My name is Arusha Briar-Rose Remus, the second and the youngest daughter of Marquis Remus.
And I…am an unwanted child.
I’ve always had this feeling ever since I was young.
My parents have always been the kind of ‘absent’ parents for me.
For one, noble children are usually taken care by their maids or servants, I must agree with that. However, the degree of care and attention my parents showed to me differed with what they showed towards my sister.
“Mother, Father, look at what I drew!” The young me excitedly showed off my drawing of my family to my parents.
“Prim, your recital is coming soon, right? How’s your practice going?”
Yet, my parents didn’t even spare a single glance at me as they continued to shower Prim with their attention.
“Mother, Father, look…”
“Briar, we are talking with your sister right now. Go back to your room with Nanny.”
My sister, Aiglentine Primrose Remus, has always been the ‘perfect daughter’ in my parents’ eyes. She is the apple of their eyes.
Truthfully speaking, as long as she is there, my parents don’t need anyone else. My existence was never needed.
If that is really the case, then for what reason did I come to this world for? Why did my parents give birth to me?
And at some point in my life, I came to learn that my birth was an ‘accident’. Because they never needed another child to begin with.
When I was still a child, I was a little bit naughty at some point and that earned my parents’ attention, in a negative way. But being just a small child, I was happy that my parents finally looked my way, so I continued my antics, not knowing that would only fuel my parents’ hatred towards me.
“Why must you always give us troubles?”
“Why can’t you be like your sister?”
Because I am not her, Mother, Father.
Because you never gave me the attention and care like what you did to my sister.
So, I became like this.
Not like I never tried anyway.
Even when I tried my best to become an obedient child and learned a lot just like my sister, I knew that I wasn’t fit for that. I couldn’t somehow produce the results like my sister’s. I failed to live up to their expectations. And each time, I would hear the words of comparison. Be it from my parents, the servants, or my tutors.
“Her older sister is such an excellent example, and yet…”
“They are full-blooded sisters, right? How can they be so different…”
“Can’t you learn more from your sister?”
They thought I wouldn’t understand or remember their words as I was still a child, but they were wrong. As a child, I clearly understood what they meant and their words still remained with me up until now.
At some point, my parents were so frustrated with me that they yelled until I cried my eyes out.
“Why couldn’t you understand something as simple as this?!”
“Stop causing us troubles! Why wouldn’t you understand?!”
“This is how you should do this! It’s this simple, can’t you understand?!”
“You’re grounded. Reflect your mistakes here.”
They sometimes would ground me in my room and no matter how I bawled and banged on the door, nobody dared to open it.
If Nanny or my servants tried to beg my parents to not do this to me, they would answer with, “If we don’t do this, that child won’t understand.”
There was one occasion where I tried to reach out to my one and only sister. It was when my frustrated parents tried to discipline me and scold me. Tears filled my face as I looked at my sister who was coincidentally so close to us. Our eyes met, and for some reason, I extended my hand to grab hers with a pleading look.
But my sister rejected my pleading and shook my hand off before she turned her face away from me.
To my sister, my existence was also not needed. Yes, my sister often acted like I never existed at all.
At another point, I was tired of everything. I guess I gave up any tiny hope I had towards my family at all. Sure, in public, they tried so hard to keep up the pretense of a very good and harmonious family with me. But if they saw my lacking conduct while in public, they would scold me senseless when we returned home.
A miserable child like me, who liked causing ruckus just to gain some attention, also didn’t have any friend at all, to make it worse.
But that changed when I stood up for the bullied Valerie and Dmitria one day.
“Look at you two, you two are twins, but why are you so different? You must be adopted!”
“They must be lying about the fact that they’re twins!”
“Right, right! They were abandoned as babies then the Earl took them!”
The children shouted as they pointed at Dmitria and Valerie.
Back then, Valerie was crying as Dmitria protected her behind her back. Yes, Valerie was not as calm as she was right now. She was a crybaby.
“Sobs…sobs…I’m not…We’re not adopted…We’re not abandoned children…”
“Shut up, shut up! We are 100% twins!” Dmitria’s eyes were also red at that time as she was too upset.
But the other children liked their reaction all the more and continued to laugh at them. At that time, my mood was also bad and I wanted to pick a fight with someone. Therefore, I picked up some small rocks nearby and threw it at the children who bullied Valerie and Dmitria.
