Leonora glanced at her brother as they silently walked down the boardwalk, the sound of their footsteps and laughter of others the only noise to accompany them.
The bright sun shining overhead seemed to mock her. The children and adults playing, enjoying the beach, presented a stark contrast to the mood surrounding them. She felt like a dichotomy within this scene, something that didn’t belong there.
Her brother was angry at her.
“I cannot believe you would allow yourself to get close with those devils,” he said at last, his voice silent but harsh. “Even worse, you’re spending time with the nephalem.”
“I-it’s not like I was given much choice,” Leonora tried to justify herself. “I’m roommates with Alicia and Yūgure. I can’t not get along with them. It would seem suspicious.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to befriend them,” Donatello snapped. Leonora winced this time. “It especially doesn’t mean you should befriend the nephalem. You shouldn’t even be talking to that abomination!”
“I… don’t think he’s so bad,” Leonora admitted.
“What?” Donatello flapped his gum uselessly for a moment before scowling. “Not so bad? Leonora, he’s a nephalem!”
“He is, but… it’s not like he chose to be a nephalem, you know?”
Leonora remembered what Alicia and Kaoru had said about Jacob, how he never got upset at people even when they treated him poorly. She’d been curious and taken to watching him. Of course, he’d seen her this morning. However, rather than get upset, he’d asked her to come over and talk.
“Jacob isn’t a bad person,” she said. “I don’t think it’s right for us to unjustly hate him because of what he is.”
“But he’s a nephalem!”
“But he didn’t choose to be,” Leonora repeated. “Are you saying we should blame the sins of the parent on the child?” Donatello said nothing. Leonora smiled. “We can’t change who we’re born to. All we can do is live our lives to best of our abilities. You should know that better than anyone.”
“I still don’t think you should spend anymore time with the nephalem,” Donatello muttered, though he fell silent seconds later.
Leonora took a slow, deep breath, held it, and then released it.
Donatello had always taken every matter seriously, looked at every situation with the stern rigidness of their religion, and acted with the same zeal as the most devote followers of the faith. It didn’t matter if it was something simple like praying for morning meal or something dangerous like slaying a monster. He treated every aspect of his life the same. That was probably why he had become an exorcist at 10.
She did not share his beliefs. Leonora followed the faith. She prayed daily, read the bible religiously, and loved God just as every Catholic should, but she didn’t want to treat life with that kind of solemnity. Leonora wanted to enjoy life. She wanted to meet people, to see new things, and to have fun.
Couldn’t she do that while also worshipping God?
As she was trying to find a compromise between her brother’s strict religious beliefs and her own desire to explore all that life had to offer, her eyes strayed toward someone who was very familiar.
Is that Chinami?
The woman in questioned was wandering around the beach, sniffing the air as though trying to track a smell. The woman disappeared when she and Donatello walked behind the building.
Leonora sighed and did her best to put Chinami, Jacob, and the others out of her mind.