My name is Icarus Valkyane Hartmann, the current duke of Hartmann family.
When my daughter, Lyra, brought along the illegitimate daughter of Baron Sorreil, I have already heard of her circumstances. I didn’t plan on touching this matter too much, but when I saw her conduct, I couldn’t help but relate to her and felt sympathy. Thus, I ended up revealing this fact earlier than what I planned.
Yes, it’s not a tightly sealed secret, though. Many people are aware of it, especially the nobles of the previous generation, and some nobles of my generation.
However, since this subject was quite delicate, I was waiting for the children to grow up more before I began to explain.
And since it has come to this… I can’t help but reminisce of the past.
My childhood memories weren’t that clear, but I remembered spending most of my time in the secluded area of the Hartmann family’s mansion at that time. It was located around the corner of the area, where not many people would visit. The number of servants stationed at that area was also comparatively lesser than the number of servants stationed elsewhere.
I didn’t go out that often—no, to be more exact, I wasn’t allowed to go outside that often.
However, to the young me of that time, I didn’t notice those things at all. It wasn’t until I was older that I started to notice the peculiarity of my arrangements.
There were only two familiar faces who had always been with me ever since I was very little, I guess. One was Chloe, the servant who was appointed as a chef at my living area. And the other one was… the wet nurse who raised me up.
Starting from the earliest memory I could recall…
This is my story. I probably should simplify and shorten things up for the kids, though.
[Flashback Mode: Activated. Mode: Complete Version.]
“Chloe, Firis, where is mother? Why doesn’t she see me that often? Is she sick? Is she busy? Or could she have forgotten about me?”
The little boy nudged at the two women’s maid uniforms as his yellow and blue eyes were a little bit teary as he continued to pout.
“Cyan-sama, there’s no way she’s forgotten about you, she must have… some matters on her hands,” the younger woman with the long dark blue hair gently placed the clothes she was folding aside before she bent her body so that her sky blue eyes would be on the same level with the little boy’s.
“Then, should we go and visit mother instead? Let’s give her some cookies to cheer her up!” The little boy enthusiastically suggested.
“Well, why don’t you ask Boris-sama and if your father gives you the permission, we’ll do that?” The woman asked as she patted the little boy’s pale white hair.
“Oh, then I will ask him during my next training! He will surely allow me, right, Firis?” Cyan’s eyes shone in expectations.
Looking at his expectant eyes, Firis’ hand which patted Cyan slightly trembled and her eyes slightly widened. However, little Cyan didn’t get to catch the small change in Firis’ attitude.
“…Of course,” Firis smiled.
Looking at the two’s interactions, Chloe sighed.
The two women fully understood what Boris Pax Hartmann—the current duke of Hartmann and Cyan’s father—was going to say.
On the day Boris coldly said ‘No,’ the five-year-old Cyan threw a tantrum.
Several days after that incident, Cyan sneaked out of ‘his territory’ to go and see his mother.
He managed to discover his mother in the beautiful garden, leisurely drinking some tea. His happy eyes quickly dimmed as soon as he saw another boy’s figure next to his mother. The boy looked about seven years of age, and his hair was of the same pale white color as Cyan’s. His eyes were also of different color—yellow and red.
However, he emitted more of a ‘noble’ aura than Cyan’s, and his face showed a hint of haughtiness. He was eating some cakes as he spoke to his mother.
“Oh my, Dius. Eat more carefully! Look, there’s cream over here,” the brown-haired woman scolded the little boy, but a hint of pampering was there in her voice. She then took out her handkerchief and wiped the cream off Dius’ cheek.
“I’m sorry, Mother!” Dius apologized.
Jealousy began to surge from deep inside Cyan’s heart as he witnessed this scene.
Why? Why can older brother be with Mother? I also want to be pampered like that.
In the spur of the moment, Cyan quickly rushed off to approach his mother.
Hearing that word so suddenly, Dius and Hillde—the current duchess of Hartmann, turned around and saw Cyan.
The moment Hillde’s eyes stopped at Cyan’s figure, a hint of disdain appeared.
Cyan couldn’t really understand that it was disdain, but he could tell clearly how different was the gaze that his mother threw to him compared to his older brother.
“I missed you so much! Why didn’t you come to see me?” Cyan paid no mind to those ‘trivial’ things and quickly reached out to embrace his mother.
Contrary to his expectations, Hillde quickly stood up from her chair and shunned his arms. Since Cyan didn’t control his power, he fell to the ground.
“Don’t touch me with your dirty hands,” Hillde coldly said as she covered half of her face with her folding fan.
Hearing the cold voice of his mother, Cyan’s eyes quickly turned teary again, but he quickly stood up and dusted off the dirt from his clothes. He recalled the little education he’s gone through and tried to display the correct way to greet one’s elder.
