Chapter 10: Past 03
The marriage was a month earlier than planned at Orpheus’s request, and I got onto the carriage without anyone seeing me off.
I had already sent my luggage ahead of time, so I went to the Rosenstein House with just myself alone.
When I arrived at my husband’s home, the butler, Juris, and the head maid, Elze, greeted me.
The other servants were already lined up in the hall, and they bowed deeply and politely as I entered the hall.
A girl came out of the line and named herself Claire.
She was the maid who would be taking care of me, and I got the impression that she was innocent and honest from her nervous expression.
――― I think I’ll be able to get along with this girl.
Orpheus appeared from the stairs in the centre of the hall when I vaguely thought that.
He wasn’t alone. He was accompanied by a petite woman.
“Ah, Lord Orpheus. Miss Diana is with you too,” I heard Juris say, and thought, so that’s his cousin.
The woman was adorable, just like a flower sprite.
She had blonde hair, which was close to white, dreamy light blue eyes, and a small and delicate face.
She had a slender body with thin arms and legs and wore a fluffy light blue dress.
Orpheus and Diana contrasted each other with black and white when they stood next to each other, and, together, they looked like a pair of dolls.
Their linked arms looked as if they were lovers, and I couldn’t help but be suspicious of their relationship, but Diana just said this, “I’m sorry for borrowing your husband’s arm. But, please don’t misunderstand anything. I am just his cousin, and this person is just like a brother to me. We don’t have a strange relationship at all.”
Diana’s eyes stared at a place which was a little off from where I was actually standing.
I wasn’t suspicious of her, but she was practically looking at me, and I wondered once again if she really was blind.
As she said, they were probably linking arms so that he could guide her.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t walk freely without the help of others.
I pushed the hazy discomfort to the back of my mind and put a tight lid on it so that it wouldn’t come out.
“I’ve heard about it, Miss Diana. Please don’t mind me. I don’t blame you since there are circumstances behind this.”
Diana looked relieved and said, “I want you to call me Diana.”
I replied, “Then, please call me Ophelia too,” and she smiled joyfully.
Orpheus laughed next to her.
However, the servants were different.
Their attitude was strange in a way.
Some looked bitter and averted their gaze by looking down. Some looked at Orpheus and Diana with moist eyes, and some… glared at me with hateful eyes as if they were stabbing me with their gaze.
Juris had a somewhat lonely smile, Elze stared at me with hate, and Claire stood still while looking puzzled.
I suddenly remembered that man’s words because of their reaction. 『I won’t let you be happy. I’ll make you suffer more than I have.』
――― Is that how it is?
There were too many unnatural points to laugh it off as a misunderstanding, and I stood still because I didn’t know what to do.
After that, we signed the marriage certificate, and I was guided to my room. I broached the topic with Claire while drinking the tea I was served, “This mansion is wonderful. Both Lord Orpheus and Miss Diana are nice. But I don’t seem to be welcome here.”
I wasn’t good with beating around the bush, so I spoke frankly, and Claire suddenly stopped cutting the cake, “Lord Orpheus and Miss Diana are more than cousins, aren’t they? You and the servants know this, and that’s why they don’t have good feelings towards me.”
Claire turned back while looking pale and said, “Madam, I’m sorry. Everyone has gone weird because they adore the Master and Miss Diana. To be presented with such such an outrageous attitude… you must have felt uncomfortable. I’m really sorry.”
“Claire, lift your head. It’s not your fault.”
The servants are also humans.
Even though they are usually faithful to their duties, they might have been too excessive while supporting the relationship between their master and his lover.
As a result, they lacked calmness and took actions which weren’t appropriate for their positions.
“I’m not blaming them. I just wanted to check the facts. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know how to behave in the future,” I said as I thought.
ーーー If that’s the case, then why didn’t he marry the woman he loved instead of me?
The Lagerfeld House is an old House, but they’re not very wealthy and are rural nobles.
That man might have had a good explanation if he wanted financing, but if so, then he didn’t need to marry me off.
The current Lagerfeld House isn’t appealing enough for nobles in the capital, who have both status and money, to want to connect their House by marriage.
Claire shook her head, “I don’t know.”
“Master and Miss Diana both deny their relationship in front of me and the servants. They say that they both don’t love each other. Even though they’re so close.”
My questions only deepened, but it didn’t take long for me to find out why.
