Oh, I couldn’t believe what was happening!!
Dad, suddenly bringing in two children and announcing that they would be our new family members?!
Dad—the one who seemed to be head over heels with Mom... was actually having an affair outside that resulted in the pair of children he brought in?!
At that moment, my view of the world instantly crumbled. I didn’t want to believe it, but the evidence all pointed to this conclusion.
The pair of boy and girl had a peculiarity that was the trademark of the Hartmann—heterochromatic eyes. Not that there won’t be any other heterochromatic people outside the Hartmann, but... in this situation, I couldn’t believe that this pair of children had no Hartmann blood at all.
Crap, crap, what should I do?
It wouldn’t be long before Mom and Alt-nii noticed that Dad was home.
Mom is such a prideful woman, she definitely won’t stand still in silence even after Dad wronged her like this...
Wait, I still couldn’t believe that Dad could do this, okay?
But what could possibly explain all this?
...Now I got what my dream meant.
It was a premonition of this day.
For you see—Dad brought home a pair of twin children. A boy and a girl. Just like the pair of twins portrayed in the Hartmann clan’s origin—only their description differed, though.
My heart ached in an instant I imagined my perfectly harmonious family would be brought to rift due to it.
Between Mom and Dad... If they were to divorce, who would I choose? I loved them both... but Dad was being unfair to Mom...
What should I do?
I hate this...
As I started to feel the atmosphere around me grow heavier...
Dad seemed to notice that something was off with me—perhaps my expression changed several times, but his voice still sounded full of concern of me...
That, I was happy, but...
“Cyan, is that you? Are you finally home? How is it? Any news?”
My mind blanked the moment I heard Mom’s voice closing in.
...What will Mom say when she saw the pair of children Dad brought in...?
“Is it true or—“
My mind was in a complete disarray when I noticed Mom was beside me. She abruptly stopped her sentence there...
See? Her voice showed her surprise.
“Cass, I’m back. And these children here are...”
What’s Dad doing with this normal tone of voice? Is he not feeling the slightest bit of remorse?
Mom’s voice turned stern as she didn’t even wait for Dad to finish his sentence. I closed my eyes in fear of what was going to happen.
“Hm?” Dad’s voice could be heard.
I opened my eyes in an instant, and what I saw was how Mom quickly ran towards Dad in her agitation and—
...And snatched the two children from him. The two children shook in surprise. They blinked their eyes simultaneously, but aside from that, they didn’t have any other reaction... I wasn’t sure if I was surprised due to Mom’s sudden action or the kids’ lack of reactions. Maybe both.
“Why didn’t you tell us anything in advance? I could have prepared better! And you, what did you have in your mind, going through the thick rain of snow with these two small children?!”
She scolded Dad before she looked pitifully at the two small children who only stared at her back without blinking and said, “Ah, sorry for surprising you two, but it must have been cold, right? Don’t just stand there, let’s warm yourselves first.”
My voice reflexively leaked out.
I couldn’t understand what was going on.
At that time, another member of the family turned up.
“Mom, is Dad home? Lyra, are you also there? Why am I not hearing your voice?”
Then, Alt-nii arrived at the spot and saw the two children and Dad’s conditions and...
“DAD, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!”
--Then I saw Mom and Dad’s very surprised faces. As if they just figured out what was going on in their children’s minds.
“So... in other words...?”
I asked for a clarification again, after all of us gathered near to the room heater. I stared at my parents (especially Dad) with my hands crossed in front of my chest and a slightly sullen face. Correction, a very sullen face.
It seemed that apart from Mom and Dad, Alt-nii and I had no clue whatsoever on what was going on.
The two children seemed to be unaware of what was happening—or rather, they seemed to be so passive of their lives that they dozed off when they felt the warmth of the heater. They must have been so tired...
“Wait, what were the two of you thinking?” Dad suddenly questioned me and Alt-nii as we were staring daggers at him.
“Dad, I thought you brought in illegitimate children,” Alt-nii sternly said.
“I was thinking that I should just go with Mom since you’ve wronged her,” I added.
“That’s what I thought too, Lyra!” Alt-nii added.
Then, Dad showed his dejected expression.
“Alt, Lyra... Can you trust your father more?” He pitifully asked.
“You nearly gave me a heart attack,” I said.
“But Mom, you didn’t look all that surprised?” Alt-nii asked.
Then, I turned my questioning gaze towards Mom.
“...Well, I guess it’s time to explain everything. It’s also Cyan’s fault for not giving a prior explanation or warning, so I think you deserved it,” Mom said, adding salt to Dad’s wound.
