Aubrey was the youngest daughter of Count and Countess Jordyn. She was a 15-year-old girl who was still a child when she last met Cedric.
And he had more vivid memories when she was 7 and 8 years old.
Cedric was startled.
“You’ve grown a lot.”
“Yes, Your Grace. I’m an adult now. I’m 18 years old.”
Aubrey looked up as she clung onto Cedric.
Cedric gently shook his arms and pushed Aubrey off. When he was young, he loved her like a younger sister and she was cute, but this was the age that he shouldn’t indulge such behavior.
Aubrey was shocked. It was the first time he didn’t hug her when she clung onto Cedric.
Margaret quickly grabbed Aubrey’s arm and dragged her to the side. And she lowered her head.
“I’m sorry. Your Grace. I didn’t raise my daughter very well.”
“No. It’s been a long time so she was excited to see me. Aubrey’s already grown like this, I can’t believe how long I’ve been away.”
“Your Grace has changed a lot.”
Aaron stepped in and laughed to avoid making the mood awkward. Cedric laughed too.
“Three years ago, I was a kid.”
“Your Grace, even when you were only twenty, you were not an ordinary child.”
“Does that mean I look older?”
Cedric stroked his cheek. And he looked back at Artizea with a sneaky glance.
Artizea tilted her head.
Cedric scratched his slightly red cheeks with his index finger. Then he reached out his hand to her with a soft face.
“First of all, go to the room. I’ll give you a guide to the castle after warming up and resting. I’ll think about it tomorrow whether to have a greeting or having a reception.”
“I heard It’s still Autumn.”
“Not me, but you. You’ve been on the boat for over a month, that your lips have turned white.”
“I’m not so tired.”
As Artizea said so, she put her hand on Cedric’s hand.
Then Cedric flipped his hand and grabbed Artizea’s hand.
Artizea flinched. Her embarrassed fingers flinched and scratched Cedric’s palm.
Cedric succeeded in maintaining his normal expression, but his earlobes reddened.
The people of the Grand Duchy who saw it silently glanced at each other. The words they wanted to say, but no one took it out of their mouth.
Alice, Sophie, and Rize smiled happily with satisfaction.
Artizea turned her gaze to the wrong place. Her hands were cold, and Cedric’s hands were hot.
Strangely, however, she had the illusion that even her own hands were hot.
It was a lie that she got used to it. Rather, it was getting strange, so even touching his fingertips made her head white.
For no reason, she was breathless. She kept reliving the memory of his embrace that she felt through her thin pajamas.
It was not known when the memory would disappear from her skin.
“Let’s go in.”
Cedric whispered into Artizea’s ear with a lower voice than usual.
Artizea lowered her head. Cedric pulled her hand and she folded her arms.
However, he did not let go of her hand.
Aaron took the lead in a hurry.
“I’ve cleaned up the Grand Duchess’ room. I did it on my own, but there is a limit to what I can do here. I was worried about it being unsophisticated, so I did not decorate it. How about doing it yourself?”
Artizea pretended to be calm on the outside, trying to press down her clamoring heart.
She then suddenly felt a gaze and looked back.
Aubrey was staring at Artizea without even thinking of hiding her roaring expression of hatred.
Artizea got embarrassed.
This is difficult to handle.
She couldn’t pretend she didn’t know, though. If Aubrey was trying to hide her emotions, then she would have never known. However, she carried an expression that blatantly exposed her hatred. Leaving such a defiant distracts the family.
Cedric shook her hand lightly to make her focus on him.
Cedric smiled as she looked back at his gaze.
Artizea’s bedroom was next to Cedric’s bedroom. It was said to be a space used as a bedroom for the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess from generation to generation.
There was a door between the two rooms, so it was possible to go back and forth without going through the corridor.
“You can lock both sides. The keys on both sides are different, so if you lock on one side, you cannot open on the other side.”
At Aaron’s explanation, Artizea laughed.
“Is it for a couple’s fight? So, to spread the distance and arrange a room….. Oh, was the door for in case of an emergency.”
“The retreat is on the side of my room. I’ll show you how to open it later.”
Cedric said so.
“Isn’t it a secret passage?”
“It’s no secret how to go from inside to outside. It’s prepared for emergencies. Since there’s no one to communicate with Karam, anyone knows the passages.”
“Ah, yes. If that’s the case, I’ll keep that in mind.”
There was a Tuvalet room and a small bathroom opposite Cedric’s bedroom. There was also a space that could be used as a study next to the reception room.