“There’s something I’d like to tell you.” That night, after dinner, I was relaxing on the couch in my assigned room, and Orpheus said this while sitting next to me.
He worried about my body since I had been sitting in a swaying carriage for half the day and asked, “Shall I tell you tomorrow?” But, I declined, “It’s okay, please tell me now.”
“You must have been curious about why I chose you as my wife,” Orpheus spoke as the candlelight swayed.
“Because, this was the last request of my father, the former Earl Rosenstein. He requested that I marry Ophelia, the daughter who Lord Lagerfeld took in, into the Rosenstein House. This happened a year ago. One night on his deathbed, father summoned me and ordered me to make you my wife.”
I honestly have no idea what he was talking about.
Why did the former Earl Rosenstein, who I don’t know, know about my existence and want me to be his son’s wife?
The only thing that comes to mind is…
“Lord Orpheus, do you know my mother?”
That man had told me not to talk about this, but Lord Orpheus probably already knew my mother from the way he spoke, so I asked him, and he answered, “I heard about her from my father.”
“Did you make me your wife knowing this?”
Did he not resist marrying a daughter of a vile prostitute who was only half noble even though it was his father’s last request?
However, Orpheus’s answer was beyond my expectation, “Yes, is that a problem?”
He replied as if it was nothing, and I gapped.
There is a mountain of problems, though…
Orpheus continued speaking while I remained dumbfounded, “My father was one of the men who loved your mother. He couldn’t get her off his mind even when she disappeared from social circles. Just before he fell ill, he found out that your mother had passed away from the epidemic six years ago, and that you, her child, had been taken in by the Lagerfeld House. He secretly went to see you when he found out and saw that you were being treated as a slave.”
Orpheus paused and squeezed the hand, which was on my shoulder.
It didn’t hurt, it was just hot.
“He couldn’t contain himself when he saw the daughter of the woman he loved, who looked like her mother, being oppressed. He thought about kidnapping you on the spot, but his servant stopped him since that would be bad. He had no choice but to think of a legal way to protect you, and, as a result, came up with the idea of letting me marry you. But he immediately fell ill straight after and it became his last request. Then, I became friendly with Lord Lagerfeld through an acquaintance and demanded that I will marry you in exchange for investment capital. I tried to hasten it as much as possible, but it still took a month and a half,” Orpheus said, and hugged me.
He hadn’t hesitated even though he knew I was a prostitute’s daughter.
“I’m sorry you had to experience painful memories until then.”
I thought his words were miraculous as I buried my face in Orpheus’s neck.
While inhaling the pleasant scent of the forest, I thought about why he needed to apologise even though he had nothing to do with it and said, “It’s not your fault. You let me out of that house.”
He freed me from those days of being oppressed and abused.
He helped me when no one else even looked back at me.
To the point that he betrayed the woman he loved…
My eyelids got hot as if they were being burnt.
An unbearable impulse swelled up inside me, and I sobbed.
“I’m sorry,” I broke down as soon as I said that.
It was pointless, even if I tightly shut my eyes.
“I’m sorry. I’ve changed your life. I’ve snatched away your chance to have a happy marriage.”
I pulled myself away from Orpheus and sat on the floor as if I’d fallen down.
I kneeled at his feet and looked up as if I was begging for forgiveness.
Orpheus tried to get me off the floor while being confused. He was as merciful and beautiful as the angels painted on the walls of the church.
“I can’t give you more than the happiness you would have felt from that. Instead, I’ll give everything I have to you, Lord Orpheus. Both my body and my mind. I don’t care what kind of sacrifices I have to make for you. I’ll do anything for you, and I’ll endure any pain for you.”
I couldn’t think of any other way to repay the former Earl Rosenstein and Orpheus except for this.
I am a person of no worth.
I’m only useful as a scapegoat.
“So please, please forgive me.”
I looked down and could only hear the sounds of sobbing in this silent room.
“You’re wrong,” Orpheus finally said in a voice that exuded dissatisfaction.
I looked up in surprise.
“That’s not it, Ophelia. The words you should say now aren’t words of apology.”
“Then…” My lips trembled, and he smiled gently through my blurry vision.
“It’s thank you. You should say that at times like this.”
I held back the tears which were threatening to overflow again and breathed in to stop my sobs.
“Thank you very much, Lord Orpheus.”
Orpheus helped me up and sat me next to him, then said as if he was scolding me, “I told you that you didn’t need to call me Lord.” He wiped my tears with his thumb.