Klara is a character that has taken root in my brain and will not go away. I can't really say much else except that I own nothing, not even Klara, who is technically 1 percent canon. Oh, and there will be another chapter or two.
In which there is the Beginning
Klara von Karma was a disappointment to her father from the moment she was born. The most prominent reason for this was, of course, her gender. How could a girl carry on the von Karma line? Nonetheless, Manfred decided he could still train her for the courtroom; she could still have a promising career.
If he'd have known how much of a disappointment the girl would grow up to be, he would have probably had her drowned at birth.
Klara's mother's name was long forgotten in the family by the time Klara was five years old. She distinctly remembered a face, her Mama, a weak, frail woman who had been unable to stay in the von Karma household a moment longer. She remembered being wakened as Mama came to say goodbye to her, a year and a half ago, saying simply "Klara, mein Liebling, bitte verzeihen Sie mir" My darling, please forgive me.
Her Mama had left then, without another word, and had never been seen or heard from since.
Klara was brought up almost entirely by a maid who went by the name of Gertrude. 'Gertie', as Klara always called her, was fifty eight years old when Klara's mother left, a cheerful old woman who never stopped talking. She was the mother-aunt-grandmother figure in Klara's life, the one who had most influence in how the girl was raised.
Klara only vaguely knew about her Papa. When the servants gossiped, which they did often, they talked in hushed voices when her Papa's name was mentioned. She had only met him a handful of times.
Then, suddenly, at five years old, she was called to his study.
"Klara." Manfred von Karma acknowledged the small girl's entrance, his voice neither pleased nor critical, simply businesslike, though Klara was at the time too young to know what that was.
"Hallo, Papa." She said nervously, standing with her hands behind her back, trying desperately to make a good impression. That morning, Gertie had gone all out, making sure that the little girl was washed until she practically sparkled, ironing one of the prettiest little green and white striped frocks Klara owned and beating the child's usually wild dark blue curls into submission in the form of pigtails with little red ribbons on the end, contrasting with her dress slightly, but achieving an overall desirable effect. At least, that's how Gertie put it.
Manfred flinched away from the familiarity of his daughter's words. He paused for a moment, surveying her intently, before speaking. "I intend to train you in the ways of prosecuting." He informed her without preamble. "You are old enough now. You will have lessons three times weekly in addition to the usual lessons that Gertrude gives you, and you will accompany me to court in a month's time so that-"
"Oh, no, Papa." Klara objected mildly. "I can't do that."
Manfred paused, surprised, unaccustomed to being interrupted. "Excuse me?"
"I can't be a prosecutor. You see, I'm going to be a writer." At only five years old, Klara was already writing little stories and showing them off to everyone. Gertie said she had a gift. "I can show you if you like! Do you want to hear, Papa? Once upon a time-"
"Stop this nonsense at once." Manfred demanded, getting to his feet, and Klara shrank back, intimidated by the man towering over her. "You will not waste your life writing. That is a foolish occupation, one which holds no standing and is likely to fail at any time. You will be a prosecutor, and you will do as you are told."
"But Papa, I…"
"Silence. You will do well to remember this. A von Karma is perfect, and I expect nothing less from you."
With that, he dismissed her, confident that he would now be getting his way.
Klara was eleven years old when her father remarried. There was no doubt in her mind as to why he did so – he needed another child to carry on his monstrous legacy. Almost past childhood now, Klara had begun to see her Papa as he really was; a cold hearted tyrant, caring for nothing but himself and his perfect win record.
She had refused to attend his lessons as a child. Even when forced to, she would sit stubbornly on her chair, determinedly not taking in a word. As she got older, she became even more stubborn, especially after he was foolish enough to make her attend one of his cases when she was eight. The defendant was clearly not guilty, and the witness was likely the one at fault. The defence had pointed this out, but had lacked the evidence to prove anything. Her father, on the other hand, miraculously produced irrefutable incriminating evidence that had the defendant in for life before you could say 'Objection'.
Klara had wept that night. She couldn't believe that even her father could be so cold; she was eight years old and didn't know any better. The only comfort Gertie could give her was that at least the death penalty wasn't around in this country.
Now Klara was eleven, she knew that her father had gotten many other innocent people imprisoned, and that a lot of the time the evidence was forged. She kept mum about this; Gertie always hushed her and, besides, who would listen to an eleven year old girl? She also knew that when her father prosecuted in other countries, America being one of the most prominent, he sent more that one innocent person to their death.
Manfred's new wife, Lucinda, was only around fifteen years older than Klara was herself. She, like the vaguely remembered 'Mama', was thin and pale, a seemingly weak woman with the constant air of being a complete pushover. Klara paid her no mind at first.
