Chapter 28

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Khushi's heart turned over in her chest as she looked at the peacefully sleeping infant in her arms. From the day one, she had felt an inexplicable tug towards him. Fallen in love with him at the very first sight. So cute, so innocent, so tiny, and so very dear to her. Vansh, Lavanya and Aman's son. The reason everyone didn't fall apart after Lavanya's demise. The reason that had compelled her to walk back into Arnav's camp. The reason his Arnav kaka has found his smile again.

The reason why his uncle NK and his aunt Madhura were getting married right now.

Khushi clutched the little-swaddled baby a little tighter to herself, overwhelmed with a peculiar possessiveness. However, she didn't want to demean the sacrifice these two young people were so selflessly making, even in her thoughts. But it was true that from today onwards her role in Vansh's life as one of his caretakers, like it had been since the last month, would cease. And it hurt. Lavanya's younger sister, Madhura, would officially become his mother. The girl had been extremely close to her late sister and didn't even blink an eye before consenting to marry NK for her nephew's sake. NK, whom she didn't know much, let alone love. Same went for NK. Both committing to build a life for the tiny soul left behind by their siblings.

And what did she have to offer the baby? Unmarried, already saddled with her family's care, she had no blood connection with either side of Vansh's parentage.

Khushi tried to ward off the depression she was experiencing. It wasn't hard. She just had to look at Subhadra aunty. The grave wrinkled face that had weathered her young son and his wife's brutal deaths, was at least smiling a little today. She felt a tad ashamed. To even think of wanting a piece of what was the only happiness left in the woman's bleak life felt uncharitable. Vansh had become her only reason to live these days. With this setup, he will get to grow before her grandmother's doting eyes who had already started searching for Aman's likeness in his miniature features.

Vansh will always remain the son of her heart, she consoled herself. She didn't need a DNA or a piece of paper to validate her love for him.

So lost was she in her musings, that it took her a minute to realize that Subhadra aunty was now standing before her, calling her name.

"Yes aunty?"

"How many times have I asked you to call me kaki? Now give Vansh to me and go stand beside Arnav," the older woman said.

Khushi looked in the direction where Arnav was standing. The ceremony had concluded and NK and Madhura were in the process of touching his feet for blessing and Arnav was in the process of stopping them from doing so proclaiming he was not that old. Subhadra kaki's dictate halted everyone. The new couple halted, bent halfway but now staring at her. Arnav, who was refusing to be treated like an elder just a moment back, planted himself firmly in place, all his protests vanishing.

"Yes Vahini, come, it is considered auspicious to give and receive blessings as a couple," the sweet naive Madhura readily concurred.

Arnav looked so very smug at this that Khushi wanted to hit his head. Vahini meant brother's wife in Marathi. Subhadra aunty, no, Subhadra kaki had insisted she be addressed as Arnav's future wife since the day Arnav had brought her to their home along with Vansh from the hospital. There was no arguing with this woman. Khushi realized why Arnav considered her as his mother, for in another life these two could have really been mother-son. Once they made up their minds, there was no stopping the either.

After apologies and clarifications, when she had welcomed Khushi into her brood, she had done with the single-minded intention of having her there as her Arnav's wife. There was no way to win against Subhadra Kirloskar. God as her witness, she had tried. She even introduced her to everyone as Arnav's fiancé. By now Khushi knew better than to sound like a broken record that nothing was settled between her and Arnav or that they were not even engaged let alone married to be called Vahini.

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