Chapter 41: Epilogue
Thank you for sticking with me through this project! This project has finally came to an end (:
The garden at dusk was dyed in the same shade of red as the sky and there was a pleasant, fresh breeze blowing in the air instead of a hot, humid breeze that blew in the daytime.
The trees in the garden swayed and a sweet scent drifted in the air from out of nowhere.
“What’s wrong, Sister?”
I stopped and looked up at the dark scarlet sky. Victoria and Diana, who were ahead of me, looked back.
Victoria’s chestnut curly hair and Diana’s almost white golden hair swayed softly in the wind, causing their different aromas to drift about in the garden.
It was the scent of flowers and fruit.
“I was just watching the sunset. It’s even more beautiful today.”
“It is. It’s an amazing colour. It looks like blood.”
When Victoria looked up at the sky and described the red glowing sunset in graphic detail, Diana, who was holding onto Victoria’s arm, giggled.
“It looks like blood… that’s very like Vicky to say that.”
“It’s really that colour. It’s bright red. ――― Ah, there’s lilies blooming over there. You like lilies don’t you, Diane? I’ll take you over to touch them.”
“Thanks. But I’d like it if you could allow me to touch them in a way that won’t get pollen on my hands since it’s hard to get it off.”
I walked behind them while watching them smile at each other.
“Sister, quickly,” Victoria urged, but Diana told Victoria off.
“She’ll fall down if she rushes.”
“Ah, you’re right. I’m sorry, Sister. Take your time, so you don’t fall.”
Victoria and Diana walked hand in hand and the skirts of their gorgeous dresses swayed seductively behind them.
The scene looked like a landscape painting of paradise, and I thought that Claude would love to paint this scene if he saw it.
“It’s been a year since then…” I suddenly recalled and muttered with deep emotion as I gently caressed my stomach which had begun to swell.
The seasons passed quickly, and a year had passed since then.
A year had passed in the blink of an eye.
Many things happened during that time.
First, Victoria came to the Rosenstein mansion.
The Lagerfeld House was ruined after that incident and their fief and mansion were sold off, so Orpheus willingly took her in.
Victoria, with her cheerful personality, quickly adjusted to life at the Rosenstein mansion. She got along well with Diana and the servants.
However, she seemed to have a hard time dealing with her brother-in-law, Orpheus and said, “He’s a handsome man, but he’s scary since I can’t tell what he’s thinking.”
Victoria is a little too energetic and Orpheus is always calm and collected, so their personalities might not match.
Claude and Victoria became bickering friends, and they would argue whenever he came to visit.
I guess they like talking to each other since they were both quick-witted.
When I pointed this out, Victoria blushed and denied it, but I think she probably likes Claude.
One time, Claude painted Victoria’s profile on a whim.
She pretended to be angry and tore off the picture, but I saw her secretly fold it up and put it in her pocket.
She still treasures it and sometimes sneakily looks at it.
I think Claude and Victoria make a good match, but I wonder what Claude thinks about Victoria.
She’s much more attractive than I am.
Their personalities match.
I would be delighted if he forgot his feelings for me and got together with her, but perhaps that’s too much to hope for.
Diana and Juris got married a month after Victoria moved into the Rosenstein mansion.
They had a small wedding in a church with only their relatives and instead of moving into a new house, they began their newly-married life in the Rosenstein mansion.
They did this because I had suggested it.
Juris was working as a live-in worker, so I thought it would be better for both of them to live in the mansion since they could spend more time together.
Both of them were reluctant and were looking for a new house to live in, but Orpheus and I persuaded them not to.
I wanted Diana and Juris to be happy, so I was thrilled to see them being intimate and happy.
I was glad that I had decided to start over with Juris.
Claire said the two were sly, but I still want the people who are close to me to smile forever.
I don’t want them to be unhappy.
So, I was satisfied with this no matter what other people said.
All I can pray for is that the two will have a child together.
Since that day, I’ve been working hard to clear my name and become a perfect and impeccable Countess Rosenstein.
I’m making steady progress, step by step, but it’s not an easy road.
