Thank you Puppynado85 for the kofis! (1/6) Done
“I am deeply regretful, My Lady. I was truly foolish. I asked you to go first, but when you went missing, I feared Iz’s reaction so I unwittingly ended up lying to him… Really, I am so ashamed of myself.”
Freya, repeatedly bowing her head and eyes glistening with tears, seemed to be truly apologetic. If I had been unaware of her and my husband’s relationship, I might have forgiven her.
She said she was scared of Izek’s reaction? Bullsh*t. They’re childhood friends, what is there to be afraid of? Not to mention that if she had truly been sorry, she would have told him the truth no matter how late it was. But she was only speaking the so-called truth when it was only us two in the room? I had to admit that she knew how to play her cards well.
Depending on how I were to react here, I’d get to know Freya’s true self. I would, of course, continue to act like an innocent fool, incapable of feeling resentful. Especially if it was her.
“It’s quite all right, Lady Furiana. You didn’t know that something like that would happen. I understand why you did it, so don’t trouble yourself with it.”
“If I hadn’t made such an offer in the first place, My Lady…”
“It’s really okay. If I could tell you a little secret, it was actually quite fun! This was the first time I’ve experienced such a thing, since these things don’t happen in Romagna. I do feel sorry for the knights who had to work so hard until late at night to find me, but I’m fine.”
When I beamed at her with a wide and stupidly benign smile stretching my lips, she only kept quiet and gazed into my eyes, searching for something. Then, as if she had found it, her own lips curled into a happy grin, looking like she had just cracked a secret code and rejoicing in it. I might have been influenced by my own ill feelings towards her, but it seemed like she was ridiculing me.
“I see what you mean,” she said. “I’m glad My Lady is well. Feel free to let me know if there’s anything I can do for you in the future.”
Suddenly, I understood why I hadn’t felt any animosity coming from her towards me. To her, I was not worth the effort of enmity. She probably only saw me as an annoying fly buzzing around her perfect head, something she wouldn’t even need to lift her hand for to slap away. I was a joke to her.
Freya’s position was unparalleled in the North. A marquis’ daughter and the childhood friend of the king’s nephew and niece. I didn’t know what I did to offend her, but no matter what had happened and no matter what I said, there was no way that anyone would believe me.
It was kind of ironic that in these trying times, my last ray of hope was my cold-blooded husband. The problem was that I hadn’t even seen a single strand of hair of his since that night. To make matters worse, I couldn’t even dare to think about taking a step outside of the castle, even after my injured ankle had healed.
The guards watched me like hawks, their eyes wide open and looking for any small mistake I would make, seemingly delighted about me being scorned. Ellenia, too, seemed to be angry with me and stayed apathetic, taking on a lackadaisical attitude.
This situation was so sh*tty. I couldn’t leave the castle and I couldn’t even check on my husband to see if I had a chance of surviving or not, damn it all!
All the power lay in his hands. I had tried my best to sow the seeds, but it was up to him to do the reaping. I didn’t even want to imagine what would happen if he were to still opt for sending me back home.
“The banquet will be held soon.”
At least Ellenia was less cold-hearted compared to her absent brother. She had decided to visit me once in a while at best and kindly remind me of the upcoming event. I had forgotten all about it, to be honest.
Summer had already ended, and with it came my husband’s birthday, right in the midst of the cold and ruthless winter.
“Is there anything I can help with?” I asked hesitantly.
“I’m planning on doing what I do every year, so it’s fine,” she retorted, her tone very sharp. “Also, all the clothes you’ve ordered will arrive this afternoon.”
Well, even if what she said hurt me a little bit, she was right to tell me off. Considering the situation right now, instead of helping with the preparations, I’d only get hated more and more for my unwanted meddling. So I decided to just let it go.
Ellenia only looked on as I bowed my head down further and got up from her seat at my bedside. “I’ll be busy until the day before the party, so the maids will help you prepare in my stead.”
And that’s how I had been placed under the mercy of those nasty good-for-nothing servants. They weren’t even hiding the desire to kick me out of the Duchy as soon as possible on their despicable faces.
I want to cry. Ellen, why do you keep abandoning me?
They had been reluctantly taking care of me for a while, but since the night of the accident, they all became callous and negligent again. Whenever I pulled the rope near my bed because I was in need of something, a maid with disdain blatantly and openly on her mien would appear almost half a day later.
At least I had Lucille, the maid I had bribed with jewelry last time. She was still useful if not a little standoffish. Well, if she had any conscience left after receiving my gift, then obviously she’d feel a bit obligated to care, unlike all the other maids.
Anyhow, what was the best course of action to take to reconcile with my daunting husband? In addition to that difficult task, I was also stressed about what to prepare as a birthday present. It’s not like it was my first time to try to appease him, but I had to be extra careful this time around.
After nearly half a day of brooding over it, I decided to just go with what I was familiar with. Since I couldn’t ask anyone to go on an errand for me, all I could do was embroider him a gift.
My father’s mistress, Lady Julia, had given me an embroidery kit as a wedding gift. I was lucky to still have it.
“I didn’t know My Lady enjoyed embroidery,” the head maid, Martha or whatever her name was, said. She had decided to visit me in my cage, suspicious of me being cooped up here all day. She probably thought I was up to some nefarious plot and came to spy on me since I hadn’t left my bedroom for a while now.
