Calvin stayed quiet for a moment, then crossed his arms as he spoke.

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“I was wondering why you haven’t asked me.
I just heard that you were asking this and that to the castle’s chamberlain and servants.”

“…I wanted to hear your opinion last.
And then after you, I was going to ask my aunt.”

“…If I were to be honest.”

Calvin stopped talking for now, then he closed his eyes and sighed.
Again, there were conflicting emotions in the eyes that faced Theodore.

“Theodore, the way you treated her was extremely understandable.
Considering that you’re a Valentino.”

“……”

Calvin’s tone of voice changed to a comfortable one.
Rather than speaking as an aide towards a duke, he was speaking now as one childhood friend to another.
The two of them often talked in this way, like when they were just still friends.

“However, considering that Lily Everett as an individual, you were entirely unreasonable.
But I guess it wasn’t that bad.
She’s still a woman from House Everett.
You had no choice but to keep your distance from her.”

“…Her name is Lily Valentino.
Because she’s now married to me.”

When Theodore said this, Calvin looked back at him with an incredulous expression.
Before continuing to speak, he shook his head and laughed.

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“I don’t know everything about your relationship either.
But I know you struggled a lot, internally, because of her.”

“…Internally?”

“That’s right.
Everything you told me was vague, so it was hard for me to figure out what the hell was this and that.”

Calvin shook his head once more, taking out a piece of candy from his pocket and popping it into his mouth.

Folding the candy wrapper finely and returning it into his pocket, he took out another piece and handed it over to Theodore, who inadvertently received the candy but did not eat it immediately.
He placed it on the desk.

“So, well… I think it would be better to wait until your memories come back.
Lily Ever—no, I mean the Duchess.
Don’t rashly get close to her.
You might regret it later.”

“First of all, I want to hear what you know.
I’ll make my own judgment afterwards.”

“……”

Calvin sighed deeply before he began talking shortly after.
It all seemed complicated in many ways.

“The first time you met her was at the Everett Duchy’s estate two years ago.
At that time…”

 

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* * *

 

Even though he’s been listening to Calvin tell this story for more than an hour, nothing much came out of it.

The thing he was most curious about was why he had pushed Lily away that much, but he couldn’t find out the reason.

Calvin didn’t seem to know the depth of it or any such details.
However, Theodore managed to roughly get an idea of what he had thought of Lily.
It might not be one hundred percent accurate because these were all second and third-hand accounts from other people.

Apart from that, he also learned how he had treated her.
In addition to how she had been doing in Valentino Castle.

“……”

Theodore walked down the hallway and looked out the window to see the setting sun.
The red orb brought color to the western sky.
The marble pillars made long shadows on the floor, and the light of the sunset streamed through the windows filled the wide hallway.

He stopped for a moment and fiddled with the coin in his pocket like a habit.
He recalled the stories told by the chamberlain and servants one by one.

…They didn’t really tell him much.
Everyone rejected Lily more than he had expected, but they refrained from expressing their dislike of her in front of him.
He realized this thanks to talking to Calvin.

A steady and subtle harassment.
Lily endured it and didn’t say anything to him.
The servants isolated and tormented the duchess, and while they were speaking, some of them went as far as shushing the others.

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‘I don’t know the details either.
As you know, I’m always busy with my duties as an aid, so I had no time to pay attention to the castle’s internal affairs.
But about a month ago… Oh, this is something that I knew I had to do something about, but I was needed somewhere else.
Of all things, I found out that some of the servants often put dead birds or mice in front of the Duchess’ room or door.
I called in a servant and asked her, and she said it’s already been more than six months since it’s being done… When I heard it, it had already gotten this bad.
I was thinking about telling you or not, but I just took care of it on my own.
I don’t think they’re doing that anymore because I’ve scolded them well…’

Theodore was left in disbelief.

Most of the servants of Valentino Castle were the same servants who had been here since he was young.
They were born in Veronis and had served Valentino for a long time, even throughout generations of their family.
They were very loyal to Valentino and knew how to be good and reasonable.

…As far as he knew.

However, there were always two sides to a person.
Theodore himself overlooked the abuse.

No matter how morally upright someone was, he or she could also commit evil.
And if one would think that the opponent clearly deserved it, then it would be even easier to commit those acts of evil.

“…….”

Theodore leaned on the windowsill and let out a long sigh.
It’s not just the servants’ fault.
The person who was the greatest aggressor to Lily was…

“…Why did I……”

Suddenly, he remembered the way she looked at him.

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She was so wary, with her shoulders crouched as though she was terrified.
Her entire countenance seemed to shout at him not to come close.

…One year and six months.
No, two years.
It was both a long yet short period of time.

If one person hurt someone else over these years, would it be more difficult or easier than he thought to heal those wounds?

‘…It can’t be easy.’

He was strangely convinced that the darkness in her heart would be far deeper than he thought.
It was similar to a hunch that he had.

Theodore started walking again.
His mentor, who taught him many things, including swordsmanship, said that misfortune was caused by humans themselves.

Even though one can be happy with a single piece of bread, they could grow to be greedy for more.
After hating others, envying others, misfortune would soon fester in one’s heart.

He didn’t fully agree with this, but it seemed true that humans themselves caused misfortune.
Whatever happened in the past, any person shouldn’t do anything that could cause regret later.

Theodore wanted to ask himself—the version of him before he lost his memories.
Why were you so harsh towards her?

Why was it like that when, from the moment he laid his eyes upon her, he was instantly attracted to her.

‘You talked about her after visiting Everett Castle that day, and I got a feeling.
Wow, Theodore Valentino fell in love with a woman at first sight.’

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