The small path that led back to her farm was very dark. Claire could feel the strands of hair at the back of her head rise as she remembered the different ghosts that usually popped up in horror movies when the characters were in a similar location. Her heart raced faster as she muffled a scream when a small bird cracked a twig. She sighed in relief and ran straight to her little house.
Standing in front of her door was a man not less than 40 years old, his dark brown hair scattered across his face.
Claire recognized him immediately and approached him cautiously. "W-what are you doing here?" The man swept his hair away from his face and directed his gaze at her. "My master," he began, "wishes to speak with you."
Claire shook her head. "I already told him that I don't want to speak with him." She crossed her arms in front of her chest and looked away from the man. "How did you find me?" she asked.
The man straightened his stance, deeply inhaling as he did so. "My master has sources, none of which you are allowed to know."
Claire relaxed and sighed. "My grandfather, huh?" she said under her breath. She pulled her keys out of her pocket and twirled it around her fingers. "Thanks for telling me these, but I think it's time you left." She walked over to her door and inserted her keys through the keyhole.
"That is not all, miss," the man pulled out a letter from his pocket and handed it to her. "Your grandfather asked me to hand this over to you."
Claire took the letter, telling the man a quick 'thank you', and rushed inside her small house. She sat on her bed and surveyed the envelope. 'To my little lightning' was neatly written on it. She hesitatingly opened the envelope, fearing for whatever could have been written in it. She pulled out the bundle of paper inside and read it.
Have I told you that I was diagnosed with cancer?'
Claire gasped, bringing her free hand over her mouth.
'Your grandmother always scolded me for smoking and this is its consequence. I have decided that I want to go back
to my old home in Forget-Me-Not Valley and live the last days of my life there. This may sound extremely
inconvenient for you, but, I wish for you to live with me there.'
She read through the rest of the letter, tears streaming down her eyes. Her eyes widened as she read the last part of the letter. The part with her grandfather's dying wish.
'I have two dying wishes which I would be grateful if you fulfilled. I wish for you to live with me in Forget-Me-Not
Valley and for you to marry Nathaniel when I die.'
She crumpled the paper in her hand and threw it on the floor. She knew that only part of the letter was true, and the last part confirmed that. She knew that Nathaniel probably spoke to her grandfather and agreed to pay for all his treatment, with her as the price. She put her hands to her eyes and sobbed. Ciel ran to her and rested his head on her lap.
"I'll move with you to the valley after New Year's, is that alright, grandfather?" Claire twirled the telephone cord between her fingers.
"Enjoy your last days there, Claire,"
"What did Nathaniel tell you?" There was silence on the other end of the line. Claire gripped the telephone cord and sighed. 'He's not going to tell me now, is he?', she thought.
"I think it was unfair for you to leave him like that. Nathaniel is a good boy. I can't see why you left him. And, he even offered to pay for my treatment."
Claire stared at her ceiling. Her house was going to be given to her cousin—or well, sold with an incredible discount. She had only lived here for two years—well, nearly. "I have my reasons."
"Well, whatever it is, forgive him for it. He's a good boy. I've known his father for years."
"I can't and I don't think I ever will." Her grip on the telephone cord tightened. She hated having to remember that single memory.
"It's my dying wish."
Claire bowed her head. "I'll see what I can do."
"That's my little lightning. Goodbye." Claire heard a snort at the end of the line and realized that her grandfather wasn't alone. "See, my boy, I told you I'd get her to marry you." She knew her grandfather probably did not notice that he left the phone up, so she listened to their conversation.
"Thank you very much. My father would be very pleased."
"I still can't believe my Claire could do that. You say you caught her in the arms of another man?" Claire's eyes widened. She covered the the phone with her hand, making sure she wouldn't be heard if she happened to utter a sound. "And you still want to marry her after that? You are very noble, Nathaniel." Claire cringed. Wasn't it actually the other way around?
"I'm hoping to marry her next year, might I have your blessing for that?"
"You have my full blessing." She heard her grandfather cough. "Do you know who the man was?"
"Unfortunately, I don't. But, if I ever see him again, I'd have him arrested for adultery. After all, Claire and I are civilly married, am I right?" Claire nearly dropped the phone she was holding. Sweat started building up under her bangs.
"You are?" Her grandfather's tone was full of curiosity, as if he didn't know what the other person was talking about.
"It was in that document I had you sign when she was still 17."
"Ah, yes, yes, I remember now. Then, why are you still seeking for my blessing?"
"She doesn't know we're married. It would be nice for her to know that our public marriage will have your blessing, unlike our secret civil one."
"Well, it was a very odd price. Why did you choose her as your bride?"
"Your daughters were too old, while your other granddaughters were too young, she was just—" Nathaniel paused. "I think the phone is still up. I hope she didn't hear any of this."
"Let me check," Claire heard her grandfather pick up the phone. She sat still and hoped that nothing would make a sound loud enough for her grandfather to hear. There was silence between the two. "She's gone. I think I heard her put it down when I told her goodbye. She didn't seem too happy about our conversation."
"I really hope she didn't."