Heiner stared at the girl, head raised again.
Before he knew it, the performance was over and she was flipping through the next sheet of music.


Unlike her in the warm, cozy room, he stood in the cold rain.
A chill was drifting through his body, along with a terrible sense of reality.

Ha.
A low, bitter laugh erupted.
What in the world was he doing?

At the most, the girl’s pain would be from having a hard time practicing the piano, or falling and scraping her knee, or getting into a fight with a friend.

No one would dare to administer strange drugs to her.
No one would ever violate her or lock her up in solitary confinement.

What he was experiencing was far from the range of pain the girl could ever imagine.
Perhaps the girl did not even know that there was such a thing as a training camp.

It was a well-known fact that the Marquis loved his only daughter dearly.
He would have raised her to see and hear only good things.

His precious daughter would not need to know about trainees who were undergoing cruel training.

Who in the world would feel sympathy for anyone in spite of such a situation?

He (Heiner) must have gone insane not long after coming out of solitary confinement.

In the midst of a fuzzy mind, hearing a performance like that was a distraction.

‘Still ………’

He clenched his fists tightly.

‘If she knew my existence….’

In Heiner’s mind, she was something religious.
What it was exactly could not be described in the words he knew.

But if it were him, he would be sorry about the situation.
He would sympathize.
He would be angry.

Like Saint Marianne in the dining room mural at the Rosenberg residence… If someone asked him about religion, he would think of this girl.

Because she always looked so holy in front of the piano.

Suddenly her hands pressed the keys.
A low sound came through the closed window.
The next song began.
The raindrops became a little thicker.
Heiner stood still in the pouring rain for a while.

The song, whose title he did not even know, was like a soul-stealing demon.
Or like Christ saving abandoned souls.

Or like ordinary people praying earnestly to an unreachable God.


Even when he was thrown back into the cold reality when the performance was over…

***

Time flowed like running water.

Heiner, who had never missed a dinner at the Marquis’s after that, graduated from the training camp with exceptional grades.
He immediately enlisted in the Special Operations Corp.

After completing two domestic assignments, he was assigned overseas.
He was to assassinate a high-ranking member of the newly established revolutionary party in Demadonia and extract secrets.

The operative took at least a year and a half and up to two years for this job.
He was told that he could not return to Padania for the time being.

Heiner looked for the girl one last time before leaving.
The longer and stronger legs crossed the garden.
In four years he had become a distinct young man.

The girl’ hours of practice had not changed.
She was always there, and he always found her at the same spot.

It was a clear, cloudless day.

Heiner was holding a bouquet of starlings and hydrangeas in his arms.
It was the first bouquet he had purchased at a street florist in the territory.

It was something he could not have dreamed of when he was a trainee.
There were still restrictions, but compared to when he lived confined to the island, he was relatively free to roam around.

A wind blew from behind.
His dark hair, which was quite long and reached his neck, fluttered away.

He raised his eyes and looked where the wind was headed.
The windows of the white building were half open.

Heiner approached the building with silent steps.
The curtains were wide open, and in the window he saw a familiar dazzling body.

She tilted her head slightly, marking something in the sheet music.
Her nose was slightly crunched up, as if she was troubled.

Heiner stood by the window and took in the sight.
The girl’s curves shone in the sunlight.

For four years, the girl had also grown up.
But her body had changed only slightly, her features were still the same, making her look like a child at first glance.

She repeatedly pressed the keys and then released them again.
She seemed to measure the sound, putting the harmonies in slightly different ways.

Her soft blonde hair cascaded down along her neck and shoulders.
Heiner stared at the scene with eyes half nostalgic and half bitter.

“His lifelong wish was to join the special corps.”


Heiner had fulfilled someone’s lifelong wish.
And now he was about to join the formal army, the dream of all trainees.

To do so, he had to prove his competence and loyalty with his life.
If a person at the bottom wanted to rise to the sun, he had to do so.

If he rose above his pitiful life, became someone more significant other than trash, perhaps he could get close to her.

Heiner’s lips silently pressed thin.
At the same time the keys were pressed and the piano sounded.

Can I try to speak to you?

Will I be able to stop looking endlessly at you from afar?

Can I let you know that there is someone like me, that there are people like me?

Heiner’s gray eyes shook slightly.
He closed his eyes and opened them again.
When they reappeared, most of the emotion was gone.

