He lifted his snow white hand to his lips and drank from his teacup. It was herbal tea with a pleasant flowery scent. The boy’s beauty was similar to that man’s, but he also had the sweetness of countenance, appropriate for his age, as he smiled with relief.
「It’s delicious. It’s rather different than black tea, but it is still very tasty and refreshing.」
「I am glad to hear it. It’s Edi’s own blend and it is highly effective when it comes to fighting off fatigue.」
「My brother made it?!」
His sunrise colored eyes opened wide in surprise and looked at the man sitting next to him. He was drinking his cup in silence. I thought it would have been best if he said something, anything, but he persistently stayed in his silent mode as if loudly manifesting that 「There is nothing to talk about here, so it’s best to stay quiet.」. As he maintained this attitude, I sighed internally and looked at Lucius. He was fixated on Edi and examined him with twinkling eyes.
「My brother can do anything, can’t he…」
Even though he stared at Edi with so much longing, the man himself stayed completely silent. Lucius was a guest that came all the way from a neighbouring country on purpose, so this attitude might become a problem. Having said that, Lucius’s attitude was not great either. Supposed he was truly his brother, still, having met Edi only a day before, he was growing way too accustomed and too familiar with him. However, contrary to that man’s attitude the boy’s attitude was not unpleasant, probably because the whole atmosphere surrounding him was pure, almost too pure, with no ill intentions. Was this the reason why that man could not attack him with his usual sharp tongue?
Young Lucius kept looking only at the man, with absolute happiness on his face as if awaiting his response. I think it was the first time I saw anybody look at him in such a way. To my own discomfort I noticed that at some point, I don’t know exactly when, it stopped making me uncomfortable to hear him call my husband「brother」.
In any case, it’s not acceptable for them to just stay silent like this. As the man could not be relied upon when it came to making conversation, I spoke instead.
「Um… Master Lucius? I heard it yesterday already, but… you and Edi are brothers…?」
As I asked, I noticed that his cup was already empty, so I filled it with more tea from the teapot and finished my question. For the first time, the boy’s sunrise colored eyes darkened.
「…Yes. It is undeniably the truth. We share a father, he is the head of the Bradott family in the Nerogrant Empire. He’s name is Lucion Igur Bradott.」
「Forgive me, but I don’t understand one thing. As far as I know, I am certain that the blood of this country’s people flows in Edi’s veins. How is it possible that his father is a person from the Nerogrant Empire?」
Even without checking it in any particular way, one can instantly understand that Lucius is the blood relative of that man just by looking at him. They have the same sunrise colored eyes. The beautiful face that resembles his so closely is more than enough proof that they share the same family than any explanation. However, without any rational explanation, I could not fully believe it in my head. It’s also possible to change one’s appearance by magic, so I couldn’t be convinced by simply hearing him say that「it’s the truth」.
Young Lucius indicated that he understands my doubts as something to be expected by nodding his head.
「It’s only natural for you not to believe me, when I say it with so much empty certainty. Would you be so kind as to listen to my story first?」
To his mysterious tone of voice immediately I straightened myself unconsciously. The man also finally decided to be present in the conversation and put his cup down onto the saucer to listen more carefully. Lucius smiled slightly, as if relieved by our reaction, but became serious once more very fast and opened his light crimson, petal-like mouth.
This was his story. Originally, the father of Lucius and that man’s, Lucion Igur Bradott, was of Nerogrant Empire origin.
As the young heir of a grand noble family, he took a trip abroad – came to our country to study. During this trip he met a woman, which turned out to be a destined meeting. She was also a young woman of a great aristocratic family. It was only inevitable that the two of them became overcome with the attraction towards one another and fell in love. However, both of them carried the burden of responsibility of their families. It was very likely that their love would not be fulfilled. Still, the man did not give up. He overcame the opposition of the surrounding people of the Nerogrant Empire, left his country to be adopted by the family of his beloved. They were both in love and affectionate towards each other, so before long the girl
If the story had ended here, their tale would have had a happy ending. And ‘they lived happily ever after’ would have been the last sentence. But the reality was not as simple and joyful. The fact that the baby had black hair created a crack in their happiness. The overwhelming magical power of the baby was a burden to the mother, whose life energy was drained as the baby grew stronger inside her… until the magician with jet black hair, Agedilus Von Lancent, was born.