“Come at me if you guys want to pick a fight!” I said as I stood between Dmitria and the other children.
“Uwaa, it’s Briar, the problem child!”
“Run, or she will beat you up!”
The other children dispersed, as expected.
“Now, there, they’re all gone. Tell me if they pick up some fights with you guys again, I’ll help,” I said as I extended my hand towards the twins.
From that day onward, we became inseparable friends.
At first, I was surprised to learn that they wanted to become my friends and even joined me in causing some ruckuses.
I thought that perhaps we had similar home situation, but I was proven wrong when I met their mother.
When I looked at their mother who scolded them yet still had some loving tone and gaze, I was made to realize that I didn’t have that kind of loving parent once again.
I was sad when I stood alone, looking at Valerie and Dmitria who were lectured by their loving mother. Perhaps my gaze at that time was one of envy.
The closer I was with the twins, the more agonized I was—even when I had convinced myself that I’d give up all hopes on my parents. I even had one of my biggest breakdown in front of the twins.
“No matter what I do, everything is still not enough in Mother and Father’s eyes…! My sister doesn’t even think I exist!”
I bawled my eyes out when I was playing with Dmitria and Valerie one day. My envy towards them was so strong at that time, fueled by a recent trouble that got me grounded and punished by my parents just before I came to play with them.
Valerie and Dmitria’s hands as they patted my back at that time were very warm.
Several thoughts passed by my mind at that time.
It’s okay. It’s okay even if my family don’t care about me.
I have Valerie and Dmitria. Even Ristea-san, their mother, is kind to me.
So, it’s going to be fine…Right?
And yet…why do I still feel sad whenever I face my own family?
Why do I still feel empty inside?
To fill in the emptiness in my heart, I caused ruckuses and troubles at school. Since it was fun and perhaps it was also because people would finally look at me. If I didn’t do that, I was afraid nobody would know I existed at all.
When the school prince, Erneste, extended his hand with kind smile to me, I turned into his fan immediately. As there was someone who finally looked at me kindly. And yet, it turned out to be his ‘mask’ and I was only deceived. I only came to learn that later on, but I was glad that things turned out the way they were.
For I finally met with Lyra-aneki, the person who told me that I was a ‘good girl’, despite all the troubles I brought her and the fact that she scolded me. After following her for quite some time, she was still kind to me, which made me adore her all the more.
Yes, she was like an ideal elder sister figure to me. Despite the fact that she was younger than me…
So, I really, really wanted to spend more time with her…as well as with Dmitria, Valerie, and all the other friends I gained thanks to Lyra-aneki…
Due to all the troubles I caused, especially the one time where my parents were called to the school, I was grounded and wasn’t allowed to go to the Flugel’s place.
Even though they were quite happy as I got a link with a duke’s daughter and other important children…Well, I was upset at them for wanting to use my ‘connection’. I became friends with Lyra-aneki and the others not because of their positions, after all.
And what’s with their attitude, finally caring about me in a positive way once I gain connection? But then again, they want me to use my ‘connection’ and introduce them to Prim, so Prim can…
In other words, they wanted me to become a ‘bridge’.
A bridge they could burn once I have fulfilled my use.
With that reason, I didn’t try to tell my parents that Lyra-aneki and the others with higher social position would also come.
Because I knew, they would somehow try to have Prim come with me and I…didn’t want to destroy their time with awkwardness for having Prim, who’d try to curry favor with them.
But honestly, I also would like to come…
I felt very frustrated.
And finally, the day where my friends would be playing in the Flugel’s house finally arrived.
I guess they would be playing by this time, while I was grounded in my home, having to learn things that I hated.
Late in the afternoon, however, I heard some ruckus.
So I immediately went down the stairs and peeked into what was happening at the front door.
I widened my eyes in surprise once I realized what was going on.
“I’d like to fetch Briar-Rose to the Flugel’s house!”
That familiar voice I missed. Lyra-aneki actually came here for me!
Tears filled my eyes when I realized that she was going all the way here just for me…
“Lyra-san, how to say it…Briar is currently grounded as she has to reflect on what troubles she had done. But if you insist, Prim—”
“I heard that you brought her home this holiday and forced her to get tutored in many fields. It’s almost one month already, don’t you think it’s enough? She also needs some rest and fun,” Lyra-aneki argued for my sake.
