(Wilhelm’s 3rd PERSON POV)
He suddenly decided to go out that morning when he received the unexpected news from Colton.
“Your Majesty, the Empress had made her move.”
He realized at that moment that he had been thinking too critically all this time.
Even the Duke of Barantes knows that he is keeping an eye on him.
He thought that the Duke was living as usual to deceive his eyes, and have the Empress do the work.
Since an Empress can freely go about, there would be less surveillance and less suspicion.
Wilhelm felt as if he had been struck hard in the back of his head.
“…Should I track her down””
Colton asked Wilhelm carefully, who seemed shocked after hearing his report.
Wilhelm was silent for a moment, then he finally stood up.
Colton called out to him with a puzzled look on his face.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I’ll go there myself.”
Wilhelm said in a dry voice.
“That way, if I ever found out about her wrong doings myself, she would not be able to make any excuses.”
If the Empress did not go out for political reasons, then this assumption could also be made.
‘She might be having an affair…’
(TN: LMAO Wilhelm your imagination is sooo..hehe.)
In that case, the recent rapid change in her attitude could be explained to some extent.
He also has heard that some people become more faithful to their families, out of guilt of having an affair.
Wilhelm, who had been thinking that far out there, tilted his head in doubt.
‘Is she feeling guilty’
‘…Is the Empress someone who would feel that way’
Since he has no solid evidence, it seems that he’s only making an assumption.
In any case, her sudden movement was very suspicious.
It was because the sleepy headed Empress had never gone out of the Palace so early in the morning.
‘Well my question would be answered if I go there myself to verify.’
‘Let’s see what kind of revelation would be waiting for me.’
“Your Majesty, you’re going to go out all of a sudden!”
Meanwhile, Colton was restless at Wilhelm’s sudden decision.
“But Your Majesty, you have a government meeting in the evening.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back before then.
Also, keep the escorts to a minimum.”
“Your Majesty, you don’t have to go there in person.”
Wilhelm, who was carrying his sword, stopped at Colton’s dissuasion.
‘I know that it’s unnecessary for me to move on my own.’
‘Still…I want to go.’
‘But why do I feel that way’
Even he was momentarily confused by his uncharacteristic behavior.
“It’s because it bothers me a lot.”
But then he quickly found the answer.
“I couldn’t concentrate on my work these past few days because of her.
Why the hell did she suddenly change What is she up to”
Anastasia’s sudden change was messing with Wilhelm’s mood as the days went by.
‘It was the same as the situation from the last auction.
Who would have thought that she, as the Empress, would put her own collection up for auction’
“Well, my mother became a bit greedy for a moment so she paid 300,000 rosen and won the bid for the bracelet.”
Colton’s expression was very amused while saying those words and standing still.
But then again, because those items came directly from the Empress, it would be considered much higher quality.
But the main problem was that since the money has now been restored, their assumption is that it will be used as soon as possible.
Of course, their initial thoughts were that it will be squandered quickly.
They doubt that she would be saving that money for something other than using it for luxury.
‘But if that was the case, where is she going to spend that money’
He thought of any possible options and eventually came up with a hypothesis.
‘Are you trying to raise funds for political means’
Though, when he considered the wealth of the Duke of Barantes, this seems to be less realistic…
‘I really have no idea what’s going on.’
However, Anastasia’s sudden outing was enough to ignite his curiosity.
“My mind would only be at ease once I see whatever it is that she’s doing with my own eyes.
I can’t stay still because this really bothers me.”
“If that’s the case, then it can’t be helped.”
Colton also understood Wilhelm’s feelings, so he didn’t use any more efforts to stop him.
Even he felt that Anastasia’s behavior these days was very unusual.
“Are you going by horseback”
Wilhelm responded as if it was something to be expected.
“I’ll come back before sunset.
So if anything happens, send Jeon to follow me.”
“Yes of course, Your Majesty.”
Wilhelm left immediately and went to track down Anastasia’s carriage.
As the wagon entered a remote countryside, Wilhelm was convinced that he might be right.
‘It really could be a secret meeting or a political collusion.’
However, as he got to the village himself, an unexpected sight awaited him.
“Place the wheat bag over there, and the fruit box over here.”
‘Wait…why are they parking the wagon in front of a cabin house and also have the knights move groceries’
Wilhelm couldn’t understand the situation at first.
Because the person that Anastasia had come all this way for, wasn’t her lover nor a member of any political party.
It simply was an ordinary middle-aged woman who seems to know nothing at all.
Confused about what’s happening, he continued to watch Anastasia’s actions.
‘I’m sure that there’s something more than this…’
Thinking that maybe they had noticed him as he chased after them and just doing a diversion to throw him off guard.
“Would you like to play a game of hide and seek with me”
“Yes we would!”
However, no matter how much he looked at her actions, he couldn’t find anything suspicious at all.
Anastasia was just hanging out with some kids and having a good time it seems.
