< — Damian — > (2)
‘His past is very far from ordinary.’ (Lucia)
He didn’t know his mother’s face because she died not too long after delivery while his father abandoned one son after weighing the advantages and disadvantages.
It was only natural he grew to have such a cold and emotionless personality. Or rather, considering his past, he had grown quite excellently.
‘Abandoning a newborn baby? I just can’t understand why the late Duke would do that.’ (Lucia)
It wasn’t like any problems had cropped up, but because a trouble might happen, the late Duke abandoned his newborn son.
It was genuinely Hugo’s luck that he was chosen to be the successor to the Duke.
‘If he was the one abandoned…he might have been the deceased brother and the murderer…’
Numerous noble families have constantly dealt with successor problems, whether in the past, present or future but there had been no case where it was solved in this way. When this matter became known, many people had criticized it.
‘He said offsprings were rare in the Taran family, right? If offsprings were rare then the twins should have been raised more preciously.’
It just didn’t add up.
‘In the case of Damian, sure, he is the precious son of a family with precious offsprings.’
Damian was the only son. He was the successor.
Even if one can say that Damian was sent to boarding school in order to bring him up strictly, there was even no contact between them.
There was way too much indifference.
‘Was it because he didn’t receive much affection from his father when he was a child, that he doesn’t know how to give it?’
The more she thought about it, the more she found it strange. As she constantly asked and answered in her mind, she fell into deep contemplation.
‘He has had many women. It wouldn’t be strange if he had a few illegitimate children.’
But she hadn’t heard of him having any more children in her dreams.
‘Is it so hard to get a child that he had to make Damian the successor?’
Then, there should be no reason for him to be reluctant about Lucia getting pregnant. It would make more sense if he wanted make as many offsprings as possible.
The reason many nobles preferred fertility and competition for inheritance between their children was for the future of their family.
Having only one successor carried immeasurable risks.
When she got into an argument with him, she was carried away by her emotions and was unable to analyze his words calmly so now she unhurriedly contemplated his words.
[I don’t need a child.]
[I don’t want to leave my mark.]
He didn’t say that because he was afraid of the conflict for succession.
The nuance of the expression contained an underlying repulsion.
‘Then what about Damian? Is it that he didn’t want it but the woman didn’t even tell him she was pregnant and gave birth?’
It was quite possible.
Rather than the forceful removal of a child, the aftereffects of giving birth was much easier on a woman’s body. Many illegitimate children were born this way. Lucia was born this way too.
‘If he really didn’t want a child, then he shouldn’t have been so negligent.’
She only wished to see the good side of the man that she loved but she had to acknowledge that he had a cold and cruel side to him.
He would have forced an abortion if he really did not want the child.
‘Merely abortion? He could do even worse.’
Her reasoning whispered to her but she ignored it. Anyways, she wanted to see the good side of the man she loved as much as possible.
‘No. If you think of his age when Damian was born…he was at a young age so there could have been a gap… He is a person too, he can make mistakes.’
Maybe because he had revealed his inner feelings for some time when they last fought, she could somewhat tell that Damian wasn’t a child born from love.
‘Even if you don’t want it, the born child has done nothing wrong. It’s like he has abandoned Damian. Usually, men felt deep affection for their flesh and blood but…it’s as if Damian isn’t his real son…’
It was a random thought that appeared in her mind but she was suddenly overcome with intense suspicion.
“Milady, do I fill it with more tea?”
Jerome’s voice shook her out of her reverie and she looked down at her hand to find her cup empty.
Lucia’s heart drummed as she watched the teacup fill up.
“Jerome…have you ever seen the young lord?”
Jerome flinched and began to study his Mistress. ‘Is she starting again?’ his expression read as he grew nervous.
“Does he…resemble my husband a lot?” (Lucia)
“…Yes. They look very similar, to a very shocking extent.”
‘I guess my leap in logic was too much….well, of course, it’s a ridiculous idea.’
Allowing someone that wasn’t even his blood to inherit his name? Something like that wouldn’t happen.
She tried to get the foolish idea out of her mind but she still felt like something was missing.
“Did you see Damian when he was born? And how did he enter the Ducal House?”
Jerome made a troubled face. No matter how much he wanted to tell everything to her Grace, there was a limit to things.
“I apologize, Milady. I am unable to speak indiscreetly about anything concerning the young master. I think it would be better to ask master.”
Although it was a pity, she didn’t want to put Jerome in a difficult position.
Lucia thought about it for a long time; it felt like she had caught onto something but at the same time, it felt like she hadn’t, so although there was some suspicion, she couldn’t reach a definite conclusion.
In the evening of the same day, a maid brought medicine into her bedroom when she was preparing to fall asleep.
Anna hadn’t been able to find a cure yet so she put Lucia on medicine that was beneficial to a woman’s womb.
As Lucia took a sip, the uniquely unpalatable and slightly bitter taste of herbs entered her mouth.
‘The taste of that drug was quite unique too.’
Although it was in her dreams, Lucia still remembered the taste of the medicine she had taken to treat the mugwort poisoning in her body because it had quite the unique taste.
‘Vanilla scent…it was a taste similar to that.’
* * *
The next day, Lucia was taking a walk around the garden after a meal.
A maid ran up to her full of urgency, her expression looking quite flustered.
“What is it?”
“The…the young lord…he’s here.”
Seeing the red-eyed, dark-haired boy with very similar looks to his master, Jerome held back his confusion from showing and gave Ashin a fierce glare when the young lord wasn’t paying attention.
Ashin was startled and guiltily avoided Jerome gaze.
“It’s been a long time, Young Master. Have you been well?” (Jerome)
As usual, Damian had nothing to criticize about Jerome’s polite greeting. But.
Damian thought to himself as he watched Jerome’s absentminded manner. More accurately speaking, Jerome’s perfect expression and attitude did not reveal anything.
However, even if Jerome didn’t do anything, all of the servants that were all lined up to receive him as he arrived, including the guarding knights, had the same expression that said:
‘What is he doing here?’
“It has been a while.” (Damian)
“I take it you are tired from your long journey. Have you had lunch?” (Jerome)
“Not yet but I’ll have it later. The carriage kept wobbling so my stomach is uncomfortable.”
“I understand, young master. Then, I shall escort you to your bedroom so you can rest…”
Jerome suddenly stopped talking and the surroundings fell into a strange silence. Damian expected that someone had appeared and he could take a guess as to who it was. Damian turned his head in the direction of everyone’s gazes.
The woman who entered through the half-open door of the receiving room must have been running for her shoulders were moving up and down. The brown-haired woman looked younger and smaller than Damian expected and she appeared breathless and tense.
The Lady of the House of Taran. The Duchess and Damian’s stepmother.
* * *
Once Lucia heard the maid say that Damian had arrive, she had run out. The moment she saw him, she had to stop to admire.
‘How could they been so similar?’
Jerome was not exaggerating at all. With red eyes and black hair, the boy’s features were as if someone took the Duke and reduced him to a smaller size. No one would be able to even doubt his relationship to the Duke.
‘To even doubt it is ridiculous. But he does know he’s been announced as successor…right?”
Damian sighed a little as he looked at the Duchess who was watching him with wide eyes. She just got married and can only be speechless because her husband already has an illegitimate child.
Either she stiffens in shock, gives him a piercing glare, storms away with anger, looks at him like a disgusting worm or surprises him with a slapping on the cheeks. These were the weakest reactions.
If she did these, Damian wouldn’t worry himself about the Duchess. However, if she stayed composed, masked her feelings while smiling and treating him like a son, that would be the wisest plan for her.
But for Damian, it wouldn’t be very good.