Waiting for any sign of heed, I stood in front of the mansion’s large gates. With Alphonse resting his whole weight on my side while he spoke inaudible mutters. Paranoia was starting to crawl from the tip of my shoes when Kalem hadn’t answered my text.
Was he too busy? He is one of the most workaholic people I have ever known, surely that must be the reason why he hasn’t replied back. While I focused on my patience in front of the empty dim side road, I got a tug on my coat from the wasted man himself.
“hEeeeyyy, Adriee… Whheeree are weee?” He slurred his words, plopping his head on my left shoulder.
“Home… and I mean your home,” I replied, expecting to get a grip on the collar and a yell from him as usual. The one thing that he would have done every time I escorted him home.
As I had expected, the next thing I knew, the collar of my coat was being pulled by him. Glaring at me with such vicious and light-headed eyes.
“I *hic* AlReadYY toolldd YOU dUmBaSS, I DON’T WANNA GO HOME!! I wAnNa DrInK MORE~~” He drunkenly delivered those as if he’s about to lose his footing. Swinging wobbly from side to side trying to keep his ground.
He began to push and pull my collar back and forth, causing me to follow the momentum, “GOdDamMiT, AdRIE! KaLlY’S GOnNnnAaa KiLLLL Myyy Assss, DID YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAD JUST DONE?!” He dramatically cried out
“Bringing you into enlightenment, and you have my thanks” I bowed my head with ease, curving up the edges of my lips into a playful smirk
Alphonse with his reddened face lifted up his middle finger up to my eyes and calmly whispered
“You sly motherfuc-”
Before he finished his sentence, he was cut off by the still gates suddenly opening up by themselves. Creaking its metal joints as it completely opened up wide. It brought a huge wash of relief all over me. Finally, it looks like he had read the message.
“Oh shit...” Alphonse stopped his frantic movements and stood there like wobbling jello. Still gripping tightly into the collars of my coat.
Not even for a minute, I could see from the furthest side of the lightened up mansion many silhouettes becoming larger as seconds passed. And in front of them was Kalem sprinting towards both me and Alphonse in full speed while several of his henchmen followed.
“Grreaatt…. Jusstt…. Greaatt” Alphonse slurred as it seemed he was about to pass out, this is not good.
With a face full of disturbance, Kalem knitted his brows as he slows down and halted right in front of me
“Thank goodness, you both made it back safely” He spoke up, panting while he caught his breath.
“I apologize for the long wait, Adrian,”
“It’s fine, Kalem. Anyways, here he is, back in one shape” I shunted my gaze towards Alphonse, patting his back.
Kalem nodded and turned his eyes towards his intoxicated brother with a troubled glare. Letting out a sigh as I feel Alphonse’s grip seemingly become tighter and his body clung more to mine.
“You will need some explaining to do later once you have sobered up. Especially to our father, he has been troubled sick ever since I dispatched some search parties to locate you,” Kalem’s tone became despondent, watching as he and Alphonse exchanged scowls with one another.
“Take him to his room,” Kalem snapped his fingers, enabling his henchmen to approach me and Alphonse almost immediately.
When I turned to look at Alphonse, his once aggressive face turned drastically to be filled with horror, “D-don’t let them take me, Adrie,” He stared at me with pity-filled pupils, whining sobs came from him.
What I remember after that was a blur, chaos was unleashed, a certain someone's inner child being revealed. I could still feel how Alphonse entangled his limbs and legs around me just like Lenna did back a few weeks ago in the garden.
Although, his “embrace” was stronger, filled with vice and determination of not wanting to be taken back. In literal, he’s sobbing like a baby whose pacifier was taken away. This is his true nature when he’s wasted, and I have to be very patient to put up with it.
Screeches and howls rang between my ears all over the chilly night. While in the midst of this chaos, I stared blankly at the bright luminescent lights coming from the mansion. Those sounds tuned down into nothingness as my heart wanted to preach another individual’s soul inside that building. Wondering how the silent princess locked up in an imaginary tower was holding up.
