Chapter 8 – Return To Them As Much As You Were Given
Leticia sat on the opposite side of the table and patiently listened to everything, and did not utter a single word the whole time.
In this case, the responsibility completely fell onto Ludwig. However, it was Leticia that completely shifted blame onto Yevnika.
Zed stared at Leticia, somewhat surprised at her lack of reaction.
‘I thought for sure that she’d start getting angry and say it was unfair.’
Perhaps her seven-year-old mind was not smart enough to fully comprehend the whole situation?
When Zed finished his explanation, there was a long moment of silence. Then, Leticia opened her mouth to speak.
“Is that all?”
Is that all, she says!
As Zed tilted his head at her in confusion, Leticia hesitated for a moment before opening her speaking again.
“What I mean is…is there something wrong with me or something that…”
Only after he heard what she said, his facial expression hardened.
No way…no way… Was this young lady…really asking him if she had some defect that led to the breaking of the engagement?
Zed was shocked into speechlessness. What kind of logical processes must one have to blame yourself after knowing the whole story?
As Zed’s silence continued, Leticia dropped her chin and spoke in a voice that was devoid of any self-esteem.
“Other people were saying that I was a cold-blooded villainess woman who had no emotion in her heart. Like some kind of a…a bad person that enjoys crushing people beneath her feet. If I was that bad, then perhaps it was right for my…my fiancé to not like me so much—”
“Who said that?” Zed sharply demanded, not wanting to listen to her speak any further.
While that may not be completely false, she only “crushed people beneath her feet” because “the other person aggravated her first”. He needed to explain properly to her that she would never physically harm another person unless she was provoked. Someone serving this household would know that fact already, so what kind of idiot was spreading this nonsense in the first place?
‘All right, let’s just hear her out first.’
He would have to deal with a loose-tongued maid later, but for now he balled his fists beneath the table and waited for Leticia’s reply.
Leticia sensed that Zed was ready to bash up several people, so she spoke in careful, halting tones.
“Um…it was the man who called himself my fiancé earlier…”
That bastard! Just how much nonsense did he babble before Zed was able to come in!? No, wait. Before that, Ludwig didn’t have the right to say that about her in the first place! His personality is just as terrible as Leticia’s, so why was he acting like he was more of a saint than she was!
Zed gritted his teeth. “He’s speaking lies. Please ignore them,” he said firmly.
“That bast—I mean, that man’s words are nothing but lies and slander. It would be wise to remember that.”
Despite the emphasis in Zed’s words, Leticia’s eyes slid over to the drawer filled with letters. He was able to figure out her thoughts just from that small act alone.
Among the numerous letters she kept, over half were people speaking out against her perceived unfair behavior. If someone were to read that about themselves, it would be enough to make them doubt if their personality was nice or not.
Zed stroked his chin in thought. Leticia was looking dejected, so he needed to make sure he chose his words carefully.
“You were simply a cool-headed person, not someone that has no emotion at all.”
He took a sugar cube and placed it down in front of him.
“You know how to make objective decisions. One could say that you apply black-and-white logic onto the concept of human relationship. You had no middle ground at all. If there was an enemy, then you needed to cut them down. If there was someone that was trying to use you, then you would use them for your own gain as well. For anyone who betrayed you, you would betray them in kind and pay back the equal amount of suffering that you received.”
Zed lifted his teaspoon and struck the sugar cube with the sharp end. There was a small crunch as the sugar cube split perfectly in half.
“But on the other hand, if the person was an ally, you would do your best to protect them. If a good trade was achieved, then you would return them the goodwill you deemed appropriate. If they respected you, then you would give them respect as well.”
Although she defined people as either friends or enemies, the logic that was above them all was simple.
‘Return to them as much as you were given.’
Perhaps the problem was that there was absolutely no exception to her rule. Even someone she had known for a long time would be completely cut off if they betrayed her even once. In other words, she never forgave anyone. There were no second chances with her.
She made decisions like a machine would, but from the victim’s point of view they thought of her as something like a doll. Since she was not kind in any way, the people hated her even more.
The problem was that Leticia didn’t express her emotions too easily. For each situation, she would show the appropriate emotion when dealing with them. Even if she didn’t show any kindness towards others, she still gave them respect. If they responded to that respect in kindness, she would be happy with the result, and if that person were to instead betray her, she would be disappointed and get angry as well. What she considered important was for the person who she was giving respect to give back the same respect as well, not whether the person she was dealing with had over- or under-achieved what she wished for.
‘…Though if the results were too disappointing, she would still make biting remarks.’
Zed shivered as he remembered when he was still learning how to deal with the documents himself. Light criticism here and there sometimes turned to downright extreme levels of creative insults. Once she called him a freaky hybrid of sea anemone and a rock, and another time she said he had the memorization abilities of carp with a diamond stuck inside its brain.
…It must be just his imagination that his eyelids felt like they were flaring up with heat.
In any case, when comparing what she was doing to him to what she did to her ‘enemies’, it was practically nothing but light nagging. Even if he lacked the skills, she wouldn’t be able to make use of him by throwing him away. She probably decided to make Zed useful for her in any way possible, or at least make him do work that matches his available skill.
“You were definitely a scary person indeed,” Zed said, “But I believe that you weren’t a ‘monster’.”
If you looked at her in a certain way, she actually treated people more humanely than other people did. It was why he could respect her for what she was.
“As it’s an opinion of someone that’s been by your side this whole time, you can be reassured that it’s true,” he reassured her.
They spent the past seven years together fighting and arguing over things. And in that kind of time, they may not understand each other with perfect accuracy, but they knew enough to understand the kind of person the other was.
Zed gave an encouraging smile towards Leticia as he looked at her. “Do you think that was a good enough answer?”
After hearing the last question, Leticia kept her silence. She simply looked at Zed sitting on the other side of the table with an unreadable expression. Some time passed before Leticia silently nodded.
Satisfied that she at least affirmed his answer, Zed stood up from his seat. He had said everything he needed to do.
‘Wait. Perhaps it wasn’t everything.’
Zed spoke again to say something that had been bugging him the whole time since she had woken up as a seven-year-old.
“And finally one more thing!”
He spoke loudly as if to emphasize something. Leticia, who had been brooding on the information given to her, suddenly flinched in surprise and looked up at him.
‘Hmm…’ Zed thought. ‘Well, she certainly looks cute when she reacts like this.’
He then addressed Leticia. “You do not particularly need to speak to me with such high respect.”
He was so used to her treating him as lower-ranking that seeing the opposite was unnerving for him. The woman who used to smugly look at him as if to say ‘Hmph, lowling’ was now changed to someone who looked at him with pleading eyes that said, ‘Um, excuse me’. He wasn’t able to shake off how strange their interactions were.
Meanwhile, Leticia stared back at him with an innocent face and trembling lips, and Zed gave a mental sigh.
Yep, this is definitely wrong. If she keeps treating me like this, I will end up a chicken or something. Let’s fix the way she keeps using formal language with me first.
“I am your servant, My Lady. You need not be afraid of me, and there is also no need to be cautious at every little thing you want to ask of me. I am simply someone that you can make use of at any time and anywhere.”
His words continued with slight emphasis. Leticia once again kept studying his expression and intention, before giving a meek nod. It seemed like this habit of hers wouldn’t be fixed right away. However, Zed gave a soft smile as he bowed.
“Then, I shall take my leave for now.”
He needed to go back to fighting against the mountain of documents.