Chapter 32: Seeing Claire Again
The day after I talked to Orpheus, I moved away from the guest room in the main wing into the detached building.
Three days after I moved, Claire came from the Rosenstein House.
When I went to the main wing because Monica told me I had a guest, I saw Claire standing at the entranceway.
Her face crumpled up as soon as she saw me, and tears flowed down her cheeks. She jumped like a puppy who had just found her mummy.
“I’m so glad! I’m so glad you seem well!”
“Claire! What’s wrong?! Why are you here!?”
When I patted her back to comfort her, Claire, who was clinging to my neck, sobbed.
“Master gave me permission! He gave me permission to come here and take care of you! Of course, that includes Claude-sama as well!”
“Does that mean you came here at your own will?”
“Yes! I heard that you had gone missing and that you were bedridden with a fever. I felt so anxious and uneasy even when I knew you were safe, and I couldn’t stand it…!”
The back of my chest gradually became warm.
What a good girl she is…
She’s worried about someone like me, and she came all the way from the Rosenstein mansion to take care of me.
“But I’m glad! It looks like you’ve gotten a little skinner, but I’m really glad you’re well!”
“Yes. I’m fine now. I feel down, but my body’s fine.”
I gently separated myself from Claire and smiled to reassure her.
I don’t know if I was able to smile properly but I thought it was better than being expressionless.
Claire wiped her red eyes with her sleeves while muttering, “I’m really glad,” then she sniffed.
“Please, don’t ever do that again. If you have to do it again, then you must take me with you.”
Her tears which had dried up began flowing out again, and the tears ran down her freckled cheeks.
“Please… don’t leave me… behind.”
Claire sobbed like a little child. I patted her head while apologising, “I’m sorry.”
“I promise I’ll never do that again.”
We hugged each other in the middle of the entrance way, but maybe because we had been hugging for so long, Monica, who was standing in the corner, spoke to us, “Ophelia-sama and Claire-san. The other servants can see you here, so why don’t you two talk in the room?”
Recalling Monica’s presence, I panicked and jumped away from Claire. My face turned red as I nodded.
I glanced at Claire and saw that her face had turned red too.
We left the entrance, walked across the garden and back into my room.
“Madam, please take this first. Master ordered me to bring it with me.”
As soon as she entered the room, Claire unpacked two items from her luggage. They were a small jewellery box and a box wrapped in stylish wrapping paper.
“I brought you the ring you wanted. And this is perfume.”
“… You brought me perfume as well?”
“Yes. Madam also treasures this, so I brought it with me just in case.”
This perfume was something that I didn’t have the chance to give to Diana.
I chose this with Orpheus on that day in Charmes Mondt, but since the event that happened after was too shocking, I didn’t have the chance to give it to her and still had it with me.
I looked down at the two items with a complicated expression on my face after I’d received them, and Claire raised her eyebrow sadly.
“What the hell happened?”
“You didn’t hear anything from Orpheus?”
“No. Master didn’t tell me anything. He won’t tell me anything even if I ask.”
I urged Claire to sit down since she was probably tired from the long carriage ride, and also sat down. I explained why I had run away from the Rosenstein mansion.
“No way…! I can’t believe that Diana-sama likes Juris-san and that Master knew of this…!” Claire turned pale and screamed when she learnt of the story.
“Then, that rumour is a lie and we servants are terribly mistaken… Ah!”
Claire fell off her chair. She put her hands on the floor and bowed so low that her forehead was rubbing the floor.
“I am so sorry! It’s… it’s my fault! It’s because I believed in that rumour! I didn’t check properly, so…! Ah, what should I do?! I am so sorry, Madam!”
I quickly helped Claire up and told her to calm down.
“I can’t! Because I also helped Madam and acted like that and destroyed the relationship between you two ―――.”
“It’s fine. It’s fine, Claire. I’ve talked to Orpheus-sama and we were able to resolve the misunderstandings. And, you’ve done nothing wrong. You helped because you thought it would be good for me, right?”
Claire only helped me.
She just wanted to fulfil my wish.
She didn’t do anything wrong.
“It’s fine. I said it’s fine, so it’s fine.”