“LET ME BACK!! LET ME BACKK, KALLYYY!!!!!” A screech interrupted my daydreaming when I turned my eyes towards my work partner being tied up with layers of rope from neck to toe.
Carried like a casket by his henchmen, he squirmed relentlessly as he was barking his heart out. Me and Kalem just watched as Alphonse tried to bite the hands of his henchmen around him with his sharp fangs. Both of us exchanged worrisome looks, with Kalem letting out a long sigh.
“This always happens every single time he gets intoxicated,”
“Tell me about it,” I facepalmed my face with my palm and shook my head.
”I suppose I don’t have any alternative choices than to use this,” Kalem talked as he pulled out a muzzle from the side of his belt.
I do recognize his method to prevent Alphonse from inflicting injuries to others while he was under the influence of alcohol. If he’s finally sobered up and realizes he had done that, he would feel deeply conflicted. Kalem approached Alphonse while stretching out the straps of the muzzle and slightly struggled to put it on over his brother’s mouth.
“ADRIEEE HELP MEE-mmmmMMMPPHHHHHH!!” Alphonse muffled as the muzzle had took over his lips.
“This is for your own good, Alphonse. Now if you please, gentlemen, take care of this flimsy brother of mine until I return. It won’t take long, and do be wary of his antics,” Kalem stood back up and nodded to his henchmen.
“Yes, Master Kalem!” As they all said in sync, they started to strut away from the spot as loud muffles from the restrained Alphonse trailed behind.
“Well, that’s taken care of. So tell me, Adrian,” He rotated his body around to face me, with a tense posture and a seemingly deep glare.
“How many?” He asked with an unenthusiastic frown on his face.
“21 glasses in total, Kalem. And do not worry, you needn't replace the money that I used to pay his tab,” I replied with a chuckle.
He let out an exhausted exhalation, “Sometimes you’re too thoughtful towards him. I would at least wanted Alphonse to return the favor after all that you’ve done for him”
“No words could express my gratitude for you lending your hand to help Alphonse all these times, Adrian,” Kalem sighed a relieved breath as he bowed to me.
“N-no worries, I’m only looking out for my comrade after all,” I chuckled
“But please do inform me when he sobers up, Kalem,”
“Why of course, Adrian. Also...” Kalem took a step forward closer to me and leaned his head close to my left ear.
“It worked out well in the end for you both, am I right?” Kalem whispered, ending it with a light chuckle.
“Very well, indeed. He was always avoiding my texts and calls for the past few weeks. I’m the one who should thank you, Kalem, for providing this chance,” I bowed my head to him with a smile on my face.
“It’s the least I could do, we don’t want any dispute between the three of us for tomorrow. We need to work together to maintain our composure, for her,”
Kalem put his hands behind his waist and turned his head towards the mansion. Seemingly aiming his gaze at one particular lit off window from the rest. It was in fact, Lenna’s room. I stared at it silently as the night breeze softly blew.
“She needs our full support, we may never know when we will get to see her again here,” Kalem mentioned, turning his body to face me yet again.
“You’re right,” I replied, feeling my chest being slightly pressured by some unknown force.
“Then you should head back, it’s already past midnight. Get a full night’s rest, you will need it for tomorrow,” He spoke, putting his right hand on my left shoulder and patted it.
“Thank you... Kalem”
“My pleasure, perhaps you want to relay a message for her? I could tell her when she wakes up in the morning” Kalem jerked his head towards the mansion with a warm smile across his usually stoic face.
A message for Lenna… I have much to say to her, however, now’s not the right time to put an extra burden on her shoulders. I shook my head and chuckled, “No, it’s alright. You needn’t do that, if I ever have anything to say to Lenna… I will tell her directly,” I made my statement firm
“Do tell me whenever you need to let out something off your chest. You are always welcome to heed your worries to me, Adrian,” Kalem pulled back his hand and tucked it behind his waist.