In all honesty, she felt as threatening and conniving as Freya, but I couldn’t show any malice, so I only smiled at her. “I’m just practicing.”
“Is Her Ladyship planning on giving it to the Young Lord?”
“Yes, but since it’s been a while, I don’t really know if it’ll come out well. I’ve also been wondering about what pattern would be best to sew.”
“If you would allow for this humble servant to advise you, a willow tree would be fitting.”
“Yes, when the Young Lord was a child, there was a willow tree he often used to climb. It’s been a long time since it was cut down, so he feels nostalgic about it at times.”
Shivers ran down my back as her light brown eyes glowed with something spiteful and her thin lips curled into a vindictive smile.
“Ah… Thank you for the advice. I’ll keep it in mind.”
Of course, I had no plans on embroidering a willow tree, ever.
He felt nostalgic about it? What, did she think I was that dense? Aside from the fact that I was not the type to fall for such cheap tricks, the hatred she exuded was too obvious for me to trust her words.
I couldn’t believe she told me to embroider that. Doing so would basically be me asking to get beaten to death with a willow cane.
I didn’t know the exact details about the tragic end of the Duchess of Omerta, but there was one scene from the novel I remembered very clearly.
The Duchess of Omerta had died by hanging herself from a willow tree.
It must have been Martha that extinguished the fire on purpose on my first night here.
You only made a small suggestion, but you were being very obvious about it, you sly b*tch!
She seemed to be zealously awaiting the day she would see me get dragged out of this castle and this country by the ends of my hair, but I would never allow for that vile woman to have her way.
Thinking of my first night in Britannia, I naturally thought of monsters.
Especially Popo. A strange creature who had understood and had helped me. I thought it was silly back then, but I had a hunch that it was the same case with other monsters. There had been the gargoyle from the basement Cesare had once locked me up in, the winged monster from the first night, the demon that had dragged me into the pond of the palace…
I was sure that Rudbeckia had some type of connection to monsters.
Whether it was me or whether it was Rudbeckia that had the ability to communicate with them, I didn’t know. No, I was actually quite sure that there was not a single human being in this entire world that had an ability like mine. Popo had made it clear that he couldn’t understand or talk to any human but me, so it must be me, right?
The only thing I could do right now was to bite my tongue and wait it out to see what would happen.
I couldn’t tell anyone about this, because if I did, I would be branded a witch.
For the next few days, I worked hard on embroidering a handkerchief for my mean husband. It was fun, surprisingly, and I quickly got absorbed in the repeated process of sewing, my fingertips swelling and bleeding from the clumsy way I handled the needle. It had been a while since I last embroidered, after all.
By the time it was almost done, I asked Lucille for some stationery so that I could write a letter.
Having thought long and hard about what to write down, I decided to just pour my heart out and pray that he would accept my heartfelt sincerity. I was a little scared that he might tear the letter apart, but the torrent of emotions made me unable to put the quill down.
Then, as if the universe had decided to screw me over one more time as if I hadn’t had enough, a throbbing pain pierced through my back and my lower abdomen ached with unbearable cramps.
I couldn’t believe that this was happening now. I’ve always had irregular cycles, but why did it have to come now of all days?!
I was pretty good at enduring pain, but it was exceptionally severe this time around. It was sad to think about how not even Mother Nature was on my side.
This was bad. I couldn’t even move a single muscle without curling up into a fetal position and clutching my poor stomach. Sweating through my clothes and through the sheets, I desperately pulled on the rope next to my bed to call for a maid.
I waited and waited, moaning and heaving in agony, but no one came.
“Are you feeling uncomfortable, My Lady?”
Did it have to be her to answer my call, almost half a day later? It would have been better if it had been Lucille, but instead, it was the shrewd head maid that had entered the room.
I was gritting my teeth in annoyance and was about to open my mouth when she said, “Her Ladyship does not seem to be very well, so I shall bring some painkillers for now. Also…”
The strange hesitation in her voice had me lifting my head to face her fully. My vision was blurring since the pain was so severe, but I could see apprehension on her face.
What are you pretending to be hesitant about?
“I apologize, but the Young Lord wishes to pass on the message that My Lady should stay in her room today. He’s said that Her Ladyship does not need to attend the banquet.”
A lump rose up in my throat.
“My Lady is not faring well, so it is best to follow his orders. If there is anything I can deliver to the Young Lord, I shall gladly oblige.”
I had absolutely no intentions on leaving the gifts I had wholeheartedly prepared in the hands of this woman.
He said that? You must be lying to me, right?
No matter how angry he was with me, there was no way I could stay in my room while his birthday banquet was being held downstairs. What kind of humiliation would that be, a wife not attending her husband’s birthday party? Doing so would be one of the most discourteous things one could do.
I wanted to believe that he would never order such a thing, but on the other hand, it was not inconceivable if it was him.
I felt the anxiety taking over me.
I knew that he hadn’t wanted to see me for a while, but what if he was really trying to get rid of me now?
Not long after the head maid left, Lucille came in and gave me the painkillers. I felt sorry for myself, but seeing her look at me with pity in her eyes only made me feel worse.
I asked her to call Ellenia for me, but all she said was that she would be unavailable until the end of the banquet, and then she left me to wallow in misery on my own.