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The remaining two days passed in the blink of an eye, and it was now finally the day that Clarisse and the margrave were scheduled to return from the lake.
During their absence, Sid had shown up to the margrave's mansion every day and had taken Mary out to all sorts of places.
That must have made the situation obvious to the other servants, but surprisingly—perhaps due to their excellent training at the margrave's hand or due to Sid's own tactical mind or some mixture of both—nobody harassed Mary. On the contrary, she actually felt that the others gazed on her more warmly now, which was somewhat embarrassing.
Although she was looking forward to seeing Clarisse and serving her again, she was also a little disappointed that this pleasant vacation would be coming to an end. And she was further somewhat embarrassed to admit that Sid was one reason for her disappointment.
It was late in the evening when Clarisse and Jean made it back to the manor.
When Clarisse came back, she was completely radiant and sparkling. She had always been beautiful, but now she had the added glow of a well-loved woman, and it was clear to Mary what had happened between the two of them during this trip.
The margrave was also overflowing with energy and confidence, and his limited facial expressions made it all too obvious that he was even more captivated by Clarisse than ever before. Basically, it was not an exaggeration to say that his emotions were leaking out when it came to Clarisse.
Mary, who greeted Clarisse every morning and took care of her personal needs, naturally knew she and the margrave were not yet truly husband and wife. But the more she got to know the margrave, the more she thought he had something in mind. This also confirmed that he had waited for Clarisse to be more comfortable around him before progressing their relationship further. In any case, as long as their lovemaking was mutually consensual, it wasn’t her place to tell Clarisse what she should and should not do. Also, the fact that Clarisse was glowing with joy was more or less what she would have expected from the margrave.
'But I really have to be careful about my morning greetings from now on...The glare he would give me should I accidentally intrude on them! I would simply die!...'
As someone who had known Clarisse since she was a child, it was deeply moving to see her finally climb the ladder of adulthood. Mary had been by her side through everything with the Viscount Farenheit family, and she felt she might very well weep should Clarisse and the margrave have a baby.
While Mary, for her part, was struck by the changes she saw in Clarisse on her return, it seemed that Clarisse was struck by something she saw in Mary as well.
As Mary helped her prepare for bed, she looked at Mary curiously and asked, "Mary, did something good happen to you?"
"Eh, what’s this all of a sudden...? No, nothing in particular..." For a moment she was startled, but she decided to feign ignorance. Clarisse did not know that Sid had been coming to the margrave's mansion every day to take her out.
"Hmmmm… your expression is kind of bright.... I don't know... you always said you didn't need a vacation, but I guess you did need a few days off...."
"No, no, no, no, Miss, it's not like that! I always wish to be by your side...."
As she said that, she took the simple day dress that Clarisse had taken off herself—'Yeah... that's what happened…. I knew it….'—to see that there were red marks all over her back. She pretended not to see them as much as possible and quickly continued to help Clarisse get dressed from behind. With her back looking like this… Clarisse would surely be embarrassed if she looked at the front. No, no, she was afraid to look at the front because it would probably be... crazy.
Nevertheless, that was what you'd expect from such a large, healthy adult male… and, well, placing marks where people wouldn't see them if she wore a dress was just how the margrave was—he didn't want her to feel embarrassed by leaving them in obvious places. That’s an extra point to the margrave!
Mary was deeply relieved that Clarisse had met the margrave and was finally getting what she deserved, and, after wishing her lady a good night, she went back to her own room.
Jean had been gentle from the start, yet his nightly acts were becoming sweeter and more intense by the day. Tonight too Clarisse found herself gasping for breath, struggling to keep up with him. Even so, his golden eyes always revealed his love and admiration for her, and that alone made her extremely happy.
Although Clarisse had fallen asleep immediately afterward that first time, after a few more times, she was able to stay awake. But still Jean insisted that it was his responsibility to help her wash up, which was always embarrassing to be honest. But, if it made him happy, she was happy, so she let him do as he pleased.
"I am sure it is not enough for you, Jean-sama," Clarisse muttered as she helped him change the messy sheets.
"You know how you have a lot of stamina, Jean-sama... and I'm a little... well... inexperienced... I can't do it so many times... and I can't promise I’ll be able to soon… but in the future… I'll be more experienced so that you can be fully satisfied...."
"Clarisse." He stopped changing the sheets and walked over from the other side of the bed.
She felt her face turning red at what she had just uttered, and she couldn't help but look down.
He stopped a few feet from her. “I'm satisfied from the bottom of my heart, Clarisse."
"If we didn't feel comfortable with each other, these acts would be meaningless, wouldn't they? You don't have to force yourself to do it more times than you can. I'm fully satisfied with just seeing you enjoy yourself. What more could I possibly want?"
He gently brushed through her chestnut-colored hair and added in a gentle tone, "What pleases me most is that I get to be your first and last man."
"I love you, Jean-sama." She couldn't hold back and hugged the large, firm body in front of her, and he squeezed her in return.
"I love you."
Clarisse raised her crimson-flushed face and her fiancé—with his silver hair and golden eyes and an impossibly tender expression—kissed her gently.
It was several days later that Marius came to the margrave's mansion, bringing along with him information he had gathered regarding Mary.
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