I listened carefully until that moment but I noticed that I was frowning my eyebrows. An indescribable discomfort grew painfully in my chest. Lucius, who was desperately trying to give a clear and consistent explanation, did not seem to notice my facial expression. I think from the very beginning he thought of me as an addition, a freebie, that came with that man. For a short moment he paused to take a breather. As he drank the herbal tea to moisten his lips, I gently put my hand on my husband’s one. It was cold. It trembled for an instant in his surprise, but I curled my fingers around it so that he couldn’t escape my touch. Lucius started to talk again and we began to listen carefully once more.
「Father didn’t hate you for the fact that you had black hair, brother. It’s just that he loved your honorable mother so much that he couldn’t forgive you. That’s what I was told.」
He could not love a son that, in consequence of his own birth, had snatched away his father’s beloved woman. I see, I get it now, I wanted to say out loud. But was I convinced or not… that was a different story. I clearly understood his point of view. But to blame a child, to keep him away… I didn’t feel any positive emotions towards the man. Actually, I felt negatively about him. Well… Thanks to this attitude, that man got to live under Uncle Lancent’s custody which is the reason I got to actually meet him… Perhaps I was a tiny, tiniest little bit grateful for that…
No. In the end, I don’t even feel that. Not in the slightest.
It couldn’t be helped. No matter what, in the end, I was solely my husband’s supporter. All the world’s abuse and blame for marrying him, the constant bed of thorns… Finally I could put all the blame on his father. I felt no sympathy towards the person that chose to run away, back to his country.
「Soon after he came back to Nerogrant, he fulfilled the original plan of his family. He succeeded his father as the head of Bradott family, remarried and that’s when I was born.」
Lucius continued his story with a somewhat nervous and tense expression on his face. At some point the tea became completely cold, just as cold as that man’s hand. He did however, squeeze my hand back, so we held each other reassuringly.
「Father never clearly said it, but you have always weighed on his mind, he was worried about you. When I wasn’t there, he spoke about you to my mother and it was always painful for him. He used to repeat over and over how he wanted to love you. He regretted it dearly.」
It wasn’t because he had black hair. He couldn’t love his son because he had stolen his beloved wife from him. Was that a joke? It was merely an excuse, wasn’t it? After all, the result was the same. I was about to say it out loud, but I stopped myself. My chest hurt so much. I tightened my grip on his hand unconsciously. The feeling of his hand in mine held me at bay. How pathetic. The one that needed support and was hurt the most was surely none other than the man himself.
Lucius was staring straight at us, although I couldn’t say if he understood how we felt at that moment or not. With a serious face he continued his story.
「I have always wanted to meet you. I wondered what kind of person my「older brother」is. Had he not revealed that you had black hair, I might have never found you. The name of the Valgentum Kingdom’s Head Magician is well known in Nerogrant. When I first heard about you I was surprised, but more than that I was happy. To know that you are recognized by the people around you and, what is more, that you have defeated the Demon King himself – how magnificent! I cannot express how proud I felt when I heard that. 」
The shadow completely vanished from his sun colored eyes as they glistened. I could clearly see pure admiration and yearning in his gaze. The feelings in my chest grew stronger, as if with objection. Had he said it like a disagreeable snide, I would respond in a similar way, but this wasn’t the case. It looked like the boy admired the man and purely adored him. How in the world could I curse or speak ill of him? If this was a play, young Lucius would be a skilled artist, perfectly used to being a leading actor.
The man remained silent and listened to the boy without any interruption. It was just as his usual behavior – being looked at so intently with such twinkling eyes, and not saying anything. Now that I think about that, it resembled that time when we visited the orphanage before the grand festival. He got surrounded by children and couldn’t speak, just like at that moment. He had the exact same face expression, as if at a loss for words.
Had the situation been different, I would perhaps find this charming. But I couldn’t just accept the fact that this boy was that man’s younger brother. I felt something similar to jealousy that I felt a number of times already while being with that man. I was afraid this young man would suddenly snatch my husband away from me. I started to realize how narrow-minded my point of view was and I stood up.
「Thank you for telling us this story. I am sure you must be tired after all the events of yesterday and today. Let me show you to the guest room. Please try to have some rest until the supper.」
It seemed that Lucius himself felt a lot of tension and mental strain during his tale. I caught a sign of relief on his face. He stood up, following my lead.
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