Its been a week since the talk of Vincent and Neirin over high tea. Its been a week since Vincent started to get plague and confused by his emotions. Since that time, Vincent had never really opened the black folder Neirin gave him. Vincent doesn also know the reason why he was delaying such important matter.

Neirin already gave him a handy cap and it was up to him if he will believe his older sisters words or continuously pursue his suspicions. In the past few days nothing significant had happened. Vincent who knew his fathers illness was feigning ignorance as he juggled with his own thoughts and emotions.

Before all of this, his life was going in a straight path with a planed future. He will succeed his father and hell become the duke himself. Hell continue their family, and when the time comes, he needed to entertain the idea of marriage in order to produce a heir of the duchy.

His life was like a system of cycle that all the previous dukes had gone through. However, after day one of returning to their mansion in order to meet his father and ask the reason for his summons, he now has a sister.

A sister who was persistent on getting close to him and gaining his trust. In the past few days Vincent maintained his own distance to Neirin. Often times he secluded himself in his room or library burying his own mind with the thoughts of his studies and reading books. He ate alone and never talked with his father in the past few days.

Was he rebelling? He doesn know for all he knew, he can stand to see them right now. He hated how peaceful they looked trying to act as family and trying to include him. All of his life he lived with the thought of survival so he can accept this. These were all fake to begin with anyway, Vincent thought.

Just as the clock strikes twelve in the midnight, Vincent, wearing his pajamas, struggled falling asleep again. So, he grabbed the book he intended to read and flip through the pages. The snow begun to fall outside and the sound of the fire crackling in the fireplace was comforting enough for Vincent to ease his mind and let his body rest as he read. The warm sheets and pillows felt pleasant on his skin as though they were massaging him for his fatigue.

Vincent flipped pages one after another. His eyes traveled through pages and through words understanding what he was reading. The clock ticked passing through numbers carefully displaying the time that had passed.

The hand reached one and then after some time, it reached two. Vincent remained leaning on the headboard of his bed. He was already in the middle of his book. Switching positions, he looked at the clock seeing that it was already two in the morning.

As he was reading to sleep and close his book, he heard steps outside his room. He tilted his head a little looking at the door trying to figure out who was outside. Perhaps it was the servants or perhaps it was his new sister. He doesn have any clue but the footstep grew louder and louder as though people were running hysterically on the corridors.

Feeling annoyed, he stoop up of his bed but before he could open the door, a knock came. It was loud and it was breaching the etiquette of the servants they needed to display in front of their masters. Vincent clicked his tongue ready to scold or even fire the servants but the news he came to deliver has rendered him immovable.

”I APOLOGIZE YOUNG MASTER! ” Vincent heard the familiar voice of their familys butler. ”PLEASE WAKE UP! THE DUKE! YOUR FATHER! HE COLLAPSED! THE LADY SAID TO WAKE YOU UP IMMEDIATELY! ”

There was a paused that happened inside of him. He suddenly felt like the news were sinking in his brain and heart. He did not know what to feel at the moment. Everything was complicated. Still, in that very same moment he heard a voice.

It was the familiar voice of Neirin.

Your father, the duke is dying.

”Your grace, you should have told him, ” Neirins voice cracked trying hard to held her sobs and cries. She wanted to persist and connect them. She wanted to, at least, see both of them utter their goodbyes but the clock already strikes three in the morning and Vincents figure was no where to be found.

She knew that she called the butler to deliver the news. The butler also told her that he forwarded it to the young master but an hour later, his figure was not in the room. This reality and this moment sinking inside her, she can help but feel as though she failed even though she knew the future. Her resentment can only be directed towards her incompetence. Maybe if she could only persist and convince Vincent even more, he would have been here.

The duke she had admired because of his powerful grace and elegance looked too weak that his usual color disappeared form his face.

He looked pale as though the sunlight had never touched his skin. His lips turned dark and his eyes looked red.

”Its not your fault, ” the duke assured her touching her hands. His face looked calm now as he was facing death. Neirin could only swallow trying hard not to cry. She doesn want this moment to be sad at all.

