The memories of the event had quickly faded in people’s minds, most of them forgetting the entrance and exit of Esselburn’s third infant. However if Iveca appeared in Amenity after having spent four years in and out of the Bureau of Intelligence, she’d immediately be the target of the people’s gossip.
She was already a disgrace to the Esselburn name, she couldn’t bear to tarnish the name any longer- she’d already been doing that with her name. She’d have to accept any political alliance offered to Ewell, it’d be too shameless not to.
"I don’t know why you believe we’ll view you any differently once you’ve stopped being Eve Jean, is that all our companionship was to you?" Reina asked her.
"If I’m Eve Jean, you’ll no longer be my colleague and we won’t be bound to each other," Iveca replied.
Reina stared at her as if she’d grown horns. Iveca sighed and stared at a spot between her feet. Reina stepped forward and said, "Look, we’re more than colleagues. It doesn’t mean we’ll fall out of contact the second you step away from your post."
Iveca stepped back and smiled bitterly. "I’m going to be monitored, my every move observed for the rest of my life. My seniors won’t view me on the same level as them," She replied calmly.
She realized she’d never truly belonged, no matter how homogenous the group she was with was supposed to be. She’d never felt a complete sense of belonging, and now going back to her family, she would be alienated by her sisters. She was used to it though. Reina stared at Iveca for a second, disappointment blurring her eyes before snorting and storming off the training ground.
"What’s wrong with her?" Sid asked as he walked towards Iveca. Iveca looked at him and he stared back with emotion in his eyes. She couldn’t bear to see his face and looked away, stabbing the surge of guilt she felt for resenting any person who could retain their job at the bureau.
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"Eve," Sid called and touched her arm slowly. Iveca didn’t reply, choosing to look over the training ground. "Eve Jean, look at me," Sid spoke louder now and forced her to turn her gaze towards him. "Are you okay? What is going on?" He asked and then sighed when she didn’t reply again. "Is it leaving the bureau? Or the arranged marriage?" He prodded on. Iveca raised helpless eyes towards him and he paused for a second before nodding. "Will you marry me?’ He asked and Iveca jolted towards him, her eyes wide and confused wondering if he’d been hit over the head somehow.
"We can extend our bond from being just colleagues and I can be near you so you find your sense of belonging," He explained shyly, his voice trembling.
"What… what are you talking about?" She asked finally, her voice trembling like his. Wasn’t he aware of her situation? After leaving the bureau, she’d have to return to her household and be bound to a political marriage. Ewell would never give her off to a commoner who belonged to an affiliated conversation.
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She realized Sid stood in front of her and forced herself to regain her composure. "Senior, you’ve… gone too far," She tried to say jokingly, forcing her mouth to lift into a smile, but her voice rang with panic. He was joking, wasn’t he? He’d always been aloof and professional around her. She’d never felt any emotions from him in the span of four years they’d worked alongside one another.
"You do know what my predicament is, don’t you? I’ll be forced into a political marriage and it won’t change," She explained, her heart sinking at his expression.
"You can run away then," He said simply and Iveca stiffened. "How are you going to fend for yourself when you leave Amenity? I can be a martial arts teacher," he asked.
Iveca then realized he was extremely good at hiding how felt. She knew his agility better than anyone else but he was better at hiding his feelings. She looked at the dagger in her hand and threw it at the target. She missed but her strength seemed to surge back into her.
"I don’t know… I can’t-" She spoke and both of them were interrupted by the sound of a door opening. Their eyes trailed towards the door, expecting Reina, but instead saw the dark-haired Kaiden Ruth walking towards them.