… Why are you staring at me? I’m done with my business and I want to leave now.
Meanwhile, Persis was puzzled by his own child not giving him a gift.
‘Why is she hesitating?”
I was also puzzled.
‘What is it…? Why is he staring at me like that?’
I wondered if he thought I had a gift for him. I confidently said,
“Dad, I don’t have one.
After my words, there was silence for about 10 seconds. During those 10 seconds, Yohan showed signs of unease.
It was Persis who broke the silence.
“…you don’t have one?”
His voice was calm. For some reason, Yohan continued to feel uneasy, but I couldn’t understand the reason.
“I came to give it to Mr. Yudif.”
Without noticing Persis’s cold and hardened expression, I showed a bright smile to Yohan.
Yohan felt both pleased and frightened by the smile directed at him.
“Enjoy your meal, Mr. Audio.”
“Yes, thank you, Master…”
When I truly gave the gift only to Yohan and turned to leave.
Yohan could feel a chilling aura. It was the presence emanating from his master.
As Persis spoke, Johann turned his head towards him anxiously. Their eyes met.
His crimson eyes glared fiercely as if they could devour him.
“Why does May give gifts only to you? What have you done better than me?”
“Well, I… also did well…”
“Did you secretly approach May and earn some points?”
Yohan, like a weak rabbit facing a growling lion, was in the current state he was in.
“No, that can’t be true…! I’m too busy escorting my master. When would I have time to approach Lady May…! Of course, I’ve been smiling kindly whenever we meet…”
“What? Smiling kindly?
Persis tensed up as if he would unleash his power and attack Yohan right away.
“Dare you to do that to my son?”
“Oh, no, it’s not like that…! It’s just a minimum display of courtesy.”
Persis had an expression that showed complete disbelief, but soon one corner of his mouth curled up sinisterly.
“… Is that so?”
Witnessing that sinister grin, Yohan had a strong intuition that he would be tormented by his own master for a while.
Two days later, during the day. I had some free time before class and was chatting with Ellen and Joan in my room.
Ellen, sitting in front of me, looked at Joan and said:
“Do you know why Joan often braids her hair into two sections?”
“Is there a reason?”
“It’s embarrassing, Ellen~”
Joan, who was wiping the windowsill with a cloth, seemed embarrassed, but I couldn’t understand why. Why would she feel embarrassed?
The answer to this was provided by Ellen.
“When the young master had long hair, she often braided it and slept.”
“Right. I like wavy hair, so I deliberately braided it to make it curl the next day.”
Now that her hair is short, she can’t do the hairstyle she wants.
“One day, Joan saw the young master with braided hair and admired it, so she started braiding her hair as well.”
When I turned my gaze towards Joan, she nodded her head.
“At that time, when I saw you, I thought you were a fairy, Miss. You looked really lovely. Of course, you’re still incredibly lovely!”
However, Joan quickly became gloomy. She paused her slow cleaning with a cloth.
“It’s not just me, everyone feels that you’re lovely… The master must feel the same way, so why… why does he want to raise you as his son…?”
It wasn’t just Joan, but also Ellen and many others in the Duke’s household who had doubts.
Perhaps Persis realized the value of his daughter after sending her to an orphanage and bringing her back.
But to insist on raising her as a son until the confirmation of her biological relationship was something they couldn’t comprehend based on their common sense.
Other people also couldn’t understand…
I, too, had my doubts about Persis’ insistence on having a son, but I didn’t feel the need to confront his decision. As long as I could stay alive and safe, it was okay for me.
Besides, living as a different gender was bothersome and sometimes challenging, but I could manage it for now.
Persis wasn’t someone who would let me stop pretending to be his son just because I said I didn’t want to.
“Someday, I’ll stop pretending that I’m his son.”
I didn’t have high expectations, but I said that to reassure Joan.
“He still wants to create a successor and raise me as his son because he can’t let go of his ambitions. It’ll stop soon, I suppose.”
Even though I knew it wasn’t true, it felt a bit desolate to say those words.
“I hope the master would let go of his ambitions as soon as possible…””
I’d like to call you Miss. It’s still awkward to call you Young Master.
The atmosphere in the room suddenly became gloomy.
A voice filled with exhaustion and despair came from outside the door.
“Who is it?”
Before I could finish my sentence, Ellen got up and opened the door. Outside, there was a disheveled-looking Yohan.
As soon as Yohan saw me, his eyes widened, and he kneeled down, begging.
“Please, save me, Young Master. The master is tormenting me.”
“He’s tormenting you?”
