Chapter 12: Past 05
Merry Christmas everyone <3
When Orpheus started calling me ‘honey’ instead of ‘you’, he often said this, “You’re the only one who won’t abandon me.”
When the deed is over, he hugs me so tightly that I can’t even breathe while pleading.
I found this strange.
It didn’t seem like it would impact him much if he were to be abandoned by me.
Were those just sweet nothings?
Did he whisper that to me to make me want to do it?
Was he just whispering those words to make me feel better?
I don’t know how he felt as he said those words, but I always answered, “I won’t abandon you.”
He may abandon me, but I won’t abandon him.
I really thought so.
Without knowing that I would break that promise.
While I had a good relationship with Orpheus, I also had a decent relationship with Diana.
At first, I kept my distance from her because I didn’t know how to interact with her, but Diana actively spoke to me.
Thanks to that, we had tea several times a week, and we visited each other’s rooms. Sometimes, I would take her hand, and we would walk around the garden.
The servants didn’t look very happy, probably because they thought I was going to harm her, but Diana smiled joyfully.
Most importantly, Orpheus was pleased when I talked about this with him.
He always squinted his eyes fondly whenever I talked about Diana in detail.
I loved that expression on him, so I met with Diana more.
Diana is a charming woman.
She is bright and is like a sunflower.
She is a generous woman who treated the person who stole away her lover like everyone else. She would tell me funny stories and make me laugh. Sometimes, she would even give me advice as if she was mediating between Orpheus and I.
She knew about my efforts and would sometimes thank me for my hard work.
“This isn’t my place to say this, but Orphe won’t say it, so I’ll say it in his place. Ophelia, I think you’re doing very well. So, don’t overdo it. I’m worried that you might collapse from working too hard.”
I felt like my tears would fall every time I was told something kind.
Why is this person so kind?
Even though I stole this person’s loved one.
Even though I’ve taken away her happy future.
Why does she smile like that?
She will probably listen to me.
Sometimes, Diana would also say this, “All you have to do is stay by Orpheus’s side. That’s all you have to do. You don’t need to do anything else. I’m sure Orpheus thinks the same way.”
Diana is a good person.
It was no wonder that Orpheus was attracted to her and that the servants wanted to cheer her on.
But I didn’t think what she said was true.
If Diana was Orpheus’s wife, then it might be enough just for him to be by his side.
I’m sure that she would give him moral support and sooth him just by smiling.
But I’m different.
I’m not that valuable to Orpheus.
Having me by his side is a waste and not useful at all.
If I don’t act appropriate for my position even as a decorated wife, then I would feel bad for Orpheus and Diana since I stole this position from her.
I must fulfil my duty.
I must support Orpheus, get involved in the management of his fief and mansion, and give birth… to a son.
I’ll retire early when I’ve done all this and move to the fief mansion to live quietly.
That way, Orpheus and Diana can live happily without being disturbed by anyone this time.
――― I’ll leave the mansion after I’ve fulfilled my duty and live quietly.
I’ve been thinking about that for some time now.
I can’t think of any other way to repay them for their kindness.
And I have no doubt that this is the right thing to do.
After being married to the Rosenstein House for half a year, I was busy, but my days were filled with happiness.
I was surrounded by kind people, and I spent my days at ease while still worrying that this happiness could collapse someday.
But when I thought about it, I was walking on thin ice.
If I lose my balance a little, then the ice will suddenly crack, and I will fall into the cold water and sink.
However, the scenery I saw for the first time was too gorgeous, and I fell in love with it, so I didn’t ponder about the dangerous place I was in.
I was a fool.
However, I couldn’t do anything about it once I was on the ice.
It happened on the day when I went to Charmes Mondt on Otto Street with Orpheus to buy jewellery.
I bought Claire a garnet hair ornament, Diana a perfume that smelled like southern fruits, and went back to the mansion.
“Claire, I have a present for you,” I told her when I got back to my room from my outing, and Claire widened her amber eyes as if they were going to tear up.
I picked up a small, striped, gold and white box from today’s purchases and gave it to Claire, which surprised her.
Claire timidly received the box. She gently opened it while feeling tense and unwrapped the silk cloth.
“Woah! Madam, this…!” Claire raised her voice while looking like she couldn’t believe it.
Wrapped in silk was a silver hair ornament with small flowers and a thin rose-coloured garnet inlaid in the middle.
I chose this because I thought it would look good in her red hair.
“Thank you for always working so hard. I’m really grateful to you. This is just my thanks,” I said as emotion filled my chest and tears felt as if they were going to fall out.
I couldn’t repay how well she treated me with just one hair ornament.
I was able to be here because of her encouragement and support.
I really am grateful to her.
“N-no way. I, I only did what was expected of me… Th-there’s no way I can accept something so expensive! I’m thrilled by your feelings, so mm, erm…”
Claire was busy going pale and turning red.
I took her hand and gently pushed the box into it.
“I have permission from Orpheus. So, it’s fine. Please, Claire. Please take it. Think of it as a sign of my trust.”
