“So this is the garden,” I murmured as I looked around.
Passing through an archway adorned with vines, I couldnt help but admire the intricacy dedicated to this garden.
Though it was for a mere detached house, it was landscaped excellently with a splendor that was nothing to scoff at.
Truly, this was a dukes estate.
For now, the biggest flaw in Rosettas memories was that she knew nothing about her surroundings.
I could easily cover for anything regarding her personality or mannerisms because it didnt seem like she was close to her family or with any employee of the mansion.
She rarely left her room and was never one for walks, but after eating breakfast earlier this morning, I ventured out on this light stroll.
Despite not going out of her room often, wasnt it too much that this girl didnt know her way around her own house After leaving my room, I made it my first imperative to familiarize myself with the estates layout.
Id think about how to deal with the nanny, Katie, later.
As I admired the beautiful garden on my walk, I soon regretted the decision to leave my room.
Through a gap between two tall bushes of the summer garden, I saw a familiar face.
Standing amidst a flower bed, with golden curls that glistened in natural light and golden eyes on a smooth, ivory complexion that stood out against the sunflowers blooming behind her on this summer day, was Alicia Valentine, my half-sister and this novels heroine
Yesterday, Alicia had done nothing but quiver like a crumbling leaf during a storm, yet now that she was surrounded with flowers as she basked in the sun, it dawned upon me that she was, undeniably, the main character of this world.
Which reminded me.
I guess were in the third chapter now.
The main characters appearance in a scene always signified something big, which was why I regretted my decision to leave my room even more.
Just thinking about this made me wince.
Every third chapter was like a nightmare come to life.
It was inevitable that wed bump into each other since we lived in the same house and we were required to meet regularly with the nanny in the guise ofeducation, so I really wouldnt have been able to avoid her forever.
As I observed Alicia, it made me reminisce about the past.
After all, I was in her shoes not too long ago.
Just until the day before yesterday, I lived as Rita, so I was going to need more time to forget those memories.
I had been happy just to see the flowers today and I didnt want to ruin my current mood, however—
I quickly made up my mind and turned my back on her—no, I tried to turn back.
If Alicia had found my retreating figure just a few seconds later, we wouldnt have met gazes and I would have gone back to my room while pretending not to have seen her, whether or not she realized I had been there.
“Ah!” Alicia exclaimed as soon as she saw me, hiding her hands behind her back.
Well, no matter how she concealed her hands behind her, I wasnt curious about what shes trying to hide anyway.
Ah but, what was she doing, screaming like this
At this part of the narrative, Rosetta hadnt done anything to Alicia yet.
While the older sibling did harbor a festering jealousy, she still kept this to herself and merely seethed quietly.
Up until this point, Rosetta had only actively ignored Alicia, so I couldnt believe that shes already screaming in surprise just by me looking at her.
It was a bit awkward, especially since I could feel that the other person was uncomfortable as well.
As if time had frozen, we stared at each other without a word.
It was too late for anyone to turn around without saying something.
Surprisingly, Alicia broke the silence first.
Trembling, she swallowed audibly as if she was about to jump into a volcano.
How do you do, Sister .
.” she said, her stuttering voice greeting me shyly.
Contemplating whether the wordshy suited her demeanor considering the two sisters relationship, I just nodded slightly and said, “Yeah, hi.”
A small bashful smile graced Alicias lips as she stared at me nervously.
She looked like a girl talking to her crush for the first time.
Now wait a minute.
Im the one in front of you though, so why
.” Alicia tried again, her cheeks going red as she stepped toward me, bringing her previously hidden hands forward.
She held yellow flowers in her hands and showed them to me.
They were obviously picked without the use of tools since the stems looked clumsy.
Not knowing what to say, I just gaped at those flowers.
I mean, why did you hide these if they were just flowers And why were you showing them to me now
Everything Alicia did today confused me, and so I was left speechless.
Silence stretched between us once more, growing even heavier.
This made Alicias blushing cheeks slowly turn pale, and her big doe eyes blinked with unease.
With the way she kept blinking even though I did nothing to her, it now looked like I was bullying her for no reason.
Im sorry for what happened yesterday, Sister .
and Im also grateful.”
“Me For what” I asked, the response leaving my lips before I knew it.
