Although I had the surname of Perdia, I was a stranger who could not become a family member.

 

It was the Duke who brought me into the family conversation while I was standing outside the fence.

 

“Elodie.”

 

“I wonder what you think.”

 

Was there anyone who knew that I existed there?

 

I, who claimed to be a stranger, had no choice but to participate in the conversation at the Duke’s question.

 

There were many things I didn’t understand about the Duke’s attitude, but the most incomprehensible thing was the question.

 

Wasn’t it a sudden question that surprised everyone else as well?

 

You never asked for my opinion.
Not once since I was born.
So, I really wanted to know the reason.

 

The Duke, who was looking at me, replied calmly.

 

“Because I thought you could solve it now.”

 

‘The current me?’

 

Was it compared to the old me who used to be abusive?

 

The Duke’s word continued without time to think.

 

“I’ve always watched you.”

 

“…….!”

 

“Isn’t it different lately? You seem to be deep in thought, so I asked for your opinion.”

 

You’ve been watching me.

 

That was a fact I would have never dreamed of.

 

Because I’m–

 

‘Because I was an unwanted illegitimate child…….’

 

But the Duke’s words sounded as if he had thought of me as his own daughter.

 

“I thought you weren’t interested in me.”

 

“As you know, my personality is like this.
I just didn’t make it obvious.”

 


“Ah….”

 

“Especially young children.
They are scared when they see me and cry so hard that I tend to not go near them.”

 

The Duke added a word as if to make an excuse.

 

‘So because you thought I would be scared; you didn’t look at my younger self?’

 

There was no reason for the Duke to lie, so he meant what he just said, but it didn’t feel real.

 

It was because it was such a dreamy story.

 

I looked down at my hands with a blank face.

 

The Duke said to me, “Tell me what you want.”

 

There was something I wanted.

 

That you won’t kill me no matter what.
Because what I desperately want more than anything now is my survival.

 

A generous generosity to the point of not killing me even if it turns out I’m not his daughter.

 

No, actually what I wanted the most was–

 

“Then, praise me.”

 

I wanted to feel loved even for a moment.

 

It was okay even if this was the first and the last time.
I will be satisfied with the memory of being a family just once.

 

‘Yes, that’s right.
I know my place well.’

 

Even if the Duke really thought of me as his own daughter and had been watching over me, I wasn’t really his daughter.

 

What if the Duke finds out? Will he treat me like he is doing now?

 

The Duke reached his hand out to me, who was trying to control my fluctuating emotions.

 

“Come here.”

 

As I approached timidly, the Duke reached out and stroked my head.

 

It was an unfamiliar and clumsy touch.

 

PHOTO

 

“Well done.”

 

“…….”

 

“Well done, Elodie.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

I felt like crying.
But I tried hard not to cry.

 

It suddenly occurred to me.

 

‘Why now of all things.’

 

3-year-old Elodie, whose only companion was her nanny’s daughter, Martha; 10 year-old Elodie, who cried when her younger brother, whom she wanted to be close to, called her a dirty illegitimate child; 14 year-old Elodie, who was hurt by the unkind social atmosphere…….

 

No, it was always the attention Elodie wanted.

 

Wouldn’t I have been genuinely happy if it had been the past where I believed I was the Duke’s biological daughter? 

 

But even now, when I learned of my birth, I was pleased with the Duke’s praise.

 

Because I wanted to be a family; I wanted to be recognized, to be loved.

 

‘……This much is fine.’

 

I couldn’t get rid of the thought that I was deceiving the Duke by pretending to be his real daughter.


 

So, when I’m ready to be independent, let’s leave this family without delay.

 

Because that was my only goal.

 

The Duke, who never knew that I was thinking this way, was still indifferent and friendly.

 

“But this prize is not enough.”

 

“It’s okay.”

 

“No, isn’t it a reward for a father to praise his daughter?”

 

“…….”

 

“Think about it.”

 

***

 

Sniff……

 

The tears I had been holding back burst out as soon as I left the office.

 

I didn’t want to cry, but there was no way it would go my way.

 

I didn’t want to show this to anyone, so I was deliberately walking down a deserted path, but Carlot was walking towards me from the other side. 

 

I didn’t want to deal with him, so I passed him without saying anything, but Carlot blocked my way.

 

“You treat me as someone who doesn’t exist anymore-”

 

Carlot’s words cut off.
I could feel the gaze looking closely at me with my head down.

 

“……Hey, why are you crying?”

 

A look of bewilderment was evident on Carlot’s face.

 

‘Is it your first time seeing someone cry?’

 

After giving Carlot a glance, I tried to go my way, but he stood in my way and wouldn’t move away.

 

“Did Father punish you? Did you do something else wrong?”

 

“It’s not like that.”

 

“No.
Did you say you were breaking up again?”

 

I hadn’t talked to him lately, and it was very burdensome and annoying to suddenly talk to him.

 

“Just walk by, Carl.
As always.”

 

After wiping away the tears that were still accumulated with the hem of my clothes, I looked up and saw Carlot with a frown.

 

I tilted my head as I looked at Carlot, who was staring at me for some reason.

 

“What, do you have something to say?”

 

“I–….no there’s nothing.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Oh, there isn’t! And what are you going to do if someone watches you go around crying like that? Are you going to take responsibility, if there’s a strange rumor? If it’s Perdia, keep your dignity like Perdia!”

 

“You’re the only one who saw me cry-”

 

“I don’t know.
I’m busy.
I’m going!”

 

Oh my….

 

I murmured as I watched the back of Carlot, who stomped away and disappeared.

 

“What the.
He says he has nothing to say, but he says everything he wants to say……”

 

Tears welled up thanks to you.

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