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< —="" epilogue–=""> (3)
The door to the bedroom opened and the midwife came out, along with an a.s.sistant that was sent from the palace. The woman nodded to Hugo, who was staring hard at her.
"A lovely baby girl has been born. Both mother and child are fine and healthy. Congratulations."
Everyone around bowed their heads, uttering 'congratulations' to Hugo who was heaving a long sigh of relief.
"Can I go inside?"
"There are still some things left to take care of. Please wait a little while longer."
After waiting for an hour more, Hugo was finally able to go inside the room. The bedroom was quiet. People were moving around quietly and focused on their own work, not caring whether the Duke had entered or not, but Hugo was oblivious to all this.
His gaze was instantly transfixed to his wife, who was lying on the bed, and he headed straight for the bed.
Lucia was drained from the labor pains and she had been unable to get a wink of sleep throughout the delivery. The midwife had instructed that even if she didn't have breast milk yet, she should put the baby to her breast, so she did so and immediately fell asleep after a moment of breastfeeding. With the severe pain gone, she couldn't win against the sweet temptation of sleep that was cras.h.i.+ng into her.
Hugo looked at his wife's clearly exhausted face for a while. Her complexion was pale and her lips were dried up. Her disheveled hair was soaked with sweat and clinging onto her face and forehead.
He slowly sat down on the bed, taking caution to avoid shaking it, then he swept her hair up, revealing her round forehead. As he watched his wife slept like she was dead to the world, his heart ached with distress.
"Will she be okay? Is she really fine?"
Deep down in his heart, Hugo was still anxious. Even though he had checked the records from Philip's hideout several times, he couldn't shake off his misgivings that even that might be a trick Philip pulled.
As the due date drew closer, Hugo was more worried to meet the new baby than joyful. He was afraid that his wife would grow anxious if she saw his anxiety, so he didn't let it show, but he often woke up at dawn and stayed up all night watching his wife sleep.
"The Madam suffered for a long time because it was her first time giving birth, but she had a safe delivery. You should hold the little miss, Your Grace."
Noticing that the Duke hadn't mentioned seeing the baby at all, the midwife brought it up first. She had delivered many children in the royal family for decades, but it was her first time seeing a husband whose eyes were locked onto his wife's face, without paying any attention to the baby.
The midwife received the sleeping and recently washed baby girl from the a.s.sistant, then she handed her over to Hugo.
"Hold her, Your Grace."
When the midwife urged him a few times, Hugo awkwardly received the baby in a helpless manner. By his side, the midwife advised him on how to hold the child.
'It's so tiny?'
This was Hugo's first thought as he held the baby. It was so small and helpless for the being that was so energetic in his wife's stomach. The baby that had changed his wife's personality and tastes, was so weak for him to see her as the main lead that had been flaunting her presence for the past several months.
'It looks strange.'
The baby hadn't lost the redness all over her body yet, and there was still swelling on her face and eyes. If Hugo had seen the baby after it had just been born, he would have been shocked. Right now, the baby was clean and fuzzy because it had just been bathed.
"She is a very lovely baby girl. She will grow up to be a beauty."
Having had numerous experiences with newborn babies, the midwife could see the appearance of the baby that was yet to be properly revealed. The looks that a newborn baby had, was very different from the features that would later come into place.
However, Hugo took what the midwife had said as simply pandering. No matter how you looked at it, the baby looked weird.
The midwife couldn't help but laugh when she saw how awkwardly the Duke was looking at his child. The first reaction of a father when he saw his child was either extremely happy, or perplexed.
Unlike a mother who spent ten months feeling their baby move as it grew inside them, there weren't many cases of a father feeling affection as soon as he saw the child.
"Her eyes look just like the Madam's."
Hugo reacted to the comment made by the midwife. The baby's spa.r.s.e handful of hair was golden in color. He had been disappointed because it wasn't like his wife's but when he heard that the baby's eyes resembled Lucia's, he looked for his wife in the child.
He wondered if he would be able to tell when the baby grew a little bigger. He couldn't find a part that looked like his wife. After handing the baby back to the midwife, Hugo fixed his gaze on his sleeping wife.
The midwife snort-laughed and clicked her tongue. She gestured for everyone to leave the room, then she left the bedroom last, with the baby in her arms.
* * *
The first thing Lucia felt when she opened her eyes, was thirst. She mumbled her quest for water and some moments later, a firm hand carefully lifted her upper body and a gla.s.s of water touched her lips.
The few mouthfuls of water going down her throat tasted bitter, causing her to frown. Lucia forced her eyes opened and smiled faintly when she saw her husband, who was helping her.
"Have you seen…our child?"
"She looks just like my mom. My mom had…really pretty blonde hair, you know."
Her eyes were swelling with tears. Hugo gently kissed her eyes. He really wanted to hug her and squeeze her tight, but he couldn't.
She hadn't fully recovered yet, and she seemed so weak, like she would break, so he was careful to even touch her. The fact that she bore a new life after carrying it inside her small body for ten months was unbelievable.
His wife was always beautiful in his eyes, but today especially, she was more heart wrenchingly beautiful.
"They say her eyes are like yours. Although you haven't seen her yet."
"I saw her for a moment too. I'm telling you, I was scared when I first breastfed her because I didn't know when I would fall asleep."
Hugo watched as she laughed then frowned because her stomach hurt. He planted soft, light kisses on the bridge of her nose, lips, and forehead.
"It was hard, wasn't it?"
"You always say you're okay."
"I mean it, Hugh. I wanted to leave evidence of my love with you. So although I can't say it was easy, I am happy enough to forget all the pain."
Lucia fell in love as soon as she saw her newborn daughter. There were many reasons why she couldn't help but love her daughter, but the biggest reason was that her daughter was their child, both hers and Hugo's.
"I am overwhelmed with joy that our baby is our child, your child, that she inherited your blood."
Hugo looked at her without saying anything for a long time. Then he smiled faintly and pulled Lucia into his arms.
"The baby's name. I thought about it and I wondered if you would like grandfather-in-law to name her?"
"I was thinking of bringing him to see his new great-granddaughter."
"Yes, I would like that very much. Thank you."
* * *
About a month later, the Count of Baden visited the ducal residence. He greeted his granddaughter whom he hadn't seen in a while and held his little great-granddaughter in his arms.
Count Baden's eyes filled with tears as he looked into the amber eyes that were staring back at him. They were a copy of his daughter's and granddaughter's eyes.
"Oh dear child, how do you look so much like your grandmother?"
Tears flowed from Lucia's eyes as she listened to the voice of her grandfather, who was unable to hold back his tears.
"I thought hard about the undeserved request you gave me. The first ancestor of the Baden family said that he could not exist without his mother and left a will dedicating all his affection and admiration to his mother. I heard that she was someone with a small stature but mighty spirit. I would like to give her name to the baby."
Evangeline. It was an old-fas.h.i.+oned name that wasn't used very much these days.
When the name of the only princess of the Duke of Taran House left Count Baden's mouth, the baby who had been vacantly staring at the Count smiled brightly. Seeing the cheery smile on his great-granddaughter's face, the Count burst into a roar of laughter.