Author: worry Editor: worry

Friend, my dear friend. Floria blinked slowly, gazing at Beatrice standing before her. In a short time, she had grown quite acquainted with Beatrice, thanks to the Duchess’ introduction.

 

While Beatrice’s appearance initially captured her attention, it was her elusive aura and…

 

If you don’t mind, I’ll have some wine from the Bertha Manor brought over for us, Beatrice interrupted, prompting a sense of ease between them, given their shared tastes and the attentive ear with which Beatrice listened to Floria’s stories.

 

Although they wouldn’t readily admit to being close friends if asked, there was a suitable tension and consideration present in the distance that separated them.

 

Does she consider me as her friend as well? Floria wondered. Without a moment’s hesitation, Beatrice would confidently acknowledge their friendship if Floria were to ask about it.

 

A smile crept up on Floria’s face as she imagined that scenario, and a soft laugh escaped her lips, puzzling Beatrice.

 

Just because. I find it delightful, Floria explained.

 

Beatrice nodded, giving the impression that she believed Floria enjoyed the wine. However, she did not share the same taste preferences herself; she merely knew Floria’s preferences but had no intention of revealing her own.

 

Time passed at a steady pace. Beatrice frequently met with the Duchess for tea or dinner, maintaining a busy schedule. Meanwhile, her first brother visited regularly, showing concern for her well-being. On the other hand, her second brother, Felix, would barge into her room whenever boredom struck him.

 

It appeared that Felix had joined the Palace Knights, but oddly enough, he seemed to have a lot of free time. His frequent visits left Beatrice contemplating when he would dedicate himself to protecting the country as a knight should.

 

Beatrice finished sealing two letters, one addressed to Floria and the other to the Duke of Marquez, then handed them to Laura. As she looked up, she noticed someone sitting on the couch across from her desk, casually sipping tea.

 

Is it your day off again today?

 

I always have training, but these days, it feels like I’m lazing around because of the debutante ball. There isn’t much for me to do. Besides, I’m still a lower-ranked knight,

 

I see, Beatrice acknowledged.

 

Why don’t you want me to come?

 

You’d come even if I told you not to.

 

Exactly. You know me well.

 

Despite having numerous opportunities to observe Felix throughout her entire life, Beatrice noticed that his way of thinking was simple enough for people to quickly discern his patterns after only a few hours in his presence.

 

Rather than pointing it out, Beatrice decided to leave her desk and sit across from him on the couch. Laura, who had already left the letters with another servant outside, brought her tea as she settled down.

 

As she leisurely savored her hot tea, Beatrice sensed a penetrating gaze fixed upon her. Felix, true to his usual behavior, had entered the room abruptly, vocalized his thoughts, stared at Beatrice, and then hurriedly left.

 

She had grown accustomed to witnessing his puzzling actions, so she chose to ignore it.

 

It’s really strange, Felix remarked.

 

Really? Beatrice replied calmly.

 

I heard everything roughly from mother. Perhaps it was because I was still young, but I never had the impression you were like that,Felix continued, sharing his thoughts candidly.

 

As Beatrice reflected on what Felix must have heard from the Duchess, she realized he was referring to the incident at the late Duke’s funeral.

 

During that time, she had explained to the Duchess that everything had been a misunderstanding and had masqueraded as the youngest daughter, who was supposedly weak-minded and incapable of social interaction or displaying emotions. Felix must have overheard it all.

 

Beatrice placed her teacup down, her gaze meeting Felix’s with a blank expression. Their yellow eyes locked onto each other, seemingly engaged in a silent battle of wills. While Beatrice appeared composed and present in the moment, Felix’s keen observation was evident in his expression.

 

“I don’t really care if you don’t believe me.” 

 

“Wow, look at this. You’re not even going to pretend in front of me? That hurts.”

 

“You won’t believe me no matter what I do, so why bother?”

 

Felix persisted, trying to uncover something beneath Beatrice’s dry expression. However, what frustrated him was the absence of any hidden emotions or clues.

 

Beatrice was a woman who seldom displayed any changes in expression. Despite living in the same household for a long time, very little was known about her, making it nearly impossible for others to decipher any potential secrets concealed in her actions.

 

Felix acknowledged that Beatrice had been subjected to harassment by the servants in the annex. Even after the mistress of the estate had stripped them of everything, the suppressed secrets began to surface one by one. Even Felix and Calex, her other brother, became aware of the repulsive actions that had taken place.

 

Glass shards on her bed? Bugs in her food? Nails on her slipper? Rotten food? She had even been locked up in the closet as a child. Each of these vicious and persistent acts had driven their mother to take several headache pills on that fateful day.

