The door closed, and the sound of the exhaust from the internal combustion engine passed by her ears faintly..
As they sat next to each other, the other’s body temperature could be felt. As her body swayed along with the carriage, Dahlia slowly spoke while looking outside the window.
“Young Master. Please give me your hand.”
“My hand? Why?”
Instead of answering, Dahlia pulled Isaac’s hand to her side.
She then pulled something out of her pocket and secretly placed it on his hand.
Within those black eyes, a bright glimmer shone.
Rather than being due to a present, it was more because he was happy that Dahlia was holding his hand tightly.
As he continued to stay still, Dahlia tapped his hand, “Please check it out.”
Isaac slowly spread his fingers, remedying his feelings of regret.
What was left on his palm was an ointment. Wound ointment within an insignificant round container.
When she met Isaac’s puzzled gaze, Dahlia gave an embarrassed smile.
“You don’t know how upset I felt when I saw the Young Master’s face was injured. I can’t give you a present that’s as precious as a Snowfield Rabbit scarf or gold coins, but apparently this is a famous ointment that ensures there isn’t a scar left from your wounds. The next time that you get hurt, please don’t forget to apply it.”
“Of course, it would be better to not get hurt.”
As she muttered to herself, her slender fingers landed on Isaac’s cheek. Dahlia let out a sad sigh as she gently stroked his cheek.
When she recalled the moment she saw the wound on Isaac’s face when she had arrived at the mansion after her vacation. A big bandage, eyes bruised blue. And… the way he tried to justify that nothing happened.
“I’m glad it didn’t leave a scar. Tripping over the table wouldn’t have caused such a wound, but I didn’t press further as I felt it wasn’t my place…Who was it that hit you?”
The light green eyes that were looking at Isaac were filled with anger. Dahlia continued speaking in an even harder tone.
“Who did that? Master? The Duchess? Was it the Little Duke?”
“…So, it was the Little Duke. Am I right?”
Isaac didn’t respond and only stared blankly at the ointment. Dahlia, who felt deja vu at his appearance, roughly bit on her lower lip unknowingly.
The common point about abusive people was not violence. They threatened their victims that if they dared to say a word about the abuse to someone else, they would increase the abuse ten-fold without mercy. Children with immature egos, would shut their mouths in fear of being beaten if they did something wrong.
This happened often in poverty houses. Even though the marks from being hit by the nursery teacher were obvious, the children keep their mouths shut and try to leave the matter at that, saying it’s nothing.
Just like how Isaac is right now.
And Dahlia was the type of person that stood in the frontlines to break down such absurdities.
“If… If someone harms you like before, call me when you want someone to help you. Of course, I don’t know how I can help… Even so.”
It was enough seeing young children being put in a disadvantageous situation.
With her own power, Dahlia wanted to end the instances of children crying alone without protection, be it in a warzone or in the poverty house.
In her eyes, the Young Master before her was a child with a large body. Even though he had the status of a member of the ducal family, he was still weak and needed someone’s care.
Dahlia’s common sense told her that it wasn’t right for Isaac, a beautiful and kind person, to be neglected by his family just because he was an illegitimate child.
“Even so, you must call me. I may not know how to hit people, but I’m good at running and hiding. If you feel really tired, don’t hold back. Let me know, okay?”
Dahlia held his cheek and forced their lines of sight to match.
The downward facing eyelashes lifted up, and the unfocused black eyes looking down slowly regained reason and faced Dahlia’s eyes.
The eyes that were darker than night looked as though they were about to suck Dahlia within them.
Between the disparity of calm eyes and harried breathing, a cracked voice appeared. Isaac continued speaking with difficulty, without the thought of catching his breath.
“If I call for you. Are you planning to run away with me?”
Contrary to the desperate expression on his face, his black eyes were slowly engulfed by a deep ecstasy. Without noticing that, Dahlia just gave a compassionate smile and moved her lips.
“When you really can’t endure anymore, you have to run away.”
“…Why are you so… worried about me?”
His anxiety filled voice was like a child’s. Dahlia lifted her head and looked up at the ceiling, smiling faintly.
Whenever she looked at him, she would think about Laurel. With a weak body, constantly saying that she was alright, Laurel courageously stood alone in the distance, waiting for her.
This child resembled her little sister. The way he refused to speak up even if he felt tired, and the way he gave a slight smile to muddle through, it all reminded her of her younger sister. Of course, his pitiable situation that was similar to her’s and her younger sister’s also played a part.
As she continued to ponder, the answer came to her and she groaned. There were many causes for her worry, but the root cause was simple.
“Because I like the Young Master.”
The eyes that had been looking up at the ceiling turned to Isaac again.
Dahlia’s smile became even brighter.
Within the eyes of an anxious boy, the image of a maid smiling benevolently was reflected.
“Of course I like you, so I’m worried for you. Also, a kind-hearted child deserves to be happy.”
Her hand, which was fiddling with the hem of her skirt, gently held the hand that was holding the ointment. Then she patted his hand as if to comfort him.
Isaac, who had been staring at her quietly, lowered his gaze to their hand that was shaking. His eyelids trembled over the squinting rim of his eyes. Due to his eyes that remained open for a while, a thin film of tears formed over his red unblinking eyes.
‘Because I like you.’
It was something he shouldn’t have heard. It felt as though the footing that had supported him up until now gave way in an instant.
…Nevertheless, those words continued to echo in his ears, words that were enchantingly bewitching.
