Side story 6 – Having met you +
“It would have been better if you’d never been born.”
“It’s annoying to have to take care of that nuisance.”
“Get away from me! Monster!”
Why, why, why does everyone hate me? Why doesn’t anyone want me around them? I don’t like being by myself. It’s lonely. Please, someone, anyone is fine, be by my side.
When I woke up, I saw a ceiling that I had gotten used to in the last few months. That’s right, this is Duke Claes’s house, and I’ve become his adopted son. I let go of my breath.
Ever since I was born, I’ve always been treated as a nuisance and someone to be hated. But, ever since coming to the Claes family, I’ve been treated so nicely. We ate hot meals together as a family, and they had gentle hands that cared about me. Up until now, all the things that I had always wished for but never gotten were finally in my hands.
Even so, from time to time, I would still dream of the old days. The people that denied and despised me. Even though it’s things from long ago…… My chest still hurt.
Today, I’m supposed to attend a tea party together with my stepsister Katarina. With some pain still remaining in my chest, I began preparing.
“Keith, thanks for coming along with me today.”
In the horse-drawn carriage on our way to the tea party, the always bright Katarina was grinning as she said so to me. At seeing Katarina’s smiling face, the pain in my chest lightened a little.
“I’d feel a bit lonely if I was alone, since I’m not that good at remembering people’s faces. It’s such a great help since Keith’s coming along.”
As she said so, Katarina’s light blue eyes were looking at me directly.
“Keith. Thank you for coming to the Claes family. I’m so happy to have become siblings with you.”
At her words, I thought I was involuntarily going to cry. A warm feeling completely replaced the painful feeling in my chest left from the dream earlier.
Katarina Claes is really such a mysterious girl. When I wanted it the most, she gave me the words I wanted to hear.
“……Me too, coming to the Claes family, and having met nee-san, I’m really happy.”
When I said so, Katarina gave me a gentle smile again. I’m really glad to have met this person, is what I thought from the bottom of my heart.
After meeting Katarina, I decided to become a splendid lady in order to stand next to her, and several months have passed since I first started working hard. There was so much I had to do in matters such as academics, dance, and etiquette.
But originally, I didn’t have any special talents or anything, and since my tempo was slower than others, I couldn’t do anything smoothly. That’s why, I had to put in double the effort of others, and worked as hard as I could.
For academics, I asked my home tutors questions for as long as time permitted, and I worked sometimes until very late at night. It was the same for my etiquette lessons, I repeated things over and over again until I got it right. As for dancing which I was really bad at, I practiced until blood soaked through my shoes from how much they were rubbing against my feet.
At seeing how desperately I was trying, my older sisters laughed at me.
“Even though you have no talent, it’s so disgraceful that you’re working so desperately.”
“It’s embarrassing as a noble daughter to be that desperate.”
“Because her social status is lower, her abilities must be lower too.”
Those words mercilessly pierced my heart, and I felt a pain in my chest.
Even so, if I’m spending time with Katarina, that pain will be significantly lessened. One day, this happened.
“What’s the matter? Mary, are you alright?”
Because I suddenly stopped and squatted, Katarina was peeking at me worriedly. I had come to Katarina’s house to play, and we were walking through the garden on our way to Katarina’s field. I had felt a severe pain in my foot. When I looked at it, I could see a faint blur of blood.
“Oh no! Mary, you’re injured! Did you bump it somewhere!?”
To the panicked Katarina, I also hurriedly replied.
“……I, I’m fine. It must be that, yesterday, I practiced dancing for a little too long.”
“Yeah. Since I’m bad at dancing, I have to practice twice as hard as others……”
After saying that much, I didn’t know what else to say. This is, if I don’t desperately practice to the extent where I rub my feet raw, I wouldn’t be able to do even one dance well is what I thought. Will Katarina laugh at me…… When I looked up at her, I saw her anxiety. Her face wasn’t like my sisters that were making fun of me, her eyes were sparkling instead.
“Trying your best to overcome your weaknesses, Mary’s really so great. I really respect you. I also have to learn from you.”
No matter how hard I worked…… I was only made fun of with cruel words. “How desperate” is what they said and laughed at.
But, I’m okay now no matter what they say. After all, because I can come here. Because there’s a person here who says I’m great and that she respects me.
As Katarina took me by the hand and said “let’s go back to the house and treat your wound,” this is what I thought strongly over and over again.
I’m really glad to have met Katarina Claes.