Duchess Li Qixing felt her heart ache in pain at Xueyue's statement. 'How horrible!' she thought to herself. If this was what she thought about her death, then how did she view herself...?
Duke Li Shenyang pitied the tiny girl sitting on the bed. The more he stared at her, the weaker and helpless she seemed. Her shoulders were tiny, her arms were thin, and there was barely any meat on her. Her collarbone was so evident, it looked as if you could balance gold coins on top of it.
Duke Li Shenyang saw Xueyue in a different light. To hear the truth from her mouth and not from the mouths of gossiping servants, he started to slowly but surely praise her a bit more. Instead of seeing a girl that slightly resembled his daughter, he saw a lonely and unwanted child that was desperately in need of love and attention.
Duchess Li Qixing also shared the same thoughts as him. She wanted to shower Xueyue with the affections she could no longer give to her daughter...
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Duke Li Shenyang spoke up, "Do you have any grandparents or relatives that could take you in..." He stopped speaking upon noticing the horrified expression on Xueyue's face. Her ghostly-white skin turned incredibly paler and she was breaking out in a nervous, cold sweat.
"N-no! Anyone but them!" Xueyue rapidly shook her head in disbelief. She hugged her body at the very mention of "grandparents" and "relatives."
"I'd rather kill myself than go back home..." Xueyue chillingly declared without hesitation. She shuddered at the thought of the monsters that dared to call themselves her aunt and uncle, grandpa and grandma.
If her father hated her, then her relatives despised the very air Xueyue breathed. If her father's beating and abuse were harsh, then her relatives' were masters in the art of torture. The things that her grandparents had done to Xueyue were so incredibly harsh, it couldn't be described by words.
Duchess Li Qixing gasped at Xueyue's statement and didn't know what else to do but dearly hug the poor child.
To experience such a loving gesture after sixteen years of never experiencing a parent's love, Xueyue's throat tightened. Her nose stung as her eyes moistened and blurred. Her lips trembled as sobs filled the room.
Xueyue had never acquired the proper love from her mother, the viscountess. This sudden and overwhelming shower of love changed her in more ways than she had realized.
"I-I only wanted to live a peaceful life..." Xueyue didn't know what she was saying. It felt as if her heart was speaking instead of her tongue. "Was that so much to ask for? All I ever wanted was to make them proud. I-I never meant to--"
"Shh, it's okay." Duchess Li Qixing did not mind the small babbling, instead, she hugged Xueyue tighter.
To experience such a kind gesture after sixteen years of never experiencing a parent's love, Xueyue cried harder until her cheeks were moistened and stained with tears and she could no longer form sentences. She was too choked by sobs and hiccups to think about rambling on.
Duke Li Shenyang was surprised by her tears, but seeing her violently cry like that, he knew the tears were real. Taking a few steps back, he decided to give them space. As he watched the pair, he felt a painful tug in his heart. He saw how much of a great mother Duchess Li Qixing truly was. Not that she wasn't one, but this emotional scene made him further realize how much of a loving and amazing woman his wife was.
"Don't send me back to my relatives and grandparents, please..." Xueyue pleaded with her entire heart.
Out of irrationality, Duchess Li Qixing said, "You will never be sent back to them. As long as you're under my care and protection, I promise you will be safe and sound within the Li Manor." She was bewildered by the words that left her. Her mouth had spoken what her heart and brain was screaming for: She wanted to keep this frail girl within the Li Manor and never let her experience the unsaid hardships ever again.
Duke Li Shenyang felt conflicted at his wife's words. At first, he had thought it was only words of comfort, but then he saw the fierce stubbornness in her eyes and he knew she had meant every word she said. He stared at his wife for the longest time, watching her slowly soothe and comfort the girl. His eyes then trailed to Xueyue who seemed relatively harmless. The entire time they talked, there wasn't any sign of hidden motivations or intentions that could be detected by just looking into her eyes.
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