Battler looks up from his novel, a bit stunned. He didn't even hear her footsteps.
"Where did Beatrice go?" Ange's hand draws an arc in midair that encircles an empty chair and an empty table; beneath all the annoyance, she sounds exhausted.
"Oh," he grins. "She's resting."
"I thought you were supposed to continue with the game now."
Battler's grin fades slightly: there's something about Gretel's tone that he doesn't like, and it keeps him from laughing at how her eyes widened—almost comically so.
"Yeah, but Beato looked like she was going to fall asleep at any moment and smash her face into Ronove's pastries. I wasn't in the mood to hear her yelling about how all that sugar and cream would ruin her hair and her dress—seriously, you'd think a witch wouldn't get her panties in a bunch over something like this. Isn't magic supposed to fix anything?" he clears his throat, probably noticing that he's beginning to rant. "Since I don't really like it when she takes her anger out on me, I told her to go take a nap."
There is something horrifying about the way Battler is talking about this so casually, Ange can feel it. The sensation is like cold water trickling down her skin in thin rivulets; she shivers, unable to shut it out.
"If you keep suspending the game because someone's a bit sleepy, the end will never come." she says and realizes that she's talking only after the words have left her mouth. "Don't you want to go back home as soon as possible?"
Battler stares at her in silence and blinks, frowns.
"Of course I do! But there's no way we could play when Beato was like that. She would probably get distracted and make mistakes. It wouldn't be fair."
"Fair?" Ange repeats. "I thought you finally understood how important it is that you fight that witch with all your strength! If there's a hole in her defenses, you should take advantage of that and defeat her, not worry for her!"
"This isn't about worrying, it's about having a fair fight—"
"It would be a fair fight if you simply gave it your all, the same way Beatrice is doing! Did you already forget that she was able to trick you last time thanks to this half-hearted attitude of yours?" then she stops, panting. But still furious and appalled.
Slowly, Battler stands up. He's looking at her and there's something terribly unfamiliar about his expression—no, Ange has already seen him press his lips together like that, his gaze become so hard. It happened those few times her brother had visited thinking Rudolf would be at work, and instead had found him watching tv in the living room, or playing together with Ange.
"Look, Gretel, I'll only say this once" he starts, and she almost thinks she doesn't want to hear this. "This fight is between me and Beato alone. And if one of us needs time to think or can't play for whatever reason, the other will wait: that's how it works. We both want to win and won't hesitate when the time comes to deliver the final blow, but to be able to do that, we must fight each other earnestly: sure, last time she tricked me because I was too naïve, but she also gave me another chance because I let myself be tricked—I can understand this now. And, as a man, I can't help but feel the same way.
"I don't know what's gotten into you today, and I still don't know if I can really trust you but, hey, I'm grateful for all the advice you've given me so far. However, this won't change the fact that I'll fight Beato with my own strength and in the way I think is right. I am her opponent; not you, not aunt Eva: the one who will destroy the illusion of the witch is me."
Battler's features soften; there's nothing else he needs to say. He takes a deep breath and runs a hand through his hair.
Ange watches, thinking she might throw up. There is something awfully wrong in all of this.
Then, he walks past her, forgetting the novel on the couch.
"Where are you going?" she calls out to him; her voice trembles a bit.
Battler turns around and Ange finds his goofy grin is back in place. "Guess I'll take a nap too and then ask Ronove to check on Beato. That woman can be worse than a dormouse at times."
He waves and she keeps watching as he walks away.
Amidst all the anger, frustration and sadness, Gretel can't see, doesn't want to see, that she already lost Hansel to the witch a long time ago.