The Otome Game's Bad Ending - Chapter 11
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There’s no point in hesitating.
When I looked at Cassio Brahamdorff, I saw a man who wasn’t happy to see me. His grey eyes were so icy that they seemed lifeless. Where is he going with that? Something churned at the bottom of my stomach. As far as possible, I attempted to conceal it. Indeed, Cassio Brahamdorff possessed an appalling taste.
Cassio Brahamdorff scoffed and watched the people who were drawn to Ophelia like moths to the light, while he, himself, behaved as her greatest clown, if Edmund Gloucester was a writer who overlay his own dreams onto Ophelia and obsessed over her. Everything in the world looked mocking to those eyes.
I’ll never forget the ice in his eyes as he stared at me. Inquiring as to whether or not I despise Sir Raretis. As in that one moment when, very casually, he pulled out the honesty I had fought so hard to conceal.
Simply because he finds the idea intriguing and wants to see how others react. Without any idea of the depth of the emotions I was hiding behind my front of composure. Because he was interested in the means by which I had escaped impending death under strain and emotional suffocation. Like a kid throwing stones at a frog; nasty and heartless.
“It appears you have a major misunderstanding, Lord Cassio Brahamdorff.”
But I was weak in his presence. He was a major influence in the society. Despite her distaste for him, even Ophelia couldn’t deny his visits. I don’t know what I could do. I was not a person of influence or means. I was just trying my hardest not to become someone else. The best I could do was that. Thankfully, it was a skill I had honed over many years.
“Don’t mistake my sensitivity for a sign of weakness.”
The joke was on me. A grin I must have rehearsed a thousand times in front of the mirror. My bottom teeth dug into the soft tissue of my inner cheek, drawing blood. My smile was as keen as a knife in the man’s eyes. They were free to publicly support Ophelia. Moreover, it wasn’t a defect. That was where they stood. It wasn’t the same as mine.
It would have been simpler if I had fallen in love with a stable boy, a servant in charge of errands at the Marquisate, or a coachman who collects public fares. It would have been simpler to leave the Marquisate after Ophelia’s death and spend the rest of my life with someone I care about. A few people in the group may mention the ‘female who used to be at Ophelia’s side,’ but soon enough the topic would be dropped from discussion.
Whoa, rumor has it she developed romantic feelings for a regular guy. She felt obligated to do so. I may have been able to handle it if it had been that bad. But if it’s Raretis…
‘You should be happy.’
Ophelia stuck out in my mind because she always greeted me with an angelic grin even though she acted like a witch around everyone else. She wasn’t exactly the kind of person you’d call pleasant under any circumstances. We used to fight like cats and dogs when we were kids. But when we spent time getting to know one other deeply, we developed a strong bond. I had an inkling of her egotism. She was the sort who, when feeling really lonely, would casually invite a friend to die alongside her.
That girl hoped I would find success in life. There were moments when she yearned for death because she was so sick of life that she wanted to end it all. I tossed a magnificent bouquet at her funeral, the type she would have gotten if she had lived. It seemed as if I could have given her a simple grin of congratulations on her marriage to Raretis if she hadn’t died.
Fireworks of flowers adorn her stunning garment. An unending lace and crystal veil. The funeral was no match for the dazzling beauty of the flowers that were blossoming. As I sat next to her and watched, I felt like I could reach across the aisle and tickle her ear.
‘Ophelia, I never imagined it would come to this! You have the beauty of a goddess, if not more. Too valuable to give you to the groom, and I feel like I’m going to die.’ That’s the sort of thing I wanted to say.
I could have broken my heart a thousand times if I thought that doing so would bring her back to life. However, she passed away. Not even the strongest people were able to bring her back. This meant giving up on both optimism and sorrow.
I repressed my resentment and feelings of inadequacy due to my attraction to her. And now? At the man’s expense, I let out a hearty chuckle. He must have been curious to witness the lullaby I hummed to Ophelia as I carried her on my back. He must have intended to provoke my envy. He must have enjoyed watching me clutch to Raretis in a pathetic display of begging for his love. Through clenched teeth, I chuckled. The man’s grey eyes shook slightly as we made eye contact. His face was wrinkled in a peculiar way.
“To what end should I worry about him? He is not Ophelia.”
