A Rose Dedicated to You - Chapter 20
It was much hotter outside than I had imagined.
It was cool when the wind blew, but once the wind died down, my forehead dripped with sweat.
The sun had set quite a bit compared to the time when it was high in the air, but it didn’t change the fact that this was summer.
I wanted to use a parasol on top of my straw hat because I felt like the scorching sun would burn my skin.
“Don’t you regret it?” I smiled and asked Diana, and she replied in hysteria, “Huh?” She was smiling, but she must have felt nervous inside since she was gripping my arm tightly.
Diana insisted that we talk alone, so I lent her my arm instead of a maid; just like I used to.
“It’s nice that you invited me for a walk, but it’s hotter than you thought, or something like that,” I said meanly, and Diana shook her head vigorously.
“That’s not true! I-it is hot, but I’m fine. I like walking,” she said, but is she really fine?
She must have been worried about getting sunburnt, because she wore a dress with a collar covering her whole neck, and it looked scorching. Even though the material was thin, and it was a dress designed for summer, the heat would accumulate and it would get hotter and hotter.
Besides, Diana is a thin and delicate lady, and she looked like a fragile young lady.
Unlike me, who was strong and didn’t catch a cold even if I took a bath in the middle of winter, she seemed like someone who would faint because of the tiniest things.
“I’m not fine, though.”
“Ah! I, I’m sorry, Ophelia. That’s right. Even if I’m fine, you might not be. I heard that a lot of the roses have bloomed, so I wanted to take a walk with you… But, shall we go talk in a room after all? It’s cooler in the parlour.”
“Do you really want to walk around in the garden?”
“I don’t have to. We should talk in a room if we think about your condition. I’m always walking around the garden, so I don’t mind if it’s hot, but you’re different. I heard that you’re a thin and delicate beauty, so you might be weak against the strong summer sun…”
“A delicate beauty?”
Where the heck did she get this wrong information from? ――― I was too overwhelmed. I wanted to question her about her remark.
I wasn’t plump, but I wasn’t thin either, and I have never looked delicate.
In the first place, ‘delicate’ is appropriate for women like Diana, and wasn’t suited for a woman who was playing a bad wife.
Besides, I’m turning 18 this year, so I wasn’t a girl, and I wasn’t a beauty either.
“Who said that?”
“Who? Orpheus did. That’s what he told me when I asked him what kind of person you were. He said you are a thin and delicate beauty.”
“… I see. That’s a downright lie, so you should forget what he said.”
It seemed like Orpheus had been the one who had told her this.
Why the hell did he tell his lover such outrageous nonsense? I’ll question him about it when we divorce.
My stomach felt like it was stirring around. If Diana said she is fine, then I’ll walk while bearing with my discomfort. I made up my mind while wiping sweat off my forehead with my handkerchief.
“Ask Orpheus if you want to know more about it. ――― Then, shall we go? The sun’s pretty strong right now, so tell me if you feel bad. They’ll think it’s my fault if you faint.”
“But, Ophelia… are you sure?”
“My opinion doesn’t matter. You wanted to take a walk, right? Let’s go.”
I pulled Diana’s hand and started walking.
We walked down the stone stairs onto the lush lawn, then passed under the tree shades to the rose maze.
I looked back at Diana from time to time as she silently followed me to see if my pace was fine with her and to see if she was still feeling well.
“Have the roses bloomed?”
“Yeah. It’s in full bloom. A lot of the petals are curved. I wonder if they’ve been damaged by the sun.”
When we reached the rose maze, I took Diana’s hand and let her touch a large rose that was blooming beautifully.
It was a bright yellow rose that looked golden when the sun hit it, and it contrasted against Diana’s white fingers.
“So? Can you tell?”
“Yes. It feels the same as when I touch a silk dress. What colour is the rose?”
“Yellow. A golden yellow.”
“Yellow… that means ‘friendship’ in the language of flowers. Or devotion, lovely, hope. ――― Say, Ophelia. What colour is the sky?”
I looked up, and the blue sky looked as if it was piercing through.
“Dark blue… No, I wonder if it’s a dark light blue. It’s a mixture of your eye colour and Orpheus’s.”
Diana laughed softly. Her smile seemed like she missed the past, and was a delicate smile which looked like it would disappear at any moment.
“You’re―――,” she began before shutting her mouth. She gently stroked the rose while biting her lips as if she was enduring pain, then a sob escaped from her throat.
“You didn’t change after all. You haven’t changed at all since then. Your language and attitude have become cold, and sound harsh, but you’re still the same gentle person from back then. I made you suffer so much, so it’s natural for you to hate me, but you’re―――.”
The rose petals fluttered down.
Diana covered her face with her white hands and retreated while staggering.
