5.1 The Day of Collision~
“Gilbert…I’m sorry to say, but I’ve acknowledged Count Brent’s request.”
“And said request is…?”
“As the king, I am to allow the divorce between you and Anne Marie—which I did.”
Ah, so this is it—my time is up.
“But, but he said—! The Count has bestowed upon me a chance to apologize—! I remember it clearly; he said it just the other day…—”
“Well, he certainly didn’t tell me anything about that. Instead, he firmly said that you shouldn’t grace his sight ever again, nor Anne Marie’s.”
“And the divorce is about to become official…”
I had apologized to Marie many, many times.
Though, to no avail, since it failed to reach the actual Anne Marie, everytime.
“Worry not! For I have gone out of my way to arrange a meeting with the House of Brent—come along side of me. Thereupon, it’ll result in a chance meeting with Anne Marie—that’s when you take your chance and apologize to her!”
…But then, it won’t be Anne Marie I am apologizing to; but ‘Marie’.
And that’ll also indirectly confirm my divorce with her.
To end things as it is…
“But… can that truly be counted as an apology?”
“Come on, now, Gilbert… Considering the agreement made between me and the Count, this is as far as I can go concerning your related matters—and isn’t it plentiful already? Asking more would be too much.” With a tone usually used in coaxing an over-pampered child, my brother admonished me.
Distress could be seen on his face, and I was taken aback by how genuine it was—
–realization struck; Am I not the one causing this?
I hurt Anne Marie, pained my surroundings, and disappointed my brother.
Indeed, it was all me.
“Since the Count and I are pretty busy at the moment, the meeting will be held one week from now. Only then will the Royal Palace be available.”
Truthfully, the Count thought the sooner the better. However, some issues were found once they tried to schedule the appointment.
“One more thing, is it okay to bring Anne Marie to the palace?”
“Even while she still believes she is Maria, I detect no change from her attitude. In another word, she still retains the manner of conduct and grace required of a proper lady. The doctor had also assured us that there wouldn’t be any problem as long she doesn’t come into the vicinity of the scene.”
Well, after a long time of house arrest, visiting the palace now and then might be a good change…
One week. That was the only time left for me and Anne Marie.
“I understand, I accept the Count’s kindness with an utmost gratitude.” –
—honestly, what else could I say?
I was given another chance to apologize—nevertheless, it wasn’t to Anne Marie, but ‘Marie’. After that, never more would I be allowed to see either of ‘them’.
From seeing her, whom laughed with innocence; whom had treated me with kindness blooming from the bottom of her heart—unaware of the grave sin that had dragged her to the current state she was now, committed by none other than me.
Yet, however, if I did apologize as per the official arrangement–
—albeit a little, will it lessen my guilt?
“…’s been quite long since the last time I saw you, Gilbert.”
“Nice to see you too, Sister-in-Law.”
Coincidentally, I encountered Maria right after I left my brother’s room.
For some reason unknown, the sight of this woman I hadn’t met since the recent Royal Party sent chills upon my spine.
“Do you suppose we can chat a little? It won’t take long, I promise.”
Contrary to the awkwardness I felt, her smile was as gentle and serene as ever; as she invited me to the Queen’s parlor.
After arriving, I immediately went into a daze as I stared at the amber-colored tea that was delivered by the maid. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a word–any word–to be spoken of, and Maria then stole my chance;
“The last time we met, it was in that Ball, wasn’t it?”
“Has Anne Marie been doing well?”
“Anne Marie is …uh, well… she–”
The only one remaining now; the only one who is smiling now—is Marie.
I didn’t know what to say. My mind, it was completely blank. What I’ve been intending to say had also been erased, assuming the same state as my mind.
Looking at my current state, Maria laughed.
“You do not have to answer that. I’ve heard about the circumstance from Dion.”
Of course she would; that much was unsurprising. And even if she didn’t inquire about it, I am sure my brother would’ve told her all the same…
But still, the smile adorning her comely face—what does it imply?
I knew fully well of her minuscule involvement in this matter, and yet, after hearing the ‘disappearance’ of Anne Marie—
—how could you still smile so gently?
