After staring at the business card for a long moment, Heiner surprisingly had no particular reaction.
He just put the business card in his pants pocket, not in Annette’s bag.


An uncomfortable silence fell.
Annette, who had been fiddling with her teacup, hesitantly opened her mouth.


“It’s Ans.”


Heiner’s hands stopped for a moment as he was putting the belongings back into her bag.
He silently looked up, closing the bag with a natural movement.


“If I follow him…”


Closing her eyes, Annette continued to speak.


“Could that be the next best thing for me? I’m not saying I’ll follow him.
I just wonder.”


“I don’t know what kind of answers you want from me.”


“Is there a Restoration faction in France?”


Heiner’s eyes narrowed slightly at the straightforward question.


“Heiner, you do know?”


 “Did Ansgar Stetter say something like that? That there are forces for the restoration of the monarchy in France, and that you should join them?”


I came up with the idea on my own.
All Ansgar wanted was for me to go with him.”


“Why do you ask me if you already have that idea in mind?”


“I am informing you.
That I’m not hiding anything from you, and that I’m not going to follow Ansgar secretly.”


Her voice was not very desperate, though she insisted on her innocence.
There was no special emotion on Heiner’s face as he listened.


It could happen.”


He spat out tastelessly as he was thinking about something.


“Because in the past, Ansgar Stetter liked you, and now you’re single.
Also, if there is a monarchy restoration force in France as you think, they will treat you quite well.
However, I cannot assure you of this.
Your reputation is so bad within Padania that you may think you have no use.”


Heiner stopped speaking for a moment and smiled without warmth.


“You said there is nowhere for you to be happy, and yet you’ve found a place that accepts you.
It’s a useless assumption anyway.”


“As I said, I won’t go with Ansgar.
I could be wrong in my guess, just ……”


Annette continued to speak in a cautious tone.


“Just if you don’t know… so I just wanted to let you know about the possible existence of retro forces within France.
Of course, you might have already known…..”


“You won’t gain anything by telling me that.”


The gray eyes, like those of a snitch, slid slowly down her body, then back up again.
The ends of his hair, against the light, looked pale yellow.


Annette laughed bitterly.


“I thought you were trying to make the world a better place.”


Was the world today a better world than it was before? Annette didn’t feel it.
Because the changed world was too harsh to her.


But the people said, “The world is much better now and will be better in the future.”


Then they must be right.
Because she herself was an unwise and foolish woman.

She had never made her own judgments, and even if she did now, they would be wrong.


Her words to Annelie Engels were also sincere.
Annette respected the cause of people trying to change the world.
Even if that cause was infinitely cruel to her.


Even if she did not relate.


Feelings like vengeance and resentment had long since disappeared.
Like burnt ash, it was just an old scar.


In the quiet, she could hear Heiner’s breathing.
It was a breath as strong and regular as his temper.


“… I have never asked for sympathy from you.”


Silent for a moment, Heiner put his hand on the blanket.
Then he lowered his upper body close to hers.
Annette’s shoulders tensed as his stern face approached.


A husky voice hung in the air.


“Don’t think, Annette.
Just go with the flow.”




“You’re good at that, aren’t you?”


She was surely being ridiculed, but for some reason Heiner looked hurt.
But just as it quickly came it was gone in a flash and he opened his mouth again with a cold face.


“I know better than you that Ansgar Stetter wanted you.
If you had not married me, your husband would have been him.
I don’t believe a word you say.”


“I never loved him.”


“Where did ever the marriages of nobles be done by love alone?”


Heiner’s words were not wrong.
They were a unique case in that they loved each other and married after dating.
Actually, he lied, though.


The tea had gone cold before long.
Annette murmured in a low voice.


“I mean it whether you believe me or not.”


 If following Ansgar was the next best option, she already knew her best option.
Two sad gazes intertwined.
Annette took another sip of tea, then set her teacup on the side table.


 “I’m tired.
I want to go to sleep.”


Heiner stared down at her face as if trying to see if her words were true.
When Annette turned her head, he raised his upper body.


When Annette turned over, Heiner turned off the gas lamp, and darkness quickly filled the room.