The bedroom wasn’t big. Fur hung tightly on the walls everywhere. The floor was also covered with fluffy fur enough to cover the ankles.
Artizea reached out her hand and touched the wall.
“All rooms are made small because if the space is large, it gets cold quickly. There are many vacant rooms, so please tell us if you need more space.”
“Is this a bearskin?”
“Oh, yes. This is better than a tapestry, it blocks drafts better. If you don’t like it, I’ll buy something else.”
“No, it’s not because I don’t like it, but because it’s too extravagant…”
“Even the predecessor’s Grand Duchess wore fur in the living space. It’s still okay, but when Winter comes, it’s difficult for people who are not from this place to bear.”
“Yes. I see.”
Artizea answered and turned to Cedric. Cedric nodded his head.
“The warmth seems to be enough. I’m warming up without doing anything too much. The people below will do well, but….. The only thing you can’t do is take care of yourself.”
“I feel like a very incompetent person if you say that.”
“First of all, take a break. I’ll pick you up when it’s time for dinner. I’ll first take a look at the situation.”
“Let’s talk in the evening about what to do tomorrow. There are many things I’d like to ask for your opinion about.”
Cedric reached out his hand.
Artizea was shocked and stiffened her body. Cedric’s thumb gently swept through Artizea’s eyes.
He spoke kindly and went out.
Aaron and other vassals bowed their head to greet her and followed Cedric.
“Madam, have a seat.”
Sophie took Artizea’s cloak off. Artizea sat in the armchair.
She wasn’t aware of the cold, but she melted as she sat in front of the fireplace.
She was bothered by the brooch that Cedric gave her. Artizea, caught in a subtle mood, fiddled with it in her hand mindlessly.
The brooch was engraved with the crest of Evron Grand Duchy.
She was busy in the capital, so she couldn’t afford to think carefully. However, when she came here, she realized that she got the name of Cedric’s wife anyway, even if it was only a formality.
For the time being, the mistress of this stronghold is herself.
Looking back at it, why didn’t she ever think about getting married in her previous life?
Artizea recalled the past.
She never really thought that she hated political marriage.
When she was young, her mother and her brother were everything in the world to her, but as she got older, she might have wanted to run away with marriage.
It wasn’t that there were no men who approached her at all.
Even when she became Marchioness of Rosan, even after Lawrence stabilized his position as the Crown Prince, there were men approaching her for her position and her fortune.
Artizea never paid attention to them.
‘Is it because I can see right through them?‘
Even superficial tenderness must have shaken her heart. Like she did when Lawrence was good at times.
Or maybe she did it because she knew that she would eventually be purged.
Artizea leaned her neck against the backrest, and she briefly closed her eyes and then opened it.
“Rize, go and call Margaret. Now I have to greet her.”
Rize quickly went outside.
Margaret was waiting outside with a butler, the chief maid, and several senior employees. When she was told that she was called by Artizea, she hurried in.
After Artizea was greeted by the employees, she said:
“It’s not a small thing to live in the stronghold, and it would be more so to someone who had stayed for a few months a year at the most. I want you to take care of it like you’ve done so far. If you are a person Cedric trusts, I can trust you as well. .”
“Most of my servants are the maids I brought. But the number will be insufficient, so if there is someone who is a good maid, you can choose a few people and send them to me. I hope my maid never fails to say what they have to say or do what they have to do.”
That was the only thing she asked of the employees.
After dismissing the butler and the chief maid, Artizea looked at Margaret.
Margaret was very nervous.
Margaret had no intention of disregarding Artizea as she is the newly married young mistress.
She was the Grand Duchess that Cedric chose. That alone was enough reason to be loyal.
But apart from that, Artizea carried a dignity she could not dare to relax and deal with. She was like a completely different person than when she was holding Cedric with her hand and blushing shyly.
“Margaret, as you know, I didn’t bring any lady-in-waitings from my family. It’s because I didn’t have any relatives and no acquaintances.”
Artizea said in a slow voice. Margaret responded politely.
“The lady-in-waiting I’m going to choose will be from among the Evron Grand Duchy and its closely related family. I hope you will advise me on that.”
Knowing what would come next, Margaret took a breath.
“First, I wonder, how about Miss Aubrey? If it were the daughter of Count Jordyn, she would be fitting if I considered her status, her loyalty, and her age, which is similar to mine, so our conversation would be good. I believe she can help me adapt to life here.”
Artizea said so.
She had to sort out the ranks in advance.