 

The Duchess seemed to believe that Beatrice was born passive and had been pushed into an awful temper through abuse. However, Felix was not entirely convinced. He remembered that the girl had always been eccentric, even before their father’s death.

 

Some children, it is said, are inherently cruel. They may lack the ability to empathize with those weaker than themselves and may even find pleasure in causing harm to small creatures. From Felix’s perspective, Beatrice was one such child.

 

As Beatrice reminisced, a distant memory resurfaced from when she was just six years old. At that time, the Duchess and her two sons had been kind to her in their own way, likely out of a desire not to be seen as bad people.

 

Back then, Beatrice could roam freely with her short legs, unlike now. She often made her way to the study on foot, clutching a small stuffed rabbit gifted by someone, and it was on one such occasion that Felix discovered her reading a book.

 

For Felix, the presence of an immediate sister intrigued him more than the fact that his father had betrayed his mother and taken in another woman’s child. He sat her down and pulled out a fairy tale book that he had owned since he was five, helping her read it.

 

“So the witch who tried to kill the princess was caught by the prince and punished.”

 

“Why did the witch get punished?”

 

“Silly, I read the whole story to you earlier. She was punished because she was bad.”

 

“What kind of punishment did she get?”

 

“She was probably imprisoned and then executed, right?”

 

“What’s an execution?”

 

“Well, it’s when someone gets killed. With a big sword.”

 

“Do people get executed if they do bad things?”

 

“Of course. The knights of the Emperor or the holy knights are really scary.”

 

“Exactly, that’s it.”

 

He looked at his younger sister with her yellow eyes that closely resembled his own, noticing a hint of doubt in her gaze. Observing her round face and big eyes, he found her somewhat cute and briefly considered patting her on the head.

 

Despite their mother’s current dislike for Beatrice, Felix wondered if they could eventually get along as time passed. But before he could ponder further, the young girl’s dry voice caught his attention.

 

“What if no one knows that I did something bad?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Then I won’t get punished, right? If I make sure no one knows.”

 

Her big eyes and long eyelashes blinked several times. Young Felix felt a moment of perplexity and a peculiar uneasiness rising within him as he gazed at her innocent face, unaware of the implications of her words.

 

Those two things didn’t quite match. However, young Beatrice didn’t wait for the perplexed Felix and blurted out the next question.

 

“If trying to kill the princess is a bad thing, can we kill someone who’s not a princess?”

 

Young Felix couldn’t provide an answer to young Beatrice that day. It wasn’t something terrifying, but a peculiar uneasiness creeping up his calves.

 

Even at his young age, Felix felt such a thing. Did he think the same way when he was her age? Even if he asked himself, he couldn’t remember how he acted when he was that young.

 

However, as time passed, he began to think that his feelings of repulsion toward her, along with his brother and mother, were not entirely strange. The voice of Beatrice interrupted his long reminiscence of the past.

 

Even if you find me strange, it doesn’t matter.

 

“Was it also a lie to ask the priest to kill you?”

 

To deceive you. Beatrice let out a sigh in front of him, a rare moment of vulnerability that momentarily silenced Felix.

 

Beatrice was annoyed with the current situation. It would have been nice if she could just pass it off casually like the Duchess, but with his good memory and persistent nature, he couldn’t easily let things go.

 

Being observed by him didn’t bother her at all, but his constant questioning was irritating and bothersome. His attempts to convince her were also cumbersome. If she could die right away, she wouldn’t bother with the obvious play he was talking about.

 

However, for some reason, her body kept repeating a cursed-like life, pushing her into the shackles of existence. She couldn’t say it out loud, but Beatrice still wanted to die.

 

Though she had decided to maintain good relations with her family and was spending the most peaceful time of her youth, she felt like she could die at any moment.

 

If I had to sacrifice someone for my death, whether it’s my second brother sitting in front of me or half of the world, I could do it without hesitation. The intensity of her eyes staring at Felix conveyed all of that resolute meaning.

 

The yellow pupils stared at him without blinking for a long time. Felix, under that gaze, couldn’t speak. It was the first time in his life that he saw eyes that asked for nothing and expected nothing from him.

 

Her white face was slightly tilted and incredibly expressionless. However, within the yellow irises, he could sense a cold obsession.

 

Though he couldn’t fully understand her desires and obsessions, he could feel them directed toward the word death he had uttered, causing his fingertips to grow cold along with the temperature of her fixation.

 

“Yes.”

 

As if she felt nothing at all, in response to his probing question of whether she had lied, Beatrice answered while wearing the face of a dead person. Felix, on the other hand, realized that her answer was, in fact, a reflection of her desire to die, but Beatrice showed no interest in his realization.

 

Author's Thoughts

𝐀𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐦𝐲 𝐊𝐨𝐟𝐢 𝐩𝐚𝐠𝐞!!!

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