A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 97
He was always the first to reach out and pull Esther into a hug, but now the tables have turned.
Esther concluded her own solution and buried her face into his shoulder while holding him tight.
“Father, let’s go to the dining room and eat chocolate cake together.”
Whenever she was in a state of sorrow, sweets never failed to restore her vitality. She suggested Darwin do the same.
Aware of her pure thoughts, Darwin smiled and gently stood up, letting go of their warm hug.
Darwin despised sweet things, but if Esther asked him to eat chocolate cake, he would consume pounds of sweets until his stomach burst.
Darwin strode to leave the room as he held Esther’s hand before halting to a stop. He slowly scanned the room.
“Are you going to keep the room open now?”
He was planning on locking it as he ascended the stairs earlier, but Esther’s cheerful voice froze him on the spot.
In all honesty, the reason he excluded this door from the rest of the mansion was because Darwin did not have enough confidence to be able to look back at the past.
Whenever he recalled Irene, who left him and the children behind, his heart ached enough to break into pieces. Thus, he chose to turn a blind eye.
But did the pain fade over time? Although challenging, he had now gained a bit more faith to face the past.
He decided to leave the door open from this moment on.
Perhaps he now had to let Irene free from this room, this room he had chained her to simply because of his lack of confidence.
From this room, and from his own heart.
“…Right. I’ll have to tell Delbert to clean the room.”
“May I join you here again?”
“Do you want to come back here later?”
Darwin was taken aback by Esther’s sparkling eyes. He didn’t expect her to say this.
“Yes. You’ll be lonely by yourself.”
Darwin lost the ability to process his thoughts for a brief moment before his clutched grasped Esther’s in adoration.
“Let’s do that. Irene will like it if you stop by.”
Darwin realized that he had been mistaken this whole time.
He thought he had healed the previously emotionless Esther, but it was rather him who was comforted all this time.
Had Esther not come, Darwin would never have thought of opening Irene’s locked room.
As they became a family, so much had changed. They influenced each other with their love and care.
Esther smiled as she listened to Darwin’s pleasant low voice.
“Hehe. I’ll come with you later.”
It’s been a while since Judy wanted to see his mother’s face again. She was looking forward to announcing that the room was open now.
As they passed Esther’s room, Shur glided before them. He seemed sulky that Esther left him alone.
Darwin’s eyebrows twitched as he witnessed Shur slithering about.
“Do you want me to build a house for the cat and the snake in the backyard?”
“A house? No, it’s okay.”
Esther shook her head quickly. Darwin would really build a place for them if she didn’t stop him now.
“Really? Wouldn’t it be uncomfortable if they stayed with you? It would also be better for them to live outside.”
Esther sensed Darwin’s firmness on the matter and hurriedly shooed Shur into the room.
Then she picked up Cheese and stuck her right in front of Darwin’s face.
“But they’re this cute.”
Cheese let out an angry ‘Nyang!’ at her sudden position and stretched all four feet.
She seemed to be trying to threaten Darwin, but the corners of his mouth lifted at the ridiculous sight.
“Right? Isn’t she soo cute?”
“Not at all.”
Darwin said so and never again mentioned building a house in the backyard.
As they descended the stairs, he unconsciously glanced at Cheese’s soft fur.
Deep inside the Imperial Palace, there existed an outdoor garden matching the tastes of the current Empress.
It was not of large size, but the high-quality plants were enough to compare it to one suitable for the Imperial family.
Noah was sitting on the terrace, spending an affectionate time with his mother and sister, the Empress and Princess.
“How could you fool me like this? You should have told me in advance. How worried I was!”
Reina criticized Noah with malice. Her anxiety and fear instantly turned to anger and dissatisfaction.
“Don’t blame him too much. Noah couldn’t help it either.”
The Empress couldn’t take her eyes off Noah. She couldn’t believe this shocking series of events.
Tears continued to form around the Empress’s eyes as she gazed lovingly at Noah.
Just like the Emperor, the Empress was overwhelmed with guilt and sadness towards her dear son.
“I never imagined this day would come. How grateful I am for you to have returned in such a healthy state.”
Noah smiled gracefully and soothed his mother, who was on the verge of tears.
“I’m really fine now.”
“I heard it was a disease that couldn’t be cured… It’s a miracle. It seems the Goddess’s grace is with you.”
After Noah was kicked from the Imperial Palace, the Empress resented the Goddess and turned her back on the Temple.
