Huge thanks to Sammikinns for the kofis! (3/4)
The word Count Newett brightened Dahlia’s face. Edina reprimanded her that she shouldn’t display an appearance of favouring him too much, but Edina continued with a much brighter face than Dahlia.
“Luckily, the Count stepped up and led the mood. The atmosphere would have been very desolate without him. The Count explained that it was understable that the Little Duke would be sensitive as it’s been a while since he returned home, so the vassals should be understanding.”
Count Newett was the most promising amongst the vassals, even surpassing the Duke’s right-hand man, Viscount Oubric. He was also a representative vassal that protected Isaac.
His genial and well-mannered attitude was enough to win everyone’s favour. Dahlia also held a positive view on him as he cared for Isaac. Even if she hadn’t seen it, it felt as though she could understand how the Count appeased the situation.
Well, it’s different from the past.
Dahlia was worried that Isaac would be harmed when she heard about Max’s return, but she now thought that there wasn’t a need for her to worry. Dahlia approached the window unconsciously.
She could see the roof of the annex beyond the spotless window, surrounded by greenery. The blue roof underneath the lingering spring sunshine seemed especially peaceful today.
During Max’s absence, the mansion underwent various changes.
Karla’s engagement, a generational shift in the vassals. The most striking change was Isaac’s position.
In merely three years, Isaac, who was ostracised as an illegitimate child, was reborn as the family’s assistant. The basis of his ability to stand on even grounds with Max was the Duke’s backing and Count Newett’s support.
Whether it was due to Dahlia’s support or a change in his mind, Isaac stopped living in seclusion and began to appear in public events. Isaac followed beside the Duke as his secretary, and has already solidified his position as the Duke’s aide.
“Young Master, please take a look at this.”
Dahlia arranged the boxes in her arms and opened the door to Isaac’s room. However, the person that met Dahlia was someone unexpected.
“Isaac went to the main building due to Father’s summons. What brings you here?”
Karla, who was reading a book in an armchair, slotted in a gold foil bookmark and rose from her seat. From the looks of her evening dress, she seems to have come directly to the annex after meeting her fiancé.
She always had a graceful disposition. Dahlia was entranced by the dress that had embroidery of rose vine patterns at the hem, and came to her senses belatedly.
“Oh…yes, it isn’t anything important. I was asked to check if this was satisfactory.”
Karla looked at the layers of boxes, and began to open the box while saying that she’ll examine the goods instead.
“What’s this, cufflinks… a brooch? There’s even a watch chain on the necktie. What is all this?”
“That’s…Apparently the young master will be participating in a conference as an official aide. These are the items that the Master ordered.”
Cufflinks with an inlaid family crest, a platinum watch chain, and a brooch made of emerald and platinum.
Luxurious ornaments, the prices of which couldn’t be estimated, decorated the tea table. These were all tailor-made for Isaac by Gehern.
At the thought that it was a gift from the Master for his son, Dahlia had a proud look on her face, but Karla looked down at the accessories with a grimace.
“In any case, Father is seriously… Are you still seeing Isaac as that woman’s replacement?”
At the sound of her murmur, Dahlia raised her head like she was about to ask a question. However, the door opened before her question came out and the person she had been waiting for appeared.
“Dahlia, you’re early today.”
A low voice that has passed puberty called his maid delightedly.
Isaac entered the room with a bright face and couldn’t conceal his smile at the sight of Karla standing in front of the table. Karla, who was staring at him, responded to him with a cynical smile.
“There’s such a huge difference in temperature.”
[E/N: ‘temperature’ as in Isaac is cold to Karla but warm to Dahlia.]
“I didn’t know that you’d be here. What’s the occasion?”
“I was just passing by, and came over for a moment. Forget it, why don’t you check out the bribe Father had personally prepared for you?”
Karla picked up the brooch and placed it in Isaac’s palm. She ignored her brother’s puzzled gaze, and walked out of the room haughtily.
The gaze that was looking at the brooch turned towards Dahlia. Dahlia, who had been fiddling with the watch chain, came over and gave an awkward smile.
“Erm, I brought it along as the Master told me to do so. Apparently you’ll have a conference in a few days. You have clothes, but very little accessories…”
“…I don’t need it.”
“You don’t like it?”
“That’s not necessarily the case, but I don’t think it’ll look good if it’s too extravagant.”
Dahlia picked up the brooch that Isaac was holding. Dahlia stared at the black cravat he was wearing and threaded the brooch through the cravat clumsily.
Isaac followed Dahlia’s movements with a surprised gaze, before staring at the top of the dark brown head that was below his chin. Under the top of her head was slow flapping brown eyelashes, thin fingers fiddling with a brooch, and her scent that brushed against the tip of his nose.
