A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 114
Updated: May 8
Darwin gazed lovingly at Esther and Dennis, his chin resting on his hand.
Recently, emotions that he had never experienced before arose from deep within his heart.
He didn’t wish for anything more than to just watch the children. He felt like he could do anything as long as they grew up healthy and well.
Esther carefully observed Darwin as she hesitated to speak.
“Father, I ran into Prince Noah a while ago… Can I talk to him later?”
The promise she had made to stay away from Noah tormented her mind endlessly, so Esther wanted to meet him after gaining clear permission.
Darwin’s lips hardened into a straight line for a moment before loosening.
With the ban now lifted, he had no reason to reject their meeting together. Besides, he didn’t want to be branded a narrow-minded, over-protective father who interfered with his daughter’s friendships.
“Alright. He will be staying for the night, so tell him we’ll have dinner together when you meet.”
Dinner would act as the bait.
Now that all of this had happened, he would rather see how close Noah and Esther were.
“Will the prince be sleeping here?”
Esther’s eyes widened in surprise at the unexpected news.
Immediately after, the topic changed, and Dennis and Darwin were speaking about different subjects. However, only one thing was taunting Esther’s mind.
‘Will he be alright?’
She was worried about Noah because she just knew that mealtime wouldn’t go smoothly, not with her brothers and father as wary as the previous time.
Still… she couldn’t help but smile at the thought that the people she deemed precious would gather up together.
If she accordingly adjusted her favorite people in order, they would make the top five.
‘I’m going to go and tell him.’
She already felt at ease after having dealt with Khalid, but knowing that she could meet Noah after a long time made her so excited.
“I’m afraid something urgent has come up and we can’t talk for long. But I’ll see you this evening.”
“Don’t overdo it.”
Darwin wanted to spend more time with the children, but he was forced to let them go, now faced with the Temple’s affairs.
After Esther and Dennis left, he summoned Ben, his voice callous.
“Call for the vassals. We are closing down the main Temple tomorrow.”
Ben diligently moved his pen to note Darwin’s words before pausing for a moment.
The Temple’s closure was more of a massive event. He almost questioned him, but Ben trusted Darwin.
He concluded there was a good enough reason and wrote away.
“Alright. I will schedule the meeting in an hour.”
“Good. We will discuss the policies that we will implement after the Temple is removed.”
A backlash from the residents was to be expected as the prime doctrine would soon disappear overnight. A policy was needed to stabilize their complaints.
“Alright. I’ll have the documents ready in an hour.”
Feeling pressed for time, Ben rushed to leave the office. Until he was called by Darwin once more.
“Ben, do you think Esther’s escorts are enough? Should I add more knights?”
It was honestly very annoying to hear that a Temple’s paladin had entered the mansion.
“Well, I think it’s enough to increase the number from last time. Besides Victor, there are four other knights.”
“That’s true, but you never know.”
Darwin agonized over the definite measures before blinking and waving his fingers.
“What about placing the Knight Commander on Esther? I think Samuel’s skills are the most precise.”
“Do you mean, Samuel? That would be a good idea, but I think it would be difficult as he is in charge of training the knights.”
Esther’s safety was most important, but it would be very troublesome to take someone who was in charge of leading the knights.
Darwin answered casually as he listened to Ben’s anxious statements.
“…Is that so?”
Ben suspiciously eyed Darwin, his master, whom he knew to have never understood the meaning of a joke.
Besides, he seemed too sincere that Ben doubted it was a joke.
“Once more, remind Esther’s guards. If even one strand of her hair were to be brushed against any of the Temple’s people, that would be the day they would know hell.”
Darwin’s finger created a clean line across his neck.
Ben swallowed his saliva at the clear warning.
“…I’ll make sure to let them know.”
After leaving the office, Esther ran straight to the garden where Noah was residing.
It was the same garden with the fountain that she practiced controlling her mana in.
‘He must have been waiting for a while now.’
She hurried over quickly, shocked by the fact that over an hour had passed since she stayed inside the office.
She reached the entrance of the garden where Noah was waiting before stopping in surprise at the absurd scene.
Noah was rolling on the broad lawn. Lolling around, literally lying down from head to toe.
She quietly approached in wonder of what he was doing, to find him playing around with Cheese.
“What’s that~? Grab it.”
Had Esther not covered her mouth, she would have burst into a fit of laughter.
Here Noah was, shaking a tree branch with leaves playfully in front of Cheese.
Cheese raised her paws and stretched her feet stiffly, indifferent to anything but grasping onto the leaves Noah shook about.
It was cute and funny that Noah, the newly crowned prince, was playing with a cat in that position.
