Those hellish days went on without relief, nor even the slimmest possibility of escape.
Lilith’s smile never left her face as she tormented me sadistically day in and day out.
She would have the servants assault me. Have the maids think ill of me. Lie to her mother and have father take her side.
Lilith, with that angelic face and cute smile to match, would use those as well as her soft and sweet voice to win people over to her side.
That skill of Lilith only became even more apparent once the me of my previous life began to attend school alongside her.
“Please don’t cry, Lady Lilith.”
A classmate drew Lilith into a gentle embrace.
Meanwhile, I was being manhandled by two boys in a deserted corner of the school’s garden. In front of me, all sorts of jewels and accessories were scattered in the grass.
As I saw more and more of these things that I had never seen before spilling out of my upturned bag, I felt my body grow rigid with fear.
“Coming to the campus garden after school all by yourself, I thought you were up to something…”
“Did you come here to stash away all the things you stole? To think that a noble daughter of the Wenschlee family could be such a thief!”
“Hey, stop that, don’t call some thieving child of a whore a ‘noble daughter’. That’s a grave insult to the Wenschlee family, you know?”
“Ahahaha! You’re right about that!”
His cruel laughter echoing through the garden, the boy doubled over.
Rings decorated with jewels and vividly coloured brooches. Amber coloured bangles and necklaces laced with pearls.
They were things that the girls at the school often wore, showing them off to one another after classes.
(This can’t… If something like this comes out of my bag, then…)
There wouldn’t be any excuse.
Even if I was born out of an illegitimate partnership, the level of malice I received from my classmates was unheard of for someone who was still the daughter of a duke.
And sure enough, those hateful eyes soon turned to me once again.
“Hey… Even though you’ve been caught red handed, you’re still lusting after what you stole!?”
The boy gripped my arm even stronger than before. I screamed as I felt my bones creak in his grasp.
Lilith’s voice squeaked out through her tears.
“I’m so sorry, everyone…!”
That timid and heartfelt voice was something that aroused a protective instinct in those who heard it.
“I… I…! I was never able to truly understand what kind of a person my sister was this whole time…!”
Both the boys and the girls who were there tried to comfort Lilith, whose tears streaked down her face.
“Please don’t blame yourself, you haven’t done anything wrong. It must have been so hard for someone as gentle as you to find the courage to accuse someone of thievery, Lady Lilith…!”
“I’m sorry… *Hic*, Uwaa…”
Standing in front of that pretty girl, as if to protect her, the boys looked down on me.
“Hey… Apologize to Lady Lilith right now, Maria Wenschlee.”
That voice reverberated with hatred. Suddenly feeling a very real sense of danger, my heart skipped a beat.
“We’ll have you apologize to everyone you stole from, but apologize to Lady Lilith first.”
“That’s right. Because you’re such a disgusting and base creature, resorting to stealing like this, you’ve caused her so much pain.”
“Are you still going to make excuses!?”
I was scared.
(But, I have to defend myself properly…!)
If I backed down here, I would be thought of as a criminal by everybody, and things would only get worse.
So, I shook my head side to side in a panic.
“I… I am not a thief…!”
“Such an outrageous lie!”
“If you aren’t a thief, then why was all of this in your bag!?”
“That’s because, that girl… Because Lilith must have put it in my bag!!”
I was caught up in the moment and said something incredibly stupid.
The already cool air suddenly felt as if it had frozen over completely.
I really was an idiot.
I had said the one thing I shouldn’t have dared to utter in a place like that.
The person I am now, the one who was reborn, would never have uttered Lilith’s name in such a place. But, back then, I was stupid, falling magnificently into the bait that had been set up for me.
“To think… That in your desperation, you would utter such a horrible lie…!”
The female student that hugged Lilith looked down on me as if I were something filthy.
“How dare you try and hoist your crimes on Lady Lilith!?”
“I’ve had enough of this disgusting thing! Let’s get rid of her!”
“Lady Lilith, what’s wrong?”
Lilith trembled slightly as the girl asked her that.
“In… In the Wenschlee family, when someone brings shame on the house… It will only bring f-further shame if punishment isn’t engraved on their body… *Hic*.”
“B-But, I don’t want to do a terrible thing like that…!! For me to do such a horrible thing to my sister with my own hands, I…!!”
Lilith’s eyes were filled with sorrow, but also a tinge of something else entirely.
“Instead… Someone instead, can you…!”
Those tearful eyes of hers looked up at the boys.
When she did, something in their eyes changed.
Even if I had begged them then, they wouldn’t have heard me.
“Leave her face. Even if she’s the daughter of a whore, it’s possible a teacher might ask questions.”
“Haha! Somehow, this seems like it’s gonna be fun!”
“NO! STO-…. STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!!”
Once again, I couldn’t escape.
If I ran away, I wouldn’t have been able to protect Nina. That sister of mine, who somehow inherited the same lung disease as my mother, relied on such expensive treatment…
(It will be okay.)
In my previous life, I repeated those stupid words like a mantra, always enduring and never fighting back.
I thought that if I lived in hope, eventually things would get better. What an idiot I was.
(Once I turn sixteen, I will get married. I don’t care at all about being Queen, but at least I can take Nina with me and leave that house…!)
So, I tried to endure until then.
Even if it hurts, even if it was humiliating, all I had to do was grit my teeth and bear it.
Those were the thoughts I seriously held.
And, a few years later, I finally came of age.
“I fell in love with you at first sight, when I saw you crying so mournfully in the garden back then. But, to think everything had all been a lie, I will never forgive you…!”
The voice of His Royal Highness, the Prince, echoed through the ballroom.
At the side of the man who should have been my fiancee, wrapped in his arms, was Lilith. The cold eyes of my classmates and the noble guests at the ball stared at me pitilessly.
“Maria! Our engagement is hereby annulled!!”
Things get wild in the next two chapters, consider yourself warned.