Chapter 29.
Crossing the line.


  Pavel deftly removed the broken pen and put a new pen into Altair’s hand.
When Altair looked at Pavel as if he was bewildered by his natural behavior, he shrugged and tapped the papers on the desk lightly with his finger.

“You can just attend the madame’s tea party after you’ve finished this paperwork, right?”

“It’s a tea party.
I’ve never been invited to anything like that.”

“You don’t need to be invited.
Who would stop the lord, the owner of Aylesford, from attending a tea party held in Aylesford?”

Altair slightly furrowed his brows, as if he hadn’t even thought of it.
At that, Pavel let out a deep sigh and shook his head.

“That is why, my lord, I told you to pay more attention to social culture-…”

“Enough.”

Sensing that Pavel’s nagging was about to lengthen, Altair raised his hand to stop him and quickly began to move his pen.
When the paperwork progress finally accelerated, Pavel was satisfied and kept his mouth shut.
The amount of documents quickly dwindled, and when they reached the last page, Pavel, who had been quietly assisting Altair, spoke cautiously.

“Pardon me…My Lord.”

“Speak.”

“I am aware it’s something I should not be too nosy about on my part, but I thought it would be good to tell you anyway.
It has something to do with the madame.”

At the word ‘madame’, Altair put down the pen and looked up at Pavel.

“I heard something strange while talking with the madame not too long ago.
She said that Marie was the only maid who did not mistreat her even after her parents died.
I was kind of taken aback by this.”

“…”

“She also reacted a little weirdly when the matter of the wedding payment came up, and it seemed that her situation in the Marquis was not so good.
Maybe it’s not  just not good…”

“That’s enough.
Stop there.”

Pavel’s eyes widened at Altair’s reaction as the lord cut him off more calmly than he thought.

“By any chance … Did you already know?”

“More or less.
I heard about it from Nadia.”

“Then Blan is continuing to work as an espionage in the capital these days…”

After the ring issue was resolved, Blan immediately left for the capital with a new mission.
Watching the messenger birds flying through the lord’s window every day, he guessed that Blan was diligently gathering information, but he didn’t know it was related to the madame.

“The madame has made a big decision.
It’s not an easy story to tell.
That means she really trusts you, my lord.”

“That’s…well…since I’m her husband…”

Altair cleared his throat in embarrassment and quickly changed the subject.


“Now that I see, you, a guy who knows the duty of a servant better than anyone else, have become bold enough to cross the line.”

Pavel kept his mouth shut as the arrow returned to him.
The duty of a servant was simple.
They must not dare to open their mouth at their master’s business, and must never question their master’s orders.
That was the line between the servant and the master.
Even though he always seemed to nag Altair, Pavel never commented on the lord’s important decisions or the family matters.
And yet, this was the first time he did that.

“…Because the madame crossed the line first.”

“Nadia?”

“Yes.
Madame first treated us, the people of Aylesford, as family, so I dared to cross the line.”

No matter how much one searched this vast empire, they wouldn’t find a mistress who jumped into the water to help her servants.

But our madame did.

Pavel thought went back to Nadia for a moment.
When Altair first said that he would marry the current madame of Aylesford, he thought that it would not be easy to court a lady from the capital that could help with internal affairs.
Pavel even once thought that she might ignore him and push him out of internal affairs.
The butler who had worked for a long time in the family was the biggest rival of the mistress from outside.

So I had prepared myself mentally…

However, the person who appeared in front of Pavel was Nadia.
It seemed that she had no intention of taking control of Aylesford’s household, nor did she have the intention of oppressing Pavel for her dignity.
Even on a rather trivial matter, she called Pavel to discuss it with her, and she sought his opinion.

Furthermore…

She melted even the lonely heart of his cold lord, who was trapped in his own castle, so there was no better madame for them than her.
For such a person, he could lay down his own principles for a while.

“She is a very nice person.”

“That…I know.”

Altair responded rather brusquely and quickly reviewed the last document and stood up.

“I need to prepare flowers.
I can’t go to my wife’s teatime empty-handed.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“And keep quiet about Nadia’s problem.”

This was a matter of noble’s pride.
People would feel sorry for her if Nadia was known for the treatment she received from the Marquis.
It was never a good thing to be treated as a ‘pitiful person’ in an aristocratic society.
It would be difficult for her to show her face elsewhere when the pride and honour she’s supposed to have as a noble had fallen to the ground.

Hence, the timing for this to be revealed…

When they could get the perfect revenge.
Until then, they must keep her secret and lay low.

“Of course.”

Pavel, who understood Altair’s intention, lowered his head without further questioning.

“And how about tulips as a gift for the madame?”

“… I’ll go with pink tulips then.”


“They matched the colour of madame’s hair.”

Pavel’s eyes crinkled as he hummed in a playful manner.

“The lord is a lot more cringy than I thought…”

“Pavel, you seem to be getting more and more like Blan.”

“I guess it can’t be helped because I’m his brother.”

“If possible, I want you to resemble his good points.
How come you pick only the bad ones?”

“Usually, it is easier to get badly influenced.”

“… The habit of not giving in even for one word is also the same.”

Pavel chuckled as Altair grumbled and watched as he left the office.

