“What’s wrong with you all of a sudden, Louis?”
“I heard what the maids said.”
“The oracle was wrong… …. There’s someone else the Goddess chose besides Your Majesty…”
“Really? The maids misheard, right? Your Majesty is the real one, aren’t you?”
“…I’m sorry, Louis.”
It wasn’t something she should apologize for, but she felt like she should apologize to Louis.
She was so sorry. This kid must have believed she was the real one…
“What the maids said is right. I… I’m not the real one.”
Anastasia worked her way through her words.
“The oracle was wrong. This seat isn’t mine either. Soon… …the real lady of the oracle will be the Empress.”
“What about Your Majesty?”
Anastasia closed her eyes tightly and spat out.
“I’m leaving the Empress’ Palace, Louis.”
Louis, startled by the words, grabbed Anastasia’s dress in a hurry.
Anastasia’s heart was broken by the behavior of the child’s determination, as if he would not let her go.
Louis cried and begged again.
“Please don’t go. Louis has nothing but Your Majesty. I don’t want anyone else to be my aunt. I only have one aunt, Your Majesty…”
“I will listen to Your Majesty better and not make any trouble from now on. I will study harder, too. I won’t be picky about sweets. I promise… I promise…!”
“Don’t go, Your Majesty. Don’t go…”
Louis was now crying in Anastasia’s arms, repeating the words.
Anastasia hugged Louis and comforted him in a restless manner, but she couldn’t say “I won’t go” until the end.
Louis’s cry, which she noticed did not subside, only grew louder and louder as time went by.
‘We’re in big trouble.’
Seeing Louis crying enough to cause a fright, Anastasia had to raise the white flag without being able to do anything.
“Alright, Louis. I won’t go.”
And at that one sentence, Louis, who cried as if the world was ending, immediately stopped crying.
And he asked, staring at Anastasia with red eyes.
“Really…? You’re not going?”
“Yes, I won’t go.”
“Are you sure you won’t leave Louis? You’re going to stay at the Empress’ Palace, right?”
Anastasia replied resignedly.
“I’ll stay here. Next to Louis.”
“You have to keep your promise because you’re an adult.”
Louis then held out his little finger at Anastasia.
Anastasia looked at the figure with conflicted eyes, and soon smiled and hung her own on Louis’ little finger.
Louis tightly wrapped Anastasia’s finger and stamped his thumb as hard as he could.
“You put my pinky on it and even stamped it, so you have to keep it. Got it?”
Anastasia smiled weakly and nodded. Somehow, it strangely overlapped with earlier.
Maybe he was relieved to hear Anastasia’s promise not to go, Louis fell asleep right away.
‘He cried so hard, he must have felt tired.’
Anastasia looked at Louis asleep on her lap with her narrowed eyes.
He cried so much that tears still remained on his cheeks.
It was when Anastasia, who had been patting Louis on the back, was carefully wiping the tears.
“Your Majesty the Empress.”
Selene stopped her footsteps as she approached Anastasia and she whispered in a low voice.
“Duke Barantes has arrived. He is waiting in the reception room right now.”
At that, Anastasia carefully put Louis’ head down on the bed, then rose from her seat as quiet as possible and quietly went out of the room.
As they went to the reception room, Duke Barantes was seated with a very disturbed expression on his face.
“Greetings to Your Majesty the Empress, Mistress of Rosenberg, Imperial moon.”
The greeting, which was longer than usual, seemed to represent her father’s feelings.
Anastasia sat down at her seat and drank a sip of the tea, which her maid lady-in-waiting brought.
From the Central Palace until now, she had been thirsty.
“You’ve been to the Central Palace.”
Anastasia answered, putting down her teacup.
“I was on my way to hand over the divorce papers to His Majesty.”
Hearing those words, she could feel Duke Barantes trembling.
Then he looked at Anastasia with his astonished face.
“Are you really going to divorce His Majesty?”
“Since you are here, I will be straight-forward.”
Anastasia answered firmly.
