The nightmare was also his chronic disease.
He’s had a lot of them, but it’s been pretty quiet for years.
Of course, shortly after the death of the Emperor and Empress, it was true that they tortured him horribly for a while.
However, as he ascended to the throne as the new emperor and suffered a lot of political affairs, he gradually lost the energy to keep up with the affairs of that time.
In addition, the presence of an Empress who caused accidents and troubles at all times also played a part.
But most of all, his nephew Louis, who resembles his dead brother, left the capital and was recuperating on Schweig Island.
If Louis had stayed at the palace, he would have had nightmares every night.
So he was sometimes relieved that Louis was not in the palace.
He didn’t want to admit it, but that was the case. Apart from loving the child.
“You’ve been fine for a while, and then…”
Colton murmured in an upset voice.
“Because of Prince Louis’ return…”
Wilhelm cut him off severely.
“Don’t say that.”
He looked worried.
Wilhelm was extremely reluctant to say anything bad about Louis.
It was a fact that he knew better than anyone else.
Nevertheless, as Colton searched for the cause of the recent nightmare of his lord, he made the mistake without realizing it.
There was no way that Wilhelm was unaware of such a situation, so he was silent for a moment before opening his mouth.
“I’m going for a walk. I’ll go alone, so don’t follow me.”
Normally, I would have said it was dangerous. Especially in this situation where Louis had returned.
But Colton nodded silently. There’s a guard anyway. If he doesn’t notice, that’s enough.
Colton knew he had to give his lord, who had gone through a terrible time, time to calm down alone.
The air in the spring night was cold, not chilly.
When he came out without a coat on, the cold air enveloped Wilhelm’s body.
A cold wind blew through the thin clothes, but it calmly calmed his mood after the intense time. Wilhelm felt the pleasant cold wind.
As he looked around, it was dark all around him.
He didn’t even have a lamp to light his eyes right away, because he didn’t come with one of his attendants; but he walked well without falling over the familiar terrain.
But his legs were shaking. No one, not even him, noticed, but they certainly were.
So, there was a time when he was walking for a long time in the dark.
A bright light appeared before his eyes. Wilhelm saw it and stopped walking involuntarily.
Soon, a bright light came closer to him, even more vivid.
Wilhelm now looked at it intently.
Someone was approaching. It was a woman in a dazzling golden dress and with a lamp in her hand.
After a while, he saw her face, which looked very happy, to his eyes. A smile brighter than a lamp hung on her lips.
It was Anastasia.
She didn’t seem to have noticed his presence yet.
He didn’t want her to notice. Because he didn’t want to run into anyone right now.
But the wind was blowing, and the moment he wished so, Anastasia found him.
A mysterious voice called for him. Anastasia approached Wilhelm to make sure she had seen him properly.
Captivated by an unknown emotion, Wilhelm’s heart began to beat fast.
A slightly deeper smile appeared on Anastasia’s lips, who eventually confirmed that it was Wilhelm.
“Oh, I’m right.”
The moment he recognized her and saw her face with a smile as bright as the sun, Wilhelm felt like a huge piece of iron had landed on his heart.
It was beating so hard that it hurt his heart, as if he had hit something hard.
Throughout the dream, right after waking up, his heart was in this state one after another, but he could tell for sure.
That this was clearly different from what it was before.
“Did you come out without an attendant? It’s dangerous…”
Anastasia, unaware of the fact that she had not even brought one of her attendants, came closer to Wilhelm as Anastasia spoke out involuntarily.
But when she got close enough that she could take a closer look at his face, she stopped.
Seeing Wilhelm’s face white, Anastasia could understand the situation.
‘Did you have another nightmare?’
Before her return, he was always like that. After he had a nightmare, he came out to the cold outside to calm himself.
So often in winter, Anastasia had to worry about what to do if he caught a cold.
“… Are you out for a walk?”
He nodded silently at Anastasia’s question.
It was a pity that his complexion was bloodless like a blank slate.
Anastasia wanted to comfort him.
She wanted to empathize with him and relieve his guilt.
But she couldn’t.
The moment she thought about it, she got angry for the first time. Even at this moment in her life as his Empress, it was a curse to be unable to express her feelings for him.
For the second time since her first return, it felt terrifying to return.
The man she loved was having such a hard time, and she can’t even hold him in her arms and pat him.
But with all that emotion suppressed and perseverance, Anastasia held on to the skirts of her dress.
“I’ll be on my way.”
In the aftermath of the intense emotion that took place inside, her voice trembled slightly.
Anastasia was about to pass Wilhelm.
But as soon as their bodies crossed, Wilhelm grabbed Anastasia’s dress sleeve.
Anastasia looked at Wilhelm in surprise at the sudden situation.
His face, which she saw again from a very close distance, was much worse than what she had seen earlier.
The sight made her heart sink again.
“Wait a minute….”
“It’s too dark.”
He went on with difficulty.
“I can’t go back to the Central Palace.”
It was a childlike request. And it was a lie.
Anastasia knew that he was born and raised in the Imperial Palace, and that he could grasp the geography of this place with his eyes closed.
If he had come all the way here without a lamp in the first place, he would have known the difficult way back.
So this was an excuse. To hold him.
But Anastasia was willing to fall for it.
It’s going to be okay. She didn’t say that she would be by his side first.
Anastasia guided Wilhelm with a more relaxed mind.
“This is the way to the Central Palace.”
On the way back, Wilhelm said nothing. Anastasia also remained silent.
Anastasia knew that he just needed someone to light up this darkness with him today.
But it was good. Because she’s by him.
It was Wilhelm who broke the silence first. Anastasia looked back at him.
“You were on your way from the Imperial Palace.”
Anastasia almost burst into laughter when she heard it.
How could someone who figured out geography so quickly in that darkness lie that he doesn’t know the way back to the Central Palace?
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Anastasia replied, trying to hold back her laughter.
“I’m on my way from the Imperial Palace.”
“You didn’t get kicked out this time, did you?”
“What? No way.”
Anastasia was angry for a moment and spat out about her achievements.
“Would you be surprised to hear it? I’m on my way back from becoming friends with the Prince.”
Wilhelm asked in a disbelief voice. Anastasia nodded her head.
“Yes, friends. Now, all that remains is to get closer to the Prince.”
“… how? You were kicked out of the Imperial Palace until just yesterday.”
“Because I went with my secret weapon. It’s irresistible.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a secret.”
Wilhelm narrowed his brow and looked at Anastasia, but Anastasia smiled as if she wasn’t afraid at all.
“If you are curious, visit the Imperial Palace.”
“Have you never been there before?”
That’s it. Wilhelm looked ahead again without answering.
Anastasia opened her mouth again, still not taking her eyes off him.
“Are you afraid?”
It was rude, but it hit the nail on the head.
It was very abstract, but Wilhelm could grasp the full meaning of the question.
As he flinched for a moment and still kept his mouth shut, Anastasia was silent next.
It was a long time later that the answer came out.
Anastasia turned to him, slowly, still silent.
His eyes were empty at first sight, but Anastasia read all the complex emotions hidden beyond it.
The desire to go see his beloved nephew and the fear of being rejected and hated by such a nephew coexisted.
And in that heart, there was guilt.
A word that Wilhelm calmly uttered pierced Anastasia’s heart with a sharp edge above any awl.