“Much appreciated, I will take my leave now,” I placed my right hand on top of my left chest as I bowed down 45 degrees at him. When I glanced up, he put a farewell smile on his face and bowed his head.
I stood up straight and rotated my body away from him and began walking down the stone path towards my car. Leaving some heavy steps filled with a hopeless romantic’s retaliation to go the other way. Every step I took further from the mansion was heavier than the previous ones.
Adrian, you have been through this in your head many times. Lenna’s going to get married and that’s it, you have to move on… you have to… It’s not like I, myself had any other choices anyway…
As I was walking absent-mindedly, I had yet to realize that I was already outside of the mansion gates. Almost hitting my upper body with the roof of my car as I instinctively slammed my hands against it in alarm. I stood there with my eyes wide open while my heart thumped excessively from the shock. When the gears of my head turned, I let out an empty chuckle.
Silly me… why was it fairly easy to fall in head over heels for someone… but once you try to let it go, it seems impossible to do such a simple thing… Is this what my mother has gone through?
Then, I felt a vibration coming from the insides of my coat’s pocket along with notes from a piano’s classical melody danced in the air. I reluctantly shoved my hand into the pocket and hurriedly picked it up. It was as if she was reading my mind, I saw who the caller is on the screen of my phone.
I guess I could take a breather for a moment as I talked with her. I jubilantly pressed the call button and twirled my body around 180 degrees, leaning my back against the cold and solid structure of the car. Burying my left hand inside of the coat’s pocket as my right holds the phone firmly next to my ear.
“My, my, to be called by the most lovely madam at this time of night,” I answered first with a light-hearted tone.
A gentle raspy laugh came from the other side, “Oh stop it, Adrian. You’re flattering me too much, I’m glad you pick it up,”
“Why of course, is there even a reason for a son not to pick their dear mother’s call?” I sighed in relief, it felt like I was in seventh heaven.
It was a relief to hear her voice right now. My loving mother, Cecilia Chibana, usually called her beloved son mostly during nighttime. She and I aren’t within the same city, or should I say… the same country.
“But isn’t it already past midnight there? Or perhaps you’re still doing your job?” She asked with a calming voice
“I’m already done with work, I was just… taking a troubled friend home that’s all,”
“Oh my, was it Alphie again? What kind of mess has he got you in this time? Is he alright?” She called Alphonse by his nickname, giggling jokingly at the end.
“Always has been, and all that I could say that he needs to sober up soon enough. So how’s your day?” I replied, sinking my back into the car more, filled with such warmth within me.
“Wonderful as usual, or may I say more blissful than these ordinary days” She let out a chuckle
“Oh, why so?”
“Remember those Red Carnation buds that you sent here several months ago? They have been growing quite well in my garden. In fact, those very buds bloomed this morning. They are completely exceptional, Adrian” Hearing her share of stories always made my heart calm and relaxed.
“I’m pleased that you like them, mother. I didn’t choose them with an empty mind of course,” I replied as I was trying to search what Lenny had said about Peony flowers.
“Red Carnation flowers are a symbol of love and deep affection. They are a special type of flowers to be given as a gift especially to those designated on mother’s day,” I recited exactly as what Lenny had told me.
She recommended me those flowers when I was picking on what flowers I should send my mother those months ago. It was such a sweet-loving memory for us both, if only I could relish it as pleasant as it should be.
“And I predict that those buds would also bloom on any day of this week,” I let out a peal of bashful laughter.
“Aww, you’re too sweet for me, Adrian. Have you been looking after yourself lately? Are you ill? Are you in need to share something with me?” She asked with a concerned tone, her maternal instincts kicks in immediately.
“I’m doing fine, you don’t need to be worried about me that much,”
“Have you been eating regularly?”
“Day, noon, and night, never missed a meal,” I replied with a firm tone, with a bit of deceptive essence mixed into it.
“Although, I’m in favor of sharing many things with you,” I fiddled my left fingers awkwardly inside of my coat, taking a downcasted breath and exhaled it out briefly.
