“If you really want to help me—”
Hert took a deep breath and carefully clasped Tessa’s hand, which was holding his manhood.
The olive-colored eyes fluttering anxiously followed his hand.
“You just have to keep the promise we made.”
“That’s how you can help me.”
Hert went down on one knee so he was at eye level with Tessa.
He hadn’t completely forgiven Tessa yet, but time will tell.
No matter how much she kept her mouth shut, he’d be able to hear the story of her past from Lange, and even if it’s true that she betrayed him…
As long as she could devote the rest of her life to him with a heart of atonement.
As long as she was faithful to only him…
Hert thought that he’d be able to move forward from it, as though it never happened.
He never wanted to let go of this hand again.
This time, no one, not even Tessa herself, would be able to wrench this hand away from him.
“Don’t think about it, you just need to be by my side like now.”
Alright Tightening his grip as their hands were intertwined, Hert said as if to press for an answer.
Tessa glanced alternately at Hert and her own hand that was held by him.
Surprisingly, she was greedy.
As he said, the greed to stay by his side.
And… A very great greediness for Hert to like her.
The will and greed for life, which had been broken countless times over the past seven years, seemed to be gradually revived by Hert.
However, it was true that she was so scared.
‘Can I be… greedy’
Even seven years ago, she was greedy and this came…
Tessa didn’t want to make the man in front of her unhappy again, and she didn’t want to part from him.
She wanted to remain by his side, continuing this stability and peace he gave her, even though she knew she had to distance herself from him in order for him not to be unhappy.
It was a paradox.
So Tessa decided to pray one last time.
To let this greediness come true.
If she was allowed to have this, she was willing to give up anything.
* * *
Once a day, for an hour or two, Tessa learned to write from Elena.
At first, she had a lot to memorize and pay attention to, but after a week, Tessa was able to read and write little by little.
Of course, there was still a long way to go, but it was a significant improvement compared to the past when she was completely clueless.
In her spare time, she reviewed what she had learned, went for walks with an escort, and occasionally met Janet.
Today, Tessa and Janet had tea time on the terrace enjoying the warmer weather.
On the surface, it was an unbelievably peaceful day.
“Ah, the weather is really nice today.”
Janet murmured as she turned to stretch and looked up at the clouds floating in the clear sky.
“On a day like this, you have to ride a boat on the lake and play… Tessa! Shall we go for a boat ride”
“There’s a very pretty lake behind the fortress.
Have you ever gone there, Tessa Would you like to take this opportunity to go Let’s go boating together!”
Suddenly, Janet looked at Tessa with twinkling eyes.
Usually, around this time of the year, everyone would go out boating.
At Janet’s exhilarating prompt, Tessa rolled her eyes in bewilderment.
A boat ride.
She wasn’t entirely uninterested, but Janet’s proposal had its own problems.
“Do you need to get permission from the Lord”
Hert requested her not to leave the fortress if possible, so Tessa had been staying inside all the time.
To go boating, she would have to go to the lake behind the fortress, so she was not sure if Hert would allow it.
Moreover, there was a high possibility that such an improvised schedule would not be welcomed by him.
“Tessa, it’s not good if you live such a constricted life already.
Then you’ll be needing permission to wear whatever clothes you want later”
It was already like that.
Hert would dress Tessa because Tessa herself couldn’t choose what clothes to wear every morning.
Tessa quietly shut her mouth at Janet’s words.
She didn’t even know if Janet was going to faint if she said that.
“Well, alright, it’s a bit difficult to make a sudden decision to go boating out of the blue.
You also need to prepare the boat.
Then let’s go on a picnic.
If you stay cooped up, your body will ache.
How about having lunch while looking at the lake After all, the Lord is busy these days, so there are many times when you don’t eat lunch together, right”
She had told Janet that Hert was busier than ever.
Because of this, it has become more common these days not to have lunch with Hert.
In fact, even after the evening, he often returned to his office and worked until late at night.
At first glance, she heard that the estate’s work had increased considerably.
The small number of talented people who could work also contributed to it.
In such a situation, Tessa did not want to bother Hert.
Some might say that it was a fuss for just one picnic, but for Tessa, even a picnic was a big decision that had to be made with a strong heart.
