Before I knew it, the Duke’s eyes gave off a complicated look.
“Well, at an age where you’re supposed to be raised by your parents….she’s all alone.”
“No, it’s nothing.”
The Duke shook his head, saying he was talking to himself.
But somehow, I felt as if my most secret weakness had been revealed.
Am I really alone
No, that can’t be true.
I have the Empress and Damian.
Besides, the maids at the Empress palace are nice to me, right
I tried to think positively and push out any unwanted thoughts.
‘They can’t be my family, they’re not my real family after all.’
The Empress has a family of her own, Damian too will be happier with Sienna.
Not to mention, the other maids have families of their own.
…..come to think of it, I really might be alone.
No, thinking about this will only make me feel terrible.
I bit my lip until it bled.
In the end, all I did was smile vaguely and mumble my words.
“Anyways….not having a family isn’t something I can do anything about.”
The Duke didn’t add any words to what I said.
Instead, he stared at me as if transfixed, why isn’t he stopping
I tilted my head sideways-
The Duke placed his hand on the top of my head.
With a puzzled face, I gaze upwards to look the Duke in the eyes.
Are you trying to console me
“Don’t think about pointless thoughts.”
…..saying that without a second thought, the Duke jumped on the chance he had been waiting for.
“If you feel depressed over nothing, you’ll have trouble serving the Empress.”
“ Ah, yes….”
I pouted my lips.
However, the Duke began stroking my hair ever so softly.
Surprisingly…..the Duke’s gaze had relaxed and even looked affectionate.
Am I imagining things
A few days passed.
Some of the Empress’s personality must have rubbed off on the Duke.
He had sent gifts to Charlize and Damian respectively, claiming it was a late birthday gift.
“Wow, what’s up with the Duke”
Charlize simply radiated with excitement.
Damian watched Charlize in silence, his eyes fixed on her before unwittingly blushing.
‘……I see.’ Damian whispered under his breath.
It was a little awkward but it made him happy that someone celebrated his birthday.
It was a tingly feeling he had forgotten for too long.
The warm sensation it brought, Damian reacted with a smile.
It was an impeccable smile.
Ten and Thirteen.
Time flies so quickly, five years have passed.
I’m now ten years old, Damian is thirteen.
It’s already been five years since the Empress told the Emperor that she would care for the crown prince.
Since then, the Emperor’s method of approaching Damian has devolved to become more subtle, crafty, and brash.
I find more reasons to dislike the Emperor each passing day.
‘Damian’s swordsmanship instructor.’
I rested my chin on my hand, watching Damian practice his swordsmanship from a distance.
The Emperor had recently appointed an instructor.
Perhaps it’s because Damian caught the people’s attention, the Emperor wouldn’t leave him unattended.
However, Damian is thirteen years old now.
He’s already at the age where you can’t justify the excuse of ‘being too young.’
But the real problem was that instructor, sure the Emperor appointed a knight to mentor Damian but that knight’s unable to teach the crown prince.
‘The man’s a regular knight….’
With a neck so stiff, it’s an embarrassment to call that knight a swordsmanship instructor.
Besides, shouldn’t the prince’s mentor be the best talent in their profession
Barring the fact that the instructor was sent to spy for the Emperor, his unworthy appointment shows just how much the Emperor ignores Damian.
“Dalian, why don’t you spar with me today”
The knight bellowed with a coarse laugh.
Again and again!
His name is Damian! How does he keep getting it wrong!
I squinted my eyes.
This man’s irritable.
He should also address him as your Highness, the crown prince.
Hold on, will he really fight
“How can you expect me to face you, teacher when I’ve barely learned anything”
Damian declined at once.
In response, the man came up to Damian, proceeding to stare him down with his dark eyes.