Irina’s head lowered even further.
She bit her lower lip.
The patterns engraved on the marble floor looked more pronounced now. 

“You don’t look well.
Lady Leonid.”


With her eyes still fixed on the floor, Irina spoke. 

“I can’t stop hating myself.”

“What do you mean by that?”

Leo frowned. 

“What do you mean you hate yourself, Lady Leonid?”


Taking step after step slowly, Irina continued. 

“No matter who I ask, my parents were good people.
I heard the same from Delphia this morning as well.
My parents had loved me, worried for me and prepared me for their departure.”

Yeah, the only villain in the story Delphia had told her this morning was Viscount Ventlen. 

A very bad villain who broke his promise with her parents and abandoned her. 

And yet, even though she knew exactly who the villain was in this story. 

“I keep blaming them.
For leaving me.”

They should have just lived with me. 

She did not care that there was a war, they shouldn’t have gone to fight like everyone else and just stayed with her.

“If they had, I would have grown up like anyone else and my parents wouldn’t have died.”

Irina’s soft voice was now choked with tears. 

“… Lady Leonid.”

“My parents were war heroes and if they were as good as you said, Mister Leo, they must have been really good people.
So, I shouldn’t be blaming them.”

Irina lowered her gaze. 

Her voice sounded less like hers as though her desire to cry had reached the tip of her throat. 

“I keep blaming them.”

What she had lost because of her parents’ choice, how precious and coveted it had been. 

She realised it in this estate. 

Fluffy beds, rooms without drafts and delicious meals. 

Most importantly, she would have been loved and would never have suffered for such a long time.

Instead of having memories she only wished to erase, her past would have been filled with unforgettable ones. 

She could have been really happy. 

“I’m horrible, aren’t I?”

Raising her head, Irina rubbed her eyes with a smile. 

“I am dreadful.”

You are not, my lady.”

Irina removed her hands which had been pressing down on her eyes and stared at Leo. 

“Nobody would ever think that.”



Leo smiled.
He mirrored the expression Irina just had on her face.

“I would never think that either.”

“You too, Mister Leo…?”


Leo nodded his head lightly. 

“I hated my parents too.
I understood why they made that choice but I still resented them for making it.”

“I see…”

“That was why I had left my estate so thoughtlessly and escaped to the Winfried Duchy.”

As he spoke, Leo smirked as though he found himself amusing. 

“My parents might have flipped the entire estate upside down the moment they noticed my disappearance.”

Irina could only blink at his smile.
In the meantime, they had reached the end of the hallway. 

“That is the room the duke uses.”

Leo returned to his blank expression so quickly Irina wondered if he ever smiled to begin with as he seemed focused on a spot. 

“Ah, yes.”

Irina quickly returned to reality. 

So, this was his room.
The duke’s room.
She should take a good note. 

She had planned on bringing him his meals alone next time. 

“Just as Dame Delphia instructed back in the dining hall, you just need to place his food by the door and knock.
Afterward, I shall bring you…”

“Leo! Hello, Leoooooo!”

Leo’s words were interrupted.
Turning their heads at the urgency of the voice, they noticed a man running their way from afar. 

“What’s wrong?”

Leo furrowed his brows as he noticed the man who instantly ran towards him. 

“Well,  gasp, we need you at the training hall right now.”

After wiping the sweat from the tip of his chin, the man added. 

“Leighton caused trouble again…”


Leo lowered his voice. 

“Didn’t he cause an accident just earlier today?”

“Don’t be too angry at him.
He’s repenting too.
But I do think you should hurry there.”


Leo seemed to be hesitating.
Based on what that man said, it was a really pressing issue and Leo needed to leave right away. 

He seemed to be having trouble leaving Irina alone. 

“You can go.”

Irina reached out her hand to lift the tray Leo had been holding from below. 

“I will knock and then leave the food in front of his door.
That’s all I need to do, right?”

“Yes, but–”

“Stop worrying and go!”

Irina pushed Leo from behind.
She then flashed a big smile. 

“I can do at least this much.
I’ve worked in an inn for a long time.”

“… Then, I shall leave this to you, Lady Irina.”

“Yes, you do not have to worry.’

Irina mustered strength into her hand before pushing Leo’s back a few more times until he reluctantly took a step forward.
And in an instant, he had disappeared with the man who had wordlessly bowed to Irina earlier. 


After taking in a deep breath, Irina knocked on the duke’s door. 

Knock, knock, knock.

There was no answer.
She knocked on the door again but there was still no answer. 

‘I don’t think he’s in the room.’

Tilting her head, Irina lifted the silver cloche.
She found a large piece of meat sitting in the bowl. 

‘It’ll get tough if it gets cold.’

No matter how good the quality of the meat was, it would only turn tough if it cooled. 

The meat she had eaten in the past would not soften no matter how much she chewed so she had no choice but to swallow it. 

This meat should never turn that tough, never. 

‘And there’s something I have to tell him.’

Didn’t she have a reason why she must meet the duke in person? 

Alright, let’s gather some courage. 

Taking another breath, Irina raised her voice. 

“I’ll be entering now, duke!”

The door opened. 

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