ITAVDWBE Chapter 2

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“My baby~”

“Mother!”

By chance, the countess had just returned from the outing as Anthea walked outside to welcome Nathan. Anthea rushed up to hug the countess right away. The countess, Hilda Leslie, gave Anthea a warm hug as if it were a routine.

“Oh no, baby. Your cheeks are cold. How did you know and come out to meet me?”

“Hm hemp, she came out to meet me.”

“Oh my, my son, you’re here. My baby was so dazzling that I couldn’t see you.”

Hilda’s smile was full of playfulness and warmth. She perceived Anthea’s smile and loveliness as innocent as she grabbed Hilda’s arm.

“My baby, you can meet your brother whom you’ve seen every day inside our house. What if you catch a cold?”

“But it’s nice to be able to greet my mother like this because I’m outside.”

Hilda, who saw Anthea smiling with her pretty eyes filled with affection, couldn’t hold her back anymore and hugged her tightly.

“Aww, my little cutie. How can you say such lovely words?”

Anthea had difficulty breathing in the embrace since it was so tight, but she concealed her discomfort by snuggling her face close to Hilda’s neck.

“Hehe, mother. I love you very much.”

“I love our Anne very, very much, too.”

Even though the countess was simply Anthea’s guardian, Anthea continued to call her mother affectionately and without hesitation. In contrast, the countess referred to Anthea as her baby and appeared to value her over her own son.

“Let’s go inside, baby.”

“Yes, mother.”

Hilda’s eyes were full of affection as if her reply alone was lovely.

Hilda’s feelings which began from guilt and debt turned into affection towards Anthea.

In the past, Anthea lost her parents in an accident on her way here at the invitation of the countess. The count couple was very distressed and tried to adopt Anthea as compensation for losing her parents.

So far, the story has followed the original novel’s plot.

She must start changing her destiny since the emperor will soon send the duke a useless bride to keep him in line. She will use this low viscount title to avoid her doom future.

Fortunately, it was easy to avoid the count couple’s adoption offer.

By developing a close friendship with Nathan, she persuaded them that she could become their daughter without needing to be adopted. As Anthea had intended, the count couple decided against adopting her, instead choosing to act as her guardians.

‘That’s a very good thing.’

Although she did that to twist the original novel’s plot, things changed a lot because of Anthea’s doing.

Had she been the way she was, she would not have been as loved by the countess as she is now. If it were, it would have been difficult for her to make a bright smile with her sick body over the past five years.

“Madam, the master is looking for you.”

Hugging Anthea tightly as if she would not let go, Hilda immediately released her hand at the little whisper of the maid who approached her.

“Baby, my husband is looking for me. I don’t know why he asked for me, but I’ll be back soon. You should go to the dining room first.”

“Yes, mother. You have to quickly come back, okay?”

“Of course. I wouldn’t let my baby starve.”

Considering Anthea’s age, it was unreasonable to call her ‘baby’, but it was not awkward to call her that since she had a small physique and lovely appearance because of her slow ability to grow due to her illness. Anthea smiled tenderly in response, which made Hilda’s heart tighten. Hilda held onto Anthea’s hand as if she didn’t want to let go.

Hilda sighed as she watched Anthea’s light body walk away gracefully.

“I can’t let her go outside where it’s dangerous since she’s so pretty.”

For better or worse, Anthea rarely left the count’s estate because of how frail her body was.

Anthea dislikes traveling in carriages partly because of her parent’s accident when she was a little child. Anthea has a charming beauty and demeanor, but Hilda cracks a bitter smile whenever she considers the emotional trauma Anthea has experienced.

Anthea wouldn’t lose her parents if they didn’t invite Anthea’s family.

When the anniversary of Anthea’s parents’ death approaches, she acts as though nothing is wrong. As a result, Hilda’s heart aches painfully every time she sees the lovely yet miserable Anthea.

***

No matter how much time passed, the count couple didn’t come to the dining room.

“It seems like something happened. I’ll send a maid to see how they’re doing.”

While Nathan was calling the maid standing on one side, questions flashed to Anthea’s mind.

Would the count couple ignore their beloved son and Anthea at this time?

Even though it’s simply a meal, the pair has never refused to join in or let them know in advance that they couldn’t. Maybe it was about time for that* to happen.

*TL/N: The marriage proposal between the duke and Anthea.

“No, brother. I’ll go get them.”

She didn’t want to miss the opportunity to eavesdrop, so she stood up with an innocent smile.

“Then let’s go together.”

As Nathan raised his arm as if it were natural, Anthea immediately grabbed his arm without hesitation.

