2. The Sub-Male Lead’s Entrance
Contrary to Susan’s agitated departure, she stayed quiet for a while. There was no one scarier than someone who said, ‘Wait and see.’
Izeline climbed up onto the small footrest and began washing her face.
After wiping it dry with a towel, she contemplated what to do today, absentmindedly looking around. The swordsmanship training that was supposed to start soon had been indefinitely postponed due to the teacher’s unexpected delay.
“Swhould I go visit Mom?”
Monica still commuted between her house and the mansion, occasionally visiting the children’s room. However, ever since she noticed that Robert and Izeline got along well, her visits had noticeably decreased.
Considering how busy she must be managing the spacious mansion, it was natural.
Just then, as always, there was a knock on the door from a persistent guest. Without waiting for an invitation, the young visitor confidently entered.
“Izel, awe you done with breakfast?”
They used to go back to their respective rooms after waking up in the morning, changing clothes, and washing up before meeting again. Although, Izeline fell asleep in Robert’s room last night. When she returned to her room after waking up, he had already woken up.
As soon as he woke up, he sat on the bed, waiting for her.
“Awe you going somewhere?”
“I want to see Mom.”
“Is twat so?”
Going to places where there were many people, especially those who recognized him, still made him feel uncomfortable. Though he desperately wanted to follow her, there was the fear of being treated like a germ and being avoided by the other maids.
Noticing his concern, Izeline reassured him.
“Just wait here. I’ll bring Mom hewe without telling the others.”
Robert nodded, accepting her idea. In the meanwhile, selecting a strawberry hairband from among various accessories in the drawer, Izeline tied up her brown hair confidently while looking at herself in the mirror.
With the desire to see her mother but hesitant to go to where other maids would treat Robert as a germ, he asked her.
“Would you really bwing her?”
“I will, dwon’t worry, okay?”
When his expression brightened noticeably, Izeline smiled inwardly.
‘I should go and come back quickly.’
How did he endure being alone all this time when he hated it so much?
Once she completed her preparations, Izeline approached the door, ready to pull it open, but she hesitated.
Robert was gazing at her with eyes as bright and attentive as a puppy’s. His adorable expression brought a chuckle to her lips, causing her to turn back and steal one more glance before finally leaving.
‘I really should come back quickly.’
Left alone in the room, Robert moved his feet on the bed restlessly.
“…She hwave such a pwetty smile.”
His cheeks were blushing, despite his grumpy expression.
With her short legs moving diligently, Izeline navigated the mansion’s structure, which initially seemed like a labyrinth but had become familiar to her in no time. As she briskly walked, memories of the maids surrounding her when she first arrived at the Armaty mansion flashed in her mind.
‘It must have been this way.’
Living with Robert meant that she rarely had a reason to visit the areas where the maids worked unless she intentionally sought them out. The maids handled regular cleaning tasks and managed the areas frequented by the nobles. They usually operated in the unseen parts of the mansion or during times when the nobles were not active.
‘Their uniforms clearly distinguish them.’
The rigid division of social status once again reminded Izeline of the privilege she had received. She tilted her head with a sense of amusement.
Despite being a commoner in name, she was treated not much differently from high-ranking nobles. In her heart, she almost wanted to climb up the ranks and ask the Duke, ‘Why are you treating me like this?’ But, of course, she kept such thoughts to herself.
As Izeline turned a corner, she was startled by an angry shout coming from somewhere.
“Are you kidding me?! Who handles things like this?!”
Concerned by the loud voice, Izeline hurriedly ran towards the source, her expression wrinkling with worry.
“Here! Do you see this?”
Susan had one hand on her hip and was poking Monica’s forehead with her index finger.
Monica, who had been enduring with determination, was taken aback by her daughter’s voice, and her eyes widened. As Izeline approached confidently, the other maids around did not dare to interfere and could only watch in silence.
“What’s gwoing on?”
With widened eyes, Izeline posed her question to Susan, who had a haughty expression and glanced down at her before casually responding.
“I was educating her because the cleaning wasn’t being done properly. Is there a problem?”
Of course, there was a problem.
“It’s obvwious that you lwook down on hew.”
“Oh, well, that’s just from the perspective of commoners.”
Although she was using polite language due to the Duke’s orders, her attitude was clearly disrespectful. Susan swiftly brushed the floor in front of Izeline with her index finger.
“Don’t you see it? Dust.”
Even after sweeping the floor all day, there would bound to be a few specks of dust left, it could be said that Susan had an obsession with cleanliness bordering on obsessive-compulsive disorder. Thinking about how she had treated Monica, Izeline’s anger surged from her gut.
