I remember the day I first realised I was with child, just four moons [months] into my marriage. Abner, my husband was busy as usual, so I sent for my step-son, Seth, who was then just five winters of age.

"A baby?" he had asked, looking confused.

I happily nodded. Abner was delighted as well. At first, he showered me with gifts, but then, he gradually began growing indifferent. I put it down to work, and it was only much after my child was born that I realised Abner had been with harlots………

But let me tell you about the birth of my son. It was a particularly hot summer day and I was restless. The pain started early in the afternoon and by evening, I was writhing in pain. The midwives were coaxing me to push harder and suddenly, it began to rain torrentially. Lightning streaked across the sky and the loud thunder scared Seth. The storm continued well into the night. The wind picked up and howled through the trees. In the midst of all this, I gave birth.

My son had my black hair. The midwives cleaned my baby and wrapped him in blue cloth before placing him in my arms. Though he was a newborn, the raging storm did not disturb him and he peacefully fed at my breast. I cooed to him and he opened his eyes. I gasped. They were a brilliant aquamarine, a perfect blend of the cerulean blue eyes of his father and my own emerald green ones.

I wanted to call my baby Lucian, which also was the first word I said to him, but Abner named him Damien. My baby boy was christened Damien Lucian von Heart.

Visitors always said that he was an angelic child. He was very quiet. He preferred to be by himself and I worried for my little son. Damien had somehow taken an immediate dislike to Abner, and just about tolerated Seth. I had Rosalinda when Damien was four, and he barely even looked at his sister, unlike Seth who regularly came to play with Rosalinda.

As Damien grew up, he began spending more and more of his time with that von Daen boy, Aidan. Aidan and Damien always indulged in mock fights and Damien became obsessed by the desire to win. He began to seriously study politics whenever he was not out picking fights. I started to feel as if I were losing my son. The once quiet, obedient child was slowly but surely turning independent and rebellious.

By now, I was aware that Abner could not do away with harlots. I was plagued by hurt. Feelings of inadequacy gripped me and I began teaching Seth and Damien to respect women. The concept was laughable at best, an elder told me, but I persevered. Seth understood me very well, and even adhered to my teachings. But Damien was a completely different story. I could never tell whether he even listened to what I had to say or not. I did not want Damien and Seth to take after their father. No woman deserved a marriage like mine. Besides, I felt that it was the duty of every mother to raise their sons to respect women.

I adored white roses, they were my favourite flowers. One spring day, when Damien was eleven, I spied him walking back to the manor with Aidan von Daen. I disliked Aidan, feeling that he was somehow responsible for changing Damien. I was in the bower and called out to my son. We planted white roses together. They blossomed. My chambers overlooked this patch of the garden and those white roses helped keep me sane through the infidelities of my husband.

Rosalinda and I had a fairly strong bond, but I loved Damien the most. Every parent had a favourite child, and I favoured my son. My heart tightened to see him grow more distant each day.

When Damien was around sixteen, it came to light that Abner fathered a child, a boy named Cain, barely a few moons younger than Rosalinda. This piece of news shattered my already broken heart. I was devastated. I knew Abner had fathered children by harlots, but this son was of noble birth and was entitled to carry the von Heart family name. When I confronted Abner, he brutally assaulted me. It was then that I decided I had nothing to live for.

I went to my chambers. I happened to be wearing a simple white gown, which was very well; I just felt that white was a good colour to die in. I deeply slit both my wrists, concealed the knife and sent for Damien.

By the time he arrived, I had already lost a lot of blood. I was feeling light headed and weak. I stood facing Damien, my hands behind my back.

"Mother, step aside from the parapet," Damien told me sternly, "you are standing too close to it."

I longed to caress his face one last time, but another wave of dizziness washed over me. Also, I could not risk Damien seeing the pool of blood behind me.

"Mother?" his voice had a concerned undertone to it, which betrayed the emotionless mask his face had long since set into.

"Someday," I somehow managed to speak coherently, "you will find a girl who will captivate your heart. My last lesson to you is that you never, ever hurt her."

My knees gave way and I toppled over the parapet, still facing Damien. His mask broke and his face twisted into an expression of pure horror. He ran towards me and attempted to grasp my hand in vain. At that moment, I knew in my heart that my dying words would not go unheeded. I felt I twinge of regret for putting my son through this; Damien did not deserve to see his mother die.

"Farewell, Lucian," I whispered. Lucian was the first word I said to him, it was fitting it would be the last.

"Mother," his pained cry echoed in my ears.

I closed my eyes and I smiled. My precious firstborn would never turn out like his father.

---

Her body fell among the white roses which she and her son had planted so long ago. Her blood stained the roses and her dress a deep crimson. A faint smile still played upon her dead lips. Kathleen had died strangely happy.