Chapter 26:

The sudden shock of her gaze

Your Heart has Meaning.

Socks, a pair of pants, and a shirt stained a simple vermilion by wine sat ruffled upon the wooden floor which had been swept clean of dust.

I wondered, as I tried desperately to brush the sunlight out of my eyelids which were gilded by the enchantment of sleep, if I was entitled to the duty of cleaning her floor which I had made a mess. To run rampant in her place which she kept so tidy was to be the antithesis of herself, a clashing of our spirits.

I don’t think she minded it too much, if at all.

I didn’t want to get up out of her bed which had been lain softly with silken sheets and carefully-pressed comforters in an attempt to entrap me forever within its chains of peace. She had designed it perfectly so that I would never want to leave her behind.

It was a spider’s web, and I was a tiny bug.

Not that I minded it too much, either.

To hold her head against my chest, for even a minute longer, was a privilege I thought I deserved to greed.

“We’re going to arrive late, it seems.” I smiled softly as I met her gaze.

“Then, will you help me dress?” She spoke simply in return.

It was not a request I would have expected from her.

But as was the theme of the morning, I didn’t really mind it all that much.

“If that is all you wish me to do for you, then I will try my hardest.”

As soon as I had draped a black dress-coat over a white-button up shirt I had kept tucked away in a leather satchel, I looked over towards a woman of cedar who stood silently staring at the mirror, her midnight hair falling straight against her softened skin.

I wondered then if she ever felt her hair colour to stand apart from her peers. In a nation where all Undine sported what I considered unique shades of locks, hers were simply alike to mine.

For her sake, I had learned to keep a strand of ribbon around my wrist, for I knew she would always seem to lose hers, no matter the occasion.

As she sat down upon a seat at the edge of her room, one which had been blanketed by warm waterfalls of sunlight, I pulled black silk stockings over her thighs which seemed to squish against my touch. They were not as muscular as a soldiers, nor were they prim like a dancers.

For Theresia however, they were perfect, and that is all I thought to wish for her.

I adorned the stockings with a garter ribbon of gold etching and blood-red dye.

No matter how much detail was put into her dress, however, only I would know it to be there. It was embellishment of my own touch that wouldn’t be seen by any other.

A black petticoat soon stretched past her legs towards her heels which sat above leather furnishing; white boots laced by brown-threads like pearl upon her feet. As I tied the laces of her boots, Theresia looked down at me with softened eyes.

“You’re too gentle an existence Agreste… like a flower, in a way…”

“Then, will you be my gardener?” I laughed. “Perhaps as long as you water me, one day I will flower bright, gorgeous petals.”

“You are already in bloom.” She spoke simply in return, leaning forward to place her lips upon mine, which had been drawn upwards by her fingertips against my jaw. “Your season is every season, when you’re this beautiful.”

My face held blush as hers did, although mine was born of flustered spirit, and hers of maquillage. Still the same did we share twin expressions regardless, and still did she offer the touch of her lips once more.

To kiss Theresia felt nice. I had no poetic ramblings to speak of. The softness of her fingers on my cheek was part of her carefully-planned trap, and I was all too happy to sit in it.

It was all a joke in my own mind. I knew she had no devious intentions. My heart was just caught by her, as if a snare had wrapped it up so tightly.

Amusement sat upon my expression as I tied tight the strings that held her corset against her body, frills upon its trim as if anyone would ever see it adorn her waist.

As I held the final piece in my hand, I met her gaze within the mirror, and wondered what thoughts her lazurite eyes held in that moment. I wondered where the unbridled trust of the playwright came from.

I wondered why it was placed in me, of all people.

“Is this as formal as you wish to dress?” I asked.

“Do you wish me to dress more formal?” She posed in response.

There wasn’t bite in her reply, but rather genuinity of tone. For her sake, and upon my own request, she might have chosen to bear the weight of further embellishment.

“I did not say that. I wish for you to dress as comfortably as you want.” I winked.

Not that I would ever ask her to do so, not for my sake.

