4 (1) – 5
“Oho? Seems like you’re in a good mood today.”
The very next day, that flirty voice once again called out to Camilla in the kitchen.
This was around the time when the cooks were either out buying produce or taking their breaks, so Camilla was surprised that there was anyone in the kitchen she had expected to be deserted.
“Something good happen?”
Turning to face the voice, she saw the man she had come to dislike since the previous day. He was laying down on a big wooden crate in the corner of the room. Perhaps he was taking a nap until she walked in?
“Nothing in particular. That said, looking at your face is ruining my mood.”
Although Camilla glared at him, Klaus only yawned in response. Raising himself off the box with a cat-like stretch, he ran a hand through his slightly dishevelled hair.
“Your mood swings sure are pretty intense, huh? But I’m sure you’ll be happy to see my face one day.”
With a tensionless grin on his lips, Klaus sat back down on the edge of the crate. Then, he looked at what Camilla was doing on the kitchen bench.
Arrayed in front of Camilla were onions, garlic and a jar of raspberry jam. For the last few days, Günter had run the junior cooks in the kitchen through a harsh regimen using these ingredients.
In her hand, Camilla held a knife. The oven had already been lit and a flame started underneath the frying pan. It was already obvious to him what she was intending to do.
“Did you even take part in that training at all? Won’t he get angry if you just up and use his ingredients without permission?”
Klaus laughed, his voice light and airy.
Camilla had a sense that he was making fun of her, but for now, she ignored his cajoling. With a derisive hmph, she scowled at Klaus.
“I’ve always been doing this, no one has ever brought it up.”
“That so? Pretty sure he’ll notice if our stocks begin to run out, though. Maybe the Head Chef won’t mind, but aunty is another story.”
Aunty… She hadn’t considered this man’s connection to Gerda until he said that.
The Head Maid, Gerda, was a member of the House of Lörrich. She had been openly hostile to Camilla since the very beginning. Judging her from those encounters alone, Gerda was a severe, stubborn, and also rather dark person. She seemed like the complete opposite of Klaus, who didn’t seem to care for anything much other than flirting.
But, Gerda was the elder sister of the current Baron Lörrich. And it only serves to reason that if Klaus was the eldest son of the current head, that would make Gerda his aunt.
“That one, she’d notice even if a single grain of salt was missing. She’d realize if someone was syphoning off food lickety-split.”
“But, no one has ever said anything?”
“Then, I guess she’s just decided to overlook it, huh?”
Camilla found herself getting angrier the more Klaus talked. Going by his logic, doesn’t that mean she was just being toyed with by Gerda?
– What does he mean, overlooked?
She was just a mere servant. Camilla’s position at the moment may be vague, but she definitely should still stand above Gerda at any rate. In fact, the only one who should have the authority to truly object to anything Camilla did in this house was Alois himself.
“I suppose I should be grateful, then. Now, watch in amazement, if you would.”
As if trying to get back at Klaus, Camilla kept glaring at him as she boldly declared that, puffing out her chest.
Although she did feel slightly guilty about using some of the winter provisions without permission, she would feel even worse if she let her cooking skills rust instead. Failure to keep one’s skills sharp had been the downfall of many an aspiring chef.
– In any case, I should show this man I’m not to be trifled with.
Klaus said that with a sigh as he watched Camilla haughtily look down on him. Giving his hair another scratch, he stood up and sidled over to Camilla’s side.
Camilla, ignoring him, began to cut up the garlic and onions in silence. She wasn’t exactly comfortable with Klaus’ intimate audience, but she tried to focus on her work instead. It would be unsightly if she got angry with him now since she had told him to watch in the first place. That only made sense.
“Hey, you… Are you really planning on marrying Alois?”
Suddenly hearing that word whispered in her ear, Camilla’s shoulders jumped with an angry shriek. She raised her head, accidentally catching Klaus’ eyes as she did.
“T-That… That still remains to be seen…!”
“That so? But you’re the one who made him lose weight, aren’t you?”
– I wonder if that’s really the truth?
Camilla had put all her effort into making Alois lose weight. But after what happened in Grenze, Camilla didn’t feel like she was the driving force behind it anymore. Even though Camilla pestered him less about his weight after that, Alois had taken charge of reducing his own diet and his weight dropped as a result.
Camilla had simply given Alois the first push. As things stood, could she truly say that she was the one making him lose weight?
As Camilla pondered that on the spot, lost in thought, Klaus had no idea what was going on inside her head. Looking at her knife hand that had stopped entirely, he crossed his arms and posed a question.
“Do you love that guy?”
“H-HAA!? Just where do you think you’re going with this!?”
As Klaus chucked that question her way without a second thought, Camilla raged. Just how far was his rudeness going to go?
“You know, you’re a pretty easy girl to understand.”
As Camilla got redder by the second, Klaus instead stayed cool. That flirtatious face of his didn’t change a whit even after crossing his arms, keeping his gaze firmly on Camilla’s face.
“But, is it fine? Do you really know what’s going on in that man’s head?”
Yet despite that, his words were cold. Camilla felt as if that burning fire of her anger had been doused in cold water as her eyes widened, looking at Klaus.
“That guy sure lost weight easily, didn’t he?”
Looking at Camilla’s serious eyes, Klaus smiled loosely.
“Don’t you think it’s weird? It’s as if the moment he wanted it to happen, the weight just began to slide right off. But until now, he had always been a Toady Pig. Just what does that mean? Just why was he like that in the first place, I wonder?”
Camilla’s eyes narrowed. To Camilla, his words sounded like they were trying to goad her into an answer that he wanted to hear, the same as when he had asked her ‘Do you really know what’s going on inside that man’s head?’.
And she couldn’t stomach those disgusting intentions of his.
Those intentions surely being that he was trying to insult Alois.
“Because of the traditions of the Montchat family, right? That the head is to eat excessive amounts of luxurious food.”
“But it’s just a tradition, not a law, right?”
In fact, Alois was already breaking from that tradition. The excessive amount of sugar and seasoning might not have disappeared, but the number of meals he took had decreased exponentially. What used to be eight meals had been reduced to three, with a light snack during a tea party. He was still overweight, but the morbidly obese Alois had long gone.
So, it was true, that if he had the will to reduce what he was eating, then he could. Alois had never complained or pined for his old way of eating or asked for something like a day where he could go back to the way things were.
As Alois reduced the size of his meals, the senior servants seemed to baulk at the idea, but they couldn’t go against the master of the house. In effect, it wouldn’t have been difficult to break away from that tradition any time he wished.
“So, don’t you think it’s weird?”
As Klaus goaded her once again, Camilla glared, then slammed the knife she held hard down onto the onion in front of her. At the sudden violent movement, Klaus jumped.
“Breaking tradition is one thing, the hardest part is to change your own way of thinking, is it not!?”
Klaus nodded, a little cowed. His head still bobbing up and down meekly, he stepped away from Camilla just a touch. It was as if he was afraid Camilla was going to turn that knife on him for what he was going to ask her next.
“You know, you really do love him, don’t you?”
Camilla denied it strongly, almost as if it were instinct. The blood had probably already gotten to her head at this point.
Thus, she said something she didn’t need to say.
“Do not misunderstand me! The one I love will always, ALWAYS, be Prince Julian!”
There was more than one voice of surprise.
Of the two voices she heard, one belonged to Klaus, standing next to her.
The other was a much deeper voice, belonging to a middle-aged man.
Turning her head to look, she knew the man who stood at the entrance to the kitchen.
The Head Chef of the kitchen stood with his mouth hanging agape in astonishment and his wide eyes full of hurt. It was Günter.