<A Message from the translator:> Only a month since the last update. I’ll keep working to increase my speed, because who needs sleep, right? JK, sleep is very important…
1-3. The Dream He Once Saw
They had entrusted Fernaine to the orphanage in hopes of searching for foster parents, but she spent her time with everyone in the Millers. Even if Niardo wouldn’t come to reclaim her, they didn’t know when she would be kidnapped in this city where the underground human trafficking of children occurred.
As such, it was decided that Max would escort her to the orphanage and spend the whole day studying various subjects while keeping an eye on her.
“How about you, Big Bro? Heard you went grape harvesting.”
The four of them were walking together when Max asked. Nellis had a smug smile.
“Bet he was asked to come and become a son-in-law again.”
Fin didn’t answer but averted his eyes with an ambiguous expression. Nellis was only teasing him, but as this peaceful life continued, Fin felt deep down that this could really become his future reality, making it difficult to just laugh away the comment.
Nellis let out a cheerful giggle in hopes of brightening up the silent Fin.
“Really, for my Big Bro to be so popular…I must be dreaming! Even if he’s not that popular with the girls, he sure is popular with the old men and women. Yo, cougar chaser!”
“Nellis! Where did you learn such a phrase….really.”
He asked where, but it was pretty clear who was the source. Fin frowned and growled. He’ll have to give Varte an earful next time.
Max laughed while Fernaine exchanged glances with everyone as she didn’t understand what was going on.
The group continued to walk, heading down the hill when a girl walking on the other side came into view. Fin blinked his eyes, thinking that she looked familiar. She noticed them at the same time and said, “Oh?” with a smiling face.
“Good day, Miller. Are you going home now?”
“Yes,” Fin politely answered. Although she may be someone younger than him, she was still a customer. She occasionally came all the way to the mill and brought a small amount of wheat, roughly a household size, to be ground. Since Oandus made his rounds personally to each of his customer’s homes every day, she had felt bad for requesting them to come all the way to her since her home was a bit far off and her amount was small.
As such, Fin recognized her face. Although he couldn’t see the same kind of light that surrounded Nellis and Max around her, he did have a positive feeling about her.
The girl surveyed the four of them and remarked, “Must be nice,” with a smile.
“Having plenty of siblings looks fun. I’m an only child, so I envy you guys.”
“If you like my brother, go ahead and take him,” Nellis joked. “He’s super naggy. Just a moment ago, he was giving me an earful about my choice of words. He real~ly gets under my skin.”
Her exaggerated complaint caused Fin to frown, but the girl laughed loudly in response.
“Everyone says the same. That it’s not something to be envious about. That they don’t want them and to just take them away. But….you know, having no one else around really can get quite lonely at times.”
The girl’s expression suddenly darkened as her words faded to silence. But before the mood turned sour, she pulled herself together and flashed a smile.
“Ah, that’s right. If you’d like, have some.”
She took out two hard-baked pastries from the basket in her hand. They resembled biscuits.
“I made them from the flour you guys milled for me before. They may not be as delicious as the ones they sell at the store, but…these are the leftovers from the ones I brought with me when I visited my friend.”
Before the sweet aroma could reach them, Fernaine’s eyes began to sparkle. The girl gave a look that asked if it was alright to give it to the child, so Fin had a faint smile when he nodded.
“Thank you. Please give it to Nellis and Fernaine since the two of them worked hard on their studies.”
Before Fin could finish his sentence, Fernaine held out her hands. Nellis showed a little bit more restraint as she expressed her thanks. However, she could not hide her excitement as she cheerfully accepted the pastry.
The numerous praises of “Delicious!” made the girl giggle happily as she watched her temporary “little sisters.” That kind expression reflected favorably in Fin’s eyes.
“Aah, you two are luck~y.”
Max half-jokingly grumbled in envy. The girl giggled a little and promised for next time. It appeared that she saw Max as a much younger brother. She turned to face Fin and said with a serious tone.
“If it’s not too much trouble, could I maybe….bake some sweets and bring them to the windmill?”
This unexpected offer caused Fin to blink and surprise and made him be at a loss for words. He could only return a puzzled look, questioning why. In response, the girl shyly shrugged her shoulders.
“I like it when there are a lot of people in a home. So, I was thinking it would be nice if I could spend some time together with everyone.”
