Chapter 19: Juris’s Monologue
The swelling of my beaten cheeks and kicked shoulders grew darker as time went by, and it hurt when it got hot at night.
However, according to the doctor’s diagnosis, there was nothing wrong with my bones and the swelling will fade in about a week.
The swelling on my shoulders could be hidden with my clothes, but the swelling on my cheeks couldn’t be covered with makeup, and there was a possibility that it would get worse if I mess with it.
I couldn’t go out in public with my face like this, so I had to shamefully spend time in the mansion for the time being. I applied the ointment that the doctor had given me and put a gauze on my cheeks so that the blood would break down and spent time secluded in my room.
The only things I could do to pass time was read and practice embroidery. The rest of my days were spent chatting to Claire, looking out the garden, writing letters to Claude and living a simple and calm life; which was unlike what Countess Rosenstein would do.
Night came earlier, probably because the weather was terrible.
After my bath, Juris appeared in the dark with his systematic footsteps as I walked alone to my room in the corridor under the candlelight.
I, who was thinking, stopped in surprise and looked up at the butler, who had stopped in the same way.
The tall young man, dressed in a black suit, seemed to almost merge into the darkness around him, and his white, graceful features stood out, giving him a completely different impression from when I saw him when it was bright out.
Orpheus was also hard to understand, but Juris, who served him, was even harder to understand than his master.
I know he doesn’t like me, but I don’t know what he’s thinking about.
Even when he looks disinterested or smiles.
“Juris,” I called out to Juris after hesitating for a while as he bowed and tried to walk past me.
Well, I haven’t thanked him yet, so I wanted to say it here.
“Thank you for helping me.”
I didn’t face him even though I was in front of him because I didn’t want him to look at me coldly after I had given him my sincere gratitude.
I can pretend that nothing happened no matter what his expression is if I don’t see it.
“I just did my job as a servant,” Juris answered in a calm voice as if he was reading a textbook.
I looked down and tilted my head. Really?
――― Why did he help me at that time?
It was strange to me.
Why did Juris help me?
Why did he volunteer his body to protect me?
He, who seemed like he would be happy if Orpheus and I got divorced, felt that something was wrong from the conversation he had heard between that man and me, and waited outside the door while listening attentively.
He immediately jumped into the room after I was beaten, kicked, beaten again, and stopped that man.
He was even worried about my cheeks which had been hit.
Juris said he had only done what he needed to do as a servant, but his behaviour was utterly surprising to me.
“Really?” I asked as if I was teasing him while lifting the corners of my lips.
“Really. I only did what I had to do as a servant. I could have remained on the side-lines.”
Juris Heiman, like the other servants, was backing Diana. He had treated me with a lot of respect when I had married into the Rosenstein House for the first few months, but when I started my bad wife act, he began acting coldly towards me.
He probably didn’t like that I wasn’t acting appropriately for someone of the Rosenstein House, more than me tearing up the relationship between Orpheus and Diana.
He has served Orpheus ever since Orpheus was adopted into this House, so as a childhood friend, he couldn’t forgive me for being ill-matched with Orpheus.
He rebuked me many times for my behaviour, but he knew that I wasn’t going to change, and stopped scolding me probably because he was disgusted or because he had given up, and just silently sent cold glances my way.
In other words, it’s my fault that he hates me, so it was surprising for him to protect me.
Did he really just perform his duty as a servant?
If he hates me, then why didn’t he just stay on the side-lines?
Isn’t it normal to feel good when a foolish woman enrages her father since she’s getting what she deserves?
“I don’t know what kind of answer you are looking for, Madam,” Juris stopped speaking, and closed his eyes as if asking why he had to answer such a foolish question.
“It’s wrong for someone to pretend not to see a person get hit one-sidedly, no matter the reason. And you’re a frail woman, and the partner of my master, whom I look up to and respect. It would have been fine had they just been words, but I couldn’t stand by and watch as you get hit.”
“Really? I feel like that’s something you would do.”
“Are you saying I’m not human?”
“To the extent that you would ruthlessly discard the person you hate.”