“Well, compared to Prim, Briar…”
“They are two different individuals, albeit being blood sisters. Why compare them all the time?”
My face was hot. It was no good.
Lyra-aneki, don’t make me cry… Why would you go this far for me…?
“Listen. You can’t neglect your child just because that child doesn’t turn out the way you want them to be. Briar is also your child no matter what. She has her own good points. Can’t you stop bringing Prim up and let Briar be happy and have some fun with us?”
You can’t neglect your child just because that child doesn’t turn out the way you want them to be…
Briar is also your child no matter what…
She has her own good points…
Aneki…why were you able to say the words I wanted to hear the most?
I wouldn’t be able to hold back my tears anymore…
“Of course we’ll let her. We just want Briar to bring Prim over with her so—”
“Enough of this nonsense,” a familiar yet unfamiliar voice resounded. That sounded like Carbuncle’s voice, but it was kinda different…?
“W-w-wha, the wyvern, the wyvern talked…?!” Mother’s shriek could be heard.
“I am a dragon, you insolent!” Finally, Carbuncle’s familiar voice could be heard.
She was also coming…?!
“What are you doing…?!”
A loud voice of the front door being opened could be heard. I was surprised to hear that and didn’t have time to process what was going on when suddenly, Carbuncle grabbed my hand and dragged me out.
“Fetching her. The invitation is only valid for our comrades, sorry. It’s our internal bonding. No outsiders allowed,” Carbuncle said as we were both finally outside.
When I was next to Lyra-aneki, Dmitria, and Valerie, Carbuncle let go off my hand and stormed to the front garden.
Then, the unbelievable happened. She transformed into a dragon…!
It was my first time seeing her in her dragon form, so my mind blanked a bit.
“Well then, we’ll be off,” Dmitria said as she grabbed my hand.
“Don’t worry, she can use our stuff, or you can send her luggage afterward,” Valerie calmly said.
“I can guarantee that she won’t be any problem to us. Goodbye,” Lyra-aneki said as she grabbed my other hand.
Everything felt so unreal, so I ended up being dragged by Lyra-aneki and Dmitria to sit on Carbuncle’s dragon back.
Dmitria was sitting right in front, Lyra-aneki was behind her as she positioned herself so she could look at me. Meanwhile, I sat behind Lyra-aneki while facing her, and Valerie was behind me.
“We’ll definitely return your daughter safe and sound, without missing anything,” Carbuncle said in her draconic voice as we flew up to the sky.
“Hehe, our members are finally complete with this! I’m so happy that we’re not missing anyone, it would be too bad~,” Lyra-aneki cheerfully said.
It would be too bad if I were not there? Even if the other friends are there? I mean, there are many friends over there, so missing one shouldn’t matter…or should it?
I…To them, I matter?
My existence matters…!
“Eh…Briar, what’s wrong? You don’t look happy…did we wrong you by fetching you?” Lyra-aneki tilted her head in front of me.
Her words coupled with the cool breeze cooled my head down and I finally registered the events happening.
“No…you didn’t…I was just…too stunned…and…”
Because everything finally registered in my head, tears streamed down my face.
Aaah, this is so embarrassing! To cry in front of Lyra-aneki…
I immediately used my arm to cover my face.
“Eh, Briar, what’s the matter? Are you okay?” Lyra-aneki sounded a bit panicked.
“There, there,” Valerie softly caressed my back.
“Eh, what’s happening?” Dmitria’s concerned voice resounded.
“Oy, are you crying there, Briar? How dare you cry while riding on my majestic back?! You should be smiling widely and thank me for this rare opportunity!” Carbuncle protested.
“N-no, that’s not it…I’m just…too happy…,” I tried to utter my words as I snorted.
To have friends that are willing to go this far for me…
To have friends who are willing to stand up for me, even though that means facing against my own parents…
To have friends who don’t just abandon me in that house while they are having fun…
To finally be noticed…
To matter for someone…
So what if my family don’t care about me?
I may not be blessed with my family, but I’m greatly blessed with my friends.
I have my childhood best friends—the miracle twins–, a loving elderly sister figure—Lyra-aneki–, and my other unique friends.
Perhaps I could finally get rid of this emptiness in my heart and laugh happily with my friends from now on.
But for now…
I’m sorry, but please let me cry for a bit more…!