Unlike affluent merchants and aristocrats, it was common for the regular folk to be unable to copy the rich’s lifestyle and invite guests over to their homes. It was possible that this girl’s family consisted of herself and her two parents, or even just her and only one parent. In that case, her daily life must be quiet and lonely.
Fin considered such and nodded with a smile.
“Of course. Everyone’ll be happy if you come. There is usually someone in the windmill at all times, but as everyone else works outside, we’re only all gathered together around evening. So, you could either let us know what day you’ll show up, or you can just come around this time.”
The girl’s face suddenly broke into a wide grin, flowers blooming around her.
“Thank you so much! I’ll let you know what day after I figure it out.”
She cheerfully said. Her steps were light like she was dancing, as she disappeared along with the path. Nellis and Fernaine nodded to each other, “Looking forward to it!” “Right?”
Fin plopped his hands on both of their heads. “Well, let’s go home,” he said and started to walk. Right after, he slightly looked behind, making sure the other three wouldn’t notice. He gazed at the path the girl had entered and felt a fuzzy feeling.
Leena’s presence touched his heart. He was startled for a moment then quickly relaxed. The feeling of Leena’s touch was calming and warm.
“What’s up?” he asked. Leena suddenly threw out this question.
[Do you want to marry that girl?]
As expected, he couldn’t answer right away. There was no trace of jealousy or unease in her question. Rather, if he had to say, hints of joy could be felt. However…
[…No, I haven’t thought that far.]
He managed to answer and returned his attention back to the three people in front of him. He quickened his pace, making sure not to lag too far behind.
[But, you do like that person, right?]
[Hmm…Well, that’s…I think she’s a good girl, but that’s all. I don’t even know her name.]
He wondered if this answered her question, or if this was just him trying to convince himself. It was just that when he put his thoughts into words, the seed of possibility bloomed in his heart.
He could make that girl who looked like she cared deeply about family into his wife. He could continue his job or even inherit her family’s line of work and live in this city. How would that future play out? Wouldn’t that be fine?
He could turn these continual peaceful days into a reality.
He had begun to imagine a tangible life like that…
Fin suddenly noticed and stumbled on something, stopping.
There was no room for Leena in such a life. None whatsoever.
He understood that Leena had tried to inform him before, the scene before his eyes darkening. He endured the desire to crouch down by tightly clenching his fists.
He really did think it would be nice if all of that could happen. If he could return back to a life as a calm and ordinary citizen. If he could spend his days with the one he would love and marry. How blessed would he be?
However, that could only be a dream.
Fin was a Dragon Lord now. The one closest to him, above anyone or anything else, was the one he shared a bond with––a dragon, not a human.
Would there be a woman who could accept and love a man like him? Furthermore, the dragon he was connected to took on the shape of a young girl. If Leena took precedence over his wife’s place or privilege, there would obviously be some physical distance between the husband and wife, leading at times to even emotional distance. However, those actions would be equivalent to suddenly throwing out the partner he sleeps and eats together with into the streets. Even so, he understood that his wife would not be able to leave him…
He couldn’t do that. Absolutely not.
He continued to grip his fists so tightly that his nails dug into his palms. Relying on that pain, Fin was dragged back to reality. He could feel at his back the sweet dream cruelly crumble away. He forced himself to walk forward.
The words “I’m sorry” didn’t come out. It wasn’t that she was apologizing; rather, Leena also felt a deep pain. She also mourned like him over the dream of his future as an ordinary human man.
Fin didn’t answer her, only pushing himself forward one step at a time.
Eventually, his tightly clenched fist slacked. He took a deep break, stopped walking, and looked up at the sky. Its golden light cut through the scarlet clouds as if traversing the river in the heavens. The wind carrying the faint night air felt sweet and cool.
He finally smiled.
[I still have you, after all. Besides…we could, maybe one day, find someone who can accept the shared existence between me and you.]
[Yeah. I’ll be glad if that happens. But Fin, what if….]
She suddenly cut off her words. It didn’t seem like she would continue.
[What is it?]
When Fin pressed her, he felt her smile. A smile that felt a little shy yet depressed.
[It’s nothing. Fin, I love you.]
The words Leena left behind felt a little different from her usual ones. Fin stood there dumbfounded for a moment. He had finally begun to understand a little of what he had lost.
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