Juris shut his mouth.
Is he uncomfortable with being insulted, or can he not reply because it’s true?
However, when I saw that Juris was puzzled, I suddenly realised that this was a stupid exchange.
――― Let’s stop. I don’t want to argue.
I just wanted to thank him for that time.
I only took this chance to ask him this question, not to exchange sarcasm.
And, not all humans act for profit or lost just because my thoughts are warped. There might be people who would reach their hands out without hesitation even if it’s the person who they hate that has fallen into a dilemma.
“I’m sorry. I said too much. You are human, you’re a fine gentleman. This is the truth, it isn’t sarcasm, so don’t get me wrong. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you. I’m sorry for keeping you here for so long.”
No matter his intentions, he still helped me.
I said quickly and tried to leave.
“Madam,” he called me from behind and stopped me. I stopped moving the foot that had stepped forward.
I was confused when he suddenly apologised with no context.
I turned back and saw that Juris was standing a bit away from me, and he stood quietly while carrying a dark shadow on his back.
“What is that apology for?”
“For being late in stopping him, and while knowing how you feel, I…”
Juris kept his mouth shut and didn’t answer.
A frown appeared on his graceful face that I couldn’t read, and he hung his head down as if he was enduring pain.
“What does that mean? What do you want to say?”
“You were perfect,” it was a whisper that sounded like a monologue, and it echoed through the quiet corridor.
“You were perfect for the first few months when you married into this House. Beautiful, modest, intelligent and thoughtful. You were a faultless woman who made that Lord Orpheus intoxicated. Nevertheless, you weren’t wasteful, and you made strenuous effort behind your graceful smile. Not only did you cooperate with us to manage this mansion, but you also learnt how to manage the fief. You used your bedtime to read books to make up for your missing knowledge.”
I held my breath and froze.
I widened my eyes and listened to his monologue of regrets.
“I looked up to you. I was against this marriage at first, but I realised that I was wrong when I saw how you acted. You suit Lord Orpheus more than anyone else.”
――― Then, why were you so cold towards me?
I opened my mouth to ask this question but didn’t say anything.
No, I’m wrong.
Juris wasn’t always cold towards me.
He helped me many times when I was struggling to become a wife worthy of Orpheus. He helped me manage this mansion, and also taught me a lot of things.
He also smoothed over my faults.
Juris told me what books I should read and answered questions about things I didn’t understand.
He didn’t tell me that I was working hard like Diana did, but he always supported me behind the scenes.
He helped me.
――― I was the one who betrayed him.
Everyone was the same.
Orpheus, Juris and Diana were all kind to me.
They were nice to me.
And yet, I betrayed them for my own selfish satisfaction.
I betrayed their expectations.
“Juris, no. I…”
Juris certainly called me that and not madam.
Mrs Ophelia, my name.
“I know. I know how you feel, and I know why you’re doing this. I knew and kept silent. I’m like you. I just want her to be happy. That’s all. I know who Orpheus wants and loves, but I can only think of her, and you…”
――― No way.
Cold sweat dripped down my back, and I couldn’t say anymore.
My heart was beating fast, and I couldn’t stand how noisy it was.
I felt like I was suffocating even though I breathed in and out many times.
My chest felt stuffy.
“Did you know?” I said as if I was gasping.
――― Deny it. Say you didn’t.
If you don’t, then the things that I have been desperately trying to accumulate will crumble.
While enduring pain, the things I had taken time to accumulate one by one.
I grasped my shaking hands tightly and looked up at Juris as if I was begging.
“You love Orpheus. You’re trying to withdraw because you love him. You use the relationship between Orpheus and Diana as an excuse, and deliberately act in a hateful way so that he would divorce you.”
The shadows increased on his slender body, and the dim candlelight illuminated his pale anguished face.
――― Ah, why?
I wanted to deny it as much as I could.
No. That’s not it.
I don’t love Orpheus.
I wanted to shout, but on the other hand, there was a voice in my head that told me that there was no point in yelling this and it would just look unsightly.