With careful hands, I slipped a cloud-white blouse with a collar gilded by lace over her shoulders.

“Truly now are you perfect.”

“Was I not before?” She posed, turning towards me.

“You were, but you cannot be greater than perfect.” I smiled in turn. “So today, you are simply as beautiful as you, as you are always.”


It was like a sculpture carved out of marble, a piece of art within the middle of the bronze city that seemed as if it did not belong there. The building before me stretched high into the air like all others, piercing through the sky I had once sat peacefully within.

I stood once again before the palace of the nobleman Kitsch Yulier’s own design.

I could not help but describe its wonder in my own mind, for it was something that let me breathless with each gaze I laid upon it.

Once again, as if matching perfection against its exterior, Kitsch stood at the edge of its entryway, adorned in a white cloak with golden etching.

This time however, likely because he was not a man playing host to a ball upon that day, he was accompanied by dozens of men and women dressed alike to him; servants of his manor who were prepared to play their role at my behest.

I didn’t know if I was there in capacity as the Baron or as Agreste, however. As I looked over towards Theresia, I wondered if I needed to keep those two separate any longer.

But then I thought, that to have held a lie of two worlds away from the one closest to me for so long, would it have hurt her greatly to find out?

It left a state of unease in my heart, which held close hers. I did not want to harm her in the slightest, so it left me to weigh the scales of choices in my own mind.

With her hand entwined in mine, I met the gaze of the nobleman once more.

“It’s nice to see you again, Kitsch.” I smiled.

No longer did I bow to the nobleman, for he wished a friendship that transcended politics and status.

“No matter where we meet, you stay the same as always, don’t you?” Kitsch smiled in return.

“You will always be the mirror portraiture of yourself, my friend.” I laughed. “So perhaps we’re alike in that way.”

Walking through the halls of the man gilded by pearl, there was a question that lurked in the playwright’s mind.

“Why are we here? How do you two know each other…?” She asked of him. “And at my play, why were you of all people present?”

“You’re here as my guest, Theresia Hayes. I know your lover because he became a good friend by simple chance.” He laughed softly. “As for why I was present, it was because he invited me. Rather, I would have attended regardless, I imagine. I fund your work because I enjoy it, even from afar.”

“You’re the one who’s carried my passion financially this long…?”

After hours, to end the day we had spent talking, Kitsch had produced various bottles of sparkling liquor, that seemed to dance and swirl about in their emerald-green vessels.

I took a sip from the glass that he had poured from me. It was bitter, and had a bite of sweetness lurking in the center that refused to reveal itself fully.

I looked over towards Theresia, who sat simply and quietly in her chair.

I wondered then if she had been contemplating that which had been revealed to her.

But immediately afterwards, I knew that to be true.

“It has been an honour to play host to you once again, Baron of Lilacs.” Kitsch spoke suddenly, without semblance of thought.

The room we stood in grew silent in an instant moment.

“Eh…?” Theresia muttered underneath her breath, turning to face me.

The expression I saw sitting on her face in that moment froze my heart like unmoving stone.

It was as if her heart sat apparent in shock. She couldn’t speak, only staring at me with widened eyes in silence.

Theresia then stood up abruptly from her seat, which scraped and squeaked against the floor in a manner that erupted throughout the quiet room.

She turned away from me, the shadows of the room crossing over her silent expression as she stepped away.


Theresia could feel her footsteps grow heavy as she ran, slapping hard against the stone path below her.

She couldn’t seem to stop despite her fatigue.

Her face was flush as she crouched down toward the grass. She had to touch her hands to her softened cheeks simply to feel for the warmth of her redness.

“That’s… him?”

She clutched at her shirt which hung softly over her quick-beating heart.

“Then, is this why my heart has always felt like this…?” Theresia smiled softly, the tears that once sat at the gateway of her eyelids choosing to fall flat against her blushed cheeks.

In that moment, she couldn’t help but laugh.

“Agreste, ‘Baron of Lilacs’, huh…?”

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