There was a rose bush right behind her, so she’ll get pricked by their thorns ――― I quickly reached out and grabbed her.
I put my arms on her back so that she wouldn’t fall back any further, and she stopped moving.
She gently removed her hands from her face and stared at me timidly. Her gaze was actually quite far from where my face was, but she was certainly trying to look at me.
“I’m sorry, Ophelia. I’m sorry.”
Diana cried. Tears flowed down her rosy cheeks.
“I have someone I like,” Diana confessed as the tears continued to flow down.
I froze since her confession had been so abrupt, and could only gulp as I continued to listen to her.
“I lost my parents and was abandoned by my fiancée. He is the ray of light to me who has lost everything. He is my everything.”
Her thin, white hands pressed against her chest.
Her light blue eyes swayed as if she recalled her loved one who wasn’t here. It swayed like water that was being blown by the wind.
“I loved him.”
The whisper that came out with a sigh felt like cold hands gripping at my heart.
It felt painful, it felt suffocating, and I couldn’t breathe well. I can only sigh.
I heard Diana’s feelings from her own mouth for the first time. The love she had always felt that she had never expressed to me in this past year.
“I wanted to be by his side. I wanted to hear his voice. That was all I wanted. I didn’t need anything else. He doesn’t need to know I love him. I just wanted to be by his side.” I listened silently to her confession.
I listened quietly while feeling the warmth from her back.
“That’s why I took advantage of my friendship with Orpheus and your kindness. I’m staying in this mansion because Orpheus pities me. ――― I want to be by his side. I don’t want to leave. Please don’t take away my hope, my light, my reason to live. Please persuade your spouse.”
Diana kept repeating that it was all her fault. Her breaths became rough, and she pressed her trembling hands on her mouth.
Her white face turned pale; she looked as if she was in pain, and it looked as if she would faint at any moment.
“I’m a selfish and stupid woman. I wanted to stay by his side, so I got the people around me involved. I made you all unhappy. When you suspected my relationship with Orpheus, I thought that you would understand if I denied it properly, but I was wrong. I didn’t think about how you felt… No, I knew how you felt, but I was selfish. I believed you when you said that I wasn’t the reason for your discord with your Orpheus, I pretended to believe you, and stayed in this mansion.”
Diana lifted her face up and looked around as if she was searching for me.
I put my hands on Diana’s cheeks and gently moved her face so that our gazes would meet.
“Ophelia,” her lips trembled.
“I’m selfish, stupid, ugly and beyond saving. I’m disgusting. It’s all my fault. It’s my fault that things have gotten strange between you and Orpheus.”
Diana shook her head as if she was refusing any consolation, and I couldn’t find the words to say to her. I could only call her name when I thought about her suffering and pain.
“I have a selfish and stupid wish, that’s why I relied on Orpheus’s and your kindness and didn’t think more about your feelings… Therefore, I broke your relationship. I made the relationship between you two strange. Even if that wasn’t the cause for your relationship falling apart like you said, I still played a role in it. It’s my fault. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry, Ophelia. I know it’s not something I can apologise for. I won’t ask you to forgive me. But, I’ll accept any punishment until you feel satisfied. If you tell me to die, then I’ll die. I’ll do anything. I’m sorry, Ophelia.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” ――― Diana continued to repeat as she sobbed, and I could only give my usual explanations.
“It’s not your fault, I’ve said this many times, haven’t I? You’re not the cause of this discord. This is what I’m actually like, and I got tired of acting like a good girl like you, so I went back to how I was.”
The fool is me, not Diana.
Orpheus and Diana were supposed to marry and be happy, but my existence destroyed their relationship.
Diana didn’t do anything wrong.
She lost her parents, lost her sight, and even had her lover snatched away. Diana should be happy this time.
――― You’re my precious friend, so please be happy.
“Say, Diana. I’m…”
“I’m leaving this mansion.”
My heart jumped.
What did she say just now?
I wish for your happiness, but what did you just say?
“You’re leaving the mansion?”
Goosebumps ran along my spine. I felt horrible. The tip of my hands and feet are getting cold.
――― Why did she think of something like that?
Unaware of my change, Diana took a few deep breaths before wiping her tears with her cuff.
Her tears kept flowing out, no matter how much she wiped.
“I’ll be moving into the Klauwell villa in a week. I talked with Orpheus about this. I won’t return to this mansion again, and I won’t see you or Orpheus ever again. I’ll stay in the villa until I die. If you’re willing to punish me, then I’ll accept it, but if you won’t, then I’ll make amends by living as if I’m dead. I don’t know if that will make up for everything,” Diana’s voice sounded as if it was cracking. I felt extremely strange as if she was talking in a faraway place and as if this wasn’t reality.
