“It’s only been a short time, but I fell in love with this kid.”
The hand that swept over the hair covering my forehead to the side was cautious and gentle as if dealing with a precious treasure.
“I hope you will love this child just like I do.
I want you also to experience this joy I feel.
I hope… I hope that your pain will be reduced little by little, just like mine.
It will be hard, but won’t you open your heart, even just a little bit?”
“I… Hel, I’m…”
Something dripped onto the back of my hand, and the sensation completely awakened me.
My eyes opened.
My vision was a bit blurry, but after a couple of blinks, my sight was clear again.
Through the open curtains, a dazzling light spread through the room.
The Duke, Opdolisa Leocardia, sat in front of me with her back against the bright sun’s light that had just risen, gracing the world.
The light acted as a backlight, but I could still clearly see it.
Tears were streaming from the Duke’s eyes, falling onto her cheeks.
Her tears that fell on the back of my hand woke me up.
I didn’t want to see Big Bear’s wife, Little Bear, and Marciana’s mother, Lisa, crying.
I hoped that they would always be well and always happy.
I slowly raised my upper body and stretched out my hand.
I could not reach the Duke’s face, so I took her left hand instead.
My heart ached even more as I felt her cold and dry hands.
I caressed the back of the Duke’s hand.
I wanted to deliver as much warmth as I could, no matter how little.
“Don’t cry, please.”
I looked at the Duke’s eyes which seemed to be wandering in memories of the past and spoke out loud.
Fortunately, my intent of consolation seemed to be conveyed.
Soon, the light returned to the Duke’s disturbed eyes.
The Duke looked at me in amazement.
Fortunately, there seemed to be no more tears in her eyes.
When the Duke closed her eyes once and opened them, the tears that had been in her eyes flowed down and soon disappeared.
The next thing that came to her face was a smile.
It was faint and small, and hard to recognize, but it was still a smile.
The Duke gently pulled my shoulder and led me into her arms.
It was warm and friendly, just like those of the two bears.
It made me want to stay in them for a long time.
Showering me with a feeling of happiness that I had never known.
“I won’t- I won’t cry.”
The Duke hugged me more forcefully with determination.
At first, the Duke’s body trembled violently.
However, as I raised my hands and hugged her, the tremors slowly began to fade.
After a long time, the Duke finally let me go.
There were no signs of the previous weakness.
She no longer looked like a patient suffering from pain, but rather the normal cool-headed and relaxed Duke.
There were faint tear marks on her cheeks, but the Duke simply smiled.
“It’s much better to smile, Duke.
Please smile more from now on.”
“I will do as Dia says, I’ll smile more from now on.”
I laughed and said, “Yes! Please do so!”
The Duke smiled a little brighter and swept over my hair with one hand.
It was a gentle gesture that the two bears also did often.
“I’ll officially introduce myself.
My name is Opdolisa Leocardia.
You can call me either the Duke or the Lord.”
“I don’t have a last name, but my name is Dia.
Please take good care of me, Duke!”
The Duke hugged me again, before letting me go and whispering, “Welcome to the Duchy, Dia.”
Since I got up early, I had breakfast with Big Bear and the Duke in the small dining room just next door.
All throughout the meal, the Duke kept her eyes on me.
It was fortunate that there was no more pain or sadness in her eyes.
However, her gaze that meticulously observed me from head to toe felt a little too persistent.
‘Is there something wrong?’
After the meal, the Duke said this.
“Come to my office after washing up.”
As told, I washed up and went back to my room, where Little Bear was waiting.
“Juliano! Good morning.”
The Little Bear smiled brightly and stretched out his arms to hold me.
“Yes, good morning.
Did our Dia sleep well?”
“Yes! What about Juliano?”
“I also slept well.
Wasn’t it scary to wake up alone?”
“I didn’t wake up alone.
The Count and Duke were there.”
The Little Bear seemed a little worried, so I reassured him right away.
“Just as you said she welcomed me! We even had breakfast together.”
The Little Bear was finally relieved.
“Can you take me to the Duke’s office? She told me to come after washing up.”
The Little Bear began to guide me down the hall, and I asked quietly,
“We awen’t- aren’t going to use the elevator?”
Maybe it was because I talked to the two bears a lot before coming to the Duchy, I no longer felt awkward talking.
However, my problem with pronunciation was still present.
‘Ugh… Let’s try a little harder.’
“Yes, we don’t need to ride it.
It’s just one floor down and the stairs are closer.
The elevator is far away so it will only waste time.”
“Ah, I see.”
I became a little sullen.
The Little Bear then asked.
“You rode it yesterday.
Do you want to ride it again?”
“Are you sure?”
I rolled my eyes.
The Little Bear laughed out loud and then started walking in a different direction.
“Let’s use the elevator.”
“But isn’t it far?”
“Well, it isn’t that far away.
Even if it was really far away, as long as our Dia wants to ride it, we’ll ride it.
It’s good right?”
I nodded shyly.
The Little Bear laughed louder and we finally arrived in front of the elevator.
I shouted before the Little Bear’s hand could move.
“Buttons! I’m going to press them!”
“Wait a minute.
You have to use mana to open the elevator door.
You can’t use magic so I’ll do it for you.
In the future ask someone else to do it for you.