Certainly, these days, the lord…

Looked much better.

It would be nice if this kind of peace continued.

But he was worried about the upcoming nobles’ gathering.
It’s been a while since Altair last attended a social activity, but what’s more, it bothered him that Balhail was the one who brought Altair there.
There was no way that insidious man called Altair to a meeting without plotting something, so anything could happen.

Of course, the lord must also know that for sure.

He would come prepared.

“But, for now, tulips.”

Pavel let out a deep sigh and moved on.

❈❈❈

“The tea smells so good, madame!”

“This is my first time tasting tea this good!”

The knights sitting across from Nadia all raised their voices with excitement.
There were three guests today, and Cain in particular was naturally leading the mood.

“Everyone doesn’t even know what tea is supposed to taste like, or what’s good about it.
Don’t be fooled by these guys, madame.
They know the taste of beer, but they don’t drink tea at all.”

At Cain’s snitch, the knights who had been excitedly praising her tea avoided her gaze with an awkward cough.
It seemed that his words were too true to refute.

Somehow, they seem kind of cute.


Nadia could not help but laugh at the sight of the three tall knights holding small tea cups and looking awkward.
It’s bad to be happy when seeing others in trouble, but it was a secret pleasure to see this every time she invited the knights.

I might have a secretly bad personality.

That aside, there had been no practice so far.

I was trying to practise because I wanted to show that I can lead the conversation naturally in front of the nobles I will meet at the gathering, but…

The knights invited to her tea time actively opened their mouths and led the atmosphere whenever there seemed to be a halt in the conversation.
They must have wanted to help so she would not feel troubled, but thanks to their kindness, the tea time, which was completely different from her original intention, continued like that for several days.

Is this okay…?

As Nadia was feeling uneased, Cain, completely unaware of her situation, smiled kindly and put down the teacup.

“Since you invited us to tea time, next time we will invite you to the festival.
We will also tell you about the taste of beer.
Once you come back after attending the gathering, the festival will be just around the corner.”

“A festival?”

“Yes.
Soon, a big festival will be held in the town.
There are so many demons in this area, so people prayed to heaven during that occasion for protection.
Are festivals like this rare in the capital?”

“Yes.
Although there is a National Founding day…”

All the nobles gathered at the imperial palace to hold a ball and enjoy a splendid party.
However, it seemed to be quite different from the festival Cain was talking about.

“It will be very fun.
The lord dislikes noises, so he never attended…If he says he’s not going again this time, we’ll take the madame.”

It was in fact burdensome to be in a place where a lot of people gathered for Nadia as well, but it was difficult to ignore the goodwill of the knights.
As soon as she nodded after thinking about it briefly, the entrance became noisy.
The knights quickly got up from their seats and bowed their heads before she could even turn her head, wondering what was going on.

“My lord.”

My lord?

Surprised, Nadia got up and turned around to find Altair standing not so far away.
As she was astounded at the appearance of an uninvited guest, Altair walked inside and held something out in front of her.
A fragrant scent tickled her nose before she could identify it with her eyes.
It was a large bouquet of pink tulips.

“Please accept it.”

“OOHHHHH!”

At Altair’s words, the knights, standing side by side, exclaimed and clapped in unison.

“I thought something like this only appears in plays.”

“Me too.”

When Altair fiercely glared at the knights, Cain grabbed his comrades by their collars and dragged them out with his characteristic cheeky smile.


“Um…”

As Nadia wondered if it was okay to let the invited guest go like that and was at a loss for what to do, Altair put the bouquet of flowers in her arms and slightly bent forward.
When her eyes met his red ones, she flinched and Altair asked, running his hand through his hair.

“What are you looking at? You don’t like me as a guest? Or do you prefer them more?”

“It-it’s not that…they are guests I invited, but Altair kicked all of them out…”

“I never kicked them out.
They ran away on their own.”

“I guess they did…”

It seemed that it would be difficult to become ‘a lady who could lead a conversation naturally’ until the meeting.

“Thank you anyway.”

“For what? Kicking them out?”

He just said he didn’t kick them out though.

In the end, he admitted it himself.
At that, Nadia burst out a small laugh and shook her head.

“No.
For this flower gift-…”

But before she could say thanks, something soft came to touch her lips.
As her eyes rounded wide, Altair’s face was right in front of her.
He kissed her.
While Nadia was still wondering what was going on, Altair quickly stepped back as soon as he opened his eyes again.
His ears could be seen slightly red.

“…It’s because you laughed.”

Altair turned his head away, covering his mouth with his large hand.

“So this is my fault?”

After being kissed when staying still and doing absolutely nothing, Nadia felt unfair and protested against him, taking a big step forward.
Then, as she got closer to Altair, he took another step back.

“I’m not saying it’s your fault, it’s because you laughed like that, I couldn’t-…”

“Th-that obviously means it’s my fault.”

“I already told you, I’m not trying to blame anyone-…”

“Ahem.”

As they were arguing with each other, Marie, who had been forgotten for a while, let out a loud cough to announce her presence.

“Since when…”

Altair, apparently unaware of her existence, stared at her stiffly.
In response, Marie smiled in her usual unbothered pose and said to him.

“I have been here all along, my lord.
Shall I prepare a cup of tea for you?”

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