Remarried Empress - Chapter 22
Chapter 22 – Tears That Only Queen Knows (1)
“My apologies, Lady Rashta, but I am already exhausted . ”
Prince Heinley smiled and turned away .
“I cannot dance twice in a row . The handsome man has a surprisingly weak constitution . ”
“Then what about after you take a break? When you get your strength back . ”
Prince Heinley suddenly looked over and our eyes met, and his gaze softened .
“There’s someone I want to dance with again . ”
I pondered his repeated refusal towards her . He was determined to cut her off, far different from how most nobles presented themselves . Rashta didn’t expect to be rejected, and she touched her hair, disconcerted, and turned away . Our gazes met, but she didn’t acknowledge me and instead turned to Sovieshu with her eyes shimmering with tears .
“Your Majesty, Rashta has no one to dance with . ”
“Take a break . You cannot dance with the same person twice in a row . ”
Rashta was similar to Prince Heinley . He, too, had no qualms about expressing his feelings, when most nobles would be too proud to voice their thoughts out loud .
She whined like a baby, and the surrounding nobles chuckled, not out of mockery, but of endearment . Rashta was not noble, and her behavior was rude, to say the least, but to everyone else she was like a fresh and pure novelty .
“Lady Rashta, would you like to dance with me?”
Several other noblemen approached Rashta, but she weakly replied, “No thank you,” then trudged towards the edge of the room . Sovieshu stiffened, as if he wanted to run towards her . If the music hadn’t started at that moment, he might have really gone after her, but he stayed on the floor .
Coincidentally, the music was calm and the dance required some distant from one’s partner . Sovieshu and I had been dance partners since we were young, and we were used to falling into the rhythm together . As children, we held onto each other with laughter, complaining that the steps were awkward .
‘Those days will never come anymore . ’
When I remembered holding a large map and discussing new construction projects, I felt a chill in the corner of my heart . How stupid and naive I was at the time to believe Sovieshu and I would be together for the rest of our lives . When the dance finally brought us close to each other, I still felt like we were far apart .
“Earlier . ”
Sovieshu spoke in a low voice .
“What did you talk about with Prince Heinley?”
“We had a normal conversation . ”
“Have you heard the rumors about him?”
What did he mean by that? I didn’t say anything for a while to focus on the complicated steps, but I didn’t miss the crease between Sovieshu’s eyebrows .
“What do you mean you had a ‘normal’ conversation with him?”
“He was very entertaining . ”
“He’s a womanizer, so of course he’s entertaining . People like funny men . ”
The distance between us grew apart again . As I turned around, I saw Prince Heinley standing near a table and watching me . He smiled and waved one hand when our eyes met .
“I have Rashta as my concubine, so I won’t tell you that you cannot take another man as your lover as well . ”
“Still, I don’t believe it should be Prince Heinley . ”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about . ”
“If you are with Prince Heinley, he will not be your concubine, but you will be his . ”
“Wouldn’t that be disgraceful to the Empress of the Eastern Empire?”
“I don’t know what you’re imagining, but Prince Heinley and I don’t have that kind of relationship . ”
“Good . Don’t be the match for the fire that spreads everywhere . ”
I was about to protest that Prince Heinley wasn’t like that, when Sovieshu suddenly came to a halt . The music hadn’t stopped yet . Sovieshu was frozen on the floor, and I couldn’t dance alone and stopped as well, jamming the traffic around us .
What was the matter? I wondered if he sprained a foot, but Sovieshu strode away . The people around me looked on with puzzled expressions . Sovieshu finally stopped in front of Rashta . She was standing against the wall, crying .
“Rashta . Why are you crying?”
Sovieshu looked at her in surprise, and Rashta stretched out her arms and hugged him around the neck .
The murmur of the crowd grew louder . I could feel the nobles’ eyes on me . Sovieshu and I were dancing together, before he threw me away and went to Rashta .
My jaw clenched . I felt blood drain from my head as my vision turned spotty . Rashta kept crying while Sovieshu tried to comfort her, and eventually her picked her up and they left .
“Oh my god . So it’s true that the Emperor loves the concubine . ”
“Yes . ”
As the two of them left, the gaze of the crowd pressed down harder on me .
“But I heard she was a runaway slave . Is that true?”
“Nonsense . The Emperor just said it was a rumor . ”
“Watch your mouth . His Majesty said he would punish anyone that spoke of it . ”
“No, wait a minute . Does the Eastern Empire allow runaways slaves to become concubines? This is not possible in our Northern Kingdom . I even brought her the Sea Jewels of the Northern Kingdom as a gift . ”
“I’m sure the Emperor did nothing of the sort . ”
The music stopped, and everyone was either looking at me or talking about Rashta . I wanted nothing more than to flee the room, but I forced myself to walk calmly away .
I had no idea where I was going, but I heard someone following my footsteps and glimpsed Prince Heinley’s reflection on a smooth pillar . I did not feel like being civil and talking to a foreign prince . For now…I just wanted to sit somewhere .
I found myself walking through an empty palace corridor . Sir Artina, the deputy commander of the knights, fell into step beside me .
“Are you all right, Your Highness?”
“I’m fine . ”
“You should get some rest . You look pale . ”
I nodded . I went to my chambers, passing the drawing room before going into the bedroom . I fell face down on the bed, hugging the pillow and curling up on myself . My whole body felt unbearably heavy . How much was I carrying on my shoulders?
– Gu… .
There was a tap on glass, and I saw a Queen sitting by the window . I opened it wearily, and Queen entered, blinking his large eyes . I took the bird into my arms . As his heat spread from his warm little body into mine, tears burst out of my eyes .
How could this creature provide such great comfort? I soaked in the warmth Queen gave me like a person abandoned in a bitter winter . By the time I was finally calm, I realized I had been hugging the bird for too long . He was probably annoyed . I looked up, and to my surprise, Queen was simply peering at me .
“Thank you . ”
“You always give me strength . ”
I was embarrassed to say it out loud and whispered it in his ear, and Quinn covered his face with his wings .
“Sometimes you’re like a real person . ”
Queen’s eyes widened and he darted around the room, and there was a commotion outside . The paper hanging above the bed fluttered, and I pulled him towards me .
I rang the bell to signal my permission for them to come in, and the main door opened and voices came inside . I went into the drawing room with Queen in my arms, finding several ladies-in-waiting there, including Countess Eliza and Laura . They had come straight from the party, and were dressed more splendidly than usual . However, the clock showed that the end of the ball itself was some time away . Why were they here?
“Countess, what’s going on?”
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