I Got Mad, But I Don’t Regret It.
After deciding that I would hold my wife Sasha dear from now on, the next place I had to visit was a certain someone’s room… My daughter, Laurier’s.
From the vague memories that were still filtering through about Callis’ life, he never took much interest in his own daughter… She would have been two years old this year, quite young for a married couple of this age, but as I searched through my memories for just where her room was… This man, did he really care so little for her? I couldn’t remember no matter how hard I tried.
The servants looked surprised as I passed by, even though they kept up their perfect etiquette… No, am I really that rare a character to see…?
“Oh? Then you are awake?”
“Mm? Zeke, is it?”
As I was deep in thought, an older man wearing the clothes of a butler called out to me… This was the house’s head butler (or rather, the only butler), Zeke, who also looked slightly surprised to see me.
“I was on my way to visit your room… Callis-sama, may I ask where you are going?”
“I was thinking of visiting Laurier’s room.”
“…Oh? My apologies, I must have misheard? For a moment there, I thought I heard that you were planning on visiting the Young Miss’ room…”
“I am. Her room was this way, wasn’t it?”
Although the ever-calm butler had quite the rare puzzled look on his face, he still calmly nodded when I asked him that.
“Yes. It is in that direction. On another note, Callis-sama… I seem to recall that Sasha-sama was in your room earlier…”
“Hm? Ah, Sasha returned to her room. She wanted to come with me, but I told her this was something I needed to do alone.”
“Callis-sama… I had heard you hit your head quite hard when you collapsed… are you sure you’re quite alright?”
“You are quite the rude one, aren’t you?”
Well, it’s not like I don’t understand where he’s coming from. It would only make sense to worry about just what happened to a man who never showed any interest in his family acting like this so suddenly… But even if he has some doubts over my sanity, it’s all I can do to speak calmly.
“I merely want to love what I didn’t have eyes with which to see before. Is that so wrong?”
“Nothing of the sort! Your servant, Zeke, is in fact quite moved to see something like that awake in you, Callis-sama!”
To be moved so easily… Just how sad a life did you lead, Callis?
Well, I guess I’ll have to fix his image from now on.
“In any case, I’ll be returning to work after seeing Laurier, can you wait that long?”
“Yes… However, right now, Laurier-sama is currently taking her etiquette lessons.”
“I see… Well, simply popping my head in the door shouldn’t hurt.”
“I would hope so…?”
There was something in Zeke’s voice. But, well, for the time being, I’ll ignore it and head towards Laurier’s room.
“I think it was… here?”
But just as I was about to knock on the door… I heard an angry shout from within. I opened the door ever so gently, just a crack, and was greeted with the sight of a young girl who had fallen to the floor, with an older woman screaming at her with a first raised in the air.
…Wait, that’s my daughter Laurier… No, wait just a damned minute, what the hell is that old lady doing to the daughter of the house!?
I wanted to run in straight away, but I barely managed to suppress my instinct and listened to the old lady’s words.
“You useless brat! How many times do I have to say it before it gets through your thick skull! You incompetent! You dunderhead!”
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”
“If the parents are good for nothings, then I suppose the child is too! You really are an unwanted brat!”
“Uu… I-I’m sorry…”
Snap. Ah, yeah, I think that was the sound of something breaking inside of me.
She called my daughter useless and unwanted… Alright, I’ve decided. I won’t forgive you, you damned old hag!
When I opened the door, I paid Laurier a quick glance before turning my eyes to the hag.
“Oi… What do you think you’re doing to the daughter of my house!?”
Laurier seemed shocked just at the sight of me… but I had to ignore that for now, instead glaring at the hag in front of me.
“I’ll ask you again… What do you think you’re doing to my daughter?”
“…My my, if it isn’t the Duke. I was merely educating your daughter about manners…”
“Then, why is Laurier on the floor? What do you call those marks on her skin?”
“T-that is… the young lady merely fell down.”
“So you’ll play dumb to the last? So be it… but just so you know, you’re being dismissed without pay.”
It was only at that line did the hag finally begin to panic a little.
“W-wait just a moment, please! Just this much is necessary for a proper educatio-!”
“Silence! My house is not so kind a home that it has a place to offer an incompetent such as yourself! Never again think to involve yourself with my household. Or else… Perhaps next time, I shall keep your head here?”
With those words, I motioned for a passing maid to escort her from the grounds… and whispered strict instructions that she not be allowed back on the property. With that sorted, I gently called out to Laurier, who was still sitting on the ground.
“Laurier… are you okay?”
As I drew nearer, I saw scars on her neck, painful reminders of what she had been going through until now. Seeing such a thing on the skin of a young girl, whose silver hair was just like her mothers… I cursed the wretched man Callis used to be.
“I’m so sorry Laurier… It’s all because of how careless I was that you had to go through so much pain until now…”
At first, Laurier could only muster surprise… but soon her body began to tremble slightly, and I could hear the tears bubbling up to her eyes in her shaking voice.
“I-I… When she said no one wanted me… I didn’t like it… But, I…”
“Such a thing isn’t true at all. I need you, Laurier. You are my precious daughter. That’s why, for everything up until now, I’m so sorry. From now on, I will give you all the love you deserve. I promise.”
“Ah…!? F-f…. ather… uuu…”
When I pulled her into a hug, she couldn’t hold it in anymore, as I felt the tears lightly drip onto my back.
As I hugged Laurier gently, I made the same vow as I had just before… I will devote myself to loving this child.