< — Memories of Mother — > (5)
Translated by: Miss Ruby
Edited by: ShadowDog
Lucia sluggishly rose to the sound of the maid waking her up. It was still dark outside. Yesterday, she told the maid to wake her up before her husband went out.
Lucia stretched, struggling to get rid of the sleepiness, and came down from the bed. While thinking that he was truly amazing to be able to wake up at the crack of dawn everyday like this, she shook her head back and forth. She washed her face, changed her clothes, and drank a glass of cold water to sober up.
“Is he in his bedroom?” (Lucia)
“Master is in his office. He plans to leave in about an hour, so the carriage is being prepared.” (Jerome)
Lucia took over the tea tray that Jerome was going to carry to his office.
“I apologize for taking your job as the butler.” (Lucia)
“Not at all, Milady.” (Jerome)
According to Jerome, there was no need to knock and she could just go inside, so Lucia quietly entered his office.
The air in his office was cool and the smell of antique furniture wafted through the air. There was a large desk located diagonally from the door, and the image of him sitting behind the desk and engrossed in his work came into sight.
Lucia stopped at a distance where she could see him in greater detail. The only thing that could be heard in the quiet office was the soft sound of pages turning.
The spacious desk was packed with a lot of things as if the tiniest gap could not be tolerated. They weren’t scattered randomly instead, the documents and books were lined up and ordered in their own way. The only area on the desk that could be called free space, was the width in front of him which he was using for handling the documents.
It was Lucia’s first time seeing him working. It was also her first time coming to his office with tea in her hands.
When they were in the north, she didn’t go into his office because there were a lot of confidential documents in there and she didn’t want people to be suspicious of her and think that she was going into his office to see such things. In addition, even without those suspicions, she was afraid that she would disturb his work so she didn’t go anywhere near his office.
The way he looked while concentrating on his work was really cool. Lucia’s heart began to race and her face grew flushed. She felt too sorry to interrupt him while he was concentrating on his work. She was fine with just standing there and looking at him.
The peacefulness of the calm morning where one could hear the refreshing sound of birds singing far away was also enjoyable.
* * *
Hugo was always sensitive to the signs of people approaching, no matter what he was focused on. The brutal days of his childhood, and his life on the battlefield had taught him to always be alert of his surroundings. He thought it was Jerome coming in as always and didn’t pay any more attention to it. He sensed someone coming in but there was no sign of them approaching him. Puzzled, he looked up, and couldn’t help but doubt his own eyes. Meeting his eyes, she gave him a shy smile as if she was embarrassed.
It was a difficult time and place to expect to see her. Her figure which was approaching him with a smile was definitely real. Hugo continued to hold his pen and absentmindedly watched her as she place the tea tray on his desk.
“I hope I didn’t interrupt you.” (Lucia)
Lucia lifted the teapot and poured tea into the cup. She took the steaming cup of tea and placed it within his reach.
Hugo quickly answered.
“I’d like to have a word with you. It won’t take long.” (Lucia)
It’s fine if it takes long. Hugo thought to himself as he nodded. The complicated plans and thoughts that were giving him a headache just a minute ago had all disappeared as if they were blown away by the wind. It would be slightly troublesome to create the loop of thoughts again, but it didn’t matter.
“Today is your birthday.” (Lucia)
Seeing his expression as if he was hearing something bizarre, Lucia was convinced that as expected, he didn’t remember.
“The butler said that you do not celebrate your birthday. I don’t know, maybe you don’t want to remember it.”
Hugo had never give that word any meaning in his life. When he was young, he didn’t know when his birthday was, and after coming to Roam, he learnt of his brother’s birthday and judged that since they were twins, their birthday would be the same, hence he figured out the day he was born.
While acting as the young lord in place of his twin brother, he got birthday meals, but to him, that was the Young Lord Hugo’s birthday. He had never thought of it as really celebrating his birthday.
