“Awe thewe any new people coming to the estawte?” (Are there any new people coming to the estate?)

“Yes, the new administrators took the test last month and some of them passed. The second round of the exam will be held tomorrow. If they pass the second test as well, they’ll become a new administrator of Dubbled’s.”

When the recruitment was posted, talented people from all over the country immediately came to attend the test. This was an enormous chance for them. Dubbled never cared about people’s backgrounds, whether they were commoner or noble none of them mattered to him as long as they were capable.

With this way of employing people, no wonder Dubbled could have so many talented people by his side. Unfortunately, some disadvantages came with the system. One of them is that even a wanted criminal could slip in with how lax the background check was.

‘Catching the offender is going to be easier than I expected.’

In the middle of the study session I had with Nos, the door burst open as Henry and Isaac came in tow. Nos, who saw the two, considerately gave me a break and slipped away for a while.

Isaac came straight to me

“Kid! Are you all better?”

“…?”

“The cold. Are you all better?”

“Yes.”

Hearing my weak voice, Isaac groaned in annoyance. He looked at Henry then questioned.

“Why is she so weak?”

“It’s because she’s still young, Isaac.”

“But I was very healthy when I was this small.”

“That’s because you’re a monster.”

Henry pushed Isaac away from me and took his place before inclining his body, so his eye met with mine. He looked intently at my eyes and greeted me.

“Hello, LeBlaine.”

“Hello….”

“Have you noticed anything strange since you collapsed? Did you find any dark spots on your body, or something wrong with your divine powers? It’s the symptoms of the people suffering from a curse…”

Before I could reply, Henry continued with a sad and remorseful expression.

“… I’m sorry, Blaine. I said very harsh things to you last time.”

“I wanted to apologize. If it’s all right, will you forgive me?”

I remembered Henry callous remarks that day, his words did break my heart a little, but they were nothing compared to all kinds of hurtful insults I had to face in my previous lives. Especially when I knew it was him being defensive over his weakness.

“Yes, Henwy. It’s owkay. I fowgive you” (Yes, Henry. It’s okay. I forgive you.)

Henry’s distressed expression turned into a bright smile as he patted my hair and said, “You’re the sweetest, Blaine. Thank you for giving me a second chance.”

‘Wow’

His warm gentle smile even managed to make the maids squeal.

Isaac frowned at Henry.

“Why is your treatment towards her and me so different?”

“Because I only care about my people. “

“Since when did the kid become your people? She’s my little sister!”

“My little sister.”

“No. Mine!”

The brothers glared at each other throughout the heated debate. I, a bystander, was shocked to see such an unusual interaction between them.

‘What’s wrong with both of them!’

In the middle of their dispute, an incoming footstep could be heard from outside the door. It was the Duke.

He was stunned when he saw both of his sons were having a dispute.

‘Duke, your sons are doing strange things.’

‘Take them away, please.’

I tried to convey the request with my eyes, but instead of dragging his sons away, the Duke suddenly hugged me.

“My daughter.”

***

Henry and Isaac frowned when the Duke came in and stole LeBlaine away from them in his arm.

‘Hateful.’

‘That’s so mean.’

Both of them have been loitering in front of LeBlaine’s room for the past few days. They wanted to see how she was doing. However, when they were told that she needed to recover, they held back their desire to see her.

However, the Duke regularly visited the room to check on LeBlaine’s condition.

And every time he visited, he would bring the snacks that LeBlaine loves.

The two brothers could only hear LeBlaine’s voice praising the Duke from outside the room with resentment.

Isaac looked up at the Duke with discontent.

“It’s not fair.”

“Not fair?”

“You’re the only one who can see the kid!”

“What’s unfair about a father seeing his daughter?”

“That… but…”

Isaac was lost for words and rolled his eyes. Seeing his brother’s immediate defeat, Henry stepped out to save him.

“We also need time to be with LeBlaine. It must have felt awkward for her to always be accompanied by you.”

“You’re right!”

The siblings who couldn’t stand each other’s presence were in perfect harmony today.

“Next time. The child is still sick today, so you both need to leave.”

“The kid said she’s all better!”

“Yes, LeBlaine’s doctor said she’s fine now.”

The disagreement between the three persisted. In the end, they both turned to me and demanded me to choose one of them.

“LeBlaine, don’t you want to be with your father?”

“Kid, don’t you want to hang out with us?”

“Who do you like more? Huh?”

LeBlaine looked at the Duke and children frantically, nervously playing with her fingers.

The three people in the library waited eagerly for the child’s response.

“Lea!”

Suddenly LeBlaine jumped out of the Duke’s arms and ran to Lea, who had just entered the library.

“Lea’s twe bwest.” (Lea’s the best.)

“Oh my, thank you so much, little miss. I like you, too.”

“Shall we go to the dining room?”

“Yes.”

LeBlaine took Lea’s hand and both left the library, leaving the three people in the room deserted.

***

‘What was wrong with them?’

