(3rd Person POV)
Anastasia was so startled that she forgot to breathe for a moment.
She looked at Wilhelm, who sat expressionlessly next to her, while she was still in shock at his sudden presence.
He handed her something with an indifferent look.
….It was a handkerchief.
Anastasia was confused for a moment.
‘Is it my tears or the blood that he is asking for me to wipe’
She couldn’t dare ask him to clarify.
That is why she just quietly accepted it but at the same time, an answer suddenly popped up.
‘It must be my tears.’
‘It definitely wouldn’t be the blood.
Just how could I let the Emperor’s white handkerchief be drenched with blood’
Anastasia didn’t want to leave even a single tear trail for him to see, so she roughly rubbed her cheeks quickly and said.
“I will wash the handkerchief and return it back to you.”
But Wilhelm’s expression was still not very good.
‘What seems to be the problem’
Anastasia, who was in the midst of figuring it out, quickly found the answer once again.
‘Oh, right! I haven’t said thank you yet.’
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
It was a perfect delivery of gratitude but he still seemed to be frustrated with it.
There were no changes to his expression.
That was when Anastasia became puzzled.
A surprised sound escaped Anastasia’s mouth.
He suddenly grabbed her injured wrist.
Anastasia’s body stiffened up at the unexpected touch.
A voice that was like a (*)trembling aspen trees called him as if to dissuade him from his actions.
(TN: Trembling aspen trees are also known as quaking aspen, Its name originates from the lightweight shiny leaves that quake and tremble when moved by even the gentlest breeze.)
But he didn’t pay any attention to her words and took his handkerchief back that was in Anastasia’s other hand.
Then he began to gently wrap it around her finger, which was still dripping with blood.
Anastasia couldn’t even breathe properly because she was so surprised and just couldn’t wrap her mind around the current situation.
Wilhelm’s fingers transmitted through the thin handkerchief, and their wrists subtly touched each other made her mind spin in turmoil.
‘Besides…why is the handkerchief being wrapped so meticulously’
His look of concentration with a frown furrowed on his forehead, reminded her of the past when he loved her so much.
HE STILL LOVES YOU.
It’s like riding a bike.
He’s just getting back his muscle memories.
His mind will catch up later hahaha.]
Finally he tied up the handkerchief to his exact qualifications, but his expression remained displeased.
For Anastasia, it was absolutely impossible to understand why he was doing this.
“Did you think that I gave you the handkerchief as a decoration”
A deep angry tone came out of his mouth.
“Don’t you know how dangerous it is to get pricked by a rose You could die from tetanus!”
“…I-I am sorry.”
Anastasia spoke as if her words were dragged out.
“I didn’t know that it was that big of a deal.”
“You even shed tears because of your wounds! Now you’re saying that it was nothing.”
‘It wasn’t because I was pricked by a thorn, but it was because of you.’
Unable to tell the truth, Anastasia had no choice but to be the adult who cried like a child because she bled.
“You didn’t even wipe your face properly.”
Dissatisfied with her response, Wilhelm reached out again and wiped Anastasia’s face of her remaining traces of tears.
Anastasia was not able to refuse his sudden gestures.
“The Empress’s face looks ridiculous right now.”
He jokingly made fun of her and carefully wiped the tear marks on Anastasia’s cheeks.
Anastasia was floored by his actions, and was unable to move in that state.
‘Why are you doing this, really….’
When his hands touched her face and grabbed her wrist, her heart raced uncontrollably.
‘….I’ll definitely get caught if this continues!’
Anastasia felt a sense of crisis because of their close contact.
Wilhelm’s expression became embarrassed after he realized what he had done, as Anastasia secretly pulled her wrist from his grasp.
He realized belatedly that he had done something unusual.
He pulled back his outstretched hand and coughed to cover up his actions.
Anastasia also said whatever that came to her mind to relieve the awkward environment.
“Your handkerchief… I will wash it well and return it back to you.”
‘However, I’m not sure if it will be completely washed well because of the blood stains.’
‘We don’t even have hydrogen peroxide here yet…’
As Anastasia was contemplating on what she should do, Wilhelm’s voice pierced through her thoughts.
