"She's not Beatrice! She's not her!"
Kinzo snarled the words with an almost animalistic rage. He hardly even looked human anymore; eyes narrowed into two slits, lips pulled back in a scream and his whole body trembling with anger. The chalice of sickly green absinthe shook in his hands, threatening to spill upon the moth-eaten carpet, but Kinzo didn't care.
He was past caring.
"Kinzo, you shouldn't work yourself up into such a state," said Nanjo, his face filled with concern. "Despite your strong will, your condition is rather frail, and-"
"Frail?" Kinzo's lips curled into a smirk; a dreadful grin splitting across his face like those carved into Halloween pumpkins. "I assure you, I am not frail; in body, perhaps, but mind…? Never! I cannot allow myself to die- I cannot- until I have seen my beloved Beatrice one more time! I need to apologize; I must! But how can I? That child is not Beatrice!"
Kinzo's face contorted into something demonic; something so truly hideous worry even flickered across Genji's usually blank countenance.
"Lord Kinzo, please," Kumasawa implored, wringing her veined hands together in despair, "do not speak of her like that- for, no matter what you say, she is your child, and she-"
"She is not; and I rather think you've overstepped the mark there, Kumasawa Chiyo! How can she be my child when she looks nothing like the mother? Her hair was blonde and beautiful, her eyes bright blue- but this child, this… creature; she is hideous!"
"B-but Lord Kinzo-"
Kinzo's voice echoed about him; ten, twenty Kinzos all denouncing the young girl- his own baby- as a creature in a discordant harmony. Or maybe there was no echo at all- Kinzo's words so steeped with loathing they to reverberate inside everyone's heads long after they had escaped his lips.
The sound of falling rain filled the musty study. It drummed against the windowpanes like thousands of hands desperate to push their way through the glass.
Cold, wet, pale hands of the witch; the witch of the forest.
But Beatrice had never been a witch, had she? She had been a lonely girl imprisoned in a gilt cage; trapped within the confines of luxury, with pretty clothes and beautiful hair, and a lifetime of nothingness stretching out before her. Kumsawa could remember how she used to sit with the young lady and plait her hair, or serve her tea, or read her books- and Beatrice's face with flush happily at the attention, as the pair under the white arbour in the beautiful rose garden…
But Beatrice had only been happy with such a lifestyle for so long.
When a bird in a cage learnt about the outside world it wanted to explore and share its song with others- maybe even learn a few new tunes to sing.
Kinzo refused to let that happen- and the beautiful young girl (Beatrice's 'reincarnation', with the same golden hair, bright blue eyes and slightly prideful sneer) had died. Her brains had been dashed on the rocks by the beach, seagulls picking at her open head just like children curiously pulled at half-formed scabs.
Kumasawa had been distraught when she learnt of the terrible fate that befell her child- but there was worse, yet, to come.
Oh, if only Beatrice had died. If only, this time, she had remained dead.
But a part of Beatrice still lived on.
She was still alive in the eyes of her daughter.
The daughter Kinzo refused to believe was his.
It was difficult to say where Kinzo's hatred of this young girl stemmed from, and nobody- perhaps not even Kinzo himself- fully understood his feelings. Perhaps Kinzo could not bear to look upon the baby Beatrice's pale face for guilt and pity over how she had been conceived; or maybe he was upset because, save her bright blue eyes, this Beatrice did not look at all like Bice, like Beato, had done.
The little girl should have looked like Beatrice and yet she did not.
She was a disappointment.
The proud face of Beatrice stared at Kinzo from the wall of his study; red lips pursed slightly, hair gold as flax, wearing the elaborately ornate dress so fitting for a witch who had stolen Kinzo's heart.
As bolt of lightening struck outside, making the windowpanes rattle, shards of light cut across the face of the elegant woman, making her seem other worldly; enchanting.
If one stared at Beatrice's exquisite portrait for long enough they could almost imagine her smoky lashes flickering; fingers trembling in her lap; lips twitching into a cruel smile.
Maybe Kinzo had stared at that portrait so long he could see nothing else but her body, preserved forever, alive inside the canvas.
"Beatrice! Oh, Beatrice! Why have you deserted me? Is this my punishment?" Kinzo cried, hysterical tones almost swallowed by the gale outside. "Have you have removed yourself in flesh from the world because of my sins? You have taken my child away through dark magic; replaced my golden haired, blue eyed baby girl with an unlovable monster! Beatrice, oh, Beatrice!"
A demented cry burst forth from Kinzo's throat, mixing with the sound of falling rain and crashing thunder. Tears streamed down his cheeks.
The woman in the portrait did not move, and yet…
In the darkness, it almost looked as though she was smirking.
"Beatrice! Oh, Beatriceeee! How can I ever apologize to you if you have erased yourself from the world? Am I to be stuck with this guilt forever? Beatrice- answer me! Beatriceeee!"