“Yes. I’m going to divorce His Majesty. Lady Hazel has to sit here.”
“Your Majesty, no matter what…!”
“Initially, it was a seat as an oracle womam. It is not a very suitable place for me, as a child with problems in the social world.”
“It is a thing of the past. Your Majesty today is incomparably different from that time.”
“I wanted to tell you that it wasn’t my place to begin with.”
“But His Majesty doesn’t seem to think so.”
Anastasia recalled what had happened before, and said it again with a troubled expression.
“He took the divorce papers and tore them to pieces in front of me.”
“As expected, I only believed in His Majesty! I’ve got a good son-in-law.”
For the first time, the Duke of Barantes smiled brightly and exclaimed, and Anastasia glanced softly at his father.
“It’s not something I like. That’s why I even thought about running away at night.”
“What? You’re running away at night?”
“… Yes. I was going to run today.”
Anastasia bit her lip and then continued her words.
“Prince Louis is on my mind… … I think it’s going to be difficult right now.”
“That is a natural thing to say. Why must Your Majesty run away? You did nothing wrong.”
“Otherwise the Emperor will not let me go.”
“Your Majesty, this father will do his best.”
Duke Barantes said, grabbing Anastasia’s hand.
“There must be a way. If we look for it, there’s a way you can preserve your place…”
“No, Father. Don’t do anything.”
Anastasia coolly pulled out of the Duke of Barantes’ hold.
“If this is the will of the goddess, I want to accept it. I’m afraid that the new punishment will harm all of us.”
“Your Majesty, but…!”
Anastasia asked the Duke of Barantes in a determined, but appealing voice.
“Please do so. The will of the goddess is also my will.”
At Anastasia’s entreaty, the Duke of Barantes looked at Anastasia for a long time with a speechless look on his face.
Anastasia expressed her will by making eye contact with her father.
It was after a very long time that the voice of the Duke of Barantes was heard again.
“Then what are you going to do now?”
“Your Majesty’s will, even so, His Majesty seems to have a firm will, too.”
“My determination to run away at night has not changed.”
Anastasia explained her plan calmly.
“But I think I’ll have to postpone that time until after my father has adopted Prince Louis.”
“Adopting Prince Louis?”
“The new Empress cannot welcome the presence of Prince Louis. If His Majesty also has children with her, the presence of Prince Louis will come as a burden.”
The Duke of Barantes watched Anastasia with a bewildered expression as she spoke freely of the existence of the heir to be born between Wilhelm and the new Empress.
To those unfamiliar with it, it was shown that she truly didn’t care for Wilhelm at all.
‘Still, it seems that you have developed some affection for His Majesty the Emperor… … Was it my mistake?’
While Duke Barantes was confused, Anastasia’s words continued.
“Also, the Prince follows me a lot, and since he is our blood, I would rather adopt him to the Barantes family.”
“If you raise him to be the heir of the Barantes family, His Majesty the Emperor will not object. But what about my father’s opinion…”
“The option itself is not bad. If Prince Louis becomes my successor, it will be an infinite honor both for me and for Barantes.”
The Duke of Barantes, who shook his head, immediately asked seriously.
“But… Your Majesty, are you serious?”
“Everything I’ve said so far is sincere.”
“However, even if you break up with His Majesty like this…”
“… If that is my destiny.”
Anastasia hurriedly opened her mouth and interrupted Duke Barantes’ words.
“I must follow it. Isn’t that right?”
Anastasia’s expression as she said that showed an unfathomable depth of resignation and sadness, and Duke Barantes paused for a moment.
‘What the hell are you thinking…’
It was confusing to see his daughter who didn’t seem to love Wilhelm, but actually seemed to love him more than anyone else.
‘Which one is the truth?’
But she looked too tired now to ask her further questions. In fact, whatever her sincerity was, it was also meaningless in the current situation.
In the end, the Duke of Barantes was forced to shut his mouth and only nod his head.
Anastasia’s plan seemed quite perfect.
Until the very embarrassing news came to her, the next day.