Selene came to her senses when Anastasia’s voice was heard.
As she turned her head with a blank look, Anastasia gestured to her with a questioning look.
As Selene hurried up to her, Anastasia asked with a quizzical expression.
“You didn’t come right away and hesitated. Are you sick?”
“You look pale.”
Anastasia said, narrowing her brows.
“I think you should go back to the Empress’ Palace and rest.”
“What? Oh, no, Your Majesty.”
Selene felt uncomfortable because she seemed to have bothered Anastasia for nothing. She flirted around in a hurry.
“It’s just that I… For a moment, I was enraptured by your beauty. From a distance, I could only see Your Majesty.”
“Oh, you too. Don’t say that here. Other debutantes might get upset.”
“Who cares, it’s true.”
Selene shrugged her shoulders and handed Anastasia what she had brought.
“Eat some of this, Your Majesty. You’ve been stuck here all this time saying hello. It’s really hard, right?”
“Oh, thank you. It was a little hard.”
Anastasia, who took the cocktail, took a few sips and looked like she was about to come back to life.
Then, Selene asked Anastasia carefully.
“Your Majesty, …May I ask you a question?”
“Hmm? What is it? Ask me.”
“The lady who greeted Your Majesty earlier. With pink hair.”
“Who were they, by chance? She’s like someone I’ve never seen before.”
“Lady Avelin Hazel. It’s only natural that you don’t know this year’s debutante.”
“But why all of a sudden?”
“Yes? Oh, no.”
Selene hurriedly turned around.
“Even though I saw her from afar… … I think she is very pretty.”
Yes, undeniably, that Avelin was a beauty.
Even though she didn’t see her up close, she exuded her lovely aura.
‘Of course, our Majesty is much, much more beautiful!’
Anyway, beauty is beauty. So she could have been caught up in this strange feeling.
When you see a beautiful person, doesn’t your heart beat fast, regardless of gender?
‘I guess so?’
For now, there was no other way to explain the previous state.
It was only natural, because in her head, Avelin was the first person she had ever seen.
By the end of receiving the greetings from the debutantes, Anastasia was almost exhausted.
‘Can I go back now?’
It was customary for the Empress to attend the debut ball and receive greetings from the debutantes of that year.
Anyway, as it was her last event as Empress, Anastasia wanted to fulfill her role.
“Your Majesty, are you okay? You look very tired.”
“It’s okay. Now I have to go back soon.”
Anastasia smiled, pretending to be okay, and changed the topic.
“More than that, His Majesty is nowhere to be seen.”
“I also went to pick up food for the Empress and His Majesty earlier, and looked around, but it seems that he was not present. It is said that these days, he is very busy because of trade issues with the Kingdom of Vislante.”
“Um, yes. He is.”
“And he doesn’t usually go to parties.”
“Yes. That’s right too.”
“Are you sad?”
At Selene’s question, Anastasia gave a subtle smile.
She didn’t know. Had he been here today, he would have met Avelyn…
‘Well, it’s no longer a subject to be jealous of.’
Anastasia smiled bitterly and then brushed her hair away.
You shouldn’t think. Even for the sake of a determined heart.
“I have to go back to the Empress’ Palace. I feel tired.”
Anastasia quietly left the banquet hall.
Anyway, today’s main character was Avelin, and it was polite to the world in this book for the extras to fall at this point.
Even with that thought, Anastasia somehow made her way towards the Empress’ Palace with her empty heart.
Then she slowed down her walking speed and looked at the scenery inside the Imperial Palace slowly.
It was a place with a miserable end before returning, but at the same time, it was also a place full of precious memories with Wilhelm.
It was the place where she stayed for several years, leaving all that. There was no way she wouldn’t be upset.
After walking like that, it was about time she arrived at the Empress Palace.
“Has Your Majesty the Empress come?”
Mrs. Rochester was out to meet Anastasia. She said to Anastasia with a smile.
“I will take a bath. I am tired.”
“Before that, guests have come, so I think you should meet them.”
“A guest? Is it father?”
“Go in and you will see.”
Anastasia was puzzled by her unclear answer and entered her waiting room.
Someone was looking out the window and turned their back on her. She couldn’t see their face, but it was so obvious who they were now.
