After spending the weekend together, Scarlett and Noah returned to Iodes by carriage.
Scarlett knew people were giving her condescending looks, but she really didn’t care about rumors.
“Just ignore them.”
Noah didn’t care about gossip either, however, he couldn’t ignore Davison’s intentions to get revenge on Scarlett.
“Scarlett, let’s stay together for a while longer.”
“It’s okay, don’t worry.”
“I’m sorry, it’s because I feel anxious.”
He had no idea what Archer Davison would do. So, until then, he had to protect Scarlett.
On the other hand, Scarlett wasn’t aware that Archer had targeted her. Instead, she thought Noah was worried because of the kidnapping incident.
“There’s no need. Anyway, I hear Professor Diego wants to see me. Is it during lunchtime?”
“He probably wants to buy me lunch and take the opportunity to nag me.”
Scarlett frowned. She knew her attitude in class was terrible. She could already feel herself getting a headache at the thought of hearing his nagging.
“Wasn’t there something you wanted to ask the professor? You should go see him.”
Many pages of Noah’s book had been folded, which made her wonder how he was able to study when they were pretty much together all the time.
Scarlett decided to acknowledge Noah’s sincerity.
Noah had the diligence that she lacked. He was full of ambition and lived his life passionately.
Scarlett was envious of that. For her, just enduring each day was already too much. While the simplest of things were too intense for her, it required no effort for ordinary people, which Scarlett yearned to experience.
“It’s okay, I don’t need to go now.”
“I have something to discuss with Wilhelm in private, so go ahead.”
It was a lie, but Noah was hesitant to leave Scarlett alone, but since their first class was a Liberal Art course with Wilhelm, he decided to give her some space and made his way to the lab.
Scarlett headed to the classroom alone. She paused right before turning the corner of the hallway when she heard someone mention her name in a conversation.
“I didn’t think she would still participate in club activities since doesn’t come to class anymore. You’re in the same club, right? From what I’ve observed, you two seem awfully close. Do me a favor and introduce me to her.”
“That would be up to her, it’s not something I can just decide. If you’re that interested, then just approach her yourself.”
“What are friends for? Come on, in exchange, I’ll introduce you to Jeff Wood.”
“I’m sorry. I have a class to attend, so I’ll see you later.”
It was Wilhelm’s voice. Scarlett stepped between them without hesitation.
“Do you think I’m only worth an introduction to Jeff Wood? Aren’t you belittling the Whites? If you want to get closer to a member of the White Family, you’ll have to prepare a bigger card than that.”
After replying to him with a sharp tone, she switched her gaze to Wilhelm.
“What are you doing? We have to hurry up and get to class.”
Wilhelm followed Scarlett with a bewildered expression. Before opening the door, she looked him directly in the eyes.
“Aren’t you going to apologize? You arrogantly interfered in someone else’s family affairs.”
“I’m really sorry about that, but your behavior and attitude were the absolute worst.”
“It seems like you still don’t understand Wieland.”
“I just don’t understand your actions. No one that nice deserves to be treated so horribly.”
“Even if that person killed your family?”
“It’s a joke, don’t be stupid.”
As Scarlett tried to open the door, Wilhelm placed his hand over hers and prevented her movement.
“Let’s talk for a moment.”
“Do we have anything more to say to each other?”
“Yes, I think there are many topics we need to discuss.”
They walked towards the end of the corridor. Scarlett folded her arms over her chest while Wilhelm stood in front of her with a hand on his hip.
「 It’s not Grisham’s fault. This is your parents’ story. 」
「 Maybe it’s normal to have multiple lovers in Hieberg. But here, in Wieland, our society has been monogamous for more than 1 000 years. 」
「 But it’s not right to blame Grisham. You can hate him, but you can’t bully him. 」
「 Who are you to keep interfering with us? Are you in the same situation as Grisham? 」 Scarlett asked sharply.
She seemed to be barely holding in her anger that it wouldn’t be strange if she had an outburst right then and there. Whereas Wilhelm seemed uncomfortable with her aggressive attitude.
Scarlett, in fact, somewhat agreed with him. If being born could count as a sin, wouldn’t that be an indication of God’s absence? Yet she still hated the Ashfords and her hatred was strong enough to make her discard all the doubts she had.
「 Stop meddling and keep your nose out of other people’s family affairs. 」
「 How can I not care about my friend? 」
「 You’ve said previously that we aren’t friends. 」
「 Yes, I’m disappointed in you, but that doesn’t mean that we are no longer friends. 」
「 I don’t want to play with friends at my age. Plus, I have only known you for a few days. 」
「 Why are you like this? 」
「 Why don’t you try losing your father because of an affair and being born prematurely, with a weak body due to your mother’s shock. You don’t even want to understand me, so don’t call yourself a friend. I’m sick of pretentious hypocrites like you. 」
Scarlett was clearly hurt by the disappointment on Wilhelm’s face.