“Eh? But I already sent a message back in a hurry... Don’t tell me it didn’t reach you?” Dad asked.
“What message?” I asked using the same stern voice Mom usually used to scold Dad.
“...Lyra, you’re growing more and more like Cassie,” Dad showed a complicated smile—I felt like he didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry.
“No, we sure didn’t hear anything and that was how Lyra and Altaire were so shocked,” Mom answered Dad’s inquiry.
“......I’ll need to send my complaint to that [Express Messenger Service] company...,” Dad’s eyes turned cold in an instant. The air around him went down several degrees.
I felt sorry for the company, for they made a blunder and offended my dad, of all people…
(Inside Cyan’s mind)
[Express Messenger Service~ send any message instantly, anywhere, anywhen~ Confidentiality and express service are our main points, yepyep!]—the company’s current slogan would be deleted by tomorrow. The company would be sued for false advertising.
“Could it be delayed due to the snow storm?” Alt-nii tried to be the peace maker in the family!
“Maybe,” Mom smiled at Alt-nii.
[Express Messenger Service company’s leader: “The snow storm hit our headquarters so hard, yep! It caused our system to failure... THIS IS AN ACCIDENT, YEP! FORGIVE US T__T”]
It was as if the goddess of misfortune gave the company her utmost blessing...
Dad sighed before he scratched his head, saying, “No wonder Lyra and Alt seemed clueless. I sent an urgent message before telling Cass the whole situation and to brief Lyra and Alt before I return with the kids... I was expecting Lyra and Alt’s excitement... Alright, let me explain it, then.”
“I’ll help,” Mom earnestly wanted to help Dad explain the situation.
“No, it’s okay—“ Dad realized that Mom wasn’t good at explaining things to children, so he tried to stop Mom, but Mom’s earnest eyes won Dad over.
While Mom and Dad were trying to explain what was going on, I took a few glances at the pair of heterochromatic children. They dozed off as they felt the warmth of the room heater. Suddenly, their heads bumped into each other’s, causing the two to be awake in an instant.
Then, they continued to stare absentmindedly at the heater. Sometimes, they stole glances at all of us, yet whenever their eyes locked with mine, they quickly shifted their gazes elsewhere.
.........Cute, like small animals!
So... Apparently, when Dad asked my opinion about whether I would welcome a new sibling or not... Around that time, Dad heard the rumor of children who were related to Hartmann house.
Of course, Dad also consulted about it with Mom. Of the possibilities.
Yet, since there was no clarification or solid evidence yet, he hadn’t really informed us. He wanted to inform us when he could make sure of the intel’s credibility, in fear that it might be a false rumor and our excitement of getting new addition to the family would be shattered.
He was also afraid this might be a trap to lure our family out. As expected, there were people who knew of our abilities and targeted us. Not for a good cause, I heard.
In other words... The pair of children weren’t Dad’s illegitimate children!
“I swear that heavens would punish me and make my soul suffer endlessly if I could ever do that!” Dad vowed. It seemed that he also thought of himself—how he experienced his childhood as a somewhat illegitimate son, with how his mother suffered and other things... and that he definitely won’t do that to anyone else.
“Cassie, you’re the only woman I’ve ever had, and you will always be the only woman I love,” Dad suddenly took the opportunity to grab Mom’s hands and declared. Mom blushed before she brushed off Dad’s hands. I saw how the pair of twins snapped out of their daze and observed Mom and Dad’s interactions in wonder.
Anyway, the twins were actually...
“So, where should I start?” Dad questioned himself when it was time for him to explain.
...then, he narrated on how... he should have had an aunt—in other words, Dad’s father had an older sister.
Growing up in the corrupted family, for some reason, the older sister could remain with a sense of righteousness and kindness. Noticing the fishy conduct of her own family members, the older sister became the “rebel” of the family.
She then fell in love with a young butler that was working for the family. They eventually eloped and the Hartmann family cut off ties with her. Or it was more likely that the older sister cut off her relations with the Hartmann family first.
Afterwards, it was said that the two of them lived happily while hiding the fact that they were related to the Hartmann house. They left behind a son who was said to be an “irregularity”—the Hartmann person who didn’t share the Hartmann family’s peculiarity, the heterochromia and the [Oracle]. Therefore, the said son could live while not raising any suspiciousness that he was in some way related to the Hartmann family.
Then, based on what Dad had gathered, he found out that the said son—Dad’s cousin—eventually married a wife and gave birth to a pair of twins—the twins who were currently right in front of my eyes.
...What followed the story was a tragic childhood of the twins.