“If only I could come and visit you there without any setbacks, mother. It would have been easier for us to communicate and spend time with each other,” I bit the inside walls of my cheeks in order to hold the pain my heart started to seep in.
“Adrian… It’s alright, you mustn't feel bad about this,” At that moment, warmth embraced me, it felt like I was being hugged by herself
“You’re your father’s pride and joy, it’s only natural that you have to be there for him. You have your own role there, you’re only doing what’s best for him in the name of the Melchior Family,” Her words forgiving, I could imagine her saying this while she stroked my hair gently.
“There will be a time for you to be allowed to come and visit me. I’m sure of it,” Though her voice is soft, there was a hint of hope inside of it.
“I know that your job is somewhat obscure and dangerous, just make sure your safety comes first, Adrian,” She added
“And yours as well. I never wanted to be followed when, for example, tracked down when I come to visit you. There would likely be a chance that you’re going to be involved in any kind of threat I’m in. Especially if you were to be discovered by him,” I clenched my left fist vicely when I remembered who I was referring to.
“Adrian, you can’t hide her forever from me, she’s our mother and I deserve the right to at least visit her. Would you mind giving me her number at the very least?” His voice slur and false pleads came from his twisted tongue
“Never, not after what you had done to her and father while I was abroad,”
“What a letdown, we brothers should be helping each other. Including in personal problems of our own parental family,” His cunning voice pierced through the dense air.
“You are no brother of mine,”
I clicked my tongue vexedly remembering one specific conversation I had with him. Bitterness began to spread throughout my once tranquil heart. Overturning myself into a seed of resentment ready to flourish as his skeptical remarks started to fill my head.
I hear a sigh coming from the other side of the line, “You’re talking about your brother, Ethan, right?”
“.....yes,” I muttered.
“...Adrian Melchior, listen to me” Her words made me lift my head as if she was talking in front of me at this moment.
“You two are siblings, even though you’re half-brothers that still means you’re related to him by blood. Set aside your conflicts and mend with him… please… You can’t loathe him forever,” Her voice was fragile and could shatter at any moment.
Mother… If only it was as easy as you said, talk, discuss, mend, forgive… He never shows you his real side, you have only seen one of his many masks.
What he tried to do to me was unforgivable, especially what he did when I had just returned to Bremerwood. Both to you and father...
Through darkness and hatred, through thick and thin, it was foolish of me to look up to him at an early age.
I was too naive, to think his meanings to be close with me was to deceive his own little brother.
But denying it would split mother’s heart, and that is the least I wanted to do as of now.
“I will try to get a hold of him,” I replied with a White lie implemented on my words.
“Please do, and tomorrow is Lenna’s matrimonial ceremony, yes?” She asked with a voice so dismaying.
“Correct, by tomorrow she’s going to wield the Flammia Family’s name instead of the Esmond’s” With a thought of putting up a front, I replied
My mother let out a chuckle, “The last time I saw her, she was but a little pipsqueak. Now, she’s going to be in the hands of marriage. She was outstandingly brave to put up with all of those arrangements,”
Yes, I have told everything that happened to my mother. So it’s no wonder she would bring it up now, the night before the ceremony.
“She really is,” I smiled crestfallenly as a tug was pulled on the inside of my heartstrings. Plucking them out one by one as time passed by ever since that night.
“I can see why you’ve fallen for her, Adrian. It was a tragedy that she was cornered by that cruel mobs. Otherwise, she would make the perfect daughter in law,” She giggled momentarily, I let out a gentle huff from my nostrils wishing if that could come true.
“Take your time to manage your emotions, healing has steps. How about you get some rest for now?”
“Alright, I will. Thou shall do the same, thy mother” I reminded, speaking as if I was lecturing her.
“My, to use such unusual words, you really do take after me. I will catch a break once I’m done rearranging my bookcase,”
“Do be careful, and don’t exert yourself”
“Thank you, my dear. Take care now, and say my greetings to your brother, will you?”
