After Duke Barantes returned, Anastasia went to see Louis.
It had been quite some time since he stayed at the Empress’ Palace for fever treatment, but even after a good recovery, Louis did not return to the Imperial Palace and stayed at the Empress’ Palace.
Louis never said that he wanted to return to the Imperial Palace or that he wanted to see Olivia.
So Anastasia, meanwhile, was scrutinizing all her nannies and maids who would form the new Imperial Palace.
‘I feel like you’re quite open now, after staying at the Empress’ Palace…’
Obviously, his attitude had softened much more than before.
He showed unfathomable hostility, never raised a blade*, and answered questions without ignoring them.
*TN: never fought back
… Oh, was that too basic?
Anyway, living in the Empress’s Palace and living a much more stable life than before seemed to have an impact.
Instead of focusing solely on studying like before, the ratio between study, play, and rest was balanced.
Of course, there was no such thing as staying up all night. Anastasia stopped that no matter what.
It was when Anastasia finally reached Louis’s room.
The moment she entered the room while habitually calling out Louis’s name, Anastasia noticed the scene in the room and kept her mouth shut.
She then turned her body and tried to get out again but…
“Your Majesty the Empress?”
It was useless. Anastasia smiled shyly, relaxed her body.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I was quietly trying to get out of the way.”
“No. it’s okay.”
Louis shook his head and put down his brush. He was painting with an expression serious enough that Anastasia took a step back.
“I was just trying to get some rest.”
“Isn’t that too much?”
“No. It’s been a while since I have painted.”
Louis asked cautiously, answering bluntly.
“… Would you like to see it?”
“I’d like to!”
Anastasia walked closer to the easel in front of Louis with a big smile. It was not long before exclamations burst out.
“Oh, my God. Did Louis really draw this?”
“Yes! Of course.”
Louis, who answered proudly, asked cautiously.
“Did I draw it wrong?”
Did he draw it wrong?
It was the complete opposite. It wasn’t a six-year-old’s drawing skills.
She once saw a painting by Picasso when she was young.
That was what a real genius was like! It was an incredible level of painting that she could not believe it was painted at such a young age…
Now Louis’ painting was just like that.
“Our Louis, are you a genius?”
Anastasia asked, trying to ignore her heart beating with excitement.
“What did you draw?”
“The carrot cake I ate yesterday.”
How could he express the texture of a cake and cream so realistically?
She just saw it, but it felt like she had touched it with her hands.
Anastasia couldn’t say a word because she was admiring it, and was only immersed in sentiment.
Then an anxious Louis asked.
“Did I draw it wrong?”
“No way. Good job!”
Anastasia answered quickly with a moved look.
“Really! How… How can you draw so well? Louis must be a genius.”
“Genius? Me? No way.”
“No, it’s true. You must be a genius to draw this at the age of six…”
Anastasia could not take her eyes off Louis’ painting with a face that she loved so much.
“You did a great job. Can you give this to me as a gift?”
“What? I can’t do that!”
Louis refused, horrified, and Anastasia laughed awkwardly.
‘Are we still too awkward to give presents like this?…’
“I drew this for practice, so I can’t. I’m going to throw it away.”
An unexpected answer was heard. Oh, you didn’t like it because it was for practice?
“I can’t believe it’s a bad drawing… I think it’s too good.”
“No, I didn’t draw it well.”
Despite Anastasia’s repeated praise, Louis did not change his assessment.
Anastasia was a little dissatisfied because the evaluation seemed too salty for her taste. Its a really great thing…
“If you want to have it, I’ll draw you with something better.”
“Whatever it is, if it’s from Louis, I like it all.”
“Okay, we’ll do what Louis wants.”
Anastasia eventually smiled and nodded.
“I’ve heard that Louis likes to paint, but I didn’t expect it to be this much. Did you draw it often on Schweig Island?”
Unexpectedly, Louis shook his head at the question. Anastasia asked in a quizzical voice.
“Why? You like it so much.”
“Olivia didn’t like drawing.”
“Painting is for lazy people.”
How strict was Olivia’s standard of lazy people?
