I played in Emil’s room, rummaging through the books he had read.
It was more like studying than playing.
It was like exchanging questions and answers and teaching each other unknown subjects, but since Emil enjoyed it wasn’t too strange to call it a game.
As the sun went down, a carriage with a familiar pattern entered the Duke’s residence.
It was a crest with a sword and a quill against the background of a white deer with antlers.
“Are you done packing your belongings?”
Emil hardly realized that he was going to stay at our mansion from now on.
“Well, I don’t know what I should pack.”
“If it’s not something really important and precious, we can just go.
At my words, Emil glanced at me.
“…Then let’s just go.”
He was empty-handed, without a single suitcase.
“Well done. Mom and I will take care of everything you need.”
“And we will eat dinner, play, and sleep together.”
Emil couldn’t take his eyes off the wagon bearing our family crest.
It had been a while since the carriage had arrived, but Dad didn’t show up for a long time. He must have been talking to Duke Callixst.
About an hour later, my father, with a frown on his face, came looking for me.
“So, you had this kind of accident too.”
“I… do you think I made a mistake?”
“…No. You did well.”
Because he came right after meeting the Duke, so dad didn’t seem very happy.
“Your mother often had these kinds of accidents too. It’s amazing how you both can be so much alike.”
“Ooh, then, I’ll take it as a compliment!”
Hahaha. I couldn’t stop laughing, and in the middle of it, I dragged Emil to my side.
“Emil, this is my dad. He’s in the magistrate department.”
The two of them greeted each other nonchalantly.
When I was young, they didn’t really get along, even though they saw each other every time Emil stayed at the Marquis’ residence.
Well, Dad had a hard time dealing with with Emil every now and then.
“…We should go back before the sun goes down.”
We were about to leave the Callixst’s mansion.
“Are you going back?”
Duke Callixst, who said he would be unable to come down due to work, showed up to see his son off.
“Thanks for today, I had a good time, Duke.”
I lifted my skirt and greeted him and he formally replied, “I’m glad that the young lady came today.”
The Duke looked down at his son.
“You’re going to a valuable place, so I hope you don’t cause any trouble.”
“I’ll keep it in mind.”
“And Marquis, I want my son to return at least once a week.”
“No matter how inattentive of a father I am, we still are father and son so we shouldn’t forget each other’s faces.”
One of the two fathers seemed conscious of Emil because he looked displeased.
So far, he had left his child alone without a handful of interest in how he grew up.
I chewed hard.
“I didn’t know you cared so much for your son. I don’t want to spend another second in this mansion, so I’ll take my leave.”
After saying the words I wanted to say but couldn’t, dad placed me on the wagon’s stairs.
When my father, who was unconsciously trying to lift Emil, stopped, the Duke, who was watching the scene, chuckled.
“My son doesn’t need to help. He’s good on his own.”
Emile, conscious of the Duke’s words, climbed into the carriage by himself.
“I wish you good luck.”
And finally, the door closed with the Duke’s greeting.
The road was quiet and peaceful.
When I opened the window so that Emil could see outside, he couldn’t take his eyes off the window while maintaining his distinctive quiet expression.
‘Can I take a breath of relief with this?’
I wasn’t sure yet whether this action will help in the future.
But something seemed to have changed.
It had to be.
How much did I struggle?
Before long, a familiar scene appeared, and Emil muttered.
“The last time I was here, it felt like a different world…”
Emil didn’t even seem aware that he was talking to himself.
It was a very small voice, but it was enough for my dad and me to hear.
“Where I was, was the wrong place.”
* * *
Mom gave Emil a very warm welcome.
“Welcome. It’s nice to see you after a long time.”
In the novel, Robellin was portrayed as ‘Femme Fatale’ beauty.
An elegant villainess with shiny black hair, having dangerous and seductive golden eyes like a beast.
Mom was astonished seeing Emil’s angelic appearance, saying she couldn’t believe he was born from Robellin and didn’t let him go until it was dinner time.
She looked carefully at Emil’s features and then stomped her feet as a little girl who didn’t know what to do.
“Children grow up really fast. Until a few years ago, you had chubby cute cheeks, but you’re all grown up already.”
My mom didn’t say much after that.
It seemed that she was reminded of Robellin Kastone.
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