Chapter 30: My Love for You
The next time Orpheus visited this mansion was the evening of the next day.
“Lord Rosenstein is here. He’s waiting in the parlour room.”
A slender woman with brown hair which was tied up tightly said as soon as she entered the room ――― it was Renee.
She wasn’t dressed as a gallant man today, instead, she wore a navy dress which could have been mistaken for mourning clothes and reminded me of a strict tutor.
It was the same with Claude, but I felt relieved to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar place.
“It’s been a while, Renee. Thank you for that time.”
It was our first meeting in three days, and I trotted up to her and held both her hands in gratitude, “Thank you so much for your help.”
Her hands looked thin and supple, but it was firm like the hands of a man when I touched it.
“It’s fine, Ophelia-sama. I only acted on Claude-sama’s orders. I’m sorry for pushing you when you weren’t feeling well.”
“Don’t worry about it. I heard from Claude that you used to be a guard, so do you normally wield swords?”
“Basically. Depending on the situation, there are times when I don’t wield them too.”
So that’s why her hands are firm?
It wouldn’t be strange for a robust man to be a guard, but it was strange for a delicate woman like Renee to be a noble’s guard, but it suited her very much to dress as a man and swing a sword. She was just like the female knights who appear in stories.
I thought in satisfaction, and Renee spoke to me in hesitation, “I’m sorry that I deceived you about my identity for so long even though it was an order.”
I shook my head and repeated, “Don’t worry about it.”
“I was surprised… You never got annoyed no matter how selfish I was or how angry I was. So I thought it would be like that. I was worried that my bad wife act wasn’t good enough, but I’m honestly relieved to know that that wasn’t the case.”
“Ophelia-sama is an excellent actress. I would have been completely overwhelmed by your performance had I not known about the circumstances beforehand,” she said seriously, so I couldn’t tell if it was a joke, a compliment or if she had been serious. I couldn’t understand the meaning behind her words, but I bowed for the time being and said, “I have to thank you for a lot of things. I would have been in a lot of trouble had you not shown up on your horse when you did.”
I couldn’t control my emotions on that day, and acted on impulse, but now that I’ve calmed down, I’ve reflected on my actions and thought that I had done something idiotic.
I was in despair and thought that it would have been fine if I was attacked and died, but I would have caused trouble for a lot of people if that really had happened, and the Rosenstein House’s prestige would have fallen further.
But on the other hand, I’m also glad that I left that house.
If I had stayed at the Rosenstein mansion while like that, then nothing good would have happened. I might have jumped out of the window in my room because of my worries.
Therefore, I was thankful that Renee had come to pick me up at that time.
“Thank you very much.”
“You’re welcome. Now, Ophelia-sama, let’s go.”
I looked at my body in the mirror and quickly checked my appearance.
Orpheus isn’t interested in other people’s appearances or clothing, but it isn’t good to look sloppy since I hadn’t seen him in a long time.
Today, I was wearing a black and white striped dress with a wide black ribbon around my waist.
Monica did my hair for me and I had on light makeup.
――― There shouldn’t be a problem with the way I look.
“It’s alright, Ophelia-sama. You look beautiful today too.” I looked at Renee who had just flattered me and she had a smile on her face, so I couldn’t tell if she was being serious or joking. It became increasingly difficult to understand her intentions.
Unlike the bright parlour at the Rosenstein mansion, the parlour in this mansion was a little dim, and it was lit up even though it was noon since there were overgrown trees outside the window.
Nevertheless, it was gloomy, and the lighting brought about a calm aura when coupled with the antique furniture.
There was a large fireplace, scarlet carpet on the floor, two leather sofas and a low table between them.
There were two one-seaters on the side of the couch, brown cushions on them, and a lot of white flowers on the window that I didn’t know the names to.
I’m glad they aren’t roses.
If those flowers had been roses, then I wouldn’t be able to endure the pain in my chest and might crouch down.
I might have remembered those words and started crying.
“I’m sorry for keeping you waiting.”
Two people were sitting on the leather couch ――― my chest started beating quickly when I saw the young man with black hair.
Before I entered the room, I was so nervous that my hands and feet were cold, but it couldn’t be compared to the feeling of the tension that wanted to fly out of my throat and stomach.
“Oh, you’re here. Then, I’ll leave,” said a young blonde man sitting opposite the young man with black hair and stood up――― it was Claude.
Today, Claude was a completely different person.
He was wearing nice clothes. He had a black vest over his white shirt and his hair was slicked back.
His normal wrinkled shirt made him look like a young commoner, but when he dressed properly, he looked like a young noble.
With this, I could see how people couldn’t tell that he was the Seventh Prince.
“Good luck, Phelia. Don’t overdo it since you’re still sick. ――― Lord Rosenstein, don’t forget what we were talking about earlier.”
Claude left and the parlour was enveloped in heavy silence.
I stood idle at the entrance and stared at the flower patterns on the carpet.
I felt Orpheus staring at me, but I didn’t lift my face.
――― I have to say something.
“How do you do” or “long time no see”, I could say those things as well.
What I say first doesn’t matter.
I can even say sorry.
Was what I thought, but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth.