My mouth felt dry, and my body felt fuzzy, and I couldn’t even tell if it was hot or cold even though the sun was intense.
Is the irritating ringing in my ears my heartbeat or something else?
Diana linked her hands together as if she was praying.
“Start over with Orpheus. He doesn’t have noble blood, and he thinks you hate him because of that, but that’s not true, is it? You’re not that kind of person. You’re kind to me even though I’m blind, so you don’t care about the colour of the blood that flows in one’s body.”
“Colour of the blood that flows?”
The colour of the blood that flows ――― is she referring to the blue blood that is said to flow in the body of nobles?
Like Diana said, I don’t care about that.
It doesn’t matter if Orpheus is a noble or not. I’ll love him forever. I won’t hate him for that reason.
――― But, does Orpheus think I hate him because of that?
Is that why he made that expression when I said I hated him?
He had muttered, 『Why? 』 with an incredibly hurt and sad expression on his face.
『You’re the only one who can’t abandon me.』
Because I felt like I denied my own existence if I left someone who was like me.
“So, please. He, Orpheus only has you. It can only be you. It’s alright if you can’t love him. Just stay by his side.”
Orpheus needs Diana. Not me. It can only be Diana. Because he loves her.
“You’re wrong, Diana.”
Diana isn’t the one who should leave this mansion, it’s me.
For Orpheus’s happiness, and to fulfil the wishes of Juris and Diana, I must disappear. The relationship between Orpheus and Diana has to return to how it used to be.
That’s why I became a foolish woman. I played the bad wife, was hated by people and lost my reputation in high society. I hurt Orpheus and continue to put up with this pain.
And yet, when Diana leaves, everything will go down the drain. Everything will be wasted.
Orpheus won’t laugh anymore. My loved one will not be happy.
Everyone will become unhappy.
――― No. That definitely can’t happen.
“You can’t leave. Absolutely not.”
“No, Ophelia. I’ve already decided. I’ll cut off my sour thoughts and end them. ――― Actually, I’ve been told. By the person I like. He told me I should leave this mansion. He said he’s not going to respond to my feelings.”
I was stunned that he had said that.
He didn’t need to do this. He said he wanted to keep her in this mansion, so why is he trying to kick her out now?
Every time he wanted to get her to leave the mansion, I persuaded him to stop. Did he get tired of betraying the woman he loved because of his father’s last request, so he’s trying to kick her out? Is he abandoning her?
Discomfort swelled up from within me, and my throat felt like it was burning.
Anger and sadness filled my mind.
“I’m a horrible woman, aren’t I? I said that it was fine just to be by his side while carelessly confessing everything. I can’t bring myself to leave unless I’m clearly rejected.”
Diana laughed. It was a cynical laugh that didn’t suit her.
“But I’ve had enough. Staying by his side was everything to me. I don’t care what happens now that I’ve lost it. So, please.”
I liked Diana’s eyes. It always shone brightly like a light blue jewel even if she couldn’t see the scenery around her.
That jewel had lost its light and was shining with darkness. Large drops of tears dripped down from her eyes.
“Diana,” When I tried to call out to her in a friendly tone, I saw Orpheus wandering around in the garden while looking at us from the corner of my eyes.
Even though he said he wouldn’t come out, he was probably worried that I would oppress her.
He found us at the entrance of the rose maze and was approaching.
――― Ah, I knew it.
I thought when I saw his happy smile.
Orpheus loves Diana. He loves her from the bottom of his heart.
I’m sure he’s caught between his foster father’s last request and his feelings for Diana and has been troubled. He must have been heartbroken when Diana decided that she would leave.
――― But, it’s wrong.
Orpheus’s choice is wrong. It was wrong of him to choose the will of the dead over the woman he loves, over a living person.
I took Diana’s hand and moved her to a place away from the rose bushes. She stared curiously. I placed a hand on her shoulder and whispered in her ear, “You definitely can’t leave the mansion. I’ll make your wish come true.”
“Thanks for being my friend. I was happy. I had a lot of fun.”
I smile at Diana, who seemed stunned, in a way that Orpheus wouldn’t see. It wasn’t the smile that I had practised numerous times in front of the mirror; it was a real smile.
“If you want me to punish you, then I will. Since punishing you will probably save you. It will probably hurt, but put up with it. Then, be happy this time.”
“What do you…”
I know that I have no right to punish Diana because I was more selfish and foolish than her.
――― I’m sorry.
I won’t ask you to forgive me. It’s better if you hate me.
Then, the pain in your heart will ease, and your tears will also stop.
I inhaled and spoke from my stomach. I played the clown.
“Don’t be silly! That side of you is repulsive!”
I pushed her slender shoulder, and she fell down easily.
When I saw her lips move, I thought that I should be punished.