More Than You Know — Chapter Five

People in this household were generally the worst, but my mother still counted as one of the better ones. She often cursed and berated me, but she sometimes pitied me too. My father, on the other hand, was different. He did whatever he pleased, and no one in our family was allowed to oppose him. He rarely hurt me physically, but his vicious outbursts alone were threatening enough.

My brother, Jeffery, was much the same. He was just like our father but much more violent. On top of that, being raised as the family’s sole son, he had been spoiled to stupidity. If he were to find out who Shuell really was, his inferiority complex might kick in and cause him to hurt the child.

Not to mention that this brother of mine often burst into my room just to pick a fight with me. The upcoming four days suddenly felt so much harder to bear. There was still time before the Academy went on break, and I really thought Father had gone to the capital to take care of some work.

What a terrible surprise.

“Anyway, get ready and come downstairs,” my mother ordered, putting an end to my thoughts.

She turned without sparing me a second glance and slammed the door on her way out.

I stood there, stiff as a statue, for a few moments until I remembered that I had crammed Shu under the bed.

“Shu, you can come out now,” I whispered.

Still, all that came as an answer was a sob. There was no rustling of clothes against the floor that might indicate Shu getting up. Had I been too quiet?

“Shu?” I called again, this time a little louder.

However, there was still no answer. No sound came from under the bed whatsoever. Perhaps he thought it was a trap. Or had he fallen asleep? He probably hadn’t slept all night, so it made sense. I bent down to check under the bed. As I thought, Shu was lying there face down.

“You can’t just sleep here.”

I struggled for a considerable time, trying to drag his limp body back up from under the bed. When I managed to get him out, I took a few breaths to compose myself before shaking him awake. Still, one look at his face was enough to alarm me.

Cold sweat had broken out on his forehead, and his lips were pale. His normally sparkling eyes were dull and glazed over. There was something wrong with him. He was breathing heavily, his face deathly pale. His chest rose and fell quickly, and he looked like he might pass out any moment. Luckily, I knew exactly what was happening.

He was hyperventilating.

I had no idea why, but I knew there was no time to waste wondering. Frantically, I looked around the room. Hyperventilation could be treated by having the person breathe into a bag so that their breath could cycle through.

Paper bags were commonly used in this world. I sometimes left the house to buy food, and I couldn’t carelessly dispose of the paper bags they came in, so they had to be in here somewhere. As I kept looking around with shaking hands, I finally spotted something brown. I dashed over and grabbed the paper bag, rushing to hold it over Shuell’s mouth.


Shuell must have been surprised to have his mouth covered so suddenly, but I cut him off curtly. “Breathe. Slowly.” I had a vague idea that his hyperventilation was brought on by stress, but that couldn’t be avoided. “You’re going to die if you keep going like this. So just breathe.”

His fear at my words was clear in his eyes, but he exhaled slowly. Soon enough, his breathing settled. I ensured he was breathing normally before taking the bag off his mouth. He was breathing well enough now but was much too pale.

His usual cheerful smile was nowhere to be seen, and he looked like little more than a corpse. I reached out to him in concern, but Shu’s rushed words came out first.

“I-I’m sorry.”


“I’m sorry. Please, let me out,” Shuell mumbled nonsensically, shaking in fear.

That was when I realized that his eyes were still glazed over.

“Shu, snap out of it. Shuell!”

I shook him by the shoulders, and he jolted as if waking up. He looked at me with tremulous eyes before turning his head to check his surroundings. He was panting as if waking from a nightmare, but then he released a deep breath and relaxed.

“Thank goodness.”

Thank goodness, indeed, that there was a bed right behind him as he plopped down. In his condition, though, I doubt he’d have noticed if he had hit the floor instead. Shu took several moments to steady his breathing, after which he gazed up with a hiccup. The look he gave me was so full of resentment that I tensed involuntarily.