There was a rustling sound behind her as he got into bed.
Annette closed her eyes and tried to sleep.


The two untouched bodies slowly cooled like tea water.




Heiner raised himself up in bed at dawn.
The light filtering through the curtains that didn’t close completely bathed the bed pale.


Silently, he removed the covers and looked at the woman lying away from him.
Annette, who seemed to be unable to fall asleep until late, was peacefully asleep.


Her face was buried in the blanket with her body curled up.
The white blanket rose and fell in small, regular motions.


Heiner unconsciously leaned close to her.
Her soft cheek was exposed between her hair and the blanket.


He inadvertently tried to place his hand there and stopped.
Then he rubbed his face bitterly with the hand he had taken back.


‘It’s inconvenient.
I should have just booked a separate room…’


It had been a long time since he had shared a bed with Annette.
He originally intended to get another room, but he felt strangely uneasy.


Exactly what was unsettling Heiner himself did not know.
He tried to drive the image of the woman in the sea out of his mind.


Quietly, he got up from the bed and walked toward the hanger.
Heiner’s gaze was suddenly fixed on one spot as he pulled a cigar from his coat pocket.


Annette’s cardigan pocket next to his was bulging.
He took out things from the pocket and looked at them.
Something glinted in the darkness.


He thought it was jewelry, but upon closer inspection, it was useless fragments.


‘What are all these pieces of trash?’


He wondered what she was so eager to pick up, but it was just this stuff.
For some reason, it made him feel uncomfortable.


Heiner tossed them in the trash and went out onto the balcony.
His breathing became easier in the open air.


He could not stay in the dark, enclosed space for long.
His condition was better now and not completely impossible, but the feeling of being mentally put on the defensive still remained.


This was due to his memories in the torture chamber.
His psychiatrist was the only one who knew of this fact.
Everyone else who should have known was long dead.


His hair fluttered in the cool night breeze.
Heiner stared out at the dark sea with an unlit cigar in his hand.


He could hear the waves crashing in the distance.
He was not a smoker.


It had been a long time since he had quit smoking, but when his mind was in a complicated state, a cigar in his mouth felt like it could dull his thinking, if only a little.
It did help even though he never lighted it.


‘I guess it’s psychological.’


Heiner saw many psychological aspects of this kind: people complaining of pain in a leg that had been amputated long ago (phantom pain), or people who were tricked into taking fake medicine during a time of war when medicines were in short supply and they believed that it really worked.


He lowered his gaze and looked down at the cigar he was holding.
A whitish brown stick came into view.


He had quit smoking six years ago.
That was when he and Annette had started dating.
She didn’t seem to mind the smoke or the smell, but he voluntarily quit smoking.


He didn’t need to look good anymore, so he didn’t need to quit smoking.
However, he still couldn’t smoke again.


When his mind wandered to that point, Heiner faintly frowned.
He clicked his tongue and put his arms over the railing.


“You must think I’m really, really crazy.” (A)


If that was the case, he wouldn’t have felt so dirty.


Was it her problem or his that no matter how much she was dragged down and trampled on she still looked so goddamn virtuous?


Heiner smiled bitterly.
He had been pondering this for a very long time, but he still hadn’t come to a conclusion.


Annette Valdemar,


You touch my lowest and weakest part.


Make me infinitely miserable.


At least this is your problem and your fault.


Heiner pulled out the cigar from his mouth and straightened his body.
He turned and entered the room.
Putting the cigar in his coat pocket again, he stared at the trash can for a moment.


The things Annette had picked up had lost their shine and lay abandoned in the darkness.


“My heart is not particularly useful anyway.” (A)


Your heart is useless.


Heiner quietly bit his lips.


He wanted her to feel the despair of not being reciprocated.
He wanted her to suffer the reality she couldn’t reach.



He hoped her heart was heartbroken and miserable.


Just as he once was.


So at least Heiner needed her heart.


He raised his head with a downcast look.
After checking on Annette, who was still asleep, he quietly entered the bathroom.


He turned on the water tap and cold water flooded out.
He stood still for a moment with his fingertips against the running water.


He felt the rubbish Annette had picked up on the beach rattle inside him.

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