“I apologize for my impoliteness, Mother. How do you do?”
The naïve Cyan believed that after displaying the correct etiquette, his mother would surely praise him. However…
“Why are you here? Where are your maids? Why didn’t they monitor you more?”
“Return. I don’t want to see you.”
Up until this time, Cyan only spent very little time with his mother and his older brother. In every occasion, his father was also there. In every occasion, his mother didn’t really respond well to him, so did his older brother. However, Cyan believed that it was only due to the awkwardness they felt.
This was the first time he acted on an impulse and went to see his mother. It was the first time he met his mother without his father present. This was the first time he saw his mother’s gentle eyes—but they weren’t for him, but for his older brother. This was also the first time he saw his mother’s blatant rejection of him.
“Mother, tell me, what did I do wrong? Cyan will definitely fix it! So, don’t say that, please?”
“Let’s head back inside. I don’t have the mood to continue drinking tea anymore.”
However, Hillde continued to ignore Cyan and grabbed Dius’ hand.
Suddenly, a familiar voice full of concern could be heard from behind Cyan. Shortly after, a familiar figure was seen running towards him.
After looking at the current situation—Cyan who was on the ground as his mother dodged his touch again, and Hillde, Dius, and the other maids who were about to leave, Firis could more or less guess what had happened.
“Hillde-sama, on Cyan-sama’s behalf, I apologize,” Firis deeply bowed her head in front of Hillde.
“Hmph, really. And you still continue to address him as Cyan?”
“That is… He’s more used to ‘Cyan’, and…”
“Like I said, the name Icarus fits him better. He shouldn’t try to fly too close to the sun, he should stay on the ground where he should be. And you, how stupid can you be, you can’t even watch over a little kid? Do you really want to get punished so much?”
“…I apologize, Hillde-sama.”
“Hmph, you think by apologizing, everything will be solved? How should I punish you, I wonder?”
Hearing those words, Cyan snapped out of his daze. He quickly stood up between Hillde and Firis.
“Don’t punish Firis! It’s my fault, so I should be the one to get punished!!” Cyan resolutely said as he extended his small arms, as if gesturing to protect Firis who was behind him.
Looking at his conduct, Hillde was exasperated.
“Oh? Choosing a lowly maid over your noble mother? What a joke.”
At Hillde’s words, Cyan was surprised.
“No, Mother, I…”
“Enough. You all, return. And you, little maid, I’ll have your salary deducted.”
“Thank you for your mercy, Hillde-sama.”
Firis quickly came in front of Cyan and bowed to Hillde. With this gesture of hers, Cyan’s dazed expression was hidden from Hillde.
“I’m sorry, Firis! You get punished because of me!” After returning to his room, tears fell from Cyan’s eyes as he grabbed on Firis’ skirt tightly.
“No… you don’t have to apologize for that, Cyan-sama. Rather, I’d like to thank you for speaking up for me at that time, even though you were facing your mother,” Firis hugged Cyan and caressed the back of his head, trying to soothe his sobbing.
“No, it’s all my fault! Firis is not wrong at all!!” Cyan continued to insist that it was his fault, as he indulged himself in Firis’ familiar scent.
After calming down, Cyan continued to voice his thoughts.
“Why would Mother do that, Firis? Why would she say that?”
“Why did she hate me so much? Did I do something wrong before? Did I upset her?”
“Why did I see Dius-niisama with her? And why did I feel like mother’s treatment to him was so different from the way she treated me?”
“Why? Why? I don’t understand… Tell me, Firis, what is my fault?”
Listening to Cyan’s innocent wailing, Firis’ throat choked. The hand that was patting Cyan’s back stopped.
“No, you didn’t do anything wrong, Cyan…sama… You weren’t at fault at all…”
Firis hugged Cyan even tighter and tried to let him know that he wasn’t at fault. Then, with a very low voice, she muttered to herself, “It’s all my…”
“Mm? Firis, did you say something?”
Cyan felt like Firis was saying something, but he couldn’t hear her words clearly, so he looked at Firis’ face and asked.
Firis gently smiled, rubbed his head, and said, “It’s nothing.”
Cyan felt strangely refreshed after Firis coaxed him. It was true that his mother’s rejection hurt him, but for some reason, he managed to calm down with Firis’ help. He didn’t even protest that his mother criticized him for speaking up for Firis, and he didn’t see anything wrong with it. After all, though Firis wasn’t his family, he felt much closer to Firis, who had been raising him all this time.
Although they received punishment from Boris who heard about the matter from Hillde, it didn’t discourage Cyan for trying to do the best again, to make his mother see him and like him again. He tried to be the best in every education he was given, to the point that some tutors praised him over his older brother.
However, Cyan would never thought that this backfired, and instead, he was more scrutinized by his mother. Even his older brother began to loathe him more, and started to bully him.
