The door opened and someone walked in.
In the doorway were a girl and a boy who looked to be Lucas’ age or older.
After a moment of amused chatter, they were startled to see the four children in the room.
“Oh, we’re sorry, Master.
We thought no one was here……!”
“Please forgive us!”
In what could have been a mistake, both men turned visibly pale and shuddered.
“Would you have used this place as your own without us?”
They heard a chilling voice they’d never heard before.
Herwin’s face stiffened as if he’d been smiling a moment ago.
“Hey, don’t be mad, it could have been an accident.”
Sensing something was amiss, Lucas nudged Herwin.
“That’s right, next time don’t do that, big brother.”
Henry agreed with Lucas and dismissed the screamers.
They walked away quickly, not wanting Lucas and Henry to change their minds.
Lucas glanced at the closed door and then at Herwin.
He didn’t like what he saw.
“What’s wrong with you? There’s nothing to be so sensitive about.”
“He hates him and his sisters.
His brow turns like this whenever he sees them.”
Henry replied, mimicking Herwin’s frown with his own.
“Did something happen with them?”
Herwin barely flinched at the cautious question.
Then he reverted to his normal self and began to prank Lucas and Henry.
The quiet room was quickly filled with laughter.
Only Lucia was not laughing as she watched the group jostle in unison.
For a moment, she couldn’t take her eyes off Herwin.
* * *
“Sis, Sis, look at this!”
“It’s a shamrock.”
Said I could make a ring out of this! I’ll make a ring and give it to you!”
“I’m looking forward to that.”
Lucia smiled brightly, and Henry was instantly energized, focusing his fern-like hands on making the ring.
They were now in a small garden behind the duke’s castle.
The four had heard of the four-leaf clover, which was said to bring good fortune, and they were eager to find it.
“Wow, it’s really hard to find.”
“Yeah, there are so many clovers, but I don’t see any four-leaves.”
“Well, isn’t that luck? Luck doesn’t just happen to everyone.”
“Well, I’ll make sure to look for it.”
Lucas’ eyes lit up with enthusiasm.
Just then, someone tugged at the hem of his shirt.
He turned to see Henry standing there, fidgeting.
“Henry, I think you need to take a break…….”
“Sis, can’t you go with Henry to take a break?”
Lucia’s eyes fluttered open.
“Oh, big brother.”
Lucia finally turned to Lucas with an SOS.
“Henry wants to go to the bathroom.”
“He’s ……, so why are you telling me that?”
“Because he asked me to go with him…….”
“Really? Then I can do it.”
Lucas stood up and walked over to Henry.
Henry didn’t like Lucas making fun of him on a fictional day.
Lucas snorted as Henry stood right next to Lucia and glared at him.
Then he scooped up the small child.
“Awww, get off me!”
“If you want to go to the bathroom, you should ask me or your brother, not Lucia.”
“I don’t want to, big brother! Go away!”
“You can’t help it if you don’t want to.
Now, go over there…….”
“Ugh! I said go over there!”
Henry cried out in frustration.
Herwin turned his head as Henry’s cries grew louder.
“Brother, do you want me to go?”
“No, it’s okay, Henry, stop crying and……!”
Lucas screamed as he patted Henry’s back.
“Aah, I’m going to wet myself here!”
With a slight odor, Lucas’ clothes began to get wet as he held Henry.
After crying and relaxing, Henry made a mistake.
Henry cried harder and harder, not sure if it was because he was embarrassed or not.
“I’m sorry, brother, I should have just gone with you…….”
“No, it’s okay, I never thought I’d get back at you like this…….”
Lucas let out a weak laugh and patted Henry on the back.
“I’m going to go into the castle and change with Henry.
You guys stay here.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind if you go by yourself, so we can…….”
“If I say it’s okay, it’s nothing.”
As Herwin approached, Lucas waved him away.
Lucas eventually patted Henry on the back and headed for the duchy.
Henry called out to Lucia and Herwin, but his voice grew increasingly distant.
Lucia and Herwin were the only ones left.
It was always uncomfortable when they were alone, so they looked away and fidgeted awkwardly.
“Should we go find some four-leaf clovers?”
“Huh? Uh, yeah, let’s do that.”
At Lucia’s suggestion, the two started looking for the four-leaf clover again.
After an awkward silence, Lucia called out to Herwin as they searched for the clover.
“There’s something I wanted to ask you.”
“What is it?”
“You know, some of your sisters and brothers were in the wrong room yesterday.”
“Why were you so angry then?”
“Well, I got mad at ……Why do you want to know that?”
“Well, because you’re not the kind of person to just get mad for no reason?”
Herwin lifted his head from where it had been bowed.
“……You’ve only known me for a week.”
“But you used to live with me for a year and a half.”
“That was two years ago, and to be honest, I don’t remember much of it.
Do you remember everything that happened with me then?”
“I don’t remember everything either…but I know you’re not the one.”
Herwin’s face crumpled.
He couldn’t understand what Lucia was saying now.
What was she looking at to decide he wasn’t the one?
It was nice of her to be nice, but it wasn’t like he was going to tell her all the secrets he wanted to keep hidden.