Lucinda, however, was nice. She cared about Klara, it seemed. She would even play with her sometimes, which was good for Gertie who wasn't as young as she used to be and couldn't often run around. She complimented Klara's writing, even helped her sometimes.
Within two months of their marriage, Lucinda was pregnant and Manfred was thrilled. Klara knew that her Papa would be hoping for his son and heir, so she concentrated all her efforts on wishing for a sister. Lucinda, it seemed, wanted a little girl too.
With Lucinda around as almost a mother, and Gertie still there for her, and Manfred away most of the time, Klara felt her life had never been better. Lucinda and Gertie had arranged between them that Klara would now attend a proper school, albeit an all-girls school where manners were as important as knowledge. Klara was slowly but surely making some friends, although she never asked them home.
Then, as they tend to do, things went horribly wrong.
Gertie and Amalie, another one of the maids, were discussing it when Klara overheard.
"…Poor dear, she's so young…"
"The child will be heartbroken…"
"…still be saved if…still in her first trimester…"
"Lucinda would never, poor thing…"
It took her a while, but Klara soon understood. The baby was causing problems and Lucinda…
Klara cornered Lucinda later in the day. "Lucy, are you ill?" she asked innocently.
Lucinda's face was perfectly impassive. "No, love, I'm not." She replied.
"But the baby!"
Lucinda blinked. Then she sighed. "Ah, Klara. I didn't want you to know about that."
"Are you going to die?"
Lucinda smiled. "The doctor said there was a chance, sweetheart, but a very slim one. I promise you, I'm going to keep going as long as I can."
In Klara's opinion, that didn't look like long. The woman was thin, drawn out, pale. She'd always been sickly looking - though pretty in her way - and now she looked worse.
Klara opened her mouth to make her views known, but Lucinda spoke again. "Aren't you looking forward to meeting your new little sister? I bet she'll be pretty."
"She will. Clever, too. Cleverer than Papa, even!" Klara agreed distracted. After all, despite everything, she was still a child, and imagining had always been her favourite game.
Lucinda gave birth in June 1999. There were what seemed hundreds of midwifes and other medical staff rushing about the whole time, commissioned by Manfred to make sure the baby was delivered safely.
Klara assumed this meant that his wife could go to hell so long as she lived long enough to produce his child. She was now twelve, and as stubborn as ever.
After what seemed like forever, a small, high pitched wail was heard from the room where Lucinda was having her baby – for she had refused to go to hospital – and a doctor came out to where Manfred and Klara were both sitting, both resolutely ignoring the other.
"The baby is completely healthy." The doctor said in a tired voice. "A girl."
Klara beamed, elated, watching as a grimace appeared on her father's face briefly.
"But there have been some problems with your wife…" Here the doctor lowered his voice to talk to Manfred and Manfred alone, so, contrarily, Klara listened harder. From what she gathered, Lucinda wasn't doing too well.
"Would you like to see her?" the doctor asked Manfred, normal tones again.
Manfred paused, considering. "I will see her later, perhaps." He said, his voice indifferent as usual. "The child is healthy?"
"Yes. But, sir…"
"Later." Manfred replied. "I will be in my study. Do not interrupt me unless it is urgent."
The doctor stared after the man, gawping. Klara knew how he felt. Even she couldn't quite believe that his wife dying was having so little effect on him.
"May I see her?" she asked the man.
He stared at her. "Heavens, child, I don't think-"
"I demand to see her." Klara interrupted, her voice ringing with authority. She hated it. However, it worked, and the doctor stood aside.
Lucinda lay there on the bed, looking weaker than ever, as the nurses and doctors bustled about her. "Ah, Klara. You have your little sister, dear, aren't you pleased?"
Klara was stunned at the frailty of her voice. "Yes, Lucy…" she replied quietly, approaching the bedside and ignoring the disapproving looks. "Where is she?"
"That's what I want to know. I haven't seen her."
Klara frowned. "Excuse me." She said to a nurse. "Why hasn't she seen her baby yet?"
"Well, dear, given your mother's state we don't think that's a good idea." The nurse hedged, unhappy to be singled out.
"Please don't patronise me." Klara said calmly. The authority was back again. "I would like to see my sister, please. And Lucy deserves to see her daughter."
The nurse looked like she wanted to argue, and then decided against it. She hurried off to get the baby, and Klara looked back to Lucinda, who was smiling at her.
"You're just like a little princess" Lucinda whispered.
