A day after our visit to the grave, I had a somewhat strange dream about the past. It was back when Alice was still a slave and we were living apart.
“That was nostalgic….”
I was still half asleep as I buried my face in my body pillow.
Back then, I’d often ‘sleep’ with Alice in order to deceive Mary. It wasn’t even unusual for me to wake up and find myself using Alice as a body pillow.
I hadn’t yet hit puberty then and I never even felt nervous sleeping with Alice. Thinking back to those days now…I was doing something really amazing.
I’m really feeling nostalgic holding onto this body pillow.
Is it because I fell asleep holding this pillow that I had that nostalgic dream….eh? I-I don’t remember falling asleep holding a pillow.
— eh? No, no, no, no. There’s no way something like that would be happening. While thinking this, I slowly opened my eyes to see the ‘body pillow’ I had been holding in my arms was actually Alice.
“…why did I expect anything else?”
I looked at Alice’s sleeping face.
She had long eyelashes and thin eyebrows. I can’t see her eyes but I know they’re a deep blue that you could easily get lost in.
And her cherry blossom coloured hair was spread out all over the bed while shining brilliantly under the morning sun.
“Oi, it’s time to get up.”
I got a little angry seeing this and poked Alice on her cheek.
“…fwah? Ooh, Leon. Good morning~”
She didn’t even notice my finger poking her cheek. So I decided to take it a step further and mercilessly pinch her cheeks.
“Ouch, ouch, that hurts….. Mou, why are you getting so angry?”
“Isn’t that obvious! Hair. Your hair. Why isn’t your hair tied up while you’re sleeping? You’re going to damage it if you sleep with it like that.”
“Oh…I came to wake you up and I must’ve fallen asleep…. But why would you be angry about that?”
“I’m not angry that you got into bed.”
Because we’re dating — I muttered this under my breath. I’m not angry. I guess I just want to take care of her.
“Ehe, ehehe~. Then, should I sleep with you every night?”
“Stop that. I’d never get any sleep if that happened.”
“…Leon, you’re so perverted.”
“That’s not what I meant. I just don’t think I’d be able to sleep well if someone was sleeping next to me. You know that much, right? Why do you have to always tease me?”
I sighed and sat up in bed. Then I lifted Alice as she was trying to go back to sleep.
“You said you came to wake me up, but is there another reason?”
“Yes, actually. You’ve been acting strange the past few days and I was worried that something may be wrong.”
“…hmm? Oh, it’s nothing to worry about.”
“Still, if something is on your mind, I want you to tell me about it.”
“I think I’ve just become a little sentimental after visiting the grave.”
“And that’s why you’ve been acting strange?”
“Probably. Honestly, I didn’t even notice myself.”
I know the real reason, of course.
I may be over the grief I felt after losing my family but I still can’t get over Father’s final words. And I know there’s nothing I can do about it.
That’s why I lied to Alice. I don’t want her worrying about me.
“…so your behaviour has nothing to do with the way Sophia’s been acting?”
“…Sophia has been acting strangely as well?”
“Yeah. I was thinking you were both worried about the same thing….”
“You don’t think it has anything to do with us dating, do you?”
The day I graduated from Muhle Academy, I confessed to Alice. I told Sophia and Claire the same day, so I was thinking Sophia didn’t take it well….
“I don’t think so. You told them both that you didn’t just choose me. You made sure that they knew you hadn’t abandoned them. I don’t think either of them has reason to be upset about that.”
“…well, that’s true.”
Having heard her say that, I really do sound like a womanizer.
No, it’s just that I wanted to go out with Alice, but I didn’t want to disregard their feelings either.
So why is Sophia acting strange?
The other reasons I can think of are: the mastermind behind the attack on the Grances family was Sophia’s father and Sophia killed her father.
“If Sophia is acting strange I bet it has something to do with our visit to the grave.”
This was my guess and Alice responded with a single word.
“Hey, Alice…. Do you think Sophia is still affected by what happened in the past?”
“That’s…. I doubt those memories will ever disappear.”