He returned to his usual cold face and looked at the bouquet of flowers in his hand.
He slowly placed the bouquet on the window sill.
Unlike his cold face, his hands were very careful.

The girl’s fingers fell on the keys again.
The chords that had been reworked countless times echoed in harmony.

Blue petals swayed along the wave-like melody.

***

Time continued to pass.

Heiner traveled abroad, completing three short-term assignments and two long-term ones.
In the process, he joined the Marquis’ entourage.

Of course, due to the nature of the special operations unit, this was never official.
Heiner always worked as a shadow.
Only those involved knew of his exploits.

Whenever he returned to the country, Heiner was invited to the residence of the Marquis.
He was greeted with congratulations and encouragement for his success, and he joined him for dinner.

And he always went looking for the girl.

The girl.

She had grown so much that he could no longer call her that.
The chubby face and childish cuteness in his memory had disappeared, and a perfect ladylike figure was in its place.

Her small body had filled out and her features had matured elegantly and seductively.

Rosenberg’s precious lady entered the social world several years ago and received many courtships.
Everyone loved her, young and old.


She also became a real pianist.
She won prizes in several world competitions and even gave private recitals.

As she grew, her practice room was moved to the back of the mansion.
Heiner finally learned of this fact the day he completed his second short-term mission.

Thus, for the past eight months he had not seen her once.

“Hey, did you see that?”

His colleague Jackson whistled and slapped Heiner on the shoulder.

“The Marquis’s daughter.
She just passed by.
Right over there.”

Heiner nodded absentmindedly, which was unlike him.
He saw her, too.
He saw a woman with a slender neck walking like a swan, leading three maids.

Jackson said admiringly.

“I just had a glimpse, and she’s just as rumored.
Don’t you feel that she’s really a different kind of class from us by nature?”

Even though he knew that fact well, Jackson’s words came to him anew.
Heiner replied huskily.

“I know…”

It was the first time he had seen her outside of the practice room.
Heiner stared at the hallway she had passed for a long time. 

He could not even see her anymore without such good luck.
And that luck was only a passing moment at best.

A sudden wave of dejected feelings flooded him.

‘What the hell am I doing?’

In fact, it was a thought that was constantly on his mind as he carried out the operation. 

What in the world am I doing? What the hell am I doing this for?

During the mission, he was injured countless times, had been on the brink of death several times, and had lost many of his comrades.
As all of this happened, Heiner felt something inside him being chipped away.

Still, he endured for the sake of Annette Rosenberg, and solely for that one woman.

Because of that one woman.


He wanted to stand next to her.

‘Is that really possible?’

She was the most beautiful and noble lady in Padania.
No matter how hard he struggled to climb, he would never be able to reach her feet.

As Jackson said, they were different from birth.
The kind that could not be changed by hard work.
He wondered if these things really meant anything.

“Oh, oh? You son of a b*tch.
You can’t take your eyes off her, can you?”

Jackson’s blunt voice woke Heiner from his thoughts.
He replied casually, mentally cursing at his carelessness.

“I was just checking the Marquis’s daughter’s face.”

“It’s bullsh*t.
Miss Rosenberg is really beautiful.
Even the indifferent Heiner can’t take his eyes off her, eh?”

Jackson chuckled and continued to tease him.
Heiner was silent, as if he didn’t deserve an answer.

“Hey, give it one good try.”

Jackson told him, raising an eyebrow.
Heiner frowned.

“Stop talking nonsense.”

“The handsome bastard pretends not to know that Miss Rosenberg is a great romantic.
Also look at her appearance.
That’s why she’s not always about meeting men of high status.
Contrary to how she looks, she’s so stubborn that even the Marquis can’t interfere with her love affairs.
Of course, he makes sure she marries a man of the same class.”

“…… No matter how casual the date is, he’s probably at least middle class.”

“Hey, hey.
We’re exactly middle class too, as long as we’re officially enlisted.
If you hide the fact that you are from a training camp…Haha.”

Heiner’s eyes were fixed on the end of the hallway for a long time as he dismissed Jackson’s words as nonsense.

Though, in his head, jealousy thoughts of what kind of men she met were running.

The pale green dress that had already disappeared flickered before his eyes.
Heiner gently bit his lower lip.
A low curse escaped.

“Damn it.”

“It’s hopeless even if you want to cheer me on.”

***

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