The Otome Game's Bad Ending - Chapter 22
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“Even though you both have a lady to look after, you’re saying it’s going to be a mess?”
“If Lady Emilia is involved, it’s even more so.”
“I don’t understand anything more now. Isn’t Lady Elodie here?”
The man gave me a profound glance. This was the first time I had said ‘Lady Elodie’ aloud.
“Among us, Edmund is the most foolish.”
For a brief time, I was taken aback. This man and Edmund didn’t get along. They were frequently harsh with each other, but I didn’t expect him to express it so openly.
“…Aren’t you speaking too openly, given that the person in question isn’t present?”
“Or, to put it another way, maybe he’s the most instinctual? The fact that he is the one with whom I get along the least is also indicative. It’s the useless backdrop with good acts that gives me the greatest headache.”
“To put it simply, because Edmund dislikes and distances himself from both of us, combining the two of us will exacerbate the situation.”
“…Well, if Emilia thinks that way.”
Cassio sighed and shrugged. His demeanor was as caustic as always, but I was too fatigued to point it out or keep track. More significantly, why was Edmund Gloucester’s background significant? Was the Gloucester family a famous family that even the Brahamdorffs should be aware of?
“So, what do you think of the young lady in question after seeing her for yourself?”
My words were carefully chosen. The attractive man who spoke as if nothing were wrong. Well-dressed adult man and lady in a warm, inviting, and comfortable carriage interior. Anyone viewing from the outside would think it was a wonderfully heartwarming scene, however…. I offered a tiny smile. I was simply exhausted.
“Are you curious about what I think?”
“Yes, very much so.”
“She was lovely and sweet.”
“Is that all?”
“Is that not enough? Should I send a rose card as well as a serenade?”
“I’m just asking because you seem upset.”
“Were you happy?”
The man closed his mouth. The figures of persons outside the window were dimly mirrored.
“Ophelia was the world’s worst child. She was a child I wouldn’t swap for anything.”
“That lady was really lovely and sweet.”
Cassio Brahamdorff would have laughed at me if it had been previously. He would have assumed that calling Ophelia a nasty name was due to a difficulty with my vision. But he has now kept his lips shut, and I am free to speak myself without his counterargument.
It seemed a little mournful, as if it were referring to the inexorable passing of time. Ophelia is no longer alive, and times have changed. Everyone is now in love with someone who resembles her, not with her.
“But I don’t really need it.”
“What if the lady is unfriendly to everyone but kind to you?”
“What does it really matter?”
“I was just wondering if that was Lady Emilia’s preference. I was thinking about asking for a reference for future plans.”
“Whether it’s taste or whatever, she is she, I am I, and others are others.”
“That’s quite surprising.”
“Why do you want to know my taste, whatever you plan to use it for?”
“I was thinking about trying to match my precious partner’s taste.”
Cassio quickly stated that he would do his best to match anything I mentioned. I trembled silently as I envisioned Cassio impersonating Ophelia.
When I think about it, I’ve always admired someone with a powerful shoulder since I was a kid. A strong shoulder that can support me with one arm even while I clutch to it. Maybe I wanted to rely on something. A dedicated and dependable guardian. Someone who will believe in and adore me regardless of what I do or where I am.
Maybe it was a yearning for a family. My original parents disappeared after receiving money and handing me over to the Marquis family. They were not excellent protectors even before they sold me since they forced me to walk the streets to make money. As Ophelia’s friend, the people of the Marquis’s household treated me nicely, but I didn’t feel safe. It may have been because I was more conscious than anything else that I had been duped.
It’s possible that my attention was pulled to Raretis in the meanwhile. Raretis was always a serious and calm brother between Ophelia, who was bratty and immature, and me. A smooth voice, short black hair, and beautiful purple eyes. Unlike a little kid, he was always calm. He patiently tolerated Ophelia’s obstinacy and my errors.