He tried to force his eyelids to close and hide his chilly eyes, but it didn’t work and his eyes remained open. His body could not move. He exerted the strength in his fingers, holding on to the innocent ointment.
‘She sees me as a good child.’
‘…The Isaac that’s in your eyes, was a kind-hearted kid worthy of being liked.’
Through the clear windows of the wagon, violet light of the impending twilight poured in, colouring Isaac’s cheeks bluish.
The veil of water in his eyes couldn’t withstand its duty, and collapsed. Under the light, a clear stream of tears flowed down over the illuminated cheeks.
Only the sound of wind could be heard, without signs of insects or birds, during nightfall in the annex, which can be attributed to the winter season.
Isaac, who was staring blankly at the book, picked up a bookmark and placed it in the book. Whether it was because he couldn’t concentrate on what he was reading, or that old habits die hard, he extinguished the lamps and laid down in bed.
Although his body was tired, he could not fall asleep easily. As the range of emotions he had experienced today was far more intense than that of over the past five years, his excitement had not abated in the least.
“Dahlia, towards me…”
‘Because I like you.’
‘She said that she likes me. She likes me’
He never thought that someone’s pure kindness would feel so delightful.
‘Other people, ordinary people. Do you experience such exciting good intentions every day?’
Envy and jealousy formed a lump, rushing from his chest and pressed against his throat.
But soon, the feeling that squeezed on his throat disappeared instantly when he realized that he was also the recipient of such kindness.
There wasn’t any need for jealousy or envy. Isaac too, was like them.
‘Because Dahlia likes me.’
With a serene heart, he slowly closed his eyes. Slumber that seemed to never come, swallowed Isaac.
Eventually, as the chains of consciousness loosened, reality was drowned out by his dream.
…Instead of sleep, it was a dream.
Instead of rest, he fell into another despair.
White light dazzled his eyelids. Before he could lift them, his field of vision widened.
Isaac awakened at the boundary between reality and the unconsciousness.
It was a resigned future.
The scene of a familiar living room appeared where the light had disappeared. It was an old entertainer’s house, at the same time it was despair – It was Renee’s house.
…It was the same dream he dreamt of each time.
He held his breath. Even though he knew that it was a dream, this dream has always been accompanied by bitter wounds every time it replays. In his distant consciousness, a voice he loathed resounded.
“Come over here, Isaac.”
The woman seated in front of the fireplace beckoned Isaac with her hand.
Her beautiful appearance and her curly red hair were her pride.
She was afraid that the fire embers might splash upon her, so why was she seated in front of the fireplace? His amazement did not last for a long time.
The woman, who was trembling in the frigid air, pulled Isaac’s dawdling body and began to warm up her frozen body.
“That d*mn b*****d! I can’t believe that he only gave me 2 slivers to do it in the stable. I’m tired of dealing with such perverted men.”
“Stay still! What’s cold about staying in the house! Don’t you know that it’s all thanks to me that you guys are able to stay warm and fed?”
Renee, who had been complaining, let out a long sigh and looked down at Isaac’s head.
“If only you had died then! D*mn it! Who knew I’d lead such a beggarly life? When I had you, I thought my luck would turn better, but that b*tch sent an assassin too…!”
Her grating voice rang lowly over the noise of crackling firewood.
“So what if you’re the Duchess? You can’t even keep watch over your husband. What a fool.”
The hand that was holding Isaac slowly strengthened. His slender forearms were filled with marks from her sharp nails. Even so, Isaac had only endured her anger silently.
What she said weren’t empty words. Renee was a pr*sti*te, who commanded the world with her gorgeous appearance and coquettish charm.
She, who sold her smile to the wealthy, was more than or less a nobleman. She led a luxurious life.
That was before she touched the Duke of Eufgenschult.
To be exact, it was before the Duchess was angered.
“Scr*w her! Did she think I’m a bulliable target? In the end, the person who holds out will win. I’ll hide here until you reach adulthood, before bringing you back. I’ll witness with my own two eyes how that great ducal family collapses.”
Encouraged by her own words, Renee laughed for a long time. As her anger gradually subsided, remorse appeared on her face slowly.
“Gehern… He’s probably looking for me right now. Your father really loved me. The only difference between her and I are our backgrounds. If I was born as the daughter of a Marquis and not the daughter of a candle maker, I would definitely be the one living in that mansion now.”
Little Isaac didn’t really understand what she was saying. He only understood that ‘that woman’ is the Duchess, and that ‘Gehern’ was his father’s name.
As she kept mumbling to herself, her voice harassed his eardrums. Over her fragmented soliloquizing, a soft voice sounded.
“Is Mother back?”
When Renee, who was looking at Isaac with her tender eyes, heard the sound of the door closing, she lifted her head immediately.
She glared fiercely at the sight of a boy cowering at the doorway.
At the sight of the child with the same red hair as hers, the eyes that were warm like the firewood instantly changed in agitation.
Darkness spread slowly in her eyes that were dyed red with a gentle light.
“I told you early in the morning to wash the clothes. Is all that you do at home eating bread? You worthless brat!”
“Ah, I’ll do it now. I’ll do the laundry right away.”
“Is what Mom said funny to you? How many times do I have to repeat my words before you’ll act before I say it?”
At her tilted body, Isaac soon escaped her hold. Renee pushed Isaac away like she had been waiting for this moment and approached the child while shaking her fist.
It was the prelude to violence.
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