I really didnt know why she was sorry and thankful, so I just spit out the question, but now Alicias face turned blue.
She chewed on her red lips persistently as if nectar would spill out, and answered with a shaky voice.
You took my place .
and you gave me .
Well, I tried to take her place, but I didnt get hit in the end.
And the handkerchief .
Yesterday, I left Alicia alone in that room although she was crying.
It would have been troublesome to wait for her to calm down, and in the first place, I didnt think we were close enough for me to go that far.
As her sobbing continued, it wasnt appropriate for me to wipe her tears, so I instead grabbed a handkerchief and tossed it to her without saying anything.
That shouldnt be something to be grateful for.
I hesitated on my words as I looked at Alicia, who was still biting her lips.
I honestly thought I didnt do anything noteworthy, and besides, although I wasnt doing malicious acts right now, I was still a villain.
Whether it was intentional or unintentional, I somehow gained the main characters favor.
This would undoubtedly prove to be helpful to me, so theres no reason for me to waste this opportunity.
“No, it was nothing,” I answered with a friendly tone.
At this, the roses on Alicias cheeks bloomed once more.
“No, no, Im really .
I picked these flowers in return for the handkerchief you gave me .
As her hands shook with an undulating tremor, yellow petals hanging from their blue stems danced in the air.
Just then did I realize that Alicia was offering the flowers to me as a gift.
It was only when Alicia directly saidthis is for you did I realize it was a gift.
Gosh, sorry about that.
This child was giving me a gift, but I didnt realize it due to how pale she was just looking at me.
I couldnt help but doubt what was right before my eyes because it had been so long since I received such a wholesome gift.
Were in the third chapter, and its only been a couple days since I came here, thats why it didnt occur to me that Id be able to receive flowers that someone personally picked for me.
I reached out slowly and tenderly took the flowers from Alicias grip.
When I brought them into my arms, their scent fluttered towards me.
It was a fragrance that matched these summer blossoms.
Despite my curt appreciation, Alicia smiled as if I gave the world to her, her cherry lips wide with immaculately white teeth.
“Im glad, Sister,” she replied briefly like I did, but the emotion she conveyed was pure.
It was nothing like the half-hearted attempt I did—hers was filled with a splendid innocence.
I was rendered speechless for a moment.
All I could see was how Alicia thanked me with a bright smile and pure joy.
It reminded me how I was flooded by overwhelming emotions when I was woken up by the bright sunny sky for the first time in a long while.
“These summer blossoms are beautiful .
.” Alicia rambled softly.
I couldnt hear what she was saying very well.
“I know that you dont like gardens that much, so .
I wanted to show these to you, Sister .
As Alicia was distracted by her nerves, she didnt feel my burning gaze on her smile.
‘Was there ever a time I smiled just like that
This question suddenly assailed my senses.
Perhaps, before I went through the third round, maybe I could smile like that as well.
However, that was a long, long time ago.
Now, only a worn out shell was left.
Just a while ago, wasnt I uncomfortable around Alicia because she resembled my previous life closely But now, I couldnt see herself as anyone but an extension of myself.
Shadows of my past selves blurred into her features.
A crying face.
A desperate face.
An enraged face.
And lastly, a face .
devoid of emotion.
Resignation was the only thing left when faced with despair.
This was how I felt throughout everything, and it was only a matter of time until my past would become Alicias reality.
Unconsciously, I opened my lips and murmured, “You .
Alicia, who was still in the middle of rambling, halted her mumbles and shifted her gaze to me.
It was suffocating.
It felt like a void suddenly appeared within me, burrowing itself in my stomach.
The stems of the clumsy bouquet prickled at my fingers.
“You, youre .
As I struggled to get the words out, Alicia immediately flushed red.
In her embarrassment, she covered her face as she proceeded onto another bout of rambles.
“What No, not at all! In my eyes, Sister is infinitely .
more beautiful .
and unlike our other family members, my hair isnt silver .
This point of time was when the story had yet to begin in its flourish, and so this lovely heroine still shone so brightly.
And yet, this childs fate replayed over and over in my head.
This poor thing.
I couldnt bring myself to say anything.
Whether it was sympathy for you, or even for myself, I didnt know either.
Maybe its because the sun was so warm today.
Ah, my throat felt dry.