A memory flashed through his mind, one that would never go away.
The day he was younger than Henry now when he was mocked and ridiculed by his vassal’s children.
No matter how much time passed, it was never forgotten.
Herwin stiffened at the unpleasant memory.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“It’s not like you’re going to …… or anything.”
“I don’t want to talk about it! Why should I tell you about it in the first place?”
Herwin’s irritation was beginning to show in his tone.
“Because… I’m your friend…….”
“Friend? We may have been close when we were younger, but not now.
I don’t think we’re close enough to confide in each other.”
Herwin glared at Lucia with cold eyes, a clear rejection and wariness.
Lucia suddenly felt wistful.
‘You used to listen to me without question.’
It had been so long ago, she couldn’t be sure, but she felt it instinctively.
The Herwin of today was so different from the Herwin of yesterday.
It made her both sad and angry, and she pouted her lips.
“Where are you going?”
Without another word, Lucia stood up and walked deeper into the forest.
“Hey, you can’t go that deep!”
“What do you care, I’ll do as I please!”
Hearing Lucia yells at him for the first time, Herwin was dumbfounded.
Her expression turned sour for a moment.
“Yes, have it your way!”
Lucia shouted from the forest.
“Herwin is a fool!”
“What? Fool? If I’m a fool, you’re an idiot!”
“Ah! Yes, I am an idiot, so don’t follow me!”
“Hmph, who’s following you!”
He caught his breath and looked back to where Lucia was, but she had already disappeared into the forest.
“Why do you have a temper?”
It was ridiculous that she should be the one to lose her temper.
All this time, Herwin had been complaining about Lucia, saying that he had misjudged her.
After a few minutes of tantrums, Herwin glanced at the forest where Lucia had entered.
‘You should never go into the woods alone.
There are no monsters, but there are wild beasts and it’s dangerous, so you shouldn’t go into the woods without an adult.’
He remembered Hail’s words from earlier.
“If you’re not an idiot, you won’t go deep.”
He’d warned her, so she wouldn’t go in there.
Herwin thought to himself and began nervously picking at the clover.
After a while, Herwin stopped and glanced up.
His gaze drifted toward the forest where Lucia had entered.
“…… Seriously, you’re bothering me.”
Lucia was getting on his nerves.
He realized that if he had responded more gently, she wouldn’t have gotten upset and gone into the woods.
Normally, he wouldn’t care what anyone else thought, but he couldn’t let it go.
“Maybe it’s because we used to be together…….”
He wondered if the old memories he didn’t remember were grabbing me by the ankles.
His heart ached as he imagined her face contorted and covered in tears as if her smile was not as bright as the sun.
Overcome by an unknown emotion, he plucked at the grass in frustration.
As he was about to toss them away, he stopped dead in his tracks when he saw a large leaf caught between his fingers.
“……? It’s a four-leaf clover.”
One of the clovers in his hand was a four-leaf clover, and it was quite a coincidence.
It was larger than the other clovers, and none of the leaves were torn.
“Wow, a real four-leaf clover!”
Herwin jumped to his feet when he realized he had found a four-leaf clover.
He took a moment to notice the silence around him, his emotions overwhelming him.
If only Lucia were here, she would have congratulated him as if it were her work.
The corners of Herwin’s mouth twitched downward.
His excitement was quickly dampened.
He looked at the four-leaf clover with mixed feelings, and carefully clenched his fist so as not to spoil it.
“It can’t be done, I’ll go find her.”
Surely giving the clover to Lucia would make her feel better.
It was only a four-leaf clover, so it was a little, very little, but he didn’t care how much he gave her if it made her feel better.
‘Wow, are you giving this to me?’
He pictured Lucia’s face when he’ll give her the four-leaf clover.
“Seriously, Lucia doesn’t know how I feel.”
Despite his grumbling, his face was brighter than before.
Excited at the thought of getting along with Lucia again, Herwin hummed to himself and walked into the forest that Lucia had entered.
* * *
“Stupid, dumb, anemone, squid……!”
Lucia spat out every bad word she could think of as she entered the forest.
She snorted loudly and stomped her foot as hard as she could.
“Herwin is an idiot.”
If he doesn’t want to talk, he can just say no.
It’s not worth getting so upset about.
She tried to hold it together, but the tears and snot were starting to show.
She didn’t want to cry, because she felt like she would lose to Herwin if she showed tears over something like this.
Lucia hurriedly wiped her tears away with her sleeve.
Nevertheless, the tears continued to fall, unaware of her master’s feelings.
“Arghh, Herwin is a fool…….”
She was more disappointed that he didn’t accept her as a friend than that he was angry.
A part of her wondered if the reason he had gotten along better with Lucas was that he didn’t consider him a friend.
“I don’t need a friend like Herwin!”
She had decided to hate Herwin, and even when she said it out loud, it didn’t loosen her grip.
The more she thought about him, the more sadness came over her.
“Hmph, hmph, hmph…….”
Tears poured down her face, and she finally let go of her throat and cried.
The not-so-loud wail echoed through the forest like an echo.
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