Cyan couldn’t understand why and what he should do. His sixth birthday and debut to the noble society was coming soon, but he wasn’t excited at all by this, although his birthdays had never been celebrated by his family members.
The day he turned six was the first time his parents held a celebration for him. During the party, his parents and his older brother treated him very well. But for some reason, Cyan felt that they weren’t sincere, somehow. Somehow, he could sense the pretentiousness. But nevertheless, he still foolishly hoped.
He hoped that after this, his parents and older brother would treat him more warmly, that they would let him be with them more often.
After the party ended, he quickly ran towards his parents and older brother’s place, only to feel like he wasn’t included in their ‘family of three’. When he came and hoped that they’d welcome him well just like how they treated him at the party, the atmosphere turned awkward.
A hint of disdain could be seen through Hillde’s face which was half-covered by the fan. His older brother’s gaze towards him was filled with hostility. However, perhaps since the head of the Hartmann family was here with them, Hillde and Dius didn’t show their blatant rejections.
Still, Cyan was too observant of his mother and older brother’s expressions, as he spent his great focus and care to see through them—since he wanted to see if he was received or not. So, obviously their slight hints of rejection were seen through by him.
In the end, his hope was shattered completely. He had no more spirit to object, so Cyan obediently returned to his room—at the most secluded part of the house.
Along the way, he tried to hold back his tears. He still couldn’t comprehend why his family would treat him like this? Was he a failure? But his tutors praised him… His affinity to magic was also good, even better than his older brother…
Just now, he saw many other noble families. Some were cold and seemed distant, but he envied those noble children who seemed to grow up in warm families.
He watched with envy as there were some noble children who threw their childish tantrums and had their parents sweetly coax them. Or that child who insisted they wouldn’t leave their parents’ side, and instead of getting scolded, that child’s parents showered them with affections instead.
He never experienced any degree of warmth and closeness with his own family. Wasn’t family supposed to be people who’d be there for you? Why was it different from how families were portrayed in the stories?
Sensing Cyan’s dispirited mood, the moment he returned to his own room, Firis decided to give him a present.
“Happy birthday, Cyan-sama! As today is a special day, I shall present you a grand magical water show!!”
In a moment, Firis quickly created various forms of magical water and performed her story-telling. It was the story of a lonely boy who was searching for his friends. Along his journey, he met with various creatures with the same goal—from a dog, magical beast, demonic monster, magical plant—they traveled together and managed to pass through many ordeals. At the end of the journey, they realized that they were no longer lonely—and that they have gained their own “family”.
Perhaps since he was able to relate to the main character so much, Cyan’s eyes were sparkling as he watched the whole magical water show performed. Though nothing could be done about his own blood-related family, this story gave him hope of finding similar kind of “family”.
After that, as per their annual tradition, Cyan celebrated his birthday with Chloe and Firis, his two closest people in this house. Eating Chloe’s delicious cake managed to increase his spirit even more.
That night, as usual, Firis insisted on accompanying him until he fell asleep. Though sometimes Cyan would reject the offer as he felt he was no longer a little child, but this time, he didn’t seem to object at all.
When Firis tucked Cyan on his blanked, unexpectedly, Cyan grabbed Firis’ hand.
“What is it, Cyan-sama?”
“Firis, tell me. Do you care for me only because you’re hired as my maid, or do you really… care about me?” Cyan timidly asked this question. He wasn’t sure why, but since he felt that nobody in his family really wanted him, he began doubting. He began to feel as if he was really unwanted and unloved, and he doubted it when he felt that there were people who cared about him.
Especially Firis. Cyan felt so attached to Firis who had always been there for him.
At least, if she indeed doesn’t care about me, let that hope be smashed here and now.
Determined, Cyan added, “Tell me the truth. I won’t be mad or anything. I have to know.”
Firis was really surprised at Cyan’s serious face. After closing her eyes for a few seconds, she patted Cyan’s head and said, “Cyan-sama, being able to take care of you like this is my greatest joy in life. I don’t know how you feel about it, but I seriously care about you.”
Sensing the gentleness and sincerity Firis showed, Cyan felt relieved.
“…It would be nice if you were my mother, Firis,” Cyan smiled on his wishful thinking.
However, Firis who heard those words, widened her eyes in surprise.
But then, she quickly recovered, tidied up Cyan’s bed, and said, “Good night, Cyan-sama.”
“Mm, good night, Firis. …Thank you.”
In the middle of the night, Cyan woke up after having a nightmare and he wasn’t able to fall asleep again. Therefore, he decided to just take a stroll around the house.
Though he was more used to being alone compared to other children his age, he still wanted to look for Firis or Chloe’s figures, as he just had a nightmare.
He wondered… if they were still awake, or if he could intrude on their sleep?
