✧Somewhere Between Truth and Lies✧
Odette’s eyes flashed with anticipation as Bastian looked her calmly. She looked desperate in her hope, which was nothing more than an attempt at clutching at straws. The hope was fragile and she felt like she was drowning.
The more they stared at each other, the more desperate that hope became. Bastian reached up and cupped Odette’s cheek with a wet hand.
“Bastian,” Odette said, the urge to draw closer to him was insatiable.
Bastian thought Odette looked like an abandoned child and it reminded him of that day he proposed to her. She had been sitting all alone on the bench in the hospital garden, nestled in amongst tall roses. With a crippled father and unknown to her, a sister who had crippled him. Her face now mirrored the day she faced an unbearable reality.
Tira was the real culprit of the accident.
It had taken Bastian a long time to come by the information, but he finally had it. The conversation over the phone went long into the night. Tira confessed everything to him. From the circumstances that led to the fight with her father, to the unexpected accident, and what happened afterward. In her exasperated desire to clear her conscience, it didn’t feel like she was making it up.
Bastian listened in silence, feeling disappointed in Tira’s attempt to save herself by selling her sister, yet also empathizing with her reasons for doing so.
Tira had been desperate to protect what she had and her new way of life. Her husband, their child and their lumber business. Her whole family’s future. It was hard to dismiss her lack of emotions when it came to her older sister, who wasn’t even a bit part in Tira’s family.
She tried to defend Odette, who had been left with no choice but to make such a decision. and when she learned of her sister’s sacrifice, even covering up her wrongdoing, Tira broke down and cried.
Tira claimed to love her sister, but could not prioritise the love for a sister over the love of her family and her future. Perhaps it was only an ordinary affection. The abnormal one actually was Odette.
Bastian slowly opened his mouth, but he could not say the words on his lips. If she didn’t have a sister, then she at least had a child. If she didn’t have a child, at least she had Margrethe. Odette was still continuing to wander around looking for an alter to cast herself on.
Responsibility. Sacrifice. Dedication.
That was all Odette’s life had become, as if it was all she could do to put meaning to her existence. She didn’t know how to live for herself. Maybe because no one had shown her how to live any differently.
Bastian felt he could understand Odette in that moment. If you replaced family with revenge, they were the same person.
If someone asked him why he did what he did, he wouldn’t be able to answer, but he knew no other way to lead his life. His life was pushed forward by blind inertia.
“… Yes, that’s right….It wasn’t Meg, Odette,” Bastian said, looking into her eyes.
The hope of Margrethe’s return was painful to bear, yet that pain was the last thread that could tie Odette by his side. Bastian decided to choose the latter. He let greed steer, casting aside what was best for Odette.
“I knew it, there was no way I wouldn’t be able to recognise Meg,” Odette said, forcing a laugh. Bastian replied with silence, stuck amid truth and lies, like in a vague fog.
The sound of firewood crumbling into ashes filled the stillness night. Relieved, Odette tried to pull away from Bastian, but at the same time, his arms came around her and held her captive against him. He held her deep in his arms and he could feel his heartbeat through his chest.
Feeling helpless in his arms, Odette leaned against his chest, a solid wall that thundered with each beat of his heart. His hand through her hair and was unusually gentle. Odette laughed at his touch as he dried her hair.
In the wake of loss, the ashy peace morphed into unbearable ocean of sorrow—She now realized their pitiful state. They became reflective vessels, mirroring one another’s pain. Vain and futile.
It was a long time before either of them spoke again, but Odette was desperate to speak. “The baby,” she said cautiously, “Could it have been a girl? I had a feeling it might have been a girl.”
Bastian finished drying Odette’s hair and let the damp towel fall to the floor. There was a tremble in his fingertips and it was a fight to breath normally. He had never spoken about what he had found bundled in the white cloth, the child who had died before it had the chance to grow. It was so immature, it was hard to make out any gender.
The child always visited his dreams. Sometimes with the face of Odette, sometimes with his own face. Sometimes it was a naughty little boy, running around causing mischief, other times it was a little girl that liked to talk wildly. Often it was a simple sleeping babe in the cradle.
The dream would always end the same, the child would be left abandoned in a field of red. At first, Bastian thought it was flowers, roses or poppies, but after the third of forth dream, he realised it was blood. There was always a strong smell of blood when he woke up.
The burden of his nightmare was his alone to bear. Bastian put a little strength into the hand around the back of Odette’s head and held her close to his chest. Once more, Odette rested her head on his shoulder, her silent sigh permeating the fabric of her gown.
“When the spring come, we should go somewhere together,” Bastian said, gently brushing his hands over Odette’s hair.
“Where?” Odette asked.
“Wherever,” Bastian said, staring into the darkness.
He wanted to go somewhere far away and leave this life behind. Forget everything and start a new somewhere, where no one knew them and none of the stains of what happened marred their lives, but he would only go if Odette was there.
“Whether its another city in a foreign country, wherever you want.” Gently, Bastian hugged her, whispering soothing words into the night.
As sighs ebbed and flowed, darkness draped over them. Unexpectedly, Odette’s head tilted, surrendering to sleep’s sedative lure.
Bastian stood up, carrying her in his arms, his footsteps navigating towards their resting place. With the journey’s end, the cadence of footfalls faded, plunging the room into a tranquil silence resembling the serenity of an underwater world.
Dora’s breath misted into brief existence as a white cloud of mist. She stopped when she could see the proposed meeting place, looking out for anyone skulking around.
Countess Trier’s residence wasn’t too far from the meeting spot, neither too was Bastian. As she walked to the meeting point, the road she had taken on a daily basis to work felt utterly unfamiliar to her.
The countess had reached out to her in helping her getting Odette away from Bastian. If he still persisted after that, then the Emperor would have to intervene directly. It would be better for everyone if Odette left quietly.
When she had first read the letter the countess sent to her, she was furious. She had served Carl Illis and the family long before Bastian’s adoption. To Dora, Bastian meant more than just a master to serve. However, she was now asked to become a traitor and betray her master but she couldn’t bring herself to destroy the letter, a part of her knew the countess was right. Maybe at that moment, she had a premonition that such a moment would come.
Bastian and Odette had been quietly falling apart for a long time now and she decided that she could no longer deny the truth. Bastian was a terrible husband and Odette didn’t know how to be a good wife. She was obsessed with finding her missing dog and Bastian was distracted with utterly undermining his father. They walked their personal hells alone, leaning on each other in the night, only to return to their solitude.
If things continued like this, both of them would eventually be irreparably broken. Countess Trier asked to meet up in person in order to discuss the best means of going forward.She assured Dora that if she declined, her wishes would be fully respected. For Odette’s sake, the Countess asked her to have the courage just this once. It was a decisive plea that touched Dora’s heart.
She walked up the narrow path of the countess’ town house and rang the bell. It only took a second for the servants to answer the door.
“Please come in, the Countess is expecting you,” said the maid courteously.
The Klauswitz family’s maid crossed the threshold to become a guest of the House of Trier.
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