Her feet drag across the fallen leaves. The sun is high, the grass is glimmering and the roses are in full bloom but nothing feels right. Lily, along with Ces and Hannah, forced her to take a walk in the gardens after spending so long locked in her room. The gardens and the roses, they all remind her of her father and every time she thinks of him, her heart throbs with an ache that doesn't go away. The creeping anxiety she feels whenever she thinks about her life and her probably impending death upon the hands of her father drops her heart to her stomach.
This is Athanasia's first time outside in weeks and it scares her. Walking alongside the walls of roses—the ones her beloved father had built for her—only leaves a bitter taste in her mouth and sparks a fear in the pits of her stomach that she hates. Being outside means possibly running into her father, the Emperor. It seems safe to call him the Emperor instead of her father because the father that she loves and holds dear doesn't exist anymore. He only exists in her memory now.
These somber thoughts are interrupted by a ray of sunshine that falls within Athanasia's line of sight and she turns her head to look up at the blue sky. Were the skies always this blue? Maybe the skies just seemed brighter today because of how long she's locked herself in her room. The thought of leaving the safety of her room and her palace in the last couple of weeks would send her into a panic. She didn't want to die, least of all die at the hands of the man who is wearing her father's face. She's scared of having the precious memories of her daddy tainted by the cruel eyes and words of the Emperor. She's scared that when she dies at the hands of her father, she'll die thinking he hates her and she wants to preserve the memory of the father who carried her when she was sleepy, who always sat with her during tea time, who had these roses planted for her. She wants to preserve the memory of the father who loved her, not the scary man she last saw.
Before she knew it, Athanasia was tearing roses from the garden wall and leaving a trail of them as she walked. Not caring for the thorns digging into her fingers and her hands, she continued to do so even after realizing what she was doing. The roses that meant so much to her, did they even matter now that they no longer had a connection? She stops just before the arch leading to the gazebo where she would sometimes take tea with the Emperor. Looking down at her hands, she finds that they are smeared with blood from the thorns.
As she moved to wipe the blood from her hands onto her dress, she feels a shift of energy in the air and immediately knows that someone is there. She looks up, waiting to see who it might be. She can't tell. The aura seems familiar but is ultimately different. It isn't until she sees the flowing Siodonna robes that she realizes its the Emperor.
She wants to ask what he's doing in her garden, but her mouth is shut closed by fear. Her crystalline eyes meet his and it feels as those there is lighting shooting down her spine. The fear Athanasia feels at his moment is worse than the fear she felt meeting him for the first time. She wants to laugh because she definitely thought she would die back then. Now, the moment has probably come. To think she ever thought about actually making it to 18. Who was she kidding? This was a storybook world where Athanasia is destined to die at the hands of her father and something that has been written in fate like that can't be changed.
Her right hand, still bloodied, clutched at her aching chest. Claude sees the blood staining her dress and frowns. He looks around to see the scattered roses everywhere. His eyes, downturned and angry, move back to hers.
"I should have killed you the moment I woke up." He says with a voice clearer than the sky.
Athanasia's hand still clutching to her chest trembles. Her breathing is getting shorter and shorter by the moment. She looks down, afraid that meeting his eyes would be the final strike.
"I'm tired of this constant headache." He says as he activates his magic. The light of the magic circle is so bright that it consumes her.
Claude's magic doesn't touch Athanasia, instead injuring him.
"Indeed, this is my protection magic on you. But since I cast it, I will be the one to take it away today." The deep voice Athanasia hears doesn't sound like her dad. It sounds like a stranger. She wants to disassociate this man in front of her from the dad that she loved so much but it was so hard because they were one and the same.
Her eyes find his hands and notices that they're bleeding, just like hers. I'm being punished, she thinks. Daddy got hurt trying to protect me because I couldn't control my magic.
She feels the protection magic unwinding from her core, replaced by the aggressive force of her dad's magic. She's scared.
"This suffocating feeling whenever your face comes to mind, it will disappear as soon as I get rid of you."
The one that feels like suffocating is her. I don't want to die like this.
"So die." The finality in his voice gives her chills.
The memories that she shares with her dad came rushing back at her and her heart ached so much that she couldn't take it. Her eyes were clamped closed and her whole body trembled. She felt lightheaded and that's when she started feeling as though she'd disappear at any moment.
After opening her eyes, she sees parts of her body disappearing in bubbles. Ah, so this is it.
She looks up at Claude with tears in her eyes. His eyes are wide in surprise as he watches her body disappear slowly. The tears in her eyes shock him and he finds himself rooted to the spot.
Her body disappears completely and he is unable to move as an aching feeling settles in his chest. He got what he wanted, he was finally rid of her but why did nothing feel right?