And so the first skirmish ends with lady Sharon’s sweeping victory. Even with all that the stepmother has done to her, taking away a marquis’ daughter’s maid — that’s me — is not one of the things that are in her authority. All Gidel could do is to stew in her anger as she leaves the dining hall in stomping footsteps.
The two of us try to visit milady’s father after the dinner, but a young butler stands in front of the room. We are not allowed in.
“Why can’t I meet with Father?!”
“My apologies, lady Sharon. By orders of his attending physician, the weary master is not to be disturbed.”
I touch her arm, asking her to relent.
Greetings, everyone. It is me, Fleurety, the maid who never misses a chance to savor milady’s soft and squishy arms.
“Let us retire for the day, milady. Perhaps your father will feel better in the morning.”
Milady bites her lips and sulks like a kid. How cute.
Seeing that we won’t be pursuing the matter, the butler smirks. He is a decently handsome man who looks about in the middle of his twenties, with a head of black hair tinged blue, but his leering gaze pinned at milady’s bountiful melons and my own hips just ruins everything about him.
But, well, I can understand him. Milady’s recovery from her nutritional deficiency has made her already-huge cantaloupes even bigger, after all.
“…Letty, I have a feeling you’re thinking something weird again.”
“I was thinking that I like melons more than grapefruits, milady.”
“My, you do? So do I.”
“I shall prepare some for you later.”
My efforts will continue until her own become the envy of all melon farmers.
Just as we are about to walk away, the young butler calls at me, lowering his voice so that only I hear him.
“I may tell you how the master is faring, but it’ll depend on you… get what I mean?”
The butler smiles suggestively, so I respond with the same expression.
“Then… perhaps midnight, sir. In front of the large tree in the garden.”
“Yeah, I’ll wait. Name’s Dario. Remember it.”
Then he nods and returns to the door. I smile.
I never said I would actually be there, after all.
“Letty, what were you talking about with that butler?”
“He seems rather idle, so I asked him to keep watch on the garden until morning.”
We head to milady’s room to take our rest. Quite deep inside the castle, I must say. There hadn’t been much attention paid to this area, it seems, as I find dust still remaining on the window frames of the hallways here.
“This is my room.”
We arrive to a room to the north side. I open the door… and then quietly close it again.
“Please wait a moment, milady. I will air the room out first.”
I smile a saccharine sweet smile at her. She nods, looking uncomfortable.
As a maid, it goes against every fiber of my being to see that her room has not been cleaned at all, even if she rarely returns. Furthermore, I am quite sure milady does not have a hobby of collecting filthy bookcases and boxes of empty bottles.
“I suppose there is no other choice.”
I enter the dark room alone and unleash my Maid Cleaning Technique. Anything not needed is returned to where they belong. Like Mia’s room, for example.
“Milady, please enter.”
“Eh? You’re already done?”
If I took more than three minutes just to do this little bit of cleaning, that horror—ahem, the most kind Maid Chief would reprimand me.
Brrr. I still get nightmares sometimes.
“…wow.” Milady exclaims in amazement.
Everything unnecessary has been removed. All the sheets and curtains have been replaced with brand-new, adorably-patterned fabric. Mainly from Mia’s room.
They have been dyed as well. Nobody will ever find out.
“Well then, good night, milady.”
“…but where will you sleep?”
“I can find a place.”
Like on the ceiling, for example.
“You can’t just sleep anywhere! We can share a bed for today. It should be big enough for two, and, umm… you’re my friend anyway…”
Milady is looking bashful like a little girl going to her first sleepover with friends. How cute.
“Don’t worry, milady, I will be certain to take responsibility.”
The night is peaceful, and I enjoy myself with milady’s squishy arms until morning comes.
That said, it is still dark outside. Milady and I walk, our steps carrying us through a garden still glistening with dewdrops.
In a corner of the garden is the resting place for lady Kyria, birth mother to milady Sharon. The grave is a simple thing, just a stone slab carved with words, but well-tended to.
“May I give my prayers as well, milady?”
“I don’t mind.”
I place the flowers we’ve brought on the gravestone. As we mourn, I hear faint sounds of footsteps on grass behind us.
An old man wearing a gardener’s attire walks toward us and stops, kneeling in front of milady.
“My utmost apologies. This is all I could do for lady Kyria…”
“No, Franz, you’ve done more than enough. Thank you for protecting her grave.”
As milady tells me later, this old man used to be a butler working at this mansion. After he retired, he continued to protect lady Kyria’s resting place as a gardener.
“Young miss, might you be lady Sharon’s attendant?”
“Yes, sir Franz. Lady Sharon has allowed me to be in her service. My name is Fleurety.”
“Oh, I’m just an old man, don’t bother with the ‘sir’.”
“Letty is my friend, too.” Milady cheerfully interjects. Franz watches her with the kindly eyes of a grandfather.
But the peaceful air is then suddenly broken.
“You! Why didn’t you come?!”
“My, my, such dark shades around your eyes. Did you not sleep well?”
The intruder is, of course, that young butler Dario. I wonder what he has been doing here so early in the morning.
“Stop playing the fool, girl, I’ve been waiting all this time under the tree—”
“Indeed. Thank you for watching over the garden.”
I truly appreciate it. His lack of commitment to his work to instead laze about in the garden had afforded me the opportunity to infiltrate the marquis’ room, after I confirmed that milady had fallen asleep.
From the ceiling, I saw that the marquis was a timid-looking man who showed no signs of waking up any time soon. I decided to check on him by injecting several types of medicine, and I confirmed the faint presence of poison.