The Little Bear opened the elevator door with his mana.
After getting in I then walked towards the number buttons on the inner wall.
“Just press four.”
I held my pounding heart with one hand and stretched out my other and pressed the button.
The door of the elevator closed as a light illuminated the button.
In just a few seconds, we arrived on the fourth floor.
‘I want to ride it for a bit longer…’
I swallowed a deep sigh of regret.
The Little Bear laughed as if he had noticed my thoughts, and began to walk.
As I was told before, I had to go to the office.
However, it took a long time to arrive not because it was far away, but because of the people.
“Hello, Young Master!”
“Young Master, welcome back!”
Everyone smiled brightly and welcomed the Little Bear.
At the same time, their eyes sparkled as they looked at me.
“So this kid is Diamond?”
I casually said hello to each face that approached.
Most people greeted me properly.
“Yes, you too!”
There were people who made fun of me like this, but there was also another kind of reaction.
There were people who looked at my face with complicated eyes.
It was mainly people in their 40s or older.
‘What’s wrong? Is it because I look like Marciana?’
I remembered what I saw as soon as I woke up in the morning.
The tears of pain that flowed from the Duke’s eyes.
‘I’m glad she could at least smile after that…’
But I also knew that not all her sadness was gone.
‘I hope I didn’t hurt her more…’
I sighed inwardly and hugged the Little Bear a little tighter.
“Were you surprised by the crowd?”
“No, I’m okay.”
After that, the Little Bear only answered with a nod to the people who greeted us and passed by quickly, clearly not believing my answer.
I observed the people around me.
‘They’re all officers.’
The soldiers I saw at the third post had slightly different clothes depending on their positions.
The people in the castle were also wearing different clothes.
Lavigne’s neat style seemed to be worn by maids and servants.
‘Do the clothes that look more active and strong belong to the servants and soldiers only?’
Most of the people on the 4th floor were wearing more luxurious clothes.
Their bodies and movements were calm, and everyone felt like they were working desk jobs.
‘But they definitely still do basic training.’
I felt a certain strength from them.
Some of those wearing the officer clothes looked pretty strong too.
There was also one particularly strong person, who was as big as Big Bear.
I had seen a lot of physiques like that, but I had never seen it on a grandfather in his 60s.
‘Woah! To have muscles like that at that age!’
The grandfather was wearing clothes with a design I had never seen before, it was neat and stylish.
His white hair which was neatly pulled back was also very nice.
“Young Master, you’ve come back safely.”
The grandfather greeted him in a calm tone.
Dia, this is Viscount Tolle Gallio, the head butler of our Duchy.”
“Hello! I’m Dia! Nice to meet you!”
I bowed my head.
Gallio fixed his gaze on my face and nodded his head slightly in silence.
There was no other reaction, but I could subtly sense something.
He seemed to be both glad and worried.
“The Lord is waiting.
Gallio led us to a solemn-looking door.
The Little Bear knocked.
Maybe he wasn’t smart because he was strong.
His knock made a loud thump.
As soon as the Little Bear heard the answer, he opened the door and went in.
The Duke’s office was quite spacious.
It only had the furniture necessary just like all the other rooms.
One wall was made of completely transparent glass, overlooking the estate.
The Duke stood in front of the glass with her arms folded.
When the Little Bear placed me on the floor, I rushed in front of the Duke and greeted her with my hands in front of my stomach.
We had already met earlier but it was still nice to see her.
“I’m done washing up!”
The Duke smiled slightly, reached out, and stroked my head.
It was a little slower, but it was the same friendly gesture the two bears often did.
“Mother, I’m also here.”
Did you have breakfast?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Go and eat first.”
“I’ll eat later.”
The Duke shook her head and firmly said, “Go now.”
The Little Bear glanced at me as he answered.
He seemed worried about leaving me alone.
In truth, I was a little worried, but I waved my hand anyway.
“See you later.”
The Little Bear hesitated after receiving my greeting but eventually left.
Now all that was left in the office were the Duke, Gallio the butler, and me.
“Sit on the sofa.”
As told by the Duke, I ran down to the sofa in front of the desk.
But it was a tad bit too high.
‘No, am I really so small…?’
I felt a little depressed but I jumped up from the floor with a strong grip on the armrest of the sofa.
I could not help but shout
Fortunately, I was able to successfully raise my hips onto the sofa.
I swept my forehead with relief.
When I raised my eyes, I saw both the Duke and Gallio turning their heads to the other side.
Their mouths were shut as if holding back laughter.
‘What’s wrong with them?’
Soon the Duke coughed quietly and sat on the sofa opposite me.
Gallio stood on the right side of the Duke.
“Dia, I called you alone to hear your opinion.
I’ve heard a lot about you from Hel.”
I heard that you call him Big Bear and Juliano, Little Bear.”
My eyes shook.
“As Hel promised, we will take good care of you until you’re an 18-year-old adult.
Stay in the Duke’s castle.
You don’t even have to serve our territory.
All this I promise in the name of the Duke.”
“Oh… Thank you!.”
The Duke paused before speaking again a little later.
“I don’t know much about the official process but… Hel wants to adopt you.
Adoption is… It means accepting you as a formal family member.
What do you think?”
Edited by: Healing Moon
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