Among all the scenes in [ The Everlasting Flower ], this was definitely the most revolting one.
『Alicia flinched as a thin rod slashed above her golden eyes.
At that moment, her head was dyed black.
This was a memory from when she was twelve years old, when she took a beating that went too far.
‘Whats wrong, Alicia
Breathing heavily, Alicia took a slow step back, her body faltering as her legs shook helplessly.
She wanted to run away, but there was nothing she could do.
Leo swept in to catch the falling Alicia in his arms.
As she experienced this routinely, like clockwork, Alicia was engulfed by a deep-seated trauma, and in her attempt to break away from this terror, she sank deeper into the mans arms.
Surprised by the situation he found himself in, Leos blue eyes swept over her trembling figure.
Her entire frame shook and her golden locks swayed in the air.
‘I-I was wrong .
I was wrong, Nanny .
At this, Leo recalled the perpetrator who died at the Dukes mansion years ago.
He found out about this when he investigated Alicias past.
He knew that the former nanny had tormented the two princesses of the ducal family for a very long time, but this was revealed far too late.
The nanny was already punished for her sins.
Leo bit his lips hard.
If he didnt bite his lips, he might have let out a delighted chuckle.
Ah, thank you very much for this opportunity.
The trauma caused by her nanny still had such a hold over her.
This was a wonderful weapon for Leo—a weapon to keep her wrapped around his fingers.
Alicia, who did not know of such desires glistening so evidently in Leos eyes, buried herself deeper into his embrace.
In turn, he stroked the top of her head gently.
‘Its okay, Alicia.
Im right here.』
—This was the pivotal scene wherein Leo, the novels male lead, used Alicias trauma as a trump card to capture her heart.
And now the very scene was unfolding right before me in spectacular 4D.
It was here in my dreamscape that I found myself watching Alicia and Leo standing closely in each others arms.
Disgusting,” I muttered, the word directed straight at the man, but it didnt seem to reach his ears.
Not only could they not hear my voice, but it seemed like they couldnt see me as well.
Translucent white noise.
I guess thats what Id become.
I wanted to leave, to run away from this nauseating scene, but no matter where I went, I could still see them, as if my feet had been planted in the ground.
Why the hell are you doing this in my dream
Even though sleep should have been my only solace, my head throbbed as I watched Alicia sighing as she touched her forehead, still quivering as she muttered that she was wrong.
The Alicia in front of me had slightly more mature features than the Alicia I met yesterday, but she still looked like a lost, vulnerable child asking for help.
Before I knew it, my hand was reaching out toward her.
It didnt make sense to me why I did, but I wanted to reach out to her.
Perhaps it was because this was just a dream.
Or maybe this was a fluke
As soon as my hand touched the back of Alicias head, she looked up and I saw how the area around her eyes had turned red.
It could be because she had cried just now, as if red leaves had fallen over her ashen face.
Then, her golden irises met my own.
I froze at her unexpected awareness.
Wasnt I supposed to be just translucent white noise
And yet her eyes locked onto mine so fiercely.
A tear dropped down her cheeks as I gaped back in return.
The appearance she showed me right now immensely contrasted with the smile she showed me in the garden.
Like this .
. A weak voice croaked out.
‘I dont want to live like this, Sister.
That was all she said.
In the end, I forced myself awake.
When I opened my eyes, my heart was pounding like crazy while Alicias weak yet clear voice rang in my ears.
* * *
‘Ah, what an uncomfortable, awkward feeling.
Sympathy was both strange and frightening.
Whenever I would start feeling sorry for anyone, it wasnt usually followed by the desire to extend a helping hand.
I knew it wouldnt benefit me at all.
Which was why Im conflicted right now.
Knowing whats to come in Alicias future, I could feel my heart going out to her.
But then again, I had my own problems to sort out.
This was all that dreams fault.
A peaceful future was what I yearned for, and continuing to involve myself with the female lead wouldnt do me any good.
As a mere supporting character, my job was to fade in the background the more I moved away from the main characters, and this was exactly what I wished.
It would be fine to gain an adequate amount of favor from the protagonist, but it would be troublesome if I went beyond a certain level of involvement.
I knew all this, but then rationality went over ones head when swayed by useless emotions.