It’s too late. He knows everything.
――― So that’s why he helped me at that time?
My stomach sank as if I had swallowed a heavy stone, and I felt nauseous.
My feet felt fuzzy, and I didn’t know if I was standing up straight.
“I had doubts when I saw you change. I heard that you told Orpheus that this is your true self, but I didn’t believe it. You slaved away for Orpheus and the Rosenstein House, so there’s no way you would be a frivolous hedonist. I wondered if there might be a reason for why you were behaving like this. Then, I noticed. You act like a selfish and moody person in front of others, but you go back to your calm and gloomy self. After saying hurtful things to others, you make a painful face even if it’s faint and easy to miss.”
I reflexively touched my face, and then let go because the dry feeling of the gauze was uncomfortable.
Juris looked down on me with a pitiful expression, and continued, “I noticed it because I had doubts since the beginning. I’ve been observing you because I wanted to know who you really were. That’s why I know you love Orpheus. When you look at him from a distance, you look happy and satisfied. You have a soft and loving smile on your face just like the Virgin Mary.”
“I know,” Juris whispered as if he was confessing his sins.
“I know, but I didn’t tell Orpheus. I watched him worry, but I didn’t tell him on purpose.”
Juris looked like he was going to cry, and he covered his face with both his hands, then he mumbled, “Without you, Diana can finally be with Orpheus… Diana loves Orpheus.”
I held my cold body and sighed.
“And, you love Diana.”
――― You love her, so you kept silent for her.
I stared at the young man, who was groaning as his shoulders shook, with mixed feelings.
Feelings that I couldn’t express well passed through my chest and I frowned painfully.
――― Juris is like me.
He just wishes for Diana’s happiness.
He just wants to see the person he loves be happy and smile joyfully.
Even if his feelings never reach her and just crumbles away, he’s fine as long as the person he loves is happy.
He forgot his own status, and it’s a selfish and foolish wish.
However, I have no right to criticise him.
I called Juris’s name and got him to lift his face.
“If you regret remaining silent, then you don’t need to anymore. It’s not your fault that things became like this. Lord Orpheus and Diana aren’t at fault. This is my own will. It’s not like I didn’t have any other choices, but I chose this path.”
“I want to thank you. Lord Orpheus doesn’t know how I feel about him, right?”
Juris nodded sluggishly and answered, “Orpheus is convinced that you hate him.”
Hearing that, I was relieved that it was still alright.
It hasn’t crumbled to a point where I can’t recover.
I just need Juris to remain silent and keep on pretending that he doesn’t know.
“Then, don’t say anything to Lord Orpheus and remain quiet about it. And, you will treat me the same as you have until now.”
“No way, do you still plan on continuing? Orpheus won’t let you go, you know? It’s not necessary…”
“I won’t give up,” I snapped at Juris who was trying to stop my foolishness, probably because he couldn’t stand being stung by his conscience anymore.
I will never give up.
I won’t give up after coming this far.
“I’ll do anything. I’ll do anything until he lets me go. I love him.”
“That’s why you should…!”
“Juris, you love Diana, don’t you? You wish for her happiness, don’t you? You want her to always smile, don’t you? It won’t be much longer if you cooperate with me?” I hounded Juris with questions as he froze with his mouth wide open, and his grey eyes flickered violently.
“I can’t turn back anymore. I’ve hurt so many people to get here. I can only move forward. So, please, please.”
“Juris, I’m begging you. Don’t get in my way.” As soon as I said this, I turned away as if refusing to talk to him.
I held my pulsating chest, walked quickly down the corridor and leapt into my room. I violently slammed the door and slid onto the floor.
“Why Juris of all people?” My whisper disappeared in the quiet room.
Juris is really an elusive and unpredictable person.
Orpheus and Diana’s happiness depends on him, but will he remain silent for the rest of his life?
“Juris, please, I’m begging you.”
I held my legs and gently put my head on them.
I closed my eyes as if I was praying, and it felt as if I was the only person left in a dark world. I bit my lips at the anxiety that was drawing closer.