“I’m creating a debutante I didn’t want to make because of you, Mr. Cassio. Speculating about the future romantic interests of someone who is currently unrelated to me seems rude.”
The man’s eyes were like gems of the same color set into a faceless statue. For a time, nobody said anything. The man eventually said out to end the awkward pause.
“Don’t play dumb with your feelings.”
“You give the impression that you don’t regret anything, Emilia.”
The fact that he addressed me as ‘Emilia’ rather than ‘Lady Emilia’ disturbed me a little, but I tried to ignore it.
“Do you want me to be repulsive at your urging? Do you really want that?”
As loudly as I could, I sneered at him. If I had the chance to punch the cocky mug gazing at me without flinching, I probably wouldn’t hesitate.
Almost instantly, I replied. My embarrassed inquiry came out before I could even stop frowning.
“I made a snap decision about Lady’s feelings and assumed the worst. A nasty action indeed. I’m sorry.”
The man’s explanation for his behavior was straightforward. I found myself at a loss for words and uncertain. Suddenly, the irritation and resentment I’d felt against the man in front of me evaporated. Is he the type of man that accepts apologies so readily? No. He was not the sort to apologize really; instead, he would make a half-hearted attempt to defuse the situation or belittle the other person.
‘To say that human feelings can’t be strengths is not very wise. Lady Emilia seemed to have attained a true philosophical condition of emotional and mental distancing. I still have many areas in which I may improve; I am a weak-willed, emotionally-driven person.’ That guy would make fun of and insult other people.
I found myself staring blankly into the man’s eyes. There was no sound of humor to be found. There was nothing about him that reminded me of the Cassio Brahamdorff I knew. Not the beautiful blonde hair, not the stunning eyes, not even the firm lips. A hand was offered by the man. I recoiled at the touch of his fingertips. The back of my seized hand felt the soft brush of his lips.
“Can you forgive me?”
The behavior of this individual is inexplicable. Confused, I thought. Eye contact occurred without my having the time to mentally prepare to avoid him. The figure above me appeared gracefully unreal. His previously superior gaze had softened into one of respect, and his lips were now brushing against my fingers beneath his sensitive bridge of nose. The back of my palm seemed to feel the man’s breath, and I flushed immediately.
“Yes, yes! Then take your hand away first.”
Did I make a spectacle of myself? As a result of my shame, I bit my lip. When I started to break away from the man’s grasp out of surprise, he kissed my hand again and slowly let go. Then he chuckled, an inappropriate laugh given the circumstances. Even the man’s laughter sounded different from what I had heard before. He seemed to catch sight of something endearing and smiled weakly, as if he were afraid that his laughter might embarrass me.
Did he find it funny when I reacted to his hand-kiss greeting, which we actually shared? I put my hand up to hide my reddened cheeks. It was quite awkward. I had just confronted him angrily, only to reveal my shame over a little issue. And to that Cassio Brahamdorff even!
I felt awkward, like he had sensed my vulnerability. This elicited a giggle from the man. His chuckle, which was unlike anything else I had heard, made me feel off. He seemed to be genuinely taking pleasure in what was happening.
“Aw, Emilia. Were you caught off guard?”
“I apologize, but I am Emilia’s cavalier, right? I had assumed that such close proximity would be acceptable from an etiquette standpoint… Were you offended?”
I could have kept my cool if this had happened with a man I had never met before. But there was ‘that’ Cassio Brahamdorff behaving strangely, and to say that I felt embarrassed would be ludicrous. The man’s tone was full of laughter, and I shook my head inwardly. The man grinned at me, and his usually handsome and bright face lit up. I suppose I should have been flattered by his grin and embarrassed by my lack of knowledge if I were a naive young woman.
“It’s not that. Yes… excuse me.”
“Aw, shucks… Next time, I’ll make sure to get permission beforehand.”
“Yes. Because an attractive and respectable guy like Mr. Cassio Brahamdorff has never shown any interest in me, I am a shy person who is easily astonished by such tiny connections. If you could always get permission in advance, it would be excellent.”
“I’ll be cautious since it would be terrible if my darling partner’s heart suddenly stopped beating.”
Suddenly, the hardened guy grinned at me, an unexpected change in his previously emotionless countenance. I felt like this won’t be the last time he’s gonna be like this, and I let out an inward moan. I have a bad feeling that this guy’s attitude will keep causing me trouble in the future.
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