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Bambi and the Duke 75 Breakfast at the table

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It was still raining when Vivian woke up from her sleep in the morning, she rubbed her eye, her eyes heavy as she yawned. She had fallen asleep late last night with Leonard who had watched over her with no sign of his presence in the room right now.

Pushing herself up from the bed, she sat there staring blankly at the wall in front of her. A small smile made to her lips, recollecting the new memories they had created together. To think that they had finally spent time together was what made her giddy with joy.

Though there were a few things she had come to discover, last night was beautiful. Why wouldn't it be, she had spent the entire time with Leonard. Talking to him, walking next to him as they discussed his work as she was always interested in his work.

But Leonard never told her everything. He only told the ones he felt she could understand about him. It wasn't that he lied to her. After all, hiding was different from lying. In Vivian's eyes, his job was about travelling and meeting various people who resided in different lands which he conveniently left out the information where he killed people torturously which was part of his job being in the council.

The smile on Vivian's lips fell when she remembered what she had seen in the painting room. Leo had told her that he would look into the matter but it wouldn't be easy to get sensitive information which would be buried under other facts to erase what laid below.

Worry formed on her forehead with her delicate brows furrowing in thought.

All these years she had grown to know and be part of the human society, telling her suddenly that she belonged to a different kind made her look at her hands. Did she really have such kind of powers? It wasn't hard to believe. Not after she had helped the boy in the market.

Vivian wished she could prove it once more but that meant someone had to be hurt physically which she wasn't comfortable with. And then there was also the matter where Leonard had warned her not to use it as it would diminish her time to live. Deep down she secretly felt happy about it. To think that she was special and one of a kind.

Looking outside her small window, she wondered what time it was. Morning, noon and evening almost looked same, and if one were to wake up from his slumber in any of these hours it would be hard to bet on the time of the day. In the land of Bonelake, time was difficult to guess when it rained all the time with the dark clouds hanging up in the sky.

With Leonard who had asked her to accompany where Lord Nicholas lived, she got ready and headed towards the kitchen so that she could eat before they left to the Rune mansion. On her way, she met the housekeeper who was reprimanding the maid named Hana who was looking down at the floor as he spoke to her,

"How long do you think it was when I last warned you?" she heard Jan speak to the maid. The maid opened her mouth but she didn't speak at the fear of not knowing if she would be scolded for even uttering a word in front of him. Physically Jan, the housekeeper appeared lean and weak, if it weren't for his bright red eyes one would consider him to be an easy target to be beaten up in the market alley but it was his sharp mouth that got people working in the Carmichael mansion, "Did you lose your tongue?" he asked her.

"I-It was a week ago," Hana managed to speak. She was the same maid who usually took a jab at her due to which Vivian didn't feel sorry for her.

"Less than a week ago," the housekeeper corrected, "Doesn't one of the rules here state that maids who are found gossiping unnecessary matters would face consequences. I think I have to fix this," he murmured the last part to himself.

"Please forgive me!" the maid apologized but there was no room for mistakes.

The housekeeper was well aware that his absence usually brought in whispers and tell-tales among the maids in the mansion which stopped at his presence. With the Duke and the maid going out last evening, words were bound to spill out by the lowly humans and it was something that wasn't entertained here. In his eyes, it was better to pull the weed before it would harm others and right now the girl was the infectious weed.

"As a punishment, you are to go to the Lord's mansion and 'help' him feed his wolves," said Jan thoughtfully.

"Help?"

"Yes, that would be all," the housekeeper turned to look at Vivian who had only walked past them, "Vivian."

Vivian had tried to tiptoe discreetly to get away from the housekeeper's hawk-like eyes but she seemed to have failed to be invisible. Not that she could when this was the only way inside the mansion to the kitchen and the other being the back door which was situated behind the mansion.

"Yes," she answered.

"Master Leonard has asked you to join him for breakfast in the dining room," he informed her.

"Oh. Okay," bowing her head, she headed to where Leonard was who was already sitting at the table with a newspaper in his hand, "Good morning," she greeted him with a smile.

At her voice, Leonard looked up and smiled, "Good morning. How was your sleep?" he asked.

Not too long, the housekeeper appeared to serve them. Jan pulled out the seat in front of Leonard for her and Vivian wasn't sure how to react to it. She had been to the dining room several times but not once in her entire life had she ever sat at this table. Servants were not allowed to sit with their masters, it was a protocol that each and every family followed. The last time she sat at a gathering was at the Lord's mansion which made her wonder if there was soiree being held for the elites again. At that thought, the feeling of uneasiness filled her chest.