“Don’t leave me in dark places.” His voice was thick with tears, but it was the first time he had spoken so firmly.

I couldn’t understand why he seemed on the verge of tears, but I nodded.

“Really?” he asked.


“You mean it?”


It took five affirmatives finally to set him at ease. Just as I was also about to relax, Shu’s eyes closed, and he slumped back like a puppet with its strings cut. I rushed over to him, terrified out of my mind.

Did he pass out? Actually, I would rather he passed out. What if he suddenly died on me? My head went black. I had no idea what to do. I tentatively put a finger under his nose. My icy-cold finger was met with a warm, even breath.

He was . . . asleep. I glared at him, completely forgetting about my earlier worry. Darn it, child. You almost gave me a heart attack.

Though I was fuming, Shuell’s face was the definition of peaceful. There were no traces left of his tears or pallor. I exhaled deeply as I looked at him, fast asleep. I had resolved this somehow, but it was now time for lunch.

There was barely enough time to get ready, and I still had to find somewhere to hide Shuell. Another obstacle I needed to overcome. Somewhere to hide. Was there a place that was not dark? Closet, no. Under the bed, obvious no. The bathroom? No, the maids would come in to clean.

What do I do?

With eyes full of anxiety, I studied Shuell as he slept. He looked as peaceful as ever.


“Arwen. You’re late,” was the first thing my mother said when I walked into the dining room.

She displayed none of her usual haughtiness when my father was present. This was because my father hated poor manners, even though he was the most ill-mannered person to exist. I tried my best not to pant in front of them. I had lifted my skirts and run as fast as possible so as not to be late, so I was rather out of breath.

I had spent too long wondering about the best place to hide Shuell. With almost no time left, I decided to hide him among my dolls. I had stuffed him between my softest, nicest-smelling dolls and yelled at the maids to keep their hands off them no matter what.

My dolls were luxuries, with their delicate seams and jeweled buttons, bought by my parents as proof that they doted on their daughter. I was never allowed to play with them lest I dirtied them. The maids knew how expensive my dolls were, so they avoided touching them. Still, I warned them anyway, acting like the house’s spoiled young lady for good measure.

“I’m sorry for my lateness, Father, Mother. And . . .” I trailed off, taking my time to look up.

My father sat at the head of the table. To his right sat the person I always wished would never appear again. Yet there he was. None of my thoughts showed on my face. Instead, I smiled brightly like a simpleton.

“Jeffrey!” My cheerful greeting seemed to please the guy. He enjoyed watching me, his younger sister by three years, groveling around, often blaming me for my dimwittedness.


Despite my thoughts, I smiled widely, and after a look from my father, I sat next to my mother, who was to his left. It was a special day, but my meal looked the same as always. A piece of bread no bigger than my hand, vegetable stew, and a few pieces of fruit. It was a meager meal, but I was glad to have been born with big eyes. At least they didn’t have to add belladonna to my food to make my eyes grow larger.

“Jeff, how has your semester been? You’re home so early this time. I am so happy.”

My mother’s voice sounded very sweet. I had no interest in this conversation, but I followed along with her and looked at Jeffery attentively. Jeffery had been cutting up his steak, which contrasted sharply with my meager meal, and waved his hand dismissively at Mother’s question.

“Well, I got first place in the exams, so I started break early.”

I almost choked on my salad at how hilarious that was. Early graduation was certainly a thing, but I’d never heard of an early break. And for an idiot like him?

“Oh my, I see! As expected of our son. Well done!” My mother smiled and nodded at the ridiculous statement.

I swallowed my feelings and laughed along. Jeffery had no interest in studying. His brain was literally stone. Given his ridiculous pride and abysmal grades, he would have been more than likely to quit the Academy altogether, but he never actually left. Even with his thick head, he knew that our parents, who normally spoiled him to no end, would never support him again if he did. So, if he hadn’t dropped out . . .

Why was he back so suddenly?


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