Both Flora and Jin, being the youngest and the only daughter of their houses, had two older brothers. The age difference between the brothers and them were similar as well. However, those were the only similarities she shared with Jin.
Flora’s oldest brother couldn’t care less of her, while her second brother, who was jealous of all the attention she was getting, gave her quite a hard time growing up. On the contrary, Jin’s two brothers were the complete opposite. And most of all, Enoch, who was seven years older, was a kind, reliable brother as he always dearly listened to every word of his little sister, Jin.
While the boy was turning into a man, Flora too, had grown into a fine young lady as the years passed by. And it was almost obvious that Enoch had placed greatly in Flora’s heart.
Expectantly, it was Jin who was first to notice Flora’s feelings as the both of them were almost always together.
[You admire my brother Enoch, don’t you? But do you really think you’ll stand a chance? You better know your place.]
Mercilessly, Jin trampled right on Flora’s blind admiration for Enoch. Despite feeling dreadfully miserable, Flora couldn’t quite refute Jin’s blunt remark. Compared to Enoch, she truly had nothing to offer.
If only she and Enoch shared a mutual love in which no hardship or misfortune could tear them apart, she would have willingly thrown herself into the burning flames, just for love. However, Enoch only thought of Flora as no more than a little sister.
Despite knowing all that, Flora didn’t give up. In fact, she planned to confess her feelings to him after her coming-of-age birthday. But unfortunately, her years of unrequited love had come to an abrupt end, as Enoch got married even before she could reach the proper age for marriage.
Flora promptly bowed her head. “It’s been such a long while. I hope you are well.”
“…Yes. Flora. I’m pleased to see you too.”
Enoch’s eyes betrayed a small sense of guilt when he saw Flora. He remembered how he used to care for Flora as much as Jin—he considered Flora as his sister as well. The two girls were always together as if they were twins. However, he hadn’t had the mind to look in on Flora after Jin had left the house. He figured that she too must have felt the absence of Jin, who was almost a sister to her.
Instantly, Enoch turned his gaze back to his mother and replied, “Yes, mother.”
“You should address her formally now. Anika Flora is no longer a child. It was rude of you to address her like the old days when it’s been long since she’d come of age.”
Dana berated Enoch for his improper remark. Sheepishly, Enoch apologized to Flora for committing a discourtesy.
“Anika Flora. I apologize for my impertinence. I truly committed a discourtesy. I may have been lost in the old memories.”
“…No, not at all.”
Although Flora wanted to say that she didn’t mind him calling her by her name, she buttoned up her lips instead. Despite knowing that Lady Arse is a person who was strict with etiquettes, Flora was upset more than usual by the lady’s aloof disposition.
“What is it that you wished to see me for, Enoch? As you can see, I’m pretty much occupied at the moment.” said Dana, as she placed a trimmed flower into the vase which her maid had brought in.
Enoch found himself at a loss for words. He remembered how his mother entitled every family business to him as soon as he came of age. So he was the one who had been bustling all around since then. And all his mother did since, was to indulge in her hobbies, drinking tea while reading leisurely.
He restrained himself from asking just what in the world she was occupied with. “A knight came by just now.” He blurted without hesitation. He didn’t mind Flora hearing about it.
“Jin is coming to make a visit. She will supposedly arrive in three to four days.”
Although there was a momentary flinch in Dana’s movement while she arranged the flowers, there were no conspicuous changes in her expression.
“So she’s coming.”
As expected, his lady mother was still indifferent upon hearing the news. He was rather disappointed as he had somehow wished for his mother to be more excited about Jin’s visit. While Jin was away for three whole years, he had hoped his lady mother would finally come around and realize her daughter’s absence and miss her.
“Mother.” Upon addressing Dana, Enoch promptly held his tongue as what he was about to say hereafter was something he couldn’t say with Flora’s presence.
Flora was then quick to notice the meaning of his brief glance at her.
“I should better get going. Thank you for your hospitality today, Lady Arse.”
“Flo… Anika Flora. We will be pleased to have you again when Jin comes back. Please give her your warm welcome like the old days.”
“Of course. I can hardly wait to see her again.” Flora’s face stiffened as soon as she turned around after bidding her thanks to Lady Arse.
‘A knight just came by? And Jin’s coming?’
This could only mean that Jin was summoned by His Holiness himself.
‘Why would His Holiness summon her all of sudden?’
There was no way Sang-je had been swayed by some uncertain rumor going about the city. Which implied that the rumor about the Lark tree wasn’t all groundless after all. However, Flora did not believe it to be true.
‘It surely wouldn’t be just about the rumor. There must be another reason for his summon.’
Ramita is an inborn ability that never changes. And Flora was certain that Jin was never gifted with any Ramita.
What turned her doubt into a conviction even more was because Jin had never once mentioned about her Ramita before. As far as Flora knows, Jin would never miss her chance to show off her Ramita if she truly possessed it. Hence, Flora had been thinking that Jin had married the Desert King just so she could leave the Holy City before everyone finds out about her secret.