< — Epilogue– > (1)
Hugo suddenly stopped upon seeing the empty bed. He felt like he knew where she would be, so he heaved a helpless sigh and turned around.
As he expected, the light in the dining room on the first floor was on. She was there, sitting alone on the wide dining table and cutting a steak. Jerome was standing by her side, waiting on her, then he discovered his master and bowed his head. Lucia momentarily locked eyes with her husband as he walked into the dining room, but she turned away with a sullen expression.
Hugo didn’t know if her food would digest when she ate so late and he was sincerely worried about her, so he tried to give her words of concern. But when he glanced sideways and saw his butler furiously shaking his head, he quickly shut his mouth. Right. He was better off not saying anything. These days, everything he said kept rubbing her the wrong way.
A few days ago, Hugo was surprised at her ability to devour a couple slices cake in one sitting at such a late time in the day, so he commented on it. There was no other meaning behind it. It was really just something he said without thinking about it.
[I think you eat too much at night.]
‘What if you get an upset stomach?’ was what he planned on following up with but she immediately put down her fork noisily, sprang to her feet and left. And she was completely in grouch mode; even if he tried to talk to her, she didn’t reply and he didn’t get to even touch her all night.
Several days passed, and her sulky energy still hadn’t disappeared, so he was continuously on his tiptoes.
Jerome was afraid that his master would say the wrong thing.
Although Jerome was unmarried, he had watched the process of his nephews being born. Around the time when the baby was almost due, Fabian always made the same mistake and would end up getting kicked out in the middle of the night, then he would come to Jerome to whine.
[I only said I think she has gained some weight. Why is she throwing dishes at me because I said she’s gained a few?]
[I mean, I felt like she was eating too much, and I was worried she might have an upset stomach, so I said it out of concern.]
When he heard it, he didn’t think Fabian had said anything overboard. His sister-in-law was an easygoing person, so she wasn’t the type to get angry over a slip of the tongue.
It was thanks to this that Jerome became enlightened. He gained the precious knowledge that pregnant women became very sensitive and one especially shouldn’t speak about anything concerning food or body shape to a pregnant woman.
“Is there anything for me?”
When Hugo asked as he sat down at the table, Jerome swiftly replied.
“It will be brought out soon.”
Lucia slightly glanced at Hugo, who had taken a seat, and she put a piece of steak into her mouth. It was really delicious. She savored the taste of the delicious meat that seemed to melt inside her mouth.
She didn’t used to be the type to enjoy eating a lot of meat. However, ever since having a child in her stomach, her appetite had changed. Even she herself was aware of the fact that her appetite had dramatically increased and that she was eating a lot all the time.
‘It’s because the baby is hungry.’
Even the doctor said that it was good for the child’s development, so she should eat as much as she wanted. Although she used the excuse that it was the baby, when she turned around after eating and found herself hungry again, she felt like she was seized by her instinctual appetite and she felt oddly frustrated. And her husband’s comment in the midst of this made her very upset.
She knew he didn’t mean to criticize her. However, the sulkiness she felt hadn’t settle. Even though she was acting pointlessly cranky, he did not get annoyed, even once. On the contrary, he watched her as if he had made a huge mistake.
She felt both thankful and sorry. As she watched him cut his steak silently, the grudge she was holding alone, melted away.
“I went to the palace this afternoon.” (Lucia)
The doctor advised that after her pregnancy was stable, some moderate movements would make for an easier delivery. So, Lucia made light visits outside. She visited the palace frequently, especially since Katherine had come back to visit and was staying at the palace.
“The princess has really grown up a lot. Children seem to really grow up in an instant.” (Lucia)
Hugo relaxed, sensing that his wife’s voice was amiable. It looked like her anger had disappeared. It wasn’t like this before, but nowadays, if her feelings got hurt, it took quite some time before she relaxed.
His only comfort was that the doctor told him a pregnant woman’s sensitivity would improve after childbirth.
‘I can’t do this a second time.’
He was glad that this was the first and last time. Although it was wonderful to watch the changes happening in his pregnant wife, it was also exhausting.