“You don’t have to do that.”
The words were not sweet, but they were not heartless either.
Anastasia had a puzzled expression on her face at the unexpected answer.
“What I mean to say is, that you don’t have to worry about it.
People will think that I gave you something very precious.”
“It’s your handkerchief, Your Majesty.
Of course it is precious.”
As she said those words, she felt somewhat angry.
Wilhelm stared at Anastasia.
A looked of embarrassment was seen in his eyes.
So you really don’t have to worry about it.”
“More than that, Empress.”
Wilhelm looked straight at Anastasia and asked.
“Why are you here”
In fact, that was the same question that Anastasia wanted to ask him.
“In a village like this that doesn’t have much.
How is it that you are here of all places”
Anastasia blinked slowly before she answered.
“There was someone that I wanted to help.”
Anastasia then gave a brief description about the Essential couple.
After hearing her explanation, he looked like he understood and simultaneously, he also had a baffled look.
“But you didn’t have to come all the way here.
It’s not even close to the Imperial palace.”
“There were so many reasons why I needed to do this… I also wanted to meet the people who did such wonderful things and witness it with my own eyes.”
Anastasia laid out the answers that she had prepared in advance.
“I don’t think it would be easy for me to convey my feelings, simply by sending some people here.”
“It feels like you have really become a different person.”
Wilhelm looked closely at Anastasia.
Anastasia changed the topic quickly while trying to hide her embarrassment.
Just in case he suddenly approached her again.
“Then…what brings you here, Your Majesty””
This time, he looked quite embarrassed.
Anastasia breathed a sigh of relief, but she knew that his doubts would still linger.
“Really…why are you here, Your Majesty”’
“Your Majesty knows that there is nothing ‘worth coming to’ in this rural village.”
Suddenly a thought occurred to her.
‘…..Could it be That he came all the way here because of me’
But she had made sure that today’s outing was not reported to the Central Palace.
However, even if it was not reported, her every move must have always been monitored by the Central Palace.
Either through Madame Rochester or through the other maids.
Anastasia thought that Wilhelm could not just idly watch the Empress run amok.
‘I can only guess that he must have already known my destination and followed me here…”
‘Just like what he said.
There is no reason for us to openly come to this kind of rural village.’
‘But why To keep an eye on me’
‘Even so, I can see how this kind of thing needs to be done.
To keep an eye out on me to check on my actions and how that might affect the Imperial Family.’
Anastasia focused on Wilhelm with a curious look, and Wilhelm wouldn’t open his mouth for a while.
After Anastasia, who was tired of the silence, tried to call on him again, Wilhelm then finally spoke.
“Isn’t this rural village also a part of the Empire”
‘Well…he isn’t wrong about that.’
However, those excuses seemed to be rather weak in nature despite the truth of the statement.
In fact, Wilhelm’s hobby was to secretly go on an inspection to any one of his territories.
That was why Anastasia was confused.
“That is how I found the Empress by chance.”
‘So that means that this ridiculous coincidence was really just…a coincidence!’
‘It was not fate, it was just simply a coincidence…’
(TN: Awww Anastasia.)
Anastasia smiled bitterly and said.
If you had walked all the way here, then that means you have found the cabin of the Essential couple”
“…..I might have seen it.”
“Did Sir Colton also come with you today”
“It was a secret inspection.
That’s why Colton remained in the Central Palace.”
“Did you come by horseback”
‘Well he does prefer to ride his own horse whenever possible.’
‘And of course his Imperial guards don’t like it whenever he does this kind of tour.’
“But isn’t it dangerous The terrain here is very rough.”
“…Are you worried about me now”
Wilhelm looked at Anastasia with a slightly bewildered expression on his face.
It was only then that Anastasia realized that she had expressed her emotions too much and hurried to correct it.
“You can think of it however you like.”
“If you’re that worried about me, why don’t you give me a ride in your carriage when you go back.”
“Are you asking me to ride on horseback when I go back from this rough place”
‘….Well If you were actually worried about that, you shouldn’t have rode on a horseback in the first place.’
Those words almost came out of her lips, but Anastasia held them back and just let out a brief sigh.
(TN: hahaahahaha my geee)