“Alwight. If there’s more than two specks of dust in my room, you will receive the same ‘edwucation’ fwom me.”
“I’ll inspwect the room at least twelve times a day.”
It was a declaration that she would inspect it almost once every hour while she was awake. Susan wouldn’t have much time left to torment Monica.
“How could you, as a maid’s daughter!”
Monica trembled, trying to hold back tears as she grasped the implication of her daughter’s words. It was clear that Susan’s haughty behavior stemmed from her noble status as a Viscount’s daughter, making it unbearable for her to accept a maid’s daughter asserting dominance over her.
“You fwequently disobey the Duke’s orders and use impolite language.”
“How dare a girl who will die in four years!”
At the outburst, the surroundings fell silent as if ice-cold water had been poured over them.
Though it was true that Krug’s disease was incurable, the fact that the Duke of Brioche, who had no other children besides Robert, couldn’t let go of hope for his son’s succession was a publicly known secret.
Therefore, a mere maid should not touch such a sensitive matter.
Realizing her mistake, Susan couldn’t utter a word and swallowed hard.
At that moment, someone walked out from behind the door. Robert stood there. It was because the time spent waiting for Izeline in the room felt too long, so he came after her.
With his chilly voice, he opened his mouth.
“You twink I’m going to die soon?”
Startled by his sudden appearance, Susan regained her composure quickly.
“I will escort you to your room. The Duke has also told you not to go outside unless necessary and to rest.”
In reality, it was not for rest but rather to hide him though Susan’s intention was to change her attitude subtly and ignore Robert’s existence as usual.
“Krug patients should avoid wandering around.”
“Bwut I’m not contagious.”
“I don’t know about that. Listen to what I’m saying.”
“You swould listen too.”
Originally, the mention of the word ‘Krug’ alone was enough to dampen Robert’s spirits, but this unexpected reaction was beyond words.
Susan’s eyes shook vigorously.
“You dare to spweak to a noble like this?”
“O-of course not…”
“Anyone who wishes for my death is nwone of my cwoncern.”
“Perhaps you’re mistaken…”
In an attempt to salvage the situation, although Susan’s expression turned desperate as she continued her words, Robert’s following response shattered her confidence.
“Get out of my sight!”
With his arm pointed towards the door, she quivered like a leaf. In the next moment, without hesitation, she dropped to her knees and began repeatedly striking her head against the floor as if trying to shatter it.
“Y-Young Master! Please, don’t do this!”
If rumors spread that she had been driven out of the Armaty Duchy, no noble would ever accept her. She would truly be left with nowhere to go.
“Please, I beg you!”
“I’ll gwive you a day. If I see you tomorrow, you will regret it.”
“Sob… I made a mistake. Sob…”
Kneeling between sobs, Susan begged while holding onto Robert’s coat.
“Please, forgive me! Don’t dismiss me!”
The cruelty from a four-year-old was unimaginable.
Izeline couldn’t help but watch Robert’s eyes, but she couldn’t find any joy in it. It was a heartless demeanor he had learned and witnessed from the Brioche family since he was young, yet she never knew it was feeding the growth of the villainous Robert.
After Susan was driven away, the mansion was in turmoil for a while. Heint, the butler, went to find Robert, saying that a maid couldn’t be dismissed without proper reason, but Robert shut him down immediately.
“She swaid witwin four years, I will die for sure.”
Even though he wanted to reply with the average lifespan of a Krug patient, Heint was silenced by Robert’s next words.
“Are you willing to bet on that?”
In the end, he concluded the incident by dismissing Susan.
Of course, news of this incident reached the ears of Duke Brioche, which was quite a serious matter, so they expected some reaction from him. However, surprisingly, he remained silent.
Izeline spoke while chewing on a cookie.
“Perhaps he allowed it.”
“Is that so?”
Robert responded with a hopeful glimmer in his eyes.
At the time, he had acted impulsively, diverting his attention to Izeline and Monica, who were suffering, but now he feared facing a severe scolding from his father.
Meanwhile, Izeline believed that if it were the Duke instead of Robert in that situation, Susan’s head would have been on the chopping block in an instant. However, as the child didn’t fully grasp his father’s conflicting emotions of resentment and unwillingness to give up on his son, all she could do was worry about his indecisiveness.
“Don’t worry. He pwomised not to hit you. It was a promise from the Duke.”
As Robert nodded slightly at her words, Izeline then fed him a cookie.
She wanted him to eat or drink something to feel better. Although he didn’t feel like his mood would improve, Robert accepted it since she offered it to him.
And then something happened.
“Is anyone there?”
At the sound of a strange voice from outside the door, the two of them widened their eyes in surprise.