After becoming the Duke, he did not celebrate his birthday. Even if someone tried to remind him about it, he would refuse. Some time after his birthday was the anniversary of his brother’s death. He was more concerned about that day than his birthday. So at some point, he had completely forgotten that he had something like a birthday.
“I want to celebrate your birthday.” (Lucia)
Lucia was always bothered by the fact that his first birthday simply passed by when they were in the north after they got married. She felt bad because she thought that the reason why he didn’t celebrate his birthday was related to his tragic family history.
Anyone can be hurt in their life, big or small. He was a strong person but even if he was strong, he could still get hurt and experience pain.
Lucia was very hurt in her dream, and more than the pain, the hardest thing was that there was no one there to comfort her and say, ‘you’re hurt, aren’t you?’. Lucia wanted to be the person that would give him such comfort.
“This is my present.”
Lucia picked up the small box that she had put on the tea tray, placed it on the desk and pushed it towards him.
Hugo took turns looking at her face and at the gift box. The blood flowing through his veins was a curse. His birthday was the beginning of that curse. But his birth could be celebrated. It was a very strange feeling.
“No! Don’t look at it now.”
Hearing her cry, Hugo who was reaching out for the gift paused.
“Do it later. When I’m not there. My present isn’t much so…I’m embarrassed.” (Lucia)
Following Jerome’s advice, Lucia embroidered his name on a cotton handkerchief. She didn’t start the embroidery with the purpose of giving it to him as his birthday present. One piece seemed so empty, so she made one more, then she thought that three was better than two, and when she finished the condensed handkerchief of three, she realized that his birthday was approaching.1
“There is no such thing for gifts.”2 (Hugo)
“Still. Look at it later.” (Lucia)
It was unseemly for a birthday present. Lucia’s face burned at the thought that he might be disappointed. Would it have been better to just give it to him as a meaningless item rather than giving it to him as a birthday present?
Hugo chuckled seeing the indecisiveness on her face.
“Alright. I’ll look at it when you’re not there.”
“It’s because I had no idea what to do for your birthday present. I would be giving you a present with your own money.”
Hugo found her thoughts amusing and smiled. A substantial budget was set aside every year for the family’s Lady of the House. That money was undoubtedly the Lady of the House’s private asset. However, she still thought of that money as just public fund. Actually, public fund was the right expression. It was the principle of things to return the budget that remained by the end of the year.
However, there was no noblewoman that returned their budget. The jewelry purchased during a Lady of the House’s marriage belonged to that Lady of the House. When a divorced happened, they were able to take away all the jewelry without including it in the alimony. That was why the jewelry stores were usually crowded at the end of the year.
The fact that she returned a considerable amount of the budget last year had shocked him. At the time, he fretfully thought that she hated his money and thus refused it, but now he knew that she was originally such a person.
“Hugh. Your birthday, the day you were brought into this world, deserves to be celebrated. I want you to have a meaningful birthday.”
Hugo stood up and approached her in one stride, pulling her into his arms. It was the first and best present of his life.
“Thank you.” (Hugo)
Hugo clutched her tighter as emotions welled up in his chest. The warmth that filled his arms also made his heart feel warm. He buried his nose in her neck, enjoying her scent mixed with the faint scent of tea whirling in the air.
“I’ll stop disturbing you and go now.” (Lucia)
“It’s fine with me.” (Hugo)
Lucia barely managed to pull away from his sticky hold and left the office.
Seeing the closed office door, Hugo was very disappointed. Even though he said it was okay, she still left.
He looked at his hands, remembering the feeling of her body that was held gently in his arms. Really, what a heartless woman. It was always just him who wanted to hug and touch her a little while longer.
He heaved a long sigh, sweeping a hand through his hair. He didn’t know if he could get back to work. His wife’s sudden appearance in the morning had shaken him completely and his thoughts had gone out the window. Today was going to be a very long day.
Support on Patreon for advance chapters.