“Yes… Two days ago, he suddenly said I need to enhance my physical strength and ordered me to run 100 laps in the training ground, and just now, he said he would take me to a hunting ground infested with demons….”
“A hunting ground? Mr. Yudipf, you don’t have any magical powers. It’s incredibly dangerous for someone without magical powers to go to an area with demon infestations!”
“The master assured me that he will protect me from getting hurt… but his intention to take me there is undoubtedly to torment me! … It seems like he’s doing this because I received your gift while the master couldn’t.”
After hearing Yohan’s words, Ellen asked me.
“Young Master, did you only give gifts to us and not to the master?”
“Yeah. I stopped giving them because I only wanted to give to the ones I wanted…”
I scratched my ear and forced a smile.
“But you shouldn’t do that. The master would feel so sad if he’s the only one not receiving gifts.”
“But he’s not the type to get sad over such things, right?”
“He might not show it on the surface, but deep down, he’ll definitely be sad.”
“Is that so…?”
“Then, give a gift to the master too.”
Persis, feeling sad that he alone didn’t receive a gift. It’s hard to imagine, but if I put myself in his shoes, I would feel a bit disappointed too, so I complied with Ellen’s suggestion.
“Alright. I’ll give Dad a chocolate gift too.”
“That’s a good idea.”
I also spoke to Johan, who was kneeling down.
“When I give out the gifts, I’ll also tell Dad not to torment you. It will probably be late at night after the classes end when I can make the chocolates, so please bear with it until then.”
Yohan’s expression brightened at last.
“Thank you, Young master…!”
It was time for everyone to go to bed. The one knocking on Persis’s bedroom door was none other than me.
Persis personally opened the door to welcome me.
“What’s happening at this hour?”
He had just returned from the hunting ground and was still dressed in his outdoor attire, with a few buttons undone on his shirt.
“I came to give you a gift.”
I extended a blue ribboned box to him with a bright smile. It was twice as big as the one I gave to Yohan.
Persis seemed slightly taken aback when he saw the box, but then turned his head as if disinterested.
“I never asked for gifts.”
“I just wanted to give it to you.”
“You don’t have to.”
“Are you really not going to accept it?”
With no response from him, I placed the box in his hands.
“It’s handmade chocolates that I made while thinking of Dad.”
He glanced down at the box in my hand, then shifted his gaze back to me.
Saying that, he swiftly let go of the door he was holding and walked inside.
I clumsily pushed the closing door with force and entered inside.
Why did he bring me into the room? I was planning to tell him not to bother Yohan and then leave right away…
He sat down on the sofa and placed the box on the table.
“Have a seat.”
I sat on the front sofa to face him, so we could look at each other.
It felt awkward, as it was rare for us to sit facing each other unless it was mealtime.
To break the awkward atmosphere, I spoke first.
“I was late in giving you the gift because I was busy creating a new menu.”
“A new menu?”
“You’ll know when you try it. It’s different from regular chocolates.”
Upon hearing my words, Persis untied the ribbon and opened the box. Inside were 25 chocolates neatly arranged in rows of 5, with 5 chocolates each.
“I tried to decorate them with various colors, but I thought a simple design would go well with Dad’s image, so I sprinkled a little bit of gold on top. There was gold dust in the kitchen.”
Persis stared at the chocolates dusted with gold and soon picked one up and took a bite. While eating the chocolate, there was a crunchy sound, as if chewing on something small like a grain.
“How is it?”
I looked at him with expectant eyes. He nonchalantly evaluated the taste.
“It’s sweet… and salty.”
“Yes, it’s sweet and salty chocolate!”
Salted chocolate, which I often enjoyed when I lived in Korea. It’s not common in the Starcia Empire, so I decided to make it myself.
“When I asked the chef, he said Dad doesn’t really like sweet things. But since I had already decided on chocolates as the gift, I tried to make the sweetness less pronounced.”
“Yes. I tried adding salt to milk chocolate. The combination of sweetness and saltiness goes well together. That’s why it’s called ‘Sweet and Salty Chocolate’!”
Persis couldn’t take his eyes off the bear-shaped chocolates.
“Since you don’t like sweetness, you add other flavors.”
He chuckled at the unique idea.
“It’s a childish idea.”
“It means my brain is young, right? I’m glad, hehe.”
I watched Persis as he put the chocolate into his mouth, with both hands clasped together.
“Does it suit your taste?”
“… It’s okay.”
Although he expressed it as “okay,” in reality, it was more than just okay. He even picked up another piece of chocolate.
Then he continued to slowly savor them, taking two, three… and picking up more in front of me.
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