“It’s urgent, Your Grace.”
It was only three hours after he came back from meeting with Alexander.
“The Emperor and his wife have died.”
As soon as he heard it, Wilhelm dropped the brush he was carrying.
In front of it was a painting that had been painted since Ishstabil.
“…what does that mean?”
“While they were travelling in the carriage, the horse suddenly went on a rampage…”
The servant, who came to deliver the words, blurted out the end of the words because he felt too uncomfortable to finish it.
“The Emperor died suddenly, and the Empress…”
“Fortunately, Prince Louis was safe in another carriage.”
Wilhelm was absent-minded for a while.
At one point, he jumped out of his seat in disbelief.
“Get a carriage right now. I will go to the Imperial Palace.”
“Your Highness, you must wait in the mansion for the time being…”
“I can’t believe it until I see it with my own eyes.”
Wilhelm picked up his coat in a hurry with his trembling hands.
“You two couldn’t have died like that. This is ridiculous.”
Wilhelm hastily went to the Imperial Palace despite the dissuasion of his servants.
As if the news had already spread, a large number of nobles had gathered in front of the Central Palace.
They hurried out of the way for Wilhelm, who was walking with a confused face.
Then, in front of Alexander’s room, he encountered Duke Barantes with a somber expression on his face.
“Prince Wilhelm, are you here…”
Wilhelm asked in a trembling voice.
“Where is my brother?”
“Where is he? Was my servant talking nonsense?”
When there was no answer from Duke Barantes, Wilhelm, impatient, urged him with a harsh voice.
“Come on, Duke Barantes.”
But the Duke of Barantes, with a darkened face, did not say anything at all, and merely bowed his head.
Seeing this, Wilhelm’s expression darkened. He passed the Duke of Barantes and went inside.
Alexander met Wilhelm with a puzzled expression. Contrary to what he had heard, he looked fine.
Without thinking about anything else, Wilhelm ran to Alexander and hugged him.
“Brother, you are alive!”
Wilhelm spoke nonsense in a relieved voice.
“After all, my servant was telling a lie. He said that my brother died. What nonsense…”
“What do you mean, Wilhelm?”
A terrifyingly cold voice was heard.
At the same time, the hand holding Alexander’s hand got wet.
The moment Wilhelm felt something strange and removed his hand to check, he forgot to breathe.
His palms were stained red with blood.
He looked at Alexander’s face with a face that looked faint.
His terribly smashed face was staring at him with resentful eyes that could not be described in any words.
“You killed me.”
He rose from his seat with a final scream.
His eyes were red with blood, and he was breathing hard.
He knew he had woken up from a nightmare.
Nevertheless, Wilhelm felt as if he was still wandering in a dream.
At one point, a bewildered voice came from the side and woke him up.
Wilhelm turned his head, still breathing heavily.
Anastasia looked at her with a surprised face.
Seeing that, Wilhelm’s expression turned dim.
“Are you okay?”
Anastasia asked with a worried look.
“I came here because I had something to tell you, but I think you’re having a nightmare…”
Wilhelm stared at Anastasia’s face, unable to say anything and breathing heavily.
In a similar situation, he had seen her face similar to then.
‘It was like this when I collapsed after drinking the love potion.’
She caught him twice.
But strangely, he didn’t feel ashamed.
He was rather relieved. It was a strange thing.
“Shall I call the court doctor?”
Wilhelm tried to refuse.
“It’s okay. I was just dreaming.”
When Anastasia heard that, she stayed silent for a while with a mysterious expression.
“Then I’ll be on my way. I don’t think you’re in a situation to listen today.”
“I’ll be back tomorrow.”
And it was the moment she was trying to get up from her seat.
Anastasia groaned in surprise at the hand that clung to her wrist.
Wilhelm held her by the wrist. He kept his eyes down.
She was frightened by a voice that seemed to have run out of energy.
Anastasia looked at Wilhelm with bewildered eyes.
The end of his gaze was still facing downwards, not at her.
“I don’t want to be alone.”
“Now I need… …anybody.”
Only then did Anastasia notice that his hand was shaking as he held onto her.
She shouldn’t, but she was starting to feel weak.