On the surface, they were like fathers and brothers who kept their daughter and sister in check.

‘But I don’t believe it.’

One of the things I learned from when I was in Duke of Vallua’s custody, was that whenever I got excited about the idea of ‘family’, it’d eventually turned out to be one of their means to exploit me through my foolish wish.

Lea grinned at me with an adoring look on her face.

“Little miss, are you excited for lunch?”

“I gwues so….” (I guess so…)

“It’s your favorite cream stew. I asked the chef to add a lot of meat.”

When I heard that I would have cream stew for lunch, the bad thoughts disappeared and I immediately felt a lot better. I held Lea’s hand tighter as I assured myself.

‘Of course, Lea’s the best.’

The stew that the kitchen staff served tasted even better than I thought. After lunch, I sighed in contentment as I rubbed my expanding belly filled with two bowls of cream stew.

***

Isaac alongside Henry was heading to the training ground. Unlike his usual bright expression, a sullen look marked his face.

‘Why does the kid prefer to be with the maid rather than us?’

Come to think of it, it wasn’t only once or twice that he was cast aside when Lea came.

“Does she prefer to be with a servant rather than me, her brother? …No way!”

“You are talking nonsense, Isaac.”

Isaac, who heard his brother’s reply, frowned.

“It’s the truth! The kid even said that she liked me the best. Don’t you remember when I gave the cake to the kid, she said, “Isaac is the best!”, “Isaac’s cool!”?”

Isaac said triumphantly. Henry narrowed the gap between them.

“You’re speaking gibberish.”

“I’m telling you the truth. The kid loves me so much. She even said, “Isaac, I’m so glad to see you.”, when she saw me.”

No one was ever that happy to meet Isaac.

People would always stiffly greet him because of his high status. Even the noble’s children would avoid him purposely.

Henry answered back, narrowing his forehead.

“LeBlaine says hello to others, too. “

The small ray of sunshine would appear in the desolate castle of Dubbled and greeted everybody and cheered them up with her jubilant smile.

Isaac stopped walking.

“Then, the kid doesn’t like me the best?”

He looked heartbroken. Henry unsympathetically shrugged, “She doesn’t hate you. I don’t know how much she likes you, but you are not on top of her list.”

“Then what should I do to make her like me the best?”

Henry frowned at his brother’s question.

‘I want to find out the answer as well.’

Usually, it was easier for people to be acquainted with Henry rather than with his other family members.

Unlike the Duke, Johann and Isaac, he was great at mingling with others and was a charming conversationalist.

But LeBlaine was different.

That child was neutral and objective.

‘I need to do something to build a relationship between us.’

When he was musing on what to do, the servants crossed the hallway with toys in their hands.

“Did you buy it?”

“Yes, fortunately I went there earlier. After I bought the toys, I saw people queuing outside the door just to get one of these. Children’s Day is near, that’s why the toy store was so crowded.”

Henry and Isaac, who overheard the conversation of servants casually, fixed their gazes on the present in the servants’ hands.

“Isaac.”

“Hm. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Yes.”

“Cooperate this time?”

“Okay.”

The boys are getting along well for the first time. They didn’t know, from the corner of the hall, a sharp pair of eyes are watching their every move.

“So, the two of them are planning to go to the toy store to buy gifts.”

The Duke, who was told the news by Nos, laughed.

“I can’t believe they are buying presents for the little miss.”

Nos said, while smiling awkwardly. He never imagined there would be a day where Isaac and Henry would buy someone a present on their own initiatives.

“So, they are trying to change the child’s mind with a bribe….”

The Duke clucked his tongue in annoyance, then commanded Nos.

“Buy me the largest toy store for the child.”

“….?”

The Duke looked at him with a displeased look.

“What are you doing standing around? Go buy me the largest toy store now.”

Nos, who was once again tasked with an absurd job, could only sigh in resignation.

***

Two days later…

When I heard the new group of new administrators had come, I headed for the first floor where they were waiting straight away. I clung close to the corner of the courtyard and tried to peek at the new administrators.

‘My money. Who’s the criminal that’s going to be the source of my money?’

I scanned all of them carefully, however all of them seemed normal. None of them were showing suspicious behaviors.

Well, I shouldn’t determine them just by their looks. Just because you’re a criminal, it didn’t mean that a wanted man sign would be written on your forehead.

As Nos, the administrator’s general manager, announced the state’s upcoming agendas for this month and the allocation of the departments, my eyes met with some of the new administrators.

“Huh? It’s a kid.”

Some of the new administrators noticed that I was there. Nos and the existing officers followed their sight and found me hiding behind the wall. Nos and the officers were surprised to find me but soon bowed their heads. Busted from my hiding place, I came out from behind the wall and said, “Hello.”

Nos held me protectively in his arms and headed to the center.

“This is the Duke’s youngest daughter, LeBlaine.”

Then he glances at the new administrator who had called me “a kid” and reprimanded him.

“And not just any kid.”