< — I love you — > (6)
Hugo and Lucia sat holding each other for a long time without saying anything. They both needed time to sort out their feelings which had surged up to the limit.
Lucia recalled the contents of a romance novel that Norman had written. The protagonist was thrown onto the path of tribulation from the moment she confirmed her love. No matter the adversity, the protagonist always prevailed. Lucia thought it was only possible because it was novel; reality was incomparably harsh. Which is why she felt that the sweet reality placed in front of her right now was miraculous.
“I was going to talk to you about our contract today.”
His low voice reverberated through her body. Lucia pulled away slightly from his embrace and lifted her head to look at him.
“You already gave me the consent form for the family register and Damian has been entered into the register. The terms of the contract have already been met and I know that calling it ‘termination’ is meaningless. So, I wanted to hear your thoughts.”
“The contract was meaningless already.”
Lucia calmly shook her head.
“Even if it wasn’t a term in the contract, I would have gladly taken Damian as my son. He is a lovely child that deserves to be loved. And, you’ve already promised me that you would be a faithful husband. Ah. There is one last condition left. If I confessed my love to you, you would give me a rose.”
Seeing him scowling, Lucia smiled.
“But you’re not going to give me a rose, are you?”
“…You’re going to keep tormenting me with that, aren’t you?”
Lucia chuckled. His face was filled with dissatisfaction and his expression was saying he felt wronged and frustrated but couldn’t say anything.
“Since when did you love me?” (Lucia)
His expression turned awkward.
“I don’t know.” (Hugo)
Lucia began to ask a little about specific events from the past, questioning, ‘was it then?’ and Hugo replied with ‘I think it was further than that…?’
“Then, what about when Damian came back?” (Lucia)
“Probably around then?” (Hugo)
“That long ago?”
“I thought I was going to run out of breath because you were so dense.”
So says the man who timidly kept everything to himself and suffered inwardly. If it was around the time when Damian came back, it had almost been a year. Lucia looked at him with a new gaze. So, he had been troubled on his own for almost a year. She felt sorry and also felt like laughing. Lucia spoke prudishly.
“You’re something else as well. I was much earlier than you, you know?”
After a momentary pause, he yelled, ‘What?!’ and grabbed her shoulders with both hands.
“Ah really, you’re so cruel. And even with that, you declared you would never love me?”
Lucia retraced that particular memory and went, ‘Ah…’
“I didn’t know that incident bothered you.” (Lucia)
Hugo gave a dispirited sigh. He wondered if his internal struggles this whole time had all been for nothing.
“Do you know how much I…” (Hugo)
He felt choked up for no reason and couldn’t continue speaking. Lucia patted his shoulders to comfort him. Seeing his annoyed expression, a small laugh escaped her mouth.
‘We were both so scared of each other.’
Lucia felt like she knew why the both of them took such a long time to get here.
“…You didn’t even tell me your name.” (Hugo)
“My name?” (Lucia)
“I’m talking about your childhood name.”
Lucia took a sharp breath. The moment her name came out of his mouth, she felt a sense of thrill. She didn’t think of the name her mother gave to her as a childhood name. ‘Lucia’ was simply just her name.
When Lucia looked at him without saying anything, Hugo began to grumble: Damian knows, even the butler knows but I don’t know.
Lucia laughed and stretched out her hands to cup his face.
“To me, the name ‘Lucia’ was special. Because it was the name my mother gave to me.”
The name ‘Lucia’ was her identity. In her dream, it was the pillar that kept her from collapsing, no matter what she went through.
“Princess Vivian was like another person that wasn’t me. It’s not that I tried to hide it from you, but because your wife is Vivian, I thought I should live as Vivian.
“You were uncomfortable with the name from the beginning.”
“Yes. I was. I thought ‘Vivian’ was a shell hiding my true self ‘Lucia’. Hugh. I found out that a name has meaning when someone is calling it. Every time you call me Vivian, the fake Vivian starts to become real. I am your Vivian. Only you can call me Vivian.”
Lucia acknowledged that Vivian was also herself. Rather, she was happy that she was able to live as his wife, Vivian. ‘Lucia’ was a weed and a wildflower. ‘Vivian’ was a beautiful flower. She wanted to be with him as Vivian.
