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'Are you ashamed of Protector? Would you really hide his existence like he was a criminal just because he's different? Are you ashamed of me?' Solus asked.
'Don't be ridiculous!' Lith thought. 'I'm not ashamed of him and I would let the whole world know you if I wasn't certain that people would only see you as an artifact instead that as a person.
'Also, revealing Protector's nature is easy as pie compared to telling any sane woman that I literally have a hot girl at my fingertips.'
Solus blushed, thinking about how hard it had been for even Tista to accept the fact that her brother had a magical conjoined twin ever since he was four.
'Yeah, I think that even Phloria might pa.s.s out when you'll tell her about me.'
'Indeed, she will. The only question is if she will do it before or after strangling me.' Lith inwardly sighed. He couldn't save Phloria from her Awakening without Solus, which meant they were bound to meet sooner or later.
'But know this: I'm not ashamed of you in the least. Whoever can't accept you is not worthy of taking part in my life.'
Lith played with the kids, showing them how to activate their new toys' enchantments. It was just the second time that they had met Lith, but he was already their hero.
The clothes he had given them didn't itch and he always brought bags of marvels for them.
"You're way better with them than I am." Ryman said once he came out of the bathroom, wearing a green s.h.i.+rt and brown pants.
"Are you kidding me? Didn't you tell me that you sired a lot of pups?"
"Indeed, but it's my first time handling humans. They grow so slowly and are so slow on the uptake. Not to mention how noisy and frail they are. Yet I wouldn't change them for the world."
"What do you think of Kamila?" Lith asked.
"She's a beautiful woman. Definitely prettier than the other one."
"I meant as a person!"
"I know, but so far that's the best I can say about her. Are you sure you want to do it? You can always have your answer another time. I don't want you to get hurt because of me."
"Now or later is the same. Some things are like a band-aid. The faster the better." Lith said, speaking English for the first time in almost two decades.
When Kamila and Selia returned, seeing Lith playing with the kids while Ryman checked the dinner warmed the hearts of both women.
'I can't believe they named both their kids after Lith. They look so cute and behave like normal children. Shapes.h.i.+fting aside, of course.' Kamila thought as, in the heat of the make-believe battle between their toys, the children's fingers turned into claws for a split second.
'Protector seems to be a better husband than most. Beast or not, compared to Fallmug he is a saint. He built this whole house by himself to keep his family safe, not to hold them prisoners.'
'I can't believe I spent almost half an hour without clothes ripping or something breaking.' Selia thought, almost moved to tears. 'Once I give birth I must ask Lith to babysit the kids so that I can finally get a night out.
'I always thought about leaving them with the Hydra, but I don't trust her judgment. Beasts have an odd concept of raising kids and the last thing I need is for those two little cyclones to learn magic.'
Dinner went more smoothly than everyone expected. After the initial shock, Kamila quickly adapted to the situation, becoming more relaxed. The four of them talked about their respective lives for a bit before starting to tell each other how they had met.
Selia's first meet with Protector was heavily redacted due to the presence of the kids, whereas Kamila only had to leave out the reason that had led her to meet Lith in person before moving on their first date.
"Such a romantic story. I wish this oaf was that caring back then, instead of just being a freeloader." Selia sighed.
"I wasn't a freeloader!" Protector rebuked her. "I was trying to learn human customs and I helped you with hunting big game. It was you who never explained to me what a proper date was until you got tired of just-"
His eyes fell on the kids, forcing him to use an understatement.
"Stay home and cuddle. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it took you months."
Selia blushed violently, making Kamila chuckle at the idea that despite the fact that they knew so little about each other when they had met, they had gone so far to get married.
"Stop making me look like a pervert in front of our guests. Some things are better left out. Lith is almost like a son to both of us, and there are our actual children listening too!
"After hearing how cute a couple they are, can't you at least try to make our love story look more like a fairy tale and less like a tavern joke?" Selia tried to sound angry, but she couldn't hide her embarra.s.sment.
Back then she was younger and bored out of her brain due to isolation. She just wanted to relieve some pent-up stress with her newfound hunting partner. Selia had never believed for a second that one day she would have to share that part of her life with someone else, so she had been more carefree than usual.
"As you wish, my lady." Ryman gave her a deep bow, before starting to recount how he had been mesmerized by her poetry and gracefulness, lying so blatantly that even the kids soon started to laugh at Selia's expense.
"I'd say that's enough." Selia was red up to her hears. "I blame you for this, Lith. Before spending so much time with you, he wasn't such a smarta.s.s."
Kamila's awkwardness at that point had completely disappeared. The kids, the house, the food, even the couple's quarrels were exactly like those she would have expected from normal people.
And that was when it struck at her.
'What's normal, exactly? Lith's eldest brother was "normal" and yet almost had him killed. Fallmug was a "normal" man and yet he treated his family like they were mere possessions. My mother is a "normal" woman, yet she never cared for me like Protector does for Lith.' Kamila thought.
'After all the evil I've seen people do to their own kin as a Constable, judging Emperor Beasts out of prejudice is simply hypocritical. I need to step down my high horse and take things as they come.'
After the meal, the kids fell asleep in their parents' arms while Lith projected a movie. After Protector put them to bed, the grown-ups could finally talk freely.
"Is there anything you want to ask us, dear? Don't pull your punches, the worst has already pa.s.sed." Selia said.
Kamila asked them about Selia's pregnancy and when the child would start to shapes.h.i.+ft, to which Selia answered honestly. The only difference with human babies was that hybrids would shapes.h.i.+ft in case of stress, so quite often.
"Luckily, they are born with no teeth nor claws, so they are harmless."
"Have they ever hurt you?" Kamila asked.
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