What is it that amuses you so?
Unsure of anything else to say, I blurted out such a foolish-sounding remark.
It didn’t escape my gaze, the flicker in Maria’s eyes as I addressed her.
“’Sister-in-law’, from now on, would you kindly refrain from calling me that?”
“As we all know, I indeed married Dion. However, to regard someone as despicable as you as my ‘Brother-in-law’—that’s a different story altogether. Suffice to say, I have no such intention.”
As abrupt as that, silence was forced down my throat.
At that moment, my mind could only catch the light movement of Maria’s lips without the slightest intention to decipher her words.
“Said word suits you the most, doesn’t it? Count Brent has told me everything regarding to the gifts you presented to Anne Marie—and oh, such profound similarities! Is this purely a coincidence? Or, is this the real example of the saying ‘Monkey see, monkey do’?,
“You see, I, myself—as would every other woman—love it when my other half puts effort in making me happy. That’s why I rarely tell Dion anything.
“Hence, Dion goes into a great deals of trouble just figuring my likes and dislikes. Do you think you could just snatch it up, bring it to another woman, and expect her to be happy?
“Not only that, my precious memories of receiving those warm gifts from Dion, needless to say, you’ve tarnished them all–!”
In a haste, Maria went for a bite of her cookie, and then a sip of her tea.
“Hearing what Dion had recounted about his ‘younger-brother-’s-choice-of-gifts’ only adds to my astonishment. Seriously, not only the same color, but the same design as well?! Has your brain short-circuited from too much research?!,
“…Or, could it be, you have some unrequited feelings toward me?”
“Your actual intentions were to present it to the Queen, but you can’t. Since you can’t, you gave it to Anne Marie instead.”
How many time had I said this already—!?
I have no such intentions—such were the fact—!
Yes, I indeed had an unrequited feeling toward Maria. I consulted my brother about the presents intended for Anne Marie, that was also true. I gave it to Anne Marie, that was true as well!
But that was never the reason.
And if asked for a reason—it was just a single one: I just did not know—
“—Are you sure about that? Are you certain of not knowing what else to give?”
She saw right through my many excuses.
“If that were the case, then why not send some servants to the Household of Brent to inquire about it?,
“Surely for a man of your caliber, this can be done even with both eyes closed?,
“In truth, it’s just your heartlessness, isn’t it?”
Maria gazed straight at me, her eye filled with pity.
“I, I am just…”
I, I am, I…
I wonder what was it, the words I originally meant to say to her.
Didn’t matter; since no words could came out.
The language of this kingdom; the language of the neighbouring kingdom; the language of the distant land; and even the ancient language—I had mastered them all.
And yet, precisely at this moment, not even a single phrase came to mind.
“Here, I’ll share with you my honest feelings—
“—I utterly despise people like you.
“Someone vile, wicked, and despicable—because nothing else would be fit to describe somebody like you: a man who treats his wife as nothing but a substitute for his lost love.”
Indeed, my first love had certainly said all that.
“H-how did you know, about that…?”
Maria’s smile vanished into thin air.
Unfortunately, what I had just said had become a double-edged sword.
“Oh? So you were admitting it? Well, this means that you are also accepting the truth about yourself.” This time, she appeared sickened.
And so my sin was revealed to the last person on Earth I wanted to learn of it.
“No matter how much I thought about it, it’s very strange. For a lady as well educated as Anne Marie to suddenly lose sight of herself like that, something had obviously happened to her, don’t you agree? Something grand.” The words were spoken by Maria without her ever breaking eye contact.
“I firmly advise you to neither approach me nor her again.”
***T/N : Our Queen made her grand appearance!!! And betraying my expectation, she certainly didn’t carry those ‘fuwafuwaufufu’ pinkish vibe wife of the King in other VN usually have! And sorry for the delay since this chapter is a bit longer than usual!
P.S: ehehehe are you still unsatisfied with the length of roasting Our Danna-sama get? Honestly though, how would you ever get yourself out of this, Danna-sama????