The next morning, Heiner visited Annette’s room with the newly hired attending physician.
The doctor, who appeared to be in her mid-40s, had a very kind smile on her face.


 

“Hello, madam, I’m Mila Lauren.
I studied family medicine at Verden University and have been a specialist at Lancaster Cross Hospital for 12 years.
I promise to do my best.”

 

 “Uh, yes.
I’m Annette…….”

 

It felt strange somehow to put Heiner’s last name after her name.
Annette hesitated for a moment, then added.

 

” …… Valdemar.
I look forward to working with you.”

 

At that momentary interval, Heiner’s strange gaze touched her and then fell away.
Annette folded and averted her eyes.

 

Mila Lauren, not noticing this, simply smiled softly and continued.

 

“I have been informed of your previous situation.
I will take special care to ensure that no drug abuse or overdose occurs.
By the way, madam, I heard that you received psychological counseling while you were in the hospital.”

 

“Yes, just a few times.”

 

“I’m not sure about that one, so why don’t you try to get a separate counselor?”

 

“If you wish, I can call the same counselor that we have at Lutheran Hospital.”

 

Suddenly, Heiner interrupted.
Annette’s brow furrowed slightly in discomfort.

 

She didn’t want them to think she had mental problems.

 

 

The same was true even if it was just a consultation.
Socially, it was never considered a good idea to seek psychological counseling.

 

The perception of it was better than in the past, but it was still the same among the close minded aristocrats.

 

A history of mental illness could bar a person from marriage.

 

This was a very important issue since the nobles were usually married for political reasons.

 

Annette was a rare case of a love marriage, but the thinking of the privileged class was embodied in the same way.

 

Even now that the aristocracy had fallen, the thinking that was etched into the marrow of their bones could not be easily erased.

 

“I don’t need a consultation.”

 

“Oh, madam.
There’s nothing to be wary of.”

 

Mila Lauren, who had once taken on the role of attending physician to an aristocratic family, noticed Annette’s reluctance.

 

 “A simple psychological consultation is almost mandatory in children’s schools these days.”


 

“No, I really don’t need it.”

 

In fact, it was ridiculous to worry about reputation now.
Adding at least one more rumor of mental illness to an already rock-bottom reputation was not going to change anything.

 

But Annette still didn’t like it.
She hated seeing people pretending to be concerned about her miscarriage, and she hated the mention of it in the first place.

 

She wanted to live as if nothing had happened.
As if the child had never existed in the first place.
And most of all…

 

“I could lock you up in a mental hospital for the rest of your life if you continue to go against my will like this.”

 

Lately, Annette had sometimes wondered.

 

Perhaps she had really gone mad.

 

At one point or another, she felt as if her mind was floating.
It was as if she was standing on the borderline between reality and dreams.

 

Under pressure or stress, the feeling would intensify.

 

She was likely to find herself in that state of mind when she sought advice.
Annette was not particularly cooperative in psychological consultations at Lutheran Hospital, even giving lies for answers.

 

‘First of all, I understand what you mean, madam.
Still, please take your time and think about it more.
I will leave a consultation form here for you to fill out when you have time.”

 

Mila Lauren placed some papers on the table, but Annette did not look at them.

 

While Heiner watched, Mila Lauren briefly checked her condition.
It was close to a formal medical examination, as she had already undergone the tests at Lutheran Hospital.

 

 “Well then, madam, if there is any discomfort, you can call me anytime.
As I said, please be sure to take your medications only as prescribed.”

 

“Yes.”

 

With a small smile and a greeting, Mila Lauren left the room.
Annette stared at her gray hair.

 

She was a gentle person.
A graduate of a prestigious university with a 12-year career as a medical specialist, she must have great ability, and at best, though she was a waste of a doctor to treat someone like her, Annette thought.

 

“Annette.”

 

Annette raised her gaze at the quiet call.

 

“Why do you refuse counseling?”

 

It was an expected question.
And it was an obvious question.
In the past, she might have been pleased with a handful of his attention, but now they were all just too annoying.

 

“I told you.
I don’t want it.”

 


“I understand your aristocratic perception of psychological consultation, but how long are you going to live trapped in that cliché notion? I think you need it because you have a problem….”

 

His words trailed off for a moment.
Heiner’s eyes shook faintly.

 

 “Even if it’s a small problem, you’re hurt.”

 

 “……” 

 

“A cold, a headache, …… well, something like that.
You’re not well.”

 

The edge of his voice cracked slightly.
Annette soaked up the arsenic without noticing it.

 

“Yes.”

 

To her, his words were just comical.

