4 (3) – 13
The blows that rained down on him were almost naïve in their monotony.
It was as if every punch was thrown with the weight of a different grievance filled memory behind them. But even if every hit was considered like that, considering the weight difference between them, they still hurt.
As Klaus raised his arms to protect his face, Franz pummeled them. As the blows thudded against them, Klaus thought that his arms might break under his younger brother’s power.
“You’re always taking away the things I want!”
The love he should have received as a child. The expectations of his parents. The trust of the people. He had even snatched away his first love.
He had a handsome face, he was cultured and he was clever. Just what lay behind the eyes of the younger brother who envied his talented elder? Klaus knew.
“Just what more do you want!? How much more do you have to take from me before you’re satisfied!?”
Franz was by no means a useless person. He had a strong body and studied diligently. He was an ordinary man who made up for his shortcomings by working hard. His character may be slightly skewed, but it was never warped to a serious degree. He always tried to think logically and seemed like the picture of excellence, never letting any of his weaknesses show.
“Argh, isn’t it enough already!? You have everything you want, don’t you!? This is the only thing I have!”
The only thing that Franz had over Klaus was that healthy body. People often whispered about them at an early age ‘if only it had been the other way around’. If only Franz instead had the weakness that was supposed to have taken Klaus’ life before he was ten. The number of people who thought that wasn’t small.
Yet, the reason Franz didn’t hate his older brother and could endure all those cold glares was because he thought that Klaus would die young. Eventually, all those eyes that showered Klaus with affection would have had to turn to him one day.
“Why are you alive!? Why did you come back!? Why!?”
As he voiced out his remorse, Franz kept hitting Klaus. As he let his emotions take over, his voice turned into a scream.
“How much do you think I’ve worked for this!? How desperately long it took!? And you’re just going to take it all away again… Brotheeeeeeeeeeeeer!!”
Franz had always worked desperately to not seem like the inferior substitute to Klaus as an inheritor. But, no matter how hard he tried, Franz could never catch up to Klaus. His parents, his relatives, even the servants, all of them only looked Klaus’ way. They didn’t even notice how hard Franz worked. He was only ever just Klaus’ substitute.
But, Franz couldn’t give up on the succession. Because as a child, it was for that reason alone his parents ever looked his way, his one source of pride.
Franz held a deep insecurity when it came to Klaus. He envied what Klaus had, was jealous of his talents, admired what he was and also hated him for it.
Klaus knew just what went through the mind of his poor younger brother.
Because, in a way, Klaus was the same.
“I never wanted to be a genius, either.”
Klaus spat that out, along with some blood. Through the gaps in his arm, he could see Franz’s panting face. Klaus didn’t know how many times that Franz, who was riding on top of him after he fell on his back, had punched at him anymore.
Franz’s arms were sinewy with muscle. They were well tones and had a healthy complexion. The other hand that grasped at Klaus’ neck had a huge amount of youthful strength.
Klaus grabbed the arm that held his neck. Klaus’ arms were thin, and whilst some might call them charmingly feminine, right now he could only see them as useless and dainty. His skin was pale. Their brawn or arm strength was negligible.
“I didn’t want to be born ‘talented’. If I could, I would hand it all over to you…!”
He could feel more blood welling up in his mouth. This was the first time Klaus had been caught up in a fight or beaten like this. After all, he had spent half of his life secluded away in one of the mansion’s rooms.
“Do you think you were the only one who was envious…!? How did you think I felt every time I saw you!?”
A body that couldn’t walk for the longest time. A pitiful life that wasn’t supposed to have seen out its tenth year. Even though Franz was younger, he soon towered over him in height in no time. Even after overcoming that foretold death, Klaus’ body had always remained weak, even now. No matter how much he ate, he couldn’t put on weight nor muscle, and he got sick easily.
“You could run around outside! You didn’t have to spend every day wondering if it was your last! You never had to wonder ‘will I even wake up tomorrow?’! You had no idea how much I envied you!!”
“So you knew!?”
Franz raised his fist. It was easy to predict just where it would fall, because even if they were heavy they were also monotonous. Especially considering how many punches he’d received already.
“Even if I had to throw away my ‘talent’, I wanted a healthy body! I wanted to walk around outside. I wanted to see the flowers bloom for real. I wanted to walk through the towns streets on my own two feet, not just see them from a window!”
Franz’s fist sailed down towards him. Taking advantage of the chance as Franz’s punch only swung through empty air as he dodged, Klaus shifted to push Franz off of him. Franz, who had been astride Klaus, fell backwards, and their situation was reversed. As the back of Franz’s head struck the ground, he was dazed for a moment as he looked up, dumbfounded.
“I was always watching you run around outside from my window.”
Even though they were brothers… Just why were they so different? He resented him. He envied him. As Franz was jealous of Klaus, Klaus hated Franz. Although he fortunately survived, over the course of that decade, Klaus and Franz’s relationship had become warped.
“I was jealous, and I couldn’t help feeling that way. I envied you, especially because you didn’t even notice how lucky you were. I longed for what you had, as I watched from the window.”
From the window. As the sun shone through its opening. He couldn’t even feel the breeze from outside as he lay in his bed. Time and time again, from that window, he watched as his mother and father had taken Klaus out to visit Blume.
Often times, the town had been blooming full of spring’s finest flowers. Awash with those beautiful white petals. The white flower that symbolized Klaus’ desire.
“For me, the one that symbolized what I desired, my Sehnsucht, that was always you…!”
Underneath Klaus, Franz said those words as if all the wind had been knocked out of his sails. Did he hit his head too hard? Or was having the tables turned on him that much of a shock? It seemed like he had calmed down a little bit, but he still didn’t return Klaus’ gaze.
“You wanted to be praised by our parents, didn’t you? To be acknowledged for what you’ve done, right?”
“I’ll acknowledge you.”
Not intimidated by Franz’s angry yell, Klaus said that.
“I envied you and watched you all the time. I know just how hard you worked. I know your strengths and your weaknesses. I’ll give you a place where you can truly show your value.”
Franz looked up at Klaus, opening his mouth. But, he closed it again, without saying a word. He couldn’t put his feelings into words, as he kept breathing raggedly.
“Leave uncle behind and come work under me. You’re too good to be working under him, anyways. That guy only sees you as a pawn.”
Their uncle was recklessly ambitious. There was no doubt he’d work to make Franz his puppet. If Franz couldn’t become the successor, he’d toss him aside.
But still, he was the one who had given Franz purpose and drive. That’s why he had worked to his uncle’s designs. Even if at times the methods made him balk.
“You like this town as it is too, right? If our uncle takes over, he would just make it into his tool. Even you can’t over look that, can you?”
“Be my right arm, Franz. I need you to do the things that I can’t.”
Taking a deep breath, Klaus said that as he looked at Franz.
Franz bit his lip as he looked back at Klaus, trying to figure out if he truly meant what he said… But, that’s when it happened.
Franz opened his eyes wide in surprise. At the same time, Klaus felt something cold pressed up confidently against his neck.
“That’s far enough, Klaus.”
A bitter and aged voice echoed in that empty lot.
“You always have been the obstructive sort, haven’t you?”
That huge man whose roughness didn’t seem to fit the Lörrich house at all stepped into the vacant lot.
But, Klaus couldn’t see the figure of that hateful uncle Lucas of his, whose face was twisted with unbridled ambition. In fact, it was difficult for Klaus to even turn around right now, as he sat atop Franz.
The reason for that was easy.
One of the vigilante militiamen was holding a sword against the side of Klaus’ neck.
It’s a good thing they’re brothers, otherwise, you could read this scene very differently.