The moment she noticed that, Anastasia felt her heart beating fast, and she took one step closer to him cautiously.
“… Your Majesty?”
Her choked voice escaped her mouth, and he turned back and smiled at her.
In that moment, extreme misery swallowed up Anastasia.
Now it will no longer be her who will be shown that smile… … It will be Avelin who she saw earlier.
Anastasia felt the corners of her eyes heat up and she stood still, immobilized.
Wilhelm, who had been watching her silently, approached Anastasia.
Anastasia tried to get away from him before he got any closer to her. But he didn’t allow her.
Wilhelm wrapped his arms around Anastasia’s waist as she stepped backwards and pressed her close to him. Then in a low voice he asked her a question.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m here now.”
“You look beautiful today.”
Without a moment to answer, he bursted in. Anastasia looked at Wilhelm with a puzzled expression on her face.
He had a calm face as if there was nothing strange in the situation. He looked at Anastasia at the same time and smiled.
It was a dangerous smile. Anastasia unknowingly tensed up and swallowed her dry saliva.
“Pretty. It would have been more beautiful to see it in the banquet hall.”
“… You’re saying that because you didn’t come.”
“Did you want me to go there?”
Well. Anastasia once again gave an ambiguous answer to him.
To be honest, she already knew the answer.
She hoped he wouldn’t come. She didn’t want him to see Avelin. She didn’t want him to fall in love with her.
In any case, it was the story of her selfish and sinister nature.
Where in the world could there be a woman who, with common sense, want the man she loves to fall in love with another woman?
“I wish you had come.”
Even that honest jealousy, or anything else, never took precedence over his well-being.
“The debutantes of this year were very beautiful. It was a pleasure to meet them and greet them. I was a little tired because there were so many.”
Anastasia naturally lied to him.
Wilhelm, who was staring at Anastasia’s face like that, asked.
“Did you really want me to go?”
“I didn’t like it.”
Even before the answer came out, Wilhelm took the lead.
Anastasia looked at him with her eyes wide open.
“It wasn’t good that you went to the debut ball today.”
“Women aren’t the only ones making their debuts in the social world.”
He spoke in a strangely worried voice.
“There must have been many other young and pretty men.”
“… Ah, so.”
Anastasia asked with an absurd smile.
“Are you suspicious that my eyes might have strayed?”
“I didn’t doubt, just worried… … Let‘s leave it at that.”
Wilhelm smiled and corrected.
“If it hadn’t been for today’s pile of things, I would have gone right away. But because Colton was holding me back…”
“It’s late. In fact, I barely escaped even now. He’s probably coming to get me by now.”
“Then don’t you have to go back…”
At that moment, Wilhelm’s hand crept up Anastasia’s cheek.
Suddenly, the flesh brushed against her, and Anastasia breathed in vain and could not move.
Gently wrapped around her cheek, he looked at Anastasia silently, slowly touching her under the weight of his thumb.
The silent gaze made Anastasia unwittingly breathless.
The air surrounding them flowed in with her breathing, and there was a strange sensation as if tickling her throat.
Now, not only her throat but also other places were itchy.
His firm answer tickled her even more.
“Do you want me to go?”
“…why are you here?”
She didn’t want to answer that, and she didn’t want to lie about it, so Anastasia changed the subject. It sounded almost hoarse.
Wilhelm looked up at Anastasia and answered.
“Because I missed you.”
Wilhelm, who casually put a hook in Anastasia’s chest, added in a desperate voice.
“I haven’t seen you in almost a week. Did you know that?”
“It’s been so long….”
“I guess I was the only one who was disappointed.”
Wilhelm narrowed his brow slightly.
“Actually, wanting to see you isn’t the only reason I came here.”
She was about to ask what else was going on, but before that, something else came instead. The startled Anastasia froze to the ground.
Soon a soft touch passed lightly through Anastasia’s mouth. It was sweet as if someone was pouring honey into her mouth.
It was a fresh kiss, but perhaps because it was unexpected, the ripple effect was much stronger than the original level.
After a while, Wilhelm, who slowly took his lips off Anastasia’s, smiled naturally at her as she looked blankly.
“I wanted to do that, the whole time.”
“The whole time I haven’t seen you.”