As he approached the servants’ living quarters, he noticed that the door to Firis and Chloe’s room was slightly open. And he could see that the light was still on. To support his deduction, he then heard some voices… Firis and Chloe’s voices!!
They weren’t sleeping?!
Excited, Cyan quickly peered in from the door’s small gap. For some reason, he decided to listen to their conversation and observe what they were doing, before entering.
On the small, round table, Firis and Chloe were sitting and drinking some tea.
“Firis, why didn’t you just tell him?” Chloe asked.
“No way, Chloe. He would have to comprehend such a difficult truth,” Firis sighed. She had her right hand supporting her head, as if she was greatly troubled. Cyan was surprised from seeing that figure of hers.
“But wouldn’t that be better than letting him suffer under the thought of his whole family shunning him?”
“But… I’m afraid it would spread to the others, and he’d get bullied or shunned even more… You know how bad are the [illegitimate] treated, right? I’m afraid the situation will turn worse.”
“Then, why don’t you at least tell him that you really, really love him? It would surely make him very happy.”
“…I wouldn’t dare, Chloe. I’m only a lowly maid, with no background. Wouldn’t saying that mean I’m surpassing my boundary as his maid?”
“…But Firis, I couldn’t stand it… I can’t stand looking at you and Cyan-sama like this,” Chloe sighed.
“…As long as he can live well and healthy, I have no other wish,” Firis calmly said.
“Well, of course. You are a very good mother, you know? If only you could tell him that you’re his mother, not that cold Hillde-sama who only hurt him…”
Cyan, who overheard the whole conversation from beyond the door, held his breath in surprise. His eyes turned wide, and his heart was thumping.
I don’t really understand what they’re talking about, but… Did I just hear that… Firis is my mother?!
At this moment, Cyan’s small head didn’t complicate things and think of his parentage or history. His heart and mind were preoccupied with a certain notion.
Usually, Cyan wouldn’t act on his impulse as he had learned the hard way that acting on his impulses would only result in bad things. However, at this time, Cyan acted on his impulse. He quickly opened the door wide and jumped to Firis.
“Is that true?! Firis, you’re my mother…?!” Cyan hugged Firis’ knees as he looked up at Firis with his expectant eyes.
Chloe covered her mouth with her hands in surprise, and Firis’ eyes were so wide as she couldn’t believe what just happened.
“Cyan-sama?! Why are you here?! W-what did you hear, again? Y-you probably misheard…,” Firis tried to cover everything, but it was too late.
“I heard everything! Firis, are you really my mother?”
“N-no, Cyan-sama, that is… you heard it wrong.”
“…so, when I heard Chloe said that you loved me, it was also wrong?” Cyan’s expectant eyes turned into a heartbroken expression. Firis couldn’t bring herself to see him like this.
“Firis, I’m sorry…,” Chloe felt really guilty. After all, she carelessly said that, and didn’t notice Cyan who was peeking from the door. It was natural for Firis not to notice him, as Firis was facing her, with her back against the door. If only Chloe looked more attentively, she’d notice Cyan there…
“Firis, tell me I didn’t hear it wrong… Tell me that you’re my mother…,” Cyan resorted to pleading, this time. This left Firis speechless.
“W-why, Cyan-sama? I’m only a lowly maid… I have no family background… Why would you want me to become your mother?”
“I don’t care… I don’t care about it… Firis, you treat me much, much better than the one I called mother… I’d rather have you as my mother…,” Cyan rubbed his teary face against Firis’ clothes.
Firis looked at Chloe, gesturing with her eyes, ‘What should I do?’
However, Chloe could only nod.
Firis closed her eyes for a moment. In her mind, she recalled Chloe’s words again.[He needs a motherly love. He needs a mother, Firis, he needs you. I’m afraid if you deny the matter longer, Cyan-sama’s heart and mind will be broken by that time.]
Since it has come to this… I might as well…
Firis’ hand trembled as she reached out to Cyan’s head and lightly patted it.
“…Cyan-sama… I’m so sorry for making you suffer like this… I’m not worthy to be your mother…”
“No, no! You’re the one who cares about me so much! Firis… you are my mother… right?”
Firis suppressed the tears that were about to fall from her eyes. She gulped and lightly nodded.
After seeing Firis’ affirmative nod, Cyan’s eyes sparkled as he tightened his embrace of Firis.
“Really…?! T-then, don’t call me with ‘-sama’… Firis, can I… call you mother—”
Cyan abruptly stopped, as he suddenly thought that he had long associated the word [mother] to Hillde, who was cold to him. It would complicate things, then.
So, Cyan shook his head quickly and added, “No, can I call you [mom]?”
On his sixth birthday, Cyan got the best present he could ask for. That is, a mother that actually loves him deeply.
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