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"Did you not bring Marius with you?" the Margrave asked as soon as they entered the room. "I thought it would be better to ask Clarisse's maid instead," said the degraded version of Marius, without hesitation.
The Margrave then turned to Mary and asked her a series of questions. Of course, Mary answered them despite being overwhelmed.
She couldn't tell that degraded version of Marius anything, but she would surely answer to the Margrave, who would one day be her Lady's husband.
The Margrave had the degraded Marius sit with them while he was asking Mary private questions about Clarisse, so that she understood their relationship by leil and that it would be okay to tell this lesser version of Marius some things about Clarisse the next time.
However, whether Mary would actually talk to the downgraded Marius is another matter.
"The lady came back from her walk today feeling a little down."
"Jean! That's exactly what I was talking about!"
"Shut up, Sid."
'The temperature just dropped to about -15 degrees...'
Mary could feel the temperature of the room drop whenever the Margrave, whose expression never changed, wrinkled his brow. She might literally turn to ice by the time she leaves the room.
"What happens when Clarisse feels this way? When she gets into a fight with her family, for example? Simply respond truthfully."
The Margrave inquired, and Mary responded truthfully, of course, in order to avoid freezing to death.
"How can I put it...the young Lady has always been...you know...when she has a quarrel with her family, or rather..., she doesn't spend that much time with her family. But the Lady always smiles at us servants, so I'm not sure."
She answered so honestly that she became tongue-tied.
Mary couldn't say anything bad about her employer, the Viscount Farenheit family, because she was a servant, so that was all she could say.
'Oh no, it's about -20 degrees right now...'
"In short, did the Farenheit family really despise Clarisse like that?"
Mary had no way of answering that question. The Margrave folded his arms in thought and didn't seem to be looking for an answer either.
Sid, the degraded version of Marius who had been blabbering about trivial matters until now, also fell silent.
The servants who have worked with Mary for many years at Viscount Farenheit's residence have always referred to her as a fierce warrior. She had something she really wanted to ask the Margrave, despite her pride as a fierce warrior.
"I'm sorry if I'm being rude, but may I ask you a question?"
"What is it?"
"Did you ask for the Farenheit Jewel to be your wife?"
The question caught the Margave off guard for a moment.
Mary was present in Clarisse's room when Matilda came in to bully Clarisse, claiming that she was marrying the Margrave instead of her. Mary was enraged that Clarisse, who had spent her entire life in Matilda's shadow, had been sent as a substitute bride for her.
"What do you mean?"
The Margrave did not take Mary's question lightly, and Clarisse's future husband (to be) made a much stronger impression on her. Mary attempted to be as objective as possible in her explanation of what she had seen and heard in Clarisse's room. The Margrave's brow furrowed further and further. The temperature in the room had dropped to nearly -30 degrees before she realised it.
"What was your name again?"
The Margrave suddenly asked her, and when she told him it was Mary, he nodded.
"Mary, you are a good maid, loyal to your master. I hope you will always be in Clarisse's service. Thankfully, your question has answered most of my doubts."
The Margrave then told her she could leave, and Mary did so, shivering in the cold. It wasn't until she was walking down the corridor that she realised she hadn't received an answer from the Count. Still, even the toughest of men wouldn't be foolish enough to ask him the same question again.
The following day, when Clarisse finished getting ready and went down to breakfast accompanied by the butler, she found the Margrave already seated in the dining room.
"Good morning, Jean-sama."
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting."
"Don't be. Don't worry about it."
He still had the same stern expression on his face today, but he spoke in a gentle manner. Clarisse was becoming more at ease with this contrast in him.
As he stood up, he approached Clarisse and kissed the back of her hand, then stared down at her from a close distance, making her blush.
As usual, they didn't talk during breakfast, and when they finished their meal, they had coffee. He invited Clarisse to go to the garden.
"You must be very knowledgeable about plants, so you can tell me all about them in the garden."
"........... Is it okay for me to do that?"
Clarisse asked him, puzzled, and Jean, with a distorted expression, said, "If you don't want to, that's fine."
"It's not that I don't like it. I'm just happy to be going to the gardens again."
"...Clarisse, you can go to the garden any time you want..."
She was puzzled once again; what's wrong with Jean today? And any time she wants? So she could stay in this house? Her heart felt warm as a result of these thoughts.
"Could you not freely go to the garden at the Farenheit residence?"
"No, it wasn't like that, but..."
Rather, it could be described as being left alone, so she was immersed in the gardens.
Matilda was the only one invited to tea parties and soirées, while Clarisse was often at home. As a result of this, she spent a lot of time in the garden, which is unbecoming of a noblewoman. Her body has become stronger than ever, which she considers to be a blessing in disguise.
"Then you may do so here as well. You won't need a maid when I accompany you, but when I don't, be sure to take a maid with you."
Clarisse found herself slowly smiling as the Margrave spoke as if he was dealing with a child.
Jean, sitting across from her, looked at Clarisse with a stunned expression.
"Who knew you could smile like that."
However, the words he muttered did not reach Clarisse's ears.
The time they spent in the garden was delightful.
Jean had to go to the knights' camp near the border in the afternoon, limiting the amount of time they could spend together. However, it was still fun just to look at the plants that were slightly different from those in the royal capital, and to answer Jean's questions about them.
Since the topic of plants was something she was really interested in, she felt more at ease and comfortable discussing it.
He was a very enthusiastic student who seemed to be more interested in the benefits of the plants than in the names of the plants themselves.
He said that he wondered how much it would help his men if he, as their commander, had the knowledge to use wild plants when they ran out of medicine in the field. Clarisse thought it was very typical of him, given what he'd said and done thus far.
A subordinate with a superior like him would certainly be happy.
The second time they spent together in the garden was mainly spent talking about plants. Still, Clarisse managed to enquire about Jean's age in between conversations.
She wasn't surprised to learn that he was older than she was because his stern demeanour made him appear older than he was. Still, the way he carried himself certainly seemed to be appropriate for his age.
She wanted to ask more questions, but just hearing his age made her feel a little closer to him.
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