“Still, it’s outside the castle…”
“If you have a hard time speaking up, what if I do it Then the responsibility rests with me.
Let’s just say that you had no choice but to be dragged out because of me, so it’s less burdensome on you.
Come on, Jean.
Go to His Excellency and tell him.
The two of us are going on a picnic to the lakeside.”
When Janet spoke to Jean, who was organizing the teapot, Tessa looked at Jean with a restless look.
However, receiving the order, Jean arranged her clothes with a calm face and happily nodded.
“Yes, I will go now.”
“No, not yet…”
“Yeah, come back soon.”
Janet quickly glanced at Jean and pushed her out of the room.
Then she picked up the teacup and took a sip, peacefully opening her mouth.
“Tessa, you worry too much.
You can’t do that anymore.”
“Hey, it’s that again.”
Janet spoke a bit louder as if to scold Tessa.
Tessa nodded her head.
Tessa herself was vaguely aware of how frustrating her actions were to others.
However, the stance that had hardened over the past seven years was not something she could easily change.
Even as Marquis Jutert and his son, the Young Marquis Ferdale, had already disappeared from her side, the wounds and memories that she had received were still intact within her.
Then Janet spoke slowly, in a softer voice than before.
“I hadn’t lived long either, but I thought people should smile and live.
That way, when you really have something to smile about later, you can really smile.”
Tessa lifted her head and looked at Janet, who was sitting opposite her.
Janet, who was always cheerful, disappeared for a while, and there was a mature woman who seemed to look back on the past years.
“Life is so wonderful.
New opportunities come when you really let go of everything.
It’s up to you to hold on to it or not.
So smile, Tessa.”
“Then the day will come when you will be able to smile really comfortably.
So, let’s do our best.
I hope you can be happy, Tessa.”
Returning to the usual Janet, she smiled brightly.
Tessa faintly followed Janet, but she still smiled only a little.
She really doesn’t know if the day will ever come when she’ll be able to smile with comfort, but she thought it would be great.
If the day comes when it feels natural, not out of greed…
Tessa looked up at the sky.
She closed her eyes naturally to the bright sunlight that pierced her eyes.
* * *
Hert looked at the guest opposite him who suddenly came to visit.
His eyes were clear that he wasn’t very happy, but the other party didn’t care at all.
Rather, the guest broke the silence first with a soft-eyed smile and walked to the end.
“It wouldn’t be a loss to the Lord either.”
“…How do you know whether it is good or bad for me”
“If you know how to use your head a little, of course it’s an advantage.”
Looking at her two legs neatly gathered on the wheelchair, Elena answered with a fresh look.
“This vast fortress and estate cannot be run by you alone, Sir.
Even if you can, you will soon reach your limit.
Because you’ve never been properly educated on how to manage an estate.
Sir, you will need my help.
And I heard that you’re still very busy.
The manpower shortage is probably the first problem.”
The marchioness clearly saw the problem that Hert was now facing.
Hert spent half of his life wielding a sword.
He had never formally learned the disciplines necessary for estate management.
That’s why, as soon as the war ended, Marquis Borwen assigned Lange, who was good at managing, to him first.
Since Hert sent that non-commissioned officer out, of course he started having trouble getting things done.
As time passed, Lange’s absence grew heavier.
In addition, many of the vassals, who were originally supposed to help with the management, pulled themselves out and ran away, so much of the operation of the estate had to be handled by Hert alone.
He fortunately had some talent for running the estate.
However, as the marchioness said, if this continues, he would soon reach his limit.
Hert clenched his fists under his desk.
He didn’t like the marchioness’ attitude, who provoked him while coming to ask for cooperation.
She must have been the kind of person who was trying to get something from him because she raised the right to leave her name behind.
He thought he wanted Tessa to hear what was going on and she would be dumbfounded herself.
“It would be better if you just went back, Missus.
It doesn’t seem worth hearing any more to me.”
Hert was just about to get up.
Elena parted her lips with a calm face, as if she had expected it too.
“Maybe I can teach Tessa the virtues and things she should learn as the Madam of the house.”
“…Who would carelessly—”
“Sir, I don’t ask for much.
I just want to help.
The past years are enough for me to sit still and pass the time.”
In the end, Hert couldn’t stand it and shot back.
“What are you up to”