Anastasia made a disgusted face, but quickly loosened her expression and opened her mouth.
“It’s so nice to draw. It’s good for emotional development, it’s good for brain development… It’s very important anyway.”
“Really? Then can I keep drawing?”
“Of course. Don’t be so self-conscious and draw if you want to.”
The remark gave Louis a good laugh.
Ah, so cute…
‘It definitely feels like his face has brightened since coming to the Empress’ Palace.’
The atmosphere itself seemed to have changed from when he was buried only in studying.
It’s more lively and energetic. Of course, it might just be her feeling.
“You look like your uncle, Louis.”
Louis blinked and looked at Anastasia at Anastasia’s inadvertent words.
Anastasia quickly explained at the look of confusion.
“Before the Emperor ascended the throne, he was a painter.”
… Of course, it had been a long time since he let go of the brush.
She heard that he did not belong to the court, but freely wandered from place to place and painted.
In particular, because he enjoyed painting landscapes, he lived a more wandering life.
‘… of course.’
Anastasia smiled awkwardly and looked at Louis.
‘It must have had a great political purpose.’
As soon as he celebrated his coming-of-age ceremony, he immediately left the Imperial Palace and became independent. It was unusual.
This was because it was customary for unmarried members of the royal family to continue to live in the Imperial Palace.
But he knew that his very existence constituted a political threat to Alexander.
So he said that after he became independent, he wandered as far as possible and painted.
“That was the happiest time. It was really free.”
One day, she remembered what he said.
Just as she was about to get a little sad at those words, he quickly added.
“Now the rankings has changed. Being with you is the happiest moment in the world.”
“This is the first time I’ve heard of it.”
Louis’ unfamiliar voice broke Anastasia’s thoughts.
“No one told me that…”
“… Yes. It must have been the case.”
Anastasia muttered quietly and asked involuntarily.
“Would you like to go see your uncle?”
Seeing a bewildered light flashing across Louis’ face at that question, Anastasia quickly regretted it.
Oh, was it still too hasty a question?
“… It’s scary.”
After a while, the answer came down like a stone on her chest.
Anastasia said playfully, trying to hide her sadness.
“Why are you scared, your uncle? Anyone who hears that will think that your uncle is a monster.”
Louis didn’t say anything, and Anastasia got all the answers in a short conversation of less than a minute.
It was the moment she saw what Wilhelm was so worried about right before her eyes.
‘This kid thinks his uncle killed his parents.’
It was obvious who had done such brainwashing. Her head hurt.
It must be the work of those outside the family who said they loved Louis ‘sincerely’.
Louis needed to be hostile to Wilhelm so they can do what they want.
She was angry.
The person who really loved him, that even his heart was afraid of violence, and he who was suffering from a sense of guilt and can’t even reveal it.
“But your uncle is not a scary person.”
Anastasia continued in a quiet voice.
“He loves Louis so much.”
Anastasia replied with a grin.
“You don’t know right now, but one day Louis will know how he feels. …I believe so.”
Louis looked at Anastasia with a puzzled look on his face as if he did not understand it well, and Anastasia recalled when Wilhelm heard Louis’ death before regression.
“I’m so cursed…”
He blamed himself, wailing as if he were about to collapse.
“I shouldn’t have left him alone on Schweig Island. Every time I see my brother’s face, I want to die, but I should have kept him by my side and loved him…”
“It’s all my fault. It’s like I killed him.”
“How much did he resent me? He thought I abandoned him, didn’t he?”
Was Louis blaming Wilhelm as he feared? Did he think he dumped him on Schweig Island?
There was no way to confirm that at the moment.
But she thought it would be too sad if it really was the case.
“Your Majesty the Empress.”
Then, at the voice of Louis calling her, Anastasia woke up from her imagination.
“Do you want me to draw a portrait?”
“Yes, I’m practicing these days.”
Louis said with a slightly shy face.
“After a little more practice, I’ll draw a portrait of Your Majesty and draw it as a gift.”
Anastasia smiled brightly and nodded.
“Okay. I’ll be looking forward to it.”
At least for now, she decided to focus entirely on this relationship.