I see. That’s certainly true. The normally innocent Sophia suddenly snapped and led to her causing blood to rain in her own home. I know I’ll never forget that day.
So I doubt Sophia will ever forget the events of that day.
“Thank you for letting me know. I think I’ll go speak with Sophia.”
“Okay, take care. Time to go to sleep for the third time today~”
“There’s nothing I can do to keep you from sleeping is there? At least tie up your hair before going back to sleep.”
I let out another sigh and left Alice to sleep in my bed while I went off to find Sophia.
I arrived at Sophia’s room and knocked on the door, hoping she wasn’t still asleep. Fortunately, she replied soon after.
“It’s me, Leon. Can I come in?”
“Leon onii-chan? That’s fine.”
I entered the room after receiving her permission and saw Sophia sitting by the window, elegantly drinking tea. Her soft blonde hair was reflecting the sun’s rays brilliantly.
She looked normal but her usual smile wasn’t there.
“Good morning~, Leon onii-chan. It’s rare for you to come see me in the morning. Is something wrong?”
“Alice told me that you’ve been acting strange recently. I was just worried about you.”
Perhaps she was reading my feelings. Even before I finished speaking, Sophia had averted her gaze.
“I know you’re lying. There’s no way I’d believe nothing is wrong when you’re making a face like that. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, but…I hope you know you can talk to me about anything.”
Sophia looked unsure of what to do. I walked across the room to sit next to her and stroke her beautiful blonde hair.
At first, she didn’t move. She sat there with her eyes turned towards the window. But, before long, she turned back to me and leaned against me with her head against my chest.
“So, what’s wrong?”
“…actually, when we went to visit the grave, I overheard what you said to Milli. Since then, I’ve been thinking about my Mother and Father.”
“Carlos and Elyse?”
— so this day has finally come.
I’ve been expecting it ever since Sophia joined our family.
Sophia is convinced that her parents hated her. I think that’s a misunderstanding but I’ve never told Sophia that.
Because Sophia killed her father.
Of course, she had a good reason for doing that, but…Sophia has still been suffering from the guilt she felt over killing her father. In a very twisted way, what Carlos did was for Sophia. He truly cared about her — but I could never tell Sophia that.
But things are different now.
She’s overcome the traumas of her past and is trying to face the fears she’s had ever since that day.
“I never told you this, but…that day, Carlos was worried that I’d hurt you or try to kidnap you.”
“Yes. That’s why I know he never hated you. He may have been scared of you in that final moment, but he didn’t hate you.”
“T-That’s right. Father didn’t dislike me. But, what I did to Father….”
Sophia started to tremble. I couldn’t stand seeing her like that so I pulled her delicate body close to mine to calm her down.
How long has she felt like this?
Sophia quietly pulled away and looked into my face.
“Hey, Leon onii-chan? Does that mean my mother felt the same way? Mother doesn’t hate me either, right?”
“I’m not sure I can answer that….”
I’m sure she must have loved Sophia as much as Carlos.
However, it’s been five and a half years since that day.
Sophia killed Elyse’s husband and would’ve killed her had I not stepped in. Since then, Elyse has been living in the very home in which this happened.
I can’t imagine how Elyse feels now, but if this is what’s causing Sophia to feel so anxious, and she believes she’s ready to hear the answer to the question that’s been bothering her….
“Would you like to return home to see Elyse?”
“That’s…but…you’ll come with, Leon onii-chan?”
If Sophia is ready to face her mother I will definitely go with her if she wants. I thought she’d be happy, but Sophia furrowed her brow.
“I’m happy that you’d be there for me, but…. Leon onii-chan…the things my mother did…..”
She’s one of the people responsible for my family’s murder. Obviously, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over that.
If Carlos had never done that, Claire and I would’ve been forced into our political marriages. Alice most likely would’ve been sold off and we wouldn’t be living the lives we are now.
Whether they were good or bad, Carlos’ actions led us to where we are today.
“…it may be time for me to face the past as well.”
“I can’t say that I’ll ever forgive her. But that doesn’t mean I can’t face her. Let’s face the Sfir home together.”
To face the past in order to move forward.