His wife’s stomach getting bigger was only a marvel at first, now it was scary. He was struck with the fear that her stomach might burst if it kept growing without any limits.
His wife’s increased appetite also worried him. Despite her eating so much, his wife’s body shape didn’t change much. He couldn’t fathom just how much the baby in her stomach was eating.
The strange life growing within her had only felt unfamiliar to him. Nowadays, as the fetus fussed around and wriggled, he could feel it vividly.
Unlike his vague imagination, a human’s growth process was close to an animal’s. The doctor told him that it was a normal reaction and that the baby was showing normal growth, however, Hugo couldn’t shake off the doubt that the baby could be unusual because it was his child.
There were 2-3 months left until the baby was born. The remaining days were still far off so Hugo’s heart felt heavy.
“Today, Her Highness the Queen said that when the baby is born, we should tie the knot as in-laws.”
Hugo’s eyebrows contorted into a frown. The King also said the same thing. He asked if Hugo would consider tying the knot as in-laws, no matter if the baby turned out to be a boy or a girl. He said it in a manner where one wasn’t sure if he was joking or serious, so Hugo interpreted it as a complete joke. To him, the royal couple were simply talking nonsense, so he spoke resolutely.
“That is out of the question.”
“His Majesty’s eldest son is ten years old. The age difference is too large for a child that’s just being born.”
“Oh? But His Majesty doesn’t have only one son. Why do you only consider the first prince?”
“Then it makes even less sense. To marry my daughter, they have to at least be the next King.”
Lucia forced a laugh in disbelief.
“So, because of age, it’s a no. And because of status, it’s a no. Wow. Our daughter will die an old spinster.”
“Since we’re on this topic, what do you think of bringing in a live-in son in law?”
“We have Damian, why should we bring in a son-in-law?”
“What does this have to do with Damian?”
“Are you asking because you really don’t know?”
Getting a live-in son-in-law was a final means in Xenon’s family custom. It happened in cases where there was no son to continue the family and none of the relatives had a son for them to adopt. In other words, there were no cases where a live-in son-in-law was brought in when the family already had a son.
“He should be very grateful to even get married to my daughter.”
Lucia gave her husband a sidelong scowl.
“Don’t try to plan a future for a child that’s not even born yet.”
When Lucia placed down her fork, Hugo quickly did the same.
He expected her to get up quickly, but she asked Jerome to serve desserts instead. Hugo moved restlessly in his seat, stood up then sat back down. As he watched his wife devour the green grapes that Jerome had swiftly brought out, he felt a sense of wonder.
‘How does she fit in all that food?’
“Is it okay to eat so much of one specific food?” (Hugo)
Ever since the harvest season for green grapes arrived, Lucia lived with them in her mouth. For several days after the green grapes were delivered to the ducal residence, she had almost nothing but grapes for her meals. Nevertheless, even though she was just eating them as snacks these days, she had a bunch a few times a day.
“The doctor said it was okay. She said it’s best for me to eat what I want to.”
After eating a huge cluster of green grapes, Lucia stood up.
“Jerome. Bring a bunch of green grapes to the second floor.”
Hugo wanted to say it might be better for her to stop eating now but seeing Jerome shaking his head in a resolute manner made him close his mouth.
He decided to follow his butler’s advice. After all, he didn’t want to say something to annoy his wife when she only just forgave the last one. He quickly followed after his wife as she left the dining room.
Once his master and mistress left the dining room, Jerome heaved a sigh of relief. For some reason, he felt like he had just passed a crisis. As he was cleaning up from their meal, he began to laugh. His master didn’t look like a wild beast at all, following after the Madam like that. He looked more like a docile big dog. His look seemed to get worse over time.
‘I wonder why they are both so certain that the baby is going to be a girl? Is it that they are hoping for a girl?’
This was the question that was always on Jerome’s mind, every time he heard his master and mistress talking.
 A live-in son-in-law is a husband that takes his wife’s family’s name. Usually lives with his wife’s parents too.