A pitiful voice, like a child’s pleading, pierced her conscience like a wedge.
Yeah, it’s just a matter of conscience. Pity and sympathy for one person.
So… wouldn’t it be okay if she stayed by his side for this one moment?
Anastasia sat beside him, embracing her weakened heart. As if she had only then reassured him, his strength slipped out of his hand.
Anastasia stared at him and said,
“You must have had a scary dream.”
Wilhelm managed to pull up the corners of his mouth and smile. But it was a smile that seemed to cry. He just didn’t make it.
“It was such a scary and terrible dream.”
“You must be very tired these days.”
Anastasia tried to answer back in a trivial way.
“I usually dream like that when I am tired. I often do, too.”
“…is that so?”
“Yeah, so you don’t have to put meaning into it.”
At the end of the sentence, there was a silence between the two.
Wilhelm seemed preoccupied with some thought, and Anastasia did not bother to interrupt his imagination.
“I heard you’ve become quite close to Louis.”
He broke the silence again. Anastasia looked at Wilhelm.
“If he keeps staying at the Empress’ Palace, it means that Louis likes you too.”
Anastasia nodded, quickly pulling up the corners of her mouth.
“Yeah. Seeing that he hasn’t mention Lady Fontaine, I guess the bond with her wasn’t as great as I thought.”
Wilhelm nodded and asked again.
“How is he doing these days?”
“He studies, but he has more time to play and rest. He’s very good at drawing. I was surprised when I saw it.”
Anastasia inadvertently spat out.
“He looks like Your Majesty.”
“…is that so?”
“Actually, it seems that his talent is far superior than Your Majesty. Even at the age of six, his skills are unusual.”
“If that’s the case, I’d like to see it too.”
“You should come to the Empress’ Palace.”
Anastasia secretly suggested to Wilhelm.
“Louis told me that he would paint me a portrait. Your Majesty, please visit.”
Wilhelm did not answer immediately, and Anastasia waited patiently for her to open his mouth.
After a while Wilhelm asked cautiously.
“Would he like to see me?”
“I don’t know what he thinks of me.”
Anastasia heard that and hesitated for a moment before answering.
“It is still difficult for Your Majesty.”
She was the euphemistic answer. But Wilhelm read his true meaning in it.
He laughed bitterly.
“That’s a given.”
Anastasia felt uncomfortable with the seemingly penetrating response.
She wanted to comfort him. It’s only natural that there hasn’t been a relationship for a long time, and it’s a relationship that can change enough depending on how hard he tries.
But no words seemed to comfort him now.
So Anastasia changed her words instead of offering some kind of consolation.
“You’d better go back to sleep. You look exhausted.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be by your side until you go to sleep.”
Anastasia smiled faintly, and Wilhelm stared at her and closed his eyes slowly.
When he thought Anastasia was next to him, his anxiety quickly disappeared and a sense of relief filled the spot.
He would feel this kind of feeling next to the Empress and not to anyone else. He was shocked by the unexpected situation.
In addition, it was not like him to hold her to not let her go. The feeling he felt now was unfamiliar.
The thing is, he didn’t hate it.
It was rather good.
The horrible feeling of being dragged down by a big snake.. He can solve it somehow.
Anastasia returned to the Imperial Palace only after confirming that Wilhelm was fully asleep.
“Have you met His Majesty?”
Upon returning, Mrs. Rochester asked her.
“Did he say it’s okay to appoint Countess Fiegel as his nanny?”
Yes, she went there because of that problem.
It was Anastasia, who decided to fix up the Imperial Palace to some extent.
After carefully considering who to choose as the nanny, which is the most important task, she decided to be Countess Fiegel, who is known for her good personality.
But she couldn’t appoint her on her own, so she went to explain why she chose her and ask for his consent…
‘I didn’t expect that to happen.’
It was not surprising because it often happened before the return. It was just sad.
It was hard to see him suffer so badly for something he didn’t do.
“No, he was busy.”
Anastasia smiled faintly and lied.
“I’m thinking of visiting him again tomorrow.”
But the next day, as soon as dawn broke, an unexpected incident broke out.