The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 3
“Even if the sky fell, it would still be impossible.”
Even the last hope she held onto was utterly shattered. Herietta lowered her head. She felt as if she had been sentenced to death.
She looked down at her hand with eyes full of regret. It was the hand that Edwin had held a while ago. The warmth from his hand still lingered.
“However… I don’t think it will be easy for you to forget.”
15, It was fleeting, yet everlasting. There had never been anything in her life that she had been so strongly drawn to and wanted more than ever. And it seemed like it would be the first and the last.
Lilian gently raised Herietta’s head and made her look at her.
“You will forget. The world is big, and there are countless wonderful men in this big world.”
“Are those guys more handsome than Sir Edwin?”
Herietta asked. Lilian, who looked down at her clear eyes, hesitated to answer for a moment. Her niece’s eyes were full of trust and faith. After a moment, Lilian nodded.
- At a young age, she hadn’t even made her debut. Lilian firmly believed that Herietta would soon forget Edwin’s existence and it would merely be like a midsummer night’s dream.
* * *
Time passed smoothly. It had already been a year since Herietta came to Lavant.
Once she turned 16, she made her debut to commemorate her coming of age. It was a once-in-a-lifetime debutante party that any noble woman valued. But she wasn’t very interested in that as she was still heartbroken. She couldn’t even remember the name of the man who had escorted her.
Still, she had only one reason to attend the ball.
‘Maybe we can meet today.’
Although she knew the odds were slim, Herietta did not give up even though she went home disappointed every night. She repeated endlessly to torture herself with hope.
On the way back to her house, Lilian clicked her tongue as she saw her niece getting into the carriage, feeling depressed. Even with her strong self-esteem, she now had to admit that she was completely wrong with her expectations.
Half a year had already passed. Nevertheless, Herietta was still unable to escape from Edwin’s shadow.
Lilian couldn’t understand her niece. No matter how attractive he is, how could she be so fascinated by just seeing him once? In the past, she introduced several children from a wealthy family to her, but it was all in vain. Except for Edwin, Herietta did not show any interest in other men.
“Rose sent a letter. She was wondering when you would come back.”
As usual, Herietta should have returned to her hometown long ago. However, she refused to leave Lavant after she had lost her heart to Edwin. It was amazing how she could be so determined while she missed Philioche so much.
“I’ll stay a little longer.”
Herietta responded helplessly, leaning her body against the back of the chair. Rattle, rattle. The carriage running on the stone road swayed rhythmically.
“A little longer. How long is a little longer? Until Sir Edwin leaves Lavant and heads for the capital?”
“Sir Edwin is notorious for not attending social gatherings. As proof of that, you haven’t met him once since that night until now, haven’t you?”
“That’s not it. I saw him a while ago.”
Herietta answered with a stern expression on her face. Then Lilian snorted at her.
“Are you talking about the day you waited and waited in front of the Marquis of Richconell’s mansion?”
“It was a long shot, but… I saw him.”
Herietta’s voice became smaller.
She trembled with impatience, as she had not seen even a strand of Edwin’s hair for quite some time. Then, when she heard that Edwin was starting to visit Marquis Richconnell often, she eventually set out to visit the mansion. Of course, she didn’t know anyone in the Marquis’ mansion, so she had to wander in front of it, unable to step through the high grate door.
She had already gone to the Marquisate every day for fifteen days. When she began to feel deeply skeptical of her own actions, Herrietta finally saw Edwin. When she saw a horse-drawn carriage approaching with a crest of a golden lion, the emblem of the Redford family, she leaped with joy.
But it was only for a moment that she basked in joy. She hurriedly hid nearby, fearing that she would look suspicious wandering around for no reason.
The grate that seemed to never open opened, and the carriage slid into the garden. Then it stopped in front of a mansion so large and majestic that it could not be compared to the Mackenzie’s mansion.
Perhaps anticipating Edwin’s visit, Marquis Richconell came out of the mansion himself and waited for Edwin.
Soon the carriage door opened, and a tall man got out of it. She couldn’t see his face properly because he was far away, but she could tell who it was without having to check it.
The time it took for him to disappear into the mansion was really short, but Herietta was satisfied with that. It felt like rain had finally fallen on dry land after a long and severe drought.
“Herietta. I’m really worried about you. I am afraid of the loss and pain you will experience when you finally realize that you cannot be with him.”
Lilian said to Herietta, who was preoccupied with memories of their meeting. She was genuinely worried about Herietta. She had long ago given up telling her not to dream. She just wanted her niece not to be hurt.
‘I would like to stop my heart if I can.’
Herietta muttered in her mind. She didn’t know how reckless and ignorant she would appear to be. But if she could have stopped herself through sheer willpower, she would have stopped it sooner.
Leaning helplessly against the back of the chair, she closed her eyes. Another day passes like this yet again.
