< — Father and Son — > (3)
Hugo opened his mouth after Damian left.
“Your relationship with the boy is pretty good.”
“I thought you wanted me to get along with Damian.”
Hugo had figured they should at least know each other’s faces so he’d called Damian back but he didn’t have any intention in particular regarding their relationship.
His wife was still young and he’d considered that it would be a bit difficult for her to tolerate an eight year old child, also, since Damian was a stiff child, if the both of them weren’t put together on purpose, they wouldn’t ever get involved with each other.
“Why are you taking him to the garden party?” (Hugo)
“Because they aren’t many chances to introduce him to other people. He’s your son and now, he’s my son too so it’s troublesome if people don’t even know his face.”
“It’s very easy for you to call him your son.”
Lucia did not know the exact intention behind his words so she stopped walking and looked at him. When she stopped walking, Hugo also paused his footsteps.
“Do you dislike my interest in Damian? Do you perhaps think I have some other intention behind this-”
“No, Vivian. It’s not like that.”
He sighed softly.
“Honestly, I didn’t think both of you would get along so well.”
Hugo recalled the scene from earlier where she’d stroked Damian’s head. The appearance of Damian as he offered his head like an innocent puppy was an unfamiliar yet familiar scene causing Hugo stop and look at it.
Without warning, a piece of memory from his past surfaced in his mind.
[Hey! I said don’t touch my head!]
Hugh frantically screamed at Hugo who had carelessly touched his head.
The head was the most important weakness of a human being. The moment it was exposed to the enemy, it was a direct gateway to death. Mercenaries never touched each other’s heads unless they wanted to lose their hands.
[It’s a sign that we’re friendly.]
Even though Hugh was screaming frantically, Hugo just laughed and replied in his usual manner.
[Inconsiderate jerk. What’s so funny you’re snickering everyday?]
[Smile. If you smile, you’ll get good fortune, Hugh.]
Hugo suddenly pushed his head in front of Hugh.
[You can touch mine too.]
[Move that thing away.]
[Just try it. I heard this is what parents usually do for their children but since we don’t have anyone, we have to do it for each other.]
[I’m fine without that crap.]
[But I want someone to do it for me. Come on.]
Hugh stretched out his hands, his expression telling how much of a nuisance it was and stroked Hugo’s head.
Watching Hugo laughing in delight, Hugh couldn’t help but think it felt nice as he stroked Hugo’s head.
“I mean…what I’m trying to say is, just tell me if he’s ever rude to you.” (Hugo)
“That won’t happen!” (Lucia)
Hugo fiercely pulled her arms, drawing her into his embrace. He hugged her small figure tightly in his arms.
Although she was a bit taken aback, she returned the hug, placing her hands on his back. Feeling her small hands holding onto his back, Hugo couldn’t help but smile.
From time to time, when memories of his brother surfaced, he felt both sweet happiness and heart-aching torture.
The pain of it was the same as usual but when he felt her body temperature, the heart-wrenching pain in his heart was relieved to some extent.
[There’s a woman I want to marry. I’ll introduce her to you one day.]
One day, his brother had told him this while laughing happily.
If his brother was still alive, then Hugo would have replied thus:
[I have someone like that too. We’re already married though.]
* * *
That evening, Hugo sorted out data from the meeting he’d been having all day then he looked at the report from Fabian.
Fabian’s reports was usually about the capital. They contained information about movements of major powers, the arrival of foreign key figures, who they came in contact with and so on and so forth. At times, the visible status of the trading giants were also included.
Although Fabian knew his master wasn’t very interested in this kind of thing, he still looked into rumors floating around social circles and included it since it was still sort of a formal report.
When it came to his work, Fabian was really thorough. Even when gathering information of rumors, there were no gaps and even if it was a rumor that would displease the Duke, he did not exclude it.
If Fabian was overflowing with work concerning the duke and repeatedly worked overnight, he would gather rumors even more diligently for the Duke. That kind of work was more like stress reliever to him.
And so, Hugo was mostly up-to-date on the rumors concerning him.
Hugo casually flipped through the contents of the rumors as usual then suddenly, he knit his brows. The contents of the document read that rumors concerning his dowry had spread throughout the capital.
Hugo unhappily clicked his tongue. The King’s lips were too light.
‘If that old man acts in a dignified manner and something will definitely go wrong.’
Kwiz had once given such a review to the King. Then said,
‘I mean, it would be nice if it wasn’t just going wrong but he breaks his ankle in the process.’
After saying so, Kwiz had proceeded to laugh like a devilish underground boss.
Hugo’s expression as he read the following rumors became increasingly strange. The contents read that duchess was such a celestial beauty that the Duke had dragged her off to his manor before anyone else could see her.
Although Hugo felt a slight sense of discomfort with the rumor that portrayed her as a colossal beauty…
‘Well, they’re not entirely baseless…’
Was what he was thinking. According to the rumors, they married in secret so that no one else would see her.
‘It doesn’t exactly match the facts but they’re pretty close.’
His actions, such a building a horse-riding field or restricting boating so that no other man would see her was an ongoing process.
The part of the rumor that said he dragged the Duchess to his manor was also not completely wrong either because right after they got married, she came to his estate.
‘It’s not a rumor that matters.’
He judged and closed the document.
*Just in case anyone is still confused, I’ll explain it again: Hugo is a twin and was formerly known as Hugh. His twin is dead and was formerly known as Hugo. Essentially, they’ve “switched” places and to the world, the dead brother is Hugh, the one alive is Hugo. I hope that clears it up.