Claire muttered, while being dumbfounded, “Madam.” Her face scrunched up, and she began crying.
“What’s wrong, Claire?! Are you feeling unwell?!”
“N-no. I’m okay. I’m crying because Madam is so kind…” Claire said in a tearful voice as she sniffed slowly when I quickly held out a handkerchief.
“I’m the one who should be thanking you. Thank you very much, Madam. You’re always very, very nice to me. You buy me presents whenever you go out, and you care about my family.”
I wiped Claire’s tears and sighed emotionally.
What a good child she is!
I hadn’t done anything special, and yet she thought that way.
Are there any other girls who are as pure and kind-hearted as she?
I nearly cried because she was crying, and Claire wiped her face roughly with her sleeves and declared powerfully, “I’ll serve Madam for the rest of my life!”
“Th-the rest of your life?”
Claire is old enough to get married in a few years.
I’m happy, but it’ll be bad for her to serve me for the rest of her life.
I want her to find a nice man, marry him and serve him instead of me.
I told her this, but it was hard for me to get her to change her mind once it’s been made, and she got even more fired up, “I’ll follow you no matter what happens!”
She even said that she would make the hair ornament an heirloom, so I warned her not to. It was an uproar.
I changed into casual clothes and visited Diana’s room to give her the perfume.
I could have given her jewellery like I had with Claire, but I’ve already done that a few times already and she can’t enjoy the beauty of jewellery in the first place.
So, I chose perfume because I thought she could enjoy it with her other senses. Of course, I also got Orpheus’s permission for this.
I wanted to see Diana’s happy face, so I knocked on the door of her room as my chest pounded, but there was no answer even after I waited for a bit.
I tilted my head, wondering where she’d gone, and a cold voice sounded from behind me, “What are you doing here?”
I turned around and saw the head maid, Elze, standing there with a stern look on her face.
She glanced at the tiny box in my hand, frowned and questioned me again, “What are you doing, Ms Ophelia?”
“… I wanted to give Diana a gift. She doesn’t seem to be in her room, so I wondered where she’d gone.” I, who disliked Elze’s evaluating glance, answered while doing my best not to meet her eyes.
Elze sighed as if she was stunned and shook her head as if she was rejecting my remark.
“Miss Diana is in the garden.”
“The garden?” I asked back since I thought it was odd.
Why was she in the garden when the sun was about to set?
It was spring according to the calendar, but it was still cold in the morning and evening.
It wasn’t time to enjoy a walk at night.
But, Elze probably wouldn’t answer me even if I asked her about this.
She only told me the necessary minimum.
“I see. If that’s the case, then fine. Thank you for telling me.”
I left because there was no point in me being here, and she stopped me after I took a few steps.
I turned back wondering what she wanted, and Elze raised her chin and said like a strict teacher who was scolding a child who had done something wrong, “You should understand your position calmly and take appropriate actions.”
I felt fed up when I heard that.
Elze always says this to me every time we meet. I wanted to argue… Are you telling me that I did something unnecessary and that I behaved in a way that makes it seem like I don’t understand my own position?
She knew that Orpheus trusted her greatly. She had training and a title and took an unbelievable attitude against her master’s wife.
She probably didn’t like my presence because she seems to be one of Diana’s ardent supporters.
“I’ll endeavour to do so,” I could only reply like this because I didn’t want to trouble Orpheus by causing discord with the servants.
Elze still stared at me as if she wanted to say something, but I didn’t want to feel any more uncomfortable, so I held the box as if protecting myself from her gaze and quickly walked away.
I thought about various things as I walked: about Orpheus, about Diana, about myself, about the past and about the future.
I couldn’t stop thinking. I got more and more depressed, and by the time I had realised, I was in the garden.
The sky was dyed red with the sunset. It was dim around the vicinity, and a piercing cold wind was blowing.
I got cold in no time because of my thin clothes, but I didn’t feel like going back to the mansion and loitered around the garden at dusk.
I was going to give Diana the box if I met her.
I wanted to see her bright smile, which was like a blooming flower.
If I see her smile, my heart which was as cold as my body would become warm as if I was in the sun.
Then, I saw it.
The sight of Orpheus smiling gently and lovingly at Diana like I’ve never seen before―――.
It was an expression that he had never turned towards me.
Orpheus always looked at me with a slight smile on his face and a somewhat cold and evaluating gaze.
There was no trace of affection in his look, but I wasn’t unhappy since I knew who his love was directed at.
But I fell in love with it. I fell in love with that look immediately.
It was funny that I fell in love with the way my husband smiled at his lover.
I was delighted and despaired.
Even if I love Orpheus, he wouldn’t love me.
I was a hindrance for both of them.
Orpheus loves Diana so much, but he can’t get married to her because of me.
The cold truth was over there, and it pierced my heart sharper than a dagger.
I covered my ears and ran into the darkness.
I didn’t want to hear their laughter anymore.
My breathing went up, and I kept running even when my chest started hurting.
I wanted to disappear far away from them and if I could, I wanted my soul to disappear from the world.