* * *
Most people like to interfere and get involved in other people’s affairs. And even more so when the subject is a very famous person.
One day, the news of the engagement of the perfect heir of the Duchy of Redford to the beautiful and only daughter of the Marquisate of Richiconell spread quickly throughout the kingdom like wildfire. It was then that people understood why Edwin had left the capital for so long and stayed in Lavant, including his frequent visits to Marquis Richconell.
The combination of the two was absolutely perfect. Although they do not stand out as much as the Redford family, the Richconell family was also known to be one of the most prestigious families in Brimdel. What’s more, Vivian, the only daughter of Marquis Richconell, was so beautiful that rumors circulated about dozens of men waiting in line to propose even before she made her debut.
Everyone in the kingdom sincerely offered their congratulations and rejoiced in the union of these two wonderful people.
Except for one person.
And that person was Herietta Mackenzie.
When she first heard the news, Herietta felt like the world was falling apart. Her eyes darkened and it felt as if the floor was going to explode. If this was a terrible nightmare, she just wished she would wake up as soon as possible. But unfortunately, she wasn’t dreaming; it was the harsh reality.
The wounds of her broken heart which she got from being unable to confess her love properly were so deep that it could not be expressed in words. It was not enough to describe it as just sad and empty.
“That’s why I warned you earlier. It’s useless.”
“Time will take care of everything, Herietta. No matter how sad and difficult it is for you right now, nothing in this world lasts forever. Soon, you too will forget all this sadness and get over it, and wonder when it happened. Then nothing will happen again.”
Lilian comforted Herietta with a pitiful, sweet gaze as her niece kept crying.
Herietta refused to eat, and she cried every day and night, exhausted. Several times, she even lost consciousness. Realizing that the situation was worse than she thought, Lilian turned to the Viscount Mackenzie couple for help.
Viscountess Rose Mackenzie, who immediately traveled to Lavant after receiving the call, was terribly surprised. No matter how long a year has passed, it was difficult to recognize the appearance of her daughter, which had changed for the worse.
“Herietta, daughter, how did you become like this? There really won’t be any left of you at this rate.”
Rose was truly sad.
“Would you like to return to Philioche with me? The air is clear and clean there, so it will help heal your weary mind and body.”
Rose suggested. She knew that her daughter was struggling with a broken heart, but she didn’t know exactly who it was. It was because Lilian deliberately kept quiet because she was worried that it would just cause trouble.
“Besides, we all miss you. Without you, who used to be a troublemaker, the mansion seems too quiet. Especially Hugo, that kid misses you a lot.”
Herietta, who was lying on the bed with a blanket over her, responded to the name of her younger brother whom she had not heard from in a long time. He was six years younger than her, and he was only nine when she left Philioche.
Herietta recalled Hugo chasing after her while calling out ‘sister, sister’ like a duckling in the water. Then, the affection and longing for her hometown, which had been buried somewhere in the depths, welled up like a spring of water.
It was all because of Edwin that she insisted on staying in Lavant from the beginning anyway. However, he was now another woman’s man, and he left for the capital immediately after his betrothal. Now, there was no reason for Herietta to remain in Lavant.
Soon after that, Herietta and Rose boarded the carriage heading to Philioche.
* * *
Herietta sat by the window of her room and looked out of the window. It had already been a year since she returned to Philioche with Rose.
The time she thought would never flow, eventually flowed like water. Has she gotten used to the flow?
As the days went by, the sun seemed to set faster and faster. Sometimes she wondered when the day had even passed.
Herietta began to read the letter she was holding in her hand. It was a letter from Lilian in Lavant.
After she returned to Philioche, Lilian regularly sent her letters of greetings. To Lilian, who had no children due to her husband’s early death, Herietta was the closest thing to her own child.
The letter, filled with small stories from her daily life, ended with a promise, that was not a promise at the same time, that she would visit Philioche soon to see Herietta, as always.
Herietta grinned. She could still guarantee that when the next letter from her aunt arrived, she still wouldn’t have visited Philioche.
As Herietta tried to fold the letter with a smile on her face, she saw a postscript added to the bottom of the letter.
[PS: Recently, strange stories have been circulating in the kingdom, Herietta, I hope you didn’t hear it.
Even if you heard it, it probably doesn’t matter now, but just in case.]
Herietta tilted her head. It was an odd postscript, and she didn’t know what it meant. It was like Lilian had hesitated several times to write it, as there were ink marks as if she had pressed a pen with force.
Herietta couldn’t even guess what the strange story Lilian was talking about. Philioche was a very small town with a population of less than five hundred, and because it was located far away from the capital as well as downtown, interaction with the surrounding area was rare.
How serious is that? Most of the people here don’t even know how old the current king was, or how many wives or children he had. Other villagers would be surprised to hear it, but at least it wasn’t unusual here.