Claire looked down and seemed to be thinking, but she eventually stood up, slapped her skirt and returned to her chair.
I passed her water to calm her down and patted her shoulder to comfort her.
Claire received the glass and said, “Thank you very much.” She took several sips to drink all the water, then she stared at the empty cup and sighed.
“Madam, what are you going to do from now on?”
At that time, I stood by the window, touched the curtain and looked at the garden where the sun was shining brightly.
The trees were swaying in the wind. Water spouted up high from the fountain, scattered and the droplets fell and glistened in the sun.
“I’m thinking about what I should do from now and what I have to do.”
“Will you come back to Master? Master loves you, doesn’t he? If you’ve solved the misunderstandings, then this time ―――.”
“I’m looking for a way to atone.”
Claire widened her eyes.
“What are you atoning for?”
I told her.
I hurt the person I love and got a lot of people involved for my own selfish purposes.
I lowered my own reputation and dirtied the name of the Rosenstein House.
I should think about how to atone for those actions rather than what I should do with my relationship with Orpheus.
“I know it’s for my own self-satisfaction. But even so, I have to atone for my actions.”
“But, how would you…”
“I thought I would become a nun and spent the rest of my life praying to God. Or―――.”
“Y-you can’t! You definitely can’t do that!”
“Then, what should I do?” I asked back since I wanted an answer, and Claire stood up.
She moved her fingers on her cup, and stared at the woman standing by the window with a puzzled expression on her face.
“You should talk with the Master too…”
“I did. But he tried to forgive me too easily. I’ve also done a lot of terrible things to him too.”
We almost sighed at the same time.
I leaned against the window frame and followed the water that was falling without sound from the fountain with my eyes.
“I got permission from Orpheus and Claude, the owner of this mansion, so I’ll think about it until I find the answer.”
“Then, I will too,” Claire said with a thoughtful expression on her face.
“Let’s think together. I’ll be by your side and we’ll think about this together. What can you do to atone?”
Ah, she really is a good girl…
How reassuring is it just to have her by my side?
I could play a hated person because of her support, and had she not been there, then I would have been broken hearted and frustrated long ago.
I’m a weak person who always wavers.
I tried to express my gratitude when I heard a knock on the door.
“Who is it?”
When Claire opened the door, the maid, Susanna, was standing there.
“Pardon for interrupting.”
Susanna looked around the room and a smile appeared on her charming, round face.
“Would you like to have tea? I also prepared Phelia-sama’s favourite lemon custard cake. There are a lot of cookies as well. The chef cooked a lot since he thought you would be happy.”
She was the maid who ran to the front door in surprise when I was brought here.
She has been taking care of me with Monica.
She’s a gentle person, but she’s excellent at her job. She has a small and plump body and her actions are lively.
Susanna pulled a tray full of food into the room and placed the tea utensils and baked goods on the table without waiting for my reply.
“Ermm, that person over there is Claire-san? You’ll be staying here from today onwards? Oh my, you have beautiful red hair. And you’re also cute.”
“Ah, eh, hm, thank you very much! It’s nice to meet you!” Susanna, who liked to talk, moved her hands while moving her mouth just as much.
Claire turned red at being complimented for her hair and her lips trembled, but she quickly returned to her sense and jumped up, “I’ll help!”
“Thanks. Then, could you cut the cake? Oh my, Phelia-sama, please sit down.”
Susanna playfully turned a blind eye to what had happened, and my stiff cheeks and lips loosened.
Her smile looks like Diana’s and it made me feel nostalgic.
“If you drink tea and eat sweets then you’ll calm down and feel better straight away.” She said as if she had been eavesdropping before, but that didn’t mean that she was.
She guessed my mood from just a glance.
Susanna could quickly tell whether I was happy or depressed even if I hid it with a smile.
I decided that I needed to change my mood.
Claire must be tired as well, so I’d like to let her rest. She also likes lemon custard cake.
“Claire and Susanna, you both also sit down. It’s boring to drink tea alone, so please join me.”
I forced the two to sit down and we drank hot tea together.
Claire and Susanna immediately hit it off and were happily talking.