Chapter 20

 

 

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I was firmly determined. 

 

I’ve already been in this house for 12 months. 

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if a certain party was prepared. 

 

‘…They’re a family beyond imagination, really.’ 

 

As I’ve already been through my sister’s birthday party last May, I was even confident that I wouldn’t be surprised this time. 

 

The largest hall in the mansion was decorated with red as the main colour. 

 

“Because, our Anastasia’s eyes are very pretty.” 

 

It was the beginning of July. I was fascinated when I entered the hall, because even though it was hot outside, the decorations were cleverly decorated to make the room feel cool and refreshing. 

 

Tapestry and tassel decorations woven by the maids using beautiful fabrics. 

 

In addition, there was a familiar large ruby -probably the one Mikhail had always wanted to gift- that was surrounded by ice crafts. 

 

As I stared at the crafts, amazed with his tenacity, the little duke felt proud inside. 

 

He must have misunderstood my tired eyes. 

 

Anyway, it looks like the first birthday here is also special. 

 

‘The cake is… It’s very large.’ 

 

To the point that I couldn’t even imagine how much effort the chef put into it. 

 

Last May, for my sister’s birthday, it was a 3-tier cake, but it was my first birthday, so they made a 5-tier cake this time. 

 

‘Wow, I wonder how they make it pretty like that.’ 

 

There was even a model of a girl with black hair standing at the top. 

 

Seeing the red eyes on its face, I could tell that it was me. 

 

‘It really feels like I’m in a dream.’ 

 

It’s my birthday, and there are so many pretty things like this. 

 

I can’t ever remember celebrating my birthday in the first place. 

 

When my father put me in the center of the hall, a place that was like the guest of honour’s seat at a glance, sounds of applause and shouts burst out. 

 

“Happy 1st birthday, My lady!” 

 

“It’s already been a year, you don’t know how happy we are that we are able to continue staying by your side.” 

 

“Please let us continue to be responsible for your safety.” 

 

The maids, and the knights, who were always in charge of my room. 

 

And all the other servants, whom I usually don’t meet, actually had happy faces. 

 

‘Surely, my father gave them a bonus again?’ 

 

But now, I also know that I don’t have to look at it in such a perverse way. 

 

It wasn’t just because my parents gave them a generous salary, but they really gave a heart-warming congratulations because of their affection for the duchy.

 

* * * 

 

The laughter never ceased throughout the party. 

 

The performance of the band, the many gifts from unknown nobles who came to congratulate me. 

 

Various fruits prepared for me to taste. 

 

It was all amazing and special. 

 

But most of all, my father’s offer, to me, was the most precious. 

 

“Our youngest, our Anastasia. Can Dad ask his daughter for her first dance?” 

 

Dance? 

 

How are you going to dance with a 12-month-old? 

 

I was puzzled, but I answered. 

 

“Woo.” 

 

“Thank you, my daughter.” 

 

After saying that, my father stood on his knees and took both of my hands. 

 

When the band started playing, my father on his knees, matched with my own beat, went sideways, and then turned around. 

 

He lifted me up and danced while stepping on the steps. 

 

“As expected, my daughter, how can you dance so well like this?” 

 

No matter how I look at it, I was just dangling though? 

 

However, 

 

“Because she’s our daughter, she can dance well.” 

 

“Lara too, Lara also wants to dance with Shasha!” 

 

“Father, I also want to dance with the youngest, so please don’t monopolize it.” 

 

Seeing my family react like this, I wondered what it was like. 

 

Everyone is having so much fun. 

 

Even Mikhail. 

 

“I also want to ask the youngest lady for a dance.” 

 

I don’t know if they were just swept away, but seeing them copying each other, I wonder if I am really dancing or my legs are just dangling. 

 

“I want to keep monopolizing my youngest’s hands.” 

 

Even after the first dance was over, my father talked as if he was worried, and my mother laughed a little and said. 

 

“Oh, then my husband won’t hold my hand tonight? Then, shall I hold someone else’s hand?” 

 

“What? No, my wife has to hold my hand!” 

 

As expected of my mother. 

 

When my father put me down gently, my sister and brother took my hand one by one. 

 

“You like dancing with your sister, don’t you?” 

 

As soon as the song started, my sister started jumping and spinning. 

 

“Laurentia, you should do it a bit slower. Anastasia is still a baby.” 

 

“Yeah! Because Lara is an older sister, she can do it slowly!” 

 

My sister calmly followed my brother and looked at me carefully and moved at a slow pace. 

 

Though my older brother seemed like he was escorting his two younger siblings, he led them skillfully so that they wouldn’t fall down in line with the band’s performance. 