”Both of you are stubborn! ” she said with bitterness.

The duke chuckled. ”Hes my son after all. ” He seemed to be proud.

Just as he said that, the doctor in which Neirin called came inside with his apparatus and some servants accompanying him. They prepared different things and some herbs that Neirin doesn know. She watched them carefully not wanting anything to be out of ordinary.

Just as everything was prepared, she told duke Sebastian. ”Ill be outside, ” Neirin said. The duke nodded. He looked like he was prepared to whatever that might happen.

She turned her back and walked towards the door opening it expecting to see the dark sky and the full moon outside illuminating the big corridors. However, what she did not expect was the figure waiting outside.

She gasped. ”Vincent! ” she uttered holding her dress lifting them up in order to ran towards him. Vincent did not say anything as he leaned on the walls looking outside the garden through the big windows.

Maybe because of her anxiety building up, Neirin wasn able to see Vincents expression under the shadows of the night.

”Have you been here all along? ” she asked. Neirin can contain her emotions. Her eyes scrutinizing Vincents figure. ”Why won you come in!? ” she demanded. Neirin had lost all of her composure. Deep inside she was panicking and getting worried that the two won be able to talk.

”Vincent! ”

Vincent remained silent. As the people inside the room were busy, both of them outside seemed to be covered with dark heaviness.

Seconds and minutes passed. No responses from Vincent. Neirin stood there beside him wanting to demand, to go inside and talk to his father. But then, as the moon shifted its position with the time, only then she was able to see his expression.

Neirins eyes widen. She almost gasped seeing his face confronted with different emotions. He seemed to be lost. Blinking, a realization came to Neirin.

”Im sorry, ” Neirin said somewhat ashamed for herself and her actions.

She was selfish, continuously insisting on what she thought was right and what she thought was a duty of a son not knowing that despite of his cold demeanor, he was confused, worried and hurting. That both the duke and Vincent were victims too.

That both of them were people who lived passed their emotions and continued to live thinking that their emotions would be their weakness. They were a family who were clumsy to express their feelings and too worried for their actions.

Both of them do not know where to start and how to face these kinds of situation. That was why when such things happened, they begun to hit the wall continuously staring at it hoping a grace would come down.

”Im sorry, ” Neirin muttered again. She shifted her approach.

”Are there words you wanted me to pass to him? ” She asked for a second time. Her concerned eyes landed on Vincents face.

This time, Vincent answered.

He heaved his breath telling his honest emotions. ”I do not know. ” Just as he said that the door opened and the doctors and servants came out. Neirin immediately looked at the doctor. Her face was full of questions.

The doctor gave a gentle smile that cause Neirin to felt relief washing over her. It was one of the confirmation she hoped. The duke was still alive. They still have time. She shifted her gaze once again, this time, her voice was gentle.

”Then, would you like to see him? Perhaps you would know after. ”

Blinking, Vincent stared at Neirin who has a different expression now compared before. He had seen some of her expression right now. From anxiousness, to worry. From regret to calmness. It was amusing to see a persons expression can shift that much but Vincent did not dwell on it that much.

He kept thinking and thinking until he gave in to his Sisters words. He took a step towards the door and opened it gently hoping that a sound won be heard.

”Ill be waiting outside, ” He heard Neirin.

He just nodded.

As Vincent entered the room carefully, he saw his father laying on the bed eyes closed. He looked weak, pale, and lifeless. The experience and time he accumulated to the past now can be seen clearly as he was there. He looked like he was withering away.

Silence lingered and only the noise coming from outside was heard.

The snow fell.

The fire crackled.

Time passed slowly as Vincent came to a sudden realization.

Right, His father was a human too.

He was lacking too.

He had emotions too.

And he had regrets too.

He also felt the loneliness he tried hard to fight when his mother passed. Both of them lose the person they loved.

They were the same.

Just like how he struggled in every bit growing up, his father had struggled trying to appear like a pillar that can support him.

Vincents heart felt heavy. His hands trembled.

Not knowing what to say, Vincent stood there for a while. His gaze deepened.

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