T/N: Seems like Chapter 19's link was broken. I fixed it already, so kindly check it out if you haven't~
After Ekaterina and Flora chatted until late at night, Mina sent Flora back at her master's request. At first, Flora declined since they stayed in the same dormitory, but Ekaterina knew that she might get bullied in the dormitory, so she didn't yield.
After sending Flora to her room, Mina walked back to return to Ekaterina's room. There, someone called her. "Hey, Mina."
Not surprised, Mina looked outside the window. There stood Alexei's valet, Ivan.
"The women's dormitories are closed to men."
"I'm not entering the building, so this is fine, isn't it?" Ivan said with a smile.
However… This was the third floor.
Outside the window, there was a zelkova tree that reached the height of the third floor. Ivan stood on that branch. With a calm face, without even bending the thin branch.
Ivan was as tall as Alexei. Typically, his weight would've broken a branch and make him fall to the ground. Why could he do that? But Mina didn't even care.
"Thank you for bringing Lady Ekaterina to the office. His Grace has finally recovered."
"I didn't bring her there. Lady Ekaterina decided to see His Grace on her own. Since she came home today, she had thought she told me she wanted to see her brother."
"I see. She's not knowledgeable about the world, but she's somehow doing well. At first, I thought she came to persuade His Grace, but she actually came to apologize. His Grace will easily make concessions that way too."
"Lady Ekaterina is smart, kind, and strong-willed. But, indeed, she doesn't know the world. Sometimes she does things out of common sense, and she has considerably changed. That's why I'm worried if she'll get hurt one day. His Grace also thinks so."
"Hee." Ivan grinned. "I know that His Grace is soft on Lady Ekaterina because she's his only family left and reminds him a lot with his mother, but I don't expect you to be infatuated on her. Lady Ekaterina sure is amazing."
"My job is to protect My Lady. It's also a part of my job to make sure not to hurt her feelings. Look at yourself. This has nothing to do with His Grace's safety, yet you especially came here to ask me to act as a mediator between Lady Ekaterina and His Grace."
"It's because I've never seen him that listless and weak before. Well, it was fun," Ivan said with a laugh. "Even when he looked at the papers, he told us he couldn't process anything in his head and ended up lying down on the documents. However, after Lady Ekaterina returned to her room, he glanced at the documents and said, 'Send this to Daniil and have him examine the law," cleaning away the work in a puff as usual."
And then Alexei suddenly said, "About Ekaterina… I decide not to marry her to anyone."
"Lord Novak panicked and told him not to be hasty. I wanted to praise myself for not falling on the ground at that time."
"...He didn't mean that, right?"
"Even if he doesn't really mean that, I believe that's what he feels. That sounds like what a father who loves his daughter would say. Lady Ekaterina also stroked His Grace's head. Maybe she did it on behalf of their mother. Both of them are trying to substitute for their parents. Isn't that cute? I can't help but think that their current relationship is nice. That His Grace would be happy if Lady Ekaterina stayed by his side forever. But His Grace immediately returned to his senses."
Then, Alexei said, "I just want to try saying that. ...Leave me alone."
"Maybe he's embarrassed or sulking, but having His Grace pouting like that was a natural disaster. I wanted to laugh so much. The other three executives also did their best not to laugh in the office."
"Ivan, why did you come here again?"
"It was so interesting that I wanted to tell it to someone else. But I really hope Lady Ekaterina will be with us all the time. Don't you think so?"
Mina snorted. "I will continue to serve her even if she's married."
"So I'm alone? I think Lady Ekaterina will be happier if she doesn't go anywhere. They're both very close, and no man will take care of her as much as His Grace."
"What are you talking about? There's no way she can marry His Grace. In the first place, it's not up to us to decide. Look, you're also infatuated to His Grace."
"Because he's easy to serve. Not as easy to understand and kind as Lady Ekaterina, but he never does anything unreasonable." An ironic smile suddenly appeared on Ivan's face. "He doesn't treat me as a monster."
Mina didn't change her expression. "Maybe he's just too much of a fool."
"And I've met with that fool, eh." Ivan laughed bitterly. "And I can't help pitying him. When his mother died, he didn't sleep at all for around five days to do funeral arrangements and work. He was so busy, but more than that, he couldn't sleep. He finally slept in the carriage on his way back to the academy, but he collapsed. At that time, all I could do was cover him with a blanket. I sincerely wished someone would be kind to that person. It would be nice if his relationship with Lady Ekaterina were this close at that time."
Mina frowned a little. "If Lady Ekaterina knew that, she would feel guilty."
"I won't tell her. His Grace wouldn't want her to know either."
The loyal maid and valet looked at each other and nodded.
"Why don't we return to their side and pour them a cup of tea?"
"Yeah, I need to go back soon. See you."
After that, Ivan kicked the twig and jumped back, stopping on another tree branch like a branch. He didn't even shake the leaves.
Mina returned to the special room as if nothing had happened, without waving her hands and chasing Ivan, who had disappeared into the night's darkness.
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