Then, Cheese’s ears pricked upwards as she noticed Esther. She jumped and trampled on Noah’s back, cockily making her way to Esther.
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Noah turned with a groan as he was stomped by Cheese. Although soon, that grimace was replaced by a broad smile.
While Noah ran excitedly, a sudden feeling of shame overtook him as he noticed his messy appearance.
The distance between the two gradually narrowed as he straightened his ruffled hair and pushed down his crumpled clothes.
“Did you wait long? No… this isn’t right. I heard you became the Crown Prince. Congratulations.”
“No! Don’t do that. Let’s stay comfortable when it’s just the two of us. Okay?”
Noah seemed so desperate that she couldn’t refuse. Besides, it was awkward for Esther to use honorifics when addressing Noah. They were too comfortable.
“Shall we, then?”
As Esther slyly teased Noah, her small hand reached for his hair.
It was her intention to remove a leaf that Noah was unaware existed on his head.
Noah recoiled, surprised by Esther’s sudden touch.
“You had a leaf on you. I wanted to take it out.”
Esther grinned as she showed a leaf that she had snatched from his hair.
Noah looked around, likely in embarrassment for seeming like a fool, then picked up another leaf.
Placing it back where Esther just removed the leaf from.
“It’s stuck again.”
“…? You take it off.”
A while ago, she reached out because the leaf bothered her, but Esther’s hands were not agile enough to fix something that was done purposefully.
“I can’t do it.”
Noah sulked in disappointment at the iron wall Esther had firmly set and removed the leaf himself.
Only then did the two let out their laughs. The awkward atmosphere from just a while ago dispersed into thin air.
“How have you been? Did anyone bother you?”
Noah immediately noticed something was off when he noticed the momentarily dark expression on Esther’s face.
‘It must be Rabienne.’
Rabienne was the only person who could negatively influence Esther like this.
“If anyone bothers you, tell me. I’m the Crown Prince now.”
“No, I’ve been well.”
Rabienne only sent Khalid, but it was still ambiguous to say that she did not openly try to harm Esther.
As Esther tried to laugh the matter off, Noah approached closer, his expression serious.
“Esther, I’m always on your side.”
Noah’s obsidian eyes shone beautifully as they stood firmly against the wind. Esther’s cheeks blushed.
“I know you have a reliable family beside you, but don’t forget. I’ll always be on your side, too.”
Esther was flustered at how Noah could read her mind even after she said nothing.
“If you’re saying this because I treated your illness, you don’t have to feel obligated. I didn’t use much energy anyway.”
If Esther had used a little bit too much of her mana in the past, it would have indeed been a problem. However, she was currently overflowing with energy.
She didn’t care about supplying Noah with energy. On the contrary, her power had become stronger as of late.
“Did it seem that way?”
Noah shed a disheartened expression.
“I just like this. I like you, so I want to help you with anything in my power.”
Esther’s heart skipped a beat as she felt the sincerity in Noah’s slightly quivering voice.
“Thank you. I like you, too.”
Esther’s ‘like’ was, of course, different from Noah’s definition.
Of course, she meant that she liked him as a first friend. Undoubtedly, however, it was a huge jump for her to say this.
“What about your servants?”
“Of course I like them.”
“Then what about your escort?”
“Victor? I like Victor, too.”
“I knew it.”
Noah sighed deeply. He almost screamed out in joy because of what she said, but what a disappointment.
It wasn’t enough for Esther to simply like him the same as everyone around them.
At that moment, Sebastian came to mind. Noah was overwhelmed with emotion as he considered his rank to be the same as that guy. He wanted to cry.
”But you prefer me to the young Lord Sebastian, don’t you?”
When Esther tilted her head at the sudden name, Noah was suddenly afraid of being pushed away.
“You are the only friend I have. Do you have any other friends besides me?”
This was Noah’s strategy to secure his place in case she did push him away. What a precious feeling it was to be the one and only friend.
“No, you’re the only friend I have.”
Esther shook her hands hurriedly in refutal.
“So you’re not friends with the Duke’s young lord. I’m better then.”
“…Is that so?”
Esther pondered whether that would be the case. She felt like something was off with Noah’s words.
Noah smiled broadly, satisfied with the accomplishment of surpassing Sebastian. The sunlight added to the glimmer on his face.
And, for fear Esther would overturn her statement, he picked up his bag from the ground and changed the conversation.
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“I have something for you.”
Inside the bag was a delicately wrapped box the size of a hand.
Three pink roses were attached as decorations on the outside. The packaging was so pretty that it would be a waste to destroy it.