With my thoughts swirling in turmoil, I stared at Alicia who was sipping tea across from where I sat.
Her movements were fluid and refined, but an undeniable anxiety hovered above her elegance.
In the room with us was Katie, watching us like a snake observing its prey.
Alicia and Rosetta usually had lessons with her every other day, and today we met again.
“Alicia,” the older woman crooned, her voice laced with an imitation of kindness.
The girl who was sipping tea flinched at the sudden mention of her name.
Alicia sat up straight, straining her waist, and answered Katie with evident terror in her eyes.
Her teacup shook dangerously as the liquid that it held almost spilled.
As I recall from Rosettas hazy memories, Alicias hands would always tremble whenever Katie was in front of her.
Katie scanned her sparingly.
Alicia gripped the cups handle tighter.
“You shouldnt make any noise when drinking tea.”
Did she make a sound while drinking tea I didnt hear anything.
Alicia was evidently tense, but other than her expression, she drank her tea perfectly.
However, Katies blithe smile showed that she didnt agree.
“I-I apologize, Nanny .
As Katie rose from her seat, Alicia visibly became more agitated.
In her hurry to cover for a nonexistent mistake, her teacup slipped and clattered slightly.
Alicia gasped loudly, then immediately followed with the automatic utterance ofIm sorry, Im very sorry. The way she said it seemed like it was out of reflex, like a firmly established habit that had been ingrained for years and years.
Furthermore, Alicia now looked like she was having a hard time breathing.
The same trauma that I had witnessed in that dream was devouring her right now—every time Katie tapped the long whip in her hands, Alicias breathing grew more ragged.
I felt strange.
A hazy dust storm ravaged my mind.
An unknown acrid substance rose up my throat.
It was that feeling again.
As if something had clogged up my throat.
“Please stand up.”
“I-Im sorry, please, I made a mistake, I-Ill be careful from now on .
“Please stand, Lady Alicia.”
The girls apologies did nothing to change the nannys mind.
Alicia rose from her seat, her hands still shaking.
It would be better if her tears would not fall.
Without having to use much force, Katie grabbed Alicias arm and moved her from the table toward the carpet.
When I first woke up here, thats the exact spot where Alicia had been flogged.
“This is because you made a mistake, Alicia,” Katie whispered in a pleasant tone.
“I am only lecturing you so that you dont make the same mistake again, understand”
Alicia was blamed for a mistake created out of the older womans interference, yet she just nodded helplessly, resigning to everything.
I looked down at my own teacup and saw Katies reflection there, distorted.
I picked up a spoon and stirred the tea until what it reflected disappeared in a small whirlpool.
The nannys hand drew a line through the air, and it was followed by the sharp, resounding crackle of a whip.
It was louder than the clatter of a teacup that ensued this ordeal.
Alicia closed her eyes tightly, and at this, Katie smiled faintly.
But the smile soon disappeared.
* * *
Alicias brief shriek followed the sudden sound of glass breaking.
To her surprise, she sank to the ground while covering her ears.
Katie, too, was stunned.
Before her arm could swing in a large arc, the older woman turned her head to the direction of the sound.
What caught her attention was a teacup, shattered on the floor.
A small puddle soaked the area around it, especially those red shoes.
Katies infuriated glare lingered on the shoes she wore, now drenched with tea.
The golden eyes of a Valentine met with the nannys dark blue.
With eyes arched like half moons, lips that were previously pursed into a straight line now relaxed into a gentle curve, a fair complexion complemented by cascading golden locks and a set of golden irises—Rosetta, who was sitting upright with perfect posture, was as beautiful as a masterpiece.
Katie gawked at the sight before her, momentarily forgetting her ire.
After openly gaping at the well-drawn painting in front of her, what brought her back to her senses was the sound of Rosettas voice.
“Why did you call my name, Nanny.”
‘Why did you call my name, Nanny!
She couldnt believe what she heard, and so with twisted lips, Katie cackled.
Her anger, which she had forgotten for one hot minute, grew exponentially and blew up like a volcano.
Katie strode over towards me as she clenched her whip tightly.
Though Katies menacing figure loomed over me, I only grinned back.
She grabbed my chin roughly.
‘Ironically enough, its like a reenactment of the first day.
The only difference now was that, instead of Katie, it was me who donned a smile.