She could still listen in even when Nathan was present. Nathan is with her in case they get found, so maybe they’ll be forgiven more easily. The servants smiled as they watched Anthea and Nathan, who appeared to be both siblings and lovers*.

*TL/N: Siblings and lovers are two different things. They have a close relationship that resembles both.

Anthea approached the count’s office, saw that the door was slightly opened, and thought it was a golden opportunity. Nathan, who was puzzled, followed Anthea, who had released his arm and quietly walked like a cat to the door.

Anthea placed her ear on the slightly opened door. In Nathan’s eyes, Anthea’s behavior seemed cute. Anthea motioned for Nathan to get closer while Nathan debated whether or not to stop her from eavesdropping.

The chat between the count couple was clearly heard as he carefully walked up to the door and listened in with Anthea.

“He may be a duke, but this is far too rude. She has a fiance who grew up with her!”

“Honey, I’ve told you many times, but they’re not engaged.”

“It’s just that Anthea was too young to have an engagement ceremony.”

“Our Anne indeed looks young, but she would have a coming-of-age ceremony in a few months, right?”

“Mmhm, I know. We even prepared a location for her to get married after her coming-of-age ceremony. That’s if she wants it, of course.”

The count held onto an expensive-looking piece of paper in his hands and insisted more on the engagement than his wife, Hilda, did.

‘You’ve even set the wedding venue?’

Anthea, who was eavesdropping, was genuinely surprised.

She wasn’t surprised that the duke still sent her a marriage proposal even though the count didn’t adopt her.

This happened because she failed to twist the novel’s plot.

Instead, it was surprising that instead of asking Anthea’s opinion, who avoided answering with an innocent smile whenever they brought up the matter of engagement, they prepared the wedding ahead.

When she turned to Nathan, he blushed slightly and coughed a little from hearing about Anthea’s future wedding and her coming-of-age ceremony. At the same time, Anthea became more curious, so she came closer to the door and eavesdropped.

Even though he seems well-mannered, he accepts all of Anthea’s schemes and complaints.

“So what?! If you ask anyone in the world, they’ll admit how much our children care for each other! They should be viewed as a couple at this point.”

With a disappointed expression, the count said to Hilda as she stood firmly.

The count, who usually had the gentle demeanor of a typical civil servant, had disappeared entirely and seemed very agitated. Thanks to that, Hilda was able to calm down.

“Yes. Our Anne is already like a daughter and daughter-in-law to me.”

I can’t believe you’re taking my baby. You’ll have to give up your voice.”

“That’s right! How dare he try to touch my daughter!”

She was not her daughter. She was also not their adopted daughter, yet the agitated count burst those words out.

She knew the count couple’s sincerity towards her, but she didn’t think it would be this big.

It was a pleasant misjudgment*.

*TL/N: Anthea expected the count couple to ship her and their son, but she didn’t expect them to be this invested.

Anthea gently put her hands on her chest to calm down her pounding heart.

The paper that the agitated count was holding was thrown to the ground. The paper fell close to the door after throwing it with all his efforts.

Anthea picked the paper and read it with Nathan. Anthea was surprised by the contents.

“I’ll have to go to the palace immediately.”

“You’re not going to the duchy?”

“It’s the emperor’s order, so I’ll ask him. Our daughter already has a fiance, so how dare he try to give her to a barbarian. I won’t take a step back until I hear his reason why.”

Even though he was only her guardian, the words that came out of the count’s mouth were infinitely heavy, as if the emperor was taking away his own child.

“Then I’ll help you. My swordsmanship hasn’t gone rusty.”

Treason was mentioned by the countess as if it were a minor offense. Even though she knew she wouldn’t actually carry her sword to the imperial palace, she was still quite upset. Although Hilda appeared to have peaceful eyes on the surface, those tranquil eyes hid an unquenchable fire.

Anthea’s choice to avoid becoming their adopted daughter has an intense result.

She was treating the count couple as though they were her parents to alter the novel’s plot, but now she must prevent them from being drawn into the danger.

She had planned on returning after she got divorced, so she wouldn’t want to be thrown out when she returned.

“Mother, father.”

After a moment of silence, Hilda’s sweet smile greeted Anthea as if her agitation was nowhere to be seen.

“Baby, you should’ve started eating first… Anne!”

Hilda, who was trying to change her words just in case, was flustered to see Anthea, who was already crying. Fortunately, for Anthea, who grew up receiving the couple’s affection and goodwill, it was not hard for her to produce those tears.

She placed her trembling hands on her chest and forced a smile.

She blinked slowly to drop the tears that had filled her eyes. Those tears fell from her eyes and made her fair cheeks wet.

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