* * *
“Since it’s my birthday, you know you can’t come empty-handed, right? If you don’t bring a present, I’m not going to let you in.”
“Wasn’t your present the portrait?”
“It seems you forgot.”
Bright sunlight spilled over our heads as the sound of singing birds blended in with the warm atmosphere.
* * *
33. Lucas’s Return
“You used to treasure me very very very much–an amount that’s indescribable with just words.”
Sunlight gathered on top of the lake like glass beads, making it appear as if there were bubbles. I was in the middle of explaining to Claude our wonderful relationship before he lost his memories, mixing in some lies with the truth.
“I’m telling you that it was to the point where you would have brought back the moon or stars if I wanted them.”
We were currently sitting side-by-side on the boat that was floating on the lake. A faint wave pattern was reflected off our faces as the sunlight bounced off the surface of the water.
Of course, Claude didn’t seem to be paying attention to my words at all, but when else would I ever get the chance to tease him like this!
“It sounds like I’m lying, doesn’t it?”
I looked at him and let out a “hmph.” I twirled the parasol in my hand and decided to launch a roundabout attack.
“Well, then, how do you explain the fact that you kept all my drawings next to your bed, or the fact that you’ve been creating video stones of me without my knowledge?”
“I’m sure that wasn’t my doing.”
Claude made a scary face, raising an eyebrow and immediately denying my remark. But it didn’t work on me.
“My, my. I was quite surprised. I didn’t think you would have still kept such things, not to mention the fact that you even used magic to preserve my drawings and prevent them from deteriorating.”
“It’s obvious that someone else did that and was playing a prank….”
“What about the video stones? It wasn’t just one or two that were found in the safe. The wizards of the tower told me that they were scared out of their wits when you came in, throwing the video stones at them and ordering them to make copies.”
“Felix and Lily told me they were shocked too.”
It seemed Claude was at a loss for words.
But it was to be expected, since I was bringing up things that didn’t exist in his current memories after all.
Once again, a ‘I’m-going-to-kill-that-crazy-bastard’ look appeared on his face as his eyes narrowed. And it was without a doubt that the ‘crazy bastard’ he must be thinking about was his past self.
“…..Was I really someone like that?” he muttered in a skeptical voice, as if he was talking to himself.
I wasn’t sure if he was asking me or if he was asking himself but I decided to answer him.
“Didn’t I tell you?”
I was now assured by what Lucas had told me last year, and my next words were filled with unusual emotion.
“You loved me more than you can imagine.”
At my coy words, Claude had an unreadable expression on his face and remained silent for a moment as he stared at me. He was neither acknowledging nor denying my claim.
Enjoying the current situation, I began humming as I stared at the glittering lake.
“Will you really be all right even if we don’t do anything special?” he then asked.
Today was actually my birthday. Claude had really come to the Emerald Palace to see me and we were currently enjoying a cozy time together with just the two us.
As soon as I had proposed that we go on a boat ride together, he had given me a look that said ‘this is what you wanted to do on a day like this?’
But I simply gave him a bright smile and dragged him by his hand.
“Come on, Dad. It seems like you don’t know.”
My dad still had a bothered look on his face but I only gave him a lopsided smile as I continued, “Spending time with you is always special to me.”
The sound of splashing water grazed my ears. Claude stared at me quietly with his jeweled eyes. Soon, his blue eyes were overlaid with deep indigo, resembling an abyss.
“If, by chance, my memories never return, what are you going to do? Are you going to leave?”
I was now the one staring at him absentmindedly. At first glance, the expression on his face was that of indifference, so it would be hard for anyone else to catch the slight hesitation.
“Why do you keep saying something like that?”
This person in front of me was a bit pitiful yet endearing at the same time.
Although the moments were rare, whenever this man who lost his memories showed me his weak and vulnerable side just like now, my heart ached and I had no choice but to look at him fondly.
“Even if you don’t think of me as your daughter, I’ll still think of you as my dad. And even if your memories don’t return, it doesn’t matter.”
I was sincere in my thought that I was okay even if he were to never regain his memories of me.
“I have it all remembered for us anyway. So, Dad…”
I was happy as long as we remained together.
“Please continue to stay where you are.”
As I said the words with a smile, Claude once again remained silent as he stared at me.
He continued to stay with me all day long.
After our boat ride, we returned to the Emerald Palace, enjoyed refreshments, played chess, and spent more time together–it wasn’t that different from a normal day. But after dinner, we even shared the special cake Lily had made for me.
Despite it not being very different from a regular day, it was still quite a pleasant day for me as I was able to spend it with my dad.
When it was time for Claude to return to the Garnet Palace, I went to see him off before returning to my room.
As soon as I opened the music box Lily had given me for my birthday last year, a gentle melody began to flow in the tranquil night air.
