She was planning on asking the duke to let her work as his maid after she brought him his food.
Delphia merely stood there blinking.
Looking conflicted, Delphia scratched her head..
Lady Irina, about that.”
“Let us ask this of her, shall we?”
An unexpected ally came to Irina’s aid.
It was Leo.
Staring as he turned around and sat back in his seat, Delphia frowned.
“Lady Irina is a guest so he may not react the same.
And have you ever seen his grace treat civilians roughly?”
“… Never but–”
Urgh, Delphia groaned.
She looked like she was still worried about something.
She could not miss this perfect opportunity.
Wouldn’t this be the greatest chance she would get to demonstrate how useful she could be to not only Delphia and Leo but also the duke?
“I can do it well.”
“She even says she would bring it to him well.”
After alternating her gaze between Irina and Leo, Delphia shook her head, looking as if she had given up.
Still, since Lady Irina doesn’t know her way around the estate well yet, I should…”
“Come with me.’
Delphia was interrupted once again.
Delphia looked at Leo, who was now standing behind Irina, as if she had just seen a ghost.
“What’s wrong with you? When have you ever been this kind?”
“Because she’s their daughter.”
Leo shrugged his shoulders.
He then placed the tray carrying the dishes he had devoured down before grabbing Delphia’s arms and lifting them.
“Our dearest Dame Delphia Bareton, don’t you have things to do, besides tending to Lady Irina?”
“Hm? Do I?”
“What? Have you forgotten? You said that you would handle the report and submit it to his grace by today.”
Delphia turned as pale as a sheet.
She must have completely forgotten.
Leo clicked his tongue.
“Isn’t the report urgent?”
“It is! It really is! It is but…”
Delphia furrowed her brows.
She glanced at Irina.
She looked so anxious that she must be finding it difficult to leave Irina.
“Please do not worry about me.”
Flushed, Irina smiled.
“Actually, I couldn’t sleep last night.
I was planning on asking him if it would be alright if I just slept in my room for today.”
She was lying.
As soon as she returned to her room, she was going to clean it till it was speckless.
“Ha, I guess there’s nothing I can do.
I’ll leave her to you.”
Delphia decided to let her go.
After letting out a long sigh, she shook her head.
“But, all you must do is leave the food in front of his door, knock then step away.
There is no need to enter.”
Then, was there really a need to bring him the food? If he had not managed to hear the knock, the food would only go cold.
Though she still had her doubts, Irina nodded her head gently.
“And, you, don’t you dare pick on Lady Irina!”
“When have I ever picked on people?”
“You say that but I know you well.”
Still grabbing onto Delphia, Leo’s expression twisted.
Realising that this was the moment she should take her leave, Delphia stuffed the remaining piece of bread on her tray into her mouth.
“Rhen, I rall aye my eafe ow! (Then I shall take my leave now!)”
She then left faster than the speed of light.
Watching Delphia dash out of the dining hall, Leo could not help but to sigh.
He turned around before staring at Irina.
“Are you done with your food?”
“Ah, yes, I am!”
Irina answered him instantly while downing all she had left on her plates.
He lifted Irina’s tray as though it was as light as feathers before placing it to the side.
He looked down at Irina calmly.
“Then, let us go.”
Jumping out of her seat, Irina scurried to the tray the duke’s meal had been placed atop and tried to pick it up.
But Leo was one step ahead.
Carrying the tray easily with his long arms, Leo turned back around.
“Let us go.”
Leo left the dining hall.
Irina chased after him with her short strides.
It took all of her energy just to keep up with him because he walked so fast.
After walking for a long time, Leo spoke as Irina panted from a distance behind him.
“… Why are you all the way there?”
“You’re, you’re too fast.
“You should have said something.”
“I didn’t even have time to get a word in.”
Irina stared at Leo until he averted his gaze and cleared his throat.
Once again, the two walked down the long hallway.
This time, the walk was more comfortable as it seemed like he was matching her pace.
How long had they walked for?
Leo broke the silence.
“Do you have anything you would like to ask about Count and Countess Leonid?”
Irina turned her head to look at Leo.
“It is just as I said.
I asked if you have anything you would like to know about your parents, Lady Leonid.”
Upon hearing Leo, Irina lowered her head.
She replied as though she was creeping around the question.
“No, nothing much…”
Nodding wordlessly, Leo turned back around and looked straight ahead.
“To be honest with you, I chose to accompany you because I thought you might have questions.
I heard that you didn’t manage to have a proper conversation with his grace yesterday.”
“… Were they good people?”
There was not a shred of hesitation in his voice.
“They were extremely good people.
For his grace and the knights under the House of Winfried, they had fought till their very last breath.”
So, they really were good people.
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.
With her eyes still fixed on the floor, Irina spoke.
“I can’t stop hating myself.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“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.”
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.”
“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.
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.
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?”
“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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