Seeing her play with those scruffy children, whom she would not normally associated with, made Wilhelm doubt whether or not she was still the same person that he thought he knew.
Everything was unfamiliar.
Especially when she smiled brightly while looking at those children.
‘I never knew she could smile like that before…’
Confused and unable to move from his current seat, he could only continue to observe them.
Anastasia finally moved and started walking away from the children.
Wilhelm thought that he might be able to catch something this time, so he followed Anastasia without any escort.
But just like last time, it was still in vain.
At best, it could be considered that Anastasia merely took a stroll around the nearby garden.
‘I don’t know what I’m doing right now.’
A deep sense of embarrassment and shame overtook him.
And yet, in the end he still couldn’t take his eyes off her.
‘Why is that woman moving without an escort’
‘Doesn’t she have any awareness as the Empress’
‘It was really absurd to see her just walking about freely without considering her surroundings for any signs of danger.’
‘And those guards…no matter how much the Empress said that she wanted to be alone, how does it even make sense to just leave her alone Especially outside the capital’
It was that time that he was determined to firmly educate the Empress’s Guards once he visited the palace.
(TN: Omo ayiee Wilhelm was starting to get concerned now.)
[pr: about time hahaha.]
Anastasia’s steps took her to the front of a single rose.
He looked at it and frowned.
‘Of all the flowers present, why the rose In particular too when there were a lot of blooming flowers that were much prettier than that single rose.’
He hated roses.
It was because someone that he wanted to forget loved that flower so much.
Wilhelm continued to watch Anastasia’s actions with narrowed eyes when suddenly he heard something.
He saw Anastasia get pricked by a rose thorn, then stumbled on the ground and cried like a child.
He was taken aback.
It was because Anastasia was crying so dejectedly that it could not simply be because she was pricked by a thorn.
With such a crestfallen expression on her that he had never seen before.
It was as if sorrow flowed out of her and there was nothing to stop it.
He didn’t think about anything else but simply moved the moment he saw her tears.
Wilhelm approached her like a possessed person and immediately sat down next to her.
Then he saw Anastasia’s surprised look with her teary eyes, when she felt his presence beside her.
Even he couldn’t understand how her soft voice had touched something deep within his emotions.
An innermost desire he wasn’t aware of ever existed.
When she asked him about what he was doing here, he gave her an answer he had prepared in advance but an unexpected reply came back.
“But isn’t it dangerous The terrain here is very rough.”
‘Is she worried about me’ He was surprised at her reaction.
“If you’re that worried about me, why don’t you give me a ride in your carriage when you go back.”
In any case, it was a spur of the moment response.
He was so astonished about her concern that he spoke those words without a second thought.
But soon he rationalized his actions.
I can now think about what my next action will be once we go back.’
He praised himself for his quick adaptation.
Anastasia seemed baffled by his reply, but soon acknowledged that he can do as he pleases.
Somehow, he could feel the tone of resignation coming from her.
‘Well, I had planned on visiting her at the palace soon anyways…’
-ˏˋ ━━━━━━ ʚɞ ━━━━━━ ˊˎ-
(3rd PERSON POV)
“Josh! How many times do I have to tell you to sit still whenever you eat”
“Mom! Hillary stole my pickles!”
“I am innocent! Ricky stole my bread raisins first!”
Anastasia was eating a salad awkwardly amidst the noisy environment.
The maids seemed to be just fine.
Perhaps they had already adapted to the children’s noise for hours.
Wilhelm, on the other hand, had never encountered such a situation before.
Wilhelm felt like his ears would bleed from all of the sounds coming from the children.
Anastasia cautiously asked Wilhelm when she saw that he wasn’t looking so good.
“Your Majesty, if you’re having a hard time, should we go ahead now”
However, in Anastasia’s viewpoint, his answer was not very reliable.
‘What did he mean by that He had never been subjected to such a noisy place before.’
After they had both returned from the garden, Anastasia immediately got into the carriage so that they could return back before sunset.
But the children suddenly grabbed onto her dress.
“Can’t you eat snacks first before you go home”
“My mom always baked some really good bread for snacks.”
“Let’s eat please….”
Anastasia tried to refuse gently because she knew the children would be so disappointed if she was to reject them.
It was when she was at a loss on what to do when she heard Wilhelm speak up.
We can grab a bite and then go.
Wilhelm’s voice was heard from behind Anastasia.
“I don’t have to rush back anyway.”
[pr/n: such a softie for his love already.]
In fact, it was because of Wilhelm that she wanted to go back early, but if he allowed it then there was no reason for her to refuse them.
In the end, everyone ended up sitting around the same table together with the children.
They had no choice but to endure.
“More than that, my Empress.”
Wilhelm then asked in a very low voice that she couldn’t help but inch closer to hear.
“Are kids always this noisy”
Anastasia wanted to tell him that this was them being quiet compared to when she had been playing with them earlier, but she just smiled awkwardly.