She mocks him with thick, dark hair cropped short and messy, fair skin tarnished by too much sun and dirt, voice spewing shrewd words and curses. Her ill-bred nature is evident each time she greedily snatches up small change and broken lens without a shred of decency, embarrassing herself each time she makes a fuss over money when Hugo has ensured they carry more than enough to cover any necessities.
While Marian resembles the portrait lining the wall of the manor and executes it with proper grace, Rutee falls short of every expectation he ever had. But no matter how he hurts her, she never cries; instead, her lip pokes out in defiance and her eyes flash in disgust so familiar to him that he hardens his heart.
It is all too easy to turn a blind eye to how she comforts orphaned children on the street or displays even the slightest hint of concern for something other than filling her pockets. He wants to hate her and Leon does, but not Emilio. His fragile past self reaches out for warm acceptance, but the tugs and jerks of the threads at Leon's back yank him away, serving as a constant reminder to his position. It justifies his stony resentment and manifests in stolen glances colder than Atwight’s crystal artes.
Perhaps in another lifetime, with a different set of circumstances, they could have lived under one roof, and he would have been the one whose head she pats. But for now he is content to punish her for what she can and will never understand.
He regrets chancing upon her one evening, holding in her palm a glint of gold attached to a chain that spills between her fingers, what he assumes to be a spoil of battle she plans to sneak off and pawn for gald. What she does is of little concern to him, but then he catches a brief glimpse of her face as he approaches, angled enough for him to see the same smile that would greet him in the corridor for years in a way that Marian fell just short of emulating perfectly.
She clasps the pendant to her heart the way he sometimes touches a hand to his earring, and Chal’s voice swirls in his head with something he refuses to acknowledge. She turns to say something to him but he brushes past her before the words slip out, and she yells at him for not watching where he was going instead.
Perhaps, he thinks, one day he will tell her. Until then, he steels himself with hollow words, insisting she is nothing more than a thief who took something precious from him before he ever got a chance to have it.