There was another crack of thunder, louder than before.
If one strained their ears, perhaps it was not so improbable to imagine high pitched, feminine laughter dancing madly through the night air.
The hidden mansion of Kuwadorian was a small slice of fine architecture and beautifully furbished rooms tucked away in a small corner of Rokkenjima. The mansion was surrounded by tall, skinny trees and tall, wrought iron gates, just like something from a fairytale.
It was the palace of Sleeping Beauty, a princess awaiting the kiss of her true love…
Or it was the, at first so charming and quaint, gingerbread cottage of the evil witch.
Ghosts haunted the picturesque mansion; vague memories of another young woman called Beatrice taking tea in the dining room, curling up with a book on the inwardly jutting sill of a window or sleeping, golden hair fanning out across her pillow, in her four poster bed.
A young baby was sleeping in the cradle where, almost twenty years ago, a similar child with flaxen hair had slept- blissfully unaware that, to her father, she was the Golden Witch reborn.
This young baby, however, was no witch.
She was thin and sickly, her skin pale and stretched so that her delicate veins could be seen threading though her arms.
She didn't have a past or a future, or even a name of her own. She was truly alone- yet the young girl did not know this. How could she? She slept peacefully, fingers curling against the blanket Kumasawa had stitched twenty years ago for another little lady, oblivious to the noises of the storm lashing out fitfully outside her window.
"What shall we do with the poor girl?" Kumasawa asked, wringing her hands together. "We can't keep her on the island, can we?"
"But where else would she go?" asked Nanjo. "She's too frail to be moved elsewhere in her current condition. I fear a sudden disruption during the early stages of her life could have a negative impact on her health."
"But if she remains on this island, in Kuwadorian, I fear what Lord Kinzo will do to her! He hates the poor girl; anybody can see that. He refuses, even, to give her a name of her own!"
"True… I can't help but worry for her safety, but I don't know what can be done."
"The Master would not hurt the child."
Kumasawa and Nanjo both turned to look at Genji with some surprise.
"I realize you trust Lord Kinzo, Genji," said Kumasawa, "but surely you haven't forgotten what happened to the former Lady Beatrice? It would be a tragedy if such a thing were to happen again!"
"I have not forgotten. Indeed, I was… worried… the child would look too much like her mother. That would be a real cause for alarm. But her appearance is different from the Lady's." Genji paused before continuing; almost as if he were made of clockwork and needed to be wound up once more. It was rare he spoke so much. "I believe the Master will take little interest in this child despite his earlier outburst. It seems to me that he wants to forget she exists; and what better way to forget her than keeping her separated from everybody else in here?"
That way, they could all pretend the young child did not exist.
"Genji! That's horrible; too horrible! The child would have no life here! It would be better, far better, if we took her elsewhere!"
"But where would we take her?"
"The Fukuin orphanage- they would be happy to accept her! She can start a new life there."
Nanjo coughed softly.
"I'm sorry, Kumasawa… I realize how much you care for the child, but as a doctor… She's far too sick to leave Kuwadorian. If she were healthier, of course that would be the preferred course of action- but I fear moving her from this mansion would equate to robbing her of whatever small chance she has to remain alive."
"It would be a poor life, though, to be trapped in this mansion with no mother or father; no name, no past, no present, no love or no hope!"
"She would have love," said Genji, inscrutable expression faltering slightly as he looked upon the sleeping girl. "I cannot promise she will have a good life… but we must do our best to ensure it is satisfactory."
"You can care for the child, surely. You have done it once before," said Nanjo. "And I will always be here when you are in need of my medical expertise. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I let a child of my greatest friend die, regardless of whether he wants her or not."
"But this is different! That was then and this is now, and… ooh…" Kumasawa sobbed openly, drying her eyes with her sleeves. "Poor child! Poor, poor child! I shudder to think of her future!"
"As do I," said Genji. "But we must do our best. That is our duty as furniture. We shall give the child everything she wants, and try to make her happy."
"Yes. Everything she wants." Kumasawa smiled bitterly. "Everything, except a real life."
a/n: Haha, this was kind of difficult to write- especially as it focuses on the 'boring' characters nobody likes (y u not like Kumasawa and Genji? I think they're pretty epic XD)
Um, yes, this story is a vaguely AU one in which the child conceived by Kinzo & Kuwadorian Beatrice was not Yasu/Lion/Beatorrriche but Clair. I figure it fits, given Clair only exists as a pale imitation of Beatrice in ep7- which would work with this situation, given Kinzo wanted her to be more like Kuwadorian Beato and she isn't.
Written because I srsly want to write some adorable Battler x Clair, Clair needs more love, and it would be interesting to see how the story of Umineko would change if Yasu had not been born XD
I hope you enjoy it & please excuse my ramblings ^_^;;