Episode 5. Fair trade

Translator: Alice

Editor: Linny

***

On the evening of that day, the news that the Duchess walked into the dining hall in underwear spread throughout the whole mansion.

Leonhart visited the bedroom with a nervous smile.

“My wife must have liked it very much, seeing as you did something so annoying.”

Dooha smiled satisfactorily, having had expected his visit.

It seemed that the maids delivered Dooha’s message properly.

“I guess you really care about this since you came all the way here for it.” 

Her hand held the outerwear Leonhart gave her at the dining hall.

Leonhart hardened his face and grabbed his clothes.

“I just don’t like my stuff being touched by the hands of other people.”

“That’s not very convincing. You put this on me yourself, didn’t you?”

“Should I have instead shown the duchess’ underwear to others?”

“You could have asked your servants to bring blankets.”

In fact, Dooha had ordered Layla to keep her shawl close by.

He didn’t have to give her his coat.

Leonhart frowned silently.

“There was something I couldn’t say yesterday because I was in a hurry.”

Dooha continued to talk, looking up at her husband who was two hands’ length away from her.

“I never said I didn’t want this marriage.”

“…What?”

“I chose you as my husband. I wanted to get married, so I said I would.”

She added the request as if not to be mistaken.

“Of course, it’s not because I love you or because I want the position of the Duchess of the Empire.”

There was only one reason why Doohha came to this strange land.

Only for the peace and well-being of Bashal, where she was born and raised.

“I decided to do what I could, and this marriage was the best choice I could do.”

If she could not become chief because she was a woman, she chose what she could do for Bashal as a princess and because of the lack of a deserving chief.

It was something that only Dooha, a ‘woman’, could do.

“So I don’t want you to insult me with the value of my choice.”

“Are you sacrificing your value?”

Leonhart frowned unknowingly at the fierce choice of words.

“So what did you want to say?”

“I want a fair deal.”

“A fair deal?”

“Yes. You won the emperor’s trust and a duchess through this alliance marriage, but I didn’t gain anything.”

Starting with the status of a princess, she had left behind numerous things when she left her hometown.

She lost a lot, but all she gained was a marriage with the pride that she sacrificed for Bashal.

In addition, from the first night, she was declared to live separately in a room that wasn’t her husband’s and was ignored by the princess maid.

“Shouldn’t I have at least one benefit from this marriage?” 

“…What do you want?”

“All of the rights of a duchess.”

Duha raised one corner of her mouth at an angle.

“So that what happened this morning doesn’t happen.”

“…”

Leonhart admired her internally as he saw the fierce golden eyes staring straight at him.

She was really a woman who was not an ordinary bet.

Since becoming a duke, there have been few men and women who looked directly into his eyes.

Even his lieutenants, Claude and Baron, who have been with him for a long time, were busy paying attention to whether he showed any discomfort in the slightest or not.

Indeed, who could possibly stand proudly in front of the Archduke of Esbaden, the best knight of the Empire?

In front of him, a being who provoked all kinds of terrible rumors just by standing there?

But for the woman in front of him, it was not enough to just stare at him. She was even mocking him.

Putting aside how he felt offended by her, he found her quite strange and interesting

Does this woman know? Who she was being arrogant in front of without fear?

Suddenly, he wanted to see this woman’s carefree face tinged with embarrassment.

Leonhart slowly opened his mouth while looking at her, who was not saying a word.

“…Okay, if you wish.”

He said in a very subdued voice, disheveling his hair back.

“From today onwards, I will let you enjoy all the rights of a duchess.”

Leonhart wrapped his arm around Duha’s waist and pulled her towards his body.

Her eyes widened.

“But my wife must be well aware that she has to fulfill her obligations in order to claim her rights.”

His blue eyes shone dangerously through his drooping bangs.

Dooha froze on the spot, like a rabbit facing a lion. It was a very unfamiliar look.

The two fell onto the bed in an instant.

When his hands, as hot and large as it was excessive, invaded through her thin pajamas, Dooha bit her lip without realizing it.

As his palms, full of calluses, narrowly passed by her sensitive areas, her head went blank.

Obviously, she had to reject that unlucky guy.

Yet, words of rejection did not come out of her mouth easily.

And it was the same for the Duke, Leonhart.

At first, he was only going to tease Dooha to see her embarrassed, but after doing so, he couldn’t control himself.

Until now, he had rejected so many women, so he himself didn’t know that his body would catch on fire this much with this woman.

Leonhart clenched his teeth and swallowed his groans.

The soft, smooth skin underneath his hands made his mind’s functionality distant and stiff.

When his deep breath passed down her neckline from the tip of his nose…

“Wait a minute.”

