I can’t think of any way to improve my likeability. Why did Hayato like me again?
With my heart damaged from an unexpected angle, I pushed my cart and trotted to the kitchen. I’m going to wash the dish.
I’d like to stay there and immerse myself in my thoughts, but it’s almost evening, and I have to take in the laundry and start helping with dinner.
After that, I have to go close the curtains in the mansion, take care of dinner, wash the dishes, and serve tea before bedtime… My schedule is quite packed…
I’ll be nicer to all the servants when I get back…
As I walked down the corridor, I saw Hayato and the senior maid come out of the Grand Wife’s room at the same time. I can hear them talking, though faintly.
“And with this, we finished all cleaning… Ah, thank you for your hard work. I just made you some iced tea, if you want. …Ah!”
She (pretend to) stumbled, and a tea flew into the air from the cup in her hand.
She’s really doing it!
As I watched with my mouth open, the iced tea that flew toward Hayato’s face slowly evaporated in midair and disappeared.
The senior maid confused, not understanding what just happened.
Oh… it’s been a while since I see an expression like that. It’s duller than Maria’s.
Suddenly, he looked at me, noticed me, and raised his hand. He then walks straight over to me.
“Is the burn gone?”
“Yes, it doesn’t hurt at all anymore.”
I see. But let’s do it one more time. I don’t for it to leave a mark.
With that, he took off his gloves and touched my cheek with his bare hand. This is the fourth time he has been using the recovery magic. You can’t expect any more effect from the magic, but I’ll still accept it gratefully.
“Thank you. Are you okay too?”
“Yes. I’m fine. Be careful with…”
I can’t see his face; he does sound worried. I’m fine. I’m confident that I’m stronger than most people.
” Is this the birdhouse? I’m sorry to ask for one more.”
“That’s all right. If anything happens again, I will reveal everything, and let’s go home.”
“What included in [everything]?”
“Every detail, everything, all of it.”
He said it seriously while slipping his hand into my wig hair.
I understand. He is not going to reveal my blond hair but rather going to reveal my true identity and why we are here.
I hate that.
I don’t want to use my status to pressure them since I’m the one who came in secretly. Even using only my house name was enough to introduce one strange maid.
Things have been going smoothly as I managed to mend some relationship inside Baron Maple’s household, and I don’t want to ruin it by using my house name. People will certainly think that [the Duke daughter’s pressuring them to make peace.]
I don’t want to use my house name like that. I know that it was my selfish wish.
“I’m really fine now. You know I’m pretty strong, don’t you?”
“You sound like Lav. I do trust you, okay –I’m going to go now. I want to finish this before the sky gets dark.”
“Okay. Good luck.”
I saw Hayato off as he walked out and returned my gaze to the mansion. There was a hint of a senior maid looking at me from behind.
–Come if you dare!
I push the cart while emitting a fighting spirit. It’s necessary to improve my character, but that effort seems to be difficult right now. There are certain aspects of the world that can only be overcome with evil.
A good character may be something that can only be nurtured by being surrounded by good people.
But then again, the few people I have around me are good people. It’s strange that people view me as [not] a good person.
… I guess it has something to do with the quality of the person itself.
While thinking about it, I arrived in the kitchen, and as I move the dishes to the sink, the senior maid called out to me.
“… Are you acquainted with the chimney sweep?”
“Yes, he is my husband.”
“What? Really? …Oh, that’s right. No wonder. I thought the distance between you was oddly close. …Hmmm, you have a pretty cool husband. But as a chimney sweep, I’m sure he’s having a hard time making ends meet. I’m also dating a man who is the heir to a merchant family. He buys me jewelry and takes me to three-star restaurants every time we go out, even though I’ve told him I don’t need them anymore. I’m worried about how he spends his money…….”
She suddenly started to talk about herself.
I washed the dishes, took in the laundry, and started to help with dinner.
After the busy evening hours, I finally finished my work for the day, but not long after, I received a call from Grand Wife.
“This is Ellie. Please excuse me.”
I knocked on the door and entered the Grand Wife’ room, where she was drinking in her nightgown and shawl. When she saw me, she pulled out a chair and asked me to sit down.
“You must be tired. Sit here.”
“It’s alright. I want you to join me for a small talk.”
As she said this, she took out another glass and mixed the fruit wine and orange juice, magically creating ice in it.