Thanks to Diana, I was able to build trust with the servants faster than I had expected, but it was more difficult to restore my tarnished reputation than I imagined because of the arrest of my father, Marquis Lagerfeld.
I changed my behaviour, participated in various charitable events, and went to evening parties and tea parties with Orpheus, but people said that I’m up to something again or that I’m taking advantage of Orpheus because he didn’t want to get divorced while giving me cold stares.
Sometimes people cursed me to my face, “You despicable criminal’s daughter,” and sometimes people surrounded me and poured wine on me while Orpheus wasn’t around.
Orpheus, who couldn’t stand this, once told me that I could quit if it was too hard, but I didn’t give up.
I knew from the beginning that this would happen. Restoring my reputation wasn’t something that can happen in six months or even a year.
It takes a long time to improve a bad impression.
I accepted all the abuse and cold stares that were a result of my own foolishness and kept trying to get the people to accept me.
I tried to be a good wife both outside and inside the mansion.
Orpheus was always there for me.
No matter what was said or done to me, I was fine as long as I believed I was doing this for my beloved.
I could bear it no matter how hard it was.
It wasn’t until about half a year later that there was a big change.
This rumour began circulating in social circles: “The Earl and Countess Rosenstein are in love with each other, but Countess Rosenstein acted like a hateful person for her husband because of a misunderstanding. But now, the misunderstanding has been cleared up and they are back to being a harmonious couple.”
This was more truth than rumour, but as soon as this started to reach people, surprisingly, the abuse and cold stares that had been thrown my way had suddenly decreased and people started treating me friendlier.
Of course, there are also people who don’t believe this.
The young ladies who admired Orpheus didn’t believe it at all.
However, the rumour brought about a surprisingly dramatic change.
I was accepted by the people, little by little, and I was surrounded by people whenever I was alone even though they didn’t talk to me when Orpheus was by my side.
Many people approached me to find out the truth behind the rumours, so I took advantage of this opportunity to proclaim my love for Orpheus and used my social and conversational skills to try and reverse the bad impression they had of me.
My reputation as a bad wife hadn’t completely been erased, but thanks to my efforts, more people were being friendly to me by the day, and I even made friends close to my age.
Thanks to the rumour that someone had spread, my reputation and the Rosenstein honour, which had been frowned upon when heard, was restored straight away.
Who on earth spread this rumour…?
The only person who I could think of who knew what had happened between Orpheus and I, and who could influence the social scene was Claude.
When I asked him about this, he denied it with a smile, but I was almost certain that it was him who had started the rumour.
He had helped me out again.
He still helped me even though I couldn’t respond to his feelings at that time.
I really can’t thank Claude enough.
I will never be able to repay this debt.
If he asks me for help, then I will do whatever I can to help him.
My relationship with Orpheus is…
“Diana, why don’t you put it in your room if you like it so much? Then you can touch it whenever you want.”
“No. It’s sad to break the lilies when they’re blooming so beautifully.”
“It’ll last for a long time if you put it in a vase and change the water every day.”
“That’s not the point. You can’t, Vicky. Don’t break the stalk and leave it as it is.”
“It’s fine to put one in your room. I’m sure Sister thinks the… Oh, I see Brother-in-law.” At the same time as when Victoria said this and let go of the lily stalk, a baritone voice called my name.
I turned around and saw Orpheus standing a short distance away, watching us silently.
“He doesn’t have any presence like always.”
“I wonder why. I don’t think he’s purposely hiding his presence.”
Orpheus walked up to us calmly as his wavy black hair blew in the summer breeze.
“Orpheus has always been like that. He always surprises people by appearing behind them. He should show his presence a little more.”
“I don’t know how to do that even if you say that,” he replied bluntly to Diana. He stood beside me and put his hand around my shoulder to hug me.
I was a little embarrassed since Victoria and Diana were here, but he would look at me sadly if I brush his hand away, so I let him hug me.
“How’re you feeling?”
I smiled wryly at Orpheus who asked me the same question several times a day and replied, “I’m fine.”
Orpheus had become overprotective ever since that day which made his previous cold demeanour seem like an illusion, but lately, his overprotectiveness has increased.