Finally, Dooha, who came to her senses, pushed the Duke’s chest away.

Leonhart growled at her defensive attitude.

“What’s wrong? You said you wanted the rights of a duchess. Weren’t you determined to do this?”

“I was determined, but sleeping with a guy I don’t even care about doesn’t fit my personality.”

He’s a man, one who had no place in her heart.

Leonhart had never thought of keeping her in his mind either.

But why did those words make him feel so dirty?

Leonhart frowned without realizing it.

“The Duke also said that he had no intention of sharing a bedroom with me. Ah, if you ever need a successor, I’ll be happy to accommodate…”

“It’s fine.”

That cold and calm face returned, and Leonhart loosened his arm around her waist.

He looked like he was leaking steam for some reason.

“Are you sure it’s fine? If the duke wants it, even if I don’t want it, I’m willing to…” 

“I also don’t have a hobby of embracing a woman I don’t even have in my heart. Let’s stop.”

‘People will think I’m just hanging onto this woman.’

Leonhart turned his head away with a frown.

Meanwhile, Dooha sighed secretly in relief at his answer.

She had competed with men on the hunting ground, but she had never competed with anyone in bed. Due to this, she was very worried, but she was lucky.

At the same time, Leonhart brought up an unexpected remark.

“Since you brought it up first, I’ll leave you to work as the duchess from tomorrow onwards.” 

“Work?”

“Then, as the duchess, were you planning on not doing anything and just enjoying everything? That doesn’t make sense.”

Budget planning, additional management, constant supervision, and social activities.

Indeed, there were many things the duchess had to do.

“If you want to enjoy everything you should as a duchess, you should take the right responsibilities for it. Don’t you think so?”

If you want to enjoy your rights, fulfill your obligations.

It was an unwritten law that applied wherever she went.

“Please, I don’t want you to make any mistakes. It would be very difficult to hear that my wife had tarnished the Esbaden family.” 

“…I’ll try.”

Upon hearing her answer, the duke left the room silently.

Dooha, who was left alone, sat on the bed and breathed out a trembling breath.

Still, the place where his palm had passed was hot and itchy.

To the point where her heart, which had no agitation, fluttered for a very short time.

***

“Princess, do you want more tea?” 

“It’s fine.”

“Then, more refreshments…”

“No, it’s fine.”

After repeated rejection, Layla eventually got angry with her master.

“But still! Do you know how many hours you’ve been looking at documents? You skipped lunch, too!”

“I’m not that hungry, so it’s okay.”

Dooha answered back, treating the matter as if it were insignificant, while playing with the pen in her hand.

She was currently reviewing this year’s budget by organizing last year’s budget.

It was all thanks to the duke, who threw the work at her as soon as the day started.

Giving a mountain of books as a gift to the new bride who had only been married for three days.

Indeed, he could not help but be the kindest husband in the world that would make his bride grind her teeth just by thinking about him.

“But I’m glad it’s a budget plan. There are more numbers than letters.” 

“Come to think of it, the princess also managed the caravan books.” 

“Yeah, the experience of managing those books during that time has become very helpful.”

Of course, at that time, she didn’t think that she was learning how to count in order to become the hostess of a castle and manage the household like how she is now.

“Duchess, I’m Sylvia.”

While Dooha was working hard on the budget, Sylvia, the maid, visited.

“What’s going on?”

“These are lists of necessary items and bills sent from each department of the province.”

“Oh, thank you.”

Dooha’s hands, which were handing over documents one by one, gradually slowed down.

“What’s wrong, Madame?” 

“Sylvia.” 

“Yes, Madame.”

Dooha smiled as she looked at the maid standing in front of her with a puzzled face.

“What do you think a person should do in order to take care of the household?”

“Yes, when you summon the vassals from all over the castle and get a report…”

“I can’t believe what others say. I want to see for myself.”

“Yes? The Duchess herself?”

“Yeah. I haven’t finished looking around the castle yet.”

It had been only three days since Dooha came to the fortress.

It was foolish for her to judge those living in a place, which she did not even know the layout of, solely based on numbers that were listed on a piece of paper.

“I don’t know the layout, so let’s go with Sylvia.”

“Yes? But you don’t have to work so hard…”

“I also need to learn the layout of the castle. Wouldn’t it be a shame if I, the Duchess, later lost my way in the castle?”

“It would be, but…”

At her persistent persuasion, Sylvia was forced to nod her head in the end.

As she said, it was something the duchess had to do someday. She had to learn the layout of this castle, one day or another.

“Okay, then I’ll get ready.”

Dooha raised the corners of her mouth, satisfied with her maid’s sighing reply.

***