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Delphinia: Obsession

"Delphi... Delphi, look at me. Are you hurt, are you ill?" Adelia clasped her fingers gently over Delphinia's pallid arm.

Delphinia continued to lean against the window frame. She closed her eyes, still able to feel the touch of her friend's fiance's lips. "Please, I'm fine, I'm just not myself. I will be all right soon."

Adelia shook her head. "You've been this way for days. You stay to yourself."

As if to prove her point, Delphinia cowered her face marginally further against the curtain, though her head was pressed as far as it would go.

She couldn't think of anything but him. She didn't know she could be this way, so broken-hearted, so obsessive. She had taken up a new, shameful hobby and as soon as Adelia left the room, she was going to do it again. She realized, with a stirring of interest, that she must act fine and convince Adelia to leave so she could do it again.

"At least look at me. Please." There was pain in Adelia's voice. Delphinia realized she must have really crossed the line to have upset even Adelia, to have stirred her from her devoted self-interest.

All paths lead back to him. Everything reminds me. Everything. I can't touch him, I can't go near him without his consent, and to be certain I have no consent. I really don't exist to him. For a while I thought I did. I thought I did. The moments in the summerhouse. They seem years away now, though scant weeks have passed. It's so thin to build my life upon, isn't it. Why do I do it, then? I am trapped in a kind of labyrinth. I can't find my way out.


Delphinia looked at Adelia. Adelia touched her cheek. "So thin. Your face has grown so thin."

"I guess I have been ill. Lost my beauty?" She laughed lightly, though the pain at the thought was acute. "Christoph will cast me off."

"No, Delphinia. You are very beautiful. You could have any man you wanted, you know."

Delphinia gave a small start at her words and looked away again. No, I can't. No, I can't.


With a surge of need, Delphinia reached out and squeezed Adelia's hand. "My dear. I promised Beatrice I would stay in my room tonight. If I do, she will allow me to go riding tomorrow."

Adelia lifted a brow. "How tyrannical. Why, Delpinia, how long are you going to allow Beatrice to control your movements? What about when you are married?"

"She is like a mother to me," Delphinia said, her voice growing thinner. "Adelia... please."

Adelia sighed, and Delphinia heard the disgust in her voice. "We will go riding tomorrow morning, then. Promise?"

Delphinia didn't know how she would manage to do that, when she wouldn't sleep tonight. It would be like all the other nights. She would be in the massive library, leafing through old and crumbling journals, looking for information, any information. She didn't know how these precious bits and pieces which she found from time to time about him would be her salvation. In fact the truth was they only fed her obsessive need.

Her eyes were shadowed and dark, dry and pained from staring and lack of sleep. Her crippled leg, too, acted up when she had not had enough rest.

Why does he love he no longer? Why has he closed the door upon me? I didn't ask for this. I didn't ask that he should have looked upon me as he did those first moments. But I have given too much importance. I have given liberties. What does it signify? It makes me common. If I had brushed him off and remained true-- then-- then-- I would have been singular. 


When Adelia had gone and Delphinia was alone she sagged almost to the floor with relief. She was almost giddy with relief that she would be able to enact the activities that gave her this semblance of relief, even though they cost her so much in time, energy and self-respect.

She put on her darkest gown to blend subtly with the hall as she crept to the library. As she moved slowly down the hall, she was surprised by a sudden person moving in the opposite direction.

It was Gauvain.

Her gasp was audible. "My lord Markgraf..." Her stammered words were brushed away like dust by his hurried movements. He did not even pause. Delphinia sagged as though struck. She turned back to look at him, and then he turned and looked at her, in the dimness.

In his presence she felt almost as though the barometric pressure in the hall had changed. She felt a high stinging note in her ears, a lightness in her head, as though he would faint, but in the blankness of his gaze she saw no acknowledgement of her plight.

She paused at a room where she knew there was a mirror and entered. Her leg dragged, and she leaned heavily upon her cane as she observed her face in the gloom. Her gaze was sharply critical as she contemplated each flaw, the fall of her hair around her face, and the lay of her garments. All was displeasing to her. Apparently it was not good enough to elicit his notice. What did she have to do, who did she have to be, to elicit his notice?

She couldn't bear it anymore. She needed to lose herself in her hobby. She betook herself to the library and locked the doors behind herself.

By candlelight she read, or scanned, countless books and documents written by members of the family for generations. She had already found all of the books she could that related to him. But maybe she could read a story he had read, or learn something that would give light...? She could find no good justification for the endless hours she spent at her hobby, none at all, other than that if left to her own mind she would only wish for death and slip slowly toward it as she starved herself in her window frame.

The clock over the fireplace struck two, and Delphinia realized she had been there for hours. She was on her third candle piece. The coals in the grate were cold, but she did not want anyone, even a servant, to know that she had stolen into this room. She was a guest in this home-- technically an uninvited one-- and she was prying into family affairs. She had sunk to great depths. She didn't know she was even capable of this.

I am so alone. So completely and incredibly alone. No one can touch me. No one can understand my feelings. If I could have one person to tell, perhaps it would ease my pain. 


That was the night Delphinia found Oriente's journal. It eased her suffering, though she was not aware of it-- the lack of awareness was the ease as she found herself forgetting herself and her suffering for the suffering of another. And though she wasn't aware of it, she had entered into a part of true friendship in doing this. But this friendship was for someone who had died months before. There was no chance this friendship could really be.

But Delphinia found a drawing of Oriente done by a friend or visitor to the castle. It was very beautiful and revealed passion and empathy in every line. Her every generous feature must have expressed her great passion and deep heart. It was evident from the drawing that her coloring was in high contrast, pallid skin and hair black like the dead, wet leaves that had covered the moldering floor of the summerhouse.

She lifted the drawing from the journal. She knew it was a defacement, but she pleaded the gods for understanding. At the moment it felt like her salvation. She kissed the beauty of the face and put it in her pocket.

That night, before she fell asleep at the hour of four-- knowing that in two more her nurse would rouse her, and in another half hour from that, Adelia would be at her room's door with riding crop in hand-- Delphinia withdrew the picture and held it close to her heart, and told it of her pain. She knew that at one time another girl had felt pain like this too.

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