He would come check on me whenever he had a moment to spare, and if I tried to walk around the mansion or garden by myself, then he would immediately take me back to my room and tell me off.
It felt like I was being watched by two people: him and Claire.
I wasn’t allowed to go out unless Orpheus was with me.
He told me that he didn’t know what kind of recklessness I might get into if someone wasn’t around.
“I don’t feel bad. In fact, I feel better than usual.”
“Really?” Orpheus nodded and stared at my lower abdomen.
A loving smile appeared on his nicely shaped lips. He was probably smiling because of the small life that was dwelling in my large, protruding belly.
――― Orpheus and I are about to have our first child.
This was why he was being extra protective lately.
“I’m looking forward to your baby being born. The baby should hurry up and be born already,” Victoria said, and Diana nodded.
“Yeah. I can’t wait to see them. Have you decided on a name?”
“We’re thinking Klaus for a boy and Gloria for a girl.”
“Those are lovely names!” Victoria clapped and shouted with joy.
“I wonder if they’ll have black hair and blue eyes. Either way, they’ll be beautiful.”
“We won’t know that until the baby is born,” Orpheus replied in a softer voice than usual, and Victoria blinked repeatedly since it was rare for him to speak in a soft tone.
Diana shook Victoria’s arm and whispered, “Vicky, it’s nearly time.” Then, Victoria nodded, “Yeah.”
“Take your time, Sister and Brother-in-law.”
“You’re going back already? Aren’t we going to walk through the rose maze?”
“We’ll do that next time. We don’t want to disturb you two.”
“You don’t have to worry about that.”
I said that because I thought it would be livelier with more people, but Victoria and Diana laughed.
“You’re the same as always, Ophelia.”
“Should I say it’s just like you to say that, Sister?”
They laughed for a while, then waved their hands and said, “We’ll see you later,” before rushing back to the mansion.
I don’t know why they said ‘just like me’, so I tilted my head in confusion as I watched them walk away.
Did I say something weird?
“Let’s walk around for a little while.”
He took his hands off my shoulders and pulled my hand.
I replied briefly, “Yes,” as I followed after him.
“Is there something on your mind? You seem to be thinking about something.”
“It’s just that… I’m feeling a bit emotional since it’s been a year since everything happened.”
“I see. It really has.”
We don’t talk much.
We comfortably remain silent most of the time, and only occasionally do we exchange a few words as if remembering the past.
Of course, it’s not always like this.
We talk a lot when we need to.
We simply just don’t need to at the moment.
Our hearts can communicate with each other even without words.
We feel closer to each other than anyone else.
A year has passed since then and our relationship is now peaceful, like our early days of marriage, ――― the way it should be.
Orpheus cares about me in his own way, and I try my best to be a suitable wife for him every day.
Even though we were back together, we didn’t misunderstand each other like back then, we aren’t heartbroken from trying to break our relationship and there was no self-sacrifice because of assumptions.
We love each other deeply, unlike back then.
“Are you happy now?” Orpheus said as we approached the rose maze while holding a beautiful blooming rose in his hand.
A tremendous feeling of happiness came over me as I gazed at his white fingers carefully removing the sharp thorns one by one, and a smile formed on my lips.
“What about you? Orpheus, no, Lewis, are you happy?”
Lewis placed the thornless red rose in my hair and dropped a kiss on my forehead.
“You’re by my side and our baby will be born soon. I’m so happy that it’s scary.”
“Then, I’m happy too. Your happiness is my happiness.”
I have always wanted to make him happy.
I was willing to sacrifice everything I had to make him happy.
It seemed like such a difficult thing to do, but in reality, it was simple and easy.
It made me want to laugh.
I broke off a rose like Lewis had, then removed the thorns and excess leaves.
――― I love you.
Instead of saying those words out loud, I kissed the petals with all my love.
The red rose that was as red as blood and as red as fire which I couldn’t give to my mother.
――― I’ll give my love to you forever and ever.
I gently inserted the red rose into Orpheus’s breast pocket and looked up at his handsome, white face, and saw an enchanting, sweet smile that was full of tenderness and affection.