Deatrice gracefully retrieved her hand and took the first step away from him.
Unlike Pinter, who was assigned to stand guard over at night and rarely sees her face, Atkins was present with her throughout the day and accompanied her wherever she went. Getting used to it was something that she had to do.
To be frank, because of the memory of him crying in the woods, Deatrice was a little worried if he would be able to properly take care of her.
She tapped a rose that was emitting a sweet scent and said, “So, did you go and see your mother?”
She snipped, and the rose fell on her hand and was placed delicately inside a basket, where a bunch of other flowers were already arranged there.
“Yes.” Atkins replied. Recalling another memory, a slight blush graced his youthful features, “I went to see her after listening to your advice.”
“Mhm. How is her health?”
“Her health is well. Thank you for your concern, m’lady.”
Deatrice laughed a little at the stiff tone of his answer and his rigid appearance that she felt like teasing him.
‘You cried so much back then…’ However, she didn’t want to use the bad habits she learned from high society on such a naive knight. Deatrice smiled slightly, and his gaze on her face stayed on for longer. Though, it shifted as soon as she turned around.
“How is Lucius?”
Hearing another question, Atkins perked up with a startled expression, as if he was caught doing something bad.
“Lucius.” Deatrice asked again calmly. “Can you tell me what he’s like with his knights?”
“Ah, the commander…”
Atkins thought hard about what to say.
He’s a good commander.
Deatrice and Lucius were just newly married. In that case, an appropriate answer would be to boost his commander’s appearance by saying something romantic about him or praising qualities about him that the madam didn’t know.. to give an answer related to a romantic appearance that the lover was not familiar with.
But the problem was that Atkins did not know Lucius well enough to do so, nor was he close enough to know anything personal.
In the end, Atkins chose the answer that disappointed Deatrice.
“Apologies. I do not know the commander that well because I joined the Knights Templar after the war. But the 24 knights before were people who had been with him longer and fought multiple battles with him. They might have answers for you, but as for myself…”
Hearing her detached answer, Atkins blamed himself for not being of any help and he continued speaking with utmost sincerity.
“Lately, the person in charge of training the knights is the commander because the other vice-commander is still in the capital for the past few days. But usually, it’s the latter who is training us, so we have even less opportunities to interact with the commander.”
“I understand.” But upon seeing the dismayed expression on his face, she consoled, “Don’t be upset, I asked a ridiculous question in the first place.”
“Err… it’s not that difficult to answer. The commander is a wonderful person. Steady, talented, and—”
Deatrice burst out laughing upon hearing the cliché praise. It’s been a long time since she had seen someone as innocent as him.
Atkins stood awkwardly, his face blushing.
Deatrice laughed for a while, and as if realizing his existence, hung a smile that had not yet faded from the corner of her lips and looked at him.
“It’s been a while since I laughed like this. Thank you.”
After saying those words, she continued walking forward. But Atkins paused for a moment and remained still.
He found it strange. No matter how many monsters there were or how busy the commander was, they were still newlyweds. Shouldn’t they smile and be all lovey-dovey just thinking about each other? Why would she say such a thing?
The simple-minded youth did not think about it any longer and quickly followed Deatrice, who was moving away at a quicker pace.
Returning from a long walk the next day, Deatrice heard that Tom was waiting for her. She could have pretended she didn’t hear it and pranked him for a few more hours, but Deatrice diligently headed to the parlor to meet him.
As she entered, Tom stood up and bowed. Under his lowered head, the emotions of awkwardness, embarrassment, and slight irritation remained on his face.
Deatrice sat down and stared directly at him, then gestured for him to end his greetings.
Looking at her husband’s attendant who had waited for her without so much as a message to inform his arrival, Deatrice could easily guess that he had something to ask of her.
It was very uncomfortable for Deatrice to sit with the lower one around for a while. She looked back at the terrace with a dry gaze, then turned her head to the sound of Tom sitting back down.
“Are you here for the relief plans for Pekka?”
Tom looked at Deatrice in a little panic. She had correctly guessed his intentions; it was just that he didn’t expect her to expose him so bluntly.
While waiting for her in the guest room today, he thought about what would occur in this meeting the whole time. But in Tom’s imagination, Deatrice’s position would be that of the meeker one seeking him for advice as he started out his tragic storytelling of what happened that day. Reality couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
When Tom was stunned and unable to say anything, Deatrice raised her chin and looked down at him with a slightly arrogant look. “Why? Am I mistaken?”