"My little sister will be, too. Especially with you looking after her." Klara replied.
"Klara, you know that I might-"
"Might has no bearing on this world, Lucy." Klara interrupted firmly. "Look, here comes the baby."
The nurse carefully lowered the child into her mother's arms. Lucinda and Klara both stared at the baby in wonder, the tiny little thing, chubby and pink with a little tuft of hair on her head. As they watched, the child yawned and closed one of her hands around Lucinda's finger.
"What will her name be?" Klara asked in hushed awe.
"I want to name her Franziska." Lucinda admitted. "After my grandmother. What do you think?"
"It's a beautiful name." Klara replied. "Baby Franziska."
Lucinda winced horribly suddenly, and she was surrounded in an instant by doctors. The nurse tried to take the baby out of her arms, but she held tighter.
"Lucy, are you in pain?" Klara asked anxiously.
"It's…nothing…" Lucinda replied through gritted teeth.
The nurse tried to pull the child away again, but Lucinda refused to release her.
"Give her to me." Klara said, frightened. "You need to let the doctors look after you."
After a moment, Lucinda complied, passing the baby into Klara's arms. "Promise me you'll look after her, dear." She said feebly.
"You will." Klara replied instantly.
"Promise me." Lucinda insisted.
"…yes, I will." Klara whispered, the tears running freely as she was bustled out of the room, her sister in her arms.
Klara took the baby up to her father's study. She didn't bother knocking, and he didn't look up as she entered.
"Papa, I have the baby with me." She said quietly.
He glanced up. "There are no problems, I trust." It wasn't a question. It sounded more like a threat.
"With Franziska? None."
"Franziska?" he repeated, sounding vaguely curious.
"The baby. Lucinda named her."
Manfred looked back down at his work. "Well, I suppose it saves me the trouble later."
"I think she's dying, Papa."
He looked straight at her then, and Klara read his expression. That's no concern of mine, his eyes seemed to say. "If that is all, you may leave." He said.
Klara turned away, feeling suddenly numb. She glanced at the baby in her arms as the door swung shut behind her.
"I swear, my little Franziska. I will take care of you."
Despite her best efforts, Klara could not shelter her sister from her father. Her dear Gertie tried to help her, but the poor woman was sixty-six years old and was hardly in shape to be caring for a baby. She did what she could, of course.
Franziska was barely two years old when he father started drilling his propaganda into her head. Probably he couldn't bear the thought he might have produced another 'dud', and was taking steps to prevent the possibility.
Whenever her father left for America or another country to prosecute, Klara would do her best to try and interest her little sister in childish games, all of which were ignored. So Klara instead gave Franziska some lessons, in English and in German, while Gertie handled the other half of the small girl's learning.
December 30th, 2001, Klara read in the newspaper of her father's first ever penalty. It made her happy, but Franziska's little mouth set into a hard line when she heard the news.
Neither of them heard a word from their father until he returned out of the blue from his extended vacation – about which Klara was extremely dubious – and called them both to his study.
"There is to be a boy here. His father was the attorney who was killed in December. He is to live here with us. His name is Miles Edgeworth, and I believe he has aspirations to be a lawyer himself. That is all."
Klara was suspicious, of course – an act of charity for this poor orphaned boy from her father?
She didn't buy it. Not for a second.
June 2002, just after Franziska's birthday, Miles arrived. Klara took to him immediately. He was a polite, somewhat reserved little boy, though he also seemed like he would be very clever when she had a chance to get to know him. Of course, the boy didn't have much of an appetite for speech at the moment; his father had just died, but Klara would do her utmost to help him fit in.
She was worried about him. That first night, Franziska had said something to him, but Klara had no idea what it was. Miles had gotten progressively quieter since then, staying out of the way and never speaking unless spoken to.
Friedrich told her all boys got sulky and uncooperative at that age, though Klara didn't believe a word of it. Friedrich was her best friend – he had been since the day she snuck out of her posh school to the boy's school three blocks away with six other girls when she was eleven years old. For the last four years, he had been the one she'd complained to, the one who'd listened, the one who despised her father almost as much as she did.
Of course, most people thought they were dating. That was to be expected. However, no one was quite sure of the details of the relationship, not even them. Klara knew she liked Fritz – his nickname – in that way, and she was almost certain he felt the same but being fifteen and seventeen respectively and horrendously awkward, neither of them had taken the first step.
Fritz told her that Miles would be fine, just so long as she kept an eye on him. She said she would, of course she would, but she'd also promised to keep an eye on Franziska and look how well that went.