She quickly concealed the pain in her expression, and raised her eyebrows as if to say, ‘What will you do about it?’
「 It’s all an excuse. People like you, who play the victim despite being the one in the wrong, are pathetic. Scarlett White, it seems like I was wrong about you. 」 Wilhelm answered.
Wilhelm stormed off and left Scarlett behind. She clenched her hands as she saw him walk away.
But Noah forcibly pried open her fingers, which had turned pale from the lack of blood circulation.
“…Let’s get in.”
When Noah appeared, she turned away and walked ahead.
Scarlett thought it was fortunate that the two had spoken in Hiebergan. Thanks to that, Noah knew nothing. If he understood Wilhelm’s words, she would’ve died from the embarrassment.
“Wilhelm says that I’m pathetic. Do you think I’m pathetic, too?”
It was a meaningless question. After all, why would she care what Noah Ashford thought of her?
“Never mind. Don’t say anything.”
Upon entering the classroom, Scarlett felt her stomach turn when she saw Wilhelm casually talking with his friends as if nothing had happened.
During class, Scarlett thought about her situation, wondering whether she had any redeeming qualities, but ultimately concluded that, unlike her siblings, she had nothing.
She had spent her whole life sick and waiting for the moment she died. That was how Scarlett White’s existed.
A familiar feeling of helplessness and depression overtook her. Scarlett couldn’t concentrate on any of the class material. Her classes changed multiple times, but it was all a blur.
She only came to her senses after Noah tapped her on the shoulder during Economics class.
“Read page 159 starting from the second paragraph.”
“From here,” Noah spoke quickly.
Noah even pointed out the paragraph for her. The old professor raised his eyebrows and glared at her through his monocle as he waited.
“I’m sorry, Professor. I’m not feeling well. I think I need to go to the infirmary.”
The professor sighed deeply.
“Grisham, accompany Miss White,” he ordered, his voice filled with annoyance.
Noah packed his bag swiftly. As Scarlet left the classroom, she stumbled, and for a moment, fear flashed in her eyes, but Noah caught her in time.
“What’s wrong? Are you anxious? Do you want a sedative?”
“No… I don’t need it….”
‘All I want is to end his life and get revenge before my life ends. Is this wrong? Is my life pathetic?’
How would Scarlett White be remembered?
As a weak, worthless girl or as someone so horrible and terrifying that everyone rejoiced in her death?
Scarlett started to feel nauseated. She ran to the bathroom with her shaky legs and vomited everything in her stomach. Noah stood in front of the bathroom and called out to her.
“Are you okay, Scarlett? Oh my gosh…”
After rinsing her mouth, Scarlett looked in the mirror. A pale, pitiful woman that was nearing death stared back at her.
All she needed was her family. Only her family needed saving. They were her only reason for living. It didn’t matter what anyone else had to say. Regardless of her how her opinion and relationship with Noah had changed, if there was even the slightest possibility that he would murder her family, she would kill him first.
Scarlett quickly organized her thoughts as the class bell rang. Shortly afterward, she exited the bathroom and drank the water Noah had prepared.
“Let’s go to the infirmary.”
“I’m alright now. I just felt sick suddenly.”
“We need to get you checked.”
“No, I want to go see Professor Diego.”
Upon entering the lab, contrary to her expectations, Professor Diego invited her to sit on the sofa.
“So, Miss White. Have you become accustomed to school?”
“Yes, it’s all thanks to your efforts.”
“That’s a relief. I was genuinely concerned about your poor health. Miss White, if you’re feeling up to it, please look this over.”
The professor handed her a stack of papers. After reviewing the contents, she remained quiet. It was her results from the tests that were taken at the start of each class.
“You rarely score higher than 50 points. As you know, admission to our school is difficult, but graduating is even more challenging. If you don’t raise your score average, you will not be promoted to the next year, even if you get a high score on the midterm exams.”
“I’m okay with repeating a year.”
“That’s not an option. There will be an evaluation after the exam is over, you could get expelled.”
The midterm exam was only a month away. Scarlett turned pale.
In order to lessen Noah’s chances of betrayal, she had to spend as much time with him as possible and build a bond. If she got expelled from school, Noah Ashford would not leave school to follow her since first years could not take a leave of absence. She had no other choice but to stay in Iodes no matter what.
“Didn’t Aaron tell you?”
“He never talked about exams.”
“He was a brilliant student.”
Scarlett looked at her exam scores again.
“There are 7 tests left until the midterm exams. If you score more than 90 points on each test, you probably won’t be expelled even if score poorly on the midterm exam.”
“…..Thank you for your concern.”
As she left the lab, Scarlett’s head started to throb. In front of the door, Wilhelm and Noah were talking about something.
