On the flower garden above the hill of the mountain near the capital of Liones Kingdom, about a week after the catastrophe on Cameliard Kingdom, the Seven Deadly Sins were enjoying their golden week.
"still... I hardly believe it, that Merlin really adopted her and she's surprisingly good with the kid", for Ban, Merlin was the least person in Seven Deadly Sins that he could understand or bear with, just like Gowther. He leaned his chin on his palm, lazily lifting his legs up and down as he lying on his stomach "what do you think, eh? Captain~".
"well, well, well, it's good, right? Merlin is grown up adult, mature woman. No wonder she knows by instinct, about how to raise a girl and be nurture mother for Gwen", Meliodas lazily leaned his head on his chin, lying on the ground and munching the sandwich "let's just hope she will not scare Gwen too much".
Gowther looked up from his book "I wonder what Merlin will do to make her cry so the little girl can her open her heart and feelings to us? She's been mute because she closed her heart and feelings after the catastrophe".
Diane chirped "but I think Merlin is sincere, she's really doing great to be Gwen's mother. Merlin even spared her time for her research to spend more her time with Gwen".
Escanor and King exchanged glances, they all understood what were Diane, Meliodas and Ban meant. After all, Merlin did what she usually never did like cook the sandwich, story-telling before they slept, holding hands in their sleep when Gwen was in tantrum due to her terror night, spending her time more with Gwen rather than locking herself in her room for her research.
"Merlin indeed did her best", Escanor glanced from the corner of his eyes to where Merlin sat under the tree with Gwen "I only hope Gwen will cheer up if only a little bit".
Putting down her book on the ground after she read that book, Merlin arranged Gwen's hair into braids and letting it loose over her shoulder. After Merlin put the flower crown on her head, Gwen asked her through telepathy "why?".
Merlin tilted her head to little girl who sat across her "what is it?".
"why do you keep taking care of me as your daughter? I'm just stranger for you", Gwen lowered her head further in shame "I even did terrible things, hurt you when you only tried to save me".
Merlin touched her chin and lifted her head up "tell me, how your voice sounds like? What do you want to learn? What do you like? What is your talent? I want to know it, all of you... I wonder, can you fill my thirst?".
Gwen blinked in confusion "then once I satisfy your thirst, you will get rid of me?".
"no, I want to give you everything that I have as a mother, as a sorceress and as a woman. I want to love you as my own daughter. I know who your parent were, they were really good people. You are their daughter, the one and only they have left in this world. I will protect and cherish you with raise you as my daughter in their stead", Merlin cupped her cheeks and smiled down sadly. She kissed her forehead before leaning her forehead to hers "for children on your ages, you can learn as much as you want, play with other children and do what you want, get proper eat and drink, sleep soundly and not in your terror night. You don't have to learn to restrain and hold back your feeling this early. Cry, let go every single things that saddened your heart and burdened you so you can smile again and walk forward. For now, I want to hear your voice. Would you let me?".
Ever since Merlin saved her from that catastrophe, Gwen locked her heart and feelings. The warmth of her parent that she thought she would never experience again, now she felt from Merlin. Merlin's words and warmth just like the incantation that freed her from chain of guilt that chained her ever since of her parent's death. Gwen threw herself to Merlin's embrace, crying her heart out loud for the first time ever since her parent's death. Merlin hugged her, the floral scent of Lily flowers from the little girl on her arms tickled her nose. Just like ordinary child who just lost her parent and her home without no one she could trust, she cried herself to sleep on Merlin's arms.
Meliodas tucked his hands behind his head when Merlin joined them, carrying the sleeping girl on her arms "how did you do it, Merlin?".
Ban whistled "looks like you finally opened up her heart, eh?".
"just told her how she should act as a child", Merlin smirked "let's go home. Anyway, what are you crying mess like that for?".
King and Diane cried mess, even Escanor in his day version teared up a little (maybe he would be crying mess like King and Diane if he were in his night version) while Gowther was no comment, as usual.
Merlin twitched her eyebrow up and down in irritation "what's wrong with your face, Gwen?".
Meliodas inspected the bruises on Gwen's cheek and the scratch on the corner of her lip, like someone had slapped her hardly "who did this to you? Someone hit you? Do you have a fight with someone?".
Diane nibbled her fingers "to do it to little girl's face... it's terrible?!".
Lowering her head further, Gwen pursed her lips and clutched her skirt "...I'm sorry".
"what I asked is not your apologize", Merlin sighed and shook her head before snatching the first aid kit from King's hand, started to treat her wound "what happened that make your face like this?".
King watched in worry and Gowther stared down to muted little girl whom wounds on her face treated by Merlin.
Ban scratched the back of his head before patting Gwen's head "...look, your mother doesn't angry or mad to you, she just worried. That's why, you have to tell us if there's anyone dare to hurt you or bully you. Should uncle pay them back for the bruises and scratch on your face?".
"you really needn't, uncle Ban!? I was just...", Gwen looked like want to tell the truth but she felt doubt. After Meliodas told her to say so and promised they wouldn't be angry, Gwen admitted "...I fought with evil Veronica".
King jaw-dropped "eh?! With the princess!? Why!?".
Gwen swung her hands up and down in irritation "because she's so evil?! I just wanted to play with princess Ellie and read book that princess Margaret brought but she tried to send me away and dragged her sisters away from me just because I'm mother's daughter. She even called mother, Meliodas and the others as evil criminals?! I argued with her and had a fight with her before princess Margaret asked Gilthunder and Howzer to hold me back as princess Margaret and princess Ellie holding evil Veronica".
Meliodas chuckled and crossed his arms before his chest "you're surprisingly talkative when you have your voice back, huh?".
"I'm not gonna apologize for having fight with Veronica", Gwen puffed her cheeks before looking up to Merlin dreadfully "but... I apologize if my fight with Veronica will cause trouble for mother and you all".
Merlin looked like she had sudden headache, she shook her head and furrowed her eyebrows. Gwen prepared herself if Merlin would scold her, but instead, Merlin cupped her uninjured cheek and kissed the bruises on her cheek and scratch on the corner of her lip. Gwen slightly blushed thanks to the tender gesture.
"you stupid child, don't make me repeat my words", Merlin smiled and patted her head "what I told you before? You don't have to learn to restrain and hold back your feeling this early. Just be honest to us, you needn't to keep everything for yourself and weigh your shoulder with burden. You are still too young to do what an adult supposed to do".
Gwen touched both sides of her head like she was the one who had sudden headache now "but what if I cause the trouble for you and the others?".
Meliodas tucked his hands behind his head "nah, I will talk with Baltra about it".
When she felt someone's big hand patting her head, Gwen looked up and met with Escanor who smiled to her "your mother and Captain's right. Besides you just tried to defend us. There's no way we will be mad to you for it. Just be careful and don't hurt yourself in the process again, do you? Your mother just worried and we don't want you to get hurt as well".
Gwen looked down and narrowed her eyes. They thought she would cry, but she smiled warmly instead before she looked up and told them all "thank you... I love you all".
Merlin smiled and hugged her while the other cooed how cute she was. Merlin, Meliodas and other members of Seven Deadly Sins taught her, that 'home' was the place where your family was waiting for you to go home and 'family' was people who accepted you, cared, cherished and loved you with all their heart and feelings through their shared bonds, with or without the blood relationship.