4 (2) – 7
“Well, I AM sorry for being so unsightly!”
Pushing Nicole aside, Camilla stood face to face with Verrat.
The two girls seemed confused as to why Camilla had suddenly butt into the middle of their conversation, b. But, that confusion soon turned to fear at her naked hostility towards them.
“W-What do you…?”
“What exactly is wrong about wanting to be loved by the person you love? So what if I was jealous? So what if I held a grudge? What’s wrong with that?”
Verrat and Finne began to tremble terribly. That only made sense, of course. Who wouldn’t be deeply frightened if someone who was obviously higher on the social ladder turned their unmistakably venomous hatred towards you like this, for a reason you can’t even understand?
But, Camilla didn’t have eyes with which to see their scared faces. Neither did she have ears to hear the voice of someone behind her, trying to calm her down.
The only thing she could feel was the anger building up in her head, like a torrent of water against a dam. That rising heat gave way to the cold words that came from Camilla’s lips.
“Even if the one I loved chooses another, I should just throw away my feelings and meekly congratulate the two of them? When I see him side by side with someone who isn’t me, should I just happily smile in their direction?”
Camilla got right up into Verrat’s face. Staring straight into the girl’s eyes, she didn’t notice the cold sweat that was pouring down her face.
“When your true love chose another, you still decided to smile for their sake, is that it? But that beautiful love of yours? I cannot do it!”
She couldn’t see Verrat’s face anymore, all she could see was the mocking expression of one of the noble girls of the royal palace instead. Eyes that sneered at her love that never came to be. Although they all too had love Prince Julian in the same way, they had all given up on him long ago.
Camilla, however, was the only one who never gave up.
Verrat was rooted to the spot as she trembled. She was just a commoner, terrified by the noble in front of her whom she had no power with which to go against. She understood that for some reason, this noblewoman was getting back at her. Well, actually, that wasn’t quite right. Right now, Camilla barely remembered who it was that she was shouting at, or even truly where she was anymore. Camilla wasn’t thinking, the words that came tumbling out of her mouth were pure emotion.
She truly had loved him. And therefore, Camilla had become unsightly.
“Even if I was unsightly, even if I was ugly, I just wanted to be loved!”
– Prince Juli… an…
The back of the man she had always chased after floated through Camilla’s thoughts. No matter how much Camilla yearned after him, he would never turn around to look at her.
All she could remember in her mind was his back.
“I wanted to see myself in his eyes! I wanted to support His Highness! I wanted to stand by his side! Those were my feelings; how could I just give up on them like you did…!?”
“Stop it at once!”
A strong force separated Camilla from Verrat, who were was almost eyeball to eyeball to her. A booming voice that even drowned out Camilla’s anguished cries.
Alois took Camilla’s hand. Pulling her away from Verrat, he tried to bring Camilla back to her senses.
When she turned around, she saw herself reflected in Alois’ severe eyes. Camilla’s face had twisted out of her own control. Was she crying? Laughing? Or was it a mask of pure unbridled anger?
“Lord Alois, I…!!”
“Let’s step outside. You need some fresh air.”
“You aren’t yourself right now. So, let’s step outside.”
That sort of blunt tone was rare for Alois. Yet although Camilla was burning with passion, her hot hand stood in contrast to just how chilly Alois’ was. He led Camilla by the hand, his stiff face holding its tongue.
He wasn’t interested in what she had to say right now. Alois didn’t say a word in response to Camilla, as he half dragged her out of the cellar by the hand.
“Lord… Alois? That was him?”
“Then that Lady was… It can’t be…”
From behind, she could hear the growing horror in the voices of the two young women who truly didn’t know anything. They just realized they had committed an act that could carry far more heinous consequences than just playing music.
But, right now, Camilla was in no frame of mind to realize their ignorance, much less to forgive it.
She was angry at everything. Her anger had boiled over so much, she didn’t think there was a lid capable of containing it anymore.
Pulling the iron door at the top of the stairs aside, he brought her back through the deserted and ruined diner and out onto the street, where the sun had begun to dip towards the horizon.
The wind whistling through the alley carried with it, a few errant notes of Prince Julian and Liselotte’s wedding hymn. Nicole scrambled behind them in a worried panic, but Alois didn’t stop at all, leaving her behind.
“Lord Alois! Please let me go at once! I still have things I need to say!”
“I won’t. Did you see their faces?”
It was plain to see how petrified they were. They were confused by Camilla’s anger, and truly scared of the possible disrespect and offense they had caused without even knowing.
“All the more reason to set them straight!”
“It’s only natural for you to get angry. But, they weren’t out to hurt you. This is my fault, after all, I should have stepped in sooner.”
“Are you implying that just because they didn’t mean any harm, I shouldn’t say anything!?”
Camilla struggled to free herself from Alois’ grip. Even if he was overweight and flabby, he was still strong. No matter how violently she twisted and pulled, he didn’t budge an inch.
“Oh, well, because they didn’t mean any harm, I suppose that’s alright then!? I should have just sat quietly and listened, is that it!?”
“That’s not what I’m saying.”
Alois finally stopped walking, though he still held Camilla’s hand.
The narrow alley was carpeted in a thin layer of snow. There was nobody around. Behind them, there were only Alois and Camilla’s footprints were imprinted on the snow.
As Camilla still struggled desperately to escape from him, Alois looked back at her. His usual calm smile was gone. That face of his was still familiar though… It looked like Camilla’s, whenever she tried to hold back her passions.
“That’s why I stopped you. It wasn’t just for their sake, but for mine as well.”
“What are you…?”
In front of Alois’ strong gaze, Camilla grew quiet. She had no intention of being intimidated by him, but the words just wouldn’t come out. Even her arm, which she was trying so desperately to pull out of Alois’ grip before, lost its strength.
“Camilla, I know that you didn’t really mean any harm either. I know that you were thinking of someone else. But even though I knew you were feeling hurt, I didn’t step forward in time to stop them, so I don’t have any right to criticize you at all.”
But even though he said that, Alois’ still exhaled heavily, his breath steaming in the cold air. That firm expression of his looked like it was holding back a wave of anger with self-control.
Yet, maybe that wasn’t quite right?
Instead of anger, those blinking red eyes betrayed a feeling of lonely sadness.
– If he were Prince Julian, would he have shown me a face like this?
“Camilla… I just didn’t want to hear it anymore.”
Locking eyes with Camilla, Alois’ voice grew soft, almost to a whisper.
“Because your words hurt me as well.”
His quiet words evaporated into the air of that snowy town along with the steam of his breath.
Alois didn’t say another word, as Camilla stared at him in silence. That body of hers that had been wrapped in fiery anger chilled in the cool wind.
– If he were Prince Julian…
Camilla’s heart still swirled as she faced Alois. Even if they both had that same silver hair and pair of red eyes, Alois and Prince Julian were as far apart as could be.
– If he were Prince Julian, he wouldn’t say that. If he were Prince Julian, I would have been happy with his consolation, even if it was a lie. If he were Prince Julian, he wouldn’t have been hurt. If he were Prince Julian…
That hollow comparison smouldered in Camilla’s heart.
Camilla knew that the comparison was unfair. But in that uncomfortable silence between them, as Camilla looked at him, her mind rolled over all the differences between Alois and Julian.
She could still hear that faint hymn from somewhere in the distance.
It was the song she had dreamed over and over of hearing one day, as she and Prince Julian stood together before an altar, hand in hand.
Edited by: ApoPie