「 Hoffman, there’s something I wanted to ask you. 」
「 What is it? 」
「 Why didn’t you accept your friend’s request? An introduction to Jeff Wood is a fantastic opportunity for a foreigner like you. 」
「 I didn’t want to use my friend for those sorts of things. Besides, we’re not friends anymore. 」
Scarlett let out a laugh that held a sense of madness.
Wilhelm was a very naive and righteous person. He hadn’t been defiled by the filth in this world. But unlike him, she was a bird trapped in a cage and slightly twisted. That’s why she envied him. If she was in his shoes, would she become as free as him?
“Do you want to date me?”
A look of surprise spread across Wilhelm’s face and Noah’s eyes showed a hint of anger. But Scarlett ignored him and focused her attention on Wilhelm.
“I like you, go out with me.”
At this point, Noah’s eyes were trembling with anger. This anger came from a place so deep that even he was unaware of it.
“If you think you can just make fun of me, you’re wrong. You and your nasty pranks really are the worst.”
After replying coldly, Wilhelm left the place.
She pouted after watching him walk away.
Scarlett ate lunch as if nothing had happened. The next day during class, she took some notes, but soon dozed off until Noah came to wake her up so they could go eat lunch together.
Noah observed her carefully while wondering if she was sincere about asking Wilhelm to date her. During the day, no matter how many times Noah replayed that scene over and over again in his mind, he just couldn’t forget it. The class had already finished so he watched Scarlett sleep.
“… Help me, please.”
It was the same dream again.
‘What happened for her to keep having the same nightmares?’
Noah was reminded of his mother because she was very afraid of something too. Her anxiety was endless. His mother used to say that they needed protection. But, from what?
How could that be worse than being sold as a slave and forced to work on a whaling boat?
Noah couldn’t understand his mother. He knew his mother had many secrets that she had kept from him his entire life, but he had given up on hearing about any of them from her.
“Just… Kill me… Please… Spare… Isaac…”
He knew that Isaac was Scarlett’s nephew. It seemed to be a dream where this kid was about to be killed, and she was begging for his life to be spared.
Scarlett’s brow was wrinkled, and her forehead was covered in sweat. However, Noah didn’t wake her up because he wanted to find out more details about her dreams.
The confession she made to Wilhelm was so mean, that he wanted her to endure her nightmares for a little while longer.
Noah laid his head down next to Scarlett, unaware of the emotions it would spark within him.
In the sunlight, her hair was shinier than usual. He felt the urge to sink his hands into that redness. It was such a beautiful color that it made him want to watch it flow between his fingers.
‘What is bothering you so much?’
Every time Scarlett groaned, the sadness also spread to Noah. Nevertheless, he wanted her to suffer a bit more.
‘If I’m suffering, you have to suffer too.’
At that moment, he started to wonder why he was suffering. Why did Wilheim and Scarlett’s meeting fill him with sorrow? As he was questioning himself, she started crying.
His mind went blank.
‘I never wanted her tears. I don’t want to see her cry.’
Noah stood up and tried to wake her up.
“Scarlet. Wake up.”
“Scarlett, it’s time to go to the club.”
As Scarlett struggled and suffered, his heart sank.
‘Why didn’t I wake her up sooner?’
When tears began to stream down her face Noah grew more desperate and started tapping her.
Scarlett was still shouting when she woke up. After opening her eyes, the first thing she saw was Noah’s eyes, which resembled the eyes of the murderer in her dreams. She met Noah’s gaze, staring into those dreadful blue eyes.
When she heard Noah’s friendly voice, she was able to take a few deep breaths.
The moment she woke up, another nightmare had begun. The murderer wasn’t just in her dreams, he existed in reality too. It was a nightmare that never ended even after her death. She couldn’t accept such reality, otherwise, she would lose her mind all at once.
“It’s okay. Scarlett. I’m sorry. Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Please calm down.”
Noah tried to calm her down, but she cried, and he could see the tears, confusion, and fear in her eyes.
He pulled her against his chest, just as he did during the kidnapping incident and hugged her tightly to quell her struggles.
‘Shh.. Shh.. Everything is going to be okay.’
Scarlett tried to scratch his back, pull his hair and bite his neck.
But Noah let her do as she pleased. Scarlett was so thin that a scratch or a bite from her didn’t hurt much.
“Please don’t kill me! Leave me alone!”
‘Did I appear in her dreams? Am I the one killing Scarlett?’
He wanted to know the answers to those questions, but now wasn’t the time for it.
“I’m sorry. I won’t do it anymore.”
Seeing Scarlett have a panic attack made his heart ache. After all, she was his little sister, his own flesh and blood.
“Shh. I’m sorry, Scarlett. Please, calm down.”
“Please, stop appearing in my dreams. Please… Not anymore.”
“I’m sorry. It’s all my fault. I’m so sorry.”
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