I stepped out on the terrace in my nightclothes and leaned against the railing. The moon was scattering silvery light in the darkness.
Ah, today was really fun. Though I didn’t do anything grand for my birthday, I don’t think I ever had a birthday that made me this happy before.
Because this was the first birthday where Claude had come to see me, Lily, Felix, and all the other people in the Emerald Palace seemed to have been excited.
The desserts that had been brought out with the refreshments, the food that had been prepared for dinner, as well as the super luxurious menu they had boasted about.
Claude had been unexpectedly good at chess, so I ended up losing multiple times in a row. So during the last round, I pretended to sneeze and sneakily knocked over the board.
Since I had plenty of fun today, I had decided to let my mom, Diana, have my dad for the remaining few hours. So when Claude had cast an unreadable expression in my direction, I simply sent him off with a smile.
I placed my head on my arm that was on top of the railing and felt the cool breeze brush past my cheeks. My hair, which glowed white under the moonlight, swayed gently as it hung below the railing.
Claude showed up on my birthday for the first time, but the ones who had always been with me in his place, Lucas and Blackie, were now gone…..
I stared off into the distance in a daze, lost in thought.
A light sigh escaped into the night air. Being alone like this, I fully felt something missing trying to claim the empty space.
But I shouldn’t feel like that. I was happy and thus should be content and grateful for what I had now.
Yet surely enough, a little….
“I miss you,” I murmured to myself.
Then, right at that moment, I was startled by the voice that seemed to have come mixed in with the night air like magic.
I remained frozen for a moment before I turned my head towards the sound.
Black hair–tinted slightly blue under the moonlight–fluttered about against the backdrop of the night sky.
How long ago was it when he had been staring down at me while under the shade of a tree and radiating an overwhelming sense of power? The same man now lightly landed on the terrace where I was standing.
“Seeing the foolish look on your face, you must have been really shocked.”
For some reason, I was unable to quip back with any retort and ended up only being to stare at him in silence.
That is, until I saw him give me a playful smile.
* * *
34. As Expected, He’s Scary.
Finally coming to my senses, I called his name.
I was still unable to believe that he was really in front of my very eyes, so I stared at him in slight disbelief.
“What’s this, are you that happy to see me that you’re at a loss for words?”
But as the teasing words came into my ear, I was starting to believe that this man in front of me was really Lucas.
“I heard it’s your birthday today?”
But because he had suddenly shown up right when I had been thinking about him, he still seemed like an illusion.
“I came right on time, didn’t I?”
Moreover, instead of the image of a young boy that I was used to, his current image was that of an adult man.
With the night sky in the background, it felt as though Lucas was some unknown being that I couldn’t understand.
“But what’s this.”
So, until the moment he opened his mouth with an amused look in his eyes, I continued to stare at him like a mute who had eaten honey .
“Did you absorb Blackie?”
At that moment, it felt like I swallowed a lump of stone.
“Your body is suddenly rich in mana.”
There wasn’t a single hint of a rebuke in his voice. Lucas only prodded here and there, amazed at how the amount of my magic power  suddenly increased.
“When did you return?” I asked, after finally managing to open my mouth.
“Why, do you want me to leave again?”
“Did you eat the fruit?”
“Some bastard made a mess out of the fruit so I wasn’t able to eat it. Instead, I ate something even better.”
Luckily, it seemed Lucas had found what he had been looking for, as his face looked quite refreshed.
“I see, that’s good.”
How odd. There were many things I had wanted to tell him when he finally returned, but for some strange reason, only trivial words came out.
I felt awkward with this person in front of me for no reason. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy to see him, it’s just that, for some reason, I was having a hard time getting my words out.
It seemed Lucas was also finding my behavior strange. His crimson eyes quietly scanned my face.
Unable to hold it in any longer, I let out a ‘Ugh!’ and closed my eyes shut, holding my hands out to cover them.
“Do you really have to stay in that form? Can’t you return to your younger form?”
“Why should I?”
“Because you don’t look like you!”
I couldn’t tell what expression he would have on because my eyes were closed, but I did hear him let out another “Hmm.”
It seemed like he was enjoying my reaction yet it also seemed like he was irritated.
T/N: Hii, I’m just a temporary TL who subbed in for this chapter as the old TL has gotten quite busy. I hope the flow of the chapter or story wasn’t too disturbed.
 aka Korean equivalent for ‘Cat got your tongue’
 마력량 – I think old TL was TLing this as ‘horsepower’ but I changed it to ‘amount of magical power’ in case some people are confused. 마력 as in ‘magic’ and 량 like ‘amount’ or ‘volume/capacity’ (By absorbing Blackie, the amount of mana/magic power in Athy has increased)
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