I let out an indistinct exhale, “I will try, perhaps we can continue this conversation in the morning?”
“Of course, whenever you need to talk. I’m always here for you, Sleep well, my little fluff ball,” She replied so sweetly, including her calling me by my childhood nickname.
“To you as well, my fair lady,”
“I love you,” A tender whisper came waltzing its way into my ears
“...I love you too... mother. Farewell,” I smiled to myself, feeling my heart to be soothed by her voice is unparalleled to anything else.
After those words I spoke, I hung up my phone and leaned my head backward until I was seeing the broad dark sky. With the Goddess of the sky being covered by her garments of gray clouds. Suppressing her true beauty and light at the peak of the night. Imagining if herself was the one woman whom I have fallen for all these years.
Just as mother advised earlier, I should take my time to configure it all out. I really wish I could visit her in these times, but it would lead to numerous risks being revealed. Moreover, “he” won’t let me simply slip away from Bremerwood without knowing.
Ethan… I know you’re watching my every move. I won’t let you lay your hands on my people, especially my friends and mother.
I will scrape off that irritating smirk on your mask the next time I’ll be seeing you. And I hope I don’t see you at the ceremony tomorrow.
Back to the present day
“Maybe I shall take a stroll first if you two are going to stay longer here,” Kalem spoke as he placed his hands on mine and Alphonse’s shoulders.
There we were, inside of the dressing room chattering around as Kalem interrupted the atmosphere.
“What’s the occasion, Kally? Don’t you wanna be with Lenny here for the rest of her break time?” Alphonse knitted his brows in confusion, still clinging to Lenna in a bear hug.
“Yeah, why the rush, Kal-Kal?” Lenna added
“It’s… I ought to check on something first,” He replied with hesitation painted all over his face
“Then let me accompany you, Kalem. Since we’re on “enemy” territory, there ought to be some things that are unexpected. Moreover, it seems your brother here is gluing himself to Lenna for the rest of the night,” I offered and pointed my finger at Alphonse.
“We might as well leave without him, including going our separate ways, that is” I tried to hold back my laughter along with Lenna. Seeing that she puffed her cheeks and snorted in sync with me
“Hey!” Alphonse complained
“It’s alright, Adrian. I have seen worse, besides I must attend to this matter on my own. Don Roderick’s orders,” Kalem said as he tidied up the upper parts of his blazer, tugging it down with his gloved hands.
“I see, then I suggest neither of us should stay here any longer,” I said, putting my hands inside of the pockets of my pants.
“HUH, WHY?!” Alphonse and Lenna shouted in sync towards me with faces of discomfort.
“Aw c’mon, Adrie!! We’re not in a hurry, we can’t just leave my lil sis here!!” My riled up work partner spouted while he pouted.
“Yeah, Adrian. You guys can loosen up here, no one’s gonna do anything to you two,” Lenna added, sulking at my words. It made me feel a solid stab through the heart.
I knew both of them tend to think alike, brother and sister alike.
“Alphonse, Lenny, I would love to stay longer. But think of it like this, what would happen if suddenly one of those Flammias bursts in here, sees both of us, her brother and an indistinguishable man be with the bride of their underboss?” I explained logically, not wanting to disappoint them at the same time.
“Oh.. right. They would likely draw unwanted attention by seeing us like this. More importantly, knowing that none other than their personels are allowed here,” Lenna emphasized
“Exactly, it is like what you said. But don’t get me wrong, I wanted to stay and chat with you if there are none of such rules,” I chuckled at her and in return, she followed my actions.
When I turned my head towards Alphonse however, he was giving me a look of smugness on his face. A wide snarky grin, smiling eyes along with lifting his brows up and down constantly.
“Yeeahhh, I’m sure you would love to, Adrie~” He slurred mockingly, giving me a gaze that would likely vex me.
I stood there and smiled as I felt a vein wanting to pop up on the sides of my head. I let out a laugh and consciously stomped on one of his feet. As seconds passed, his face started to wrinkle in agony, clenching his jaw vicely.