I used to surreptitiously observe his solid back, swinging a sword every day, from behind an ancient tree with branches extended at the end of the second-floor railing. When Ophelia was sleeping, I would sneak out softly and nestle my little body into the dense branches, pricking up my ears. My heart was continually pounding in anticipation of being discovered. Now that I think about it, that was the first time I actually desired something since arriving at the Marquis’s house.
Soft bread that I ate at every meal, unusual fruit that I had never eaten before, delicate lace that was terrifying to touch, and a book with lovely illustrations. More than anything else, I desired to have someone. I was envious of the individuals who were assigned to Ophelia, her family, and the caring folks who sat alongside her.
Even as a child, I realized it shouldn’t be like that. I stopped watching him after overhearing the Marquis and Marchioness discussing how they should get engaged when Ophelia recovers. I didn’t want to be discovered. I didn’t want to make anyone feel awkward.
Ophelia despised all males, but she did listen to Raretis. It may be different if Ophelia could safely become the Marquis’s family’s heir, but if it was problematic owing to her health, they needed to bring in a son-in-law who could at least continue the Marquis’s family alone.
Raretis was that person. In other words, Raretis was identified as Ophelia’s partner from the beginning, not because they purposefully avoided tying them together in a formal engagement owing to Ophelia’s health.
The gifted second son, a distant cousin of similar age. Personal circumstances and adult issues drew him to the mansion, just as I was sold to the Marquis’s house as Ophelia’s friend. As a result, I’ve kept my emotions hidden since then. I never even showed it to Ophelia.
I purposefully behaved badly. My God, for Raretis and me to connect ‘naturally’, Ophelia had to die, and I had to marry Raretis instead of becoming the Marquis’s adopted daughter. That was too selfish, even in my youthful thinking. Anyone would care if they noticed my emotions.
That is especially true if it is Ophelia. That irritated me greatly. It was the only thing I despised more than death. Ophelia abandoning the person she cared about in her brief life because of me? I’d sooner run away from the Marquis’s home barefoot than watch that.
Even if Ophelia dies without being connected with Raretis, the thought of what happens afterwards terrified me. I removed that selection three times because I thought it would be a gift if Ophelia died and could complete her love. Even though Raretis seemed to care about me and be friendly, I was determined not to be duped.
What an embarrassing situation it would have been if I had confessed. To a boy brought in as the Marquis’s successor and future heir by the girl Ophelia brought in as a playmate? In any case, he was never going to be my share. Just like I despised Ophelia at the time but adored her, I felt lucky to meet that kid yet envied what that child possessed.
Even if Ophelia died, Raretis was generally the one who had the greatest interaction with the ‘player’. Even if Ophelia convinces the Marquis’s couple to be nice to me, I am not a member of the Marquis’s family.
The only chance was that not only me, but every other female my age in the Marquis’s household, had previously admired Raretis. That my little unusual conduct may be attributed to a naive child’s heart fluttering at the sight of an attractive, same-age sibling. As he did on the day of the burial, that sharp-witted man frequently prodded me to light the candle of those buried feelings.
Anyway, that man has been following Ophelia since he was a child, so I was only exploiting a small loophole I spotted back then; there must be nothing significant.
When I think about it, the man was nasty to others, he enjoyed a frog killed by a careless stone, viciously demanding ‘didn’t you like Raretis?’ and even Edmund Gloucester was present.
Even though Raretis wasn’t present, it was a huge relief that I was able to remain calm. But I couldn’t think how unhappy I would have been if I had failed and acted inappropriately. But now when I’m holding that man’s hand, it’s really uncomfortable to consider that I’ll be having a debut party and dancing in the future.
Even bumping into Edmund and his elegance in the dressing room… My taste? Did he compare Ophelia to Elodie to ask whether she was my favorite? It was impossible to comprehend. Knowing that Ophelia is a one-of-a-kind brightness in this world that cannot be paralleled to anything else. Isn’t that an over-the-top metaphor, even if it’s meant to tease me?
Among the three male heroes in my memory, Edmund was generally the one who publicly courted Elodie, although…