She holds it out to me.
“Oh, I don’t drink …”
“Oh? You’re old enough to drink, aren’t you? It’s almost like juice. . Or is there some reason you can’t drink?”
The probing tone and look in her eyes made me resolve myself and take a seat.
She handed me a glass, and I took a sip.
… It’s true. Almost like juice. Delicious.
I was so thirsty after work that I drank half of it in one go.
It’s much easier to drink than honey wine. I think I can handle this.
“A lot has happened Today. There’s so much to talk about.”
The Grand Wife said and took a drink.
She had been warned by Wife Anna at the dinner table earlier, whenever she spoke in a sarcastic tone.
As the evening went on, Anna became more and more talkative, and by the end of the evening, she even seemed to be enjoying spitting out her venom.
I was feeling sorry for myself because I feel like I had transferred my bad nature to her. The Grand Wife poured amber liquor into an empty glass, mixed it with soda water, and spoke.
“…some of the household’s belongings have gone missing.”
“‘What? Then… What are you going to do about it?”
“We’ll have to investigate. We’ll start tomorrow. As for tonight, I’ll have Stella and the butler goes through the usage history of the items in question, as well as some of the past work schedules of the servants.
It was Helen’s belongings that had been reduced the most. Things like pens, accessories, and other bits and bobs. She hasn’t noticed it yet, though… it’s unbelievable.”
When a suspicion of theft by a servant arises, it must be investigated confidentially by only trusted people until the suspect is narrowed down to some extent. This is to prevent the culprit from escaping.
The reason why she didn’t inform the Wife this time was because she thought that if the Wife heard about the investigation, there was a possibility that the culprit would find out that they were being investigated.
The Grand wife treats them as if they were her children. Or you can say she was being told that she was unreliable as a Wife. It was quite humiliating, but I wondered if it’s okay like this?
“Helen doesn’t seem to get angry when someone steals her belongings. That’s probably why she’s such an easy target. … She’s so pathetic. Anna is suddenly cocky, and it’s my unlucky day. I can’t do this without a drink.
The old maids were also raring to go to compete with you.” She told me as she poured drinks into my empty glass.
“… Today, you alone have caused our family a lot of trouble. I hope tomorrow you’ll be a little quiet”, she said.
“Yes. But, Grand Wife, depending on my… situation, I may have to leave early.”
As I drank, I told her that I would not be working long hours.
“Oh, really? What kind of situation is that?”
“The condition is when I feel that I had achieved my goal, and from how the things are progressing, I guess it won’t be long.”
“Is it about helping Anna to rebel? … I don’t understand. Why would you go that far if you’re not even close to the girl?”
She casually pours a drink into my glass as we talk at a leisurely pace.
“Because she’s just like her mother. I felt like she was blaming herself for not being able to help her mother when she was in pain. …I wanted her to stop being desperate and heading towards self-harming behavior, whether unconsciously or not.”
“Self-harming behavior… I’d like to hear more about it. You talk to me as if you came here of your own free will. Didn’t the princess of Stuart’s ask you to come here?”
Oops, I might be talking too much.
…wait? I’m not sure how much I could tell the Grand Wife.
What lie I could’ve told her, and how much truth should I give?
I can’t think clearly as I felt my head goes empty.
I put together all the words I could think of. I don’t know what I was saying, but it sounded like rubbish.
The Grand Wife, who had initially been quite talkative, stopped saying a word after a while. A few moments later, there was a knock on the door, and it opened.
It seemed someone had arrived. The Grand Wife spoke to the person who stopped near the entrance.
“Oh, I’ve been waiting for you. Look here. I was hoping to get her to talk about some things, but she went under early. Take her away, she really cannot handle her liquor, and You know what, you should get rid of that disguise. I want to turn to see your face.”
I would like to turn my face towards the person, but I feel like all the fatigue of the day has hit me at once, and my body is unusually limp. As I closed my eyes, unable to move, the sound of footsteps approached me, and a large palm gently stroked my hair.
I hear two people talking above my head.
“What? Aren’t you …… different from the person in the daytime? did you switch places with someone else?”
“No, Grand Wife. I didn’t switch. There’s no need to be alarmed. I have a strange constitution. My hair color changes a little from morning to night. That’s all. Anyway, what drink did you give her?”