When Miles had been living in Germany exactly a year, Klara had to admit to herself that she'd failed. Again. The boy refused to play at all and spent the majority of his time in Manfred's study with Franziska, learning to prosecute.
To prosecute! Miles had wanted to be a defence attorney! He was so different from when he came, and to be honest, it was scaring Klara.
The postman arrived at the door that morning, carrying two parcels – both for her father – six letters and a postcard from a distant aunt in France. Klara sorted through the letters absentmindedly. Five of them were for her father, but the sixth…
In childish writing, scrawled across the envelope, was the name 'Miles Edgeworth', with their address scribbled in tiny writing in a corner. Curiosity beat conscience, and Klara carefully opened it.
Dear Miles, it read in bright blue coloured pencil, Are you even getting our letters? Maybe they gave us the wrong address at the school. They said you'd gone to live with that prosecutor guy. Won't he let you write back? We've sent like a million! Come on, Miles, say something.
The writing changed then, messier and in crayon. Yeah, man, you need to write back! Nick's going crazy over here! Dude, is it true you're living in a HUGE mansion? Can we come see?
The letter was signed 'From Phoenix and Larry'. Klara had heard Miles talk about them a few time, months ago. 'I wonder how Phoenix is,' 'My friend Phoenix was really clever, he'd be good at this,' that sort of thing. She only twice remembered Larry being mentioned, both times in comparison to someone doing something particularly stupidly.
Klara located Miles in his room, dumping her father's mail back on the doorstep. "Miles, dear, you have a letter." She said in English. Although Miles knew most basic German now, she liked to talk to him in English most of the time. It made it easier for him. Neither of the other two von Karmas had the patience.
The slight smile on his face at her entering froze and turned into a frown. "Did you read it?" he demanded.
"Yes." Klara replied, taken aback. "Yes, I did, and-"
"You had no right!" the boy yelled, looking close to tears.
There was a silence then, and Klara slowly approached him. "Miles, I'm sorry." She said quietly. "Please don't cry."
He did anyway, though desperately tried to hide it. "It's okay." He muttered. "I don't mind, really. I just wish he'd stop writing. It makes it so difficult."
Klara frowned. "You mean this Phoenix?"
"Yes, and Larry too, sometimes. They keep writing."
"What do you do with the letters?"
"I usually burn them." The coldness of his words shocked Klara.
"What about it makes what difficult, Miles?" Klara asked, crouching down to his level and surreptitiously putting an arm around him.
"I don't want to remember." He replied simply.
"Miles, dear, you can't simply forget. I know how much it hurts, I know, but-"
"No!" Miles said sharply. "No, no, Klara, you're wrong. Forgetting my father isn't all I need to do. I need to forget everything."
"My old life will make me weak, Klara." His tone turned horribly condescending, seemingly unconsciously. "I don't have time for friends; I have to study if I want to be a good prosecutor."
Klara felt a shiver down her spine as she recognized both the voice and the words; those of her father. "Who told you that?!" she demanded through gritted teeth.
"Mr von Karma did."
Suspicions confirmed, Klara got to her feet. It was about time she and her father had a little talk.
"Who is it?" Manfred didn't look up from his work as the door opened. He sounded incredibly irritated, like whoever answered would find themselves impaled on a spike minus their heads.
"Papa, it's your daughter."
"No, the disappointment."
"Klara." Manfred acknowledged, still not looking up.
"We need to talk. Please come here."
Whatever Manfred heard in Klara's tone, he stood and approached her. He no longer towered over her as he had when she was five years old; Klara was a tall girl, 5'6" to her father's 5'8" and was almost eye to eye with him.
"Whatever it is, hurry it up. Franziska and the boy have a lesson with me in precisely three minutes."
"Franziska and 'the boy' are what I want to talk to you about, actually." Klara replied, gritting her teeth. "I can't stand back and let you do this anymore, Papa."
"Excuse me?" Manfred's eyebrow raised, she had intrigued him.
"You cannot raise them like this anymore. They need a childhood. I won't have it. Miles just told me what you said to him about his life. You can't do this to them!" Klara saw her father getting increasingly annoyed, but stood her ground. "He lost his father, Papa, and…"
"Be quiet, you silly girl. Don't talk about things you don't understand." Manfred snapped. Klara noticed that the very mention of Miles' father had struck a nerve, a faint allusion to her suspicions which she dared not even think of.
"I understand my brother and sister." Klara replied firmly.
"The boy isn't your brother. He's no concern of yours."
"Miles is as much my brother as Franziska is my sister." Klara said angrily. How dare he? "I've taken care of him since he came here! And Franziska. She's a relation by blood, and she is my sister, but I have been her parent more than you ever have!"