“WHAT THE FUCK, ADRIE-” He whined
“Alright, I think that’s our cue to leave. Come now, Alphonse” I grabbed the back collar of his suit and tried to drag him away.
“NO. NO. NO!! YOU AIN’T GONNA MAKE ME, ADRIE!” He yelled by tightening his hug into Lenna, more of a refusal rather than being scared.
“AL! YOU’RE HUGGING ME TOO TIGHT!!” Lenna cried out, such a ravenous hug of her brother’s has done a number on her hair.
Thus began my speculations that this will turn for the worst.
“Kalem, if you may,” I eyed my fellow advisor as I let out a sigh.
“Adrian, you’re the only one who is capable to physically withstand them. I’m nothing but a lead to a pair of metal rods,” Kalem replied, staring helplessly into my eyes.
*sigh*... Time for me to step in yet again…
I can’t believe Al would do something so messy to my hair. Does he have any idea of how many hours it took for it to be prepped? Not to mention I have to sit through it all being irritated by the long procedure. But it was a good thing he didn’t mess my whole face.
I was sitting in front of the vanity table with hairdressers around me. Tending to my ruined hair as I stayed still with their brushes and tools on hand. Staring blankly at the reflection of mine in the mirror, glancing at the lavish fake eyelashes and the not so heavy makeup.
It’s now so boring that those three aren’t here… especially Adrian. The look he gave me as he carries Al over his shoulders gave me an everlasting impression. And the way his voice sounds...
“I hope there’s a time we could spare to hang out again like we always do. Let’s chat again with Julia once it’s all over,”
There was a glimpse of unwillingness in his Violet eyes. In addition, I felt a sense of longing in his gentle voice. Our eyes locked and exchanged pleasantries but also our true intentions. Eyes are the windows to a person’s soul after all. It was as if we could read each other’s emotions like a book.
“Lady Lenna, it's finished” I felt a tap on my shoulder, snapping Adrian’s face out of my mind.
When it came to clear, I was lost at the reflection of my tidied long hair. Long and straight, setting it aside by my right shoulder and tied the end by one of a quarter from the bottom. I felt much better after seeing it.
I turned and nodded at both hair-dressers, “Thank you very much, it’s amazing that you could put it up this fast,”
“It’s our pleasure to serve the new Mistress of the Flammia Family, Lady Lenna,” Both of them put their hands in front of their waist and bowed.
Mistress… so that’s what they would address me, huh? Rather unbefitting if you ask me, and quite uncomfortable.
Maybe I should return outside, how long has it been since I took a break? I glanced at the basic-looking wall clock attached way on top of the vanity table. The long needle points to the eighth number while the small needle points past the first number. Half an hour, Al, Kalem, and Adrian did take their sweet time here.
Right as I was thinking of standing from my chair and returning to the horrible reception, a meager knock came on the door. Wondering who it was made me feel uneasy, I purposely stayed silent to keep myself composed.
Not a second later, the door later opened by itself, I was afraid that it was the tyrant himself, Alvar. Could he have found out what my brothers and Adrian did earlier?
But all of those tensions dissipated when I saw who was behind the door. Behind it stands a girl with short Golden Blonde hair with a Navy hairband on her head. Her posture looks petite and soft judging from the expression she’s making. Her eyes are the colors of Amber with an impeccable look.
She was wearing a Navy blazer with long puff sleeves, while under that was a frilly dress in the shades of White. Around her waist was a Golden-colored strap as a bow rests on the side of her hips. She was still clinging into the door with a timid look, or might I say a frightened look.
“E-excuse me,” She stuttered with a shy voice, slowly revealing her whole body to my eyes.
Suddenly, the two hairdressers beside me bowed down deeply to her, “My lady,”
My lady? Hold on, did I hear that right? My lady?
The “Lady” began to drag herself from the door towards me, fidgeting her hands all over as she stopped in front of me.
“A-are you perhaps Miss Lenna?”