“Just normal alcohol. Your Wife must be very weak… Oh, by the way, I think I heard about someone with your constitution recently. Where did I hear that? I’m sure my son said he saw it at some knighthood ceremony…”
A moment later, Grand Wife gulped.
Oh, the conversation is going in the wrong direction. I have to cover it.
I struggled to open my eyes and saw the Grand Wife holding her mouth with her hand, and Hayato with his face exposed and his index finger over his mouth, saying, “Shh.”
My eyelids were so heavy that I couldn’t keep them open, so I closed them again, and then my consciousness suddenly dropped, and I couldn’t hear their conversation.
When I woke up, I found myself in a bed in a strange room.
I hurriedly tried to sit up, but a strange sluggishness overcame me, and I can only make slow movements.
“Finally… You are awake. Want some water?”
Hayato, who was sitting at a desk, turned to me.
Ah, this is the servant’s quarters of the Baron Maple family.
He was wearing rough loungewear, and there was an open book on the desk. He seems to be reading a book.
“I’ll take the water ……. What time is it?”
“About eleven o’clock.”
“What? Is it this late?”
You slept a lot. You must be tired from doing something you’re not used to.
“I wonder if that’s true. …Huh? Why did I fall asleep?”
“Did you forget?”
“Hmmm, ……. I remember going to the Grand Wife’ room, then…”
“I see. Well, I guess it’s okay. Here’s some water.”
As I poured the cold water down my throat, my head began to feel a little clearer.
No matter how tired I was, this was the first time in my life that I had fallen asleep like this.
How did this …happen?
I drank the fruit wine.
That’s why I’m so sluggish! Alcohol is scary!
I thought it was like juice, but it still alcohol!
I feel like I’ve been betrayed.
“How did I get here? I’m rather sure I collapsed in Grand wife’s room.”
“I brought you here.”
I screwed up. I made a terrible mistake, not once, but twice.
I’ve made up my mind.
I will never drunk alcohol anymore, ever.
As I huddled in my lap, he put his hand on my shoulder and sat down next to me.
“The Grand Wife said she would keep quiet about this, so it’s fine. She said she’ll find someone for Lady Anna to marry as soon as possible. She apologizes for the trouble she had caused.”
“What? Did you tell her that story?
“It seems the Baron had talked about me before… There’s no one else with such a strange constitution. It’s given that my identity is revealed, isn’t it?
If they know that I am Alice’s fiancé, they will naturally know who the girl is that is coming with me. She was quite surprised to find out why you were doing this. So, I told her the whole situation.”
“Well, … I failed, didn’t I? I would never expect to face a situation where I would be knocked unconscious by alcohol…”
“I was surprised when she suddenly called me. I was even more surprised when I saw that Alice was collapsed. She then told me that I could spend the night here.”
“I’m sorry. I won’t drink anymore even if you offer it… It’s too late to say [I’m leaving], isn’t it? I’m sure they’re all sleeping at this hour… Let’s just borrow the room for the day. You can rest now. Go back to your room and—”
What do you mean by “nope”?
“Because I don’t have [my room], this is my room. It’s a servant’s room for married couples, and since it’s empty now, the Wife said I could use it.”
When I looked at the room, it was indeed a room with only a desk, a chair, and a closet, and an exceptionally large bed. However, the room was equipped with water and a mini-kitchen and had the layout of a nice inn.
–That’s right. We also have this kind of servant’s room for married couples.
“…I feel like it’s some kind of payback to us sneaking around in her house under false pretenses.”
“I think so too.”
The air became very awkward.
“I’m going to go to …Well, for now, I’m going to take a shower.”
No matter what I will do from this point, I think it’s better to take a shower first.
I walked to the washroom. My feet were unsteady, as if It wants to tell me that I still had some alcohol left in me.
I had originally planned to stop by our house in town tonight, so I had my personal things stored in [storage], so a change of clothes was not a problem.
From the shadow storage attached to the back of my petticoat, I take out a nightgown and other sleepover sets.
…Should I know this will happen, I would have brought a prettier nightgown.
My ulterior motive is coming out.
I know why he’s so very concerned about his relationships with the opposite sex, but why am I trying to do that?
I couldn’t stop feeling depressed.
I washed my body, left the shower room, put on my nightgown, and dried my hair with the hairdryer that had been prepared in the room.