"Take a seat, Vivian," with awkward steps, she made walked around the table to sit on the chair as it was pushed gently towards the table.

Before she sat, Vivian spared a quick glance at the housekeeper who looked devoid of any expression, looking nothing less to a statute.

No matter how much she tried to hide her surprise, Leonard was aware, knowing well what was going through Vivian's mind at that moment. She might have been a maid working for the Carmichael's since a young age but he wasn't planning on keeping her status in the lowest levels of the society. In his view, there was no point in wasting time when everything could be done right now.

She was the one whom he wanted in his life and he would trade her for nothing. Not even a soul. To him, she was the anchor that kept him away from drowning. Away from the darkness of this world that had come to become with things he already knew of.

"There's no one here but us. Eat freely," he commented when Jan came to pour the blood from the cold flask.

"Yes," she responded, taking the napkin that laid on her side to spread it across her lap. Picking up the little tines of silverware, she began eating her breakfast in silence with Leonard who quietly had his food.

It didn't help that the housekeeper who was always ordering her to get the work done was now serving her breakfast with extreme politeness. Not knowing how to feel about it especially after he had indicated her a few nights ago of how she was taking liberties in her speech, she ate her food with utmost care.

"Will we be going to the Lord's mansion," she enquired to check if they were was any change in Leonard's schedule.

"We will. It will be a short visit. An hour to the maximum," he answered.

"Okay. Thank you," she murmured when the housekeeper filled her glass of water when she hadn't even asked for it.

"Is this what you're wearing?" at his question, Vivian looked down at her dress before looking back.

"Would you want me to change?" she questioned him with another question. The dress that she wore right now wasn't grand but it was a decent one which wasn't torn or dull. It was one of her best dress that she owned but maybe not one of the best dress in Leonard's eyes thought Vivian to herself.

"No, I think it is fine," he didn't add another word until Jan stepped back into the room, "Jan," the housekeeper stopped moving and placed his entire attention to what Leonard had to say.

"Yes, master?"

"Get the servants to clean the third room in the right wing of the mansion. Clean sheets and if necessary change the quilt to a newer one which hasn't been used. Make sure the water works in the bath as it's been more than a while someone has used it," he informed the housekeeper. It made Vivian wonder if a relative of his was going to stay in the mansion for a while, "And move Vivian's belongings to the room, every single item."

"The third room?" the housekeeper verified as if he had heard it wrong.

Vivian who had been wondering about the guest snapped her eyes at Leo.

"Did I say the fourth room?" Leonard asked his housekeeper tilting his head in question.

"No, Sir."

"Why are my belongings going to be moved there?" Vivian asked, the answer appearing as she spoke her words to him with her breath held in.

"Jan. Close the door," he ordered, placing his fork down he stood up from his seat, he walked around the table and at the same time, Vivian stood up from her seat. Once Jan had closed the door, Leonard picked Vivian's hand to bring it forward. Both the housekeeper as well Vivian waited to see what Leonard was intending to do, "Stay still. This will hurt," he said, running his thumbnail across her palm to draw blood before pushing it in.

No one was used to having their palms being dug with nails and neither was Vivian. She flinched in pain as Leonard pushed his nail into her skin deeper bringing out tears in her eyes. Once he pulled his hand away from her, she didn't know if it was because of the absence of nail but suddenly it felt like a weight on her shoulder had disappeared.

"From now, you are no more a maid of the Carmichael mansion," the housekeeper who previously looked devoid of any emotions couldn't stop erasing the look of shock that appeared on his face now as Leonard spoke. Leonard had removed the master-slave bond between them, "You won't be working here as a maid and instead will live a life far more respected compared to it. You will live a which you deserve, Vivian," he said stepping closer to her. The mark that had formed behind her back during the bond slowly vanished beneath the dress she wore.

In the beginning, when he had put the slave bond, she had been sad to think that he didn't trust her either but the situation had been like that. He had lost his family due to a servant. He was offering her a life which many of her social standings wished for but never could be part of.

"I..." Vivian tried digesting his words, "I don't know what to say," she spoke frankly to see him smile. He pulled out the kerchief from his pocket to wrap it around her bloody hand and said,
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"You don't have to..." he tied the white cloth securely that turned crimson absorbing the blood into it, "I know, Bambi."

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