Having a weak body, the twins’ mother passed away not too long after giving birth to them. The twins’ father worked hard to protect the twins and to raise them.
Finding out how the twins shared the Hartmann family’s traits, he was afraid that their identities would be found out... although it shouldn’t matter anymore at that time, as Dad was the duke of the Hartmann...
Apparently, there were still a small amount of people who didn’t believe in Dad, therefore he was still working hard to do his best as a duke up until this moment, to live off people’s expectations, to prove himself.
Perhaps Dad’s cousin was raised by his mother while being warned that their origin should never be discovered or bad things might happen... that this was too ingrained in his mind and he refused to think that perhaps, getting discovered might result in good things.
...Things could have turned different if only he decided to believe in Dad and opened up to him.
Then, driven by his insecurities, he managed to somehow get his hands on special items—the limiting earrings that could conceal the twins’ odd-eye colors and suppress their power.
However, luck didn’t seem to be on this family, as the twins’ father passed away so suddenly in a natural disaster. The twins were then taken in to an orphanage, where they were raised.
How was it discovered that the twins were related to the Hartmann family, and how did Dad end up hearing the rumors?
...It was when the orphanage director decided to sell the valuables that the children had—their earrings. At first, they didn’t think too much of the twins’ odd eye colors. But when the twins—the natural learners—started to figure out that they could use their [Oracle] or natural arts of illusion, the orphanage staff were excited.
.........The director was a greedy person who didn’t run the orphanage with a good cause. While it was true that the orphanage director and staff didn’t treat the children there in a horrible way, they didn’t really give their sincere care and love to the children who deserved it. They would take care of the children under their wings in hopes to entice rich people or the childless nobles to adopt the children there, in exchange of some sum of money. I heard it was quite large.
Because the twins were special, people from the black market offered the orphanage with a tempting amount of money and other benefits. That was how Dad had to investigate and track the twins’ existence with great efforts, at the same time as dealing with the said orphanage and black market.
The intel seemed to be given by one of the orphanage staff whose conscience was filled with guilt that they decided to try reaching out to Dad...
After finding the twins so unexpectedly and dealt with what he could at that time, Dad decided it would be best to arrive home as soon as possible, before the snow storm got any wilder. The weather forecast stated that the snow storm had only just begun, and that it might last for quite a while.
Regardless of the circumstances, I could see why he was too absorbed on going home quickly.
He obviously wanted to bring the pair of pitiful children home, to let them feel the warmth of the home as soon as possible.
Still, I would be more grateful if he at least explained a bit more before all this!
That really frightened me and Alt-nii!
The two of us protested.
“Dad, you could have told us something as important as this right from the very beginning!”
“But at that time, I wasn’t sure of the truth of the rumor. I definitely couldn’t let you two down if the rumors proved to be wrong... Plus, it could be a trap. I didn’t want to risk anything now, but I also didn’t expect the rumors to be true this time.”
Apparently, there were already rumors and speculations about the previous duke’s mysteriously disappeared older sister, but most people had already forgotten about it since it had been so long.
“You could have told us that! I prefer getting disappointed by the rumors rather than having such a frightening thought!” I said—but maybe I could say this lightly because I hadn’t experienced the excitement of having new siblings being crushed in an instant. Well, maybe that would be very disappointing and painful, too...
Like people say, you will never know until you’ve truly experienced something yourself. I guess I will let it go here.
I finally sighed in relief.
Just right at that time, we suddenly heard a knock to the door.
Mom was about to go out when Chloe interrupted with an understanding. She said, “I’ll go get it.”
…Minutes after that, a small device flew towards us. Its robotic voice quickly resounded.
[This is Express Messenger Service. There’s a message from Duke of Hartmann to his family members. Shall we hear it now?]
Everyone went silent.
Dad quickly reached out to the small device and squeezed it until we heard the sound of something breaking…
I swallowed my saliva as I didn’t dare to look at the man who was emitting a cold air…
“T-then, shall we get introduced for real?”
I was finally unable to endure the chilling silence, so I opened my mouth to ask Dad.
“Right! The two of you, come here,” Dad quickly turned to his usual “dad” mode and signaled to the two kids.
The twins noticed Dad’s waving around to them as they stood up and obediently walked to Dad’s side.
Eeeeh?! They’re actually this cute, like baby chickens following their parent!!
Dad, what did you do to actually win them over like that—
Ah, I guess he saved the twins from being sold in the black market... Dad is surely their hero, huh?
“Wow, look at Dad! You’re already bonded with them!” Alt-nii said in amazement.
“Eh? Ah, well... The twins are originally good and obedient kids, so I heard...,” Dad shyly smiled. A trace of pride couldn’t be concealed.