I thought to myself, “Whatever, I’ll just go to bed.”
When I returned to the bedroom, Hayato was still at his desk with a book open. He had a pen and notebook in his hand. It seemed he was studying.
That’s right. Since he was still a student at the academy, he was given assignments on holidays. He was working on it.
I got on the bed and talked to him from behind.
“Is the assignment going to take much longer?”
“I don’t know. It may take a while. It may not.”
“What does that mean? That page is for next week’s class, isn’t it? You don’t have to work so hard to prepare for it.”
“Go to bed, Alice.”
“Aren’t you going to sleep too?”
“You know, I can’t sleep in this situation.”
He turned around in his chair and said that.
“So, you want to stay awake or sleep at the desk? You can’t seriously think of doing that, did you? Just come over here. I’m not going to do anything.”
I pulled Hayato’s arm while saying something that was not what a maiden should say.
“I’m not planned to.”
“Then I’ll stay awake too. If I don’t say anything, I’ll fall asleep, so I’ll talk to you all night and interrupt your studies. Are you sure you want that?”
After glaring at each other for a while, he sighed and got up from his chair.
He sat down on the bed and fell on his back as if he had given up.
“Hahh… I think I might die tonight.”
“What was that? Please put the covers on properly. I’ll turn off the light.”
With the wind magic, I extinguished the lamp.
When I lay down and closed my eyes, I could feel the presence of the person next to me.
The faint breathing, the sound of clothes brushing, the warmth of the body.
I couldn’t help but be aware of them.
My senses were so hypersensitive. This made me freeze, and I can do hold my breath.
My fingertips touched the hand placed next to my body, and he was exaggeratedly surprised.
“…… Hey, Alice.”
“What is it?”
“Can I hold your hand?”
In the futon, he squeezed my hand.
I was so nervous and uncomfortable that I grabbed it back and stroked it with my fingers, and he did the same.
After some silent exchange, he turned his body toward me and put his arm under my head.
The tension rises as the arm-pillow position is fixed.
He pulled my head back, and I rolled my whole body towards him.
His arms went around my back, and he held me tightly.
“I told you that I didn’t want to do this because I knew this would happen.”
“You can stop if you want.”
“I can’t. it feels like the blood vessels in my head are breaking.”
His knee came between my legs, and he rubbed my inner thigh.
A hand slipped into my nightgown at the nape of my neck and touched me directly on my shoulder blades. Feeling a bit ticklish from his touch and his body heat, I clung to him.
“Alice, I need you to do something for me.”
“What is it?”
“Cast dark spell on me, the one that put me to sleep.”
“What? Will it work?”
“I don’t know, but as long as I don’t resist, I think you’ll be able to do it. Do it!”
“I don’t mind if you continue.”
“I told you not to say that!”
As he said this with his mouth, his hands slipped off my nightgown.
–I’m sure he’ll be depressed tomorrow morning if things go on like this. ……
It’s a pity. It might be a kindness to let him sleep as he requests it.
So I cast a sleep spell on him.
“It’s not working at all! One more time!”
What’s with the sudden passionate instruction?
“It’s because you’re resisting! Why don’t you do it yourself?”
The position changes, and he pulls me over and slides his lips down my neck.
I hugged him and signaled that I was totally okay with it, but I think there probably aren’t many people who have more out of tune with mouths and actions than we do right now.
“I don’t think it will work. If it’s Alice’s, she’ll be more willing to accept it…”
“Why did you go back in your words? I’m going to cast it one more time. Be sure to accept it.”
I’m using all my power to cast it now. This time, it seems to be working. His body movement rapidly becomes sluggish, and I could feel his body weight as he leans on me.
“Thank you… Alice.”
He rolled onto her side with glazed eyes, blinking slowly.
“Are you going to sleep?”
“I think? …but just to be safe, please cast it one more…”
Feeling like a beast of prey, I put my hand over his eyes and cast the sleep spell once more.
“Good night, Hayato.”
He smiled and accepted the spell.
“Good night. I love you, Alisha.”
My heart nearly exploded when he suddenly called me by my full name.
When I pulled my hand away, his eyes were already closed, and he was breathing quietly in his sleep.
This man is really difficult…!
Now, I think it’s me that will have trouble sleeping.
I slumped beside him and cast a sleep spell on myself, feeling like I wanted to cry for no apparent reason at all.