However, her rejection towards the Temple completely disappeared after she witnessed Noah walking inside, completely recovered.
She was rather grateful now. In the future, many donations would be brought to the Temple.
“My illness was not healed by the Goddess’s protection.”
Noah shook his head firmly. He did not favor his mother’s compliments towards the Temple.
“Then what was it?”
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“I have a separate friend who treated me.”
“What does that mean? You said there was no cure.”
Reina nudged Noah in demand for more details. She possessed a terribly curious personality.
“I can’t tell you. It’s fine now that I’m better, right?”
“That’s true but… I’m curious.”
“Later. Now tell me how Sister and Mother have been doing.”
Noah had lived outside the Imperial Palace for more than three years, so there were many stories for him to listen to.
The three happily exchanged small conversations.
Just being together in the same space was like a dream.
“You had a hard time because of me, right?”
“What do you mean by that? I should tell you, the person who has lived outside this whole time, that I will truly never let you go again.”
“My mother hasn’t slept well a single day since my leave.”
“Do you think it was just me? Reina also cried every day.”
Noah finally felt at home amidst the warm hospitality of his mother and sister.
‘How fortunate I didn’t die.’
Had he given up his life and died while trapped in the sanctuary, such a moment would have never arrived.
He wouldn’t be able to feel the affection of his mother as she held his hand while in tears, nor the affection of his sister, who missed him dearly.
Noah sincerely thanked Esther. It was all thanks to Esther that he was able to regain this moment.
While the three were having a good time, a bird appeared out of nowhere and spun around Noah.
“Oh, my. It’s seated on your head.”
Reina smiled and pointed at the pigeon with her finger.
“It looks like something is tied to its legs. Isn’t it a letter?”
Noah raised his head to the sky, a slight frown on his face.
As soon as the pigeon made eye contact with Noah, it obediently rested on the table.
And without hesitation, it stretched its leg toward Noah. There really was a letter on its leg.
“Who sent the letter to you?”
“It’s fascinating. How did the pigeon find its way here?”
While Reina and the Empress admired the pigeon’s ability, Noah puzzledly opened the letter.
At that moment, Noah’s blank face gradually brightened as he skimmed through the contents. A smile spread across his face.
The two people observed his expression before eying each other. This Noah was foreign to them.
“Oh my, look at him… Mom, look at that expression.”
“Noah, did you have a girlfriend during the time we didn’t see you?”
Noah’s ears heated at his mother’s question. She hit the nail.
“It’s not like that.”
Ironically, his eyes wouldn’t stop staring at the paper.
“What do you mean it’s not like that? I can tell just by looking at your face. Your ears are red.”
“It must be a girl.”
Noah couldn’t pull himself together as Reina teased him and the Empress’s expression turned serious from shock.
“W-wait a minute.”
He concentrated on the paper again.
It was a short letter meant to cheer Noah, but this meant the world to him. Esther sent a letter to him first!
“I told you I had a friend who treated me. This is that friend.”
As Noah told his mother about Esther, his expression was one of a man in love.
Reina observed Noah’s obvious self as she held her chin mischievously.
“You like her, don’t you.”
Noah was a confident figure before the Imperial nobles, but nothing more than a shy boy with his family.
“Yes. I like her a lot.”
Noah scratched the back of his head embarrassedly, but did not conceal his heart.
“Oh my god!”
Reina screamed and jumped from her seat at his confession. The Empress’s eyes also widened in surprise.
“I’m curious what kind of child had you fall for them to this extent.”
“She’s really nice. She’s always firm and stronger than anyone else, even in difficult situations. And she’s pretty.”
Noah could not hide his passionate smile as he spoke of Esther.
“Did that child stay with you when you were outside?”
Noah’s eyes slightly watered as he recalled the sanctuary.
At the time in which he pleaded for his death, the Esther in his dreams pushed him to endure every night.
It was all because of Esther that he wanted to live again. No, he needed to.
“That is something I must be thankful for. I would love to thank the child.”
In the past, she was an Empress who would have naturally checked which family the child came from and the benefits she would hold towards the Imperial family, but that version of hers was no more.
She was just grateful that there was someone who stood by Noah’s side when he was going through hard times.
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She didn’t know who the person was, but she already favored her. She was thankful for the precious child.
Even if the child’s status was low, she would embrace her.
“Alright. Let us meet her sometime. I hope we can have a meal together… Why don’t you invite her to the palace?”