 

“I don’t think that should be coming from someone who said he was going to lock me up in a mental hospital.”

 

Heiner’s brow furrowed.
He moved his lips once and said with a sigh.

 

“I didn’t know you were keeping those words in mind…”

 

“You told me that just to forget it?”

 

“I said that only because you keep rebelling.”

 

“…rebel?”

 

Annette cut him off and asked back.
A laughter flowed from her lips.

 

“Did asking for a divorce seem like rebellion to you?” (A)

 

“I didn’t mean it.” (H)

 

“I am not the one beneath you.” (A)

 

“I have never treated you as someone beneath me.” (H)

 

“Bullshit.” (A)

 

“You’re the one who thinks of me that way.” (H)


 

“…… what are you talking about all of a sudden?” (A)

 

Immediately Heiner fell silent.
An unnatural silence hovered between them.
Annette asked again.

 

“When did I ever consider you as an underling?” (A)

 

“You always thought so…..”(H)

 

“No, I never did.” (A)

 

“You did.” (H)

 

“No, never.
What in the world are you talking about?”

 

Heiner touched his mouth with a tired expression.
His large hand swept over his mouth once, and his low, insensitive expression returned in a flash.
It was a remarkably quick change.

 

“So much for that.
I didn’t mean to fight you.”

 

There had been countless conversations broken off like this.
But Annette neither refuted nor added anything.

 

Conversation was an attempt only with the person who had the possibility of restoring the relationship.

 

In that respect, Heiner was not a person worth constructive dialogue.

 

Also, Annette did not think much about the future.

 

 “……fill these forms and give them to your doctor.”

 

Heiner touched the consultation papers for a moment.
Annette did not look at the papers until the end.

 

***

 

The noon sun shone through the half curtained window.
Annette sat by the window and slowly tapped the window frame with her fingertips.
The slow, steady sound echoed dully.

 

Annette was waiting for Catherine Grott inside the official residence.

 

Catherine did not visit the official residence the next day or the day after.
Today marked a week had passed.
But Annette waited for her.

 

Time continued to pass.
She didn’t call again, and she didn’t hear from her, but Annette waited for her.

 

She did not know how long she would have to wait.
But the feeling of waiting for someone was not bad, and Annette felt it was okay if she came very late.

 

“Ah ……”

 

Annette, who was looking out the window, involuntarily opened her lips.


 

Annelie Engels was walking on the first floor with a heavy-looking briefcase.
She looked busy.

 

Annette stared down at her.
It wasn’t that she had any special personal feeling for Annelie Engels.
Her eyes just caught her in passing.

 

She wondered why she was so busy.

 

Suddenly, Annelie stopped.
Annette looked to the other side where her head was turned.

 

From there, Heiner, accompanied by an aide, was walking along.
He was so large that he stood out from a distance.

 

Heiner and Annelie greeted each other when they ran into each other as expected.
They engaged in some conversation, and Heiner changed direction and began walking by her side.

 

Heiner held out his hand as if he was about to take the briefcase from Annelie.
Annelie hesitantly  handed it over.

 

Annelie laughed out loud at something they were talking about.
Heiner, too, smiled faintly. 

 

Birds perched on the fence flapped and flew up.

 

A calm gaze stared at the two.

 

Annette was not familiar with the emotion of jealousy.
She had never made the assumption that Heiner would look at any woman other than herself.

 

It was a little strange to think about it, but it was the same even after her situation was like this.

 

“I tried to refuse quietly because I had no intention of accepting it in the first place, but the article got out and …… there was no reversal anyway.”

 

She didn’t think those words were lies.
She knew that Heiner was not someone who would lie about such things, or at least not someone who would cheat.

 

Suddenly an empty smile broke out on her lips.

 

‘That’s how I’ve been trick into believing them.’

 

Was the Heiner she knew really Heiner? Was she sure about any of the things she thought she knew about him?

 

Suddenly, her empty hand with a missing ring caught her eyes.
Her ring finger, where the ring had been worn for so long, was slightly thinner at the bottom.

 

She didn’t think it was this empty.

 

With a strange feeling, Annette looked out the window.
The view became clearer.
Time slowed down, almost as if it had stopped.

 

Heiner raised his head, looking her way.

 

Annette was not particularly surprised, nor did she avoid his gaze.
She was too far away to be sure he was really looking at her.

 

After a moment, Heiner turned his head again.
Time, which had stopped, began to flow faster again.
The branches of the trees swayed slightly in the breeze.

 

A light breeze and Annelie’s laughter seeped in the slightly open window.
The tow carried their steps.
A path continued before them.

 

Annette quietly closed the window.

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