 

Once again, after the song ended, it was Mikhail who held my hand lastly. 

 

Next to me, my older sister who held hands with my older brother laughed softly, and the lips of my mother and father were full of happiness. 

 

That sight made my lips twitch as well. 

 

“Baby, did you just smile?” 

 

Perhaps if Mikhail hadn’t said those words, I would’ve smiled. 

 

“Ayi.” 

 

“What do you mean by no, I think you smiled.” 

 

“Aiya.” 

 

When I strongly denied, Mikhail showed a slightly sulking face. 

 

But soon after, he showed his unique smile mixed with a slightly cheeky feeling and said to me as if he were challenging me. 

 

“Then I’ll have to practice more in the future. In order to dance so well to the point that the youngest lady will smile.” 

 

This guy really doesn’t know how to give up. 

 

However, even though that tenacity was cheeky, I don’t hate it. 

 

At least, I don’t hate it to the extent of having to hold hands with my family members after this to do something resembling a dance.

 

* * * 

 

My birthday party ended around afternoon. 

 

But that day, the mansion was noisy with joyful feelings until late at night. 

 

My parents were quite generous employers, so they were willing to allow their servants to have fun after the party. 

 

For that reason, during the evening, my family spent time looking after me themselves. 

 

“Now, look here. Here’s Dad, our youngest.” 

 

Perhaps it was still fascinating to him for me to walk, my father spread his arms from a little far away. 

 

‘Come to think of it, when I first practiced my baby steps…’ 

 

When my father was spreading his arms like that, I didn’t go and hug him, but grabbed one of his arms and it embarrassed him. 

 

Because I wasn’t used to it. 

 

But now I have gained a year’s worth of experience as a loved baby. 

 

I walked as my father wanted me to, even staggering slightly, and hugged him in his arms. 

 

“Oh my, our youngest. You walk so well, don’t you? You also just did your first dance a little while ago.” 

 

“Shasha, you’re just running now!” 

 

Is it okay to say it’s running when I was just trying to walk a little faster? 

 

I can’t get the speed right, so I am still wobbling. 

 

But my father responded quickly. 

 

“Really? Dad didn’t see.” 

 

When my father became sullen, my sister put her hand on her waist and strutted. 

 

“Lara is the older sister, so she saw everything! Shasha can run now and can also walk just fine on her own!” 

 

My sister came to my side and held my hand smiling. 

 

“Still, Shasha likes it more to walk hand in hand with her older sister, right? Walking hand in hand with elder brother too!” 

 

If it was the me when I had just been born, I would’ve been embarrassed by the amiable question from such an older sister. 

 

Now I know what the best answer is. 

 

Unlike Mikhail Leventis. 

 

[tn– idk why Mikhail suddenly popped out here but i think it has something to do w his blunt/cold or slow-witted personality] 

 

“Woo, wike ith.” 

 

[Yes, I like it] 

 

I did my best to pronounce it. 

 

“Right?” 

 

Even though it was a pronunciation that couldn’t be differentiated from a babble, my sister smiled broadly, as if she felt somewhat good, and hugged me tightly. 

 

One year, looking back, it’s quicker than I thought. 

 

Of course, I am afraid of this warmth that seemed to be influencing me faster than I thought. 

 

I can’t help it. 

 

Nevertheless, I decided to spend every single thing I do here preciously and happily. 

 

I realized that it’s best not to push them away and give a distorted answer on purpose. 

 

Even if it hurts later, it was a much better choice than making them unhappy right now. 

 

Before I knew it, when my sister rubbed her eyes, my mother smiled and held her in her arms and patted her. 

 

“Mother, father. Good night, then.” 

 

My brother politely said goodbye and left a goodnight kiss to my parents, me, and my sister. 

 

Maybe it’s because it’s been a while since someone cared about my birthday, I wasn’t sleepy yet, but I didn’t struggle to get out of my father’s embrace. 

 

“Today, Dad will put you to sleep, Anastasia.” 

 

“Woo……..” 

 

At his low voice, I buried my head in my father’s arms. 

 

My father didn’t have the same skill as my mother, so I thought it would be hard to fall asleep. 

 

But, interestingly, not long after the big hand started patting me, my eyelids became heavy. 

 

I need to make a barrier…… 

 

But my father’s touch was too powerful. 

 

Just like that, I let my consciousness go and went to sleep.

 

* * *

 

No wonder I felt uncomfortable. 

 

I heard the unpleasant sound of a metal clanking. 

 

The moment I regained my sight, I realized that the unpleasant intruder had visited my dream again. 

 

– Hi. 

 

The b*[email protected] I saw about 3 months ago shamelessly greeted me.