My throat felt as if it was being jammed with lots of stones.
“How are you? I heard that you’re better, but is it alright for you to get up?” A pleasant low sound entered my ears.
It was a sweet voice that I’ve been wanting to hear.
――― Ah, I really do…
I lifted my face, strained my voice and forced myself to speak, “I’m fine. I’ve already healed. My voice is still a little strange, but I think it will go back to normal in a few days.”
“I see. That’s good.”
Orpheus, who had stood up before I’d noticed, smiled a little and walked up to me without a sound.
The door was right behind me, but it was shut tightly now.
“Orpheus, I ―――”
“Can I hug you?”
“Eh,” I gasped.
What did Orpheus say just now?
“Just for a little while is fine. I want you to let me hug you. Although you might hate me touching you…”
“I don’t hate it!” I shouted straight away and averted my gaze because I felt ashamed for letting out a loud voice. “… I don’t hate it,” I said once again in a very thin voice.
I saw a hand timidly reach out from the corner of my eyes, and I could softly smell his perfume which reminded me of a thick forest.
He hugged me with his hard, warm arms and continued to repeat my name, “Ophelia.”
I couldn’t hug him back.
It’s always been like this.
Every time he hugged me like this, I was reminded of the times we’ve talked.
This man doesn’t love me.
So, I couldn’t hug him back.
I just have to stay still in his arms, was what I had thought.
“I came here to see you yesterday and the day before that as well. However, I could only glance at you and couldn’t touch you. I couldn’t hug you.”
“I’m finally able to touch you and hug you. Ah, Ophelia. I’m glad you’re alright. I’m glad your fever went down. If you weren’t alright, I ―――”
“I’m… sorry. I’m sorry for leaving and causing trouble.”
“It’s fine. It’s my fault for saying those things. If you’re stuck with someone like me, then anyone would think it’s creepy and run away.”
――― Why are you saying things like that?
No one would think it’s creepy if a beautiful person like Orpheus sticks to them.
Most women would be happy to be with such a lovely person.
“But, please don’t act so recklessly again. I’ll say it clearly, it’s suicidal for a pretty young woman to walk alone on a deserted street. If you hate me, then tell me. I’ll act like I normally do and won’t get close to you or talk to you.”
“I’m sorry, Orpheus. I’m sorry.” I realised once again how my actions and words have hurt Orpheus and moaned out my apologies.
Orpheus stroked my head as if he was forgiving me, then he loosened his arms, released me and urged me to sit down on the couch.
“You want to talk, right?”
Sitting on the soft chair, I let out a thin and long sigh so that he wouldn’t hear me and encouraged myself.
――― I’ll tell him everything.
The relationship between the two of us will probably change greatly if I tell him about my wishes and feelings.
I don’t know if it will change for the better or worse.
I felt my guilt pressing against my shoulders and back causing it to crack.
Even if Orpheus forgives me, I still can’t forgive myself.
So, I don’t know what will happen.
“Orpheus, I don’t hate you or anything. I lied six months ago. Me hating you is a complete lie,” I began to confess slowly.
“It was on purpose. I said that on purpose. I played the foolish woman. I acted as an arrogant and selfish woman. I wanted you to hate me. I did it so you would hate me, run out of patience and then leave me.”
A crack appeared in Orpheus’s expression.
I noticed that he was paled and haggard for the first time.
“It’s not because I hate you. I did it because I wanted you to be happy. I did it so you could marry the woman you love instead of the woman who your foster father wanted you to marry. I thought that you loved Diana. I also thought that Diana loved you back.”
“Yes, I know that now. Diana loves Juris. But, that’s not what I believed at that time.”
Orpheus covered his face with one hand.
“I’ve explained that we weren’t in that type of relationship many times. Diana was also desperately trying to solve your misunderstanding.”
“Because I saw your smiling face. I thought this because I saw you smile at her. It was very beautiful, and I thought that it was love.”
I couldn’t stop because I believed that.
His smile was just too beautiful.
I didn’t know any love except for the familial love mother gave me.
“What’s with that reason? When did that…?”
“That was also about half a year ago. It happened on the day when we went to Charmes Mondt, took a walk at the park, took a break at a café and came back. You and Diana were at the centre of the rose maze, and you two looked as if you were having lots of fun. You smiled happily at that time. You had a happy expression that was full of love.”
“Six months ago, I had a conversation with Diana… after we went to town…”
It’s not a surprise that he can’t remember.
It was so important to me that I changed my way of life, but it was probably a day that Orpheus didn’t need to remember.
“I noticed that I love you when I saw your smile. So, I thought I would pull back. I was happy as long as you were smiling. I was so happy that I felt faint. I thought it would be fine to throw everything away for you. My body, my heart, my soul, my honour, everything. I thought I could get everyone and you to hate me so much that you wouldn’t care about your foster father’s last request and abandon me. I thought you would divorce me. Then, you can get married to Diana. You could be happy forever that way. That’s, that’s ―――”
The emotions that burnt the back of my eyelids made me choke and I exhaled.
I put my hand on my chest and sunk my nails in.
“That was my love. It was the love that I had devoted to you.”