"I told you to be quiet!" Manfred's vice was rising now. It was the first time he's cared enough to change his tone when talking to her.
"I told you no!" Klara shrieked back, her voice high with a mixture of fear and anger. "You can't bring them up as your pawns in your sick little game, Papa, I won't let you!"
"I do not play games, Klara. I warn you, leave. Now." Manfred's voice had lowered, but was now, if anything, more threatening.
"You're evil." Klara whispered. Then, louder. "You're an evil old man, Manfred von Karma, and you're trying to raise them in the same way." She was shouting again, on a roll now, unable to stop. "You don't even like Miles, do you? Are you raising him as a prosecutor because he wanted to defend? Is this a twisted attempt to get revenge on the man who ruined your pathetic perfect win record? Are you still scared of Gregory Edgeworth, even beyond the grave? Well? Are you?"
Klara stumbled backwards then as her father's hand slapped across her face. She grabbed his desk to stay upright, reeling from the shock. He had hit her. She straightened herself up, shaking slightly.
Manfred did not look sorry. If anything, he looked mildly triumphant. How sickening.
His expression changed when Klara slapped him right back.
She was nowhere near as strong as he was. It could not have possibly hurt him. Still, his face went from shock to anger. Klara braced herself, almost perversely curious to see what he would do to her next.
"Papa?" A shrill voice asked. Both Manfred and Klara's heads snapped around to see Miles and Franziska standing at the door, gaping at the scene in front of them.
"What's going on?" Miles asked. His eyes moved between the two, and he took in Klara's face. She was sure her cheek was bright red; it was stinging like mad.
"Did he hit you?" he whispered.
"Yes, he did." Klara replied, her voice dull.
A stunned silence for a moment, then Franziska, still staring at her father, spoke. "Why?" she asked him.
"Sometimes, Franziska, people deserve it." Manfred replied calmly. Franziska's confusion cleared and she turned to look at her sister.
Klara stared back, then, suddenly, ran out of the room, hot tears falling down her face.
Her father could have slapped her a thousand time more, and it couldn't have hurt anywhere near as much as the look on Franziska's face at that moment.
Miles entered her room half an hour later. He stood in the doorway, watching as she shoved clothes from her wardrobe into a suitcase. She didn't notice him at first; she was on the phone.
"Fritz, I need to get out of here." She said.
Friedrich sounded tired and confused. It was too early for him to even be up yet on a Saturday. "Klara? What's wrong? Your Papa trying to shovel propaganda down your throat again?"
Klara told him what had happened in clipped, hurried tones, noticing Miles in the doorway and trying to wave him away.
Friedrich's voice was suddenly sober. "He hit you, Klara? That's serious. You should tell someone."
"Who? The police? Yes, because they'll even try to take him down." Klara replied, sounding slightly hysterical.
"Do you need somewhere to stay? Mama won't mind." Fritz said, immediately cottoning on. "I'll come and pick you up, okay? Sit tight, sweetheart."
He hung up, undoubtedly rushing for his pride and joy, his shiny new car. Miles began to speak immediately. "You're leaving?"
"Yes, Miles." Klara replied distractedly.
"But…Franziska needs you here." Miles argued.
Klara smiled at him weakly. "Listen to me, dear; Papa won't lay a finger on Franziska. You, either. If he ever does, call me at Fritz's house, and promise me you won't tell him where I am."
Miles nodded dumbly, accepting the piece of paper with a number scribbled on it.
"I know I shouldn't leave. If you turn out like he wants you to it'll be my fault. But I swear to you, I'll come back, I'll come for you and Franziska. But I have to leave. You understand, don't you?"
A horn sounded outside. She glanced out the window and spotted the sparkling green car; Friedrich was there, waiting.
Miles nodded again. "I understand." He whispered, although it was clear he didn't.
He helped her carry her suitcase downstairs in silence. She dragged it out of the door, and Fritz ran up to take it from her.
Miles looked up at the boy, still confused. "Are you going to look after Klara?" he asked.
Fritz smiled. "Yes, Miles, I promise I will." He replied, all the while looking anxious. He needn't be. Manfred would probably be glad to get rid of Klara, if he did notice.
"I promise I'll be back. Tell Franziska I love her." Klara said, quickly kissing Miles' cheek and hurrying away.
As she sat in the back of the car, watching her old home disappear behind her and her little brother become a dot in the doorway, she muttered one last sentence.
"Meine Lieblinge, bitte verzeihen Sie mir"
Apologies for any errors in my German. Reviews are loved :3