“They didn’t seem to be wary of strangers? Like when Mom approached them so suddenly, their reactions weren’t that... uhm...,” I tried expressing my opinions as well.
“I guess they were used to be around strangers or seeing strangers in the orphanage. I heard the orphanage staff often switched and there were volunteers. Nobody tried to really harm them there, and they were oblivious to their bad hearts... It was good that I managed to rescue them before the black market people could do anything to them. Or else...,” Dad smiled bitterly.
Dad seemed to have arrived in the nick of the time, then?
Still, it was good that the twins weren’t that scared around strangers. Although it was kind of sad how they were so used to having temporary people in their lives...
But I need them to be wary of strangers from now on!!
“Eh, Dad, how old are they?” I asked.
“Based on their documents... 4 years old this year.”
4 years younger than me... huh? They’re as old as Leticia, then!
“...They don’t seem to really understand their situations, huh?” Alt-nii asked as he looked into the twins. The twins tilted their heads—the female one on Dad’s left side tilted her head to the left, and the male twin on Dad’s right side tilted his head to the right.
“Well, they’re still four... But I believe children can actually understand more than we thought. Children are more sensitive to their surroundings, I believe,” Dad said.
“They might not fully understand it now, but as time goes on, they will slowly understand things better. It’s the adults’ duty to make sure they grow up well and to explain many things to them,” Mom added.
“...,” I stared at the two innocent-looking children in front of me.
They must have gone through hardships with their small bodies... I couldn’t help but feel pity towards them.
“Lyra. Altaire. You will be their big sister and brother from now on. So, please take care of them well, okay?” Dad asked.
“We’re adopting them into our family?” Alt-nii asked.
“Yes, that’s right,” Mom nodded.
“Wow, amazing! I suddenly gained a little brother and a little sister this big?!” Alt-nii excitedly said.
“I-I will love them a lot!” I made a gesture of pinky swear.
Then, Alt-nii and I turned to the twins.
“Hello, I’m Altaire, from now on, I’ll be your big brother! I’ll protect you two, so tell me right away if someone bullies you!”
“Hi, I’m so happy to have two cute little siblings! I’m Lyra, your big sister from now on!”
The twins stared at us as they blinked, trying to absorb the whole information.
I smiled awkwardly at them…
“What’s your name?” I asked the most important question in hopes they would finally speak something!
The twin brother turned to the twin sister with an inquiring gaze. The twin sister looked at all of us alternatively, before she shyly stepped forward and opened her mouth—
The twin brother looked at his sister’s example as he also did the same gesture.
--Cuteness overload, I might die out of cuteness...
Their shy green-red eyes stole a few glances at me, Alt-nii, Mom, and Dad.
“Freyja and Freyr. Allow me to say this once more. I’m Cyan, and I’m supposed to be your uncle... But due to the circumstances, I’ll be your dad. Feel free to call me with uncle, dad, or even by my name.”
“That makes me your aunt or mom, then. I’m Cassie. We’re really happy to welcome you to our family.”
Mom and Dad sat down on the carpet as they made sure their eyes were at the same level with Freyja and Freyr.
“...Family?” Freyja slowly muttered.
“...Family,” Freyr followed.
“Yes, that’s right,” I added enthusiastically.
“But... Papa and Mama...,” Freyr suddenly cast his eyes downward.
“...are not here,” Freyja followed Freyr as she completed his sentence.
“But big sister and big brother are here! Mom and Dad are here now!” I couldn’t bear watching them sad like this, so I quickly added.
“We’re the same, see? See our eyes?” Alt-nii pointed to his eyes.
“The same...,” Freyja started.
“Odd-colored eyes...,” Freyr ended.
“Let’s take our time slowly to become real family, okay?” Dad gently smiled. The twins looked at Dad’s gentle expression in a wonder before they finally nodded at the same time.
“Now come here, let’s get all of you cleaned up!” Mom suddenly grabbed the twins’ hands—Freyr on her left and Freyja on her right—as they headed towards the bathroom.
When I saw the twins so obediently following Mom like that...
I couldn’t help but think...
Do the twins still feel like they’re in the orphanage? Or do they really understand what we said just now about us being their family now?
Let’s just prove them, then.
That we’re now their family. Not temporary people, but family for the rest of their lives.
Regardless of their adoption, we’re actually already families with how we’re related to one another...
Blood is thicker than water. That might not be the case for some people, but… Let’s stick to this proverb and prove it to them!
At the end of the day, I didn’t only get a little brother or a little sister—I got a set of twin brother and sister!!
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