My own medicine was much stronger and had subsequently sent him into a coma, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t seem like the kind of man who could stand against that woman anyway, even if he was awake.
“Hold it, Dario.”
The second intruder is Mia, the rotten maid. Dario stopped just as he was about to lose his composure.
I step in front of milady and smile at her.
“Miss Mia, how may I help you?”
“I have business with lady Sharon! Move!” She growls, her face haggard.
“My, you look quite tired. Did you stay up all night?”
All the garbage in milady’s room had been carried to Mia’s, but I thought just piling it up wouldn’t be interesting, so I set them up as an interlinked mass. Pulling one thing out would make an entirely different thing fall apart.
It would actually be rather simple to clean if she intentionally triggered all the traps to break it apart, but considering her fatigue, it was likely that Mia hadn’t done that. She probably took until morning to clean it up bit by bit.
“You did that, didn’t you?!”
“My, do you have evidence? I am also searching for evidence to find out where most of milady’s allowance had gone to.” I say, staring into her eyes. Mia flinches.
“…lady Sharon and you, go to the dining hall immediately. The madam is waiting.”
I wave at her, smiling. Mia grinds her teeth, giving me a glare that is shared by Dario. She drags him away.
Milady is silent as she looks at me with open-mouthed dumbfoundedness, while Franz just nods at me, seemingly impressed.
By the way, before we leave, I also secretly decorate lady Kyria’s grave with some magitech neon lights and disco balls.
I follow milady as we enter the dining hall. Gidel, Yohanne, and miss Akiru are already seated, taking bites of what look like sausages and potatoes as their breakfast.
And since milady doesn’t have her portion — obviously — I give her a plate full of fluffy pancakes with judicious syrup and scoops of ice cream. Miss Akiru looks at me with obvious irritation.
My, does she want some? I don’t mind as long as she asks. No guarantees it wouldn’t earn her the ire of the harpy nearby though.
After the stepmother finishes her pickled greens, she glares at milady and opens her mouth.
“Sharon… I have something to say.”
“…what is it?”
Milady turns stony-faced again. It cannot be helped. She has the heart of a rabbit, after all.
After the stepmother spare me a glance as a warning, she airily waves Dario over. He brings to her some sort of document.
“I see that you haven’t had the best reputation at the academy. Are you aware that as a fiancee candidate to his Highness, you have brought disgrace to the house of Michel?”
“…his Highness Joel has permitted me to have Letty as an attendant.”
“The problem is how the other nobles see it. With all that has transpired, I’ve come to believe that you are not fit of the name Michel.”
“Madam Gidel?! What about Father?!”
“My husband agrees. He has woken up, though still bedridden due to fatigue, and I have asked for his thoughts this morning.”
“It cannot be… Father…”
My, how strange that Gidel could talk to him when he was supposed to be comatose due to my ‘medicine’.
Milady is a kind girl. She has always endured, tolerating everything that had been done to her because she does not wish for conflict. She still wishes for peace with her stepmother, even as wicked as the woman is, and her younger brother, even when he shares only half of her blood.
From my research, I understood that in this country, the family is generally inherited by the son. In case the daughter is the older sibling, then she would be relinquishing her claim to her younger brother in order to keep up the tradition. It is how things work according to the letter of the law, at least.
Milady intends to let Yohanne inherit the house. Yet it does nothing to curb Gidel’s fear of her, of the daughter of the Michel marquis’ first wife… though I would say that the real reason is because Gidel hadn’t exactly been on the right side of the law with her dealings, really.
“‘Lady Sharon, please admit your crime. I and Sir Yohanne will forgive you.’”
Miss Akiru says, suddenly and without even a hint of emotion in her voice, as though she is reading from a script.
“Miss Akiru… you are far too kind. Would you allow me to stay by your side forevermore?”
“My, sir Yohanne…”
What is this farce? They say love is blind, but does love also makes you deaf? I am astonished that Yohanne could say that after hearing Akiru’s bland delivery.
…or is something railroading him?
Well then, never let it be said that Fleurety the maid cannot read the mood.
“Then it would be wonderful if we can witness the proof of their love, wouldn’t it?”
I say. Surprisingly, everyone looks at me as though I just spoke another language.
“W-What are you…”
Miss Akiru stutters like an actress who has no idea how to ad-lib. I explain.
“Nobles have a duty to bring back dungeon items for the country. While asking servants to do it in one’s stead is all fine and good, I am sure that nobody wishes to be the target of rumors among nobles, saying that one is nothing more than a child of a concubine. And what better way to silence them than to enter the dungeon oneself and take back something worthy?”
“SOMEBODY SHUT THAT MAID UP!!!” Gidel screeches.
Her maids rush at me. I take out a few cupcakes, waving them in front of the maids’ eyes, and I throw them far away.
“They are anti-aging cupcakes.” I say.
As the ravenous wolves chase after their prey, I turn back to Yohanne.
“As lacking in achievements as you are, sir Yohanne, I believe it may be difficult to gain lady Akiru’s hand in marriage. If milady Sharon goes, she would certainly be able to gather a dungeon item fit for a true successor. Or… perhaps you do not have the confidence, sir?”
I tell him, filling my tone with provocation. His hackles rise as Yohanne shoots to his feet.
“Don’t underestimate me. I won’t lose to sister! I swear I’ll bring back a dungeon item!” He turns to milady. “Sister, this is a duel!”
…I did not think it would be this easy.
A/N: Here we see a maid who would pick a fight with the whole world for the sake of her mistress.