When I saw the twins smiling brightly and waving their hands not knowing what happened because of them, I was angry and laughed ironically at the same time.
“Mom, my brother…Oh, he’s here? Why is he crying?”
There was a moment of silence. Rachel, who jumped from Nora’s shoulders while I covered my face with my hands and swallowed a sigh, rushed to me with Leonal and shouted-
“Mom, we got it! It’s really shining! This is for mom.”
“Mom, are you still angry? The book said that girls like flower gifts!”
Jeremy clicked his tongue faintly.
As for Nora, who brought me back the twin, he just stared at me with an unheroic, subdued expression on his face. That was until his father opened his mouth with a sigh, “If you had a problem like this, you should have said something. Why did you drag the knights out on your own?”
“Duke, I apologize for unintentionally causing you trouble. I’m very grateful to the young master.”
As I quickly intervened, the Duke stopped raising his voice toward his silent son and looked back at me, and soon shook his head with a more relaxed look, “I know, I’m just glad everyone came back safely.”
“Thank you so much. If you don’t mind, can I treat the young master to tea before going back?”
Fortunately, the Duke of Steel said yes, and our family and Nora safely entered the villa.
The twins, who had passed their bedtime, immediately lay in bed and fell asleep. Elias, who went on a flower gathering adventure in the middle of the night with his phobia of heights and injured himself when he slipped, remained silent sitting on the stove with a grumpy face. It was good that I brought emergency medicines just in case. When Elias finally opened his mouth, I had already finished applying ointment to the small injury on his arm.
“…I actually don’t even remember my mother’s face properly anymore.”
Come to think of it, Jeremy seems to have said something similar like that one day. I waited for a while wondering what he would say next, but Elias didn’t say anything anymore. So I brought it up instead, “I have no desire to erase the existence of your mother in your memory and take her place, alright? I don’t think I’m going to force you to do that, so you don’t have to be anxious like that anymore.”
How could I do that? She died after giving birth to these beautiful children.
Moreover, I saw her portrait one day and knew that I didn’t resemble her even slightly, so how can I be so greedy like that?
While swallowing a bitter smile, I closed the lid of the ointment and gathered the flowers scattered on the table, and Elias said, “…That doesn’t mean you’re not my family.”
I paused for a moment, but smiled broadly at the boy who was still stubbornly looking down, “I know.”
When Elias finally came out of the bedroom and entered the living room, the two boys, who became heroes of the night, were lying on the long sofa, dozing off. They were tired because they had to search for the kids in the middle of the night.
The scene where the little lion and wolf, who will grow up to be rivals, sleeping near each other was very ironic. Looking at it like this, both of them are still kids…
There was a crackling sound of logs popping up from the fireplace. I hesitated for a moment, brought a thick blanket, covered the two up, and corrected their posture.
No, I was trying to fix it.
It was then that Nora, who fell asleep hugging a sword with one arm just like Jeremy, suddenly began to groan as if he were in pain.
I tried to check his temperature, wondering if he had unintentionally been hit by cold wind and caught a cold.
“…. Ugh… Father… “
“…I didn’t do that… I didn’t do that…”
Needless to say, my eyes were wide open. As I froze, Nora began to gasp painfully, sweating profusely from what he was dreaming of. In the meantime, he muttered in a small voice like a child, “I really didn’t… I didn’t do that… I’m not lying. Why don’t you listen to me?”
Is this what suffocating feels like? I remembered Nora, whom I met in the chapel one day. The way he sat down next to the altar and shed tears.
After the terrible Christmas banquet, the last scene of coming to me and joking around passed by.
I thought I had to wake him up from the pain he was going through, so I gently reached out. Suddenly, he grabbed my hand and raised his upper body.
Nora, soaked in cold sweat all over her neck, seemed to be confused about where he was.
Eyes shining bright blue in the dark, with an unfamiliar shade, stared intently at my face. Seeing those unusual-looking eyes, I swallowed my saliva.
“Nora, are you… okay?”
There was a moment of silence. Nora gasped for breath and stared at me for a while longer, and then breathed out, “Noona, are you okay?”
…I feel speechless. More than that, I feel like something was a little bit like it used to be.
Sure enough, did I feel strange because this guy didn’t talk to me as respectfully as he did before? While I was hesitating, Nora let go of my hand, looked around, and sat up completely. Then he scratched his sweaty hair with his hands and smiled at me.
It was an unbelievably calm smile that was different from before.
“You must be going through a lot. Not only because of a guy like me, but two other teens and even two noisy little kids.”
…Well, that’s true. Should I say that things are still going to be okay?
“You should know how lucky they are. Anyway, I think I accidentally fell asleep. I should get going.”
“Why? Why don’t you just sleep…”
“No, I caused enough trouble.”
The inconvenience was rather caused by our side. I thought it would be okay to sleep here.
Nora, who was in a hurry to get up, suddenly paused and looked back at me, “Oh, and…”
“That… during the trial, I wanted to say that noona was really cool. Not everyone can have courage like that.”
Somehow, his voice felt deeper than usual. In the cool, early bluish morning, the same cool shining eyes peered into my eyes. How am I supposed to respond to that? I’m speechless.
“Thank you…. What you did today, and everything…… I owe you.”
“I didn’t do anything special.”
“…You’ll be fine, Nora,” I stuttered without realizing it. Maybe it just popped out of its own accord because of what I saw a while ago.
“So I mean… I think it’ll be better in the future, but if there’s anything I can do to help you, tell me anytime.”
Nora’s eyes widened, and suddenly he smiled strangely.
It was a smile that looked both mature and strange.
“I’m fine now.”
After a short and eventful vacation, we finally made our way home. On the way back, the snowstorm had ceased and the sun was shining brightly.
“Anyway, wait till we reach home.”
“Why do you keep threatening me? It’s already over!”
“It’s over? Who said that? I’m not done yet.”
…Well, I think I should pray for my second son’s well being. I think the eldest son is very eager to punish him. I should say that I don’t have a heart to stop him, haha. The twins fell asleep immediately as soon as they got on the wagon, and Elias, who was looking at his eldest brother with an anxious look, also began to doze off at some point.
After confirming that I had packed all the luggage properly, I grabbed the stick candy the villa employee gave me and got into the carriage.
“How do you feel about your vacation being over, dear mother?”
“Okay, Jeremy. You can stop the show, too. I feel a bit nauseous because I keep listening to it.”
Jeremy, who was sitting by the window, with his mischievous eyes shining, took the candy in my hand and threw it into his mouth. Then he started to laugh, “Haha, it would be a little unfair to be treated as an old mother at your age already.”
“Did you just find out?”
When I said with the same mischievous tone, he held my hand with one hand and pulled it close to him.
“Yeah, whether it’s a mother, a sister or even a guardian, all you have to do is stay with the family. Don’t you think so?
From now on, no matter what lies ahead or what other variables may arise in the future, it is important to be together first. After all, we are a family.