Everything was too close.
Isaac swallowed nervously.
“It is quite flashy. Young Master’s usual style is very simple, so it’ll be alright even if you dress a little fancier. The black brooch suits you better.”
As she replied in a cheerful voice, Dahlia raised her head and made eye contact.
She didn’t see the unsightly appearance of his Adam’s apple bobbing thanks to that. Isaac let out a sigh of relief and gave a faint smile.
“It’s fine with me if Dahlia’s alright with it. Could you thank my father in my stead?”
“Yes, Master would be delighted.”
Dahlia began to arrange the items on the table. Isaac watched her gather the watch chain, the cufflinks and chain quietly, and when she reached for the necktie, grabbed her wrist and glanced at the necktie.
“I really like this… I want to try it on. Can you tie it for me, Dahlia?”
At the innocent look and gleaming eyes, Dahlia couldn’t help but smile and began to untie Isaac’s cravat. Isaac bit his lower lip and looked down at the crown that was in close quarters to him softly.
The passage of time changed even Isaac without reservations, and now the two were unable to share similar fields of vision. Isaac had grown up instantly, to the point where he could no longer be called a boy.
Isaac was happy. He had looked forward to the day he could look down at her fervently.
Perhaps it was because she had been tormented by society for a long time, Dahlia may seem naive, but she was actually quick-witted. She was always alert to the moods of those in her surroundings, and easily grasped the inner self that he was unaware about. As such, when their eye levels were similar, he always had to hide his expression.
He had to pretend to be fine, to be pitiful, to be nonchalant. And also pretending that he wasn’t greedy.
While other emotions were easily hidden, in the end, it was a strenuous task to hide them all. It wasn’t just because it was unfamiliar, but also because in the first place, there was none other than Dahlia that made him feel this way.
He wanted to hug and kiss her whenever he saw her…
Just like an abandoned dog that has met its owner again, the desire to cling to her mindlessly was intolerable. In addition, as he grew older, his body also grew bigger, and his excitement couldn’t be easily controlled. Therefore, Isaac was accustomed to grinding his molars and giving a calm smile on the surface.
It’s great that he didn’t have to do that anymore. It’s because all he had to do was observe her with a higher field of vision.
It was really comfortable as he only had to hide his starved and beast-like expression when their gazes met.
Isaac placed his hand on Dahlia’s waist lightly with a languid smile.
“Dahlia, you haven’t tied a necktie before, have you? Your hands are clumsy.”
“Yeah, because there’s no one else I can tie it for, other than the Young Master. Besides, the Young Master doesn’t like tying things around your neck. I have to do things often in order to be proficient, but I don’t have any experience.”
The moment he heard her words, Renee’s hand flashed across Isaac’s mind.
Her pointy fingernails brushed against his neck, gripping it tightly.
Though that amount of force wasn’t much now, it was strong enough to be a threatening force in his childhood.
“I have some… unpleasant memories. But it’s fine now.”
Those slender hands were completely different from the small and rough hands that were currently wandering near his neck. Isaac pretended that nothing was wrong and smiled softly, before pulling the hand that was on her waist towards his body.
“It’s fine if you’re not proficient. so take your time. I have a lot of time today.”
“Weren’t you supposed to go out with the Master in the afternoon?”
“…It’s fine if I’m a little tardy.”
‘I’m not the one who’s in a hurry anyway.’
As he swallowed those words and smiled, Dahlia began to move her hands again with a relieved expression. Isaac placed his nose close to the crown of her head and carefully savoured her scent.
Afterwards, it was similar to the usual. Dahlia admired Isaac’s dressing with a pleased face, and arranged the room and his clothes familiarly. Just as she was about to return back to the mansion after an idle chat.
“Dahlia, I heard that you’ll soon be promoted to a senior maid?”
As soon as she heard the news that she had been secretly hiding from Isaac, Dahlia’s eyes widened roundly and she raised her head.
“How did you know?”
“Thelma told me about it. Apparently, because she’s advanced in years, she’s going to promote Dahlia to a senior maid after this conference.”
“Oh, I was going to personally inform you after I got promoted. I’m a little sad that you said it first.”
“Why? Did you want to surprise me?”
Isaac asked with a smile. Dahlia affirmed it with a bashful expression.
Isaac’s smile faded and he opened his mouth with a regretful expression.
“Though getting promoted is something worth celebrating, you will be much busier than you are now when you’ve become a senior maid. In that case, do you think we’ll be able to see each other more often?”
“Young Master has also been busy these days. It wouldn’t be once every two days, but once every three days.”
Dahlia scratched her cheek with an embarrassed smile at his sullen reaction.
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