"Really?!" Clara leaned toward Ri, shifting her long blue-silver hair away from her ear. "You really are!" Clara snapped her head back, looking for Dyon. "Dyon! Why didn't you tell me you married an el –"
Clara's words caught in her throat when she saw Dyon hugging Madeleine. She couldn't see his face, not clearly anyway, but she could tell that it was a deep moment between them. At the very least, Dyon wasn't hugging her just for the sake of hugging her. That realization made Clara suddenly think of something else. Maybe Dyon had needed someone like Madeleine to open him up… If there had never been a Madeleine, would Dyon still be burying everything inside like he usually did?
Ri saw Clara's reaction and could only smile, taking her arm and continuing to walk forward with her.
Clara was quiet for a while, unsure of what to talk about while also not being in the mood to. Suddenly, she thought of something she couldn't help but ask. "How does it make you feel when they have moments like that?..."
Ri looked at Clara's side profile, "A small part of me wants it to always be my job to comfort him." Ri said softly.
"Then why do you accept this at all?"
Ri looked away, staring down the barren hallway. "Originally, I didn't think too much of it. When I met Dyon, Madeleine was far away. I was naïve to the concept of jealousy because it wasn't right in front of me."
"Then… What about Madeleine?"
Ri smiled, "Madeleine is the first truly selfless person I've met. I'm not sure if it's because of her bodily constitution, but when she says she only wants the best for Dyon, she means it. She jokingly says that Dyon can only have three more wives after her, but I have little doubt in my heart that if Dyon fell in love with five women right now, she would accept them all."
"But that's not how you feel?" Clara asked questioningly.
"I would kill him if he did that nonsense!" Ri pouted.
Clara giggled, appreciating Ri's honesty. At the very least this meant Ri and Madeleine didn't feel helpless to the situation. And, for Ri to feel so comfortable in dictating what Dyon could and couldn't do definitely meant that both Ri and Madeleine were equal in Dyon's heart… And he made sure they knew it.
Almost as though to confirm Clara's thoughts, Ri continued. "That said, if it wasn't for the type of person Dyon was, I would never accept this. I'd have been content with giving my virginity to him and then spending the rest of my life alone."
Clara listened quietly to Ri's words. In the Western reaches of the mortal realm, virginities were becoming less and less important to a lot of people. That said, Clara was not one of those. She didn't put importance onto the physical aspects of being a virgin, but she tied a lot of emotions to it – whether they were rational or not.
The fact Ri would have been willing to spend the rest of her life alone, despite the length of time martial artists lived, was a testament to how important she found her virginity to be as well. She hadn't given hers up on a whim. She had done it because she accepted that there was no one better to give it to than Dyon.
"But, I didn't have to leave. Dyon made me feel like my love with him meant something and that that something could be separated from his love of Madeleine and yet remain equal.
He doesn't talk about it a lot, but he doesn't need to. Because of the connection between the three of us, we're able to meld our souls together. Regardless of how hard Dyon tries, that's the only time we can really see what he's thinking." Ri spoke softly. "Before today, how long has it been since you last spoke to Dyon?" Ri suddenly asked.
"… We were nine or ten. So, six or seven years."
"Normal people forget those they used to know in that length of time. They think about them less. They overwrite the memories they used to have with them – and that's probably especially true if you were ten at the time… And yet…"
Clara looked to Ri, anticipating her next words.
"Dyon isn't like that. The guilt he holds over the matter is just as strong as the day you two stopped talking. It hurts him and cuts him up on the inside. But, he continued to hold on to the fact, and still does to now, that he can't accept you as his third wife."
Clara froze, looking away from Ri and rapidly blinking her eyes, trying to keep something away.
"Do you know why?" Ri asked. "Do you know why he'd rather cause himself that level of emotional pain instead of taking something he undoubtedly wants?"
Clara wiped her eyes, looking down at her hands in abject shock at the glistening liquid she found.
"It's because of us." Ri said softly. "Regardless of what Madeleine and I say, he feels like he owes us more than he can give already, so he refuses to act selfishly. But, at the same time, it's for you too Clara."
"Me too?" Clara continued to blink, unwilling to believe that tears were falling from her cold eyes.
"He wants you to find someone better than him. He wants you to live a life where you can have everything that you want. A life where he can watch you from a distance and smile – content with the fact that someone he loves is doing well."
"Someone better than him?" Clara was caught between a sob and a laugh.
Dyon was flawed. Truly and deeply flawed. He always thought that he knew what was best for people and somehow 'what was best' was always the path that caused him the most pain. He always feels as though the most selfless act was the best act, and for a moment, he was proven right.
The one time that Dyon decided to be selfish. The one time he decided to ignore the ramifications and act as he wanted. He ended up with an emotionally disparaged Ri – even he had no idea how close Ri had been to leaving. So, he said never again. Cutting himself off from his feelings, only willing to cater to Ri and Madeleine now.
But then, he would turn around and save Ava and Venus and Delia. And then he would come back home and show Clara a world she had never seen before – he would cure her father on a whim and fix a national crisis with a wave of his hand.
And to top all of that off, he cared for them so deeply that he was willing to inflict harm unto himself. He was willing to bring Clara's one-day-boyfriend along. He fought 11 geniuses for Ava. He challenged the head of a God Clan for Venus. He provoked a God sect for Delia.
In some cases he loved them like little sisters. But in one case, they were a first crush he hadn't forgotten.
And yet, regardless of how he felt, he wished them all the best… Hoping that they all found someone better than him.
Clara's sobs turned into a fit of giggles. "He's so arrogant so much of the time, then he turns around and has the audacity to believe we'll find someone better."
Ri smiled, laughing along with Clara before they both looked into each other's eyes, nodding.
"He's an idiot." They said simultaneously.