“The name that only you can call is more special, isn’t it?” (Lucia)
His red eyes were slightly lukewarm but his ‘dubious but it sounds convincing’ expression was adorable. Lucia chuckled.
“I have something to ask you too. Why did you steal Damian’s handkerchief?” (Lucia)
“What do you mean ‘steal’? That word is not appropriate.”
He boldly protested. Lucia stared at his shameless face.
“Alright then. Why did you take it?”
“Speaking of which, when you make one for the boy, make one for me too.”
His attitude was basically ‘give me what you set aside for the boy’. Lucia ignored his request for now and went on the offensive.
“So that it can be taken by His Majesty again?”
Hugo sighed lamentfully and mumbled, ‘How merciless’.
“You usually have a lot of complaints about me. Don’t say you don’t.” (Hugo)
“Mm. It may be so. I had a lot of worries too. Worries that I wouldn’t have had if you had been courageous like a man. I did the proposing and I also did the confessing. Wow. Now I can see that the face of His Grace the Duke of Taran doesn’t count for much.”
“…Go easy. You’re really chopping your husband up.”
Lucia burst into laughter and hugged his neck.
“Even if you’re timid and a bad guy. I love you, Hugh.”
“Can’t you take out the first sentence?”
Hugo grumbled and picked her up from the sofa. He carried her to the bedroom, put her down on the bed and as she protested that she was still talking, he blocked her lips with his own.
“The conversation is taking too long. Let’s take a break.” (Hugo)
The speechlessness written all over her face didn’t faze him. Hugo quickly pushed her down on the bed and climbed over her. His hand lifted up her skirt and traced the inside of her thigh.
“Plus, the option you talked about. You have to test the performance, don’t you?”
“I’ve tested it enough!”
Her rebellion was instantly suppressed.
* * *
It was the dusk of dawn. Hugo woke up at the same time of the day like always. He greeted the morning at the same time and started the day the same. It was a life where yesterday was like today, and today was like tomorrow. Sometimes, he wondered how much time he had left and felt a deep sense of emptiness.
Feeling the body temperature and soft skin next to him, Hugo turned his head. His wife, the only color that shone in his gray world. His love. His life obtained meaning because of her. He couldn’t imagine a life without her. He couldn’t sleep without holding her warm body in his arms.
Ever since she came to the capital, he had not used his bedroom. His bedroom, unused by its owner, was chilly even in the middle of the summer. Hugo put his arm under her waist, pulled her quietly sleeping figure to his chest and hugged her tightly. Then he carefully lay her down and covered her with the blanket. She tossed in her sleep and turned over to the side. He kissed her exposed, round shoulders then he came down from the bed.
Because the master of the house was an early riser, the mansion was awake early in the morning and active. Under the steadfast attendance of the always dedicated three siblings, Hugo changed his clothes. At the side, Jerome orally reported the miscellaneous things he didn’t report yesterday and simply received approval.
“Yellow rose. Why is it a yellow rose?”
Although his master’s question was abrupt, Jerome diligently replied.
“Do you mean why I chose to send a yellow rose?”
When Hugo nodded his head, Jerome said, “It’s because of the floral language,” and went on to explain that most flowers in the world had a specific meaning called the ‘floral language’.
“Floral language? Right…And what does a yellow rose mean in floral language?”
“It stands for separation.”
Hugo’s expression turned rather sour at Jerome’s reply.
“What flower has the opposite meaning in floral language?”
“Red roses stand for passionate love.”
Hugo was sick of roses, regardless of the color.
“There is a flower called statice. In floral language, it means eternal love.”
“That sounds good. Have someone bring a bunch of those to my wife every morning when she wakes up.”
Hugo decided to erase roses completely from her head.
 Didn’t know how else to word this, she’s saying she felt in love with him wayyy before he did. She does not use the word ‘love’. It is implied.
 I believe this is when they had their first argument over her not wanting treatment for her infertility. I forget wt chapter.
 Option was [Virility](Re: male sex drive/stamina in bed). Just in case you forgot.